The Truth of Lies
Disclaimer: All names and trademarks recognised as 'NCIS' do not belong to me; I've just borrowed the characters for my own purpose.
Genres: General, Angst, Missing Scene
Warnings: Spoilers for 7x01 Truth and Consequences
Summary: They were going to finish it. Missing scene from 7x01 Truth and Consequences.
A/N An overdue missing scene from the season seven opener. I did plan on writing this earlier, but it never happened until now.
The bar they were at was dull, dirty and frankly, a little seedy. The lights were dimmed, the music was loud, and the bartenders showed more skin than clothing. They flirted shamelessly with the patrons, all of whom looked as though they'd fit the same type: drowning their sorrows for one reason or another. McGee sighed and shook his head. It had been Tony who'd chosen the place, or at least somehow found the place.
McGee glanced around the place distastefully while Tony signalled the barmaid for another one of the cheap and nasty drinks he'd been consuming. In front of him already were three empty glasses. Abby, who was sitting between the two boys, faired only a little better; she had one empty glass resting on the bar, but was almost onto her third. McGee, on the other hand, was still nursing his first glass; he hadn't even drunk half of the bitter and foul tasting liquor.
"She's not dead," Abby hiccupped. While she hadn't been drinking as much as Tony, she had been crying on and off all night, and the more alcohol she had, the worse it seemed to get. She downed the last little bit of her drink and signalled the bartender just as Tony had done moments before.
As the blonde barmaid poured her drink, Abby continued, "Until I get a body, some forensic evidence or . . . or . . ." In her increasingly drunken haze, she struggled to find something else to add to her list. ". . . I'm not going to believe she's dead," she finished loudly, taking a gulp of the drink the barmaid sat down in front of her. "Just because a boat went down doesn't mean there wasn't any survivors."
"Amen to that." Tony raised his glass in a heartbreaking parody of a toast and downed the drink in one go. He spluttered slightly and shook his head as he tried to digest the strong and awful liquid. Then he grinned and nodded at the barmaid. Unfazed, she reached for his glass.
"You heard what Gibbs said," McGee responded lucidly. Out of the three, he was the only one not on his way to a drunken stupor. McGee wasn't trying to get a rise out of the others, nor was he trying to condemn Ziva as dead, but the other two didn't see it that way.
"You've certainly changed your tune, McTraitor." Tony frowned and wagged his finger at him. His words were increasingly starting to slur together. "It wasn't long ago that you were saying . . ."
"Look, I'm not saying Ziva's dead," he cut in, trying to placate the situation. "I'm just . . ."
"Blasphemy," Abby cut in, raising her glass and sloshing some of its contents down its side. "I told you, Timmy, positive thoughts." She sipped her glass and closed her eyes. "Ziva's not dead. Ziva's not dead. Ziva's not . . ." She opened her eyes. "See, positive thoughts."
McGee was getting frustrated. Didn't they know he wanted the same thing as they did; that he wanted Ziva alive as well? He wanted that dull ache in his chest to go away, but he couldn't bring himself to grasp at the proverbial straws just to get his heart broken all over again. When Kate had died, and when the Director had died, there had been a few blissful minutes when he convinced himself it was all a mistake . . . Then it had all come crashing down around him and he wasn't doing that again. Not now.
"So," McGee started, his frustration evident in his voice, "even if you're correct, why hasn't she tried to contact us? Tried to contact Mossad? Why?"
"Maybe she can't," Abby theorised, scrubbing at the tears in her eyes. All it did was wipe running mascara across her face. "She could be injured, alone, and without a means to contact us."
"Still," McGee replied doubtfully, "maybe it's time we . . ."
"Moved on?" Tony cut in bitterly. "Jesus, McGee. She's been dead to us less than twenty-four hours and you're suggesting we get over it?"
McGee's frustration turned into anger. It wasn't fair of Tony suggest that he was the only one hurting. Just because he wasn't holding on to some deluded notion of survival didn't mean he wasn't feeling the same pain and heartache and longing the other two did.
"I am not suggesting we get over it, Tony," McGee snapped. He clenched his fists around his glass and his knuckles started to turn white.
"So what then?" Tony continued sarcastically, his drunkenness making him even more hurtful than normal. "Are you saying we should just forget about it? Like Kate and Jenny?"
That was it. He was done. With a hard stare and with skill he didn't know he had, McGee gulped down the liquor in one go. His eyes started to water. He had never been a very heavy drinker, nor was he fond of cheap and nasty alcohol. That wasn't something he would do again in a hurry.
McGee stood and turned his back on Tony and Abby. He couldn't deal with them, not like this. Tony was a mean drunk and Abby when piled with alcohol was just a more intense version of her normal self. He just wanted to go home, curl up with Jethro and pretend that the last few weeks had never happened.
He had started to walk away when Tony called, "Yeah, Probie. Just walk away. You've already given Ziva up for dead, so you might as well abandon us as well."
Tony's words stung. A lot. He had been brought up to never resolve an argument with violence, but at the moment he was ready to deck Tony in the face. But he wouldn't because that wasn't him. With a steadying sigh to calm his racing heart, McGee turned around, ready to fight his battles with words, as he had always done.
Tony, on the other hand, had other ideas. Out of nowhere, a clumsy fist rocketed towards his face. It missed by a mile, but it was enough to drive McGee back in shock. He stumbled backwards into the bar, and only just missed knocking over the drink of a heavy-set man covered in tattoos. McGee blinked at Tony in shock as the other man tried again.
Tony missed for a second time and it was then Abby shrieked, "Stop it!" She rushed forward and got between a shocked McGee and an angry Tony. She had her back to McGee and was trying to calm Tony down, crying freely as she did so.
"Just stop it," she sobbed, pressing the palms of her hands against Tony's chest. "Please, just stop it. We can't get angry at each other, not now. We need to stick together." By the time she got to the final word, her voice had risen an octave or two.
As though his strings had been cut, Tony dropped his hand limply back to his side. With a startled and blank look in his eyes, he staggered back to his barstool and clumsily sat down. Tony glanced over at his glass, which was empty, and signalled for another. For once, the barmaid didn't immediately give him another. Instead, she glanced over at McGee and her eyes seemed to ask his permission. Immediately, McGee shook his head.
McGee felt some, but not all, of his anger drain away. Tony was drunk and upset, he could give him that, but it still didn't excuse his behaviour, not by a long shot. But McGee could understand a little, and as Abby had said, they were a team. That was enough for McGee to cautiously approach Tony, arms out to show that he was not a threat.
"I think you've had enough, Tony," McGee remarked gently, surprising himself that he sounded less angry than he felt. He glanced at Abby. "And I think you have too."
Surprisingly, or maybe not that surprisingly, Abby nodded. Her sobs had settled down to quiet whimpers and the occasional hiccup. She remained standing, but had followed Tony back to their little corner of the bar.
"I don't think it's ever going to be enough," Tony responded hoarsely, gesturing to the filthy bottles behind the bar. "Kate. Jenny. Jeanne. Paula. Ziva." Tony looked so desolate and McGee knew Tony looked like he felt.
"Like Abby said, we have to stick together." McGee reached out and put a tentative hand on Tony's shoulder. Abby, not wanting to be left out, came over to McGee and slipped an arm around his shoulders. She rested her head on his shoulder, just underneath her arm. Her pigtails clung sadly to the side of her head and her face was streaked with mascara.
"But together doesn't include Ziva, not anymore," Tony mumbled. Amazingly, he didn't try to shrug off McGee's hand, and instead groped around on the bar for his glass. With a quick nod of McGee's head, the barmaid swept up all their glasses and took them far away.
McGee squeezed his shoulder. "What happened to your "Ziva's not dead" spiel?"
"It died," Tony replied, almost hysterically. "Like her."
"Don't," Abby cut in sharply. "Don't say that. Not yet."
"But Gibbs . . ." It was a complete three-sixty from earlier when Tony had been agreeing wholeheartedly with Abby and her theory that Ziva wasn't dead.
"It's Gibbs," Abby said fiercely, wiping away the tear that had trickled down her face. "He's just Gibbs. He's not a wizard. He doesn't know everything. He can be wrong." She nodded her head firmly. "He's wrong."
McGee dearly wished he could have Abby's faith, but somehow, he just couldn't find it. Maybe if there had been reports of a wreckage, of survivors, he might have been able to cling onto the hope Abby had. But it wasn't like that. The Damocles had gone down. There was no wreckage, no survivors.
Ziva was dead.
"I don't think he is, Abby," McGee said softly, scarcely wanting to believe his own words. "Not his time." Abby let out a heart wrenching sob and buried her face in McGee's shoulder. She clung to him, and he could feel her hot tears soaking into his shirt like burning acid.
McGee looked at Tony. For the first time that night, besides before they had started drinking, Tony looked almost sober, though McGee knew he wasn't. He gave McGee a soft, sad smile. "I think, Probie," he started in a quiet, broken voice, "for once, you are correct."
"I really wish I wasn't, Tony." McGee tried to return his smile as depressed as it was, but couldn't find it in him to do so. He squeezed Tony's shoulder again in a show of solidarity and let his hand linger there for a moment longer before dropping it to his side.
He had a thought. "It doesn't mean it's over," McGee said suddenly, earning confused looks from Tony and Abby. "She may be . . . gone . . ." McGee stumbled over his words. ". . . But it doesn't mean it's over. Ziva is – was – assigned to take out that terrorist, Saleem, in the Horn of Africa. For whatever reason, it must have been important."
He looked over at Tony and then back at Abby who was still on his shoulder. "We can finish it," he said, slightly surprised by the resolve and the hardness in his voice. "For whatever reason Ziva was doing it for, we finish it."
"But Gibbs . . ." Abby started to protest. Her tears were still falling, but she had composed herself enough to start talking again. "Gibbs wouldn't . . . Gibbs won't . . ."
"Then we don't tell him," McGee cut in firmly. "Saleem's a terrorist. What are we here to do? We're here to stop people like him."
Tony nodded slowly, a faint glimmer of his old self shining through. "We finish it," he said firmly, looking at McGee with a determined face. "We finish it. We have an obligation . . . to Ziva, to humanity. He needs to be stopped."
McGee turned to Abby, his face matched the look Tony wore. "Abby?"
She sniffled and used the back of her hand to wipe her nose. Then she nodded sadly, yet strongly. "We finish it. For Ziva. Whatever it takes."
"Agreed," McGee responded immediately. He looked at his colleagues and closest friends. There was nothing on earth that could stop them, not for Ziva.
"Agreed," Tony echoed dully.
They were going to finish it.