Yep. I'm a terrible person for waiting this long to continue this. Heads up... not my best work, but I felt I should probably give you something after all this time.
Once again, I'm really sorry, and I hope you all enjoy this next chapter.
Review and let me know what you think.
"Not one hundred percent sure what's going on, Boss, but it's definitely something hinky." Chief just gave him a look that spoke volumes, one brow arching to his forehead at the detective's words, before Tony quickly shook his head. "Sorry. Chief. Won't forget again."
"Now why don't I believe you, DiNozzo?"
Tony shook his head, ending the conversation with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Not the point. Something's going on, and I'm not altogether certain we're going to like it."
The chief frowned at the man everyone acknowledged as his favourite, concern creasing his forehead. "Why's that?"
"Agent Thornton confessed that Fornell is in a right state. Something about 'those Navy assholes' moving Nazziri."
"Not kidding, Chief. This time tomorrow, that murderous son of a bitch is going to be holed up at NCIS headquarters." It had been long enough that mention of his former workplace didn't make him flinch, but not so long that he didn't feel a twinge at the idea that it was no longer his place of work. It just felt strange and surreal, like he was living someone else's life.
"Looks like it's time you visited the old neighbourhood, DiNozzo."
Tony frowned. "Say what now?"
"Tony, Tony, Tony, Tony, Tony, Tony!"
He'd realised he'd missed her, but seeing her now, tattoos, studded dog collar, black pigtails and platform leather boots, brought home just how much he'd adored the Goth lab tech.
The air was forced from his lungs in a sharp exhale as she collided with him, throwing herself into his arms and hugging him so tightly he felt as though his head was about to explode. "Hey Abs," he hissed out between clenched teeth, his voice faint and breathless from lack of oxygen. "Missed you."
"Oh Tony! I missed you too!" She released him a moment to get a look at his face, before throwing her arms around him once again and hugging him tight once more. "Please, please, please tell me you're back."
Easing her away, Tony was already shaking his head, lifting the visitor's badge from the chest pocket of his dark leather jacket as proof. "Sorry Abs. Just visiting."
"But you could!" she insisted, nodding her head and causing those dark pigtails to bounce. "Come back, I mean."
Tony's voice was a tad more serious to drive his point home. "No, Abs. I can't."
Abby Sciuto studied him seriously for a long moment, a pout beginning to pull at her darkly painted lips, before she shrugged off her melancholy and pounced on him again for the briefest of hugs. Then stepping back, she grasped his hand and dragged him with her down the hall to her lab. "Never mind. You're here now! God, the things I could tell you!"
"Tony's here?" McGee sat up straighter at his desk – formerly Tony's – his head whipping back and forth as if likely to catch a glimpse of him walking through the bullpen. When it became obvious that this wasn't working, he rose to his feet, making to head towards the elevator.
"McGee!" Gibbs' hard voice broke his focus, and McGee turned to view the dark glower on his boss' face.
Gibbs' finger pointed down. "Sit."
"... is here to see Abs. If he wanted to see you, McGee, he would have come here."
"Not likely, seeing as how you're..." but McGee realised what he was muttering under his breath, and cut himself off. Realising too that his boss wasn't going to budge on this issue, no doubt something to do with some ridiculous marine pride, McGee returned to his seated position, exchanging a furtive glance with Ziva, before focussing once again on his computer screen.
Abby shook her head in wonderment. "I know, right? Ziva! Seeing someone! Can you believe it? How he deals with the realisation that she could kick his ass in both a fair and unfair fight, I don't know."
"Clearly not a prideful man, is Colonel Cooper."
Abby just grinned, tempted once more to hug her friend, but remembering too his warning that he was nearly one hundred percent positive she'd cracked a rib with her near-constant hugging. Though she knew this was entirely fiction, she let it go, respecting his wishes. "How's life at the precinct? Any sexy female detectives to keep you distracted from the work at hand?"
Tony chuckled. "A few. I'm not complaining."
"I'd bet you're not." Abby fixed him with a meaningful glance. "We had a couple of metro in here the other day, witnesses. Officer Nelson is definitely your type, if I don't miss my guess."
"You? Guess? Surely not."
Abby grinned. "Not everything's an exact science, Tony. Might I refer your memory to your brief fling with Melanie Alder?"
Tony grimaced at the memory of the nerdy girl he'd gone out with once. As nerds went, the girl was definitely of the good looking variety, but apparently not enough guys of his 'quality' had thought the same, and since they were 'meant to be together' she had felt it more than okay to keep a close eye on him. Being the techie nerd that she was, this meant installing video cameras around his house. He'd had to keep his blinds closed at all times for months until she'd eventually lost interest.
"I see your point."
Abby grinned brightly at him. "I thought you might."
Then Tony sighed, shaking his head. "Well, Abs, I'm due back at the office, so I'll have to say good–"
His breath was expelled sharply from his lungs when she threw herself at him again, squeezing him tightly. "No! You can't go!"
"Abs!" he hissed, no air in his lungs. "The hugging."
"Right!" Abby released him, stepping back, but bouncing a little on the balls of her feet. "But you can't go before saying hi to everyone. We miss you Tony. Really, we do. All of us."
Tony shook his head, despite the determination on Abby's face as she'd said the last. "Not all, Abs."
"I should'a known you wanted my desk, Probie."
McGee just about jumped out of his seat, spinning to look at his former co-worker standing behind his desk with a wide grin, green eyes flashing amusement. "Tony!"
"You know... I've been getting that a lot today. You thought I was dead or something."
McGee automatically stood, unable to sit at this particular desk with DiNozzo standing right there. "You nearly fell off the face of the world."
Tony couldn't help but grin at that. "Nearly, Tim. Nearly."
Things might have continued in the same manner, Ziva having a chance to greet her former colleague, had Gibbs not chosen that moment to return from interrogation, dragging a more than irate Carlos Nazziri by his collar.
Whatever Gibbs might have said to the detective would never be known, because the suddenly awkward silence was ripped apart by the almost feral snarl coming from Carlos as he threw an elbow at Gibbs' face – missing of course, and being thrown roughly to the floor for his efforts – and tried to hurl himself at Tony.
"I'll kill you! I'll fucking kill you!"
James Middleton shot Tony a look that clearly said the guy was insane. "You went all the way down there to see how Carlos felt about you?" His partner shook his head. "You know, if you let me know you had a death wish, I could have helped you out."
Tony shot his partner his trademark careless grin. "The point is, Chief, that Nazziri seems to be under the impression that we're setting him up. A high profile kill like that... It's something he would do, but he seemed genuinely livid about it. Clearly someone's giving orders they shouldn't be."
"So you say, but how can we be sure?"
Tony shook his head. "We can't. Without questioning Nazziri directly, we've got no hope figuring this one out. Short of–"
"Waiting for him to come after you."
With a nod, the Detective DiNozzo rose from his chair. "Stands to reason. Well... I'm off." Pulling on his coat, Tony flashed them all his trademark grin. "Got a date."
James rolled his eyes, whilst the chief a couple of the other detectives laughed at their newest colleague. "Of course you do. Enjoy your weekend."
It didn't seem possible at the time, but Tony's smile actually widened. "Count on it."
"You know... I wasn't one hundred percent sure you'd call."
Tony glanced over at the gorgeous woman standing in line beside him, arching a brow as he readjusted the popcorn bucket under his arm. "Why not?"
Mikaela Thornton shook her head, a slight frown pulling at her brows. "Nothing in particular. You just seemed... well... distant. Uninterested."
"In you? Rubbish."
"Then what was it?"
Tony shook his head. "Bad day at the office. And speaking of... How's that case going with your friend? Billy, was it? Any new leads?"
Instant suspicion clouded her eyes and Tony wanted to curse himself for the blunt question. On some, it worked a treat, those of the right personality more than willing to disclose the details of a particularly frustrating case. Mikaela, as it turned out, wasn't one of those people, and her mouth tightened, her arms folded as she turned her gaze forward and away from him. "I can't discuss an ongoing investigation, Tony. You know that."
"Forget I asked. Instead, tell me about that party."
His instant dismissal and obvious disinterest in finding out more on the case made her feel silly for ever doubting him, whilst his next comment just made her laugh. "Oh you wish I'd tell you about it, but like I said before, it was secret girl business."
Tony sighed heavily, as if hard put upon. "You are a cruel, cruel woman, Miss Thornton." Then he nodded his head as he popped a piece of the heavily buttered popcorn into his mouth, teasing her with, "Now find us a seat before I seriously reconsider agreeing to this date."
Her look of playful outrage made him grin. "You called me."
"So you say. Give me your witness."
"But I–" She glared at him with mock-anger a moment. "I was alone, as you well know."
He flashed her another grin. "So what you're saying is that you have no proof? None whatsoever?"
She sighed, conceding the point.