CHAPTER 7

The drive into the office the next day was uncomfortable for everyone, Abby went in with Gibbs, sitting listlessly in the passenger seat making no effort at conversation.

Tony, McGee and Ziva went in together, also in silence. As they walked in the door Ziva muttered "this time last week"

"yeah, Ziva, I think we all know that" Tony's reply was more tense than he wanted it to be but he didn't have the energy to do anything about it.

Gibbs and Abby came in a few minutes later, Gibbs taking Abby up to the bullpen with him "You're coming with me for now Abby" he said guiding her in front of him.

When Gibbs saw the others already in he walked away from the desks dialling on his cell.

He came back a few minutes later, and sat at his desk ignoring everyone, flicking through the teams reports.

With Abby being with them, the team knew something was up and they sat in a tense silence waiting, they just wished they knew what they were waiting for.

Half an hour later Gibbs phone rang he listened without speaking and hung up. Looking up at his assembled team, he said "let's go"

"Go where?" asked Ziva

"Autopsy, something there you need to see"

McGee turned green, "oh god, Palmer died and you're going to make us watch the autopsy" he promptly threw up in the trash can.

Tony and Ziva looked at each uneasily, Abby didn't react at all.

Gibbs indicated that they should precede him into the elevator. They bunched together as if trying to merge into one.

They walked as slowly as possible into autopsy, everyone of them looking at the floor.

Their heads shot up as one when a very cheery Palmer called out "hey guys!"

There was a stunned silence before Abby launched herself at him saying "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry" over and over again. The others were only slightly behind her.

McGee was the first to step away "but we thought, I mean Gibbs said…"

"What McGee is trying to ask is what happened to you? You look…well…good" said Tony

Palmer had the grace to look embarrassed "I hyperventilated in the coffin and passed out, I was discharged an hour after we got to the hospital"

"So where have you been all week?"

"I was under strict instructions from Gibbs, to take the week off and not to contact any of you under any circumstances"

"Gibbs?" Tony turned to his boss, realisation dawning on his face "you mean this whole last week has been a prank?"

Gibbs winked and smiled.

THE END