a/n – points wildly at diana teo. This is her fault.
The hour is late, the office empty of all but those unlucky few who have paperwork to finish. Tim McGee has finally finished printing out his report, and has rewarded himself with something from the vending machine. He sags back into his chair, and rubs his eyes, before he looks down. Blinks.
There is a neat line of tiny footprints right across the front page.
McGee narrows his eyes. If this is one of Tony's stupid pranks... Glares across at his co-worker. Tony is frozen, sandwich halfway to his mouth.
"I think your hobbies have finally gotten to me, McGamer."
There is a yelp, and Ziva pops up suddenly from behind her own desk. She has a throwing knife in her hand, and a wild look in her eye. For once the ire doesn't seem to be directed at Tony.
"Did you see it?" She demands.
"There was a...thing..."
"Moving very fast? Blue and red?"
"You did see it."
"I saw...something." Tony is cautious. "I think it might be under the filing cabinet."
"And I suppose you saw it run across my desk, then..." McGee starts, nastily.
"I don't know why you are blaming me," Tony complains.
"We blame you because it is usually you..."
"Hey, I'm the one who just found half his sandwich missing..."
"I didn't take it..."
The bickering stops abruptly as they take in the scene of carnage before them, the innocent victim lying in the midst of a dark and incriminating pool.
Someone has spilt Gibbs' coffee.
There is a pause. Then three people scramble wildly for the elevator.
"She's wearin' skulls and bats and jangly silver things, Rob."
"Hist, she'll be one of those Black Ribboners, ye ken?"
"Well, this doesnae smell like blood..."
The lab is a mess. Everything portable has...ported. Mostly up against one wall. Print-out paper is festooned around a tangle of lab chairs. McGee turns off the ear-bleeding music.
"Timmy?" The voice is muffled, "I'm under here..."
He reaches into the pile to grasp the wildly waving hands. Abby rises up like a Gothic Venus from the waves, only considerably more explosive.
"They stole my Caf-Pow!" Wide-eyed outrage. "Little blue things. Like psychotic smurfs. Ohmygod, we've been invaded. By tiny Caf-Pow stealing creatures from another dimension."
Jimmy Palmer didn't mind being on his own in the Autopsy room. It was peaceful, and he could study...
Faint rattle-bang. From inside one of the mortuary drawers.
Jimmy wishes suddenly that he didn't remember quite so much Poe from High School English.
"Crivens! 'Tis awful dark in here. Anybody got a match?"
"I see dead people."
"Whit kind of a loony keeps a box full of corpuses, Rob?"
The silence is abrupt. But Jimmy, suddenly bold, steps towards the drawer. If there is a recovered narcoleptic or something, he'll be a hero.
And frankly, nothing he can imagine could ever be half as scary as Gibbs.
Gathers all his courage, and yanks the drawer open. There is a flash of something black and blue and somehow damp leaping towards him, a smell...
"Horace, dinnae eat the Igor's spectacles..."
"He doesnae look like an Igor. No stitches."
...and it all mercifully goes black.
Ducky wanders into the room, already talking as he shrugs into his coat.
"...so I shall be off home now, Mr Palmer, and...oh, dear."
Jimmy is lying out cold in the middle of the floor, with what looks like a cheese sitting on his chest. It doesn't have eyes, but Ducky is sure that it is somehow watching him.
"...don't know who did spill it, but I'm not keen on being there when he comes back...Uh, hey, Duck..."
Jimmy is neatly laid out on one of the tables, with Ducky examining his skull. There is a strong smell of Scotch in the air.
"Just a minor mishap." Ducky says. "The laddie took a wee tumble."
Tony is looking down with an expression of horrified disbelief.
"Ducky, there's a...something trying to eat my shoe."
Ziva prods it with her knife, draws back the hilt abruptly and regards the corroded blade with wide eyes.
"Do not let it touch your skin."
"I'm trying not to." He manages to scramble up onto the autopsy table with impressive speed.
"Indeed." Ziva elbows up beside him. "We are partners, no? Make room."
"What is that?"
"He is a Lancre Blue cheese, who incidentally answers to the name of Horace. It does tend to be one of the more vigorous types of dairy product..."
"I could certainly develop lactose intolerance." Tony snatches his fingers back hastily.
Tim and Abby come through the door, to be greeted by the sight of Tony and Ziva crouched up on one of the tables, and shouting "Mind the cheese!"
"Oh, he's just playing." Ducky says, cheerfully.
Since everyone has encountered the late Mrs Mallard's psychotic corgi pack, whose idea of 'just playing' consists of the attempted hamstringing of their prey, they are not convinced by this blithe assurance. Tim gallantly helps Abby to higher ground, swings his feet up just before Horace bowls past with a rumble.
"Somebody want to explain what is going on here?" Gibbs drawls from the doorway.
"Oh, waily, waily, tis the Big Man hisself..."
"I really do think it would be best if you revealed yourselves now..." Ducky says.
Any doubts about Ducky's sanity are rapidly replaced by doubts about their own, as, with a rustle, the Autopsy Room sprouts small blue creatures.
Jimmy fumbles on his glasses - the lenses seem curiously...etched - and things come back into focus. He blinks.
"Uh, Doctor Mallard, I think I may have hit my head a bit harder than I thought..."
"Oh, don't worry, Mr Palmer. You are indeed seeing little blue men."
"Oh. Good." Jimmy frowns. "Did you hit your head, too, sir?"
"These gentleman are what are commonly known as 'feegles'. The Nac Mac Feegle are a form of pictsie..."
There is shuffling, and shoving.
"We wuz in pursuit of the miscreants oorselves..."
"It was an accident..." one blurts. Another one reaches and cuffs him around the back of the head.
"Aye, yon Big Man was right. Tis a verra satisfyin' thing."
The team exchange wide-eyed glances.
"Did I just see one of them get Gibbs-slapped?" Tony mouths.
"Tis in the Rules, ye ken. Niver mess wi' the Big Man's brew."
"They were hiding down here, because they spilt your coffee?"
"Isn't that what you were doing, DiNozzo?"
"...um, yeah, Boss."
Ziva has offered to drive Jimmy home, and Ducky is trying to find a way of explaining tactfully that perhaps her somewhat, um, exuberant style might not be best suited to someone recovering from a head trauma.
McGee appears to be trying to explain computers. An incautious mention of 'elf lords' by Tony had required some extremely rapid talking, since 'under sharp scrutiny' is more than a metaphor to people armed with swords. Half a dozen little dots of tissue paper still decorate McGee's jaw, and he's not forgiven Tony yet. He tries not to think about the fact that he is talking to half a dozen fairy folk and a sentient cheese, and patiently repeats the assertion that no, a reboot does not consist of kicking the machine to bits, tempting as it may be.
Abby is orchestrating the clean-up of her lab, twirling happily in the midst of a whirlwind of activity. The small Feegle the others called the Gonnagle has a set of pipes, and is adding to the usual aural violence, held up on the palm of her hand.
"It's like some horrible version of Disney." Tony says weakly. "Scary Poppins..."
Gibbs, coffee refreshed, gives a small grunt and forbears to head-slap him. There is something amusing in watching the perky Goth dancing about. Tony slides his eyes sideways.
"You never did explain how you know these guys, Boss..."
Gibbs allows himself a small smile.
"Well, DiNozzo, haven't you always wondered exactly how I get the boats out of the basement..."