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"Clear!" Tony calls.
"Oh, thank god you guys are here," says the boy in the chair. "My nose has been itching for hours."
That's...not the reaction they usually get, Tony thinks. Normally it's along the lines of oh-god-oh-god-get-me-out-of-here. And stuff.
Still, as Ziva checks the shadows and corners, Tony cuts the kid's ropes and helps him to stand. He shakes out his wrists to get the blood flowing again, and Tony's sympathetic. It's happened to him before, too.
Ziva rejoins them, holstering her weapon. The boy looks up at them, and he's got just the biggest, bluest eyes ever. He also immediately fixates on Ziva.
"Hi," the kid says, and that's just not fair, Tony thinks. The kid can't be even fifteen, hell, his balls probably haven't even dropped yet, but that is, far and away, one of the smoothest greetings he's ever heard. Just the right touch casual, just the right touch admiring, and none of the sleaze. "And who might you be?" The boys asks, moving forward.
"Ah...Ziva," she answers, a bit taken aback. The child raises his hand, so she raises hers in response, but instead of shaking, he lifts her hand in his, and bows over it. No kiss, no "enchente," and damn, but this kid's got class.
"Zi-vaaaah," he murmurs, "Hebrew. Israeli?"
Ziva blinks. "Yes. How did you know?"
He spouts something in a language Tony almost recognizes.
"You speak Hebrew?"
He grins, just this side of bashful. "I used most of my vocabulary there." His smile gets a bit roguish. "Well, all that's fit for mixed company, anyways."
And, okay, that's it.
"So, who might you be, then?" Tony butts in.
"Sheila," the boy shrugs.
Tony blinks. "Really?"
"Well, I might be." He's smirking at Tony now, and okay, he did walk right into that one.
"Howzabout your name, then?"
The boy rakes his eyes over Tony for a moment, and then says, "Nah, don't think so. Go look it up yourself." And he's turning back to Ziva.
Tony does not like this kid. Not at all.
He goes outside to call Gibbs, who gruffly orders him to keep an eye on the boy, bring him back to headquarters if necessary, but don't let him go 'til they get an ID.
He reenters to see Ziva giggling, of all things. The boy's got a shit-eating grin pasted across his face, and Ziva is honestly outright giggling.
"Boss wants us back ten minutes ago," he says, and the two turn to look at him. Ziva nods, and the kid shrugs and sticks his hands in his pockets, all fake-casual.
"Nice to meet you," he says to Ziva, and to Tony, "See you, then."
He gets two steps before Tony gets him by his shirt cuff. "Nu-uh, short stuff, you're coming with us."
He gets a blinding grin in response. "Only because you asked so nicely."
Tony blinks. The kid knew he was to come back with them, and Tony'd just been played. Damn. "Just for that, Ziva's driving." He tosses her the keys. The boy somehow manages to shrug while being suspended in midair, and okay, that's serious props.
The kid mumbles, "I'm sure it'll hurt you more than me, old man."
"What!" Tony says, and his voice is perfectly normal, not a bit raised, not at all. "I am not old!"
He drops the kid, who runs for the car, calling "Sure thing, gramps!" over his shoulder.
Only because his head is turned, he's approaching the car too fast. Tony starts to call, "Hey, look—" but the kid gets to the car's hood first.
Tony has about a second to worry about how he's going to explain to Gibbs that they'd managed to run this kid over with a parked car. Then the kid plants his hands on the hood, flips vertical, pushes off, tucks and turns, and then lands cleanly on the other side.
Tony himself reaches the car. "Holy shit," he says to Ziva. "Did you see that?"
"See what?" Ziva asks. She sat back up from where she'd been sliding the seat forwards.
"Yeah, see what?" the kid asks curiously.
"He just—never mind." Tony seriously does not like this kid.
The ride is just about as hellish as he expected it to be. What he didn't expect was the kid laughing and whooping and saying, "There! There! Cut him off there!"
This was supposed to be punishment, not a roller coaster.
When Tony finally stumbles out, weak-kneed and heart still in his throat, he makes a mental note to never ride with the two of them together, ever again. He also adds an addendum to get McGee to do it as soon as possible.
The ride up the elevator is far too long, and Tony spends most of it trying to convince his stomach to let go of his spine. The boy is complementing Ziva on her driving skills, though, and that's just wrong. He wants to say something witty about how wrong that is, but can't seem to think of anything, what with the way his head's spinning.
The door dings open, and Ziva exits, the kid strolling along behind her like he does this every day.
Tony stays in the elevator a bit longer.
That, was, of course a mistake. When he finally steps out and heads back to his desk, the kid's sitting on it.
That's not even the worst part, though. He's saying, "...but you must use a static IP, right? Otherwise you couldn't keep the port functions."
Of course McGeek is glossy-eyed about that. Of course he's eating it up. Why wouldn't he be? "No, we can," McGoogle says, "'cause, see, Abby's got this sweet program that pings and repings to sync all of them, so we can still be dynamic and keep the server up."
The boys swings his legs as he considers this. "But there'd still be lag during the resync, no? How do you deal with the overlap? Or do you not?"
Tony flops down in his chair, props his feet up, and stares at the back of the kid's head. Hard.
McGee is really getting into it now, and even Ziva is listening with interest. "It's scheduled to rotate through in increments, not shift all at once, like most. Lessens the drain and the wait, especially since we've got so many computers hooked up."
"You might try breaking it down into parallel subprocessors," the kid says casually, examining his nails. "Get three or four set up, and then you can parallel the main computers, and dedicate one to a series, if you like. One sub per floor, on a rotating least-time-left system. Sure, it's slower for the schmuck at the end, but not by much, and I figure that ain't you, huh?"
"I..." McGee stares at the boy for a second. "No. We could reconfigure the server for it, but. But the firewall."
Tony is annoyed. He understands more about computers than he likes to admit, but this is just out-and-out technobabble. And the kid still isn't noticing his glare.
The boy rolls his eyes. "You're seriously not still using a WiFi link-in? I figured you guys for more hi-tech than that."
"Hey! We have hard code backups along the lines! It's just-"
"You're not seriously telling the unidentified kidnap victim the particulars of our computer security stuff, right?" Tony cuts in in disbelief.
McGee trips over his tongue. "O—of course not! I was...we were just...!"
And finally, finally, Gibbs shows up. "Just what, McGee?"
"Just entertaining the civilian, boss," McGee says, and turns to follow Gibbs' progress.
Nice save, Tony mouths at him when Gibbs turns his back.
"Right, our civilian kidnappee. Wanna tell us why they took you, kid?" Gibbs settles into his desk chair, and the boy hops off of Tony's desk to stand at something approaching parade rest.
"Ransom," the boy says, quick and to the point. "They thought they could get my guardian to pay up."
Gibbs raises an eyebrow. "And who's your guardian?" Uh-oh, Tony thinks. That was Gibbs' don't-make-me-force-this-out-of-you voice.
The kid apparently reads this as well, because he cuts the crap—finally—and says, "My name is Richard Grayson, ward of Bruce Wayne, from Gotham City. Obviously, I could, potentially, be worth a lot of money. However, I can mostly take care of myself. I was going to visit a friend over in Central City when I got...delayed by some idiots. They tied me up, went to make demands, and your guys found me. Though what NCIS has to do with it, I have no idea."
Tony blinks. Making a few allowances for the boy's youth, that was a pretty impressive sit rep. And of course an infamous playboy's ward could charm a lady. But..."How were you traveling from Central City?" he asks, because he really is curious.
Richard shrugs again, and Tony's starting to hate that habit. "Motorcycle," he says. "It's back at the warehouse. Bright red. Cherry ride. Kinda hard to miss."
That was a snub if Tony ever heard one, but he bites his cheek. Gibbs has strict no-annoying-the-witnesses rules.
"Richard-" Gibbs starts, but the kid actually interrupts him. He interrupts Gibbs. Wow, this kid has guts.
"Call me Dick," he says. '"Richard' makes me want to find a responsible adult for you to talk to."
Tony snickers a bit. He would normally at least attempt to hide it, but this kid—Dick—has been asking for it. McGee's face goes slack with the effort it takes not to laugh, and Ziva looks between the two of them, bewildered.
Tony waves a hand at her, letting her know he'll explain it later.
Gibbs doesn't bat an eye. "The kidnappers were a group of AWOL sailors. That makes it NCIS business." He stares at the kid, hard.
Tony wilts slightly in sympathy, but the boy's spine is still straight and he keeps eye contact. Tony is, unwillingly, impressed.
"Can I go home, then?" Dick asks, and Gibbs shakes his head.
"No. It's not safe."
Then Dick pouts. And he doesn't just pout, he pouts. Lip sticking out, head down, giant eyes looking up through his eyelashes, full on pity-me-poor-kid pouts.
That is so not fair.
McGullible is this close to going "Awwww," and Ziva seems to think the kid has spontaneously turned into a puppy.
Even Gibbs! The corner of the bossman's mouth is twitching in that I-am-so-not-smiling way that he has. Still, Gibbs stares at him a second longer, then turns away. "Ziva-"
"Contacting Mr. Wayne and arranging transportation, got it."
"Finding the kidnappers yesterday, boss."
"And Tony, keep an eye on our guest, here. See that he's comfortable."
Tony's head says no-boss-don't-make-me-deal-with-this-kid-anymore-he's-scary-please, and his mouth says, "Yes, Boss."
He (only a little bit vengefully) locks the boy in Interrogation, and settles in behind the one-way glass to watch. Dick sighs dramatically, tosses a wink at the glass, and then just...falls over.
Tony surges to his feet, ready to charge in there, or something. Then sneakered feet pop up behind the table, and...yes, he's doing a handstand. In the interrogation room.
The kid proceeds through some frankly incredible stretches and acrobatics, before stopping, cocking his head towards the mirror, and taking a seat in the chair provided.
Ziva walks into the observation room.
"How did he do that?" Tony asks out loud.
"Do what?" Ziva takes a seat beside him.
"The kid, he just..." Tony gestures to Dick, who appears to be napping, head pillowed on his arms. "He was...he knew you were coming in."
Ziva scoffs. "He is a child, Tony. He couldn't possibly know I was entering the room on the other side of the soundproof glass."
"No!" Tony says. "I'm telling you, he knew! This kid is, like, a ninja or something!"
On the other side of the glass, the kid sits up, stretches his arms above his head, and yawns. Then he gets up, takes off his jacket, and settles in on the floor instead.
They watch for a second, and then Ziva says, "He is a ward of a billionaire. They live in the public eye. He is not a ninja."
"He could totally be a ninja!" Tony objects. "He flipped over the car! And he was doing flips and handstands and stuff in there just now!"
Ziva rolls her eyes. "Richard Grayson was a circus acrobat until he was ten. He is not a ninja."
"Ha! So you believe me!"
"No," Ziva contradicted patiently. "I believe he is capable of handstands. I do not believe he would do them in here."
"Well, let's check the tapes!"
"When our shift is up, I would be delighted." He tone implied she would be anything but.
"Great!" Tony fumes, and sulks in silence.
Neither says anything for the next half-hour or so, not until Gibbs walks in.
"Sleeping. On the floor."
Gibbs moves up to the window. Then he takes a few steps to the left, and then the right. He bends a bit at the waist, straightens, and says again, "Where is the boy?"
Tony gets up to point him out, but can't even find the kid's jacket.
"The kid's a ninja, boss, I swear!"
"Do we have any idea how long he's been missing? Or how he got out?" Gibbs asks, halfway out the door.
"We last had visual confirmation thirty-four minutes ago," Ziva answers after checking her watch. "We saw him settle on the ground, and then..."
Tony winces. Not only has this kid been running around their base for thirty-some odd minutes, but Tony hadn't even seen him leave.
What if the kid wasn't in the base? What if he'd left? Yeah, right, Tony corrected himself. The kid, ninja or not, didn't have his motorcycle. He'd still be in the building.
Who knows what kind of insane damage one ninja!kid could do to a building in a half hour?
They get to the monitor, and Gibbs pulls up surveillance footage of the interrogation room. Tony boggles. According to the camera, the kid is still there! Dammit, how did he do that?
McGee is called over to look at it. He hits a few buttons, does something with the screen, and says breathlessly, "He hacked the video feeds!"
"I hacked the video feeds," is the first thing Tony hears when the elevator doors open to Abby's lab.
"Ooh," Abby squeals. "Tell me all about it!"
Tony rounds the corner in enough time to catch the kid's smirk. "The hardest part was reaching the camera...Oh, hi, Tony! Nice of you to join us."
Abby spins on a platform heel. "Tony! Look who I found! Can I keep him?"
"No," Tony says a bit too loudly. "The kid's a menace. And he's adopted."
Abby shoots him a withering look. "That was beneath you, Tony."
It takes him a second to realize she thought he was trying to insult Dick, who is smirking at him behind her back.
"No," Tony says, "I mean, literally. He was adopted already, so you can't have him."
"Oh, Dickie, you're adopted? That is so cool! Well, not the before part, but you know, the new family part, and are they nice to you, 'cause if they aren't, I have a futon and-"
"Thanks, but no thanks," Dick says wryly. "I'm quite happy being the ward of Bruce Wayne."
"You're a celebrity? Oh, Dickie, why so awesome?" And she hugs him, inadvertently shoving his head into her cleavage.
Tony has to fight the urge to pry her off of him. For her own good, of course, because she doesn't know what a conniving little troll the kid is. Not because he's jealous or anything.
Fortunately for his sanity, she lets the kid breathe again. "Handsome, smart, and rich!" She cheers.
"Three good reasons to hate anybody," Tony mutters, and says, louder, "I'll be right back."
He steps out of the lab and back into the elevator. Gibbs is the only one who can save Abby now.
He finds Gibbs coming down the staircase from the Director's office and says, "The kid's in Abby's lab." Gibbs doesn't stop, walking right past him to the elevator. Tony follows on his heels. "Just so you know, she wants to keep him."
Gibbs makes a noise halfway amused, halfway exasperated. Tony fidgets the rest of the way down.
They hear the music before the doors even open. It's loud, obnoxious, and completely Abby's style. Which is why the sight that greets them is so weird.
Despite the fact that Tony left them alone for literally two minutes, that time has seen Dick put on Abby's platform boots. This makes them almost the same height, but it doesn't stop the waltzing to the metal-pop any less strange.
He leads her through a clumsy spin, spreads his feet to brace himself, and dips her over his arm. She's giggling, even as she glimpses an upside-down Gibbs.
"Hi, boss!" she chirps, and then her stocking feet slip on the linoleum floor.
Tony and Gibbs both rush forward, but it's too late from the start.
There is a thwack. Tony closes his eyes on instinct, because for a split second, he's afraid to look. But that's the coward's way, and anyways, he doesn't hear crying or screaming, so he looks.
It makes no sense. Granted, Tony's never worn Abby's boots, but he knows they're heavy and solid, and they look too big on the kid, so the only way he could have also tripped was on purpose. But somehow he slipped under Abby, letting his legs cushion her fall.
Maybe the kid wasn't as bad as all that.
"Ow," Abby complains, slipping and sliding her way back up onto her feet. Gibbs is there, giving her a hand up, and setting one on her back, looking her over for injury.
"Double ow," Dick agrees, letting his back flop onto the floor.
"You're okay?" Tony asks in almost-disbelief.
"I'm fine!" Abby says dismissively, cautiously taking a step. "Or I will be, once I get some traction."
Dick sits back up, groaning, and Tony actually considers giving the kid a hand up. But instead of standing, he starts pulling off the boots, and handing them back to Abby. She takes them, putting them on with one hand and balancing on Gibbs with the other.
And, finally, Abby is shod and standing, the kid is shoeless and spreadeagle on the floor, Gibbs is less scowly, and Tony is absolutely convinced Dick is a ninja.
"Not to sound mean," Abby says, "but thanks for tripping."
Dick pulls a face at her, and finally gets up. He makes a dramatic showing of stretching and moaning.
"You'd better not be implying I'm heavy!" she jokes, and tucks him under one of her arms.
"I'd never!" he protests. "Milady is light as a feather! As pretty as a picture! As thin as a thin thing!"
"Stop, stop, you're making me blush," she monotoned.
He pulled away from her, and took up a stance, one hand raised towards her, the other on his chest, and his head at a ridiculous angle. "Bid me live and I will live/Thy protestant to be;/Or bid me love, and I will give/A loving heart to thee!"
"I seriously do not believe this," Tony says.
"Drink to me only with thine eyes, and I will pledge with mine/Or leave a kiss but in the cup, and I'll look not for wine..."
Abby is clinging to her counter in order to stay on her feet, she's laughing so hard.
"This isn't really happening," says Tony.
Gibbs is smiling.
Dick shifts poses and poems. "I'll grant thee random access to my heart/Thou'lt tell me all the constants of thy love;/And so we two shall all love's lemmas prove/And in our bound partition never part!"
"At least it's not Shakespeare," Gibbs deadpans. Dick pulls a face at him.
"iRoses are red/Violets are blue/All my base/Are belong to you!"
Tony puts his hands over his ears. "Lalalala! Not listening!"
Abby gives it up and collapses to the ground.
"C'mon, lover-boy," Gibbs says, grabs Dick's arm, and hauls him to the elevator. Tony beats them there.
"Love, love me do! You know I love you! I'll always be true...!" Dick wails, way off key.
Abby tries to say something, but she can't get enough breath. The doors close before Dick can get even worse.
Tony hates this kid.
Dick is thankfully quiet for the short ride back up to the main area.
"Was that really necessary? I mean, really?" Tony asks, and then freezes, because that was such a straight line.
But the kid doesn't mock him, instead saying, "It got her smiling again, and she forgot about her fall." He shrugs. "I'd say it was."
"Damage control?" Gibbs states more than asks.
Dick hmmms an agreement, and the doors ding open. Gibbs puts a friendly hand on the kid's shoulder, mostly to steer him and make sure he doesn't run off again.
McGee says, "Boss, I fixed the camera!" as they pass him and continue back to the interrogation rooms.
"Oh, not here again," Dick complains. "It's so boring."
"Yes, here again," Gibbs says. "And this time, you're to stay put. Understood?"
"Yeah, yeah," Dick waves him off. Tony notices that they're putting the kid in a different room this time. Somehow, he doesn't think it'll make any difference.
Tony is right; it doesn't make a blind bit of difference. When Tony hands watch-the-kid duty off to McGee, the kid disappears.
Apparently, the ten seconds it takes for Tony to stand up and say, "He's all yours, Probie," is all the ninja boy needs to completely vanish.
The two agents stare at the window. There was a kid, and now there isn't.
"Gibbs is gonna kill me," Tony grumbles.
"Let's check the camera," McGee suggests. For lack of a better answer, Tony agrees. They shuffle to the back of the room, and the camera operator glances up to acknowledge them..
While they're distracted, Dick pops up from the corner under the camera, picks the lock, and is gone for real. By the time the agents gather around the monitor, the room is actually empty.
"Is this kid a ninja or what?" McGee asks in exasperation.
"I've been telling them that since we found him," Tony answers mournfully. "No one believes me."
"I don't believe him," McGee says, scowling as viciously as a puppy at his monitor. The operator plays the tape back, and they watch the kid hide in the corner, wait a moment or so, and then just get up and stroll out of the room, barely stopped by the lock on the door. "We are so stupid."
"And he's an insane ninja circus brat," Tony says. "Let's find him already."
Tony sticks his head into Autopsy just in time to hear Ducky say, "...and so the power of the bagpipes actually saved his life."
That...sounds like an amazing story, but Tony's pretty sure the lead-up to that line would take ages.
"Oh, hello, Anthony," Ducky greets. "I was just telling—"
"Yes, I see," Tony interrupts. Ducky's in the back corner talking to his dead people again, there's no one else in the room, and Tony's got a brat to find. "Nice to see you Ducky talk to you later bye!"
Dr. Mallard stares at the door for a second, then turns to the boy who's once again perched on the table behind him. "What do you suppose that was all about?"
Big blue eyes blink back at him, and Dick says, "I'm sure I have no idea, Dr. Ducky. You were saying...?"
Tony meets back up with McGee on the back side of the main room. Tim shakes his head in defeat, and Tony's had no luck either. "I checked with Abby, Ducky, and the evidence locker people," he lists off.
Tim sighs. "The mail room hasn't seen him, nor the secretaries, nor any of the staff I could find. I couldn't even find him on camera!"
Tony thinks a moment, and decides again that the kid must still be in the building. "I'll go high and you go low, this time," he decides, "and I'll get Ziva to play tracker."
"Right," McGee says, setting his shoulders and trying to look determined. Tony can't help but smile at the poor probie, even as he shakes his head at their joint plight. Tim starts towards the stairs, and Tony heads over to talk to Ziva.
Tim sighs as he opens the door to Autopsy. He hasn't found Dick anywhere, and he's nearly covered the whole building by now. He takes a few steps into the room, about to ask Ducky if he's seen their lost charge, but instead, his mouth just hangs on the first sound. Mostly because his brain stalls on him.
Because he can't actually be seeing Ducky and their lost ninja boy having a tea party on the examination tables.
"-quite rightly, too, I'm afraid, and...Ah! Timothy, won't you join us? Here, I have another cup—" Ducky is saying, and beginning to get up from his chair.
"It's okay," Dick says, sliding off the table. "I'll get it."
"Thank you, dear boy," Ducky sparkles at the boy.
"Not at all, Dr. Ducky," Dick sparkles back.
Ducky shakes his head and beckons Tim closer. "I've told him we don't stand on formality here, but he insists—oh, no it's the next cabinet over—and it's quite nice having such a pleasant, polite young man around."
Dick pours the tea, looks at Tim critically, and adds two sugars and a dash of cream. He presents the delicate cup and saucer to Tim, who takes it on autopilot. Dick clambers back up onto the table, and says, just a bit wistfully, "If there were a kitchen around here, I'd make us some scones."
"Yes, but it's nearly impossible to find decent scones on this side of the ocean," Ducky informs the boy, who's hanging on his every word with wide-eyed enthusiasm.
"Our gentleman's gentleman has this recipe that you wouldn't believe," Dick says, and sips his tea. Gracefully. "The classic kind, baked just right. Perhaps I can get Alfred to send you the recipe."
And now Tim believes everything Tony's been saying about this kid, because this persona he's playing is carefully calculated to appeal to Ducky, whereas their little technochat earlier was aimed at him. Tim has no doubt this Richard Grayson could charm absolutely anybody, any time, anywhere.
"Well, drink up," Ducky tells him, and he automatically takes a sip. It's a bit too creamy and not quite sweet enough, but it's pretty close to how he takes his tea.
Timothy McGee might not have the famous Gibbs Gut, but he knows a dangerous opponent when he sees one.
"Actually, Ducky, Dick here needs to come back upstairs with me," Tims says, gently placing his saucer on the table between them. "He slipped out of the Interrogation rooms to come...visit you. After sneaking out to visit Abby."
Ducky blinks and then says, "So when Anthony was in here earlier...?"
Dick hangs his head a bit. "I hid. He didn't see me."
"And you're sitting in the camera's only blind spot," McGee throws in.
"But your story was just so interesting that I had to hear how it ended," Dick finishes, and swallows the last of his tea. "But I'm afraid I really must go now. It's been an pleasure meeting you, Dr. Mallard."
"You as well," Ducky responds, watching Tim escort Dick back upstairs. "An absolute pleasure."
This time, when they put him in the Interrogation room, Tony sits down across the table from him.
There's a moment of silence as they eye each other, and then, with an air of utter boredom, Dick heaves a sigh and produces a bit of string. He goes through some very complicated gestures very quickly, and ends up manipulating the loop of string into some very interesting shapes. At one point, he holds out two circles, held open with three fingers, and says, "Put your hands in?"
But Tony remembers this trick, and even if he didn't, he doesn't trust this kid at all. He'd say, as far as he could throw him, but he's fairly sure he could heave the boy pretty far, actually.
So he reaches out, and snags the whole string concoction out of Dick's hands. "How about no?" he snarks, and tosses the string over his shoulder.
Dick blinks, shrugs, and pulls out a deck of cards. "Poker?" he offers, and Tony snatches that from him, too.
"Now, that was just rude!" Dick huffs, and sulks.
They sit in silence for a while longer, before Dick heaves a huge sigh, and checks his watch. "It's been, what, four hours since I got here?" he asks. "Almost time to leave, then."
"Yeah, right," Tony says. "It takes about that four and a half hours to get to here from Gotham. You've got some time to kill, yet. Besides, we can't let you out of custody until we find the kidnappers."
Dick shrugs, as if the thought of people who want to kidnap him running around free doesn't bother him at all. There is something seriously wrong in this kid's head.
Dick produces a handheld videogame console, and Tony growls. "Seriously, stop that." He snatches it away, too, but it's the new next-gen, so he treats it with a little more care.
"What, so you want me to just sit here in silence?" Dick asks. "Because I'm really, really bad at that."
Tony just glowers at him, but keeps sneaking glances at the console sitting on the corner of the table, because it's supposed to be the ultimate in handheld gaming, and it doesn't even hit the market for another month.
Like he'd told Ziva, being rich had its advantages.
Dick lasts two and a half minutes before breaking down and making a face at Tony. Tony sticks his tongue out in response, and from the faces become more and more grotesque and elaborate, and, okay, yeah, it's kind of fun. But only just a little.
Exactly at the four and a half hour mark, Abby sticks her head into the room. "You'll never guess who's here!" she exclaims, and grabs Dick's wrist. "Bruce Wayne is here okay this is so awesome!"
Dick smiles, and lets Abby pull him along, waving at Tony. Waving at Tony with a hand holding a deck of cards and a string and nice, shiny game system.
Tony looks around, sees none of the above, and says, a little admiringly, "Sonofa-"
"-Batman. He's so cool!"
"Yes," Dick agrees mildly. "By far the coolest hero ever."
"Yes!" Abby says. "Which is why I wanted to ask, if you ever see him, can you get his autograph for me?"
Dick misses a step. "You want me to get you Batman's autograph?"
Abby bats her lashes at him. "Well, if the opportunity comes up, you know."
He laughs, and laughs, and says, "Sure. I'll, uh, ask him if I see him."
Abby beams at him, coming to a stop in front of the turn to the main room. "Thanks," she beams, and then her smile turns a little less happy, but a lot more real. "Hey, you take care of yourself, all right? Stop with the getting-kidnapped thing."
He smiles, too, also soft and real. "I'll do my best," he promises, and she tugs him in for one last hug. He wraps his arms around her, too, and squeezes a little too tight.
She doesn't mind; instead, she wonders how long it's been since he had a proper hug. She'd bet it was far too long ago.
And then he pulls away, takes a deep breath, fixes his clothes, and reaffixes a smile to his face. "Come on," he says. "Time to go home."
"Not so fast," she says, but they start around the corner. "First, you've got to introduce me to Bruce Wayne."
"We have a responsibility to take care of your ward until the kidnappers are caught," Gibbs says.
"He'll be safe with me," Bruce counters. "We'll be out-of-state, and out of reach for any group in this area."
"He's still in danger until these guys have been caught," Gibbs reiterates. "We'll also need him to identify the kidnappers."
Bruce sighs. "Very well," he says, giving in with good grace. "We shall stay in the area."
"You'll stay in the building."
"I have a very important business meeting across town in a few minutes, and Richard is coming with me. We will not."
For a renowned playboy, Bruce has a spine of steel. Everyone else in the room is watching the 'conversation' like a tennis match that could devolve into a train wreck at any minute.
"What's more important, your son or your business?" Gibbs asks, and Dick sucks in a quiet breath, and Bruce's eyes narrow.
"Do not dare accuse me of not caring for Dick's safety," he says, voice cold.
Gibbs shrugs. "You let your underage ward take cross-country trips alone on a motorcycle, for which he's had a license for all of three months, and are willing to take him out of police custody while there is a known threat to his person. You tell me what conclusion I'm supposed to draw from that."
"Hey," Dick cuts in, sliding over to stand at Bruce's side. "I had to beg for ages to get him to let me go to Wally's for the weekend. And I had to call every hour to check in, and stuff. He didn't want me to, but..." he trails off and shrugs, letting everyone fill in, but I'm an idiot teenager on their own.
"And you're never ever doing it again, ever," Bruce informs him. "Not even when you get done being grounded."
"Awwww," Dick whines. "But it wasn't my fault!"
Bruce just ignores him. "Assign us a guard or something if you must," he says, impatiently. "But Dick and I are leaving."
Gibbs stares at Bruce, and Bruce stares right back. No one even dares to breathe.
Finally, without looking away, Gibbs snaps, "Ziva." She snaps to attention, and starts arming up, and Bruce nods in acceptance and looks away first.
"Thank you," he says, and Gibbs turns away without bothering to respond.
"Come on," Dick says quietly to Abby. "You can come, too, if you like."
"Really?" she'd have squealed or jumped or something, but the atmosphere is still oppressing. "Let me grab my bag," she says instead. "Meet you downstairs."
He nods, and he and Bruce and Ziva head towards the elevator. Abby turns to go downstairs, and McGee calls out, "Boss! Got a lead!"
It takes exactly the length of the elevator ride for Ziva to warm up to the Wayne charm. It's unsurprising, really, because she's already fond of Dick, and everything Dick knows he learned from Bruce.
"Ziva," he draws out when he hears her name, and then starts speaking to her in flawless, if accented Hebrew.
She smiles, and responds, and by the time they meet up with Abby in the front of the building, they're chatting like old friends. Bruce overdoes it on the flirting, making it cartoony and fun, and utterly not-serious.
When they do see Abby, Bruce and Dick both glance at her black lace parasol and smile. She dimples back at them, and Dick moves to engage her in conversation about it, asking where she got it.
Bruce must have called Alfred at some point, though neither girl had noticed. But a limo pulls up, and Bruce opens the door for the ladies. The two slide in, Abby bouncy and excited, and Ziva a little impressed, in spite of herself.
Dick climbs in, and then Bruce, and they settle in, even as Ziva plies them with questions about this very important meeting that they're heading to.
"Who will be there?" she asks. "Where is it? How secure are the premises? Do you have other bodyguards?"
Bruce gives her vague answers, smiling and saying, "You'll see." Dick slides in right after these comments, and hijacks the conversation, until Ziva remembers she's a guard, and the whole process starts again.
Finally the limo stops, and Ziva insists on getting out first.
She manages a graceful exit, even while scanning the area for threats. The she finally notices where, exactly, they are. She leans to the car, pokes her head back in, and says, "Really?"
Bruce shoots her a roguish grin, and gets out of the car. He hands Abby out, and she also says, "Really? I didn't know people actually still did that."
"Contrary to popular opinion, chivalry is not dead," Bruce says.
"It's just having a relapse," Dick adds.
So, with Dick leading the way, Bruce sweeps up the steps to the most exclusive restaurant in the city, Ziva on one arm, and Abby on the other.
They don't have a reservation, but that seems to bother exactly nobody. They're lead to a table for four, and Ziva says, "I thought this was a meeting? A very important meeting?"
"It is," Bruce answers mildly. "What kind of person would I be if I didn't take time to thank Dick's rescuers?"
"Oh?" Ziva asks. "And what about Tony and Tim and Gibbs?"
Bruce considers for a second, and then says, "What kind of person would I be if I didn't take time to thank Dick's pretty female rescuers?"
Ziva's still got narrowed eyes, and is looking at him suspiciously, but Abby is determined to enjoy being taken out for an expensive lunch by one of the nation's most eligible bachelors.
The food is excellent, and the company even more so. Ziva finds herself liking the two boys, even against her better judgment. She doesn't forget she's on guard, but this place does have top-notch security as well, so she can relax enough to join the conversation.
Abby is just in heaven, and she can totally see where Dick gets it, 'it' being, well, everything. Bruce has impeccable table manners, and Dick does too, and they both use the same little flair in opening their napkins and passing the salt and stuff. And they play off each other very well, able to carry the conversation, but not to the point that she feels like she'd be interrupting if she jumped in, too. And she notices the way Bruce flirts, but doesn't mean it, and instead, keeps sliding his eyes to his ward, convincing himself the boy is fine.
Gibbs might worry about Bruce not caring for Dick, but she knows better.
The wine is expensive and amazing, and she may have made a slight fool of herself over the dessert, but she really will be dreaming about that cake all week.
Dick glances at his watch—predictably, a ridiculously expensive model—and tips Bruce a nod. Bruce pays and wraps the conversation so smoothly, she almost doesn't recognize what he's doing.
They all rise, and Ziva takes point. The limo is already waiting for them outside, and Ziva and Bruce have a bit of a stand-off, and she wants to make sure they get in safely, and he wants to let the ladies enter first. It wasn't as big a deal in a secure compound like the NCIS facitily, but here, is the open, she's taking her guard duty seriously.
They stare at each other, and Ziva is getting twitchy at being out in the open while there is a known threat. Bruce surrenders first, saying, "Far be it for me to deny a lady her wish," and lets her be the last one in.
The ride back is uneventful, and they re-enter the room just in time to hear a leaving Gibbs say, "...and someone call Ziva!"
"Call me for what?" Ziva asks, and Bruce disengages his arm from Abby's. She kisses him on the cheek, lets him bow over her hand, and moves to give Dick another hug.
"We found the kidnappers," Tony says from his desk. He's covered in dust and and dirt and other things she'd rather not think about. "How was the very important meeting?"
"No one got shot," she summed up. "Where did you find them? And why are the two of you so filthy?"
Tim slouches on his desk. "They were in the warehouse we found Dick in," he says. "Tied up and waiting."
"Tied to the center ceiling beam," Tony says. "Do you know how hard it was to get them down?"
Dick shoots Bruce a look, and Bruce just smiles blandly. "If everything is taken care of, may we leave?"
Gibbs comes back in, coffee cup in hand. "You have good timing," he says, just a tad suspiciously.
"May we leave?" Bruce asks again, not bothering to acknowledge that statement.
And, when it comes right down to it, Gibbs has no reason to hold them. There's something about Bruce, though, that makes him want to put the man in Interrogation and push him until he breaks.
He gets the feeling it'd be harder than it looks.
"Yes," he finally sighs. "You can leave."
Bruce sticks out a hand to shake Gibbs'. "Thank you for all your efforts on my ward's behalf," he says solemnly, and Dick nods.
"Yeah, thanks," he adds, and, "Hey, say goodbye to Doctor Mallard for me, would you?"
Tony lazily waves a hand in acknowledgment, and Tim nods.
"Do us all a favor," Tony says. "Don't come back, okay?"
"Sure," Dick says easily. "I'll try not to get kidnapped in the general area anytime soon."
"Come on, Dick," Bruce says, laying a hand on his shoulder. "Let's go."
And just like that, the team's lives go back to normal.
Or as normal as you can get, being on Team Gibbs, anyway.
"Hey, boss, why do we all have new computers?"
"Bruce Wayne wanted to show his appreciation for our services. And someone take this...recipe...to Ducky."
"Right. McGee, here you go, and when you get back, ninja-proof the new systems, would you?"
REAL HAPPY END FOR REAL.