DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No copyright infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Strangers...there's no weirder feeling than sharing a waiting room with someone you hardly know while you're both waiting for the same person. It's like you know them, but you don't.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

That Old Hinky Feeling
By Jaina


Abby starts to feel edgy so she calls Gibbs. It is a reflex - a habit. She doesn't start to worry, really, until he doesn't answer his cell phone.

Gibbs not answering his phone could mean a lot of things, but she knows that they aren't in the building, all four of them. They are her team as much as Gibbs and it's worse for her because all she can do is her job and hope that they all return to the building every time they leave. She knows though, that's not possible. She fights the urge to call again for about an hour - that hinky feeling in her stomach getting worse with each minute that passes.

She gives in and calls Ziva first and then Tony and McGee in quick succession when none of them answers. She leaves messages for all three and then walks out of her lab to go find Ducky. There's a chance, however slight, that he might know more than she does and if nothing else he will help to cal m her and distract her from worrying about them.

When the doors to the elevator opens for her, it's Tony standing there. He's standing straighter than Abby has ever seen before and looking down at his hands. She sees the blood staining them and she glances up at Tony's face quickly. The look in his eyes is enough to make her want to throw up.

"Where's Gibbs," she demands, her fingers grabbing his lapels, crushing them in her fists, "Ziva? McGee?"

Tony doesn't try to loosen her grip. He grabs her waist almost as tightly as she's holding his lapels. He doesn't keep her in suspense or try to soften the words. She wouldn't want it and Tony knows it only makes it worse. So he tells her.

"Ziva was shot. Boss and McGee are with her at the hospital. They're both fine." He holds on to her as his words hit her, but he keeps going. "We don't know the extent of Ziva's injuries. They took her into surgery." He keeps speaking, but she doesn't hear him. She doesn't want to be here any longer, but there with Gibbs and McGee. She has to see Ziva.

When they reach the hospital, Tony doesn't let her out of his sight, not even to park the car.

When Abby protests once, all he growls out is, "Boss' orders."

Abby lets it go, not caring as long as she can get inside. Tony takes her to the room where Gibbs and McGee are waiting. McGee sits in a corner, his head down hunched over his knees. Gibbs paces the room until he sees her. He stops pacing and waits for her to enter the room.

She doesn't realize it's her hands moving and not her mouth until Gibbs grabs her hands, silencing her. There is only one thing that she wants to hear and that's not something that he can tell her.

Instead he puts an arm over her shoulders and pulls her close to him.

Gibbs whispers into her ear, "I'll get the bastard." He holds her until she's had a chance to compose herself - to sit down and then he's talking on his cell phone, sending Tony and McGee off to do their jobs.

He's made her another damn promise and he'll keep this one too.

An hour goes by and then another as they wait. Eventually the Director comes in.

"Why didn't you tell me, Jethro?" Her voice is low, but so harsh and pained that it cuts into Abby's thoughts and she hears the words across the room. She's up in Gibbs' face and angry.

Gibbs' reply is low and Abby can't make it out. He's facing away from her so she can't even read his lips.

"She saved my life," the words are a sharp non sequitor, but apparently they make sense to Gibbs.

He steps back and stands aside, allowing Madame Director into the waiting room. She's the first person he's allowed in since Tony and McGee left.

The Director doesn't sit next to Abby or even speak to her. She paces as Gibbs did.

Finally Gibbs gets another call - Tony from what Abby can overhear of Gibbs side of the conversation. Gibbs goes to Madame Director first. He touches her shoulder to get her attention and then speaks to her in a low voice. He hands her is still three-quarters full cup of coffee and then walks over to Abby.

Abby squeezes her arms tighter around her knees as he crouches down in front of her.

"DiNozzo got a lead. We're going to go get the bastard." Gibbs' voice is low, deadly. He is always serious when his team is threatened.

Abby manages to nod and to hold back her tears. Gibbs lays a hand on her knee and she squeezes it as tight as she can. She knows that she has to let go. She really does want him to catch the bastard that shot Ziva, but as long as he's here she can still breathe. She's not choking on her fear that she'll lose the most important person in her life.

"Gibbs," she whispers his name.

"She will be okay, Abby. She's a fighter. Ziva won't give up."

she nods slightly, wanting to believe what he's said.

He looks directly into her eyes to drive his point home and she realizes that he knows. Gibbs knows about them.

"Gibbs," she wants to say something, explain, but he puts a finger to her lips.

"It's okay, Abbs." She relaxes back into the seat. "I've got to go now," he adds.

"Kick his ass for me," she says in a slightly ragged voice.

Gibbs nods in approval, already standing up, the expression on his face becoming frightening as he walks away to deal with the man who shot his agent.

After Gibbs leaves she can't seem to sit still. She fidgets in her seat and then walks out into the hall. She doesn't want to go too far, in case someone comes with news about Ziva, but she sees a little kiosk down the hallway.

Her head is already throbbing so she goes in search of caffeine. Abby hesitates after she pays for her Mt. Dew and then asks for a cup of coffee as well. She carries the two cups back to the small waiting room and then holds the coffee out to Madame Director.

She takes it with a surprised look at Abby, "Thank you." Madame Director takes a sip and winces at the taste. Then she takes another sip.

Abby almost smiles as the Director cradles the cup in both hands.

"Ziva always complained when I made coffee. She said it was too weak."

Abby doesn't know what to say. She knows this woman and Ziva have a history, but she doesn't know anything about it. They worked together, but Ziva rarely speaks of her past, especially her career in Mossad. Abby has a feeling that if she asked, all she would hear is a mysterious, "Classified."

Instead Abby shrugs. "Coffee isn't my caffeine source of choice."

"Mmm," the Director makes a noncommittal noise. "That's too bad. She makes good coffee."

Abby stiffens at the familiar possessiveness that she hears in the Director's voice, but she still smiles smugly. "Ziva's good at a lot of things."

Madame Director doesn't seem affronted or surprised. "I'm sure," she replies easily, ending the conversation.

They go back to their separate corners and fall back into silence, but it's easier somehow. The Director's presence is suddenly reassuring rather than annoying, even if Abby can't vocalize why.

Abby is curled up in an uncomfortable chair, staring listlessly and Madame Director has finally stopped pacing and is leaning up against a wall when the doctor enters the small room.

Abby swings her feet out of the chair and reaches him first. "How is she?" Abby demands.

The doctor looks at her skeptically and then glances towards Director Sheppard. "Where is her team leader? He was here earlier."

The Director places a hand on Abby's shoulder quickly to hold her back even as she steps up in her most intimidating way. "I'm the NCIS Director. You will tell me what this agent's condition is now."

The doctor blinks in surprise. "She's gone through a complicated surgery. The bullet collapsed a lung, but missed her major arteries and her other internal organs. I'll feel more comfortable about her condition in the morning, but she's stable for now."

Abby feels like letting out a whoop of delight and then she does. The sound echoes loudly in the hushed halls of hospital, but she doesn't care. Ziva is still alive and Ziva will still be alive in a few hours."

"When can she have visitors," Director Sheppard asks the question that Abby hasn't gotten to yet.

"She needs her rest," the Doctor begins, but continues when he sees the looks on Abby and the Director's faces. "But she'll be able to have visitors in about an hour. Only for a few minutes," he cautions them, "And only one at a time."

Abby nods, her mind already in motion. She turns Director Sheppard. "Her family - have they been notified?"

The Director is holding up a hand. "I notified her father before I came to the hospital. He's unable to come here, but he asked to be kept up to date on her situation." She grimaced, "He indicated that one of her sisters may be able to come, however she's in the middle of an assignment and he's not certain whether she can step away from it now."

Anger floods Abby. She feels like kicking something and it feels good to slam her solid boot into a near by chair. "She almost died. How could they not come?" Her voice is full of anger and frustration.

Abby sees understanding and resignation in the Director's eyes and it makes her angrier. Director Sheppard's next move however, surprises her. The Director puts a hand on her shoulder, and lets out a deep breath.

"I don't understand it either, Abby." She pats her shoulder and sinks into a chair to wait for the Doctor to come back to take them to see Ziva.

Abby doesn't want to sit again. She wants to see Ziva. She isn't very good at patience. She starts pacing the room again, hands fluttering at her sides. Under her breath, she recites anything that she can think of to distract herself. The periodic table is too easy and goes by quickly. Next she begins to run through the most obscure trivia that she can think of. Then she wonders just how long a single hour can stretch.

Just before she's going to go find the Doctor to rip him a new one and demand to see Ziva now, she feels a hand on her arm.

"Abby, Doctor Kline says that she can have visitors now." Director Sheppard's voice is gentle and Abby just nods.

All of her anger sinks away abruptly. Together they walk down the hall towards Ziva's room. Every step of the way, Abby is preparing for the fight about who will go in first, so she's surprised when Director Sheppard holds the door open and then steps aside.

Abby only hesitates for an instant, looking into the Director's eyes. There is a polite distance in them as she smiles at Abby and only a hint of something else. Impulsively Abby steps forward and hugs her.

"Thank you," she says in a clear soft voice and then steps past her until she's kneeling beside Ziva's bed, one of her hands wrapped around Ziva's nearest hand.

Abby presses a kiss to each knuckle as she hears the door shut behind her. Ziva's eyelids flutter open.

"Hi," Ziva whispers, and just like that Abby's hinky feeling is finally gone.

The End

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