DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No copyright infringement is intended.
SPOILERS: Judgement Day I & II. Major spoilers. Possible Season Six spoilers, I don't name names or go into details or anything, but if you're hardcore no spoilers then step away from the fic.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
On Uncertain Ground
It was all of the sounds different from what she was used to - that finally woke Abby. A van backfired loudly out the window and the foot traffic from the deli below sounded completely different than the flower shop that was next to her own place.
The first thing that she noticed was the absence of anyone in bed beside her. The second thing was the coldness of the sheets. No warm body had occupied the space beside her for some time. Slowly Abby rolled over, taking in the apartment around her. In her experience, the first two things were usually accompanied by a painful hangover and/or little memory of where she was and who her bed partner had been. That was not the case in this instance.
Abby clearly remembered the night before and the lack of alcohol that it had contained. It hadn't been like that. Instead it had seemed so full of meaning, in ways that she didn't quite understand. Ziva's intensity and her sweetness beneath her obvious sorrow at Jenny's death had been unexpected but a delightful surprise all the same. Still Abby was well aware of the natural human desire to remind one's self that they were alive in every way after the death of a loved one and some of her surprise and reluctance had been due to that. But she had hoped that she and Ziva could share more than just that.
Even when she had hated her, the dark-haired Mossad Officer had always fascinated Abby, and she definitely wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to get to know her better. Not to mention, Abby thought, with a smug grin, that she was also very good in bed.
Thoughts of Ziva were what finally roused Abby from the bed. She unabashedly rifled through the closet until she found a light, long-sleeved, army-green shirt that she'd seen Ziva wear many times before. It was just a little too large for Ziva, so it fit her almost perfectly. Abby haphazardly did a few of the buttons as she wandered into the living room, searching for the apartment's actual occupant or some indication of where she was.
As she moved curiously from room to room, there was still no sign of Ziva. Becoming slightly more worried, Abby retraced her route back through the rooms that she had already seen, this time looking for a note. Frowning and curious now, Abby's mind began to turn over the nebulous, but infinitely more dangerous job related possibilities. Jenny's death had underscored the vulnerability of everyone at NCIS, as if Abby had needed the reminder. Despite the years, Kate's death remained painfully close to the front of her mind.
Shaking her head in a physical effort to push those kinds of thoughts out of her head, Abby determinedly headed back towards the bedroom. It only took a moment of searching for her to locate her clothes from the night before, and rifle through the pockets for her cell phone.
She scrolled down the list of numbers until she found Ziva's and then hit the send button. Abby waited impatiently for the phone to ring. Instead an automated voice came on the line.
"I'm sorry. The number you are trying to reach is no longer in service. Please try another number."
Abby slowly lowered the phone from her ear and looked around the apartment. What minutes before had looked warm and welcoming if not completely familiar now looked eerie and threatening. Abby quickly made a decision, raised her phone again and hit the first number on her speed dial.
"Gibbs?" She spoke into the phone the moment that it was answered. "Something's wrong. Ziva's missing."
Gibbs had refused to tell her anything over the phone. Abby hadn't told him the exact nature of the situation, just that she'd gone to see Ziva, let herself in only to find an empty apartment and her phone out of service when she called it.
All he had told her was that he would talk to her at work. Abby had scowled and gotten dressed for work as quickly as she could, forgoing even stopping by her own apartment to change her clothes. If Ziva really was missing - and it seemed like a possibility if Gibbs wasn't telling her anything - then it didn't matter how she looked. Her colleagues and co-workers would be too busy to care anyway.
"Tony!" Abby called his name sharply as she rounded the corner to his desk. If Gibbs wasn't in yet then Tony would know what was going on. Instead Abby pulled up sharply in front of his desk. There was a man leaning back in Tony's chair with a hint of Tony's style but he was most definitely not Tony himself.
"What are you doing sitting at Tony's desk?" Her voice was, maybe, a little bit sharper than she'd intended, but she was upset and stressed about Ziva. She didn't need this today.
The man straightened. "Not DiNozzo's desk anymore. My desk."
Abby's scowl deepened. She really did not need this. She took a deep breath and looked around for McGee. Michelle Lee sat at his desk.
This was like Bizzarro world. It had to be a dream.
Abby pinched herself and then winced at the bright red mark on her arm. It hurt. She glanced at Tony's desk. The man was still there, now watching her with a slightly amusing and condescending smirk. No, she was definitely awake. This couldn't be excused away as some bad dream. There was only one way to fix it now.
"Where's Gibbs?" She demanded.
The smile slipped off of his face for the first time. He nodded in the general direction of the second floor. "He's up there with the new Director."
"I'll just wait here then."
But the man who was sitting at Tony's desk didn't seem to mind. He simply shrugged and said, "Suit yourself."
Abby did, seating herself on Gibbs desk to wait for him. He was probably up there talking to Vance about Ziva's disappearance after all. Or something. Maybe Ziva had been called in for a last minute mission. That would explain Tony and McGee's absence if not why there were people sitting at their desks.
"Gibbs!" Abby shot up from his desk when she saw Gibbs descending the stairs and walking quickly towards them.
He had that cold, forbidding look on his face. It was obvious that he wasn't happy - even for Gibbs.
"What's going on?"
Gibbs faced looked pinched, and this close Abby could see the anger behind his eyes that he was barely holding in check. He stopped in front of her for just a moment and clasped her upper arms, patting them gently.
"Can't talk right now, Abs. Got a dead sailor." He straightened. "Can't talk," he repeated. "Go see Ducky." He kissed her on her cheek, and stepped around her to pick up his badge and gun and then headed towards the elevator. Lee and the man at Tony's desk got up to follow him.
Abby's stomach began to sink. Go see Ducky. That was what Gibbs had said and that's what she would do. Maybe he would have answers for her.
Her heart was pounding in her chest in a rhythm that made her feel faintly sick by the time that she got to autopsy. The doors slid open for her and she stepped inside warily, stopping just inside the doors and waiting for him to notice her. She wondered where Palmer was, as well.
"Ah, there you are. It certainly took you long enough, Mr. Palmer."
Abby breathed a sigh of relief at Ducky's comment. At least Jimmy was only running an errand for Ducky.
"It's not Jimmy," Abby said in a quite voice, "Just me."
"Ah, my dear, I'm sorry. I wasn't expecting you this morning." He turned from the corpse that he'd been working on, and slipped off his gloves and lab coat, before he walked over to her. He sighed heavily as he walked past her to his desk. "So you've heard the news then?"
"What news," Abby demanded immediately. "Gibbs wouldn't tell me what was going on. He just left with Lee and some other agents. Where's Tony, and McGee? Where's Ziva?" She didn't care that she was starting to sound panicky. She wanted answers and she wanted them now.
Ducky sighed again, and met her eyes with a sad, if kindly look. "I'm afraid, my dear, that our new Director is perhaps, not as fond as Jenny of our colleagues loyalty to Jethro. Effective immediately, McGee has been transferred to the Cyber crimes division, while Anthony was made the NCIS Agent Afloat aboard the USS Ronald Regan. He decided that Ziva was no longer needed at NCIS and she should be on her way back to Israel even now."
The words were so unexpected, that Abby wasn't even sure what to say or how to process the information. Ducky had to be wrong. He had to be, but he wasn't. That much was clear. It explained the man sitting in Tony's desk, and the pinched, angry look on Gibbs face. It explained Ziva's absence. What it did not explain was the night before, or why Ziva hadn't told her any of it.
The reality of the situation was sinking in now, bringing with it a welcome numbness as Abby tried to process all of the changes that had been thrown at her in one moment, and everything that it meant. It wasn't possible, so she clung to what she believed in most.
"Gibbs will get them back. He has to. They're his team." Abby spoke the words with no inflection, a mantra of certainty that she was making herself believe. There was no higher authority than Gibbs. If he tried hard enough, if he wanted it badly enough, Gibbs could make it so. He had to.
Ducky rose, and patted her shoulder gently. "I'm sure he will try, my dear. Jethro will do his best. He always does."
Abby sat at her computer, cataloging evidence as a fingerprint search ran in the background. Days had passed and her job went on as usual. Gibbs still brought her evidence and Caf-Pows, and gave her kisses on the cheek as a reward for a job well done. Behind it all the anger still lingered in his eyes. Until that look changed, Abby wouldn't give up on seeing Tony or Ziva again.
Some days she saw McGee in passing. Not in her lab. They never worked together anymore, but just in passing in the hallways. It wasn't the same though. As good as McGee was at his new job, he wasn't the same man he'd been when he'd started working with Gibbs. His eyes didn't shine and his usual good cheer and optimism were buried under a layer of resignation.
The days dragged on as they hadn't before. The sixteen hours days that had seemed long before seemed almost impossible now. There was no one like Tony to cheer her up when she was down or know exactly the wrong thing to say that would make her smile. The agents that she dealt with now looked at her like she was a freak if she impulsively hugged them.
It was Ziva that she missed most of all though - Ziva, who she hadn't even realized had become so much a part of her life until she was gone. Most days, when she wasn't missing her and sometimes even when she was, Abby was angry. She wanted to know why Ziva had chosen then - that moment - to have sex with her.
That was the question at it's bluntest. The equally blunt answer was that Ziva had just felt like a good fuck to remind her that she was alive after Jenny's death. The answer that allowed for more possibilities reminded her of the way that Ziva had approached her that night, the tenderness of her gestures and the look in her eyes. It had felt more like making love than simply having sex and Abby knew the difference.
That possibility could be harder to deal with than all of the others. It made her question why Ziva had said nothing of her forced departure the next day, and doubt that the other woman had really ever cared about her. It forced her to wonder why she cared so much about Ziva's motivations.
And none of her wonderings were pleasant. She had too many questions and no answers, because Ziva simply wasn't present to give them to her. That was the most unfair thing.
So Abby worked and bided her time. Her faith in Gibbs hadn't faltered. Ziva would be back one day and if she wasn't, well, Abby would just have to find her. She needed answers to her questions and only Ziva could give her the answers that she needed.
She would just have to get used to Ziva being the first thought in her mind when she woke up every morning. She wondered what classified thing Ziva was doing at that moment. Where she was and who she was with. If she was busy or happy with her job and her life. If she ever missed Abby at all, or even thought about her.
Those questions and a dozen more like them lingered in the back of her mind every day, never far from her thoughts as she waited for answers that she knew might never come.
Each day she woke, and wondered, "Is today the day? Will she come home?"
And each day, she answered her own question. "Maybe."
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