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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Twilight, Kill Ari and Bloodbath.
Seeing with New Eyes
There were many things that Leroy Jethro Gibbs knew in his gut, the most pressing of these was that today was going to be difficult. The fact that he had taken all measures to prevent it being so, did not matter; one look at McGee's face told him something had gone horribly wrong while he'd stepped out for an early morning coffee. "Cracked that cypher yet McGee?" he inquired as he walked towards his desk.
"Encryption," the agent corrected automatically then realized to whom he was speaking, "Er, well, no actually boss... I, er..."
"There something you're trying to tell me?" Gibbs barked turning to look at him as he reached his destination, seeing Tony stand and walk over from the corner of his eye.
"Well... I think you'd better..."
"Abby's locked everyone out of the lab, boss," DiNozzo interrupted gleefully, "that was after she threw Ziva out, hacked the building maintenance system and switched off the power to the elevator while Officer David..." he turned and grinned at her before looking back at Gibbs, "was still inside. We had to pry the doors open to get her out and Ducky had to use the stairs."
Gibbs scowled, put down his coffee and looked at Ziva, "what did you do?" he asked.
"Why do you assume it was my fault?" she replied and when he did not respond, continued defensively, "I just tried to take her the pistol and ammunition we collected from Petty Officer Lynn's apartment this morning. I barely got out of the elevator before she started screaming at me and..."
"What did she scream?" Gibbs interrupted.
"Then she picked up... what?"
"What... did Abby... scream?" he asked again with exaggerated patience.
Ziva frowned, "What does that have..." his stare hardened, "don't wear those clothes in my lab again," Ziva said throwing up her hands in disgust, she should have known he'd take Abby's side.
"Wow and they're not even polyester." Tony grinned.
Gibbs' eyes narrowed, wondering why Abby hadn't followed his orders, "Ziva, what were you wearing?" he asked.
"I haven't changed my clothes in the last hour Gibbs," she replied, "...wait... I'd just come in so I was wearing my jacket and cap," she continued picking the NCIS cap off her desk.
"Stand up and put them on."
In Tony's opinion this was beginning to get a little weird, "Boss, I didn't know you had a thing for uni..." he looked quickly across at Ziva and then back. "f...Oh." he looked again and then shook his finger at her, "are you wearing your hair differently? You know you kinda look like..." a hand reached up and clipped him around the back of the head "Ow!"
Gibbs picked up the phone and punched a button, "Abs, let... Ducky? Put Abby on... Abby? Let McGee into the lab and get up here, we're leaving in 30 seconds." Replacing the receiver he picked up his coffee again.
"You don't think she's got another stalker do you boss?" Tony asked, still rubbing the back of his head.
"No, DiNozzo, I don't."
"Tony it's the 28th," Tim said quietly and watched as the agent's eyes widened in recognition.
"Well why didn't you say so before?" he said turning to glare at McGee before returning to his desk.
Taking the last mouthful of his coffee Gibbs dumped the cup in the trash as the elevator doors opened and a very overdressed goth appeared. Abby scowled at McGee as she came towards him, "touch the stereo and I'll reformat every hard drive you possess," she threatened and saw him flinch. Courageously he moved round his desk, blocked her path and held something out to her. It was only when she flung her arms around his neck and cried, "McGee!" that Ziva could see it was a single black rose. She frowned, she knew it wasn't Abby's birthday, they had been through that fiasco already this year and why would she be wearing what she called her church clothes, on a Monday morning?
She was still pondering the answer when Gibbs said, "DiNozzo, you and Ziva go question Commander Sutcliffe again. You can update me later."
"Sure boss," DiNozzo replied.
"Let's go Abs, McGee has work to do."
The goth let go of Tim and followed Gibbs towards the elevator, ignoring Ziva, "Abby," Tony called after her, "you, me, Cafe Atlantico 8 o'clock."
Abby turned, "Thanks Tony but..."
DiNozzo put his fingers in his ears, "I'm not listening."
"Abby!" Gibbs yelled from the elevator. She jumped in just before the doors closed.
"You ready?" Tony asked picking up his jacket and turning towards his bemused partner.
"One moment," Ziva said, "I'll meet you in the lobby." Retreating to the ladies room, she studied herself in the mirror, turning her face from side to side. She frowned, logically both Abby and Tony must have seen something that reminded them of someone else. Since the only other female she knew that would be likely to be dressed in an NCIS cap and jacket was Agent Todd, she could only assume that it was her. She shook her head, apart from the fact that they both had long, dark hair, she could not see the likeness. Heading down in the elevator she wondered why Abby and for that matter everyone else, was behaving so oddly.
"I thought you had a date tonight?" she asked DiNozzo as they made their way out of the building.
"You just made arrangements with Abby."
"And your point is Ziva?" he took the car keys out of his pocket and started jangling them.
"Which one of them are you going to stand up?"
"Not Abs." He shrugged, "I'll cancel, had to work late, happens all the time."
Ziva raised an eyebrow "What is the matter with Abby anyway?" she asked, fighting the urge to snatch the keys.
Tony looked surprised, "There's something the matter with her?"
"You're canceling a date and Abby is behaving even stranger than normal, what is going on Tony?"
"Must be a phase of the moon," he replied as they reached the car, holding the keys out of her reach as she made a grab for them, "and you need to go round the other side because I am driving."
It wasn't until they got back to the office a couple of hours later, that Ziva had time to check on any of the theories milling around in her head. As Gibbs was still absent she surreptitiously pulled case reports and skimmed through them, while Tony ran a check on the current whereabouts of Commander Sutcliffe's wife, on which he drew a blank.
For Ziva, Kate's autopsy report and the photos that Mikel Mawher had taken while stalking Abby, proved very helpful. After checking several dates on her computer calendar she finally reached a conclusion that she believed to be correct. She wanted confirmation however and waited until Gibbs had returned and Tony was busy updating him before heading down to the lab, where she heard something slightly more pleasant than Abby's usual selections coming from the speakers. Pausing to listen, she realized it had been playing the first day she had been down here and guessed it wasn't a good sign. "Having trouble, McGee?" she asked.
Getting no response she tapped on his shoulder and grinned when he jumped, pulling an earphone from his ear. "What?"
"Oh, no... though it would be faster if Abby were here."
Ziva looked sympathetic, "But it is understandable that she is not."
"I was surprised she even showed up this morning, especially after Gibbs told her to call in sick," he replied, giving his attention back to the screen in front of him.
"And then to glimpse me and think I was Kate..."
"I thought things might be better this year, but with the stalking and now your..." Tim realized what was happening and turned sharply in his seat.
Ziva sighed, "come on McGee, I saw the look on Abby's face, I just want to know why."
He shook his head, "she'd kill me..." he replied, "and that's if Gibbs didn't get to me first."
"I won't say anything... I thought we were supposed to be a team."
He wavered and as his mouth opened a voice said, "actually, Jethro would have to make do with what I left behind Timothy." They turned to see Ducky standing in the doorway, a report in his hand, "Abigail is not a subject for office gossip," he said with a degree of finality that left neither of them in any doubt about his feelings on the matter.
Frustrated, Ziva said sharply, "I am not asking for gossip. I am concerned about Abby and wish to do something to help."
"I'm afraid there is nothing you can do my dear," the M.E. said and turned to go back to Autopsy.
Ziva watched McGee beating a hasty retreat to the elevator, it was clear she would get no more out of him. "You say that because you want to protect Abby, Ducky," Ziva said hurrying after the doctor, "that is understandable, but Agent Todd is dead and she must face that," Ducky kept on walking, "it is not Kate's birthday or the anniversary of her death," Ziva continued following him, "though Abby was conspicuously absent on both those occasions..."
"What makes you imagine this has anything to do with Caitlin?" the doctor asked.
"I saw your report, Agent Todd's tattoo would suggest that they were a lot closer than co-workers and..."
"That report was sealed!" he protested.
"I know, but I have seen it, and with Abby behavior today and no other evidence pointing to the contrary, I can only assume that it would have been their anniversary."
Ducky stopped and looked at her and Ziva saw the flicker of truth in his eyes before he said, "Miss David, much as I would regret having to perform another autopsy on one of Jethro's agents..."
"Don't worry Ducky, I'm not NCIS I'm Mossad."
"So was Ari!" Ducky replied emotionally and this time Ziva did not follow him.
"What is it McGee?" Gibbs said when he finally grew sick of the man hovering by his desk.
"Um... the program I'm running to break the encryption is going to take several hours, I'll be here later so I thought that maybe I could..." he trailed off as Gibbs finally lifted his head and looked at him.
Digging into his pocket he pulled out a key, "if she's asleep, don't wake her," he said handing it to the agent.
"And drop her off at the restaurant Probie, I'll make sure she gets back," Tony said as McGee walked passed his desk.
Ziva heard the end of the conversation as she stepped out of the elevator, "where is McGee going?" she asked on reaching her desk.
"Nowhere," the two men replied in unison.
"Ziva see if you can trace the cab Petty Officer Lynn says Karen Sutcliffe took from his apartment on Saturday night," Gibbs said getting up and walking round his desk, "DiNozzo, you're with me."
"Right boss," Tony said pulling open his desk drawer and retrieving his pistol.
She would normally have objected to being left behind, Ziva thought, now however she was grateful for the peace. Waiting until she was sure they would not be coming back, she pulled out Mawher's photos, laid three on her desk and studied them as she pondered her next move. Vaguely aware that she was now bordering on the obsessive, she found a D.C. phone book and looked up cemeteries.
"Something I can help you with?" Gibbs asked, noticing Ziva at his desk when he returned minus DiNozzo.
"No," she said straightening, "I was leaving you the name of the cab company and driver that picked up from that address on Saturday, he's not on duty tonight but I'll go and see him tomorrow to see if he can give a positive I.D."
Gibbs nodded, "you may as well call it a night."
"Gibbs... is Abby ok?"
"She will be," he replied and she could hear the steel in his voice, it had almost sounded like a vow.
Standing outside the Navy Yard Ziva looked at her watch and took out the unfamiliar bus timetable she had printed. She knew from personal experience that distracting yourself during the day, could make the demons that haunted you at night much worse. Unsure what she could do, but wanting to be near, she worked out the route she would need to take, vowed again she would get a car and headed for the address she had found on Gibbs' computer.
Having eaten, she had been standing watching for some time before she needed to duck into a doorway, recognizing the car stopping on the opposite side of the street. Tony got out, ran around to the passenger door and opened it, Ziva grinned, he could be such a gentleman when he wanted to be. She watched as they hugged and he kissed Abby's cheek, then he said something she couldn't hear and Abby nodded. Tony waited until she was safely inside before driving off.
Ziva however, did not get a chance to relax, Tony had barely turned the corner when Abby came back out, got into the hearse and drove off in the opposite direction. Cursing the fact that there was never a cab around when you needed one, she spied a car stopping at a junction a hundred yards away, pulled out her I.D and obscuring the badge slightly ran out in front of it, hitting the hood loudly with her fist. "Officer in pursuit," she said waving her I.D. quickly in front of the driver, "move over." Before the man had time to protest she had opened the driver's door and he found himself in the passenger seat. Tires squealing as they set off in hot pursuit of something he couldn't see.
Having established Abby's intended destination, Ziva pulled back and parked up a block away. She'd had a feeling she'd end up here. She waited for her passenger to calm down slightly, before asking his name and address so she could recommend him to the police commissioner for a citizen's award. Grinning as she watched him drive off, proud to have served his city, she set off at a jog to find the place she had seen in Mawher's photos. Seeing no immediate point of entry, she climbed the wall and orienting herself with the map in her head, made her way carefully between the rows of gravestones to the place she thought the memorial plaques should be. Finally spying her target she moved silently towards her. Watching a slight shiver pass through her body, she wondered if cold or emotion was the cause. Stopping she said quietly, "Abby, it's Ziva," hoping not to startle her too much.
Abby turned quickly, "You shouldn't be here," she said, before turning back towards the plaque Ducky had helped her get erected for Kate.
"And you should not be alone," Ziva replied, concerned at the relative lack of reaction to her appearance.
"What is it with everyone today?" Abby asked and Ziva heard her voice crack, "Did it never occur to any of you that I might want to be on my own?"
"If you had, you wouldn't have come into work, given Gibbs a key or agreed to meet Tony," Ziva replied and retreating a few yards, sat with her back against a gravestone, knees hunched up against the cold, her eyes on the rigid form in front of her. She did not know how long they stayed that way before Abby stepped back and turned to look at her. Seeing the vulnerability in her eyes, Ziva felt nonplussed for a moment then uncoiled her body and held out her arms, a little unsure of her actions. In moments, Abby was in them sobbing.
Mossad Control Officer Ziva David had never been comfortable with the simple gestures of friendship and the deeply protective feeling she experienced at that moment, startled her. She put it down to guilt, an emotion she had no time for, but the woman in her arms had lost her lover and her agent, no, her brother, had been responsible; so she murmured nonsense as she rode out the storm of Abby's tears and wondered if anyone would care this much when she had gone to her grave. She didn't think it likely.
Eventually the tears subsided, becoming the occasional strangled breath, then finally a sigh and when hands loosened their claim on her jacket, breathing became easier. That was the extent of the movement however and she opened her mouth to suggest moving somewhere warmer. "Tell me about Caitlin," she heard herself say, and the startled look in Abby's eyes was mirrored in her own.
"You know, no-one has ever asked that before," Abby said quietly and Ziva was not surprised, the rest of the team had their own memories. Wrapping her arms more tightly around Abby's body, she felt cold and stiff as she listened to tales with life and heart in them, but it didn't occur to her to move. The glimpses she was given of things other than death and duty, bodily release and emotional indifference, made her wish for the boring normality of home and relationship, and she almost laughed out loud. Life with Abby could be called many things, but she doubted 'boring' would be one of them. Life with Abby. It was not, she admitted, the first time she had had that thought.
"So," Abby said more cheerfully, finally drawing her stories to a close, "what about you and the director?"
"Me and the director?" Ziva looked puzzled.
Abby just raised an eyebrow, "Ziva, that may work with Tony but trust me, you and Gibbs can be a lot alike and the director acts the same way around you both."
"Meaning?" Ziva was now genuinely curious.
"Meaning... with everyone else she is the director, with you two it 's like she's trying to act all director-ish, but sometimes..." Abby moved a hand in the air in front of her, "she's just trying too hard."
"Perhaps it is because we both knew her before she became director?" Ziva suggested.
"Yeah but, then there's this thing with Gibbs and redheads, and the director is all kinds of hot..." Abby paused a moment and held the thought before blinking, "so that is understandable, but she acts the same way with you..." she turned and looked at the face next to her, "and I can totally understand that your private life is..."
"It's ok Abby," Ziva said quietly, "I don't have much of a private life... and Jen..." she shook her head "it was over really before it began, and a long time before I came here... I was foolish to come." Abby barely caught the last, it was whispered so softly and not knowing how to respond she squeezed an arm that was currently holding her, laid her head back down on a conveniently placed shoulder and said, "I'm glad you came."
"You will let me drive you home, no?" Ziva said, holding out her hand expectantly when they eventually returned to the place Abby had parked, conveniently next to a small door in the wall opposite to the one Ziva had climbed.
"Ziva, I'm ok to drive, really," Abby responded remembering the last time she'd seen the tires on the field truck.
"I promise I will drive on the correct side of the road and within the speed limit at all times... Abby, please..." she said, and it occurred to the goth that she had never really given the woman a chance.
"Can you drive a stick?" she asked suspiciously.
"A stick? I thought it was called a hearse?"
"No Ziva, I mean it's manual transmission, a stick shift."
"Oh? Well they do not have such a fondness for automatic cars elsewhere in the world, I find a... stick shift?" she looked questioningly at Abby, who nodded, "easier to drive."
"Ok then," Abby said handing over the keys, reserving judgment on the statement until she had reached home in one piece. Kate would have liked Ziva, she thought and immediately felt depressed again, Kate should be here with her.
Ziva stopped the hearse and turned off the engine, the trip back had been uncomfortably silent and the Israeli wondered if she had managed to offend her companion. "Thank you," Abby said without looking at her, but made no move to get out. Ziva sat silently beside her as she considered the day's revelations. Her opinion of Agent Todd had mainly been formed from the casual comments of those around her and she now regretted the conclusions she had jumped to. Undoubtedly Ziva could have taken her in a fight, but Kate would have beaten her in every way that, suddenly, she found mattered. Tony, McGee, Ducky, Gibbs, had all lost a friend who had touched them deeply and Abby? Ziva sighed silently, Caitlin Todd had been Abby's world.
When Abby finally turned she saw only concern in the other woman's eyes. "Would you..." she looked away again, "never mind," turning the handle she made to get out, but a hand on her arm prevented her.
"Tell me what you were going to ask, Abby."
There were a few moments of silence, then Abby said, "would you maybe stay... I mean I'm sure you've got other things you need to be doing but I really don't want to be alone and..."
"Of course I will stay," Ziva replied cutting her off and the corners of Abby's mouth went briefly skyward for the first time that day. It was not, Ziva noted, the grid powering smile that usually adorned the goth's face, but she was pleased to see it there none the less. Getting out, Ziva waited while Abby took her keys to open the door, the skin was prickling on the back of her neck, something was... hinky, she turned slowly but could see no-one.
"You ok?" Abby asked, having got inside.
Ziva turned back and nodded, "Yes Abby, I'm ok."
In his car down the street, Gibbs smiled and raised his coffee cup to his lips as he watched them go inside. Maybe today hadn't been so bad after all.
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