Title: Wake Up Call (part 3)
Disclaimer: Written for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement intended.
Content Disclaimer: Violence, scenes of lovemaking between consenting adult women, poetic prose.
Author's Note: I claim insanity for attempting an NCIS story when there is someone infinitely more brilliant than I already writing wildly popular stories in this fandom, however, this story pleased her...so I also claim success. ;)
Thank You: To my darling, who inspires me every single day and whose smile lights every darkness. In one week, I'll be in your arms again, love. Not a moment too soon.
“Wait, wait, wait!” Tony held his hands up as if wanting to stop an oncoming train. “You mean those swabs actually helped the case?”
Abby Scuito grinned. “They broke the case, Tony! Swabs 41, 53 through 67, and 111 all had trace elements from the explosives they were using in the bombings. And the divers found bomb components in the influent tank. Which they expected to find, of course. But all of this together found the one thing we couldn't find before!”
McGee stared blankly at the Goth. “The connection to the Truman?” he asked hesitantly.
Abby turned to speak but Gibbs, sweeping into the lab with Ducky on his heels, beat her to it.
“Abby made the connection to the Truman,” he said, frowning. “What the swabs found was the Marines' motive.”
“And, by extension, their first victim, I'm afraid,” added Ducky.
“First victim?” Ziva took a step forward from where she'd propped herself against Abby's microscope counter. It was her new spot to stand when she was in the lab now. If anyone equated it at all to any sense of possessiveness they suspected the Israeli woman felt toward the self-proclaimed Goddess of said lab—well, they didn't mention it. Much. “A victim outside the victims claimed by the bombings?”
Gibbs nodded. “Seems there was another conspirator. And if he hadn't been stupid--”
“So, SO stupid!” said Abby, interrupting. “I mean, on a stupid scale of Gibbs to Tony, where Gibbs is, well, Gibbs and Tony is, uh, not--”
“HEY!” said the outraged and offended senior agent, bolting out of the chair he'd commandeered and was swinging side to side like a five-year-old.
“--this guy was a drooling mouth breather. PFC John Hoof.”
Ziva looked at Abby quizzically. “Hoof?” she asked. “As in...the foot of a ungulate mammal?”
Abby beamed at her brilliant lover. Ducky nodded approvingly. Everyone else just stared at Ziva blankly.
“Exactly, darlin',” said Abby. “Hoof. The moron who flushed direct evidence into an aircraft carrier's influent tank, apparently thinking it would be dumped overboard with the rest of the tank's contents when they were in open waters. Which is, by the way, what aircraft carriers do with all that sh--”
“Abs,” said Gibbs mildly, directing the Goth back to the topic at hand.
“I'm just sayin'. Knowing that aircraft carriers have 5,000 sailors on board—each!—and that they offload their sewage in open waters--”
“Abby!” McGee looked vaguely green and Tony scowled, apparently rethinking his love of seafood. Only Ziva looked amused.
“Anyway, some of what he flushed was denser than the waste water and it stuck around—so to speak—in the tanks. Lance Corporal Fredrickson, the first marine I investigated, apparently tried to...um...assess their dilemma when he found out what Hoof was doing. On the stupid scale, Fredrickson was maybe a McGee--”
“HEY!” said the outraged and offended probationary officer.
“--so he figured out almost right away that Hoof had pretty much preserved the evidence against the conspirators instead of successfully getting rid of it.”
“Oh.” McGee looked somewhat mollified by Abby's comparison. Tony did not. “So what am I on that scale again?” asked McGee hopefully. “A...three?”
Abby just smiled.
Gibbs ignored the banter and picked up the narrative. “Fredrickson took that information back to Master Sergeant Derek Wilson, who was the brains of the operation--”
“A Ducky on the stupid scale!” supplied Abby helpfully. The coroner in question smiled at her in return.
“--and he decided that Hoof was a liability.”
“A useful liability,” said the coroner. “That is why I suspect they secreted poor Private Hoof where they did. They believed he would come in handy later, as a scapegoat for their nefarious activities.”
“Where was he, Ducky?” asked McGee.
“Freezer storage at the base, my dear Timothy. They found the poor man in a crate of pork chops.”
Gibbs nodded. “Wilson and the others killed Hoof after his stupidity on the Truman, but made it look as if he went AWOL. Then they all transferred to different commands. Ones nearby where they could keep in touch.”
McGee picked up the narrative, piecing together the Marines' plan using what he knew from their communications. “Then they continued with their original plan—bombing liberal Democrat campaign headquarters and organizations—but kept Hoof on ice. Literally. They were going to have Hoof with them at the last big target, weren't they? To make it look like he was the bomber and had blown himself up.”
Gibbs nodded. “They had an apartment in Tyson's Corners rented under Hoof's name and evidence linking the private to the bombings. They thought that would be enough.”
Ziva smirked. “Wilson is definitely not Ducky on Abby's scale, then. He did not realize freezing the private would change his muscle tissue on a molecular level. Abigail would, no doubt, have discovered the differences immediately.”
“Yeah?” countered Tony sourly. “And where does Abby fall on the stupid scale then? Where do you fall on it, for that matter? Hmm, Ziva? Are you the number two spot, under Gibbs?”
“Oh, she's not on the scale, Tony. Neither am I. I mean.... That would be...” Abby bit her lip, trying not to look too smug. “It's just not the same at all.”
“Not the same,” repeated Tony. “What do you mean it's 'not the same'? Why aren't either of you on the scale?”
Ziva grinned at her partner. “Do not take it personally, Tony,” she said, patting his cheek patronizingly, her eyes sparkling. “We are simply better than you.”
Even Gibbs couldn't help but laugh at that. Especially when combined with the look on Tony's face just before he stormed out of the lab.
All in all, it was turning into a pretty good day.
One Year Later
Abigail Sciuto puttered in the kitchen that she and Ziva David called “theirs”--even though it had started out as Ziva's and Abby had only sorta taken it over by slow increments. It was Monday and Ziva had left before dawn for her usual morning run, careful not to wake a slumbering Abby. Now though, as Abby started their coffee and pondered which bagels to toast, she wondered if Ziva was okay. The young Israeli was usually back by now, was usually showered and dressed, ready for a quick breakfast before their commute to work.
Abby glared at her watch, then frowned at the gurgling coffee maker. “Where is she?” she wondered aloud.
The sound of Ziva's keys unbolting various locks at the front door turned Abby's frown into a smile.
“Where have you been—” she began, only to stop short upon seeing her lover shoulder her way through the door, weighed down by three small but seemingly heavy boxes. The Israeli woman thunked them down on the dining room table and—for a second—Abby thought the Ikea special would collapse.
“What's that?” she asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.
Ziva only grinned. “Open them,” she suggested, handing the Goth a small but deadly knife.
Abby took it carefully. “Do I even want to know a) where you got this and b) where you were hiding it?” She glanced meaningfully at Ziva's abbreviated running “uniform” of black, form-fitting bicycle shorts and a matching sports bra. There didn't seem to be many places in which to hide a deadly weapon, but Abby never knew with Ziva.
Her lover's embarrassed grimace was all the answer the Goth needed.
“Okay, gotcha. Shouldn't have asked 'cuz you ain't gonna tell.” She ran the exquisitely keen-edged blade through the packing tape on the first box and lifted the flaps. Then she blinked.
“Yes, Abigail?” The NCIS agent tapped her bottom lip rhythmically with a black Sharpie pen she'd retrieved from the drawer next to the stove. She smiled enigmatically.
“This is a box of forensic journals.”
Abby pulled the top five magazines from their cardboard container, glancing only at the journal's title printed in large block print at the top. “In fact, this is a box containing approximately 25 copies of Forensic Science International.”
“Are they all—?” The pony-tailed brunette gestured vaguely to the other boxes.
Ziva's Cheshire-like grin only served to unnerve Abby more. She shook her head, utterly bewildered, until realization dawned in her eyes.
“Oh my God!” she said, scanning the cover of one of the magazines for familiar words, finding none. The journal only printed the editorial board on the cover. Abby flipped hurriedly through the first few pages until she found the table of contents. “They printed my article finally?”
“They did,” said Ziva proudly, pointing at the third article on the list. It was entitled “Using Your Head: Extracting Decaying Plastic-Bonded Explosives Residue from Samples Taken from the Toilet S-Curves on an Active US Aircraft Carrier.”
“And you bought 75 copies because...?”
Ziva uncapped the Sharpie and handed it to her lover. “For you to put your John Hammock on them! You are famous in the world of forensics now. Everyone will want an autographed copy of this journal.”
“Hancock, darlin',” corrected Abby. “It's my John Hancock. And I've always been famous in the world of forensics, Z. At least, I'm pretty well-known in DC anyway. One little article in Forensic Science International isn't going to make me—”
Just then, Abby's cell rang. It was her default, unknown caller ringtone—the X-Files theme song. She stared at it briefly before picking it up off the counter and answering it.
She listened for a second, then answered, “Yes, this is Abigail Sciuto.” She listened for a few seconds more before her eyes started to widen. “Are you sure you want me—?” She fell silent again, then said, “Absolutely! Can you call me at my lab later today? I'll have--” Another brief silence. “That would be perfect. Thank you!”
She clicked the phone off, staring absently into space. The coffee machine gurgled happily on the counter. It was the only sound in the kitchen.
“Abigail?” Ziva watched her lover carefully. “Who was that?”
Abby snapped out of her reverie, blinking as if she'd just come from an underground mine shaft. “Who was what?” she asked. Then she shook her head and grinned. “Oh, the phone! It was the dean of Graduate Studies at Yale, Science and Medicine. She wants me to come do a graduate lecture on chemical forensics.”
Ziva's eyes widened. “Today?!”
Abby laughed. “No, darlin'! She's working on the lecture schedule for next semester. She'll call later with more details.”
“This is good, yes? To give a lecture at Yale?”
Abby beamed. “It's freakin' AWESOME!” she said. “I mean, Z, this is Yale we're talking about here. Yale! Where half the crazy politicians and military officers in this town went to school! I'll be giving a lecture to future elite law enforcement types and lab nerds. That's so cool!”
Ziva grinned at her lover's enthusiasm. “Where did the other half of the crazy politicians and military officers in this town go to school?” she asked innocently.
Abby quirked an eyebrow. “Well, for military, West Point is really big. For politicians—who seem to all start out as lawyers these days—it's actually pretty evenly split between Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, and Georgetown—”
The X-Files theme interrupted Abby once again. She snatched up her phone and looked at the display.
“It's a Boston area code!” she whispered, cradling her phone hesitantly in her outstretched hands as if it had become an alien artifact of some kind.
“I will take a shower,” said Ziva with a sexy smile. “When you are finished accepting Harvard's offer, turn off the phone and join me in the bedroom, yes?”
Abby knew that look. She also knew it was a Monday.
“We'll be late for work!” she protested, feeling stupid as soon as she said the words. She knew Gibbs wouldn't care, not really. She'd earned a few free passes over the years. But she'd never been late to work a day in her life and the thought of starting now troubled her. Even when the reason was just that good.
“I called Gibbs when I found the journal. He has given us the morning off...to celebrate.” Ziva winked and headed toward their room. “Answer the phone, Abigail,” she reminded as she disappeared down the hall.
Abby stared after her lover, dumbfounded, before scrambling to jam the green button on her phone.
“Hello?” she said, a little more impatiently than she had intended. She looked down the hall longingly. “Yes, this is Abigail Sciuto. What can I do for you?”
“What's this?” asked Tony as the thick, glossy magazine hit his desk. He scowled down at the offending item briefly before pinning Ziva with an annoyed glare. She continued passing out the journals, unfazed by her partner's mercurial attitude. She opened her mouth to answer him, but was interrupted by McGee.
“It's an autographed copy of Abby's issue of Forensic Science International. Cool!” The probationary officer opened his copy immediately, diving eagerly into Abby's article. “Thanks, Ziva!”
Ziva gave McGee a warm smile. “You are welcome, McGee. I am glad to see you enjoying it.”
“Autographed?” Tony scoffed. “She actually autographed that geeky science journal that printed her article about toilets?”
Ziva's eyes flashed but before she could do anything—like, toss one of the three knives secreted on her person at her idiot partner—the senior agent got a sharp rap to the back of his head.
“Hey!” he protested, rubbing the offended spot as he twisted in his chair. “What was that for?”
“You're being an idiot, DiNozzo,” said Gibbs as he crossed to his desk. He gave his copy of the journal an appreciative once-over. “Knock it off.”
“Am I the only one who doesn't understand why anyone would autograph an article they wrote about what they found in a toilet?” whined Tony. “Seriously? C'mon, McGeek, back me up on this.”
McGee didn't even glance up from his copy of the journal. “Sorry,” he said, shrugging. “It's a good article.”
“And this morning alone, Abigail has been asked to give lectures at three major universities, has been invited to join two editing teams, has been offered six jobs, and has been asked to write a chapter in a new forensics textbook.” Ziva's pride was obvious for all to see.
“What, no partridge in a pear tree?” asked Tony sarcastically.
“Six jobs where?” asked Gibbs, his brows crowding very low over his pale eyes.
“Chill, Gibbsmeister,” said Abby, walking into the bullpen, her own grin matching the one on the skull on her form-fitting black tee-shirt. “I turned 'em all down. And it really doesn't count as six job offers when three of 'em were from the same person. Hetty offered me my own Caf-Pow machine.” She smirked at Gibbs. "Do you have any idea how much more work I could get done if I had Caf-Pow on tap?"
“Must be some article if the LA ops manager defied my 'hands off my forensics specialist' order three times in one morning.”
“Caf-Pow on tap, Gibbs. It was very tempting.”
“If you had Caf-Pow on tap, how would we reward you?” Gibbs asked. He leaned over and kissed the Goth’s cheek. “Good work on that article, Abs.” His eyes crinkled at the corners, but that was the closest to a smile he got.
“Thanks! But I couldn't have done it without Tony, you know. He did all the dirty work.”
Ziva crossed her arms over her chest and gave her partner her most innocent look. “Perhaps this Hetty could use a new agent. One with extensive experience on air craft carriers perhaps?”
“Ha ha,” groused Tony. “Admit it Zee: you couldn't live without me.” He flipped the journal open. “'Using Your Head,'” he read. “'Extracting Decaying Plastic-Bonded Explosives Residue from Samples Taken from the Toilet S-Curves on an Active US Aircraft Carrier.' Catchy, but can you dance to it?”
Abby ignored Tony. “The article should have been published in the last issue but my original title was...um...rejected.”
“Why?” asked McGee, finally looking up. “What did you call it?”
Abby bit her bottom lip and gently swung her ponytails. “The original title began 'Getting Your Shit Together,'” she said, trying to look innocent. “That got sent back to me with a very stern note.”
“She is right,” said Ziva, nodding. Her eyes were very round. “It was a very stern note. The editor-in-chafe was very upset.”
“In chief, darlin',” corrected Abby. “It's editor-in-chief. Chafing is what happens sometimes when we—”
“Abs,” Gibbs said mildly. He never had to raise his voice to get Abby Sciuto's attention.
“Sorry, Gibbs. Private information. Gotcha.” Abby tried to look contrite, but it just wasn't a look she could pull off. A contrite Goth was kinda....scary.
“Hey, I wanna know!” said Tony, leering. “Chafing is what happens when you two do what? Tell me. And it better involve pillow fights.”
A look and a nod passed between Abby and Ziva and the Israeli woman stalked over to Tony's desk, leaning provocatively over his Mighty Mouse stapler. “It happens when Abigail and I...celebrate, Tony.” She seductively traced one finger over the stapler. “Which we did many times this morning, while you were here, writing reports. We celebrated six—no, seven times. Unless....” She turned her head, her long braid swinging like a silk rope with the movement. “Ahuvati, does what we did in the shower before coming to work count as one time or two?”
“Okay! Okay! I surrender!” Tony put his hands over his ears. For all his sexist and sex-starved talk, the fact was he thought of Abby as the little sister he never had. Hearing about her sex life with his partner actually unnerved him greatly.
Ziva smirked and stood up, brushing her hands on her low-slung cargo pants. “Be careful what you ask for, Tony. As God says, 'take what you want...but then pay for it.'”
Abby smirked at Tony as his discomfort increased. "So I guess the real question is how much credit do you have with Z right now, Tony? Think you can afford the truth?"
Tony gulped. "Check, please?" he said weakly.
"How are you three coming on this month's case reports?" asked Gibbs pointedly, annoyed by the banter.
“Uhhh....” Tony stammered.
"I submitted mine three days ago," said Ziva mildly. She pulled another stack of Abby's journals from a box on her desk.
"Of course you did." Tony frowned from behind a mountain of neglected files. Even McGee cast a withering glance in the Israeli's direction. "Is there anything you don't finish three days ahead of schedule?" the senior agent asked grumpily.
"Abs, don't answer that." Gibbs hadn't looked up from his computer, but Abby's mouth snapped shut audibly. "When your girlfriend's finished handing out copies of your latest professional achievement, have her help you with the lab inventory." He glanced over at them. "It'll slow you both down."
Abby perched her hands on her hips, incensed. "Wait! Why would that slow us down?”
Gibbs smiled enigmatically. “Do I really need to explain that, Abs?” he asked.
Ziva's expression became almost predatory. “No, I do not think so.”
“Ohhhh.... 'Help with inventory,'” Abby said, using air quotes. “Gotcha. And yes, that will slow us down.” She beamed.
"Go,” said Gibbs with a sigh. “I have to explain to the Director—again—why these two—” He jerked his chin toward the male agents. “—are too distracted to get their paperwork in on time."
Ziva hefted the journals. "Let us go, Abigail. We can visit Jimmy and Ducky. I have not given them their copies of your article yet. Then we will...." She gave Abby an appreciative once over, her gaze lingering on the very short Catholic school girl's skirt her lover wore. "Complete your inventory." She shifted the magazines over to one arm and held out her free hand.
Abby took it and grinned over her shoulder at Gibbs as the two of them headed out of the bullpen. "See you later! Much, much later!"
Tony and McGee watched the women disappear into the elevator.
“Gee, and I thought they had already 'taken inventory' this morning,” said Tony, using air quotes, too. “Six times. Or was that seven?”
"Finish your reports, DiNozzo."
"Reports. Today, DiNozzo." Gibbs rose and stalked out of the bullpen, carrying his too-long-empty coffee cup toward fresh, hot caffeine.
Tony sighed. "Right, Boss. Reports. Sorry.”
There were three minutes of blessed silence where only the sounds of typing could be heard.
Then McGee ruined it, softly stating, “You're still jealous.”
Tony scowled at the not-so-probationary probationary officer. “What are you talking about?”
“You know what I'm talking about.” McGee looked up from his monitor. “It's been over a year. They're living together now. They're happy. Let it go already.” He shrugged affably. “I did.”
Tony picked up a pencil and threw it into the pen cup at the front edge of his desk. “You and Abby, what you had was...casual.”
“And you and Ziva had what...exactly?” McGee wasn't trying to be mean, but Tony's logic—especially where it concerned Ziva—was known to be fuzzy. He was trying to help a friend.
“Nothing real; I know that. Not for her anyway. But it was real for me. For a while. It was.” Tony picked at a spot on his desk blotter for a long moment before finally looking up. “It's why I went to Somalia, McGee. Because of what I thought I felt.”
McGee stared across the bullpen quietly until Tony made eye contact. “You know the only reason Abs didn't go with us was that Gibbs wouldn't let her.” He leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest. “Whose arms did Ziva fall into when she walked back in here?”
“That really bugged me. Makes sense now.” Tony nodded morosely and sighed. “I get it. I really do. I feel like an ass every time I'm a jerk to them, McGee.” He sighed again. “I just don't know what to do,” he said honestly.
“Stop being a jerk. It doesn't change the fact that they're together and—you're right—it makes you look like an ass.”
Tony grimaced. “Gee, thanks,” he said sarcastically.
McGee shrugged again. “You said it first,” he pointed out, chuckling. He watched as Tony rolled is eyes, then added, “You know, some people might say this is all your fault.”
DiNozzo's eyes hardened instantly. “What's all my fault?”
“Ziva and Abby. If Abs hadn't overheard what you said to Gibbs the day Ziva got shot, she might never have told Ziva how she felt. That whole thing was kind of her wake up call.” McGee turned back to his monitor and continued with his reports. “Maybe if you stopped being a jerk long enough, they would see that and actually thank you.”
Tony sat silently for a moment, staring at the pile of reports on his desk. Finally, he looked at McGee. “So, what's the traditional gift for hooking your partner up with the love of her life? Muffin basket? Nah.”
“Cheese of the month?” suggested McGee.
“As if,” Tony scoffed. “Season tickets to the Wizards would be a good start. Even though they suck.”
McGee smirked, happy his friend was finally showing signs—however small—of moving on. “Maybe you should just be thankful Ziva hasn't stabbed you...yet.”
Tony furrowed his brow. “Muffin basket,” he said, looking a little pale.
McGee's eyes widened as Abby reappeared in the bullpen with Gibbs-like stealth.
“Gah!” said Tony, almost falling out of his chair. “Can't you put a bell on that collar or something?”
Abby crossed to Tony, smiling too sweetly. “You know, you had court-side seats for the Wizards' season opener with the Bulls before that bell comment. The Georgetown professor who wants me to speak there next year said he had a friend—Flip Sanders?” She tilted her head to one side. “I wonder if he's related to the Colonel?”
“Flip Sanders would be the head coach of the Washington Wizards,” supplied McGee helpfully. “No relation to the Colonel as far as I know.”
Tony looked like a child on Christmas Eve. “I'm getting court-side tickets to the season opener!” He jumped to his feet and stalked over to McGee's desk. “Did I mention when I played basketball for Ohio State University, we made it to the Final Four? Stupid UCLA.”
McGee rolled his eyes. “Yes. You lost by one point. We've all heard that story. Trust me.”
“Actually,” said Ziva, appearing suddenly from around the corner, “you're getting a muffin basket. No one teases Abigail about her collar.” She gave Tony a withering look. “If you are nice, I might throw in the cheese of the month.” She took her lover's hand and tugged her away, hiding a smile as she turned away.
Tony deflated visibly, looking more like the child that had just found out that Santa wasn't real. He went back to his desk and sat down dejectedly, resting both elbows on a smaller stack of files.
“At least I didn't get stabbed,” he said.
“YET!” called Abby as she and Ziva entered the elevator. She giggled as the doors shut. She gently looped her arms around Ziva's neck, pulling the smaller woman in for a lingering kiss.
When they parted, Ziva raised dark, troubled eyes to meet Abigail's. “He is trying,” she said, sighing softly.
Abby rested her forehead against Ziva's and smiled softly. “I know,” she said simply. “The tickets are on their way. They'll be here within the hour. I figured we'd surprise him in a few weeks. That is, if he hasn't reverted to his usual asshat ways.”
Ziva's brow furrowed. “Why would you wear a hat on your ass? Would that not be considered a pair of pants?”
Abby laughed but didn't answer. “Shut up, Z,” she said tolerantly.
“Shut up?” Ziva scowled. “These are valid questions. Your American expressions make no sense.”
“No, Z. I meant shut up, as in we have better things to do with our mouths right now.” Abby's wicked grin sparked heat in Ziva's blood and the look in her lover's eyes seemed to raise the temperature in the small elevator car by at least ten degrees.
“These better things....” she said, eyeing her lover speculatively. “I will show you mine if you will show me yours.”
Abby raised an eyebrow and reached back, activating the emergency stop. “Deal,” she said, leaning in for another kiss.
Later, no one was brave enough to mention them “taking inventory” in the elevator, fearing the possibility of being introduced to one of Ziva's many knives.
Leroy Jethro Gibbs did not fear Ziva nor did he fear her knives. He did, however, fear that any question asked of Abby would be answered gleefully and in excruciating detail.
Using the elevator was going to be hard enough for the next few days, until he forgot about the emergency stop. If he had to hear about it, he'd never get in the damned contraption again.
He looked up from his musings with a scowl. Ziva stood before his desk, looking impossibly formal in her at-ease stance.
“Nothing happened in the elevator,” she said simply, getting right to the heart of the matter.
Gibbs took a sip of his coffee. “Good,” he said non-committally.
Ziva's features took on a more serious, less certain look. “I am aware you regard Abigail....highly,” she said. “I would never dishonor her.”
Gibbs almost smiled. “Didn't say you had, David,” he replied.
Ziva nodded. “We are careful to limit our...activities when we are on duty. Especially when we are on government property.” She grimaced delicately. “I did not want you to think that we would take advantage of your...leniency...with our relationship. The most we do is kiss.” She blushed and cleared her throat. “Perhaps a little heavy perking.”
Gibbs' scowl returned. “Petting. The term is 'heavy petting.'” He was beginning to regret this conversation. “And you two are in different command structures,” he reminded Ziva. “There's no problem with your relationship as far as the government is concerned. As long as it doesn't disrupt my team....” He left the thought unfinished, his implications clear.
Ziva's eyes flashed with a radiant light. “It will not,” she assured him.
“Good,” he said again. He eyed her speculatively. “Then why are you still standing in front of my desk?”
Doubt once again made its presence known in Ziva's features. “Abigail and I have been dating for over a year. We have been living together for eight months.”
“I know, David. Everyone knows. Even Vance knows.” He raised both eyebrows in dubious consideration. “He's the one who sent that Mossad-issue Welcome mat for your front door.”
Ziva's lips twitched into a brief smile. “I had deduced that already,” she assured her boss.
“Then why are you telling me information that I already know?” Gibbs asked.
Ziva faltered. “I.... I am attempting to preface a request with information you might find pertinent in your....consideration of it.” The young brunette looked almost shell-shocked while relating the simple, though confusing, sentence.
Gibbs glowered at her meaningfully. “David,” he said, drawing the name out, sternly encouraging his agent to just spit it out, whatever it was.
Gibbs solved that one for her. “Breathe,” he ordered, looking at her with concerned eyes. When she did, he gazed at her pensively. “You do know that Abs' father is still alive, right? You should be asking him this question.”
“I did.” Ziva's grin was impossible to contain. “His enthusiastic response was...quite memorable.” Watching understanding dawn on Abby's father's face as she haltingly signed her request to marry his only daughter was a memory Ziva would cherish for the rest of her life. Being pulled into his arms for an impromptu dance after he'd signed back “Yes! Of course!” was another.
“Then you don't need me,” said Gibbs simply, dismissing Ziva's question with a slight shrug of his shoulders.
Ziva's eyes hardened to glints of mocha steel. “I told you I would never dishonor Abigail. Such an important request requires the permission of both her fathers,” she admonished.
Deep emotion shone in Gibbs' eyes for a split second—just before a smirk broke his stoic features. “Did you clear the whole 'asking permission' thing with Abs?” he asked casually.
Ziva's brows dipped low over her eyes in confusion. “I did not. My proposal is to be a surprise. Why?”
A very familiar, very perturbed voice from behind Ziva answered the question. “Because I am nobody's chattel, darlin'!”
Ziva slowly turned and faced her lover, her eyes wide as she saw Abigail standing with her hands firmly on her hips, a scowl darkening her features like a storm about to break. The grinning skull tee-shirt the forensic analyst wore did nothing to inspire confidence in the Israeli, either.
“I don't care how many middle-aged daddy-figures you line up and ask for my hand—no offense, Gibbsmeister—they don't get to give or deny me permission to marry the woman I love! Are we clear, David?”
Gibbs held up his hands in surrender while Ziva gulped.
“I—I apologize, Abigail,” Ziva said hurriedly. “I just—I wanted to do everything properly. Your father is a very traditional Catholic from Louisiana. And I could not disregard Gibbs' place in your life. I did not mean to imply—”
Abby shook her head tolerantly, her twin pony tails swaying with the movement. A small smile broke through the clouds in her eyes and she sauntered over to her love, her ruby lips curving slightly against the pallor of her skin.
“Shhh...” She placed a finger over Ziva's lips, then drew her fingertips down the shorter woman's arms, ending by taking Ziva's hands in her own. “Silly spy, I'm the only one who can say yes to that question,” she chided.
The worry in Ziva's eyes did not abate.
“Ask me,” whispered Abby, spelling out what she wanted.
“But—” Ziva looked to Gibbs, terror in her eyes. She was not prepared. Her idea of the perfectly romantic marriage proposal did not include standing in front of 1970s-era press-board furniture in the bull pen at NCIS. She didn't even have the ring with her! It was back at the apartment, hidden in her gun safe.
Gibbs read Ziva's distress, guessed at its cause, and snapped into action. “David,” he said urgently, grabbing a small item from his desk set. After a second or two of quick, furtive movements, he handed his agent a small, silver circlet.
Ziva—shell-shocked—took the manipulated paperclip with shaking fingertips and turned to her lover. She guided Abby to the edge of her own desk and had her sit there. She, herself, dropped to one knee.
“I...” Ziva fought the urge to scowl at the bull pen, every cell of her being protesting asking this intimate, delicate, utterly important question in such pedestrian surroundings, but she saw no way out. Well, no way short of a national emergency or an errant meteorite. Neither were forthcoming. She gulped. “Abigail Immaculata Sciuto,” she whispered, her voice trembling. “I love you more than I can say. Will you do me the honor of agreeing to be my wife?”
She slipped the ersatz ring onto Abby's finger, noting that it fit almost perfectly. She made a mental note to ask Gibbs how he had managed that particular feat...later.
Abby held her left hand out and scrutinized the paperclip-ring intently for a long moment. Then a grin as bright and as amazing as sunshine after a Gulf Bay hurricane overtook her pale features.
“Of course I will, silly spy,” she said, chuckling softly. Suddenly she stilled, her gaze intensifying as her grin faded. She leaned forward and rested her forehead against Ziva's, reaching up to cup the Israeli's cheek in her hand. “Yes,” she whispered, her voice deepening as emotion overtook her. “Yes, Ziva Naomi David. I will be your wife...if you will be mine.”
“It is all I have wanted, all I have been able to think about for months now,” admitted Ziva.
“Then I guess we're getting married,” said Abby, giggling. “You can get up off the floor now, darlin'. I think you've made your point.” The dark-haired forensic analyst winked saucily at her lover, holding her hand out to help Ziva stand.
“My point?” Ziva's brows contracted over her dark eyes as confusion set in. “What point?”
“It's okay, love. You can be the butch one if you want. I don't mind.” Abby smiled beatifically, patted Ziva's cheek once, and turned to leave the bullpen.
The Israeli stood there, slack-jawed, as she watched her new fiancée saunter off. “The butch one?” she asked, her voice a little higher than usual. She hurried after Abby, clearly agitated. “What do you mean 'the butch one'? Abigail? Neshomeleh?”
Gibbs smirked. “She means you are so whipped, David.” He paused. “Not that I'd ever say that to your face.”
He paused again. “Well, not and live.”
Gibbs went back to work, reaching absently for his coffee. Just before he took a sip, though, he glanced after the two women.
“L'chayim!” he toasted softly, raising his mug in silent salute. Then he shook his head tolerantly. “And about damned time.”