Tony groaned, holding his stomach as another pain shot through it. "I'm not happy," he growled down at his stomach. He stood up and had to clutch the desk for a minute before heading to the elevator. He got down to the lab, grabbing Abby, ignoring the others in there. "We have an issue," he said plainly, staring at her. "Let's go."
"Now?" she demanded. "Right now?"
"Abby," he snarled. "Yes, hell now!"
She gave him a look. She knew what was going on. "Okay. Let's go." She walked him back to the elevator, taking him down to his car. There was no way he should be driving himself at the moment, he might get hurt worse. She noticed Gibbs came off after them. "He'll be fine but we've got to go see someone, Gibbs. He's in a lot of pain and it's all right. I've got it covered." She got him into the passenger's seat and walked around to get in. "It'll be okay, you'll see him tomorrow!" She got in and slammed the doors, locking them both. "I hope." She started the engine, backing out and doing her own credible impersonation of Gibbs' driving. "How far apart, are we timing them yet? Because she'll need to know. They always ask that on tv."
"Arnold did not have this much trouble having Junior," he complained, tipping his seat back. "Speed up faster, another one's coming and I want this out of me!"
"I'm doing the best I can, Tony. I'm trying really hard not to get the attention of the cops." She did not want to see what would happen if some local cop tried to stop them. The phone in Tony's pocket rang until he rolled down the window, tossing it out, then putting the window back up. "You'll pout about that tomorrow."
"It's my spare. The one with all the numbers has been at home for the last month. Just in case." He hissed, grabbing her arm and arching his hips up. "Owowowowowowowow OWOWOWOW!"
"I know! Calm down. Breathe. Remember the breathing stuff from the movie!" He hissed in a breath. "Come on, Tony, try really hard. Think what Kate would say if you joined her from dying during labor."
He gave her an odd look. "Don't torture me! I'm in enough pain!"
"I'm not trying to. I'm trying to be encouraging," she said patiently. "Now, breathe damn it."
He panted, doing as he had been instructed. At least until she took a corner on two wheels. "Do not wreck us. I do not want to explain this to any ER docs, Abby."
"I don't want to either," she promised, speeding up. Her target was in sight. She parked and turned off the engine, coming around to get him out and walk him inside. "Sin! Tony's in a.... um, hi," she said, waving at the older couple. "We kinda need Cynthia for a good few hours. Sin?"
"Upstairs, blue room, Abby." She nodded, walking Tony up there. "Excuse me. Patients you know?" She went to check on him. Tony was gripping the windowsill, his nails trying to dig into the old wood. "Down, Tony, it'll help. Breathe." He glared at her. "It will, I promise."
"Get. It. Out," he growled.
"I'm going to do that once you lay down and I make sure that's what's going on." He flopped down, hands over his face. Abby moved one, taking it to hold. "Okay, I'm going to check you over. Just lay there and stare at her." He did that while she got his stomach uncovered and felt over it. "Yeah, it's definitely time. Abby, get my bag, it's in the kitchen please?" She nodded, going to do that. She looked at him. "Drugs?"
"I will kiss you if you do," he said as quietly as he could. "I'm sorry she interrupted."
"My fiance's parents," she said dryly. She smiled. "Babies never have good timing. That's why they come during the witching hour, Tony." She heard the knock and went to open the door, looking at the woman on the other side. "He's in pretty bad shape and it's going to be about an hour before I can leave him alone. You can hog Doug for a while if you want."
"I thought you were an obstetrician," she said bluntly.
Tony sat up, propping himself up on his elbows. "I'm a Fed, ma'am. This is need-to- know. Please. Before I have to start screaming again." She gave him a look then stared at his rippling stomach. He looked down too. "I'm going to name you Alien."
"Name her Sigourney," Abby said as she brought the bag and Doug upstairs. "He wouldn't let me come alone. Apparently your stairs are scary." Tony snorted, laying back down. "I'm sorry, Doug's Mommy, but this is seriously a bad situation and Sin's the only one we trust to handle these things. I know it's really horrible bad timing and all that but kinda not our choice." She gave her a look. "Please don't get involved and if the man who yells and barks like a Marine shows up, you didn't see us." She pulled Sin inside, closing the door. "How long and what can I do? I've been reading up on it in case he went on an out-of-town case."
"Let's get him undressed for now," she ordered. "I'll start cleaning his stomach off." Abby nodded, coming over to take off Tony's shoes and socks, then his pants. "Tony, how modest are you?"
"I don't care!" he said hotly. "Just get it out!"
"Okay." She nodded at Abby, who took his boxers too, covering his lap since it was a bit chilly in the room. She heard the knock. "Gibbs is good."
"Thinking about him draws him," Tony said grimly. "Just cut! I don't care if I die of an infection, he's going to kill me anyway!"
"Not unless he wants my highest platform boots up his butt," Abby said bluntly. "I will not let that happen to my goddaughter! Then I'd have to raise her. Ducky would throw fits."
"At both of us I'm sure," Tony said grimly. He grabbed onto Abby's arm when another one started. "Please get it out? I don't need drugs. Just remove her from standing on my spinal cord."
"Give me a few more, Tony," Sin said patiently. Someone knocked on the door. "NOT YET!" she bellowed. She grabbed the knife and moved to cut when the door was kicked in. "Abby, remove the infection quotient."
"What are you doing to my agent?" Gibbs demanded, stomping inside.
"Gibbs, you can't! It can kill Tony if he catches something. Stand by the door and guard it or do something Marine-y." She turned back, taking Tony's hand again. "Could be worse. We could be in the morgue with the director."
"She's not here," he agreed, trying to keep it as a mantra. He yelled a bit when she cut into the deeper muscles but that was fine. "She's doing it again," he snarled.
"I know. Give me another five minutes, Tony, then you can have drugs." He slammed his head onto the pillow while he nodded, letting Abby wipe off his sweating forehead. He wasn't going to scream any more, even though he wanted to. He was tougher than his child. "There we are," she announced, reaching inside the incision. She looked then reached again, finding the foot this time. "She's a fast little sucker, doesn't want to be caught." She pulled the baby out, handing her off. "Abby, clear her airways." She looked back at the stunned older man. "Bring me the white pan," she ordered calmly. "I've got to remove the sac."
Gibbs numbly handed it over, staring at the baby. At least until he heard the wet, squishy noises. Then he shuddered and walked over to help Abby. "Let me." He took the bulb and got to work on her nose and throat, making her howl in anger. "Shh. You're louder than your father is on paperwork days." He glared at his people. "I will have an explanation."
"Madam. Director," Abby said simply.
"A more complete explanation?" he demanded, glaring at Tony. Who glared back. "Is he going to live, Doctor?"
"He'll be just fine but I'm going to have him on bed rest for at least a week and then on maternity leave for another six weeks at least, Agent Gibbs." She took the baby after she was done closing Tony up, looking her over. "Hi, princess. Are we all right?" She pulled out her stethoscope to listen to her heart and lungs. "No swallowed fluid. Sounds healthy, Tony. Let me weigh and measure her." She moved off to do that, leaving them to talk about it.
"How did she come to be?" Gibbs asked more calmly. Though his hands were balled into fists and he was clearly holding in some serious yelling.
"Madam Director sent Tony and the team out to stop someone who was stealing the project he was working on for the Pentagon," Abby said.
Tony groaned, shifting some.
"Okay, by the book, people," Tony ordered. McGee and Ziva nodded. The new agent, Lee, nodded a bit faster. "In, stop, out. Ziva, lead." She nodded, picking the door and heading inside. If there were any other barriers it was her job to clear them. "McGee, take rear. Between us, Lee." He walked in next after hearing her all clear through the headset. He looked around. There were a lot of storage containers. A whole lot of metallic, round, storage containers that were plugged in and a few that were letting off some steam. "Cryogenics, great," he muttered. "She could have told us. Do not hit the containers. They've got liquid nitrogen by the markings on a few. You'll be an instant popsicle." He moved on, running into Ziva. "Well?"
"It's a keypad," she hissed. "I can't pick those."
He punched in the code the Director had written on his hand, letting it open. Someone in there yelled that there were intruders. "Stop them without doing damage," he ordered. "NCIS! Cease and desist all work! Now!" They rushed in. Most of them stopped. A few of them looked very scared. Then McGee nearly tripped over one that was scared and shaking. It sent Agent Lee into Ziva, who ended up stumbling. Her suspect got away and she had to chase him. Tony was getting another one that had tried to take off. Ziva crashed her suspect into Tony, who shoved him into a table. He felt needles pierce his back and he passed out.
Tony woke up in a hospital. Only one place smelled that foul. He looked at the nurse, then at the director on the other side. "Did we stop them?"
"You did. Ziva's sorry she shoved that suspect into you, Tony." He nodded once. "How are you feeling?"
"Like a pincushion. What did I get hit with?" He sat up, holding his head. "I feel nasty. Sedatives?"
"A few were," the director admitted. "A few were a hormone compound they were working on to bulk up soldiers." He gave her a long look. "That's what they said they were."
"Uh-huh. What were they really?"
"I saw the cryo chambers, Director," he said firmly. She went pale. "And?"
"Cloning," she said quietly.
He just nodded. "So I was hit with what? Because I'm on meds for my immune system since it's flu season."
"It shouldn't matter. I asked Doctor Mallard's opinion and he told them what you're on."
"Including the cold medicine?"
She shook her head. "Not that. The immune boosters you're on." She looked at the nurse. "Give a few please?" She walked out. She looked at Tony again. "This gets no further."
"As long as nothing happens because of it. You could have warned us we were going into a chemical situation. Even Ziva would've been more careful. There's protocols for busting inside a lab, Director," he said when she opened her mouth. "How did we know it wasn't a biodisease lab? All you told us was a multi-agency project with scientists."
"I should have been more forthcoming," she admitted quietly. "Feel better after ranting?"
"No, right now I want to scream," he admitted, staring her down. "I don't know why I've lost my ususal sense of tact, but I'm going to put it down to whatever I got given. Which was?" he demanded again.
"Hormones. Two types of sedatives. That's all the ones they pulled from you, Agent DiNozzo."
"And the other things that I was exposed to?" he asked more calmly. She spluttered. "Hormones don't really matter to the military, Director. Yes, steroids are bad but I didn't see any physical testing equipment and steroids don't necessitate cryogenics chambers. Cloning would but not hormones."
"As far as I was told that's what was going on. The hormones were to promote new cell growth into the cloned organs."
He just nodded once. "Okay. That's more reasonable." He swung his legs around. "Am I released?" he called.
"We need you under observation. We're not sure what the hormones will do to a normal body," the Director said calmly.
He looked at her. "I expect the same level of respect you give the other team leaders since I am one, Director. Don't do this to my team again." She stomped off. He glared at her back. The nurse came back. "Any idea why I'm having cranky moments and mood swings?" he asked.
"Not yet. We've got a sample of the hormone cocktail being processed. Your lab is doing the same."
"Thank you. I'd like a copy of those reports. I don't trust her not to cover it up."
"I can do that if I'm allowed, Agent DiNozzo. Why don't you lay back down?"
"Because I have to pee."
"That's a good reason." She helped him to the bathroom, letting him use it then escorting him back to his bed. "There you go. Let me tuck you in and the remote is on the bedframe. The nurses in observation said you're a big fan of movies." He gave her a weak smile. "Or try to sleep. It's pretty late and you were exposed to some heavy sedatives." She checked his pulse then left, heading back to the desk. "He'd like a personal copy of his reports for this visit," she told her supervisor, who shook her head. "They're going to classify it?"
"All the way through the system. Sanitized."
"I'll let him know."
"I'll tell him myself tomorrow," she assured him. "By then he should be down from his hormone kick." She went to make another note in a sealed file then went to check the other patients they had on the sealed ward.
A few weeks later, Tony wobbled when he stood up, grabbing the edge of his desk. Ziva gave him a worried look. "Low blood sugar," he excused, going to get some chocolate from the machine. He nibbled it on the way, sitting down again. "Probie?" McGee looked over. "Where are you on this case?"
Tony pointed at the monitor. "Her, Probie? Did I pass out and we suddenly cleared it?"
"No, Tony. I'm tracking her phone. The other team has her family on watch since they thought it was one of them." Tony nodded. "Do you think we'll be going?"
"Possibly." He gave him a grim look. "Keep me informed as soon as something happens."
"Of course." He got back to his computer, listening to the feed over the radio in his ear. He watched Tony add another packet of sugar to his coffee, grimacing slightly. That was four packets now. Something was definitely wrong. "Tony, you know it could be too much sugar, not too little that made you feel a bit dizzy a minute ago. It's one of the signs of too much blood sugar too."
"I'm fine," he promised, getting back to his paperwork. "I have these episodes."
"Since when? I've never seen you have one," Ziva told him.
He looked at her. "Since about fifth grade when I nearly died from it," he said bluntly. "Now and then my blood sugar tanks for no good reason. That's why I eat so much candy. Anything else you wanted to know about my diet, Officer David?"
"No, Tony." She got back to work. She glanced at McGee when Tony went back to his paperwork, getting a small nod. So apparently the others knew that and she hadn't caught on.
McGee started to type twelve minutes later. "She's calling back. Doing the trace." Tony's pen paused. Both of them stared at him until he repeated an address. "Do you need us to back you up?" He smiled. "We're here." He looked at Tony. "They've got local law enforcement on standby too."
"Go if you need to," Tony told him. McGee repeated that, getting a smile back to Tony. "Going okay?"
"They had it narrowed down to one block. They're going in now." He went back to his search function. "The name on the apartment in the system is Tess Dishwallen. According to the background check, she's the last girlfriend of the mother," he reported "2E." He nodded, listening as they busted in. "They have the two girls," he told Tony, who smiled and nodded, getting back to work. "I hate custody kidnapings," he complained once he had the radio off. "Most of the time they think they have a good reason and that it's in the best interest of the kids."
"If it is or isn't is not for us to decide," Tony said, looking at him again. "That's for a judge to decide but if we see something that points to the kidnaping being right it is our solemn duty and joy to tell the judge that. It may suck but the law does that now and then," he finished more quietly. "The same as putting a woman on death row for killing the husband who's trying to kill her does, Probie."
"Did you?" he asked.
Tony nodded, holding up two fingers. He went back to his paperwork. Then he got up to get sick.
"That's it, I'm calling Ducky," Ziva said, reaching for the phone.
"Tony's got the door locked, he'll never get in," McGee said quietly. "If he wants Ducky to look at him he'll go see him later." She put down the handset, looking at him. "Tony can be...odd about doctors since he had the plague. He escapes when he's under observation for concussions. He never admits how terrible he feels." Tony came wandering back. "Though, if he'd like we can ask Ducky to check him over," he offered.
"Don't you dare unless you want a week going to the local schools to explain what we do and to hype the military to them," he threatened, flopping back down in his chair. "I will stick you in a kindergarten that even Arnold would shudder at, Probie."
"Just an offer, Tony."
"Uh-huh. Keep it at that."
"I can do that but if you get too much sicker I'm going to have to call. We can't have you down with Agent Lee being off for that training weekend. Neither of us are ready to handle a team by ourselves, even for a day."
"I'm fine." He got back to work, finally giving up on it. He walked it over. "Here, do these while I do something more socially acceptable." He went back to his computer, pulling up a chat screen to deal with someone else on another case.
McGee looked at the forms then printed off new copies, getting to work on them. He had done them for Gibbs, he could do them for Tony too. Of course, when Agent Lee came back it was her job. Finally!
A month more and Tony was still feeling like crap. He looked at Abby. "I need to know what I was exposed to," he said quietly. "They sanitized everything at the hospital. Didn't even let me see it."
"Hmm. McGee's the better one at hacking those sort of systems." She leaned against his arm. "Have you talked to Ducky?"
"If I know what I got hit with I'll know if I need to talk to him. All the director said was hormones that would be used to help boost cloned cells."
She nodded, looking at the project. It was eliminated from the systems. So she called McGee at home. "It's me. We need to talk." She hung up, looking at Tony. "Come on, part of this is the really long hours." He nodded, letting her walk him off and take him to McGee's house.
Tim took one look at Tony and pointed at the couch. "When are you talking to Ducky?"
"I need to find out what I got exposed to first," Tony told him, laying down, one hand going over his eyes. "I still feel nasty."
"Okay. Let's see what we can find."
"They sanitized the hospital and the project's records," Abby told him.
"Maybe," McGee said with a smile. He went to his personal hacking computer, logging on. "Let's see what the data backups say." He got into the system he'd need, looking things over. He found a few reports in the backup. "Would the lab reports help?" he asked.
"Definitely," she agreed. "We can work backwards from there." He nodded, printing them off. Then he moved onto the NCIS data backup files. He found the project's former front page but nothing but a summary. He printed that as well. The name was odd to him. Prospero's Daughter? He looked that reference up. He stared at the old story, then scanned the summary. "Why her? She's a witch."
"She was beautiful and powerful in her own right," Abby pointed out quietly.
"Am I turning into either a witch or a girl?" Tony asked.
"No, just looking up the origins of the name, Tony." He found something else and frowned, looking over that sub file. He printed it off, letting her see it. She blinked then at him. "You don't think..."
"I hope not."
"If so, this is as much as I need to know," McGee told her. Tony sat up. "We found an internal memo about some of the hormones. They're a fertility treatment."
"I donated sperm. And?"
"Not that sort of fertility, Tony," she said, bringing it over. Then she walked out, coming back twenty-six minutes later with a small pink box. "The color scheme sucks but try it. See if they're right."
"Not here," McGee said. "I can't handle knowing that."
Tony looked at him. "You? You wanna try my end?"
"No, which is why I'm going to ignore anything about this subject unless you collapse at my feet, Tony. At which time I'll call Ducky and let him know."
Tony nodded, getting up with a small moan. He took the other papers. "Thanks for the help, McGee."
"I'm there for you but I'd have a screaming fit," he said gently. Tony smirked and nodded. "I'm hoping it's just hormone swings. You have been a bit PMS-y recently."
"I realized last week I made Kate's seem sane," Tony said, walking out shaking his head. Abby waved and caught up with him, earning a small look. "Okay, now what?"
"Now, we go take the test," she said, walking him back to his car. She got into the passenger's seat to look at the reports they did have. She looked at him once Tony had them back on the street. "The Director knew?"
"She had to. She was cagey and evasive in the hospital." He turned a corner, heading to his apartment. "I'm kinda glad Gibbs is in Mexico," he admitted eight blocks later. "I can't imagine him having hormone swings like I have."
"I can but him with PMS was a nightmare I've had on and off for years." He smiled at that, parking in his usual space. "Who painted on the frog?"
"The sixth-grader upstairs. He needed an urban art project. He said it was that or tagging a building." He got out, heading inside. She followed, handing him back the box. "Must I?"
"It won't do you any good if I take it for you," she quipped, smiling at him. "What's the worst that can happen?"
"I'm pregnant," he said grimly. He went into the bathroom to use the test strip, coming out to wait on it by pacing. She stopped him. "This is going so wrong," he said quietly.
"We'll deal with it. We always have. Remember, Kate's not here to make fun of you. I'll be a good Mommy Buddy." He smiled and nodded, giving her a hug. "Go check." He went to look, grimacing at it. "Tony?" she called, following him when it had been a good half an hour. She looked at the strip he was staring at, then the back of the box "Well, crap," she complained.
"No one knows, Abby. Only the two of us. Not Ziva. Not Ducky. Especially not the director."
"We might need Ducky. You'll need a doctor, Tony."
He looked at her. "I trust him but I do not want him handling this mess. It's not exactly his field."
"I know an OB I can trust," she said hesitantly. He gave her an odd look. "She's my GYN. Sin's a great woman. She's done home births too."
He just nodded once. "Aren't we jumping the gun with that decision?"
"Are you going to get rid of it?"
He shrugged. "I don't know!" He walked off, going to get a drink. Abby took the beer from him. "I can have one."
"No you can't. Not if I'm getting a niece." She walked off drinking the beer.
"The AMA said that you could have a single drink now and then and tonight's a good time for it," he called back, taking out another beer to sip on his way to the living room. She scowled. "It's this or I'm breaking down and fleeing to Mexico."
"I can't imagine Gibbs' face if you showed up on his doorstep and told him this news. I'm not sure if he'd laugh or hit you. The bossman does not like strange things."
"That's putting it mildly," he muttered, taking another drink. "He'd probably knock me out and call someone to put me in a mental ward." He took another drink. "I need to think."
She gave his thigh a squeeze. "We'll handle it together, Tony. I'll be a good stepmommy."
He looked at her. "Who do we think the other father is?"
"That depends on who they have stored." She leaned against his side, taking his free hand to squeeze. "We'll figure that out once you figure out if you're going to make me an aunt or not."
"There is a lot to think about," he agreed, finishing his lone beer. He knew better than to get up to get another one. She'd tackle him and lecture him.
"We need a cool code name so we can talk about this and no one knows." He looked at her oddly but she was used to it. "You heard McGee. We can't use the original one either."
"I did. Not that I blame him. I'm a bit freaked out myself at the moment." He took her beer to finish it in one gulp, then put both bottles on the table beside him. "Well, if she's going to be my kid...."
"She?" she teased.
"DiNozzo sons are all smartasses. I don't know what my father expected me to do differently. So let's go on the assumption it's a girl. She's going to be brilliant. She's going to be beautiful but a handful. She's going to be so mean to geeks," he said fondly.
"We'll call her Meanness."
"I can live with that," he said quietly, looking down. "You?" Nothing answered, thankfully. She stroked over his stomach. "At least I'll be lucky. My mother bragged a number of times that she only gained fourteen pounds with me."
"She had a supermodel bump?"
He grinned down at her. "Yeah, the only way you could tell is she gained a bit of weight around her face and wore a bigger dress size."
"That'll help cover it up from the director."
"I know," she said positively. "Otherwise I'll have to call Gibbs back to smack her around while we watch. She'll giggle once he's broken her. It'll be her first positive experience."
He smiled and patted her hair. "I appreciate your warped mind, Abby. Have I ever told you that?"
She beamed. "No but it's nice to know." She settled back in, handing him the DVD remote. "Here, put something on."
He looked at what was in there, then got up with a groan of pain, changing it out. "Should we watch my bible over the next few months?"
"Sure, Arnold in a dress is cool."
He put in _Junior_ and sat back down with a sigh of relief. It had been a long day even without this issue.
Tony quit jogging a few days later, leaning down to pant. "Okay, Meanness. I give up." He flopped down on a bench, looking at his body. "I have no idea what I want to do about you." He held his head, then considered it for real. Did he want kids? Someday. Was today someday? This wasn't exactly how he'd pictured him starting his family. He always imagined some beautiful and at least slightly elegant woman on his arm. Someone his father would try to steal for his newest mistress maybe. Not that she'd like that but he'd try and fail. It'd give him warm thoughts for the rest of his father's short life. "I can imagine what he'd say about this. My mother's screeching would know no end. Like the camp song."
He straightened up, staring around the park. He saw someone stretching against a nearby tree. She hadn't been there earlier. He was going to have a bad feeling about this. "Or maybe we won't go there today." He stood up and started off again, weathering the aches his body was doing. None of it was that unusual. He ached some days. He was getting older. He was in his thirties. Which meant he'd be dashingly handsome when his daughter was prom age. Not that he had plans of dating any of his daughter's friends but in case it did happen.... He shook himself free of that thought. He was not going to have them today. Maybe some night when he couldn't sleep but not today. He still had to report to work in a while. He headed back to his car, going to take a quick shower and change. He walked into work a bit early, going to talk to Abby. "Your friend?"
"Sin?" She beamed. "She can see you tomorrow night."
"You told her?"
"Yeah, because no matter what you decided you'd need her help, Tony."
"I hadn't thought about that."
She gave him a hug. "It's all right. You're thinking the bigger thoughts."
"Will I like her?"
"She's pretty cool. She takes care of my girl needs." She smiled. "She's got a neat boyfriend, Doug. It's a bit like watching McGee and I when we were together. He's very, very straight."
He laughed, walking off. "Make sure I get there."
"I can do that," she agreed cheerfully, getting back to work.
Tony sat down at his desk, looking around. Then at his watch. "Did we get a case and no one told me?" he called.
McGee came into the row with his coffee. "No, I'm just now getting here." He looked at Ziva's desk. "She's late? I know I had a long line at the coffee shop."
Tony looked at his watch again. "Are you still set on Gibbs' time?"
"Yeah." He checked it then looked at him. "She's late even by normal people time. I signed in late by Gibbs time but on time for normal people time."
Tony called her. "You're late by Gibbs' and normal people time, Ziva." He hung up, getting to his paperwork of the day. "I wanted to thank you for the help last night when I felt so sick."
"Welcome." He stared at him. "You should probably try to keep a regular meal schedule anyway. The hormones are clearly screwing with your body."
"Yeah, well, if I'm a good boy I get to go off the immune boosters in a month," he said grimly. "That'll help that some. It always does."
"I hate to bring this point up, but Duck...."
"Talks," he said firmly. "'I've got a doctor's appointment tomorrow." That got a smile and a nod. "So if we've got a case, you'll be in charge for a few hours."
"I can handle that and keep in touch with you," he promised. Agent Lee scurried in. "You're late," he said with a grin.
"I had a flat," she said, looking at Tony. "I'm so...."
"Do not apologize," he ordered. "That is a sign of weakness. It won't happen again."
"It won't happen again," she agreed. "If it does, I'll call."
"Thank you. Did you see Ziva anywhere?"
"I thought she and the Director were doing something today," Agent Lee offered.
Tony nodded once. "Nice of her to let us know that." He got into Ziva's time clock to make that note to her. "For future reference, if you are going to be doing something that takes you from the team I am to know the cause if not the reason," he said loudly enough to be heard a few rows away since he could smell her perfume. He finished docking her for the lateness then closed her time clock and got to work. "Waiting on a call, people. Do what you can to have a clear desk so we can go and not have to write reports at the three in the morning." They nodded, getting to work on their last case's reports.
Ziva came over. "The director wanted to see me."
"In the future, I expect to know *before* these things happen, Ziva," he said, giving her a glare. "This is my team."
"I will." She sat down. "Do we have anything yet?"
"Clear your backlog. It's a Wednesday, it could be anything."
"Of course." She got to work on her backlogged reports, sending them to the director when she was done. Tony finally looked at her. "What?"
"You've been typing a lot and I don't seem to have anything to show for it. It's been...." he checked his watch, "two hours."
"I send them directly...."
"No, you send them to *me*, Ziva. I'm team lead. Just like when Gibbs was here and you sent them to him. You send it to whoever's in the big desk."
"Oh, sorry." She forwarded them to him, letting him see them.
He looked over the first one and translated it on a site. "In English." He sent them all back and the translator site.
"Those hormones you got exposed to last month are making you cranky."
"Really?" he asked smoothly. She flinched at the tone of voice, scooting her chair away. "McGee!" He looked up. "What is the proper procedure for reports?"
"Fully written, proof-read, grammar and spell checked, put in simple, easy to understand terms that the prosecutors won't be able to twist and neither will the defense attorneys, then sent to Gibbs for revision, then redo until he's happy and sends it up to the director and the prosecutors get it from her," he said by rote. "We learned that the first week with Gibbs. Though I do have to agree, have some chocolate, Tony. It did wonders yesterday." He gave him a look.
"In a while." He looked at Ziva. "Don't press your luck with me. I don't have the same reason to keep you that Gibbs did," he said plainly. "Am I clear?" She nodded, getting back to work. "Thank you." He looked at Agent Lee. "Speaking of, Agent Lee. You do write very good, long reports. Very long reports." She ducked her head sheepishly. "They're very detailed. They're every defense attorney's dream. Come here." She came over to stand at his shoulder. He highlighted a section of her last one. "Unlike contracts, you don't have to spell out every single action. That whole section could be maybe three sentences." He looked at her. "We want it like an elf from _Lord of the Rings_: hard, fast, and with simple grace like an arrow." She gave him an odd look. "Surely you saw it to at least drool on the men."
"Well, um, kind of," she admitted. "With some girlfriends."
"Then think of this as an exercise in becoming like an elf maiden. Simple is elegant. Flowing like water is better than breaking like wind against a stone wall. Purity is good." He sent it back to her desk. "Simplify and send it back." She nodded, going back to it. "If you have troubles, have McGee look over a few sentences. He's a writer," he said dryly. "Even though he does use metaphors." He looked over. "Do we perhaps have writer's block again, Probie? The last time Gibbs handed me one of your reports to fix you did."
"Um, well, yeah," he admitted, shrugging a bit. "Sorry. I'll fix it." Tony sent it back and he let Agent Lee see his. "Without the metaphors."
"Especially without that cucumber metaphor. I did not need that thought," Tony said, going back to his own reports. His phone rang. "DiNozzo." He kicked back, smiling. "What do you have for me, Abby?" He laughed. "That'll be fine. Bring it up." He hung up. "Someone sent Abby an email that she thinks contains a link to a homicide seen online, Probie. Figure out if it's a hoax or not."
"I can do that."
"And fix that cucumber metaphor. If I send that upstairs someone's going to freak and start asking some very pointed questions."
"Um, yeah." He got to work taking those out and fixing it very fast, sending it to Tony when Abby came up. "Rough draft, boss."
"Thank you." Abby gave him a hug around the throat and some chocolate. "Thank you as well."
"You're welcome." She smiled at Ziva. "Want to help? You could use help in computer things."
"I'm redoing my reports in English," she said grimly.
"Prosecutors have to be able to read them too," Tony said dryly. "They do discriminate that way, Ziva." He nibbled on the first piece of chocolate and he did feel better. "Agent Lee?"
"As I usually am. Well?"
He looked at it. "Looks like a phony movie prop."
Tony got up to look, letting him replay it. "Yeah, that's fake _Dawn of the Dead_ blood. Not a bad cinematic effort."
"True." He smiled at Abby. "Looks like it may be a hoax."
"Good. I hate people who do snuff films." She took the DVD back. "I'll tell my buddy it's fake blood. He'll like that." She went back to her lab, going to send that on and get to work on the case she had waiting on her.
Tony went back to his seat, shaking his head. "That's one thing I wouldn't put online. The FBI is mean when you wake them up this early in the morning to come talk to you."
McGee snickered. "You'd know."
"Yes, I would," Tony agreed. "Speaking of, we should probably check with Fornell. We haven't seen him in a while. He might not know Gibbs is AWOL."
"It's mean to sic Fornell on Gibbs," McGee said with a small smirk.
"To which side?" Ziva aksed.
"Both," both men agreed. McGee cackled and nodded.
"DiNozzo," Tony answered his ringing phone, taking down the information. "Be there in thirty. Yes, I can drive like Gibbs." He hung up and tossed Agent Lee the keys. "Go gas the truck, Probie." She rushed off with her bag. "Let's go. Dead sailor laying draped in a park on a bench." They headed out with their backpacks and kits.
Tony looked at the doctor, smiling a bit. She had at least four tattoos he could see but she had very gentle hands. She handed him a test strip and pointed at a bathroom so he went to take another one. He'd done six since the night Abby had made him take one, just to make sure. He came back out once it turned colors, handing it over. "Abby said you were nice."
She stared at it for a minute then mentally arranged herself to deal with this case. She was a doctor, she could handle a pregnant man. "I am to most of my patients. They have a lot of stress without me adding to it. Plus, Karma's a bitch when you're on the wrong side of the scale." She pulled back, looking over his chart. "Why are you on immune boosters?"
She looked at him then at the forms in her hands, turning the page. "There it is. Under catastrophic illnesses. Which is where it belongs. Which strain?"
"Ewww. Pneumatic." He nodded. "No wonder you go on them every winter. Flu shot?"
"Got sick as a dog my first year. Pneumonia shots I do get." She nodded, making note of it. "I know this is strange."
She looked up. "You're a big fan of understatements and movies?"
He grinned. "Just movies."
"Not with that last statement. What happened?"
"We were sent to stop this special project. All the director said was something with scientists. I did ball her out in the hospital. There's special assault procedures for busting people in a lab environment so you don't get exposed to things like a table full of needles." He pointed at his back. "All the little dots are needle scars from that night."
"I counted ten."
"The nurse said she counted fifteen holes that night."
"Yeah. Some were sedatives."
"Good!" She shook her head. "Okay. You know when it happened." He nodded, pointing at the date, then sat back up with a small groan. "I'm going to pull in my ultrasound. I want to make sure it's not in a bad place."
"Sure, but that was normal nightly aches."
"Good to know." She went to get the machine, pulling the cart into the room. "Okay. Lay down. I'm sure you've had one of these before somewhere."
"Lungs," he agreed, laying down, pushing his boxers down some. "Please don't laugh at the boxers, Abby gave them to me last year on my birthday."
She smiled at them. "I wouldn't do that. Bats nibbling on your thigh aren't anything. I've seen much worse." She got to work on his stomach, looking for the baby. "There we are."
"We're calling her Meanness as a codename."
"That's what most toddlers are," she agreed happily. She looked a bit longer, then turned on the heartbeat monitor, smiling at the fast beat. He jumped and went to get sick. "That is a reaction I expected," she said when he came back. He gave her an odd look. "You're still dealing with the reality, Tony. That made sure you know it's real."
He hopped back up onto the table. "I thought I had."
"Even women have that reaction," she soothed, giving him a hug. He sniffed her neck, making her smile. "Doug would be really upset with me."
"I've heard." He grinned. "Okay, you look pretty healthy. I want you to stay on the immune boosters for now. Did you have to take the measles booster?"
"The doctor wasn't sure he wanted me to."
"Then I'm going to ignore that piece of advice, though I do usually give it. Right now I'm going to draw some blood for the usual labs. Do you want to keep the stick test I used?" He shook his head. "You sure?"
"Who would I send it to?" he asked grimly. "Did she give you what we were able to find?"
"She did. I want to beat the crap out of someone but Karma will do it for me."
"No, I'm gonna do it for you if Abby doesn't beat me there," he said dryly.
"Have you thought about not having her?"
He nodded. Then he swallowed. "I'm still thinking."
"Good answer. For right now you're fine. I do want you to try to eat well enough. I've heard about your diet, young man. Chocolate for lunch?"
"We were out on a case and I've been craving it horribly."
"It's possible it's the metabolic change. Try to eat some food with the sugar and coffee, which you should cut back on." He scoffed. "Try, please?"
"I'll try to cut back. Not cut out but cut back."
"That'll work. Also, a daily vitamin with double or triple doses of calcium and iron. You'll need it. Unless you want to take the very noticeable vanilla vitamins?"
"Take a One-A-Day and an extra calcium and iron supplement. It can only do you good."
"I can do that with my morning coffee." She swatted his arm, making him laugh. "Any other orders?"
"Figure out where you're going from here. I'll see you in two weeks. Here, same time."
"Yes, Batman." He slid off the table, getting dressed. "If you'll excuse me, I've got a homicide."
"Sure. I get that. Good luck solving it."
Tony smirked at her. "It's not luck and we don't go home until it is." He pulled on his shirt. "How much do I owe you? I'm not putting this on my NCIS insurance plan for the fairly obvious reason."
"Tonight was free. If I have to, I can write a paper off you." He grimaced. "Tony, think. Are you thinking paranoid thoughts?" He grimaced but nodded. "You're a highly trained investigator, Tony. That's the first thought that popped into my head too."
"I'm considering the implications." She nodded, patting him on the arm. "You sure? I make middle management salary as a team leader."
"It's cool. It's my good deed of the year and that little one in there will someday do great things if you decide to keep going." He smiled, walking out and heading back to the office. "If someone doesn't find out and kill you first." She cleaned up and made her notes, going to hide that file from her office staff. Then she went home to her boyfriend. She'd tell him if her life became dangerous. He deserved that much.
Tony sat across the table from the man the next morning. "Morning, Fornell."
"DiNozzo. What do I owe the honor of your company?"
"We have to talk." He slid something over. "I found that in my house."
He looked at it. "Not ours."
"No, it's ours." Fornell stared at him. "Prospero's Daughter," he said quietly.
"Crackpots," he scoffed. Tony slid over a small baggie, making him gape. "What the hell?"
"Ziva tripped into me and I hit the table with the needles," he said very quietly. "I may be hormonal and I may be paranoid but I still found the bug in my house."
Fornell sipped his coffee, staring at the test strip then at him. "Congrats."
"Thank you. I'm still figuring things out."
"You'll make one hell of a parent."
Tony smiled. "Thank you. You wanna tell Gibbs? He's down in Mexico."
"I heard. He'll be back someday. A case or something." He finished his coffee. "I'll look into it."
"That's what I need. I don't want to come out of surgery and have someone standing there with a gun and cuffs or anything."
"Definitely something that'll make them dead."
"No, that's Abby. Also, can we maybe find out *who* they had? All the records we found were wiped."
"I can do that but they were using military."
"I'll know someday soon then."
"The night they got busted. That was our team. She didn't tell us it was in a lab setting. All we knew were science geeks."
"Crap," he muttered. "David doesn't normally trip?"
"No, she doesn't," he admitted. "And I don't want to think like that about someone on my team."
"She has blackmail on her."
"I know." That got a smile. "Getting her drunk is still pretty easy. She has no tolerance for honey mead."
"I'll remember that." He pushed the baggie back. "Want receiving blankets?"
"Let me get to the point where I've made that decision."
"You wouldn't have the strip if you weren't sure," he said bluntly. "Should I smack you on the head like Gibbs did too?"
"No, but I'm almost afraid to hear what he'll say about it."
Fornell laughed long and hard. "I'd run," he agreed happily. "Thanks, I needed that before work. Did your geek figure out if that film was a hoax or not?"
"Movie blood. Doesn't mean there's not a body but it was definitely movie spray."
"I'll tell my geeks you said that. It's been driving them nuts."
"_Dawn of the Dead_, Fornell. Exactly like it." He got up. "Thank you. It means a lot." He walked off, heading to work. He walked in. "Do we have anything?" he asked, sliding the bug onto McGee's desk. He got an odd look. "Found that on my DVD player," he said grimly.
"I'll look up the serial number," he agreed simply. "Nothing new yet. Ducky said he'll be done with the autopsy in about an hour."
"We'll go bug him in forty-five then. Agent Lee? Anything on his background?"
"Yes, he has two girlfriends." She put them up onto the screen. "He has one stateside and one in his unit for on-duty romance potential. She is back on leave at this time. I've got backgrounds running on each of them. Nothing monetary that looks out of place yet. All his bills were paid mostly on time. A bit of credit card debt for new off-duty clothes before he left. He's making payments on time. His last one was autodrafted today. I did notify his bank so we could get his records. They were most helpful. They've dealt with Agent Gibbs in the past?" He and McGee both nodded. "That explains why they wanted to know which team I worked on. I said yours."
Tony smiled. "It's about the same, Agent Lee. Anything else that stood out?"
"Not a lot. His reasons for leave were pretty specious. He claimed he had to see his sister's new baby. His sister's new baby is two."
"Getting out of active duty for a bit, for whatever reason you can, can save your mind and sanity," Tony told her simply. She nodded. "I've seen ones that were so desperate they named their dogs their kids and said they were giving birth. The commanders can usually tell when they're that desperate and give in gracefully because that's dangerous out there. If you lost focus that badly you can get everyone around you killed."
"Good point. I'll keep digging into the two girlfriends."
"Do that. Ziva," he said, looking at her empty desk. "That had better be a very long potty break."
"Nope," McGee said. "She left a note on your desk. The director wanted her to do something."
"Good. Want her desk?" he asked.
McGee looked at him. "No, not really."
"Huh." Tony walked over there and packed her things into her duffle bag she kept folded in the bottom drawer. Then he walked it upstairs, handing it to the director personally. "I can't have people on my team who don't show up for work." He walked off, leaving it with her and her shocked look. He went back to his desk. "Let's go see Ducky, boys and girls." He kept walking and they rushed to follow. McGee slipped him a report on the bug and he read it, then put it into his pocket with a nod. "Thank you, I needed that. And Fornell's boys said thank you for figuring out it was movie spatter." They got off, heading into the morgue. "Ducky, my man. What do we have?"
"We have one very stressed out heart but toxicology isn't back yet so I'm still iffy on natural or not, Anthony." He looked at him. "Have you been sleeping all right?"
"Now and then. The usual, Duck." He moved to the new inter-lab camera system. "Abby, my love. What do you have for us, my fair Juliette?"
"I have insulin," she said. "At three times the normal human body ratio." She came into view. "Are you sleeping all right?"
"Just fine. Stayed up late to watch _Fatal Attraction_ again." She smiled at that. "Just insulin?"
"That would be odd, he's not a diabetic," Ducky told them.
"And that can cause heart failure, right?" McGee asked. "I saw that on a tv movie once."
"It can," Ducky said, smiling at him. "So we do have a cause of death. I'll have to find the shot mark for where it was administered. I'll do that and hopefully will be able to tell you and give you final results in about two hours?"
"That'd be great. We found out he had two ladies in his life."
"Most men do."
"One wasn't his mother," McGee said dryly.
"Ah, one of those cases. I remember being young enough to yearn for two women but my mother had beaten better sense than that into me." He smiled. "Though I do know some tribesmen that do handle trios and more quite wonderfully." Agent Lee and McGee fled but he grabbed Tony's arm. "I should look you over. It could be the medicines."
He looked at him. "Did Abby talk to you?"
"Just that she had introduced you to a new doctor and not to bother you about things for a little while," he said quietly. "You do know I can keep my mouth shut." Tony held up the paper McGee had given him. "Oh, my." He looked at him. "Where?"
"I found it when I went to change DVD's," he said quietly. "I've got it handled, Ducky. Thank you for asking but this is specialist stuff here."
"Then I'll bow out gracefully. Did the hormones react with something you're on?"
"You could say that." He winked and walked out, going back to his desk. He found Ziva unpacking. "Does that mean you're actually going to be here?"
"The director wants me here."
"This is my team, Ziva. Either you're on my team or you're on hers. Pick." She stared at him. "If you're on my team, you're here. No more childish pushing your boundaries. I expect the same things Gibbs did. Now, are you here or are you repacking and we'll find someone to take your desk?"
"I'm here," she said quietly.
"Thank you. Catch up, you're behind." He sat down, looking at McGee. "Where would one find insulin?"
"I can check to see if either girlfriend is," he said. "The military one it should be registered. She'd have to have paperwork if she's in a combat area and needs insulin."
"I checked already, neither one is diabetic by the insurance clearinghouse or active duty paperwork. She has no health exemptions except for a hormone shot to keep her periods at bay," Agent Lee told him. "I'm looking at nearby family members right now."
"Also check to see if either are in medical fields or working around them. It's not that hard to steal insulin," Tony said. "It's not kept as heavily locked up as drugs."
She looked at him. "One's a lunch lady in a hospital cafeteria, Tony. The other's duties are basically supply as I understand it."
McGee came over to look then nodded. "She's senior supply clerk for a battalion."
"What was he?"
"Trucker, basically," McGee told him. "I'm not sure if she'd have access that way or not."
"I can see if they requisitioned any," Agent Lee said, getting into those forms to look.
"And you wondered why I hired her?" he mouthed at McGee, who only smiled. He looked at Ziva. "Apparently he has two girlfriends, Officer David, and he was given a lethal dose of insulin."
"That's not that hard to find. I can fake the appropriate documents even without insurance to get some. I'll track down that angle."
"Thank you. Those backlogged reports? Much better." He looked at McGee. "You left in the cucumber metaphor?"
"I couldn't find a better way of saying it. I'm really blocked."
"Well, the director could use a laugh," Tony decided.
"She did," Ziva agreed. "She suggested bubbles would cure that?"
McGee spluttered. "No, I'm not the bubble bath sort, thanks anyway, Ziva."
Agent Lee looked at him. "I have a friend who's working on her first romance for submission and she said it helps her a lot."
"I'm not writing romances, I'm writing mystery and action stuff."
"Oh." She nodded, getting back to work. "Maybe some time on the shooting range then?"
"Ah, that's my next point. I knew I had one," Tony said happily. "Agent Lee, why have you not requalified?"
"Tonight, Agent Lee, or you're on desk duty tomorrow and you will be proofreading Ziva's reports for her."
"Yes, Tony." She got back to work. That was a horrible punishment. She had seen Ziva's reports. They were worse than hers.
Tony made it to four months before he started to show. Thankfully it wasn't very noticeable to anyone who wasn't him. He didn't tuck in his shirt as tightly. He checked his face, it was starting to bulk up around his cheeks and chin too. "Not too bad," he decided. "I'll carry like her, or I'll take a long vacation," he reminded his image. He walked out to start the day, knowing it was going to be a bad day. Breakfast had stayed down for the first time in nearly two months. The coffee had tasted odd and was now making him sick to his stomach instead of the food, and ah, there was Gibbs storming past his row. When he had to pull rank on him a few hours later it was just as nauseating as his coffee was. At the end of the case, Gibbs didn't praise him. Which he could have used. McGee did give him some pepto, which was nice and got a smile. Gibbs showed up at his apartment that night. "What's up?" He walked back to his kitchen, going to finish off his milk and vitamins. They seemed to make him feel better at night.
Gibbs followed, closing the door behind him. "Are you all right, DiNozzo?" Tony gave him an odd look. "You were cranky earlier."
"No, I stated my position, Gibbs." He finished his milk and put the glass in the sink. "Want dinner or are you flying back to your house on the beach?"
"I had to go."
"No, you ran." He stared at him for a minute. "We all knew you ran. We all knew that you had some memory issues when you ran but you still ran." He shifted uncomfortably. "You sure about dinner?"
"Are you sure you're all right? You seem nervous." He looked him over. "Back off the immune boosters?"
"Yeah," he said, grabbing onto the excuse. "You know I always gain a few pounds when I go off them for the summer." He grinned a bit. "I've got chicken thawing."
"No thanks." He turned.
"You know, you could talk to me," he called after him. "It's not like I don't know anything about head injuries, boss." Gibbs paused then walked out. "Up to you though," he said more quietly. He decided to order chinese instead of cook and did that, settling down with some good movies that made him happier. His phone beeped and he groaned, getting up to put on clothes and head to his OB's. "I'm so sorry, Sin. Gibbs came back for a case."
She smiled. "That can happen when you least expect it." She led him into her office to check him over. "How are things otherwise?"
"Stressful. I've had one hell of a two-day period. He just stomped off into the sunset again."
She nodded, patting his stomach and the small bulge. "She's doing fine."
"When are you doing the amnio?"
"Soon. Next month. You'll need that whole day off so you can rest afterward." He nodded at that. "We'll schedule it whenever."
"I can make that. Do it on a Friday and get all weekend off."
"You need to start slowing down the duties now that you're showing."
"I know, I can't jog ten miles a day anymore," he complained.
She looked at him. "No, you can't. You can walk ten miles a day if you want. I encourage it actually. She doesn't need that much bouncing around." He grinned. "Walking."
"I know. I'm trying to keep my weight down."
"How did your mother carry?"
"Those aren't always healthy." She pulled in the ultrasound, giving her a look over. "Huh, we were right." Tony smiled. "It's a girl." He beamed brighter. "Everything looks okay. She's standing directly on your bladder."
She laughed. "Most people do." She kept looking. "She looks good, Tony." She turned it off and wiped his stomach clean. "We'll do the amnio next month and I'll let Abby have a bit of the fluid so she can determine paternity."
"What if I don't want to know?"
"What if something happens to you?" she countered.
"Then Abby's got a daughter," he said simply. "Not like she came to be the normal way, Doc."
She considered it then nodded. "That's reasonable," she decided. "Normally I'd fight but with what you've both told me about this project, I'm not going to complain this time." She grabbed something and held it up. "These I will."
"Those are not mine." He looked. "Not ours." He looked at her. "Those are FBI issue."
"I haven't been that bad since I was eighteen."
"I'll ask." He took them, putting them into his pocket. "Anything else?"
"So far you're doing okay. Your blood pressure is a bit high."
"Gibbs came over to see me earlier. I offered him dinner but he decided to huff off back to Mexico."
She stroked his cheek. "He has to do what's best for him, Tony. Not you. Did you tell him?"
"Hell no. He would've beaten me then put me into a hospital for good," he snorted, shaking his head. "Gibbs doesn't accept strange things very well."
"That's fine. I'll respect your judgement. Tell your friends I'm not happy."
"I'm not happy either. I've found a few around my place." She grimaced. "I've got someone checking into it, Doc." She smiled and kissed him on the cheek. "You sure that's the only payment you want?" he teased.
"Doug's more man than I'll ever need," she quipped back, giving him a swat. "Go eat." He nodded, heading home. "Watch out for the spices in the chinese food, Tony. Some can promote preterm labor." She pointed at the spot on his shirt. "Stirfry is probably okay but watch out for some of the more outrageous spices."
"I don't want anything too spicy. She hates it, my bowels hate it, my stomach hates it at the moment," he said, walking off shaking his head while she laughed. "No pickles though."
"Good! Let's hope you're not like one of mine who wanted tadpoles."
"Eww!" he said, walking outside. The door closed behind him and he went to Fornell's house, holding up the baggie. "You freaked her out badly."
"Ah. Well, here have more. I've got the others from my place, my car, and my desk in the trunk." He went to get them, handing them over too. "You can totally embarrass whoever planted them however you want. She was freaked out. I'm not particularly happy."
"Yet, you glow."
"And my chest hair's thicker," he said dryly, giving him a look. Forenll snickered. "I'm glad I'm not like the one she said she had who was craving tadpoles. All I want is cheese." He walked off, going home to his chinese food and his movies. That way Fornell could tell Gibbs whatever he wanted since he had smelled him inside. He liked the new sensory awareness. It was making things more interesting at work. Agent Lee was the only one who didn't wear too much perfumy aftershave or cologne. A random comment to McGee and he quit putting so much on. Ziva's was very strong most days. As a matter of fact, he smelled her long before she knocked on the door. He groaned as he got up, going to talk to her. "What?"
"Can I come in?"
"No." He stared her down. "I'm not up for company tonight, Ziva. What's wrong?"
"I came to talk to you. I know I've had some problems...."
Tony held up a hand. "Ziva, I know she has blackmail material on you. I don't care what it is. Unless you're a mass murderer without a good reason, I don't care." She looked stunned. "I've been doing this job for a very long time, Ziva. You can tell her whatever you want. Do quit putting bugs around my house for her but you can slip whatever information you want back to her. You still have to decide where your loyalties lie."
"You could convince me."
"No I can't. I have honor. I respect myself and my team. She may see me as a cheap Gibbs replacement part, but I'm not. Now, go home." He closed the door in her face, going back to his couch, putting his feet back up. She'd figure it out but she knew that he knew and was watching her. It was enough for now. If the director wanted something she could come to him directly. He didn't play pitiful headgames. Not anymore. Team leaders didn't do that.
Tony was into his late sixth month when Gibbs came back the second time. This time he was here to stay and it wasn't a happy moment of panic when he came in and found things rearranged and Gibbs with the mustache. He sat down, repacking his old desk. "Boss, we should talk," he said quietly.
"About, DiNozzo?" He looked over. "Are you sure you're all right?"
"I'm fine, Boss. It's not about me." He glanced at Ziva's desk. "About another issue."
"I've heard. You were right to call her on it."
"Thank you," he said quietly. "She's still late again."
"She has an excuse this morning."
"Oh. Okay." He looked at Agent Lee. "Up to you," he told her.
"Um, maybe Legal? They've been trying to recruit me."
"I'll be sorry to see you go to them," he told her. She smiled at the honest sentiment. "You have a great hand at background checks and finding information on the smallest matters. I'll gladly write you a rec. Use my spare chair and call them." She nodded, coming over to do that. "Don't worry, he growls."
She looked at him. "About yours and Abby's special project," she hissed. He smiled because he knew she had figured it out without any hints. It spoke well of her future promise as an agent. "I hope it goes well, Tony." She called down there. "This is Agent Lee. Special Agent Gibbs just came back and I'm finding myself deskless. Special Agent DiNozzo said he'd gladly support me moving and do my paperwork today if you still wanted me." She beamed at the happy sounds they were making. "I'll be down in a few hours with it. Thank you." She hung up. "They're throwing me a welcoming party for lunch."
Tony walked over and got the forms, filling them out while he leaned on his desk. "You sure? You found out you can hack the field. Legal affairs is going to be pretty boring desk work after us."
"I'm sure. I'll come back someday if I'm still bored."
"Okay." He signed it and handed it over. "Get the director's secretary to sign it for you."
Gibbs held up a hand. "Let me." She handed it over and he signed it. "There. I hope you have a good career there, Agent Lee. McGee and Abby both said good things about how you were coming along."
"Thank you, Agent Gibbs." She picked up her things and walked out with them, smiling.
Tony waited until she was gone. "Thanks, boss."
"She good at the paperwork stuff?"
"She was great at ferreting out the smallest bit of information. She found forms I didn't know we had on file." That got a small smirk. "She wasn't any worse than McGee when he first got here. Unsure of her skills but she was learning."
"They'll let her survive the shark pool then. Sit. You look tired."
"I am tired." He sat down and used his bottom desk drawer to put his feet up. McGee came back from Abby's lab. "Anything?"
"Not yet. Are you sure you should be in today? I thought you were taking today off."
He checked his computer calendar then shook his head. "That's next weekend. Boss, I've got scheduled time off next weekend. The docs want to run some intensive tests on Friday so I took the whole weekend to recuperate."
"That's fine. I'm sure the director approved?"
"No, but her secretary did and passed it onto HR. On Tuesdays she's too busy to look at anything." Gibbs looked at him so he shrugged. "She is." That got a smirk. "Oh, I made Ziva actually send her reports to me in English instead of to the Director in Hebrew."
"More work for you," he said dryly.
"Yes but that way I actually knew what she was doing."
Gibbs looked at him. "You sure about that?"
"Yeah. I am." He stared back. "More than most people think. I have been doing this for a while, boss." He put his feet back down. "I'm going for coffee since we don't have a new case." McGee pointed at the cup. "Aww, thank you."
"It's milk heavy."
"Thanks, I could use it." He sat down and sipped slowly. It was pure milk but Gibbs didn't need to know that. When he got done he threw the cup out. He checked his report file, finding it still empty. "Huh, I'm caught up." He went surfing on the 'rate my tush' site, tipping his head at a few of them. He loved the horny phase of his pregnancy. He really did.
"Agent DiNozzo!" the director snapped from behind him on the stairs.
He turned to look at her. "I'm caught up. No new cases. What did you want me to do, Director, nap?" He went back to it. "Hmm. Bit of a swell." He rated her higher and went to do something else since she was huffing. Abby bounced up and gave him a hug. "Thank you, what did I do to deserve that?"
"You are a very special man, Tony DiNozzo." She bounced off after hugging Gibbs too, heading back to her lab.
"Someone was in the pop rocks again," McGee said once she was gone.
Tony laughed. "I gave her Nerds."
"I thought she liked geeks," Gibbs said.
"Nerds are these little tiny sweet candies, boss. Made by the Willy Wonka people." He got back to his online game, looking over when the director came to glare at him. "What did you want me to do, Director? Fabricate a case to work on?" She glared harder. "What?"
"Your time off?"
"The doctor over my plague wanted to run a few tests." Which was true, he had scheduled them on that Saturday so no one would ask why he hadn't been at a hospital. "I'll need the time off to recuperate. I've also got to fast for a whole day before them. Did you want to hold the coffee machine hostage that day?" She growled. "Not like I planned on getting the plague, Madam Director, and you can't deny my taking a few vacation days for medical reasons. Not when I've got nearly a month saved again." She stomped off. He looked at Gibbs. "So, how was your vacation, boss?"
"Less interesting than yours was. When did you submit that?"
"Last month. She probably got the manpower expectation report she makes HR do now." He got an odd look. "Something she started four months ago, Probie?"
"Yeah, four months ago. That's our off-call weekend anyway, boss."
"I realize that. He circled it in purple on the desk calendar over here. Purple, DiNozzo?"
"The only one I found, boss. Abby stole the rest." He looked over as Ziva came off the elevator. "Have fun?"
"No." She sat down. "What made her go all hippy?"
"Huffy," Tony corrected. "I'm taking next weekend off for medical reasons."
"And?" she asked.
"She didn't like it," Tony said dryly.
"It's our weekend off. Why would she care that you're going to be tortured by your doctor?"
"I put the paperwork in on a Tuesday," he said dryly.
"Ah, she's having one of those days. I'll send her chocolate." Ziva got into her computer to do that, shaking her head. She looked Tony over. "Are you still gaining weight?"
"I've only gained two pounds, Ziva. I'm behind on what I usually gain when I go off my immune boosters."
"Why are you on them?"
"The plague," he said patiently. "So I don't come down with every single cold that comes into the building and be off for ten months of the year. It's hard to pay the rent when you do that."
"That's reasonable I guess. You get to go off them during the summer?"
"Not so many colds and flu issues as there are allergies," Gibbs said. "Officer David, how many reports do you owe DiNozzo?"
"Ten," she said glumly.
"Then I'd get to work and send them to him. He seems to be bored."
"I can go out and kill someone if she really wants us on a case," Tony said dryly.
Ziva looked at him. "Most of the time I'd think you were kidding." Tony glared at her and she got to work very quickly. "Did she like the cucumber metaphor, McGee?"
"Um, no. As a matter of fact I got an official reprimand for it."
Tony looked at him. "I filed to counter it when it showed up, Probie."
"Thank you. I still can't figure out how to phrase it better. It's what it was."
"I put it into coldly clinical terms," Tony told him. "If they splutter, it's not my fault he choked on a sex toy." Gibbs spluttered at that. "He tried to soften the blow using a cucumber metaphor, boss."
"Coldly clinical terms, McGee. Just do it and get it over with. Like your anthrax booster."
"Can't, not this year, boss. Doctors said so," Tony said happily.
He looked at him. "Because I had a bad winter. Not like it'll make any difference anyway. If I get it, I'm screwed no matter if I had the booster or not."
"It could help," he countered.
"No, it won't. I asked. He said not to take it. He wrote me a waiver." He got to work on the report Ziva sent over, giving her a look. "Didn't I say English?" He sent it back and she translated it then sent it back. He printed it off and grabbed the red pen off Gibbs' desk, getting to work on it. "Boss, we even got Agent Lee's reports down to manageable size. Hers went from fifty pages down to three."
"She was laying it out in legal and precise terms," McGee agreed. "It sounded like a contract. We helped her a lot with that."
"She was getting really good at reports when she left. She's back in legal, Probie."
"I'll send her a going away card." He got online to do that. Then he smiled. "They're throwing her a party?" Tony smirked and nodded. Then he tossed it back at Ziva's head, making her duck.
"Reports are not lethal weapons unless you can behead someone with them," Gibbs said.
"I think that one deserved it," he said, staring her down. "See the red marks in that one paragraph. Fix the prejudicial language before you resubmit. Go through the whole thing and run the grammar checker, Officer David." She nodded, going to do that. "We do not need your personal opinions on his sex life."
"Yes, Tony." She glanced at Gibbs, who held out a hand. She handed it over.
He read it over then stood up and smacked her with it. "He's right, I taught you better than that." He handed it back. "Fix it and I want a copy too when he's done with it."
"Yes, Gibbs." She got back to work on that one. It was going to be a long day without a new case. Tony was back to giggling at things online.
McGee looked then grinned at him. "Abby's very happy that her best friend is pregnant," he said happily. Tony grinned, going back to the sites Abby was sending him links to. She was bored too. "Has she decided what she's getting the baby?"
"Decorating help," Tony said dryly. She had promised to help him outfit his apartment for Meanness' arrival. "I did not know you could buy a month's supply of diapers and send them to someone," he said a few minutes later. That's probably the most handy baby shower gift he had ever seen. McGee gave him a quizzical look. "You can."
"A lot. Diapers are really expensive."
"You can still use cloth ones," Ziva complained.
"Yes and then you have a diaper service fee," Tony agreed. "Plus the cost of the plastic pants that go over them since they're not very absorbent and the kids leave stains everywhere."
"Which one of her friends is pregnant?" Gibbs asked.
"Not sure, Boss," Tony lied. "She's been running baby gifts past me for a few days. I didn't know they made plasma screen mobiles for babies." He tipped his head to look at it. "Huh, and it hooks up to a DVD player so you can get swirly pattern DVDs for it too." Or he could start the baby on a love of movies very early. It was really expensive but he'd have to check into that.
"Wouldn't that hurt the baby if it fell on them?" McGee asked.
"It clips to the crib rail, McGee." He sent him the link, letting him see.
"That's... very Bill Gates," he decided.
Tony looked over. "For brilliant babies sacrifices must be made."
"True, but I'd rather my future kids start with play and learn from there then go to school and learn. The same way I did and I became pretty smart."
Tony nodded. "True. I don't want to see my future kids in one of those pushy daycares where they learn Shakespear at three." He frowned and went back to looking, finding something he sent back to her, making her squeal. She liked the velvet penguin. She sent back that she was ordering herself one. "She's getting a new stuffed friend," he announced.
"Farting?" Gibbs asked. Tony sent him the link, making him look then shake his head. "It's cute."
"It is," he agreed happily. He found her another stuffed friend she'd like and bought her one, having it shipped to her at home. Bob the Spatter Dog was just the Abby thing to have. He groaned and held his stomach. "I hate those."
"Pains?" Gibbs asked, looking at him.
"Gas pains," he excused. "I'm going to go take care of that." He got up, heading to the bathroom. He locked himself inside once he was sure he was alone, sliding down to sit against the wall for a few minutes until she quit kicking the snot out of his ribs. "Do you mind?" he hissed down at his lump. "I know we call you Meanness but quit." She quit and he got up to go to the bathroom, coming out to unlock the door before going into a stall. Using the urinal meant he was a bit too exposed at the moment.
Gibbs walked in. "DiNozzo."
"I'm fine, boss. Too much cheese last night."
"Uh-huh. They make medicine for that."
"I know. I've got some in my desk." It was tossed in. "Thanks, boss. I'll be back in a few minutes." He heard him leave and shook his head, taking the medicine. He could use it. He hadn't crapped in two days. That craving for sharp cheeses was really messing with his digestion.
Gibbs pulled McGee up, walking him into the elevator, stranding them between floors. "What's really wrong with him?"
"His usual winter course of meds has made him gain a bit of extra weight. His blood pressure was a bit up thanks to Ziva and the Director, plus a small personal problem, and it's making his feet swell now and then. His stomach's touchy because of the meds and for some reason this time it's given him some cravings for cheese." Gibbs gaped. "He said they switched one of them before you left, boss." He moved closer. "Also while you were gone the director had us bust a group of scientists doing some very strange things on Pentagon money. She didn't tell us it was a lab bust. We had no clue. Ziva tripped a suspect into him and Tony ended up on top of some of their project, which was a hormone cocktail."
"Male or female?"
"Female. It was a cloning experiment of some kind and it was to help stabilize the cloned tissue, like they could clone a liver to make a new replacement. He had a few good bouts of PMS before it was out of his system. He had chocolate all the time for about four months."
"How long ago was this?"
"Six, almost seven months now," he said quietly.
"Ducky cleared him for duty?"
"Abby found him a second doctor, besides the usual one he sees about his plague related stuff. She cleared him for duty. I've had his back all this time, boss. Except for a few mood swings, some blood sugar roller coasters for a few weeks about four months ago, and the blood pressure stuff he's in pretty good health. He hasn't let himself slack off any in the least."
"Good." He turned on the elevator, finding DiNozzo back at his desk. He stopped in front of him. "I want clearance from your physician and Ducky," he said quietly. "After your next round of tests."
"I'm fine, Gibbs, it was too much cheese." He shot a glare at McGee, making him duck behind his computer monitor. "No matter what he said."
"He said you got exposed to something on a bust, DiNozzo."
Tony stood up, staring him down. "That was a while ago, boss, and if I'm not fit for duty I'll tell you myself. It's handled."
"I still need...."
"No, you want. Two different things, Gibbs. I'm fine. It has not affected my work in months. If you don't believe me, ask Abby." He walked off, going to calm down. He ended up in the morgue, looking at Ducky. "Gibbs wants you to make sure I'm still fit," he spat.
"I would know if you weren't?"
"You'd probably be called in if I wasn't," he admitted.
"Hmm." He looked him over. "Off your immune boosters for the summer I see." Tony nodded, crossing his arms. "Anything serious? Or from the hormones?"
"McGee probably told him I had PMS or something. A few blood pressure spikes now and then. An intense craving for cheese."
"They make medicine for that."
"I just took some, Ducky. Can we get this over with?"
"As you wish, Anthony." He found his living people medicine bag and brought it over to check on his blood pressure and usual vitals. "Your pulse and blood pressure are both a bit high," he cautioned. Tony nodded. "You know why?"
"Yeah, stress. I'm going to throttle my double agent and then McGee will be helping dig both their graves." He grinned sweetly. Ducky smiled and shook his head, taking his temperature with the inner ear thermometer. "Am I fine?"
"I can't find nearly anything wrong with you. That extra twenty pounds should come off soon."
"It's only twelve, Ducky."
"Are you sure?"
"It showed up in my face first. My stomach's still nearly flat." He walked off, going back to his cubicle. "Ducky said I'm fine, boss. He said the stress I'm under is usual for my blood pressure spikes and gee, I'm still fine." He sat down. "Do we have a case yet?"
"Soon." He stared at him. There was something bothering him about DiNozzo's attitude this week. Maybe it was the change back to being a senior agent. He'd give him a few weeks to straighten it out again. Hopefully he could put up with the bad mood that long. He looked at McGee, who was watching Tony, so he watched him again. He was nearly asleep in his chair. Almost like he had been knocked out. "DiNozzo?" he asked.
"I'm not sleeping, boss, you gave me a headache. I'm trying to prevent it becoming one of my rare migraines." He looked at him. "Anything else you want me to do, or you, Ziva?" She sent him a few reports, giving him a hopeful look. He looked them over, frowning but only correcting a few things before passing them on. "I corrected some verb tense shifts. Watch those in the future."
"Yes, Tony. Thank you."
Gibbs read them then looked at Tony. "Lower than my expectations."
"I had to stipulate in English, Gibbs. It's her third language. I don't expect her to be fluent with the way she still searches for words. It's better than some I've seen and hers when she first got here."
"Point." He looked them over again then looked at her. "Using too many words annoys the prosecutors. They want simple, direct, to the point. Write what you'd give in an oral report, Officer David."
She nodded, taking them back to make some corrections. Fortunately they got a case just before lunch so she could hand them over and scurry off after Gibbs. Even if Tony did look a bit sicker than usual at his driving.
Tony looked at his OB the next Friday. "I'm starting to hate my coworkers. Is it normal to want to kill them and chop them into little pieces?"
She nodded. "Yeah. I did before I miscarried."
"No." He sighed and rubbed his stomach. "I do not like your lack of weight gain."
"You're going to hate it even more because Doctor Pitt has me scheduled for a stress test tomorrow," he said grimly.
"Does he know?"
"I had to tell him. His words: I thought the plague was bad, Tony." She giggled at that. "He knows though. He's covering on his end. I told him I had a good OB but I wasn't going to give your name to him. I told him to fax things to Abby and she'd fax them to you. Then you could do the same. That way you're protected."
"That'll work," she agreed. "I've gotten a few. My nurse was very confused until I told her it was an environmental concern with a person trying to get pregnant. She decided that was usual again." She felt his stomach. "A bit harder than I like."
"Cheese," he said bluntly. She laughed, giving him a hug. "I know but it's a craving but not a bad one. Even if I have had to take some of the medicine for the blockages it's caused." She gave him a look. "I asked the pharmacist if my pregnant girlfriend could take that one, he said she could."
"Good cover." She patted him on the cheek. "You're still underweight."
"No, she's doing good. You're going to be losing some after the birth though. Which the other doctor might not like."
"Probably not," he agreed. "Oh well. It means I don't get busted at work for this. Though, Gibbs is wondering."
"Has he seen pregnant women?"
"His former wife had one. I'm not sure how much of it he saw since he was deployed."
"Huh. Then he might guess. Ducky?"
"Said my blood pressure and pulse were a bit high. That was the day Gibbs came back though and it was right after a mood swing."
"Crying and stomping off?"
"No, kicked to death and then Gibbs jumped down my throat about my clearance to work. Speaking of, I've got to get Pitt to sign off again."
She smiled. "I'd rather you rested and did desk work."
"Then he'd know and so would the director." She gave him a look. "I take it as easy as I can, Sin. The rent still has to be paid and I'm buying diapers in advance."
"Good. I like to hear that. How goes the rest of the decorating?"
"Abby wants to get a round iron cradle."
"Get a crib, it'll last you longer."
"That's what I said. She can't find a design she likes and I gave her free reign as long as I wouldn't object."
"At least you have some help. Any nesting issues?"
"Oven cleaner stinks," he said blandly. She nodded. "Fume masks feel funny too."
"They do," she agreed happily. "Any others?"
"No, I'm not going to take a toothbrush to the shower again this week. The laundry's all done for a change." She laughed, nodding. "For some reason I bought new pillows and a new comforter. Totally changed my bedroom decorating scheme." She smiled. "I'm having a content moment." He stroked his stomach. "I can't do this most of the day and it calms Meanness down when I do. Unless I go into the bathroom and lock the door and we've noticed a few cameras going up in there too."
"You can sue her for that."
Tony looked at her. "I can yank her hair out by the handful too. It's more fun."
"The mean desires are normal, Tony."
"Oh, I had them before Meanness came to be," he assured her. "I've got a spy for the director on my team. McGee is heavily sucking back up to Gibbs. Abby's all bouncy and happy that he's back but he's like some nice pod person. Hasn't smacked me on the head since he got back. I'm having leadership issues and the director offered me a job in Spain."
"Not until after you deliver."
"I know, I'm not taking it. I already turned her down." That got a smile and a nod. "I don't want her running my life or my career."
"It could be maternal instinct."
"It could be that I'm a guard bitch between her and Gibbs too, and probably is more likely."
"Is she still causing you problems?"
"No new listening devices. I'm happy with that. I'm still trying to figure her next move. I think Gibbs suggested me for the more prestigious spot."
"Once you've been in control it's hard to give it up," she said gently, patting him on the stomach. The baby kicked her. "You've got a future goalie there, Tony."
He grinned. "I played ball too. It got me through college."
She gave him a hug. "Your parents are stupid morons." He sniffled, nodding, clinging to her. "Shh, let it out. You're not the first one to cry on me during a mood swing." He let it go, letting her comfort him. When he was done she wiped his face off with a baby wipe. "Better?" He nodded, giving her a little smile. "Repressing it isn't helping. Neither are double days when you never make it home for three in a row."
"The cases demand. My desk chair's kinda comfy."
"No more. You both need your rest." He nodded at that. "Can you go on modified duty?"
"Not without tipping someone off."
"Okay, we'll work it out. I'll call Doctor Pitt directly. I don't care as long as he won't talk." He handed over the card he carried in his wallet. "Remember, only two more months and then you take a vacation."
He smiled. "Can't wait. I've got the papers in my desk and Abby knows where they are. So does McGee if something happens." She smiled at that. "If I can't tell then I'd better come up with some good excuses by then, huh? Especially for the new surgical incision I'll have." He slid off the table. "Any other orders I can only try to obtain?"
"Watch your blood pressure. We do not want to deal with a situation like preeclampsia. That's deadly and it is blood pressure related."
"I'm trying," he complained. "Tell the boss that. Well, no, don't. I don't want that talk to happen anytime soon. I don't want to tell him about this." He walked out, heading out to his car, finding Fornell out there. "Hey."
"Hey." He looked at him. "You good?"
"I'm fine. A bit too stressed. A bit too high on my blood pressure. A little too little weight gain. Why?"
"Are you going to be able to go back to NCIS when you have her?" he asked quietly.
Tony leaned on his hood, looking at him. "I don't know," he said honestly. "If I can't, I'm coming to see you first."
He smiled. "That's what I was hoping you'd say. Anything new? I haven't gotten a package of bugs in a while."
"No, she gave up on that. She's got cameras everywhere, including the men's room, but that's her domination issues coming out. I might quit anyway."
"I understand that. Gibbs doesn't know?"
"Can you see me telling him? Or him wanting to pet the Meanness?"
"That's what we've been calling her," he said with a small grin. "She likes to kick up a storm when Ziva's trying to hide things too. She's a good BS detector already."
"Good to know. We're still watching. If something happens when you go into labor...."
"If they come for her or me I'm calling you directly. Abby's going to drive me here. McGee is my backup but he doesn't know where here is." That got another nod. "Tomorrow I have a stress test." Fornell winced. "I know but my regular doc does know. I had to tell him about it because of medicine interactions. Abby's having fun being the middleman between them. It's like some secret project or something," he joked.
"At least you're okay."
"I'm fine. A bit cranky but what can you expect."
"True. If you need us, yell."
"Oh, I will. At the top of my lungs," Tony promised. "So, are you going to bring the asshole to bother me again sometime soon?"
"We've got a case coming tomorrow. I wanted to warn you before you had a mood swing on him when he walked in behind me."
"Love you for it. Thanks, Fornell."
"Welcome, DiNozzo. Go home and rest. My ex always needed to." He went back to his car. Tony got in and decided to go for a short drive then home. It always calmed him down and he could use the calming.
Gibbs cornered Abby a few days later, locking them in her office. "What are you and DiNozzo working on?"
"My friend's baby stuff."
"Why is he helping you with your friend?"
"Her tastes are more like his."
He stared at her. "Abby." She wilted, glaring back. "What? You don't normally give me that look."
"I can't tell you, I promised."
"Hell no!" she snorted. "I'd like to bean her. Or take Tony's chocolate away and let him have her." That got a small smirk. "It'd be a pretty kitty fight, Gibbs."
"It probably would be. What's wrong with him?"
"The other one's a different sort of specialist."
"Who he's paying out of pocket? Come on!" He stared her down. "I know he's not filing for any visits with her."
"Not like the insurance plan here would cover it, Gibbs. Besides, she's a friend of mine so she gives him a reduced rate."
"Uh-huh. The fact he's getting close to maxing out his credit cards?" He stared at her. "Don't lie to me, Abby."
"I can't tell you, Gibbs. That's all I can say."
"Is he in trouble?"
"Not at the moment." He glared. "Seriously. Not at the moment. He and the Director have butted heads more than a few times since you left on your extended mustache vacation." She walked around him, going back to her lab. "Thank you, Jimmy," she said, smiling as she took the samples. "Tell Ducky I'll get on them after the one ahead of him."
"I can do that. Hi, Agent Gibbs." He went back to the morgue.
She looked at him. "You should ask her spy, Gibbs. She's been watching both sides."
"She doesn't know what's going on between you two."
"Which I can't tell you," she repeated, getting to work, avoiding looking at him. He was very good at making people talk and she had to hold out or Tony would be in real trouble. He tipped her face up. "I still can't tell you."
"Is he in danger? Or a danger to the team?"
"Only if his blood pressure goes through the roof and we can't bring it back down," she said honestly.
"What's compromising his health now?"
"The medicine he's on."
"He's back on the immune boosters already?"
She shook her head. "A different one," she said quietly. "It'll be okay. The new doctor has it well in hand. I've been passing messages between them since Tony didn't want her to be found out around here."
"Does it have to do with his biological exposure seven months ago?"
"What project was it?"
"It's been so sanitized even McGee and I couldn't find much," she said. "It was called Prospero's Daughter. It was organ cloning and things."
"Did he grow an extra one?"
"No but the hormones drove him nuts for months. He had really bad PMS there for a while. He had nothing but chocolate for like four months." Gibbs smirked a bit at that. "It helped. It kept McGee sane. He gladly helped us slip it to him. Even when his blood sugar got a bit wild there for a few weeks when he started to puke."
"No." She got back to work. "You're going to be barking at me if I don't get these done and back to Ducky." She looked up and he was gone. "Shoot." She called to warn Tony. "He was down here questioning me," she said quietly. "Yes, that him. I told him about the PMS, the chocolate, and some puking. That's all, I swear. I told him that you were paying out of pocket because we'd never cover it anyway but he was looking into your credit card debt, Tony. Sure, you be careful and safe." She hung up and got back to work.
Tony walked in the next morning, putting a few printouts on his desk. "Since you were so interested in my credit card balances, there you go. Now you don't have to sneak, boss." He went to his desk, going to pull up his last report. And Ziva's. He looked over, finding her asleep at her desk. "She didn't make it home?"
"No," McGee admitted. "She crashed at one."
Tony smiled. "As I have many times, Probie." He got to work on her report, sending it to her, knowing the email notification beep would wake her up. It made her nearly jump out of her chair and reach for her thigh dagger. "You stab me for proofreading for you and I'm going to make you do it on your own from now on," he said.
"Thank you. I must have drifted off."
"Around one," McGee told her. "It's almost nine."
"Sorry I slept through half the morning," she told Gibbs, getting to work.
"Looked like you needed it, Ziva," he said tolerantly, watching Tony work. He glanced at the statements. All were now paid off. He looked at him again. "Some reason I needed these, DiNozzo?"
"I heard you were snooping in them, boss. Thought you'd be less concerned with that new balance." He looked at him. "I needed to shift around part of the retirement fund anyway. I wasn't getting good interest. By the way, those are now closed and I'm getting new ones." He got back to work. He felt McGee staring at him so he looked back. "What?"
"No thanks. Not in the mood for sweets." He got back to work. McGee kept staring so he glared this time. "What!"
"You sure? I have some caramel eggs. They were in the fridge from Easter." Tony wobbled so he walked a few over. "Here, so you feel better."
"Thanks, Probie. I missed breakfast for my daily jog." Well, walk but no one here had to know that. He nibbled the first one, moaning quietly at the flavor. "These are good."
"The little market up the street from Abby makes them for Easter every year starting in February."
"I'll have to remember that." He finished the rest and smiled. "Thank you."
"Welcome." He thought about saying something about Tony's new shirt but the last time he had ranted and huffed off on him. So he wasn't going to do that. At least until he saw Tony stroking the sleeve while he read. "New shirt?" Tony smiled and nodded. "Looks nice. They having a good sale?"
"They were. My usual place." That got a nod and McGee made note of it. He went back to reading, looking up to find Ziva giving him a confused look. "What?"
"Why are you buying new clothes?"
"Because the last one got ruined," he said, staring back. She just nodded and got back to work. He did the same, glaring at Gibbs when he kept staring.
"You feeling all right, DiNozzo?"
"I was until I got here, boss. Then it seems I turned into an alien or something." He glared at him for a minute, seeing the shocked look. "Anything else? I'm trying to finish my report as fast as I can for you so you don't have to bark." He got back to work.
"Somebody needs a nap," Ziva muttered. She then had to duck when Tony threw a paperweight at her head. "Hey!"
"Shut up, Ziva. I don't need a nap. I slept just fine last night. Are you cranky from the stiff neck your chair gave you? I find sleeping behind the chair works the best." She blushed and got back to her work, hiding behind her monitor.
"DiNozzo, conference," Gibbs ordered, watching him walk that way like nothing had happened. He got onto the elevator and stranded them between floors. "What's wrong with you?"
"No, there's something. You'd have snapped back something witty at her, not thrown a paperweight. You're always tired. Your blood pressure is still high because I can see the vein in your neck throbbing at the moment. Are you moonlighting or something?"
"No. It was a good, restful night. I was fine until I got here."
"Do you want to go home for the day?"
"I'm saving up my vacation days for something special."
"A long vacation," he said, sounding like it should've been obvious. Gibbs glared at him. "In about two months I'm taking most of my vacation time all at once."
"No, just a trip. I've wanted to do it for a while," he lied. He found it was getting easier.
Gibbs stared at him. "To?"
Tony smiled. "Lots of places, boss. I like to travel. It's good for the soul."
"When were you going to tell me?"
"When I got the confirmation back. My first part I'm on standby at the moment."
"So you were going to leave and run?"
"I'm not sure if it'll happen that suddenly or not. I was hoping to at least have a week's leeway," he admitted.
"You know my rules."
Tony looked at him. "I know but this is something I want to do. I have to live for myself now and then, Gibbs." He restarted the elevator. "I'll apologize for throwing it at her."
"Yes, you will, then you're going to go home and rest. Because I still haven't gotten your medical clearance from Pitt yet."
"I'll call him and see what's holding it up," he said, going back to his desk. "Ziva, I should not have thrown that at you and I apologize."
"Thank you." She handed it back. "Are you feeling all right? You're a bit flushed."
"I'm fine." He sat down, calling his other doctor. "Hey, Brad, it's Tony. What's the holdup on my recert paperwork? Gibbs is champing at the bit for it." He listened, then laughed. "You're sure?" He nodded. It wasn't good news but he could handle it. "No, I'm fine. Gibbs thinks I need a nap...." He rolled his eyes but Gibbs took the phone from him.
"Doctor Pitt, Agent Gibbs. What's wrong with my agent?" The 'I can't tell you without his permission' did not make him happy. "Is he cleared and fit for duty and should I send him home today?" He nodded, staring at Tony. "I'll have him down there within the hour. Thank you." He hung up. "He wants to rerun some of your bloodwork. Go now, then take a nap. Come back tomorrow."
"Fine." He walked out, going to the doctor's office. His doctor was outside waiting on him. "What?" he complained.
"McGee called me, said your blood pressure was skyrocketing before you two had the conference in the elevator. You good?"
"Ziva pissed me off this time."
"She seems to keep doing that." He handed over a form. "Here, blood work. Then go rest. I'd rather have you on modified duty."
"You can tell him but I'm going to hide somewhere he can't find me. Mars comes to mind. I hear they found life up there again. I'm sure they'd have doctors too." He walked into the hospital, going to the lab to sign in and have blood drawn.
Gibbs looked up as a young man he vaguely remembered got off the elevator. "Doctor Pitt."
"Agent Gibbs. I've got Tony's clearance paperwork." He handed it over. "Can we speak? He bluntly told me I could tell you some things but not everything."
He looked around. "Go for coffee, McGee." He was the only one there.
"Um, boss, no," he said, coming over to pluck something off the underside of his desk. He held it up. "Maybe you should go for coffee."
Gibbs snatched the listening device. "When?"
"We've found a few of them."
"Over the last five months," Doctor Pitt agreed, looking at him. "It's one of the reasons Tony's so stressed out."
Gibbs stood up and walked him out, taking him outside and away from people. "What's going on?"
"For some reason Tony believes those were planted by your director. I don't know if they were or not. I do know that it's one thing that has been putting so much pressure on him recently. Did you suggest she give him his own team?"
"I thought it'd be better for him. Solve some conflicts."
"It might but it's not a good time for him," he said honestly. "I would rather have Tony doing something that would lessen his blood pressure but any time spent at his desk seems to raise it. Especially when he and Ziva get into it from what he's reported."
"Why is this suddenly an issue?" He gave him a sideways look. "That biological exposure."
"It didn't do his body any good," he admitted. "The hormones unbalanced his natural rhythms a bit. They're getting closer to normal but he's still having some wobbles. It's meant I had to adjust his medicines and it's not helping matters any," he said honestly, "but he needs to be on them for right now."
"I thought he was off the immune boosters."
"He is. I've got him on a blood pressure med at the moment and an as-needed sleeping pill. He doesn't like to take them and he claims he's sleeping about like normal. I know he could use some naps during the day." He stared at him. "He's insisting that he can react normally at work. I haven't seen anything to doubt that and we both know that a bored Tony is going to stress his system more than an active one, even one where he's working all night on a case. We're thinking it's going to be about two more months before he's fully evened out, maybe a month more."
"That vacation he's got planned."
"Is a good idea. He'll need the rest. He needs it now. He needed it last year," he admitted. "He needed it the year I first met him. Apparently he's always needed it. Now he's going to have to take it." Gibbs just nodded once. "At the moment, Tony's fine. He's healthy, he's able to do his duties. I would like you to keep him from being bored. Keep him and Ziva from going into World War III mode."
"He threw a paperweight at her earlier."
"The last time I checked on him he admitted he was having some pretty violent fantasies about killing all of you thanks to the hormones being out of whack. He was going to be merciful to you and McGee though."
"Good to know. Is he a danger to himself or others?"
"No. Though the blood pressure meds have been making him crave a lot of cheese." That got a snort so he grinned. "It'll be fine. Keep Tony's blood pressure from spiking. If it does, make him take a nap. Keep Ziva from yanking his chain."
"She suggested he could use a nap earlier."
"He hates to be forced to do anything. You should've realized that by now, Gibbs. Have Abby help you."
"She does know. She's covered beautifully for some of the worst swings to date. By the way, if he's right and the director is trying to monitor him for whatever reason, it's not helping him any." He walked off. "Just keep him like you would normally or he'll complain and it'll get worse."
"I'll do that. Thank you." He headed back inside, going to Abby's lab. He found her dancing around and turned off her music, making her look at him. "What was in those hormones?"
"We can't figure that out. Where's Tony?"
"Home hopefully. That's where I told him to go after Pitt wanted to do more bloodwork." He moved closer, pinning her against her table. "Why is she spying on him?" he asked quietly, staring her down.
"Because she didn't tell him it was a lab assault, Gibbs. Just geeks. Then Ziva suddenly tripped and caused him to fall onto the table with the needles."
"So he thinks she's involved?"
"He told me he's not sure. She might not have been then but she's smart enough to realize why that team got sent. A new, unsure agent. Ziva's not familiar with lab protocols so they'd have to watch them both. There were nineteen people arrested and charged in a hidden court case."
"The director? Yeah," she snorted. "She knew, he yelled at her in the hospital." He just nodded. "Why? What happened this time?"
"McGee found a bug on my desk."
"Tony's handed about twenty to Fornell."
"It's an open investigation?"
"I don't know," she said honestly. "He could be using him as a conduit back to the idiot in charge or not. I'm not really sure."
"Is him helping you hurting or helping the problems?"
"It's giving him a frustration outlet, Gibbs. Something you're not because you stare at him."
"He's been acting oddly. Almost girl like."
She gave him a look. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"He cops the same attitude you do when I accuse you of doing girl things," he said bluntly, making her turn and walk off shaking her head. "I want the rest of the truth."
"Then ask Tony and don't stress him out. He doesn't need it!" Her office door shut and was locked.
He walked out. He couldn't question Tony without stressing him out. Which meant he'd have to watch him but do it more subtly. He did want to talk to this other doctor however. He came up and got into Tony's calender, finding it locked and even when he got it open it was empty. "Where's he storing his appointment book, McGee?"
"At home," he said bluntly. "That's because there's too many snoops in this building, boss. A direct quote." He got back to work. "He sent you his report from home. Your email beeped and I looked at the notification message to make sure it wasn't anything important." He looked up when his boss loomed over him, blinking up at him. "What?" he asked quietly, glancing at Ziva.
"What did you find on that project?" he asked very quietly.
"Not a whole lot. About three memos, a front page of their project's folder, and two lab reports from his time in the hospital. Before you ask, I don't have copies. Only Tony does, boss."
"For the same reason I found the shiny thing."
"I see." He stared down at him for a minute. "You know more than you're saying."
"I do but I can't tell you without Tony ripping my head off and pissing down my neck. That's another direct quote and he'll do it." He got back to work. "I forwarded my report a few minutes ago, boss, and I'm working on correcting Ziva's latest one for her."
"Thank you." He went to his desk to go over what he knew. It wasn't much but he had another link in the chain. He called him. "Meet me for lunch?" He got hung up on. He called back. "That wasn't a suggestion." He listened to him complain he was out of town on business. "When will you be back?" He nodded. "I'll see you then." He hung up. Then he looked at McGee. "Why go out of house? Ducky could've helped."
"I'm going to get coffee," Ziva said, fleeing.
"That reason," McGee said simply. Gibbs looked stunned. "We were pretty sure she was still here to nark on us. Tony told her bluntly to pick a side and he knew the director had blackmail material on her, that he didn't care what it was. The last time the director took her unannounced from us, Tony packed her desk and handed the director the bag. He told her that he wasn't going to keep absentee members on the team. She wasn't happy."
"She's apparently still not happy."
"True," he agreed, humming a bit. "Tough but true." He got back to work. Then he forwarded the report to him. "Better than usual. All Tony's coaching has paid off. The same way it did with Agent Lee, boss. He's good at getting the reports to the point where you can do some refining touches."
He looked it over then at him. "It's in English at least."
"It is. No odd word choices either. She had been forwarding them directly upstairs in Hebrew. It's gotten a lot better." He smiled when Ziva came back. "This time's was much better. Only a few verb tense shifts, I corrected and handed it to Gibbs so he can start on the refining process we all went through."
"Thank you, Tim. It's been very helpful having you help me."
"Not a problem. Your reports are a good cure for writer's block." He got his back and got to work on it. "Sorry about the metaphor, boss."
"Go cold and clinical if you need to, but do not use things that can get taken out of context." He looked over Ziva's, printing it to go over it with Tony's red pen. Then he handed it back. "Fix it."
She looked at it, nearly whimpering. "It made sense."
"Your word order still struggles. Your sentences are too long, too complex, and you're adding in unnecessary information. Write what happened, why it happened, and what happened to the criminal and victim. That's all it needs, Ziva." She nodded, sitting down to fix it. He waited until McGee went to get more coffee before looking at her again, switching to a language they both knew, Russian. //What are you watching Tony for?// he asked in Russian.
She looked at him. //The Director thinks the project she had interrupted worked on him.//
//What was it for?//
//Fertility and cloning organs.// She turned to face him. //I think Tony got hit with the hormones and it turned him girl-like for weeks on end. That's why we gave him the chocolate, Gibbs.// He nodded at that. //Now I'm not so sure. He's sick?//
He nodded again. //A bit. Whatever was in those needles he got hit with is screwing with other things. It could be a holdover from the hormones, or them correcting themselves slowly. I want to know what was in them.//
"Have McGee hack for you," she said in English.
"He can't find anything. The sanitizers were too good this time," he told her. "Where are the copies, Ziva?"
"The director has one and there's one in the FBI. Fornell has it," she admitted quietly. "Or you could ask one of the scientists if you could find them."
"I'm sure we would have if we could," McGee said as he came back. "Director's coming." He sat down. "Boss, what was wrong with my conclusion?"
"It stuttered and repeated."
"Oh." He got to work weeding that out. "Sorry, lost my train of thought when Tony nearly brained her." He fixed it, saved it, then sent it back. "How's that?"
He read it over, nodding and printing it out to send it on. "Better. Thank you." He looked at her. "I want a copy," he said quietly.
"Tony first," McGee said. Gibbs glared at him. "He got stuck."
"Fine. I'll make him a copy."
"I'll do what I can," Ziva complained. "Just to get him off my back. He's a grammar stickler suddenly."
"He knows what my requirements for reports are, Ziva. He's right to ride you on that." The director walked through their row. He got up and handed her the bug. "Keep your toys out of my desk." He walked back to it, taking her report back once she printed it. "Better." He had fewer red marks, only a few per page. "This symbol means change the words around," he explained. "This one means start a new paragraph, it's too long." He handed it back.
She looked then nodded, going to make those changes and send it back to him. "There," she said proudly.
"Much better. As you keep working on them, it'll tighten itself up even further, Ziva."
"Practice makes perfect, just like any kind of writing," McGee agreed. "Tony used to come back in the middle of the night to work on some of his reports when no one could bother him."
Ziva gave him an odd look. "Then why is he tired now?"
"He's finally getting sleep," Gibbs said grimly. "Work, don't chat." They got back to work. He looked up when the director stomped back. "Are you presenting me with a warrant to wiretap my desk, Director? Because if not, the building's security cameras should be enough. By the way, did you really need to see us taking a leak because I do believe the law does forbid them blatantly watching us piss at the urinals." She gaped. He glared at her. "Unless you have a very good explanation?"
"Where is Agent DiNozzo?"
"At home, where his doctor and I told him to be. Thanks to your foul up of not telling my team what they were going into, you've endangered his health to the point where it's just now starting to even out again. I'd like to thank you for that but I don't think they make head gear for the boxing ring in your size." She backed up a step. He stood up. "Anything else, Director? I mean, you only tried to kill my lead agent on purpose."
"I did not."
"You did or you would've told him what he was going into." He stared at her until she backed up another step. "Out, now. Unless you have a warrant for those bugs?" She stomped off. "McGee, I want this whole row swept clean, now."
"On it, boss." He pulled the bug detector out of his bottom desk drawer, starting with his. "Should we ruin them or simply hand them back?"
"Ruin them. I don't want them able to come back."
"Okay." He gathered all the ones he found, including the ones Ziva pulled out of her desk drawer, then he went to throw them into the microwave, stepping back a good twenty feet to watch it explode. Then he walked away humming. "Done, boss. We need a new microwave. Should I start on that requisition form?"
"If you want. Or the director's secretary can."
"I think I will. That'll give Ziva time to send me another backlogged report." She nodded, sending him one. He got the form filled out quickly and sent upstairs, then got to work on her next report. "Much better, Ziva." He smiled and sent it back. "Only three corrections this time, and I did search for word switches as well." She smiled and corrected it. It was nice, without Tony hovering she could relax too.
The director stomped back down there. "What happened to the microwave?"
Gibbs looked at her. "I heard bugs got into it." She let out a small shriek. "Next time don't tap our desks without a warrant. That is the law and we do uphold it here." He got back to work. Now he knew why DiNozzo had such high blood pressure problems. His was starting to go up too.
"You're replacing it," she sneered.
"I'll run out and get a new one during lunch," McGee said, grinning at her. "Same model or something better that actually works?" She huffed off again. "Hey, Ziva, I think she needs more chocolates."
"I know she does but I don't make enough to send her the really big box."
"Send her wine, it used to work just as well," Gibbs said dryly. "Work, don't chat."
"Yes, boss," they agreed, looking online for some decent priced wine. There was a decently priced wine of the month club.... They looked at each other. McGee mouthed 'red' and Ziva nodded.
"She likes white wines," Gibbs said without looking up.
That got a nod and McGee sent her the link, getting a nod. They each got her a half year subscription.
Gibbs walked into the Secretary of the Navy's office. "Is he in?"
"He will be in a few minutes, Agent Gibbs. Want some coffee, I just put some on."
"I stopped to get some, but thanks. Tell him it's personal but also work related?"
"I can do that." She typed that in and the door opened from the inside. "There you go."
"Thanks. Ignore any yelling that might come through." He walked in there, shutting the door behind himself, saluting his penultimate boss. "Sir."
"At ease; sit down, Jethro. What's wrong?"
"Director Sheppard for one. I was shown today that she had listening devices on my desk." The SecNav frowned at that, shaking his head. He nodded. "My whole team would also like to make a complaint about the cameras in the men's bathroom that point at the urinals in such a way that she's getting a free peep show, sir. We know that's against Regs."
"It is. Sit, Jethro." He sat. The older man stared at him for a minute. "Okay, from the top, what happened? And is Ziva making a complaint too?"
"She's been using ours because there's been a secretary who's been crying in the women's for the last week."
"Good reason I guess. Can she use the urinals?"
"I don't want to know, sir."
"That's reasonable." He leaned back some. "From the top, Jethro. When did this start?"
"Apparently while I was gone, sir."
"Cut the crap. I remember when you were a snot-nosed brat in Basic."
"While I was... recovering she sent my team into a bad situation, a lab bust, without telling them it was a lab bust."
"I had wondered who she sent."
"Then you're one up on me. I come back and find DiNozzo on new meds from *two* doctors, when we have to force him to go see his regular one twice a year. He apparently got stuck with the stuff from the project. I have no idea what's going on but he's gained some weight, his blood pressure is apparently bad enough that his doctor came down to warn me *in person* to watch out for it. He and Abby are conspiring on some personal project to help him deal with the stress because apparently the project had hormones?"
"Prospero's Daughter was a fertility related project, Jethro. Someone trying to breed the better soldier." Jethro gaped. "None of us were unhappy when it was shut down. Almost all the samples were destroyed. The people who had samples there were given the option of storing it at a regular sperm bank or not. For the females an egg bank of course." Jethro gulped some of his coffee. "She never told them it was a lab assault?"
"No, and apparently Ziva tripped her suspect into Tony, who got stabbed by at least a few of the needles since he got hit with some hormones."
The SecNav's mind was whirling but he wasn't going to let it show. "He's all right?"
"They're saying he will be. He's just now starting to come down off the hormone high. They're saying a few more months and then he's got a long vacation planned. I was hoping I could count on you to make sure he can go."
"I can do that," he agreed. "Was the opening in Spain your idea or his?"
"I suggested to Jen that he was ready for his own team for real since I was back," he admitted. "He apparently turned it down."
"Huh. I heard he turned it down because he thought you'd need him."
"No, I need the old DiNozzo back, the one who was ready to jump on someone and beat them senseless if need be. I don't need this more fragile one."
"Is he in seriously bad health?"
"They keep saying his blood pressure."
"Tying him to a desk would make that worse. How is he doing in the field?"
"It's made him gain a bit of weight. Just enough to shave a few seconds off his running times I'd guess. We haven't had a long chase recently. I have a feeling if we did, Ziva would be the one chasing. He's been acting odd recently. He threw a paperweight at Ziva this morning for suggesting he needed a nap." That just got a nod. "You know about the project?"
"I do and I can't tell you. It's higher than you're rated to know."
"If it's going to impact his health...."
"What did he tell his doctors?"
"What he had found out."
"Okay, let me talk to him for a minute then we'll deal with your former trainee's issues. He's at home?"
"He's at home on the couch and his laptop's on because he's been giving McGee ideas since he got home."
"Even better." He got into his chat program, doing a search to find him. When he did, he sent a nice, normal chat invitation. //SA DiNozzo, SecNav Henderson. We need to talk about the needles you got stuck with. Jethro's in my office.//
//I'm sorry. Is he threatening you? I can call him off if you need me to. I was offered the chance to kill someone to make up a new case.//
He laughed. "No work today?"
"No. He offered to go kill someone so we'd have a case earlier," Jethro said, shaking his head. "Even his sense of humor was off. His doc said he had violent fantasies recently."
"Those can happen now and then." He went back to typing. //I know what the program was. I can also count. The same as I can add mood swings, tiredness, blood pressure spikes, and you being off, son. I'm not going to pull what Sheppard is, apparently, but I need to know the truth.//
//Gee, thanks, really. You can tell him to quit fussing like someone's mother before I buy him an apron.//
//No, I can't do that. You were infected that night?//
//What a charming way of putting it.// A pause. //I'll tell Meanness you said hi.//
//You're still on full, active duty at this stage?//
//Yeah. That way Gibbs doesn't find out. I'M FINE, SIR, REALLY. Or should I get you two matching aprons?//
He laughed. "Your boy's being a wiseass."
"That's normal DiNozzo behavior when you're telling him to do something," Jethro said dryly.
//No, I can do without the apron, SA DiNozzo. He is worried about your health.//
//You can assure him both doctors say I'm fine and healthy. They're a bit worried that I'm not gaining weight but that's just my body. Some people don't. My blood pressure is mostly fine. It's under control.//
//Are you able to function at normal levels if something were to happen? In a hostage situation? If you're taken hostage again?//
//I'd better since I'm not telling Gibbs.// Another short pause. //I would like it to be pointed out that I am taking all of my accumulated vacation in about seven weeks or so. I'm told I'll need it to get everything back under control and to heal my future stomach wound. I'll make up a story about being stabbed or something if he asks and she's my daughter from a past affair, her mother dropped her off.//
//Meanness,// Tony sent back with a smiley face.
//I can explain the project to Gibbs if you'd like him to know.//
//Up to you, sir. I'm still not telling him I'm stuffed up.//
//He wouldn't do more than gape and then walk off swearing, son.//
//If you want to tell him, go ahead. I hear Mars has lifeforms now and the cartoons say they're pretty hip and cool mice who ride motorcycles. They play heavy metal music, they play with artillery, and they do wicked stunts while fighting the bad guys. I could see myself helping with that while you told him.//
//You can't put a safety seat on the back of a bike, SA DiNozzo.// A link appeared, leading him to a motorcycle safety seat. He shook his head. //It's still not safe.//
//I'm sure they have alternatives since their whole species rides motorcycles, sir. Meanness would probably enjoy it a lot.//
//Do we know who the other parent is?//
//Nope, don't care. I don't know who the mother is either. I figure they implanted it into me and I'm like a surrogate.//
//Not according to the information I have. What do your doctors know?//
//That I got hit with some needles full of stuff, fifteen to be exact, and gee wow I'm pregnant suddenly. Cam I have that information? I promise I won't kill the director. Oh, has he noted that I've been handing the bugs to Fornell or that I filed a real complaint against her for the cameras in the bathrooms? Twice now.//
//At least you went to someone we could all trust to keep this quiet. I'll get with Fornell to see what he figured out. Are you safe?//
//Until the director has confirmation.//
//Want to go on unpaid leave sooner? Otherwise you could go into labor at work.//
//Bite. Your. Tongue. Sir.//
He laughed. //I have many times, son. Are you sure? I can arrange some unpaid leave. NCIS needs to kiss butt with you.//
//Not all of them. Only the one person, sir. I'm fine. I'm in better shape now than the month when I came back after having the plague. I worked then, I can work now.//
//If you're sure but you should still be on restricted duty.//
//We want my blood pressure to stay *down*, sir. Not up. Up makes me sick, gives me migraines, and makes me cranky with Ziva for being the director's spy because she has blackmail on her.//
//Interesting. Are you sure?//
//If you want to tell him I'll be hiding on Mars. I'll get used to heavy metal music I'm sure.//
"He's quoting a cartoon at me," he told Jethro.
"Usually it's movies."
"I don't think he has one that fits this particular situation. The only one I could think of was pretty crappy really." He went back to typing. //Seven more weeks?//
//If I go full term, eight and a half,// Tony sent back. //Could be any day now. She's at full weight and my OB said she's got fully developed lungs. So we'll be fine if I go early. I've got leave paperwork in my desk drawer. McGee knows where it is. Abby's my buddy so she'll drive me and she knows where the paperwork is too.//
//I need to talk to your doctor about the information. Make sure it's secure.//
//I will not have her threatened.//
//I'm not Sheppard, son.// A new link came across to her homepage, making him smile. //A friend of Abby's?// He got back a smiley face. //I'll call her in a few, give you time to warn her so I don't have to be too rude.//
//Thank you. She's been a godsend about this. Didn't bat an eye after handing me the pregnancy test in the office. Once it turned pink she was there for me.//
//How often are you going?//
//Weekly now. Thursday nights.//
//You sure about the leave? We can excuse it as medical leave. Say the doctor found a small tumor in your intestine thanks to the hormones?//
//Then she'd jump on me even faster. Right now we've got her to the point of she's not really sure if I am or not. I don't want to have to kill her to protect myself or Meanness. And hey, if you want to tell Jethro, I'll be on Mars. I do look good in red light.//
//Fine, I won't tell Jethro but I do have to tell him something. He's worried about you, son. Said you're not yourself.//
//I have a six-pound ball of future person inside me and I'm male. He'd better be lucky I'm not in a straight jacket,// Tony typed bluntly. //That was starting to look like an option.//
//Fine. I'll have the doctor's notes released to your OB in a few. I'll give you a copy as well. Jethro wants one.//
//I'll book a flight today.//
//If you're determined, we can black out part of it for him.//
//Up to you, I'm conveniently out of the way of his anger today. I can hide today. After he blows up NCIS I might come out of hiding. MIGHT.//
He snickered. "I'll get you what information I can, Jethro, but some of it is still higher than you can know."
"I need to know, it's my man's health. Tony is my agent," he said at the odd look.
"Just wondering at your phrasing, Jethro."
"I'm not like that, sir."
"If you're sure. He could probably use some positive attention." He turned back to the computer. //I'll let you rest. Try to rest and keep calm. Now that I'm in the loop, I'm handling things.//
//Can I watch her firing squad?// Tony asked, then sent a happy, humming smiley face.
Jethro gave the new sound an odd look. "Tony asking if he could torture Sheppard." He shook his head. //If we can prove she's doing something wrong.//
//She bugged my house, my car, and the office without a warrant or probable cause. It's a pretty strong Constitutional case, sir.//
//That's civil. We need criminal or against military law.//
//The bugging is.// He sent another link. //From the online handbook.//
He glanced it over and nodded. //If we can prove it, I'll see what I can do. For now, make plans to protect yourself.// He signed off and looked at him. "I'll get you that information tonight, after work hours. For right now, he's stubborn. He's determined that he's fine, even though they're probably pulling him in for more blood work now and then as it works its way out of his system. He said he's in better shape now than he was when he got back with the plague. Within three months he'll be back to fully normal DiNozzo bratty behavior for your entertainment." Jethro snorted and shook his head. "He will be."
"No he won't. Whatever this is, it's creating deeper thoughts."
"Well, probably," he admitted. "Your health going to the crapper can do that to you, Jethro. That's why you went to Mexico. I have promised I'd look in on Sheppard, see if I can stop her before she endangers his health even more by causing problems for him. You'll have him for about the next two months, then he'll take that vacation. This isn't just his illness, it's a few other problems combined as well from what he said."
"He can't talk to me?"
"No, he said he'd run to Mars to get away from you if you found out the full extent of how bad off he was while you were gone. That's why he was quoting some cartoon about Martians and motorcycles." He smiled. "He'll be fine. Try to keep his stress down. Thursday nights he has a standing appointment with his doc to monitor it as he comes back down off the hormones."
"How blacked out will this report be?"
"As little as I can make it without giving away some very stupid plans."
"Thank you. Fornell?"
"I'll call him later myself to see what he's got on her. For now, endure. You're a Marine, you've seen worse than Sheppard. If I remember right, wasn't wife number two worse than her?"
"Not at the moment." He stood up and saluted, getting nodded out. He did refill his cup on the way and the SecNav waited until he heard the car clear his front parking lot before calling the doctor's number.
"I need to speed to Doctor Cynthia O'Brian about a patient DiNozzo please?" He listened to the less than polite brush off. "He did clear her to talk to me, ma'am. He's calling her now." He was put on hold and the doctor came on. "Doctor O'Brian? Secretary.... Oh, good, he did call you. I'm going to be giving him a copy of what information I have but I did need to make sure of your motives, ma'am." He listened to her complain about how this was coming out of her daytime hours. "Ma'am, this is now a classified project. I need to make sure you won't be the one telling everyone on the morning news someday soon."
He listened to her assurance, liking how calm she sounded. "Thank you. I'll get DiNozzo what information I can tonight. Also, how is he? We've been arguing back and forth about putting him on modified duties." He listened to her opinion, making notes. He'd be selecting which cases Jethro's team got very carefully. "I understand. No, he got sent home today. Something about a paperweight being slung at a coworker and his blood pressure being up. He's on at home. He and I were chatting while Jethro was in the room. Thank you, Doctor. You have a better day and happy deliveries." He hung up, going to find the information he needed. Someone was about to get on Jethro Gibbs' bad side and he really did want to help DiNozzo hide on Mars. It'd be safer for the both of them up there. He hoped.
Gibbs pounded on Tony's door that night, handing over the CD. "That's your copy, still sealed." He pushed his way inside, turning to look at him. "You got hit with how many needles?"
"Fifteen. All in the back after Ziva tripped her suspect into me. Since Sheppard didn't tell us it was a lab assault, she didn't know how to be careful around them and I didn't know to warn her." He flopped down again, making sure his throw covered his lap and stomach so the bulge wasn't so apparent. "That's why I've been cranky and bitchy."
"Fifteen shots of highly concentrated female hormones would do that to anyone." He sat across from him. "Three months?"
"They're doing level testing to see how fast it's been leeching out. They're saying about three months before I'm on an even keel again, boss. I'm sorry it's been causing problems."
"No, I'd be cranky and bitchy too," he admitted. He looked him over. "Was that what caused the weight gain or was it the chocolate?"
"The hormones, but they did give me the nibbles. The blood pressure medicine is still making me crave cheese, though I'm not as picky now." His watch alarm beeped and he groaned. "My vitamins are in the cabinet in the kitchen, can you get me them and some water please? Or milk?" He nodded, going to do that. He brought them back out, handing them over. "Thanks, boss."
"You feeling okay? It's a bit warm in here."
"I was running around naked earlier while I did laundry." He took all his pills, then finished the milk, putting the glass down. "I have been getting better. That's why Ziva's a bit cowed now and then. I did a lot of snapping of her."
"I'm sure she understood. Does she know what happened?"
"Just that at least two of the needles were sedatives and the rest were hormones. I had McGee try to hack for information when the bad cravings started but we hardly found anything. So Abby introduced me to her friend, the doctor, and I'm seeing her now and then about this. She deals with outrageous hormone issues." Which was true, any OB would. Mood swings were killer things. Nearly literally a few times in the last few months. It's a very good thing that McGee could read his moods so well and let Ziva know when to hide from him.
"Does Ducky know?"
"Ducky chats. I didn't want it to accidentally come out. Even though I trust him, I don't trust him with this."
"This project Meanness thing you and Abby have going on?" Tony pointed at the crib box in the corner. "Oh, for the baby shower stuff." Tony nodded. "Meanness is a good name for any toddler."
"They all hit that stage," Tony said with a grin. He yawned. "Sorry, boss."
"No, you clearly need your rest." He stood up. "I have the feeling we're getting the easy assignments for a while, DiNozzo, so quit stressing, all right? Also, you are not allowed to give chase if a suspect flees unless you're the only one there."
"Good. We'll talk about some modified duties tomorrow?"
"I'm fine, boss."
"I've been in cooler deserts, DiNozzo, and you're clearly chilled with the way you're covered up. We'll be handing some of it off to McGee; it'll do him good to learn it before he's the senior agent again." That got a nod. "Why didn't you take Spain?"
"It's a bad time for such a big move and you needed me. You called Ziva Kate that same day." That got a curt nod. "Sorry, boss, but I'm not ready for Spain. The next one's mine."
"Good to know." He gave him a weak smile. "Get better faster. I'm tired of this grumpy you already. You've been telling worse jokes than usual." He walked out, heading home to think.
Tony called his doctor. "I've got the computer files." He hung up, pulling up his laptop to run them, smiling at what he had. "The full research notes. Cool. Just as long as Abby doesn't try to do it to McGee. He'd cry the whole time."
Gibbs correlated what he knew of the past few months then nodded. "All the hormones, the blood pressure stuff, all that?"
"Prospero's Daughter," Tony said, pointing at her.
"Project Meanness as well," Abby admitted.
Gibbs sat down, shaking his head. "Okay," he said finally, trying to stay calm. They didn't need him screaming and Tony to have another mood swing. "I am beyond pissed, DiNozzo. You endangered all our lives!"
"I knew I should've gone to Mars."
Gibbs smacked him extra hard. "You could have died on the job, then what?"
"I could've died from too much cheese too, same result," he said dryly. "There's a reason why I didn't tell you. It's this scene." Gibbs glared. "This is why I'd rather be on Mars right now."
"You weren't going to tell me?" Tony shook his head. "How were you going to explain this?"
"They took out a small something from my intestine while I was on vacation and my girlfriend conveniently decided being a mom wasn't for her so she dropped her off." He looked at Abby. "We still have to pick up a baby book."
"I know. We'll do that tomorrow. For right now, you rest and I'll yell at Gibbs." She glared at him. "Don't upset him, he just had a baby!"
"I saw. I should've been told months ago. That way we could've kept him safer. Remember, he nearly fell into that pit last week."
"I know," Tony agreed. "But telling you meant a lot of drama I didn't need then, Gibbs. I was having enough issues without this one." That got a curt nod and a small glare. "I was. I did not need that stress. I don't need it now. I'm fully prepared to go work for Fornell if I have to so I don't have to deal with this sort of stress at this moment."
"The trip?" he asked more calmly.
"Recovery time. My last week home I'd announce a girlfriend dropped her off. Her bad luck for me to go into labor in the bullpen." He looked at Abby. "We have to be on guard. She'll find us."
"She's probably already trying," Gibbs told him. "She can't do anything."
"Except talk CPS into taking the baby," Abby pointed out. "Or killing him. Or putting him under watch and guard as a material witness, which gives her pretty much free reign over what to do to both of them and we'd never find them." She looked outside. "Cop cars with sirens."
"Yay us." Tony looked around. "Can I at least have my boxers back, boss?" They were tossed over. "Thanks." He wiggled into them. "Damn they're loose."
Abby patted him on the shoulder. "It's a pain when you didn't gain that much weight. She took it from you instead."
"You only gained twenty pounds," Gibbs agreed.
"Fourteen total," Tony corrected. "My mom gained about the same. It's called the supermodel bump." The door was opened by the doctor. "Ah, Director." He pulled Gibbs' gun, pointing it at her. "Get out. Before you hurt some innocent people. I'm not going to be screwed with this time."
"You have no right...."
"I got the information file. I know very well she's at least half mine, depending on who the father was." The director looked stunned. "Hey, Henderson?" he called, catching sight of him. "Come here." He walked in, looking confused. "Closer. I won't shoot you, just her."
"We heard the doctor was doing a c-section here?" Tony moved the sheet to let him see. "Um, cute, DiNozzo." Abby held up the still kinda slimy baby. The doctor had handed her over while she went to reassure the family downstairs. "Um..... Hey boss?" he called. The detective came in. "It was him apparently."
"Our director set him up to have it done without him consenting," Gibbs agreed. "I was standing here when they pulled her out, Griffith."
"Because we busted a lab and she never told us it was a lab assault; I got knocked into some needles," Tony said grimly. "Hey, Sin, it can't happen again, right?"
"No but it has made you a bit more fertile if you were to go out with another woman."
"Hmm. Hey, boss, think I could do you instead?" he asked, cracking up the cops.
"I'm not like that, DiNozzo." He took the baby, holding her against his chest. "We'll have to figure out what Daddy named you in a little bit." He looked up at his director, taking the gun away from the hormonal man. "Let me."
"Not in my house. It'll screw all of my good karma up," Sin ordered. "Take her outside to shoot her."
Tony started to move but Abby pushed him back down. "No, she's mine, Tony. You don't need this sort of stress." She stomped over but one of the cops wisely pulled the Director out of harm's way. "Hey! I get to thump her now! I've been waiting months to thump her."
Tony patted Gibbs down until he found his phone, holding it up at the unamused look. He called Fornell. "It's me. Come see your new niece? She's here too. Gibbs too. Please come save me." He yawned. "Yup, there." He hung up. "Someone's coming to Calgon her, guys." He waved 'bye', yawning again. "For obvious reasons I don't want her near the sprout or me."
"You lay down, Tony," Sin said, coming over to tuck him in. "It's been a traumatic day and you need a nap." He nodded, letting her fuss a bit, even letting her stroke over his hair. "They can sit her outside and we'll watch the baby for a few minutes while you nap." He let out a gentle smile as he drifted off. "I don't care what you do with her, get her out of my house."
"Boys, for obvious reasons, this is classified," Gibbs ordered. "If I hear one peep about this I'm waiting until she has colic to tell him." They all backed off, heading out to put the director in the back of a car and wait on Fornell. "Do we have a spare diaper lying around? She should probably be dressed soon."
"I have a new mommy gift pack ready for him," Sin said with a smile. "He's left some stuff here as well. Let me grab it for you, Agent Gibbs. Let Tony rest." Tony made a humming noise. "No, you sleep. We'll diaper and clothe the baby."
"Pink things," he mumbled. "If too small you have."
"Thank you, dear." She kissed him on the head, going to gather the new mother gift bag of supplies and the two plastic bags that Tony had stuffed in her closet. She let Gibbs have them while she took the baby into the bathroom to finish giving her patient her first bath. "There we are, precious. That's just perfect, huh?" she cooed, using the baby shampoo she kept in there. Abby bounced in when the water shut off. "Here you go, Abby. Be gentle." She nodded, walking her out to the bed. Tony shifted. She put her in another spot but Tony shifted again to reclaim his territory.
"He's a bed hog," Jethro said dryly. "Use the top of the table, Abby." She went to do that, hitching the diaper effectively. Then she looked at the pink outfits. Tony was a bit traditional but she knew her warping could start once they got her home. She measured one against her side. "I think this one's too small."
Gibbs came over to look. "The middle one would fit." Abby handed the doctor the too small one, getting a smile and her walking off to leave them alone and go back to explaining to her new in-laws why she had just delivered a man's baby. He took over dressing her when Abby couldn't quite get her arm into the sleeve. "Find the hand and pull it through," he said quietly. She nodded and he finished snapping her into the pink outfit with a lamb on the chest. "You look like a little girl," he teased, smiling at her.
"I get to start dressing her when we go home," Abby said proudly. "Then I've got to help him put the crib together and all that stuff."
"In case someone dropped by. The cover story wouldn't work if we had it already set up and they knew about it."
"Didn't think about that," he admitted, taking her back to his seat next to Tony's head. He got an inquisitive grunt. "Just me, DiNozzo."
"Fine. Sleeping," he mumbled.
"Good, do more of that. You'll need it later." He looked at the baby. "You're very tiny." She yawned at him and fell asleep in his hands so he let her rest against his chest for now. The older woman from earlier glanced in. "He's asleep. We'll go home soon," he said quietly.
"I came to check on the little one." She came in, smiling at the napping baby. "Hopefully she'll do more of that later on too."
"We can only hope so," Abby agreed. She smiled. "I'm sorry you had to get burdened with this classified project's outcome."
"No, child, it's good to know what some stupid people are up to."
"His was an accidental exposure, ma'am," Gibbs told her.
"I would hope so." She smiled at Tony's action of covering his head too. "I'll let you rest, dear. Cynthia said he could go home whenever he was ready. The carseat's still in her office closet. She's filled out the birth certificate if he's sure he wants that name." Tony uncovered his head. "Are you sure you want Evelyn Kathleen, dear?"
He nodded. "Yup, I'm sure. We'll go home in a few."
"That's fine. You should rest. I was in the hospital for nearly a week after I had Doug." She smiled and left them alone, going down there. "He said he's sure."
"She'll definitely be a strong woman." She finished writing that down and put it into the stack she'd be taking in. She found the carseat and one other bag of supplies, smiling at them. "Tony," she sighed. On top was a note of 'for your magical closet of mysterious baby stuff'. She put that one back and moved the carseat by the door for them. She went up to check on his incision, finding it wasn't leaking and it looked okay. "The carseat's by the door. Remember, she goes into the back seat, facing the trunk, but between your front seats, Tony."
He looked at her. "Doc, I drive a classic Mustang." He was not going to have that image of him driving a minivan again. He refused to. He was not.
She laughed at the look on his face. "No airbags?" He shook his head. "Then have her facing the back in your passenger seat and hitch it down well. Follow the directions."
"I can do that," Gibbs assured her. "Get dressed and we'll drive you home, DiNozzo. Abby can drive your car."
"Do I have to wear pants?"
"You can keep them zipped and up without buttoning them," he said dryly. Tony nodded, going to get redressed, though his shirt was left open too. "Thank you, Doctor."
"I should help remake the bed. It's my blood and stuff."
"Tony, sweetie, this is why I keep white sheets up here, so I can bleach them," she said patiently. He smiled. "Go home, rest. It's the last you'll get for a few days."
"Yes, Sin." He gave her a hug. "I love you. If you need me, call."
"I will. I'll even file the birth certificate for you tomorrow." He grinned, heading out to the car, holding his pants up. Abby gathered the bags of stuff. Gibbs had the baby and got the car seat. She stripped the bed, putting everything into the washer to wash it first and then bleach it on a second run through. She looked out the window, Gibbs was staring at the car seat in horror but Abby came over to get it for him and they did get the baby into the carseat eventually. She shook her head, watching as they pulled out. That baby was going to be so fussed over.
Tony walked into work six weeks later with a carrier on his back and a diaper bag on his arm. "Hey, boss, I'm back."
"I can see that; you seem to have grown an addition."
"I'm on desk duty for the next week on orders of both doctors and everyone wanted to see her. Since I've got to go to HR for a very long paperwork visit.... Might as well indulge them."
"Why is she on your back?" McGee asked.
"She hates being on my stomach. Cries when I tried it earlier."
"Maybe you're wearing it too high and she's scared or doesn't like your chest muscles." He came over to take the baby out and help him adjust it, letting Gibbs have the baby for a few minutes. She went in and glared at them. "I know but that's the daddy. Here, let me adjust that down." He adjusted it so the carrier sat lower. She snuggled in again, falling back asleep. "That's better."
"Okay, you wanted to sit in the lap, we can do that," he agreed. "Thanks, McGee."
"Welcome. She's adorable. She may be the only reason I have kids someday." He went back to his seat. "Why desk duty?"
"Stitches aren't fully absorbed." He looked at Gibbs. "She likes to help me type and she sleeps all day, boss."
"As long as it doesn't happen again."
"Not without it being an emergency. Saundra, the older black lady up the hall with the four grandkids? She's going to be babysitting for me. She even knows that sometimes you keep me here overnight. It'll give her a strong role model so she lives up to her name."
"She's a graceful woman." Tony leaned back. "Plus, if I had named her after Kate, she'd storm heaven and take over so she could come back and beat me to death."
"Yeah, I can see her doing that," Gibbs admitted, nodding a bit.
"Evelyn was from _The Mummy_. She liked that one a lot. Liked to kick to the action scenes and this way she'll be like her, strong and smart. Plus graceful like her middle name."
"We can only hope so," McGee said. He wrinkled his nose. "Eww."
Tony looked down. "Tell me about it. Feel better?" He got up, grabbing the diaper bag. "Heading to the head, boss."
"No changing table in the men's," McGee protested.
"Yeah but I've got a changing pad. I should be able to change her across the sinks." He walked that way, shaking his head at the curious looks. "Needs changed."
One woman stopped him. "You can't change her in the men's. There's no changing area."
He grinned. "Yours is in sacred territory."
"Uh-huh." She opened the women's bathroom door. "Ladies, Tony needs to change his little girl. Can he come in and use the changing area?"
"I'm not coming out," one stall said.
"Or me," the last one agreed. The ones standing around fixing their makeup shrugged so she let Tony come in.
"Thanks, ladies, and you too, Ziva." He pulled down the changing table, spreading out his changing pad, then he pulled her out, grimacing. "I do not know how formula turns into that nastiness, Evy." He got her out of her clothes and diaper, tossing it away immediately. Then he got to work wiping. Those got tossed away once she was in a clean diaper. He grinned a bit. "I know she can't wiggle yet but by then we'll have a better system worked out." They all smiled and nodded so he checked her outfit. "Abby will not be pleased that you did that in her favorite outfit, dear." He tucked it into the plastic bag inside the diaper bag and looked at what he had. "Do you want the black, the blue, the light purple, the dark purple, or the red with dragons?"
"She flailed on the dark purple," one of the watching women said.
"So far it's her favorite," he said, standing up with it. He slid her into it and did up the zippers. "There, now you look like a skater goth. Your auntie will be very happy with you." He got a soft moan as he picked her up, putting her back into the carrier. The changing pad got wiped off with another diaper wipe then rolled and stuffed back into its pocket. He closed the changing table. "Thanks, ladies." He grabbed the bag, washed his hands, dried them, then left.
"Hey, Tony, you forgot the keys that fell out," one woman called, handing them over.
He grinned. "She likes to get up at three and make me change the DVD so she can watch another movie." They all laughed and he walked back to his desk. "Since we're up, boss, I'm going to HR to do that paperwork, let Abby snuffle her some more, and introduce her to Ducky."
"Fine. Come back when you can." Tony nodded, walking her off. "Where is Ziva?" he called.
"Women's." He got onto the elevator, heading down to the lab. Abby squealed when he walked in, pouting a bit. "She had one of those catastrophic stomach explosions just a minute ago."
"That's okay, I picked out this outfit too," she cooed, smiling at her stepdaughter. "You're a good girl, Evy." She got another small baby moan. "Such a good daughter. Yes you are." She cuddled and danced around with her to the music she had going for a few minutes but Tony eventually took her back. "HR?"
"After Ducky." He walked her out, forgetting the diaper bag and his keys this time. He walked in the morgue. "I didn't want to interrupt," he said dryly.
Ducky looked over from sealing in a new body, blinking at him. "Oh, my."
Tony smiled. "Sorry, Duck."
"No, I understand so much better now. I'd not have trusted me either." He came over to look at her. "She's adorable."
"She is Evelyn Kathleen, also known as Meanness or Evy." He let Ducky hold her. "She's a bit sleepy and she just crapped everywhere but she's a good girl most of the time." He looked around, then at his feet. "Must've left it upstairs or in the lab."
"Abby just called and said her diaper bag's over there with your car keys," Palmer said happily, waving. "I'm going to stay over here because those things scare me."
"They did to me too," Tony admitted, sitting down. "I would've trusted you, Ducky, but it's not really an area you've ever practiced from what you've said."
"No, I've done a few deliveries but nothing like that," he admitted quietly, sitting across from her. "How are you feeling?"
"My stomach itches and she never lets me eat."
"I've noticed the weight loss," he said, giving him a look.
"Not like I'm breastfeeding," he quipped. "That was one nightmare I had more *months*."
"No, I suppose it's best if you not do that." He looked at the little girl in his arms. "You are very precious, young lady. Mother would coo over you for days if we let her." He handed her back, watching as Tony sat her in his lap. Her head fell forward.
"Are you having a _Weekend at Bernie's_ moment?" Tony teased, putting her head back up. "Please learn to sit up by yourself soon? I keep thinking I'm going to hurt your neck." He put it back and shifted her until she was laying in his arms, getting a soft coo. "Better?" He grinned then at Ducky. "We think she'll have my eyes."
"She'll be a beautiful young woman, Anthony."
"Thanks, Uncle Ducky."
"My niece called me that for years," he assured him with a wink. "Now, off you go before Jethro has to growl."
"He did that her first night with us when she woke him up at two, four, five, and six." He got up to the laughter. "Now she gets up at three for a new bottle and for me to change the DVD so she can watch something." He waved her hand. "Say bye-bye, Palmer. Bye- bye, Unclie Ducky." She kicked a foot and he waved. "Thanks, guys." He walked her to the elevator, going up to HR, where most of the gaggle from earlier was gathered around waiting on him. "I updated a lot of stuff online so I should have stuff to sign?" The baby was snatched and cooed over. "Okay. As long as you support her head." He took his stack. "All these?"
"At the yellow arrows, Tony," one ordered. He handed over the birth certificate. "I'll make copies for the insurance files." She did that while he found his signature spots and signed. Even the head of HR came out to look at her. "Who was her mother? Did you ever find out?"
"As far as I'm concerned, she's missing out on the greatest thing of her life and she's all mine. I'd say she was a clone but I'm not a girl." They all laughed and went back to cooing over her. "Abby picked that outfit out." He smiled as he signed the last one, handing the stack back. "We should get back to work but you guys can come by the desk to check on her today. I'm on desk duty for a week because the doctors said I'm too tired not to shoot someone." He got her back. "Come on, Evy. Let's go see Uncle Grouch." They all giggled. "Let me know if I've got to sign something else, ladies. Thank you." He walked out with his copy of the birth certificate, taking her back to his desk, running into Ziva on the way. "What's up?"
"We have a case. Gibbs needs you to look up the person and start the file."
"I can do that. She likes to help me type."
Ziva gave the baby an odd look. "I, um...."
He looked at her. "Making your decision takes away all the problems, Ziva."
"Thank you." She watched as Tony got off at their floor then headed down to get not the truck. "He's back from HR, Gibbs."
"Thank you." He backed the truck out, heading off to their crime scene.
Tony looked up a few hours later from changing her again, smiling at the man coming off the elevator. "Sir."
The SecNav smiled. "She's adorable."
"She just peed all over me. She'd better be." He finished changing her, this time into the soft, red, microfiber footies with the dragons on them. Then he sat down and went back to his chat room, telling Gibbs he was there. He stuck the baby back into the carrier. "Sorry, they're out on a scene. I told him you were there." He looked as his computer beeped. //I was changing her, boss.//
//Fine, that's important,// McGee typed back. //Anything else we know?//
//Go up three pages. The only other information we have is that she has three cats, a mother who has cancer and is being cared for at home, and she's a nurse. One cat's name is Miffin, she's in one of those microchip registries.//
//Told him. He said he knew about the cats, it stinks.//
//Yay me.// He looked up. "Sorry, finding out about the suspect."
"That's fine." He sat down. "May I?" Tony handed over the baby and he got blinked at. "I'm the nice boss, sweetness."
"Sweet?" he snorted. "She likes to get me up at three to change the DVD for her."
"Most babies fall back asleep after a feeding and a change of their diaper."
"Not her. She and I both go back to sleep pretty hard." He looked at the new message. "Crap. She killed everything important to her so no one else could have them. That's a bad sign." He called someone. "I need to put out a BOLO on a female murder suspect named Nurse Merry, like Christmas not like Jesus' mother, Catherine Gapelton. Yeah, one 'p' 'el' not 'le'. Have her listed as not owning a car but she is a nurse. She does have a driver's license but no registered car. Redhead, five-six, 138 according to her license. One big scar on her chin, looks like a chicken pox scar in the picture." He listened, nodding when she repeated it back. "Thank you. For Gibbs. Yup." He hung up and typed in, //Got a BOLO started, boss. Gave them her description by DMV standards.// Then he looked at his boss again, leaning back some. "We'll find her."
"No known relatives?"
"Her mother that she just killed."
"Pity." He handed her back. "Are you sure you can't use some more leave time, Tony? You look tired."
"I am but no more tired than I am after a few good nights here sleeping behind my desk."
"Not after Agent Todd?"
"She'd kill all the angels to come back and beat me if I named her after Kate, sir. She would not have liked this project in the least."
"Don't really blame her."
"Me either, but the outcome is going to be okay. As long as she doesn't want to be a rock star we'll be fine."
"You tell your folks yet?"
"Somehow the news got back to my mother. She called. She's threatening to drag my father down here."
"Grandkids can soften most grandparents up."
"Nope, not in this case. I'd have to find a priest to exorcize them if they decided to take me back into the family." He called Ducky. "Gibbs said you're getting three dead cats, Palmer." He hung up. "Sorry, he just sent that."
"That's fine. It's case related, son." He stood up. "I'm going to deal with Sheppard."
"Thank you. Can you maybe talk her into my cost of living and time-in, plus my performance-based raise, sir?"
"Jethro didn't fill those out?"
"They got handed to him as he walked out the door one night. As far as I know they're still on his desk somewhere. I was due my COL raise last year along with my performance raise and my time-in raise is due this month. I'd like them. She's expensive. I had no idea how many diapers she'd go through."
"I'll see what I can do. You want raised back up to team leader salary?"
"That's my next payraise anyway," he said bluntly. "I wasn't sure if I was getting that or one of the others when Gibbs' left."
"I'll have someone look into that. Have a good day and don't bring her in again."
"Not unless it's an emergency." He smiled and the SecNav walked up the stairs. "She should be in her office unless she snuck to MTAC, sir. I haven't seen her come out."
"Good to know."
Tony got back to his background check on her. No restaurant charges on her credit card that spoke of more than one person dining. Nothing but cat charges really. One trip through Burger King. Nothing that would tie her with another living person or another city. Unless she went to hide at her vet's. But that was pretty unlikely. There weren't any overwhelming number of visits that would show they were that close. Ziva came off the elevator. "Dropping off the cats?"
"Yes," she said, grimacing. "What will that tell us?"
"What she used to kill them," Tony said. "Her cats are about the only charges on her credit cards. They were the most important thing in her life. Like the pedophile with the clown fish."
"I remember. So she did the same thing?" Tony nodded. "But her mother."
"Who was sick. No one else was going to care for her." He shrugged and got back to work, glancing down at his stomach. "Sure, you nap now so you can keep me up later, Evy."
"I still don't understand why people coo over babies."
"Come here." She sat down next to him and he handed her over. "Support her head because she can't." She did that and he got back to work. He felt her relax and looked over. "That's why people coo at babies, that and they're cute until they lay a heavy diaper."
"She is very tiny."
"Yes she is, and very fragile." Someone came off the elevator and Tony got up to handle it when he saw the gun in his hand. "Did you need something?"
"Evelyn," he sneered.
Tony did a very nice heel strike into the guy's chin and followed it up by kicking him until he was crying. "I doubt that. I know very well who her parents are." The man continued to cry. "Just think, she can keep me up for another few nights too," he said, kicking him again. "Someone come get this piece of trash with the gun." Someone came running, hauling him up and walking him off to sob in interrogation. He smoothed out his suit, coming back to his desk. "I feel a bit better now. It was cathartic."
"Why does she not sleep?"
"No baby that age sleeps through the night," Ducky said as he walked up behind them. "Is she all right?"
"Ziva had her."
"Good. Are you all right?"
"I haven't slept more than three hours in *weeks*," he said grimly. Ducky laughed. "I'm about ready to let Abby not sleep tonight so I get some."
"Perhaps you should, Anthony. Though it might be best if you relaxed again. After all, stress is still bad for you. Especially after that one major problem is taken care of. I do believe Abby would say she got swatted just now."
"Physically?" Ziva asked. "Because I'll ask Abby to get tape." She handed Tony the baby. "Here, I've had my mushiness kick for the decade." She got back to work.
Tony put her into her carrier, looking at him. "How swatted?"
"In serious trouble. Other people know what she did too. They're not happy. Was he related?"
"You did do the test?"
"Yup, and Abby left me in the lab while it searched so she didn't have to know."
"Ah. The person?"
"Dead?" Tony nodded. "Family?"
"Won't make 'em feel any better, Ducky."
"You could tell them."
"I called his mother to tell her we had found evidence he had semen stored as part of a military project. I asked her if she wanted to be informed if there should be a child. That was her answer. Then she hung up on me. That was with the amnio."
"That's fine then." Gibbs came off the elevator. "I've got Abby processing the blood. It does look like she drugged them. Preliminary indications do indicate a sedative overdose."
"That's what the local ME said too," he admitted. He looked at Tony. "You okay?"
"I'm fine, boss, and the guy who just came up claiming to want Evelyn back is in interrogation."
"Crying," Ziva added for him. "Tony was quite mean to him."
"Yes, well, lack of sleep makes even the most gentle souls sour," Ducky said. "I'll go check with Abby. Harold is still upstairs, Jethro."
"Thanks for the warning, Duck. Let me know quickly."
"I shall." He walked off much happier. Tony was handling parenthood very well so far.
Tony looked at Gibbs. "Abby's getting her tonight so I get some sleep."
"That's reasonable. You clearly haven't been, or eating."
"Every time I try to eat she wants to eat."
"They do that; eat with one hand."
"I tried, she screamed and brought three neighbors running when she wouldn't quit." He looked down, seeing her awake and staring at him. "What? We were talking about food so you're hungry?" He found a bottle in his desk, going to the break room to fix it for her. He brought it back, letting the strap prop it into a good position for her since she couldn't hold it yet. She fell back asleep sucking.
"At least you're not like those women in the park who whip out a boob and stick the child on it in public," Ziva complained.
Tony looked at her. "I had that nightmare for two months, Ziva. I need to sleep tonight, not have more nightmares. Thank you anyway."
"I had that same one," Gibbs admitted. He shook his head quickly to dispel the image. "Let Abby have her for lunch if you're not doing anything."
"I can do that." He looked down, then got back to work. "Boss, I'm not finding another human she's tied to except the standard twice yearly visits to her vet. She works from home so she can care for her mother. She's her only patient through the homecare agency she works for. I don't know how she arranged it either. No other relatives I can find. No dating. If she was in a house she'd be one of those scary cat ladies they pull the thirty cats away from when she dies."
"Then hopefully she'll be easy to find," Gibbs decided. Tony's computer beeped. "What's that?"
"That is...." He smirked. "She used her credit cards, boss. She's at a motel." He printed it and handed it over. "There you go. Not very smart."
"Thanks, DiNozzo. Remember to get lunch." He walked off. "Come on, Officer David. I don't give out invitations." She hurried after him.
Tony started on his version of his report, shaking his head. "She'll be gotten soon and then she'll confess because everyone confesses to Gibbs," he told his daughter. He heard a laugh and looked up, smiling at his coworker who worked on the other side of the floor. "It's good to tell her these things, that way she knows not to try to BS him when she gets into trouble."
"I'm sure it'll be fine." She came over to peek at her. "She's adorable."
"That's because she's sleeping."
She gave him a hug around her. "It'll be okay. They start to sleep through the night by four months."
"Hopefully," he agreed, grinning at her. "She's good about being held if you want."
"No, that's okay. I'll appreciate her like art. Looking but not touching. Otherwise I might want one." She smiled and walked off, going to tell the others on that side of the room.
"What's her name?" someone called.
Gibbs helped Tony carry in his bags of cards and groceries, smiling when he flopped down on the couch. "You sleep."
"Can't. Abby had a date," he reminded him.
Gibbs took the baby, putting her down in her crib. "You nap too. Let the daddy rest." She cooed so he stuck her thumb in her mouth like Tony did. She drifted off within minutes. "Good training, little one." He walked out to find Tony asleep too, shaking his head. He was even nice enough to put the food up. When the phone rang he grabbed it. "DiNozzo's place." He listened to the hesitant female voice. "He's napping." He nodded, making a note on the fridge. "I'll tell him. Thanks for the warning." He hung up. "I'll lay down suppression fire for him."
"Thanks, boss. Could use it," Tony said as he stumbled in. He looked at the note and groaned. "Not tomorrow."
"Take tomorrow off, Tony. We're all off tomorrow."
Tony grinned and hugged him. "Wanna be a stepdaddy?"
"I'm not a step-anything."
"Wanna be a daddy then?"
Gibbs snickered. "We'll see. Go nap. I'll watch your news channel for a bit." Tony skipped off to bed, falling face first and starting to snore within seconds. "We've got to get her sleeping sometime soon," he complained, going to check on her. She was awake and staring at the ceiling so he turned on the mobile. She gave it a very confused look but watched it, not making any noise. He went back to the kitchen to fix something for Tony to eat. He hadn't gotten lunch, she had screamed at Abby until she handed her back to Tony and he fed her. Even Abby feeding her hadn't helped. They'd have to fix that soon. Before he lost more weight. Even his 'after plague' clothes weren't fitting him right now. He finished with the casserole, sticking it into the oven. Then he sat down to flip through all the cable channels in existence. He did pause at one. "Where is that from?" He watched as the local, to them, news kept going in Urdu. "Pakistan? He gets Pakistani channels? Why can't the Pentagon if he can?"
"They're cheap," Tony called.
"Sleep before I have to handcuff you!" The snores started a few minutes later. He shook his head, continuing on. He finally found the local, to him, news channel and sat it there. That was what he was used to. It was almost comforting. Until the baby let out a small wail of discontent. Then he went to change her. "Eww, Evy. That's gross." He got her changed without having to breathe too much then put her back into bed. She fussed so he stared at her. "What?" She fussed some more. "Hungry? Want held?" She fussed at that so he took her out to the living room. She liked the tv, it made pretty noises at her and it made her happy. So that was good. "See, that's the President," he said, pointing at him. "And that's the Secretary of Defense with him covering his six for doing something stupid. That's the guy who talks to the press. Better him than me." He looked down, finding her asleep. "Good job. He does it to me too, little girl." He settled in to catch up on the news. Though she did want a bottle when he took the food out of the oven. It was cute in many ways. Tony slept through the night. She kept him up but not that badly, and it was better the next morning.
When Tony's parents showed up.
Tony walked in after their day off, looking at McGee. "My mother is freaking out that she's a grandmother. I offered to give her a grandson but she passed out wailing." He sat down, looking at Ziva. "How was your day off?"
"Apparently better than yours. Two fire companies?"
"My mother tried to cook for the third time in her life. There's a reason we have a housekeeper."
"Ah. I'm sorry."
"I'm not, the housekeeper taught me how to cook." He shrugged. "My father wanted a good church wedding for the society types. He's not getting it but he wanted it. What happened with the guy yesterday?" McGee pointed upstairs. "She thought it was his?"
"She did. She called him. Abby proved she wasn't his during lunch. He's still in deep kimchee at the moment because he came in with a gun." He smiled at him. "Though he did say you're the toughest mother he's ever met," he said quietly.
Tony smirked. "Of course I am. Someone's got to stand tough in the face of the future pout since she turned Gibbs to goo yesterday and made him watch movies with her to make her quit fussing." He leaned back. "I'm feeling much better. I got sleep. She got the baby plasma screen and she loves it. No more nightmares and no more waking me up to change the DVD."
"You bought her the baby plasma system?" McGee asked.
"Yes! It means I can sleep. She can listen to it very quietly while I sleep." McGee just nodded at that. "She slept through last night. I'm very proud of her advanced skills. Before you ask where and if it's on sale, Grandma bought it for her. Abby jokingly mentioned it." Gibbs came off the elevator. "Morning, boss."
"I take it the tv in there worked?"
"Like a dream!" he said, smiling happily. "It does show she's my little girl though."
"Does it help with her feeding problem?" McGee asked.
"Nope," Tony said, shaking his head.
"His mother ended up feeding him a few times yesterday after we drove off the second fire company," Gibbs admitted, sitting down. "DiNozzo, did I forget your raise paperwork?"
"I think you conveniently filed it and lost it, boss. They handed it over at the end of a day."
"Didn't mean to." He waved it. "It's done. I did it last night." He put it into his 'going upstairs' box. "Along with the performance evaluation you needed for your other one."
"Does this mean I might get it?"
"Up to the director." They shared a look. They both knew Sheppard was now only a figurehead. She had an under-director to handle those things for her now. The SecNav said so.
"I don't take her as someone who likes mooshy things like babies," Ziva said.
Gibbs looked at her. "Every woman coos at least once in her life, Ziva, and he should've gotten his raises last year."
"Oh. I hope you get them."
"Me too, diapers are expensive," Tony told her. He looked at McGee. "Thank you for the baby shower diaper card, Probie."
"Welcome, Tony. It's a good idea, one I'll remember for the future." That got a grin. "Of course, if we ever have to give you chocolate for four months in a row again, I'll know what to do now."
"Shoot me?" Tony suggested.
"Definitely," McGee agreed.
"I thought it was cute," Ziva said. "Until he started to throw things at me."
"Speaking of which, can I have my paperweight back, Ziva?" She found it and tossed it back. "Thanks." He put it onto his desk and got back to work. Gibbs' phone rang and Tony tensed, grabbing his bag when he wrote down information.
"Be right there." He hung up. "You're still on desk duty, DiNozzo."
"No I'm not, or else I'll freak out and hurt someone else." He followed behind him. "Besides, I'm finally rested."
"How far out did you have to drive to bury the bodies?" McGee asked.
"They're pouting back on Long Island," Gibbs told him. "Tony told her to go away since she didn't really want him too. He was doing just fine as a single parent and she'd grow up the princess he had wanted to be. She's still probably complaining about being too young to be a grandmother."
"Yeah," Tony snorted. "She was about my age when she had me. She's got a good plastic surgeon." He got into the truck to drive. Gibbs would take his car. It was going to be okay again. Even if his babysitter did call up with the screaming baby when he tried to eat lunch so he talked to her through it.