Doctor Donald Mallard wandered into the bull pen, looking for one team in particular. It wasn't hard to spot them, he could hear them as soon as he stepped out of the elevator. As he strode over to lean on the thin divider wall behind Jethro's desk, he smiled at the scene in front of him.
Abby was leaning against the back of McGee's chair, laughing as he argued with Tony. Ziva must have said something that aided the younger agent, for a paper ball was launched in her direction. She swatted it away, and the ball landed on their boss's desk instead. She snickered as Abby hit Tony in the head with a wad of crumpled paper while he was making a face at Ziva.
Looking to the top of the stairs, Ducky found his two oldest friends laughing together. They weren't touching, but they were close enough for him to notice. Chuckling, he walked around the wall over to McGee's desk.
"Ducky!" Abby greeted, leaving Tim's back to hug the doctor.
"Dear girl, you've been back for a week, you don't have to give me such a hello every time we meet!"
Abby pulled back and put her hands on her hips.
"There can never be too much love, Ducky."
He smiled and held out his hand. Abby sighed.
"Okay fine, I had been putting it off."
Reaching inside her pockets, she passed him a large wad of cash.
"There you go, forty bucks," she said, defeat in her voice.
McGee scrutinized the money. "Is that what you won from me?"
Ziva had made her way over to Tony, and was now sitting on the inner edge of his desk. Feeling left in the dark, they glanced at each other quizzically, then raised their eyebrows the rest of the group.
Abby grinned mischievously at the pair, swapping looks with Ducky and McGee.
"I'll tell you later when we have a girl talk," she promised to Ziva.
Ziva smiled back at her, but Tony still looked disappointed.
"Wait, you'll have to tell me too, you guys can't just leave me out like that!" he explained to the whole crowd.
Abby shrugged. "Sorry, DiNozzo, girl talk is for me and Ziva only."
"All right, well I'll have guy talk with McGossip, and he'll tell me."
Tim shook his head.
"No way DiNozzo, one of those was more than enough."
Tony sat up straighter, taking his feet off his desk. He shot McGee a disbelieving stare.
"Look where it got you though!"
McGee nodded in agreement but said, "Yeah, but since I'm already where I want to be, I don't need another one."
Tony was exasperated, but caught Ziva smirking at him and grinned. "You'll tell me, won't you sweet cheeks?"
"I don't know, my little hairy butt, girl talk is usually very...exclusive," she said with a simper.
"It's like Vegas," Abby added.
"But...I'm cute," Tony stated with a pout, trying to win Ziva over.
She laughed at the look on his face, but shook her head. "Yes, but that does not change anything."
Tony narrowed his eyes at Ziva for several seconds, but soon a wide smile overtook his features.
"Well," he reasoned, "I guess you'll just have to make it up to me later."
He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively and she slapped him playfully. In a quick moment, another blow had been delivered to the back of his head, and not so playfully.
"Hi boss, we were just-"
"Don't wanna know, DiNozzo."
Gibbs had finally joined his team, leaving Jenny upstairs to watch what was unfolding. He had put it off for a week, not wanting to address the issue, but also giving the new relationships a trial run. It was Friday night, and Gibbs figured that now would be a good time to lay down some ground rules.
"Come to lay down the law, Gibbs?" Abby asked with a fake, burly voice.
"And head slaps," he said, glancing at DiNozzo.
Abby gasped, "Gibbs! You would never head slap me!"
"Yeah," Tony added, "she's the favorite."
Gibbs nodded, but turned his stare on McGee.
"You're not though."
Tim nodded, understanding.
Abby wrapped her arms around him from behind, pouting at Gibbs. "Timmy wouldn't do anything to me."
"I know. It's not him I'm worried about," he said, shifting to look at his senior field agent.
Tony jumped up at the subtle accusation. "Hey, I would never-"
"I know, DiNozzo."
Gibbs motioned for him to come over, so Tony obliged with a wary look. Reaching his hand behind Tony's head, Gibbs slapped him once.
"For breaking rule twelve."
His palm made contact with the back of Tony's skull a second time.
"For taking so damn long," he said, dropping his voice so that only Tony could hear him.
Tony gave a small smile, "I am a slow learner boss."
Gibbs looked down at his desk, grabbing the paper wad Ziva had deflected earlier. Glancing back at Tony, he patted his shoulder, causing the younger man to wince before he realized he wasn't getting slapped. Gibbs started to leave, but not before head slapping Ziva as well. She winced and shot him a look, but nodded.
Gibbs had just rounded the corner of Tony's desk when DiNozzo called, "Wait, Boss, that's it? No lecture about how you'll kick my ass if I hurt Ziva?"
"Nope, I know she'd kill you herself. Just keep it out of the office."
Tony laughed nervously, looking at Ziva. She smiled back smugly. He walked over to his desk again, sitting close to his girlfriend, who had inched around to the outer edge of his desk.
Tony grinned at her.
"At least we still have the elevator."
A paper ball flew through the air, bouncing off his head. Tony made a pained noise, and turned to find the source still walking up the stairs.
"Keep it out of my office too," Gibbs warned, never breaking stride.
Tony frowned, rubbing the back of his head. Ziva patted the top of his head sympathetically. Ducky smiled and followed Gibbs up the stairs, leaving the team to their banter. Going over to where Jenny and Gibbs were leaning against the railing, he put on an innocent face.
"So, you never told me. How was Paris?"
Jen and Gibbs gave him a look, knowing his implication.
The doctor smiled in return. "That well, eh? Yes, well, Paris is a very beautiful city. Did you know that it's nicknamed the city of light? Yes, and..."
Gibbs seemed to have just noticed the large amount of money Ducky was holding, and cut off his friend's ramblings.
"You win the lottery or something while we were gone, Duck?" he asked, gesturing to the cash.
"Oh no, my dear Jethro, I won the office pool."
Jenny stared at him suspiciously, and Gibbs did as well, while asking, "What was the pool?"
Ducky opened his mouth, then shut it, realizing that he shouldn't have said anything.
"Well, it's late, I should be going now, Mother's nurse is probably out of her mind by now. Goodnight Jethro, Jenny," he said in farewell, rushing down the stairs. The last thing he wanted to tell them was that he had correctly guessed that the entire team would pair up, including Gibbs and Jen.
As he walked to the elevator, he smiled as he thought about how the past week had gone for the new couples.
The most obvious were McGee and Abby, though more on Abby's part. It didn't seem out of place though, as the forensic scientist was and always had been a very affectionate person. Tim spent a large amount of time down in the lab, but that wasn't anything new.
Gibbs and Jenny would never say that something had happened in Paris, but they could often times be found at the top of the steps outside the director's office, smiling and laughing. The smell of Chinese take out became more apparent in her office a few nights every week.
Tony and Ziva were the most subtle pair with their relationship, which was surprising with how loud DiNozzo was. It was barely possible to detect a change in their relationship. They weren't flamboyant about it, yet they still bantered back and forth. The sexual jokes were still there, though not loaded with so much tension anymore. There was the occasional arm over Ziva's shoulder, and there were always glances, but the team had always been aware of the looks, even when Tony and Ziva were not. There was no worry of Ziva being returned to Israel anymore, for Jenny had received a call from Officer Segel, stating that the liaison position had been terminated, but that Eli did not wish for her to come back. Tony had been so overjoyed that he stood on his desk and announced the news to the entire bull pen, making Gibbs slap him and Ziva blush.
As the elevator doors dinged open, Dr. Mallard turned around for one last look as he stepped through the steel doors.
"Try that again, Tony," he heard Ziva challenge.
Ducky could see the grin on DiNozzo's face as he faked throwing another paper ball at her as she tried to work. Ziva flinched, thinking he had thrown it, and Tony laughed. He moved his hand forward again, and Ziva thought he was kidding, but the ball sailed through the air and bounced off her nose.
"You will regret that tonight, DiNozzo," she told him, but Ducky could hear the light tone in her voice.
"Will I regret this too?"
Two paper wads hit her simultaneously, and that was it. The Israeli jumped up, chasing Tony throughout the bull pen. Abby and McGee's chuckles joined their friends' giggling.
If anyone could make it work, it was them.
Ducky smiled down at his pool winnings, then back at the team running around. As the steel doors slid shut, their laughter still ringing in his ears, Ducky grinned.
He loved being right.
A/N: Wow, this story is finally over. I hoped you guys liked it. And I hope I didn't totally screw up this ending. Anyway, I had a lot of fun writing this.
Thanks to everyone who reviewed, your words about the story always made me smile!
I have another story that I want to post soon, but I still need help with some song lyrics. Again, just PM me or say that you'll help in your review. That'd be great.
And so, for the last time, please review!