"What?" The two teenagers exclaimed simultaneously. Even McGee was pretty convinced that the two high-school age minors standing near him were the AWOL agents.
Abby scooped up the discarded folder containing the test results and scanned the data, searching for a flaw in the analysis that would prove otherwise. Gibbs inclined his head to study the two adolescents claiming to be Tony and Ziva. He had observed their mannerisms and personalities thus far and, due to the striking similarities, he would have believed they truly were his agents. However, DNA testing doesn't lie.
The two wannabes were desperately attempting to find a loophole they could escape through that would prove their innocence and exonerate them. Surely if they spilled a few team-only secrets then Gibbs and the others would have to believe them. Right?
A split-second before Gibbs could escort the two quasi party-crashers out of the lab, Abby found it: the flaw in the logic, the hidden truth in the test.
"Wait!" She nearly screamed, loud enough that had there been any passers-by in the hall she would have startled them. The rest of Team Gibbs stared at her expectantly, the two teens with hope shining in their eyes at the chance of success.
"See, it occurred to me before," Abby began, directly addressing the young Tony and Ziva, "while Gibbs was having Ducky execute the test that something along the lines of this might happen. It makes sense, because not only are you over a decade younger, you're unnaturally younger. So of course a standard DNA test would show conflicting results since their genetic compositions were transformed so abruptly and chemically."
Abby indicated the diagram depicting contrasting DNA on the stark-white printer paper.
"The difference between the two is that their new DNA holds small concentrations of the chemical used to change them. This morphed their DNA graph to illustrate a change in genetic make-up. If you were to extricate the presence of the foreign substance, then their DNA would be an exact match." Abby smiled, pleased with herself for discovering the anomaly and saving her friends.
"Abby, I could just kiss you right now," the teen guy, who was now proved to be Tony announced, "Except I'm underage and it could be counted as sexual harassment."
He settled for a thank-you hug instead with Abby enthusiastically returning it.
"I'm really sorry for not believing you guys," McGee hurriedly apologized, trying to avoid any altercation with either of them since he knew Ziva was still just as handy with the paperclips and Tony could probably still bench-press more than he could.
"It is fine, McGee," Ziva said, allowing the scared agent forgiveness. Tony, on the contrary, was not in a forgive-and-forget mood.
"You didn't believe me, Probie!" the teenage Tony pointed out, "You thought I was some dumb kid!"
"Well, actually Tony, I'm guessing you kind-of are now," Abby added, failing in her attempts to hide laughter. "Not that I think any lesser of you now or anything."
After many jokes at either Tony or McGee's expense, the conversation slowly transitioned to issues of a more serious matter. There was debate about how to proceed from here. Could Abby produce a viable antidote to change them back? (Abby was adamant that she could.) Above all else, what the hell was Tony and Ziva supposed to do in the intermission? (Tony was all for an extended vacation in the Virgin Islands.)
"They have to cut all ties to adult Tony and Ziva," McGee ventured. "Delete Facebook, MySpace, everything."
"They need new identities," Abby concurred, swiveling in a 360-degree turn on her lab stool.
Tony and Ziva had to fabricate backgrounds for themselves, creating whole new identities out of scratch. Ziva was not an ex-Mossad-turned-NCIS-agent, she was a fifteen year old girl whose mother died young and her father worked overseas in commerce. Tony no longer had a con-man father and a dead alcoholic mother; he was now the son of a widowed career-woman, focused solely on her job as a successful immunologist in California. They were both emancipated minors and learned to care for themselves at a young age. It was almost as if they were adults. Yeah, right.
The two of them spent most of their time down in Abby's lab since they were trying to keep their sudden youthfulness under wraps. They'd been taking advantage of their unused leave time because when one worked for Gibbs, one never got an opportunity to take more than a single day off at a time, if that.
Tony leaned casually against the metal counter as he had done countless times before, playing Tetris on his Droid phone. Ziva examined her throwing knife then switched to cleaning its metal surface until it shined. Abby flitted around the lab, attempting to find an antidote to their current condition, even if said condition did serve as a constant source of amusement to her.
"So, Tony, had any hot dates lately?" Abby asked inquisitively.
The teenage DiNozzo spun a tale of a girls' Varsity soccer team who had discussed in hushed whispers his various assets. Ziva scoffed in the background while this story was told.
"How did you even have time for this?" Ziva retorted.
"Unlike you, who fills her entire day with running and ninja-training, I actually have free time so I hit the local Starbucks at five, turns out that's when all the teams finish practice." He grinned that cocky, DiNozzo smile.
"Great, that's productive," Ziva muttered under breath.
This was one of the few times that Tony and Ziva were allowed in the bullpen since it was ten hundred hours on a Thursday and all self-respecting agents had left for the night. Too bad that Gibbs' team didn't qualify as one of them. Tony and Ziva weren't permitted to work cases because, well, that probably broke a couple of child labor laws and any evidence they found was inadmissible in court. McGee was forced to work extra in order to compensate for Tony and Ziva's absence. If they kept this up any longer, Gibbs would be obligated to hire temporary replacements for his too-young agents.
As McGee finished up the paperwork for the latest case involving a Marine wife and an unfortunate accident with a paper shredder (it really was an accident), Gibbs strode into the cluster of desks, caffeinated coffee in hand even though it was ten at night.
There was a heavy thud of thick papers skidding across two work desks. The packet of papers thrown onto Tony's desk collided with his propped-up shoes.
"What's this for?" Ziva asked curiously, flipping over her packet of papers that she now realized was a catalog.
"Course selections," Gibbs answered bluntly, "You start high school next week."