A/N: In order to understand some things that happen in this chapter (and story in general I guess), here are three things you need to know:
1) It's set sometime in late season 3. The stalker incident with Abby has already happened but Gibbs hasn't been blown up by the bomb or 'retired' yet.
2) Because it's only season 3, Jenny is not dead yet. Vance does not exist (I'd like to jam that freaking toothpick in his eye he bugs me so much!). Ziva is still a Mossad officer, not an NCIS agent or an American citizen.
3) I love foreshadowing like Abby loves Caf-Pow!. Look for it everywhere. If something seems even a tiny bit hinky, it probably is a splash of foreshadowing and you have to figure out the clue(:
Other than that, read, enjoy(hopefully?) and review! :D
"There's nothing here," Tony announced, sifting through a pile of useless credit card bills and bank statements. "Have you found anything?" Ziva exited the bedroom and leaned against the wall next to the desk that Tony was searching through. "No, I have not found out anything about this Petty Officer Noel except that he was a neat freak. Did I get that right?" Tony nodded and snapped off his gloves. "Anything that could potentially be useful here-bank records, credit card bills- are things that McGee already pulled up."
The case they were currently working on dealt with a murdered marine who was found shot in the both shoulders and hips and bled to death because of it. There had been no shell casings or rounds at the crime scene, even though it was definitely a through-and-through shot. According to Ducky, the body hadn't been moved because of the blood pools and splatters on the walls of the alley in which the marine was found. Very little other evidence was found; there were only a few partial fingerprints of the evidence, and Abby had yet to get a match.
Tony's cell phone chimed, signaling a text message. He flipped open his phone and his eyebrows scrunched up in confusion.
"What is it?" Ziva demanded, leaning in to see the tiny screen.
"A text message," Tony replied.
"Well yes I can see that Tony. I meant why are your eyebrows… burrowing?"
"It's furrowing, Ziva. And I'm confused because it's from Gibbs." he explained, clicking to open the message. He scanned it.
"Gibbs knows how to send a text message?" Ziva laughed, "Since wh-"
"We have to go. Now," Tony pushed back from the desk vehemently, rattling the various items strewn across the top of it. He began jamming their things into both backpacks, not bothering to distinguish one person's things from the others. His focus was on leaving the apartment as quickly as possible.
"Tony! What is going on?" Ziva requested forcefully. She caught her backpack and slung it over her shoulder when Tony tossed it at her.
"Gibbs. The text he sent me was a distress code,"
Abby and McGee stared at the quickly moving screen, as it flashed fingerprint after fingerprint on the screen, scanning for a match in AFIS. They'd been sitting for close to three hours, scanning the partial fingerprints from the evidence through any and every database in existence.
"This is soooo boring…" Abby moaned, dropping her head into her hands.
"Can't we just let AFIS run the prints and have a match ready for us when we come back in tomorrow? It's 9:30 Abby…" McGee asked, the whining tone dripping subtly from his words.
"No, because Gibbs will know we left without getting a match and in his mind that's like quitting. And he'll get mad. Well madder than he normally is, you know like all the time but except for-"
"Abby." McGee speaking her name seemed to bring her down from whatever place she was at when she rambled like that.
"Besides, he'll only get mad at me, and right now, I honestly couldn't care if he got mad at me," McGee mused, stealing Abby's Caf-Pow and taking a sip.
"Why wouldn't he get mad at me?" Abby wondered, grabbing back her caffeine-loaded drink and slapping McGee on the arm.
"Because you're the favorite," he replied simply.
Abby grinned, a slight smirk mixed with a knowing and pleased smile. "True," McGee scowled in response and resumed the mundane job of staring at the computer monitor. His phone buzzed, distracting him from the dull fingerprint scanning. He opened it with his thumb and pursed his lips at the screen.
"What?" Abby asked, just as her phone signaled a text message. She clicked to open it. "It's from Gibbs," she announced, then opened the message.
"Yeah, mine too," McGee's eyebrows crinkled together in confusion.
"I didn't even know he could send a… McGee? What does this mean?" she held out her phone for him to see the message displayed on the screen. His eyes widened to the size of golf balls as he looked from Abby's phone to his.
"It's a distress code," he murmured, shocked.
"What?" she shrieked, "So Gibbs is like… In distress somewhere?"
"Yes. That's exactly what it means. Come on, let's go. Gibbs left to go home less than an hour ago." he pulled her out of her chair and they sprinted out of the lab.
"Mr. Palmer, if you'll put our guest away for the night," Ducky said, grabbing the autopsy report, his bag, coat, and hat.
"Right away Doctor Mallard," Palmer replied.
"You're free to go after that," Ducky continued, "I'm going upstairs to show Jethro the autopsy report and then I'm leaving as well,"
"Thank you Doctor," Palmer responded as Ducky exited autopsy and stepped into the elevator.
The elevator doors opened and he exited the elevator. Upon reaching the bullpen, he saw McGee frantically shoving gear into his backpack and strapping on his gun. Abby stood next to him, looking fearful, panicked, and nervous.
"Ducky!" she yelped, rushing over and enveloping him in a hug.
"Abigail, what's going on?" he inquired, leaning back to look her in the eyes.
"It's Gibbs, Ducky, he sent McGee and I text messages. The messages were distress codes," she explained hastily. McGee dragged Abby to the elevator, who in turn, heaved Ducky along as well.
"You two are staying here. I'm going to try and contact Tony and Ziva. We'll rendezvous at-"
"No." Abby said, with such a force that McGee nodded meekly, silently praying that Gibbs wouldn't kill him for bringing the two of them into it. Whatever it was exactly…
McGee started the car a couple minutes later, and the three rode in silence for the duration of their travel. McGee was driving somewhere between Ziva and Gibbs, except McGee didn't jerk the car around, he handled it smoothly and efficiently. Upon reaching Gibbs' house, they quickly noticed Gibbs' car, and the car that Tony and Ziva had taken to Petty Officer Noel's apartment were parked outside.
The front door stood open, allowing the crisp, cold winter air to drift into the darkened foyer. The three stepped over the threshold and stood huddled just inside the door. They were mere shadows in the darkness that enveloped them. All the lights were turned off on the first floor (that they could tell) and an almost opaque blackness surrounded them.
Tony trotted down the stairs, holstering his gun and shouting, "Clear!" Ziva stepped out from the kitchen, and replied with a 'clear!' of her own. She was just replacing her gun in its hip-holster when she spotted the three shady bodies standing just inside the doorway.
She had the safety off, and hammer pulled back within a second. Her finger rested slightly on the trigger. Tony copied her, freezing in his position on the stairs.
"For God's sake Ziva, put that weapon down," Ducky's cool voice rang throughout the foyer. Ziva visibly relaxed and walked over to flip on the lights in the foyer and living room.
"Ducky. Abby. McGee. What are you three doing here?" Tony wondered, finishing his descent of the staircase.
"Well, Abby and I got text messages that contained a distress code from Gibbs almost half an hour ago…" McGee explained slowly, trying to comprehend what was happening.
"And we drove like Gibbs. Or Ziva. It was hard to tell." Abby interjected, smiling happily since she knew that Ziva and Tony were okay.
"Well Gibbs isn't here," Tony replied, going over to shut the front door.
"Did anyone bother to check in the basement?" Ducky wondered, heading towards the stairs that led down.
"Ducky wait!" Ziva commanded. "Let Tony and I clear it." Ducky sighed and nodded.
Two minutes later, Ziva and Tony emerged from the basement looking wary and confused. The faces of those that had been left upstairs were plastered with grim expressions. Gibbs followed behind the two agents after a few seconds. He appeared perfectly fine.
"Gibbs!" Abby squealed and tottered over to him in her platform boots. She did her best to crush him in a hug, holding onto him with a ferocious tightness. Gibbs wrapped his arms around her, reassuring her that he was fine, nothing was wrong, and everything would be okay.
Within twenty minutes, the six were sitting in the living room, sipping various hot drinks. Tony, Ziva, Gibbs, and McGee drank coffee, while Abby and Ducky drank hot cocoa. It was quiet for a few minutes, the shock and feelings of panic wearing slowly wearing off as they sipped their beverages.
"Now. Someone explain why you thought I was in trouble," Gibbs spoke up first.
"We all received text messages that had a distress code in them." McGee replied, "And we automatically jumped to the worst conclusion,"
"Actually, I did not receive a text." Ziva added.
"Nor did I." Ducky said, "I merely tagged along with Abigail and Timothy."
"So, Tony, McGee, and Abby all got text messages that were supposedly from me, but Ziva and Ducky didn't," Gibbs concluded, standing up and walking into the kitchen. The rest of his team followed behind, nodding.
"What?" Gibbs demanded, not understanding what had just happened.
"Someone else could have done it," Abby voiced, " I mean, they'd have to be pretty experienced but they could hack through the cellular service and make it look like it was sent from your phone when it really wasn't. Or, if they were less experienced, the person behind this could have just stolen your phone, sent the text messages and put it back,"
Gibbs took his phone out and tossed it to McGee, who flipped it open and began searching for an indication that someone other that Gibbs had touched or used the phone recently.
"I don't see anything… but someone could have deleted them and then returned it. That is of course, if someone even got a hold of your phone in the first place boss," McGee rambled, "I'd have to take it apart and-"
"Do it, McGee." Gibbs ordered. The odds that someone had taken his phone, used it, then snuck it back without Gibbs noticing were as good as Kate walking into work tomorrow. Nonexistent, but it better to check than not do anything.
"So we're working on the how… the next question is who sent it?" Tony mused.
"I've got a better question for you DiNozzo. How did he or she know our distress code?" Gibbs inquired, refilling his coffee. Silence fell, but was broken a few seconds later when the doorbell rang.
"Ooh! Gibbs, can I answer the door?" Abby pleaded. Gibbs gave a quick half-smile and nodded.
"Why does she want to answer the door?" Ziva murmured to Tony.
"Because," he breathed back, "who would Gibbs at ten thirty on a Monday night?"
"Fair point." she raised her voice from a whisper to a conversational loudness, "After we find out who sent it and how he or she knew our distress code, then we have t-"
Ziva was cut short by a resounding gun shot and scream. Everyone sprinted into the foyer, and the agents pulled their guns. Abby lay on the ground, clutching her left shoulder which was steadily seeping blood. Tears poured down her face, and she choked on her sobs.
Gibbs' gun clattered to the floor as he dropped to the ground. He gently lifted Abby and dragged her into his lap. McGee and Tony continued out of the open door and canvassed the street for any signs of the shooter. Ziva whipped out her phone and dialed 911 then began giving the operator all the information necessary. Ducky crouched down and inspected the damage.
"You're okay, Abs. you're okay. I've got you," Gibbs consoled, eyes darting around the foyer looking for the bullet. He didn't see it within his view.
"Gibbs…" she whimpered and buried her face in his shirt.
"It's a very similar wound to the one Gerald sustained when we were being held hostage by Ari." Ducky established. "This is a through and through shot however, unlike Gerald's… our first concern is stopping or at the very least, slowing the blood loss."
"Gibbs, the ambulance will be here in less than five minutes," Ziva relayed what the operator had told her.
"No obvious signs of the shooter, boss," Tony called as he ascended the porch steps.
"Here-Jethro- put pressure here," Ducky instructed. Gibbs obliged and Abby winced.
"I'm sorry Abs," Gibbs murmured, kissing her forehead. "I know, it hurts."
"Did he just-" Tony began
"Yeah," McGee finished, both agents in shock that their boss had just apologized.
"Find the bullet. Gather any and all evidence then bag and tag everything. I want the video footage from the street cameras. Find out if the neighbors heard or saw anything. Do it now." Gibbs barked as Ducky tended as best he could to Abby.
"Open your eyes," Gibbs gently shook Abby awake from the sleep she was slowly drifting into.
She signed, I'm trying. It hurts. A lot. since she didn't trust her voice.
Gibbs frowned. "Ducky can't we give her painkillers or something?"
"I'm afraid not. I don't have any morphine with me and over-the-counter medicine won't metabolize quickly enough. The EMTs will arrive before the pills would even begin to work,"
"Gibbs! Found the bullet!" Ziva called. She stepped in front of Gibbs and held up the vaguely familiar smashed metal with her gloved hands.
"Bag and Tag," was Gibbs response. He quickly averted his attention back to Abby, and murmured consoling words to her. Suddenly, her eyes widened and she moved her right fingers at lightning speed.
"Slower," Gibbs requested, watching the movements carefully.
She repeated the sequence at a much slower pace.
"3-4-J-K-6-D? What does that mean?" Gibbs wondered. Abby only nodded then passed out as the whirring sounds of the ambulance drew nearer.
A/N: Sorry for the cliffhanger. Review and/or add me to your story/author alerts and I'll update tomorrow (Sunday, 9-12-10)