Thursday, September 4, 2014

Shards To A Whole: Hip Deep

McGee-centric character study/romance. Want to start at the beginning? Click here.

Chapter 380: Hip Deep

There's only so much shit a person should have to take in one day. And yesterday poured about two years' worth on top of Tony's head. And today added at least another week's worth. And it's only 6:45.

And right now, Tony doesn't know where he is or which end is up.

Jimmy came in like a small, angry tornado, dumped… a lot of shit on him, and, he's sure, when he's a bit more sober and a bit less… whatever this is… shocked probably, that more of what Jimmy said will hit him, but right now…

He finishes his drink. He closes the windows on his computer, one at a time, shutting down information on lymphoma and leukemia, x-ing out of how bone marrow transplants work, hoping he never, ever needs to get this deep into this sort of thing again.

Yesterday his son was dying. Today he's not. Not dying. Not his son. Not… any of it. Right now, there is no custody case looming. There's no fighting with Jeanne about possible treatments. There's no facing Jeanne at all. There's no fear of having this… feeling, whatever it is... at the idea of this child, turning to ash and ripping his heart out.

And Tony's sure that, as whatever this is fades, all the rest of it'll hit, but right now… Right now his son isn't dying, and that's all he needs.

He's still sitting at his kitchen table, little bit drunk, mostly feeling confused, like he's got whatever the emotional equivalent of whiplash is, when Ziva comes in.

He glances at the clock and notices she's been gone for almost two hours. "Long jog."

She inclines her head. "Jimmy called me, said he wanted to talk to you alone." She looks Tony over, sitting next to him. "I take it he did."

Tony nods.

He doesn't look nearly as bad as she expected him to be. "Are you okay?"

He shrugs. "I'm better than I probably should be. He had a lot of things he needed to say. I didn't have anything good to say back. I don't think I've ever seen him that mad before. Not at a person, at least." He touches the bourbon bottle. "Between that and the boy not being sick, I know I missed some of it, which was probably a good thing. He got really fired up and wasn't entirely making sense the whole time… I think he knew what he was saying, but he was crying for some of it, so I didn't get it all, but I was with it enough to know asking him to repeat himself was a bad plan. I got enough, and the short version is he doesn't want me in the morgue anytime soon."

Ziva sighs. She looks at the bottle, it's at least a drink lower than it was when she left. Tony's not drunk; she knows drunk Tony, and this isn't it, but he's not sober either. He's been keeping himself steadily buzzed all night. She looks at the clock. "Come on, shower time."

"Need to call Gibbs, don't want—"

"I have already talked to him. He's relieved."

"Probably won't be when he sees how this blew up."

She tilts her head, taking his hand in hers, and gently tugging him up, walking him toward their shower. Once they get in there, once clothing is off, and water is rushing over them, he feels himself start to clear up, feels some of the euphoria of his-son-isn't-dying fade.

He feels what Jimmy said to him start to hit.

And Ziva sees it; she says, "Benoit sold the weapons that killed tens if not hundreds of thousands of people."

"I know. I know he wasn't a good guy. The world's a better place without him. I know. And maybe if I'd arrested him, that'd help."

"Every western government was trying to get him, and none of them succeeded. No one ever scraped together enough proof to hold him. Traditional tactics had been used for more than a decade and failed."

Tony shakes his head. "Except they didn't. Kort was already in his organization. He made me the first time he saw me, and Jen knew he was onto Grenouille. It wasn't enough to take him down, she had to be the one who took him down. All that crap that followed, that was him discrediting her to keep the CIA in charge of it. I know what you're doing," he kisses her "and I appreciate it, but… come on, Jimmy's a fucking doctor and he could see the tactics on that mission never worked. I was a cop with fifteen years' experience, no way I should have said yes to that, not without a whole lot more information, not the way Jen wanted to run it. "

He looks at Ziva, naked, wet, in front of him, trying to make him feel better about this pile of shit and what he did that got them into it. "He said we're supposed to be the good guys, that it's our job to look out for the Jeannes. He said a lot of other things, but that's the one that hit hardest, because it was true. I'm a cop. It's my job to protect innocent people, and I didn't do it.

"He said I kept on that case because I loved how Jeanne treated me, because I loved me more than anyone or thing else. And he was right. I knew how to get out of it. I knew how to end it. I was having a hard time looking in the mirror from halfway into that operation, but I just kept on doing it.

"I should have never taken that case. When he first found out about Grenouille, Gibbs tried to make me feel better about lying to him, said I was under orders to lie, but I wasn't… Not exactly. Never ordered. 'Deep cover mission,' she said, 'between her and I.' I asked if he would have lied to Franks, and he left without answering. Because he wouldn't have. Because that would have broken One.

"Even if the tactics worked, even if it had made sense, even if we weren't tromping all over the CIA's case, I shouldn't have taken it, because she asked me to break One for it."

He looks at Ziva, and kisses her again. "I never said it, but I should have, and I shouldn't have done it in the first place, but… I'm sorry I spent so long lying to you about it. I'm sorry I made you worry."

She smiles at him and kisses back. "We have many lies and worries in the past between us. They are dead. They should be dead." She kisses him again. "I want them to be dead."

He touches her cheek. "But they aren't, are they?"


He sighs and closes his eyes, nodding. "Let's get through today, do whatever needs to be done, get home early, get some good sleep, and go at it tomorrow? I'm too tired and fried for much today."

Ziva nods, that sounds like a good plan to her.

Tony's just pulling on his pants when his phone rings. Dispatch comes up on the ID.

"Case?" Ziva asks.

He nods, listening to the details. She grabs her phone and begins texting Bishop and Draga, letting them know to get in as fast as they can.

"Okay, got it Charlie," he says to the dispatcher after a minute.

Ziva's looking up from her phone, waiting.

"Dead body on K Street. Metro thinks suicide, but he's one of ours, so they're handing him over."

Her phone buzzes. She reads and says to Tony. "Draga's two minutes from the office already. Bishop is still at home."

"Tell him to gas up the van and meet us there."


Doesn't matter how deep in the shit you are, you're still having a better day than your victim.

They don't talk much through the ride to the victim's home. If he is a victim. Ziva tells Tony about talking to Gibbs, and about Jimmy apologizing to her, and about why he was apologizing to her. That Jimmy had intentionally waited twelve hours was one of the things Tony missed in the rush of my-son's-not-dying, or Jimmy didn't flat out say it, or it was one of the garbled bits, or some combination of the three.

However it works out, Tony knows now, and he's less-than-thrilled. And maybe it's just tired, maybe it's that some of the things Jimmy said really hit him, maybe it's just that he wants this shit-storm out of his life, but less-than-thrilled is about all he's able to muster right now.

K Street is the land of the Lobbyists, filled with expensive high-rise apartments, high end cars, and oodles of oodles of money. Their victim's home is no exception to that.

They go in, take over from Metro, secure the scene (bathroom), and while they wait for Jimmy and Dr. Allan, Bishop takes pictures of everything, and Tony and Ziva talk to Major (Ret) Ian Kimmel's nearest and dearest.

Apparently he lived alone. Was last seen two days ago. The cleaning lady had let herself in, and gotten a hell of a shock when she went in to tidy up the bathroom.

Major Kimmel was in a tub filled with blood, dead.

No weapon or wounds they can see, but the water in the tub is up to Kimmel's chest, and it's so murky with blood it's impossible to see through.

They'd only been on the scene for ten minutes when Jimmy and Allan head in. They've got the gurney and their gear. The rest of the MCRT team pulls back to give them room in what is a spacious bathroom, but it's still a bathroom, so it's not exactly a comfortable space for six adults, a body bag, a gurney, and a dead body.

Jimmy eyeballs the room, the space available, the dead body. "Body bag on the floor, Dr. Allan."

"Yes, Doctor."

While Allan spreads the bag on the floor next to the tub, Jimmy makes sure to get the air temperature and the water temperature, both are the same, 70 degrees. He'll get body temp when they get the Major out.

Jimmy looks behind him, sees the bag is all spread out. There's a collection of large, clean, fluffy towels on the towel rack. "Towels around the bag, he's going to drip and Abby will want the liquid. Then down to the van, grab the full arm-length protective gloves."

"Any idea of time of death?" Tony asks.

Jimmy looks up at him, answers cool and professional, no anger in his voice. "He was last seen two days ago, right?"

Tony nods.

"Then not more than two days ago." And while that is a smart answer, that's an almost verbatim 'Ducky' smart answer that Ducky or Jimmy would whip out at any crime scene when asked for a time of death way before there was any way for him to know. "I don't know what temperature the water was, how long he was in it before he died." Jimmy gets his hand behind Major Kimmel's head. "He feels room temperature. Can't be more than a few degrees warmer than the air." He nudges Major Kimmel's head; it moves. "He's either out of rigor or hasn't gotten there, yet."

Dr. Allan finishes with the towels. "But it'd have to be at least a few hours, right? Even if the water was cold and could chill him down fast, it'd take a while for everything to settle into one temp?"

"Correct, Dr. Allan."

Allan nods, pleased, and heads off to get the protective gloves.

Jimmy looks up at Tony. "He's probably already out of rigor mortis, given the temperature of everything, but we'll make sure. Once we get him back, we'll check every fifteen minutes for rigor. If he's not there in two hours, that means he's on the other side of it, either way that'll give me a better idea of time of death." From there, Jimmy shuts up, which is out of character for him, waiting for Allan. He's back in two minutes. They glove up.

"Very carefully, Dr. Allan. If this is a suicide, there's likely a very sharp object in this water somewhere."

Jimmy gets a good hold on Kimmel's shoulders. Allan gets his feet, and they carefully lift him from the bath and lay him on the body bag.

"We'll have to get him rinsed off to know for sure, but I'm not seeing any defensive wounds." Jimmy points to the two long, precise cuts along the Major's thighs. "Slit femoral arteries. Given his position, and depending on water temperature, he could have bled out in less than a minute with those cuts." Jimmy sniffs and stirs the water in the bath lightly. "Apparent lack of fecal matter in the tub indicates premeditation. Suicide or a very well-staged homicide. Blood tox'll help us know for sure."

Allan zips up the body bag.

Jimmy turns to Tony. "I'll send Dr. Allan up with my report as soon as it's ready." Then he turns back to Allan. "Ready?"

Allan nods.

"Careful footing, the floor is going to be slippery, and these protective shoe covers provide no traction."

Allan nods again, re-bracing himself, ready to lift. And once again, they both lift, taking Major Kimmel to the gurney, and from there, to further examination.

Once they're back in the van, heading back toward the Navy Yard, Allan asks, "I take it you and Tony are not pleased with each other, right now?"

Jimmy nods, tensely.

"It's not my business, and I'm not interested in gossip, but… Do I need to get pissed at him, too?"

Jimmy looks at Allan, and smiles at him, pleased by that display of loyalty. Then he shakes his head. "No. It's between me and him."

"You and him. No, you and him and Ziva? Just… with that condom comment, and her wanting to fight in the middle of the day…"

"Oh. No! He's not cheating on her! He's not that guy. Everything is from a long time ago. Turns out that was a hoax, anyway. One of…" It hits Jimmy how bad this load of crap'll look, and that he doesn't want Allan hating, or even not liking Tony. Because Tony now is not Tony then, and Tony now does not need to be judged based on Tony then. (And yes, Jimmy is aware of exactly what he just thought, and yes, it is making him a bit squirmy.) "Dr. Allan, yesterday's situation was a mess. But it's a private mess. Everything involved in it happened a long time ago, but it hit me pretty hard yesterday. Tony and I'll be okay again, eventually. Beyond that, I'd appreciate it if you left it alone."

"Certainly Dr. Palmer."

"Thank you."

Ziva's checking any and every place she can think of for a possible suicide note when her phone buzzes.

Have a few minutes? From Tim.

She stares at that, and another piece of Jimmy's apology slips into place. Tim was looking for the child, Jimmy found him. They would have worked together, which means at some point Jimmy got Tim to hold off on telling them. Maybe… Tim could have just handed it off, gone home… That doesn't feel right.

Why? Are you looking to apologize to me, too? She texts back.

Yes. She winces when she sees that. If you'll accept one. Kind of hoping to talk. You in the bullpen?

On scene.


That was a very long night, Tim.

Yes. I imagine it was. I am sorry that backing Jimmy meant hurting you. She exhales quickly. Looks like Jimmy stuck at least him, and knowing how they work, Abby, too, in the middle. And they picked Jimmy.

I'm not the only one who got hurt.

I know. But since we're not all three of us together, I'm just aiming for you. I'll talk to him, too.

Good. When we get a bit of time, we'll be down.

Thank you.

In the hours between getting on the scene to getting back to the Navy Yard, Tony goes from shell shocked to angry.

He doesn't like what Palmer did, but he can understand it. He's not always the sanest guy in the room if you hit him on one of his hot button issues, and he's wishing he had actually talked to Jimmy back in July, the first time it hit his radar, because that probably would have saved them a lot of this.

But he didn't. He knew this hit Jimmy wrong. He knew it was an issue. But Jimmy buried it, so he did too, because there's nothing he wanted to do less than have a heart to heart with Palmer about Jeanne.

Except, now that he's been through the last night and this morning, he's thinking that heart to heart would have been a good idea.

So, he gets Jimmy. He doesn't like Jimmy right now. He's not in any, way, shape, or form happy with Jimmy, and next bootcamp is going to be very interesting, but he gets it. Tony kind of wishes he didn't get it, that he could just cocoon himself into 'poor little picked on me' but he can't, not for this, not for Jimmy.

McGee, on the other hand, is a whole other book of other stories. Once Ziva let him know that McGee was in on it, too, he found someone he could be really good and fucking mad at. McGee is getting his ass kicked from one side of Cybercrime to the other and back again and then he's going to let himself really express how mad he is.

Strategy time. Tim figures he doesn't have all that long before Tony or Ziva, or Tony and Ziva are in his office looking for some payback.

So… lay on his back, expose his belly, and be really upfront about knowing exactly what he did, why he did, and that he'll do whatever they want to make it better?

Err… He sighs.

That's probably the right strategy for Ziva. Tony's likely a different story.

It's been a while since he's been on the apologizing end of things, but he knows sometimes you want an apology and sometimes you just want to hit. And right now he doesn't know if Tony wants abject apology, or if he wants someone to kick.

He'll have to play that by ear.

"You think I deserved that?" Tony asks two hours later as he and Ziva storm into Tim's office. Tim watches both of them for a second, Ziva's tired, Tony's running on angry.

He takes a quick breath and hopes this is the right plan.

He stands up, side-steps Tony, ignoring him, and heads right over to Ziva, kicking his door shut, and closing the blinds on his office as he goes.

Once they're private, he faces Ziva and says, "Ziva, it was intentional, I knew it was going to hurt, I did it anyway because I valued Jimmy's desire for revenge over your happiness. I am taking full responsibility for this. My lack of action hurt you; I know it. Anything you want, anything you need, whatever it is, I am at your complete disposal."

He didn't see the strike that split his lip. He felt it. His head is ringing and he can taste blood, but as best as he can tell, Ziva didn't move.

Tim bows his head. "Whatever you need to do."

Ziva tilts his head up, so he's looking her in the eye. "Next time you feel torn, like you have to pick sides, you grab your phone, and you call all of us, and we talk about it as a family."

Tim nod. "Yes, Ma'am."

Ziva nods back at him. Tony's behind him, and he flicks his eyes toward Tony, hopefully signaling, I'm doing this on purpose, I hope it's the right thing. She gives him a curious look in response.

"Stop me if this is wrong." He mouths it, no sound, but she nods minutely, so it looks like she got it.

Then he turns to face Tony, standing right up in front of him, eye to eye, and very calmly says, "Yes."

Tony's eyes just about fall out of his head, and he hears Ziva shift slightly behind him, but she doesn't grab his shoulder, so he doubles down.

"You deserved every second of that, and for a hell of a lot more than what Jimmy called you on. You and me, last night, that evens us up for all the-"

"Even? How could this possibly be even…" And Tony was off, hot, angry words spewing out of him at a very high rate of speed.

And Tim keeps egging him on, smartass comment after smartass comment, pushing him that much harder, that much angrier.

Tony's not much of a puncher. He can punch, and will punch, but between basketball and football, Tony tends to start a fight with a bull-rush. (That's part of why Tim is right in front of him, he wants to let Tony get it out, but he doesn't want to get killed. So he's making sure Tony doesn't have enough room to get full speed up and use the fact that he's got twenty pounds on Tim and momentum to his advantage.) So, it's not a rush, but he does start out with a hard shove, and Tim's already braced for it, so he doesn't go down, which seems to piss Tony off even more.

Tony's a lot like a firework. He burns angry and hot and bright, but not for very long. After about three minutes of yelling and hitting, (and yes, Tim is both dodging and blocking, as previously stated, he's not looking to get killed today, just let him get the angry out.) he'd blown off everything he had to say about how last night did not even begin to come close to any of the shit he'd ever pulled on Tim and that there was no possible way that any of that was even in the neighborhood of "even" and that if he was such a bad fucking friend that he thought "even" was even in play that he could go fuck himself sideways with a flamethrower (Tony's actually got an impressive command of cuss words. Some of them would have even shocked the Admiral).

But, after three minutes, he's glaring at Tim, panting slightly, face red, fists curled, but from the looks of it, out of words, and just feeling quite hurt.

Tim waits another two seconds, makes sure he's done, stands up, and then puts his hand on Tony's shoulder. Tony tries to shrug it off, but Tim keeps the contact, and says, "No, Tony, I didn't think you deserved that. I just figured you wouldn't find it very satisfying to just yell at me if I laid there and said I was sorry about it." He lets go of Tony's shoulder. "Better?"

Tony blinks. God does he have a big 'fuck with me' sign on his back today? But, he thinks about it, about how it would have felt if Tim just stood there and kept saying I'm sorry. He nods, stiffly. He actually is feeling a better at really getting to let it go.

Better and done aren't the same thing, though.

"If I didn't deserve it, why'd you go along with it?"

Tim points to one of the chairs, for Tony, and pulls his desk chair around to campfire up. "When we first found the information, I had my phone out, your number up, thumb about to hit the button when he stopped me. You've seen him today, right? So you know how bad he was hurting—"

"Do you have any idea how bad I was hurting?" Tony says, voice hard, glaring at Tim.

"As much as anyone who's never been there can, yes."

Tony's eyes narrow at that. He's not sure if the idea that Tim didn't know what he was doing would have hurt more or less than the idea that he did.

Ziva settles in, just watching.

"I wanted to make you feel better, and I wanted to make him feel better, and I couldn't do both, so when it came down to it, he's never pulled any shit on me, but you have, so I went with him."

McGee's got that obnoxiously earnest look on his face as he says that.

"He's hurting because of bad memories of something entirely outside of his control. You're hurting because of your own screw up. I'd assume, in a similar situation, if my own bad decisions were biting me in the ass, and the fact that I'd made those decisions was hurting Jimmy, you'd make the same choice."

Earnestness plus logic is even more annoying. Earnestness plus logic with not a single trace of malice or joy or… Shit. It's really hard to stay mad at McGee when he's just sitting there, waiting to get dumped on some more. Tony's actually wishing the smartass would come back so he could have another go at him.

Tim continues filling them in with what happened last night. "Jimmy cracked the case for you. I was stuck. Nothing left. Aiden Benoit was coming up on nothing I had. He looks at it and uses his ID to break into the kid's medical records. And I'm about to call you when he says stop. I've got three options: A: No Jimmy, this is too mean. B: Okay, I'll go along. C: Or say I'm going along and lie about it. C's out. The one didn't require any soul searching. So, we talk about A and B, make sure he knows what he's doing is mean, point out that it's going to hurt Ziva, too, and he still wanted to do it. The first thing Abby said to him was, 'That's not kind,' and he said that was the point."

"How about D: Talk him out of it?" Tony says sarcastically, few sparks of pissed off joining together and firing off.

McGee stops at that, and Tony can tell by the look on his face that that option did not in any way ever occur to him. He thinks about that. He inhales, exhales, mind very obviously whirling around, and after a minute says, "Apparently, I do think you deserve it. Shit. I'm…" McGeek's doing that annoying thing where Tony can actually see the synapses firing away in his head, trying to get everything in order. "Damn it, I thought I was just backing him, but… Yeah… Should have thought of D. D was obvious."

Tony doesn't know what to do with that. And Tim's rapidly thinking through something, eyes far away, with that 'processing' look on his face.

After a minute, his eyes come back to Tony. "I had to watch you die, in real time, on satellite, and then help clean up your charred corpse, because you didn't feel like letting us in on the full mission. I thought I was over that. Hadn't thought about it in a long time, but… I think that's why I didn't think of D.

"If you'd let me in, you could have had a tracker on you. Could have been a tiny, little thing, in your watch or something, something you would have kept on your body. But I didn't know you were still undercover. Thought you were done after Kort made Ducky. So I didn't have any signal, anything that could let me know you were still alive." They both hear Ziva shift slightly in her seat at that, and Tim remembers how much those hours of not knowing hurt her, too. "If you had had that tracker, we could have had people on you, we could have picked you and Grenouille up, and gotten the whole thing wrapped up, with arrests, that day.

"It was hours before we knew it wasn't you, longer before we knew what happened to you. And you came in and pretty much laughed at me for being hurt because I had to help Jimmy and Ducky get your charred corpse out of a bombed car. So, yeah, apparently I do think you deserved some shit for that. Because otherwise I would have thought of talking him out of it, because that's not rocket science, and if I was truly going at it as someone trying to minimize both of your pain, I would have come up with that."

McGee doesn't look particularly pleased with himself right now. "Tony, it doesn't matter why. I did it intentionally. I knew it was going to suck. I knew it would hurt. And I picked him and his pain over you and yours." He's looking Tony straight in the eye as he says, "You're welcome to do anything and everything you like to me make yourself feel better about that. Whatever you require of me to make this right, I will do."

Tony glares at Tim. Right now he's feeling too defeated to even come up with something that might make him feel better about this. He hadn't realized they'd watched the car blow up, and it's just hitting him how terrible seeing that corpse, believing it was him, would have been. He's starting to think he probably owes Ziva an even bigger apology for that case than he gave her.

Tim turns to Ziva. "Ziva, as I said, anything. Wash your car, ten rounds at bootcamp, do your taxes, all of the above, anything."

She stands up, shaking her head slightly. "My father used to say, 'Do not apologize. Learn from your mistake, and do not do make it again.'"

"I won't."

"Then we are good."

Tony stands up, too. He looks around, tries to find a joke or something. McGee can see what he's aiming for. "I'd offer to do all your paperwork, but I kind of already did."

Tony nods. "That car better sparkle when you're done with it."

Tim nod. He can do that. He takes three steps to his desk, grabs his keys, and hands them to Tony. "Swap with me? It'll be gleaming in the morning."

Tony hands his over and heads off.

"What do you have, Abby?" Tony asks as he heads to the lab.

"Good stuff, lots of good stuff. First off, no prints on the razor, but it was in water for more than long enough to dissolve prints, and of course, it's covered in the victim's DNA. No shocker there. Jimmy was right, no fecal matter, or urine, in the water. Just water and blood, so the Major relieved himself before he took care of things. He had Tylenol, Eliquis, that's a blood thinner, and alcohol in his blood, but not so much that he was incapacitated. Just enough to numb him a bit. I've got no evidence of anyone else on him or on any of the samples you gave me. I'm not Jimmy, but to me, this looks like a suicide by someone who was serious about doing the job right."

Tony nods. Then he looks to Ziva, and back to Abby, waiting.

Abby stares at them, shifting her gaze from one to the other, looking at them expectantly.

"Anything else?" Tony asks.

"Not from me," she shakes her head, short blonde ponytails flapping.

"Nothing about last night?" Tony says. He hates it when she does that innocent/pretending to not know what's going on/cute/dense thing.

"Oh. Yeah. Come on back." She leads them into ballistics so they can have a private conversations. "Yeah, last night sucked. And I know I can't make it suck less, but…

She's still doing that cute thing, which is really annoying Tony right now, but then says, "So I… uh… kind of called Diane, you know Gibbs' Diane, this morning, and you know she's an IRS auditor? Anyway, she agreed with me that what Helen pulled on you was total shit, so Helen's going to get a very thorough tax audit this year. And, I've got another buddy who works for Medicare, and she might have… um… flagged Helen for possible Medicare fraud, so… all of her billing for the last five years is going to be gone through with a fine tooth comb. And… yeah… so it's possible that Blue Cross and Anthem got anonymous tips about her overbilling them."

Tony and Ziva are staring at Abby, who is smiling at them, both of them remembering that for as cute as Abby is, there is a very hard, very cold person under there and you do not fuck with Abby's friends. "Jimmy didn't want you going off on Helen, but he didn't say anything to me about it."

"Abby!" Tony says.

"Hey, if she's been playing by the rules, it'll be annoying, but nothing bad will happen to her. If not… That's on her. I made sure to pick agencies that do audits at random, so it's not like checking out Helen is any more or less likely to turn something up than any of their other 'random' audits, so I'm not wasting resources by doing it. I love Jimmy, and I love you guys, and I know I can't make last night better, and I know you're pissed, so I can and did lay some payback on the person who put this whole thing into motion." She smiles at them again. "I hope that helps, some.

"I do have one other thing, Tony, I've got your DNA on file. Tim and I talked about this last night. If you want, I'll run it against everything we've got, and he'll hack the big private databases, all the organ donation sites, bone marrow, 23&Me, all of them, to increase the scope of the search. If you want to know, we'll find your kids, or at least as many of them as are old enough to have hit any of the major databases. It's not perfect, but it'll cut down on the chance of you getting blindsided like this again."

Tony opens and closes his mouth, a very Gibbs looking gesture, that Abby doesn't think she's ever seen from him. Ziva's looking from him to Abby and back again, not sure what she thinks or feels about that offer.

"You two talk and think. But if you want to know, we'll get it for you." Abby starts to head back to the lab proper.

"That's it?" Tony asks.

Abby nods. "What else would you like?"

"No, 'I'm sorry?'"

Abby shakes her head. "Nope." Then she looks at both of them… "Do you really want to have a long conversation about how I know for a fact that both of you have done exactly what set Jimmy off and that I think he's allowed to be crazy about it as a hot button issue because it happened to him? We can do that. We can talk about the fact that I know about several of Ziva's lesser known exploits, but Tim and Jimmy don't, because that conversation was private between you and I and Breena, and since Jimmy was already in epic-meltdown mode, I really didn't think he needed to know that about you. We could talk about how I hate all drunk drivers, because one killed my parents, and about how you know that about me, and how you have never suggested the fact that I loathe every single drunk driver on Earth is in any way inappropriate, because it's my hot button issue. We can talk about how I let you slide on your hot button issues, and how I've never said a peep about the fact that neither of you are gentle with suspected rapists, and that not gentle can get even worse when I've given you a DNA match. We could talk about how I would not expect you to be kind to Tim or Jimmy if you found out that one of them had ever hit your hot button, even if it was more than a decade ago, and that should you find that out, I'd back your play and let you get whatever comeback you'd need."

Abby waits for both of them to say something. They don't.

"We good?" she asks. Very cold, very hard, not very cute at all right that second.

Tony slumps his shoulders, and Ziva nods curtly.

"Great!" There's that smile again. "Let me know what you want to do about the DNA matching."

Allan's waiting for them, with his report, when they get back up to the bullpen.

"Dr. Allan?" Tony asks.

"Unless you find something to indicate otherwise, we're calling this a suicide. No defensive wounds on the body. Three small hesitation cuts on the right thigh, none on the left. Lividity is consistent with dying in the position we found him in. No signs of rigor, so time of death is more than twenty four hours before we found him, but because we don't know the temperature of the water, we can't get more specific than that. Agent Draga…"

Draga puts up a picture of the bathroom.

"Dr. Palmer noticed the contents of the trash can." In the picture they can see what looks like plastic bags. "They're bags for ice. It's possible that the contents of those bags were in the water, numb him further, make it hurt less. He also had alcohol and Tylenol in his blood, so it's not implausible that he wanted to mitigate the pain. If that's true, that'd put time of death much closer to when he was last seen. But according to Abby, that brand of ice is just municipal water frozen solid, there's no way to tell if it was in the tub with him and melted, or if he used it for something else."

Tony nods. "Thank you, Dr. Allan."

"My pleasure. May we release the body?"

Tony nods. "Yes."

Allan heads off and Tony looks around. It's a bit before four in the afternoon. He's beat. Ziva's tired, he can see it in her eyes and the way she's holding herself. "Bishop, Draga, fill in the database, print the little bastards out, and then cut out. We're all going home early today."

Bishop and Draga seem pleased with that. Tony grabs his go bag, looks at Ziva, and glances at the elevator, and they head home.

He's driving Tim and Abby's car, first time behind the wheel of the roadster. Part of him is very tempted to get into a fender bender. Mostly, he's just too damn tired to deal with it. They're at a stop light. Ziva's not talking, and he's not feeling very talk-y either. But they should talk. Lots of things to say, lots…

Ziva looks at him. "Not tonight. Food. And then I want you to find the dumbest, lightest, fluffiest comedy ever made, and we are going to watch it, and then go to sleep, and as long as no one dies tomorrow, we are taking a personal day, and we will sort it out then."

Tony exhales, relieved. That sounds like a really good plan to him.


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