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[personal profile] scarlet_gryphon
Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Chapter Four | Chapter Five | Chapter Six |
Chapter Seven

Chapter Word Count: 1,477

She ran, her heart pounding as she forced her exhausted limbs to keep moving. They had let her out and she was going to make the best of it, even if the ones who were forcing her to run didn't expect her to live. If she'd had the breath to do it, she would've laughed at the absurdity of her situation. She hadn't expected to be running for her life so soon after coming back; hell, she'd almost welcomed the reprieve from life-threatening situations when her former base had been shut down, but apparently she was fated to continue risking her life, however involuntary it was.

She was sure that there was some sort of magical geas on her that compelled her to keep moving, and she hated it. She was lost somewhere west of DC, having been released in the woods under the cover of twilight and told to start running. Before she'd been releases, however, the man who had been overseeing everything- and she would definitely be remembering his face and scent for a long time -had put something into the outer pocket of her jacket. She had been tempted to see what was in the envelope, but something told her that the contents were best left undisturbed.

The sound of car motors caught her attention, so she made her slow way towards it, hoping that maybe there would be someone there who could at least get her some help. She stumbled out of the trees and into the back parking lot of what looked like a gas station. With a soft sigh of relief, she staggered to the front of the station and sank to the ground, her body hitting the cracked concrete of the sidewalk in front of the convenience store, darkness pulling her into oblivion.


Gibbs' frustration with the case was starting to spread to the rest of the team, especially after they had learned that Commander Dalton had left for parts unknown a scant hour after Gibbs and Tim had left Bethesda. The frustration manifested itself in small but significant ways; it came to a head when Tim snapped at Ziva, something he rarely, if ever, did, when she had unconsciously started to tap her pencil against her desk as she worked. There was a brief moment of stunned silence from all of them, and then Tim stuttered an apology before getting up from his desk and heading over to the elevator, presumably to visit Abby in her lab.

Even though the two geekier members of Gibbs' team hadn't officially made any kind of announcement about it, it was a pretty well known fact that the two considered one another as mates, and could often be found in each others' presences outside of work. Sometimes it seemed to Tony that Tim had a better love life than he did, but until he admitted to himself that he had feelings for Ziva, Tony doubted that the situation would improve any time soon. He often wondered if Ziva felt the same way, but hadn't quite worked up the nerve to ask her. He'd get around to it one of these days, though.

Ziva watched the elevator doors close, blocking Tim from view, and then turned her gaze back to her computer. Across the way, she could see Tony lost in thought, and wondered what it was her partner was thinking about. Of course, she often wondered that, and conversations with Kate and Abby had reassured her that this wasn't uncommon. To Tony's credit, Ziva had often seen him play up the apparent frat-boy facade that he wore like a second skin to tease information out of a possible suspect, and it seemed to work most of the time, surprisingly enough. She knew that his playful persona was often a mask Tony wore to hide how good of an agent he was; after all, Ziva highly doubted that Gibbs would have kept Tony on his team if all the younger agent did was goof around all the time.

Speaking of Gibbs, after the news that Dalton was nowhere to be found had come in, he had gone downstairs to find out the official cause of death for Jonas Proctor, as well as to see if Ducky and Jimmy had anything else on Warner. That had been thirty minutes ago, and Ziva had a sneaking suspicion that Ducky had enlisted some of the ghosts that resided in Autopsy to help distract Gibbs from thinking about his current case, a formidable task indeed.

Tony sighed, something Ziva noticed he had been doing a lot lately, and shook his head, as if the motion could clear his thoughts like an Etch-a-Sketch.

'Something on your mind, Tony?' Ziva asked, abandoning the pretense of work and focusing fully on her partner. Tony shrugged and then turned the motion into a long, slow stretch. A yawn escaped him, and Ziva could see the weariness pulling at the small muscles around his eyes.

'Besides the case? Not really,' Tony replied, settling back in his chair. 'You?'

Ziva returned Tony's one-shouldered shrug, rolling her shoulders as she did so to try and relieve the tension she felt there. It didn't exactly help that the full moon was so close; there were only four days left until the urge to Shift got too overwhelming. Luckily, NCIS had its own internal facilities for agents unable to make it to a branch of the CPC- the Center for Preternatural Control -that could accommodate over a hundred Weres at one time if needed, safely and humanely; more often than not Gibbs' team spent the three nights of the full moon together in one of the larger padded containment rooms, with Ducky joining them once he had finished his daily duties.

The containment rooms were comfortable enough, but sometimes Ziva missed running through the wilds of the private sanctuary her father owned, feeling the night wind, cool and clean, on her fur. While the walls of the large underground rooms were indeed padded with fabric- mainly for sound proofing purposes -the floors were made of magically maintained sod, which helped some.

'It has been a long day,' Ziva said. 'I think all of us could use some sleep.'

'Yeah, probably,' Tony agreed. 'Two bodies in one day, with the possibility of there being more out there? It'd take the energy out of anyone.'

Ziva nodded her agreement and then the two of them fell into a companionable silence, letting the sounds of the bullpen surround them as they worked.


The blessed quiet of the elevator helped to calm Tin down a little bit, but it didn't relax him entirely That only happened when he reached Abby's lab, the familiar intermingling scents of Abby and the chemicals she used in her work washing over him as soon as the elevator doors opened. Abby herself was trying to track the GPS signal in Commander Dalton's cell, but the phone seemed to have been turned off.

'Hey, Abby,' Tim said with a tired smile. 'Any luck yet?'

Abby swiveled around on the rolling stool she was sitting on, a bright smile blossoming on her face when she saw Tim standing nearby.

'Timmy!' she said, getting up and throwing her arms around him in a hug that Tim gladly returned. He usually didn't like anyone calling him “Timmy,” but Abby was a special case. With her, the name was never meant to tease or ridicule, but used in earnest affection towards him. That was one of the many things Tim loved about Abby; she had such an effervescent spirit, regardless of the stresses of her job and its often macabre nature.

'You okay?' Abby asked, releasing Tim halfway so that she could get a good look at his face.

'Sort of,' Tim admitted. 'I'm tired, mostly. It's been a long day, and it's probably going to get even longer.'

'Well, you can always take a nap on my futon mattress if you want to,' Abby said, gesturing at the padded mat in its cubby. 'You can use Burt as a pillow.'

Tim smiled gratefully at Abby, taking Burt from her and then going over to the futon mat and setting the farting hippo plushie on the mat. He was just tired enough to take Abby up on her offer, and knew that she would wake him up if Gibbs needed him. It was a testament to Tim's weariness that he Shifted directly to his Were form- that of a Chocolate Labrador -curled up in a tight ball on the mattress, and fell asleep almost immediately, using Burt as a pillow.

Abby watched him fall asleep, a fond smile curving her lips as she returned to her work, turning down the volume of her music slightly so that Tim's much needed sleep wouldn't be interrupted by its noise.


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December 2011

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