Alphabet Soup
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Alphabet Soup

By Abbychick

"Ready Agent Michaels?" Tobias Fornell asked, walking into the squad room.

"Just about," I responded. "Just have to send this e-mail reminding Tony not to go through my desk while I'm gone." From across the squad room, Tony DiNozzo smiled a "would I do that?" grin, and leaned back in his chair.

"Making the FBI pick you up huh? Must be nice to have a FBI chauffer to the airport." Tony said, in his usual tone reserved for the oh-so-helpful agents of the sister alphabet organization.

"Well, Dinotso, since gas is $3.50 a gallon, Agent Michaels and I decided it would be better to carpool. Don't worry, we're using a government car, and I have no doubt they'll dock it from my pay. What more fun could one have than having to travel across the country to testify for an extradition hearing, and then getting docked for gas? Just how I like to spend my days." Fornell answered dryly with a sharp look in Tony's direction.

I stood up from my desk, Kate's old desk, Ziva's old desk, and slipped on my jacket. The grey suit I was wearing was comfortable to fly in, and didn't wrinkle, so I knew I would still look presentable after 4 hours in coach. "Here are the last of those reports, Gibbs." I said, dropping 3 folders on his desk.

"Don't let Fornell's pleasant attitude get to you, Sarah. He's just getting started. Wait till he get's stuck in coach next to the woman with the 8-month old. He only gets more chipper." Gibbs answered, smiling, giving me a reassuring look.

"Your ex seemed to think I was chipper, Gibbs," Fornell replied, taking my suitcase, "at least more chipper than spending her Friday nights in a dark basement, building a boat." With that he turned, nodded in my direction and off we went.

Once at the airport, we were struck lucky with a chance upgrade to First Class. We went through security, made slightly more difficult by the fact that we carry firearms. I was glad to have only brought a carry-on. I hate having to wait for luggage after a flight, if it makes it. Fornell only had one bag too. We were only going to be gone for 2 nights, 3 days total, and we would be in court most of that time.

The reason we were flying to California was a serial killer. A man by the name of Mark Savers had been murdering Navy officers in and around the D.C. area. The around part is what got the FBI involved. After 8 kills, we finally got a break, thanks to Abby and McGee, who had finally cracked the advanced security features Savers had written himself for his laptop, the only place he documented anything about the murders. They were able to hack in to an encrypted web-site which listed Savers next targets and detailed descriptions of his kills. NCIS had teamed up with the FBI when one of the murders fell into their jurisdiction. Fornell and I had been paired up when we found out the final location. Savers was good, staying one step ahead of all the teams, slipping past us at the last moment. Before he headed for California, he had made personal attacks on Fornell and I, leaving a dead rabbit on Fornell's front porch, with a sinister note,(not to personal, unless you keep in mind that Fornell has a little girl, who happened to answer the door) and leaving photos at the front desk at NCIS, taken of me, in my home, without my knowledge. Needless to say, when the prosecutor called wanting 2 of us to go to California and testify at his extradition hearing, Tobias and I jumped at the chance.

Settling back on our "luxury" seating, we made ourselves comfy. "Well, Agent Michaels, how do you like working for Gibbs?" Fornell asked, not wasting any time beating around the bush.

" I love it. Yeah, he can be a bastard sometimes, but I've learned a lot, and like going to work everyday, so I guess it can't be too bad. And since we are going to be stuck with each other for the next few days, you can call me Sarah." I answered.

Fornell looked surprised, but nodded. "Yes, he can be a bastard, but no one sticks up for you like Gibbs." I nodded my agreement.

A little while later, Fornell asked how I came to be an NCIS agent, he knew I wasn't in the military, and was curious.

Leaning back, I replayed the moments in my head. I had graduated from Ohio State, like Tony, only a few years later. I had a cousin who was in Tony's frat, and offered to talk to him about a shadow at NCIS. I had always liked the DC area, and went willingly when Tony responded. I happened to show up at a time when Ziva was debating whether to return to the Middle East and Mussad. She felt she needed to face her father, to get answers for long unanswered questions.

The team was on a case, and needed a female to go undercover. Director Sheppard was in line to do it, since Agent Lee was too inexperienced to do the work. I had worked with the Columbus PD for a few years, and had worked a few undercover operations. This one involved drugs, and a need to get inside the organization. After a few long conversations, with Gibbs, the Director, and Tony, I had the job. Once inside the drug ring, I managed to help the team apprehend the dealer, and his whole cartel. I had left NCIS thinking I would not be asked back, that my work with NCIS was done, finalized with a thank you from Director Sheppard, and a pat on the back from Gibbs. Two weeks later I got a call at 0500 from Gibbs. No hello, no how ya doing, just a when can you be here, I want you on my team. I packed up that same day, and left for DC within the week. That had been 2 years ago and I never looked back.

Fornell listened intently to my story, nodding at the interesting parts, smiling at my description of Gibb's gruffness. "You did a good job taking over where Kate and Ziva had been." He said in an approving tone. "Gibbs needs a strong woman on his team, to keep the rest of them straight."

I laughed, being happy to be that woman. "So what about you, Fornell? How did you and Gibbs get to be……..well, I guess it's called friends, even though you're both bastards to each other." I asked, interested in the answer.

"Gibbs and I met a long time ago, and working together on agency cases have made us forced friends. You know I was married to his ex-wife, don't you?" He asked, a shy smile creeping across his face.

"What? Wait, which one?" It was a well known fact Gibbs had had three ex-wives, but to think one married Tobias Fornell after Gibbs blew me away.

"The second one. I have to admit, he told it like it was. Held no punches. But I went ahead thinking I was different. It showed me how different I was when she cleaned out my bank account when she left, just like he said she would. Well, if nothing else, I got my daughter out of it, and I wouldn't trade her for anything." He smiled, and I saw a look I had never seen before. It was the look of a proud father, one who loves his little girl. It made him very attractive in a way.

"So, where are the pictures??? Let me see, I want to see how big she's getting." I prodded him until he pulled out his wallet. The pictures showed a beautiful blond girl, with blue eyes. One was a traditional school picture, her in a plaid jumper and white blouse. The other was a picture of her and Fornell on the jungle gym at the park. It was a new side to him I had never seen in the work place. I wanted to hold on to the picture, for some reason, it reminded me of my own father and our time together. Smiling, I handed them back, and he put them away.

After that the conversation flowed naturally, from everything to current events, to work place gossip. He knew a lot surprisingly about NCIS and its people. As the in-flight meal was served, he took of his suit jacket, and rolled up his sleeves. With is tie loosened, and his look more casual than the normal suit and trench coat, he looked less scary, and more comfortable. I found myself enjoying our conversation, and looking forward to the next few days.

"How do you thing it's goin', Boss?" Tony asked as he and McGee joined Gibbs in the elevator on the way to Abby's lab.

"How do I think what is going, DiNozzo?" Gibbs grumbled. This was the worst time for him to be loosing a field agent even if it was only for a few days. This case was killing him, the evidence not stacking up, and he was frustrated. He liked having Sarah around, she put a new spin on things.

"You know, Fornell and Michaels. Think they are totally bored with each other yet?" He shot a smile at McGee as the doors opened.

"Not as bored as I am with this conversation." Gibbs replied, letting Tony know he was done discussing it.

The three of them walked into Abby's lab, the alternative rock playing loudly. Abby stood, her back to them at her computer. "Hey, I thought I told you no platforms." Tony exclaimed, walking up to her, and slipping his hand on her back.

Gibbs still had a hard time thinking of Abby and DiNozzo together, but the image before him enforced it. Abby turned, her 8-month pregnant stomach rounding out her thin figure. After Kate died, Abby clung to Tony, stopping by his house for movies on Friday nights, making dinner one or two nights a week. Before long they were falling in love. Abby moved in to Tony's house, and the rest was history. Gibbs doubted they would ever marry, but he knew they would be together forever. Tony doted on her like no other woman he had ever been with. When she found out she was pregnant, Tony was thrilled. He took amazing care of her, and even Gibbs could find no fault with his nurturing. Abby was still his girl, but in the way he had always imagined his daughter would be. He hoped someday, if they ever did marry, she might just ask him to give her away, since her own father had passed away last year. He would be honored.

"Platforms are scientifically proven to be safer on your spine than stilettos, and if worn moderately, there is no need for concern." Abby replied, her black ponytails flipping as she spoke. "Here for the fingerprints?"

"No, just to watch Tony baby you." Gibbs said, turning away, playing with her. "Call me when you have something." He strode to the elevator, just making it to the door before his phone rang.

"I got something."

Smiling, he turned, and walked back into her lab. This was a game they played, forcing each other to be patient, let the other one build up to a dramatic finish. He walked to Abby's computer.

"Your fingerprints are a partial index, and a full thumb. They match without question to one Petty Officer Jason Panks." This was the break they needed.

"You know Abby, if Tony wasn't here, I'd buy you a Caf-Pow." He said flipping her pigtail.

"Tony, leave." Abby replied in an authoritative tone.

"No, no caffeine, Gibbs knows that. I won't have this baby coming out like the Energizer Bunny." Said an even firmer Tony. He remembered how the mail room guys called her Energizer Abby, and he wasn't having a child who needed an IV of caffeine as soon as it left the womb.

"Tony, McGee, go get him. Don't tell him what happened to Ecces, let him sweat it out." Gibbs ordered his troops.

On his way out the door, Tony pointed a finger at Gibbs and said, "No Caf-Pow." Abby was the one thing he could stand up to Gibbs on. He knew Gibbs understood.


Once off the plane, a driver was waiting to take us to our hotel. The flight had been much nicer than I expected, Fornell being much better company than my initial thought. We had talked through most of the flight, only finding lulls in conversation when the plane was landing, and while getting our luggage down from the overhead.

The drive to the hotel was quiet, both of us tired after having worked all day, and then enduring a flight across 3 time zones. Our hotel was a beautiful, peach and gray building, and the front desk staff was very polite. We ended up in rooms across from each other.

"Planning on unpacking?" Fornell asked, as we walked down the hall.

"Yes, I hate to have wrinkled clothes. I can only imagine what they look like after 4 hours jammed in my suitcase!" I laughed, surprised to hear him laughing too.

"Well, I was thinking about heading to the restaurant for dinner about 7 if you want to come. If not, no biggie, I just figured I may as well enjoy what little time I have away from the office for a few days." He offered, looking at be out of the corner of his eye.

I got the impression he was hoping I'd say yes. Seemed funny, this man who was my co-worker, older, defiantly a hard-ass, seemed kind of boyish in his demeanor, like he was asking me out on a date, not two agents having dinner together.

I smiled, "I'd love to," We had made it to our rooms, both of us with our key in hand. "I'll meet you right here at 7." He nodded, and smiled to himself as he entered his room.

The room was huge, beautiful linens, and a huge bathtub with Jacuzzi jets. I knew where I was headed.

Twenty minutes later I was in the tub, up to my ears in bubbles, completely relaxed. My mind was thinking about the case we were here for, but my thoughts kept wondering back to Fornell. Something in the way he smiled as he went into his room, made my own lips turn up in a grin. Realizing I forgot to call back to DC and let Gibbs know we made it, I pulled one arm out of the bubbles, and unhooked my cell phone from the waistband of my pants I had folded and set on the back of the toilet. Dripping water on the floor, I grabbed a towel to dry my hands and pushed my first speed-dial.
"Gibbs" he answered after 2 rings.

I could hear the sound of sand paper running over wood, and assumed he was working on his boat. "Hey Gibbs, it's me."

"Hey you. Fornell already called, I assume if he got there ok, you must have too." He said, the sanding stopping.

"He called already?" I asked, surprised. "Yes, we got here, no babies on the plane or anything."

He chuckled. "I though he sounded more upbeat than normal. Good to know you got there. What are you doing, I hear water."

"I'm in the tub."

"Too much info, Michaels."

"You asked." I laughed. "Well, I better get moving. We are going to dinner in a little while."

Gibbs was quiet for a moment, then said "Ok, just be careful." His tone was weird.

"Everything alright, Gibbs?" I said, alerting to his tone.

"Yeah, it's just that Fornell sounded the same way he did 8 years ago, when I introduced him to my ex. Bye, Sarah." And with that he was gone. Typical Gibbs.

Setting my phone down on the edge of the tub, my mind began to race, trying to decipher what exactly Gibbs meant.

"Grab your gear."

"My three favorite words, Boss. Where we going?" Tony asked, grabbing his backpack and tossing the van keys to McGee.

"Richmond. Marine found strangled to death in his car." Gibbs answered, coffee in hand, already pressing the elevator buttons.

"Ahhhh, another day at NCIS." McGee responded as he just slipped between the closing doors.

Dressing for dinner became more of a challenge than I had expected. The more I thought about what to wear, the more nervous I got. Why, I kept asking myself, it's only Fornell. But the comment Gibbs made ran through my head over and over, and I kept seeing the smile on Fornell's face as I accepted his dinner invite. Flipping through the hangers, I came to an outfit I brought because Jen and Abby made me. I was not planning on bringing anything casual dressy, just business attire. They both convinced me, in case I went out with someone from the case to dinner tomorrow, or if I just wanted to go shopping or anything. It was a long pink and orange skirt, woven with gold thread, and a pink racer back tank top with a short pink shrug flecked with gold. It was one of my favorite outfits, comfortable, but sexy. I found myself slipping on the skirt, and pulling the tank over my head. I let my hair down which fell in waves from the humidity of the bath. Simple make-up and gold heels, and I was ready. Looking at myself in the mirror, I wondered why I spent so much time getting ready to just have dinner with another agent.

Grabbing my purse, I opened the door to find Tobias, hand raised to knock. I laughed, startled, "I see your ready." I said, enjoying his smile.

"Wow, you look great. Sorry, was that not right?" He said, backtracking as fast as he could.

"No, it was very nice to hear." My smile hadn't left my face, and I was thinking the same about him. He was dressed casually, in tan dress pants, a beautiful green plaid shirt, and a well-cut blazer. He looked so different, not the Special Agent I was used to, but a very attractive man.

"Shall we?" He asked, extending an arm to me. Slipping my hand to his elbow, off we went.

Dinner passed, again without a lull in conversation. Fornell talked at length about his daughter, Emily. He talked about the play she had been in the week before at school. She had been a butterfly, and made her daddy proud. She was in third grade now, and he was amazed at how schooling had changed in the last 40 years. I laughed at this, knowing the changes just since I had been in school, and it hadn't been 40 years. He asked about my family, how I was raised. I spoke about how I had been raised in Catholic school, and how my parents had been fairly stand-off. They were people not very into raising kids, so my sister and I had done pretty much our own thing most of the time. She had gotten into much more trouble than I, ergo the reason I could get into law enforcement and she couldn't. Fornell listened intently, sipping his scotch, and laughing.

Suddenly the waiter was bringing the check. Surprised, I looked up, realizing we had eaten appetizers, entrees and drinks, and I had never noticed the time passing. Fornell seemed just as surprised. "I'll get it," I said, reaching for the check, trying not to look at him, hoping I wouldn't see boredom in his eyes.

His hand closed over mine. "No, I'll get it. It would be my pleasure." He smiled, his hand lingering a few seconds on mine. My stomach flittered.
"Screwing the FBI for dinner, huh?" I asked, trying to make it feel casual.

"No way, I haven't had this good of company in a long time, I'm buying this one." He answered, pulling out his wallet.

I smiled, looking away. I knew I enjoyed his company, but affirmation from him made it almost more enjoyable.

We settled into a comfortable silence as the check was paid, and we finished our drinks. He stood, coming around to get my chair. I stood, smoothing my skirt as I felt his hand on the small of my back, gently leading me out to the lobby.

I walked slowly, not wanting the evening to be over. I was tired, but I had been having such a good time, it seemed wasted to go back to the room and watch Sex and the City reruns. "Care to walk a little while?" he asked, interrupting my thoughts.

"I'd love to." I replied, smiling, happy he asked.

We wondered out onto the street, turning left, walking down a beautiful city block. At the corner was an ice cream shop. Looking at Fornell, I giggled, and pulled open the door.

"How did I guess? Ice cream freak, huh?" He asked, following me in.

"Yep, don't you have a favorite flavor?" I asked, eyes sparkling at him.

"I can think of one, but I don't think they offer it here."

I spun around, cheeks flushing, stomach tightening. I felt a breath on my neck. "My favorite flavor is vanilla." He said low, almost a whisper.

Flipping around, hair brushing his face, I was almost offended. "Vanilla? Who had vanilla as a favorite flavor? There are a million fun things in ice cream now, and you pick vanilla!"

"Yes, vanilla!" He said back, feigning offense. "What would you pick?"

"Chocolate brownie chunk with pretzels. Sweet and salty. Yummy." I answered as the girl behind the counter handed me my waffle cone filled with the chocolaty ice cream.

Fornell laughed, shaking his head and holding the door open. We wandered back up the street.

"Try it," I said, noticing he kept watching me as I ate. "Tell me it isn't totally delicious!" I held my cone out to him.

He took my hand in his, as he leaned in to taste the ice cream. "I will admit, it is tasty, but it's to complicated, to much trying to combine to make it all work." Suddenly we both fell silent.

He had said the thing I had been thinking about, the thought that had been roaming in the back of my mind all evening. This feeling wasn't right, it would never work, Gibbs would….well, I didn't want to know what Gibbs would do, and Tony…….I'd never live this down. And our work, our ages, so many things, made up a bundle of emotions. All these things I was thinking about, and nothing had happened. Two agents having dinner, that was all this was, nothing more.

"You ok in there?" he asked, looking over at me as we walked. HE had a look like he had been having the same thoughts, the same issues, but he wasn't going to share. He was just like Gibbs in that respect, always keeping things in, blocking out any attempt to get answers.

"Just thinking." I replied. We had made it back to the hotel, and he pulled open the door to the lobby.

We rode the elevator in silence, not knowing what to say. As the doors opened on our floor, I busied myself in getting out my room key. As we got to our rooms, I turned to him.

"I had a really nice time tonight, Agent Fornell. Thank you." I meant it, I had enjoyed this evening more than any I had spent lately. I was sad to see it end, but tried to block that from my mind.

He leaned in to me, his lips brushing my cheek as his fingers touched my hand. "Please, call me Tobias." He replied in the same low voice he had at the ice cream shop. "Good-night, Sarah."

"Good night Tobias." I said as I entered my room and closed the door softly behind me.
"What have you got for me, Ducky?" Gibbs asked, as the Autopsy doors wished open. His mind was trying to focus on the case, but his thoughts kept going back to the conversations he had last night.

"She's very interesting, Gibbs."

"I better get moving. We're going to dinner in a little while."

"Fornell sounded the same way 8 years ago when I introduced him to my ex."

"Jethro, are you listening to me?" Ducky asked, his British manner not showing his annoyance.

"Sorry Duck, just thinking about Fornell and Michaels." He responded, giving away more than he had intended. Ducky had a way of getting things out of a person.

"Anything important? They got there okay didn't they?" Ducky asked, concern showing on his face.

"Yes, it was just something Fornell said." Gibbs leaned on the cold metal table behind him.

"I haven't seen you worry about Tobias's actions since he first became interested in---oh, you don't think, do you? Not Agent Michaels, she's half his age!" Ducky exclaimed, finally realizing why Gibbs was worried.

"He's got that tone, Duck. The same one he had with my ex." Gibbs rubbed his eyes. He needed some sleep. "They had dinner together last night."

"Come now, Jethro. There is no need for concern over dinner. They know no one else. I'm sure it was just so they didn't have to eat alone." Ducky reassured him.

Ducky reached out to deposit the Autopsy report in Gibbs outstretched hand, as Gibbs replied. "I hope so Duck. But for some reason, my gut says otherwise." And with that he charged out of Autopsy.
"Wake up, my little Goth girl." Tony whispered to his sleeping girlfriend.

Abby was curled up (as well as any 8-month pregnant woman can curl up) on the couch in her office. Burt was wrapped tightly in her arms, letting out the occasionally fart when she moved. She grumbled, and swatted him away.

"Please, no. Let me sleep, or at least let me have caffeine." She begged, her eyes still tightly shut.

"No caffeine, but I have something better." Tony leaned in, kissing her cheek, her eyes, her nose. By the time he reached her lips, her eyes were open.

"That's how you two got in this mess to start with." Gibbs, silently had entered the room, hiding a smile at DiNozzo's sweetness towards Abby.

"We have a mountain of evidence, Abs, you gotta get moving." Tony said, standing up. He was still a little nervous around Gibbs regarding the whole Abby situation. Especially when they had found out she was pregnant. Tony had expected Gibbs to kill him when they told him, but he just smiled, and hugged them both. Sometimes he surprised you.

"Oh, all right, you two. Sway me with science. Only on one condition: One of you two goes down to Mannys's and gets me a double bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and mustard and a large order of chili cheese fries?" Abby demanded with a grin.
"Abby----" Tony started.

"DiNozzo, go, be back in ten." Gibbs ordered him. A little grease wasn't going to hurt the girl, she'd made it this long without caffeine, may as well give her something she wants. Gibbs always gave in to Abby.

Tony shook his head, but reluctantly pulled his coat on, and headed out.

Abby walked up to Gibbs, kissed his cheek, and whispered "Baby and I thank you." As she turned to the evidence, and started up her computer.

McGee stood at his desk, looking down at the package before him. He wasn't sure what to do.

Abby's baby shower had been the week before, right here in the bullpen, with all of them in attendance. He had given them the baby monitor they had asked for on their registry, but he had something else. Something his grandmother had made at his request. Now it was on his desk, wrapped in black paper, waiting for him to get up the nerve to walk down to the lab and give it to her and Tony.

The idea of her and Tony had been hard for Tim. He had been with Abby for awhile, and had wanted to take their relationship to another level, one Abby hadn't been comfortable with. He still cared for her, almost like a sister, and DiNozzo, even though he could be an asshole sometimes, was one of his best friends. He had truly been happy for them when he had heard about the pregnancy. He just wasn't sure he wanted to be made fun of.

Picking up the package, he walked purposefully past Gibbs, who had been watching his mental debate with a small smile. Pressing the elevator button, he sighed and headed for her lab.
"Hey, Probie." Tony said, "Gibbs send you down to help us log this evidence?"

"No, Tony, I have something I wanted to give you two." Tim said hurriedly, knowing if he didn't get it out quickly, he would make excuses not to do it.

"What, a present for us? McGee! How sweet! You already got us the monitor; you didn't have to get us anything else." Abby stood, kissing his cheek.

"I wanted to get you something a little more personal, if you don't like it, I understand." He handed Abby the package.

Tony stood next to her as she carefully tore open the wrapping. He smiled as he saw what it contained.

"MCGEE! I LOVE IT!" Abby sprung to him, wrapping him in a huge bear hug.

She moved the things off the metal lab table in front of her, and spread it out. It was a large crochet baby blanket. But it wasn't just any blanket. The background was black, with a white skull and cross-bones filling the center. At the bottom were the words "Baby DiNozzo" stitched in red. Red fringe circled the edge.

"Make this yourself, Tim?" Tony asked, not making fun, but sincerely impressed.

"No, when I found out you were expecting, I asked my grandmother to make you something. She knows Abby, and together we came up with this design. Once the baby is born, she can add the date under the name." Tim was smiling, happy they liked it.

Tony was touched. He knew Tim had been hurt by his and Abby's relationship in the beginning, and was surprisingly pleased how he had come around. He walked around the table to McGee.

"Thanks, McGee. It means a lot." He held out his hand, and Tim took it, as Tony pulled him in for a hug. "We're hoping Uncle Tim will be around a lot for this little guy. We couldn't think of anyone else we'd like to have as the baby's god-father but you."

Tim was astonished. "I'd be honored."

Abby stood back, watching her two best friends, and smiled. Ouch, she thought, that was a healthy kick. Guess baby liked the idea of Uncle Tim, too.