NCIS; Ensemble; Rated PG
"I don't know where to start." McGee sat looking morosely at his computer screen. The word document was devoid of writing, a reminder to Tim that no matter how great a wordsmith you were (thousands, if not millions, of readers couldn't be wrong), sometimes the words just wouldn't come.
"Why don't you start at the beginning?" Kate offered helpfully.
"Dear Mrs Palmer," Tony intoned, "twenty six years ago, in either a fit of unbridled passion or a case of Samuel Adams --"
"Shut up, Tony," Kate interrupted him with a scathing look.
Tony shrugged. "I'm just trying to lighten the mood in here."
She threw a pen at him, and he barely ducked in time. Turning her attention to Tim, she said in a soft voice, "You don't have to do that, you know."
"He always wrote home to his mother about his week. I feel like someone needs to do it."
Kate got up and walked toward him. She squeezed his shoulder in understanding. "I bet Ducky's already got one started. Why don't you go down and the two of you collaborate?" she suggested.
"That's a great idea." Tim closed down the program and started for the elevator.
"Gear up!" Gibbs said, walking into the room. He went to his desk and reached into a drawer for his gun.
"Uh, 'regular' gear up or 'bio hazard' gear up?" Tim asked, turning around to pick up his backpack.
Tony and Kate stood up and gathered their gear, waiting for their boss' answer.
"Hazmat." Gibbs said, striding into the elevator. He punched the button for the basement -- hazmat suits were stored in a special locker next to autopsy.
Tony groaned, Kate grimaced and Tim smiled. The one -- and possibly only -- advantage to the bulky blue hazmat suits was that they made head-slapping much harder.
As the elevator door started to close, Gibbs pushed the "hold" button and said, impatiently, "Well?"
All three hurried to catch up with him.
At least a dozen terrorist groups claimed responsibility, but none of the claims could be validated. All law enforcement agencies were on high alert (and working around the clock) to contain new outbreaks. The science and medical communities had networked in unheard-of-before-now numbers to find a cause, a containment, and a cure. So far nothing had worked.
Tony knelt near the body, taking pictures, while Kate searched the bedroom. Tim was on sketching duty, and Gibbs went into the hall to talk to the Super.
"Vampire again," Tony said, noting the small puncture marks on the victims ankle. "Though this is the first one we've seen that started from the bottom up." He paused in taking pictures to contemplate what he'd just said. "Vampires." He shuddered. "What ever happened to horror movies and scary stories being just that -- movies and stories? Emphasis on the fiction part."
No one answered him, but Tony was used to that. He went back to examining the corpse. Ducky would be there any minute, but since Jimmy's death two days ago, they never knew who the stand-in assistant medical examiner would be.
"Bella Lugosi did a good job in 'Mark of the Vampire'. Some people prefer Tom Cruise in 'Interview with a Vampire,' but I didn't care for it. Too Hollywood-polished for my taste."
"How do you think the vampire got in, Probie? Through the window? Or was Mister McBitey a friend of Petty Officer Getz, someone he let in?"
"Could have been a girlfriend, I suppose. A female Vampire. Vampiress? Is that what they're called or --"
Irritated, Tony looked up and trigged the flash in McGee's direction. Only then did he notice that the agent was standing on a kitchen chair. "What are you doing up there?"
"I don't think it was a vampire."
"That killed him? Of course it was." He pointed to the two puncture marks. "Bite marks, same as the ones on Palmer."
McGee shook his head, and pointed to a glass aquarium, the kind used for housing turtles and other reptiles. "I think Petty Officer Getz was into herpetology."
"Herpes?!" Tony grimaced in disgust and looked around for something to wipe his hands on, even though he was still in his Hazmat suit.
"Herpetology is the study of reptiles and amphibians," McGee said, raising his voice and putting emphasis on the first word. "I think he had a snake, and it got out and bit him."
"Why do you think that?"
"Because there's a label stuck to the side of this aquarium, terrarium, whatever, with instructions that say something like 'Feed Harry one mice every third day.' And there's no Harry in there."
Tony stood up, slowly, eyes darting around the room. "Say you're right, how would this guy get a hold of a poisonous snake? Cause I'm pretty sure a garden snake couldn't have done this." He carefully stood on a chair.
"How am I supposed to know? Do I look like a herpetologist to you?" Tim said angrily.
Gibbs came back into the room and stared at the two of them.
"Uh, Boss, we think he was --"
"Bitten by a snake," Gibbs finished for McGee. "I know, they caught it out in the hall. Rattler."
Kate came in with a stack of Polaroids in her hand. She said, while continuing to rifle through them, "You're never going to guess. This guy --"
"Had a snake," Tony and McGee said at the same time, both climbing down off the chairs.
Kate looked up and, to her credit, didn't say a word.
Ducky came in, a slim Asian guy toting the equipment behind him. "You didn't start without me, Jethro," he said, accusingly.
"He's all yours, Ducky," Gibbs said with a half-smile.
McGee patted Tony on the shoulder as they shuffled out of the apartment. "Cheer up, Tony. They can't all be B-Horror movie material."
Tony gave a fake smile and set the camera flash off in his face again.
"No one's suggesting you go anywhere," Kate reassured her, at the same time giving Tim a 'drop it, already' glare.
"I just...I didn't...never mind."
Abby picked up Bert and hugged him to her chest, and he farted. He looked a little out of place amongst the two cloves of garlic hanging from a string around her neck. The solid silver cross she'd borrowed from the Sisters was tucked in a one lab pocket, a few vials of holy water in the other. She hadn't been sure of a good protection from zombies -- close range fighting would probably be a lost cause. She had a Sig Sauer P228 in a holster strapped to her right thigh. She supposed that would have to be good enough - for now.
Gibbs came in and handed her a Caf-Pow!. She put Bert down, and took the drink. "Petty Officer Getz was killed from multiple bites from an Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake."
"We knew that already, Abs," Gibbs said.
"Yes, but there was always the possibility that he was dead before the snake bit him." At Gibbs' incredulous look, she continued, "It would be highly improbable, but it could happen. What kind of forensic scientist would I be if I didn't thoroughly analyze the evidence?"
"I've got the pizza," Tony said, walking in with two large pizzas in his hands. "They're not from Pino's but I think they'll do."
Abby cleared space for him to set them down.
"I'm starving," Kate said, digging in.
"Hungry, Kate?" Tony said, amazed sometimes at how fast she could move when she wanted to.
"That's generally what 'starving' means," she answered sarcastically around a mouthful of food.
"A party, Jethro, and nobody invited me?"
"Ducky!" Abby said, and rushed forward to hug him. "You never come to my lab." She held him at arm's length and looked him up and down, searching for signs of injury. "What's wrong?"
He chuckled. "Nothing. I just needed a change of scenery."
"It's too creepy down there, isn't it?" Tony said.
The mood in the room instantly changed - somber would have been an understatement. Palmer had died in autopsy.
Abby shuddered. "I sleep in a coffin and party on a regular basis in a cemetery. But vampires, and werewolves, zombies, ghouls… it's too much."
McGee walked over and wrapped his arms around her. Ducky did the same and Kate announced, "Group hug," before joining in. Tony put down the slice of pizza he'd just picked up and went to add his own hug to the mix.
"We're hugging Abby," Kate growled, elbowing him in the stomach, "not my ass."
Gibbs gave Tony a head-slap and he mumbled, "Sorry."
Before Gibbs could join the others, his cell phone rang. The hug broke up as he answered it and said a couple of "uh huh's."
Snapping the phone shut, he headed for the lab entrance. "Dead Marine in Alexandria. Gear up!"
Kate gave Abby one last squeeze before following Gibbs out the door, McGee slipped Jethro a bit of pizza crust and Tony snatched up two slices to take with him.
"Uh, Boss," McGee said, ready to ask the (at least lately) inevitable question.
"What do you think, McGee?!" Gibbs hollered out, before the elevator doors slid shut.
Disclaimer: All characters are property of Donald P. Bellisario. No infringement intended.