Disclaimer :: The characters herein are the property of their creators. I make no profit from their use.

:: Surrogate - A Five Things Fic ::

written by Starlet2367 { e-mail // livejournal }



“Even if by some miracle Jeanne did forgive you, would you be willing to be Tony DiNardo full-time; to leave your entire life for her?”

He twisted the top off of the last beer in the six-pack. Shut up, Ziva, he said under his breath, for the thousandth time. It's none of your business, Ziva.

His fingers clenched on the bottle as he replayed their bathroom showdown. It wasn't the first time she'd come in behind him, tried to alpha him in the john. She was as irritating as she was sexy and by now, he knew her tricks. He could put the smack down on her when he wanted to.

But Ziva – she was as deadly with words as she was with a knife. And even though she'd been aiming for the wrong place, she'd still hit the mark.

He'd been Tony DiNardo. He'd lived the part so well, that the problem hadn't been playing DiNardo, it had been remembering who Anthony DiNozzo was.

The leather couch creaked under him and when he propped his feet on the coffee table, the precariously stacked tower of DVD boxes slid across the wood-and-glass surface with a clatter.

As he looked around, he realized just how out of whack his place was. It was just a way station, a loading dock, where he stored his guns and his badges – the private parts of his life that he'd shut off from her.

Dust filmed the flat-screen TV and a pile of days old Chinese take-out containers overflowed his kitchen garbage can. It smelled like Mu Shu Pork gone bad, an odor that made him wince, though he didn't empty the trash because a stinking apartment was the least he deserved.

Tony kicked the DVD boxes and sent them skittering into the floor. Then he lifted his beer in a sarcastic toast and quaffed a third of the bottle. On TV, a line of dialogue from "Death and the Maiden" caught his attention, Ben Kingsley's unmistakable voice pleading, "How can I confess to something I haven’t done?"

But he had done it. There was no question of his guilt. And Jeanne – well, he could find her if he wanted. It was his job, after all, to find people and solve mysteries.

Which he'd helped do today, hadn't he? They'd avenged Heidi Campisano's death and united the baby with the Nelsons.

It had been like watching a movie. The camera panned, then zoomed, drawing close on the father’s protective stance, the mother’s raw joy.

There they were, the happy family, terror brushed aside the second they laid hands on their screaming bundle of joy.

And across the room the man in exile burned the letter.

In the movie, the music would swell and he’d go back to his friends. And the voice over would say, “And so the very special agent was welcomed back by his surrogate family, but every so often he thought of her and wondered.”

He swigged the last half of the beer and threw the bottle over the back of the couch, aiming for the kitchen garbage can. His vintage Casablanca poster hung in its black frame on the wall near the bin. A fine beer mist scattered across its face, marking the glass even as the bottle spun on the can's rim.

He could find her, if he wanted. If he wanted, he could have a lock on her location by morning.

He waited, watching numbly as the bottle made up its mind. Join its partners in the can, or make a run for the uncharted territory of the tile floor?

After a couple of wobbling, indecisive turns, it slid into the can and cracked against its mates.

“You’re not supposed to fall in love with them,” he whispered.

But the heart wants, whispered Ziva.

It wants what it wants.


Ziva lifted the lid on the food processor, tasted the hummus and added a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt. When it was right, she piled it on a plate next to the pitot, drizzled it with olive oil and took it to the table.

She pulled a gleaming knife from the magnetic strip hanging on the wall and broke off a a handful of mint from the strainer in the sink. It was a move she'd seen her mother make hundreds of times, and as she did it, Gibbs's words came back to her. Did she want children? She chopped until knife sang against the board. It was too complicated. She had no simple answers.

Lifting the lid on the pot of couscous, she stirred in the mint and a handful of roasted pine nuts then dumped the pot's contents in a striped bowl. The food's colors – warm gold, bright green, toasted brown – reminded her of the hills at home. Of playing on the roof with Ari one of the few times he'd been allowed to visit.

Her hands went still as she thought about her brother. Ari was brilliant, articulate, passionate and devilishly handsome. Even her father, who loved no one but himself, clasped Ari's shoulder and gave him his rare smile.

But she understood; that was Ari's way. The secrets in his eyes beckoned you in like an oasis, their promises as seductive as oil on your hands.

Ziva blinked, coming back to her plain, white-walled kitchen in America's capitol, with its secondhand table and chairs under the window. In the living room, the radio played softly enough that she could hear the neighbors' footfalls upstairs, the muted ding of the elevator down the hall. She never turned it up so loudly that it would mask the sound of an intruder.

If someone did make the mistake of entering her home, she would take great pleasure in neutralizing them. She kept her body tuned and toned, the same way she did her knives and her guns.

But a baby – a baby would be the ultimate intruder. The thought of losing control over her body, of becoming great with child made her shiver deep inside.

As she placed the couscous on the table under the window, a movement on the street caught her eye: a family walking to their car, the father swinging his laughing toddler through the air.

Such ease, such trust. Such love in the mother's warm glance.

When she was nine, her father taught her to kill a man by taking his head in her hands and twisting it. And now such things were so deeply ingrained, that when she shot her brother, the twin of her heart, she waited until she knew he was dead before she lowered her gun.

Ziva was a soldier with but one purpose: to serve until she died. She had no room in her life for weaknesses, like milky breasts, or the cry of a babe in the night.

She sat at her table, prayed over her food and took a bite of couscous. Its flavors burst on her tongue, carrying her again to her homeland. She reveled in the moment, wringing everything she could from it.

For in the next moment, she could be dead.

Her sons and daughters deserved more than she had gotten from her own father. They deserved a parent who would be present, watching them grow and helping them find their purpose.

Again, Gibbs' voice rang in her head: Do you want children, Ziva?

No, she told him. Not until I can offer them more than my father offered me. Not until I can offer them life.


Ducky scrawled his name by the last X on Heidi Campisano's autopsy report, signed and dated the death certificate, and closed the file. He stacked it in the "out" box for young Palmer to put away when he returned.

The cooler drawer was open and rolled out. Heidi lay on the body tray, eyes closed peacefully, waiting for him to finish the paperwork that would release her to the mortuary for burial.

“All done, my dear." He patted her shoulder with his gloved hand. "You're free to go. I shall miss you, you know, although I'm sure you're now in a much brighter, happier place."

He rolled her into the drawer and stood looking at her for a moment. "What you did was generous and brave. That couple now have a baby, thanks to you -- a joy in their lives, a line to carry their name." He shook his head. "Some pay you get – such an ignoble end. But I do hope you've felt comfortable during your stay with us."

He closed and latched the door, then brushed his fingers over the nametag on the outside. Soon Mr. Palmer would slide out the slip of paper bearing Heidi's name and replace it with that of the next visitor.

“Dr. Mallard?” Palmer stood just inside the sliding door, a stack of files in his hands. He went to the desk and collected those from the "out" box, including Heidi's.

“Yes, Mr. Palmer?” He crossed to the sink, stripped off his gloves and hit the foot pedal to turn on the faucet.

“Were you really a stripper?” Palmer wrapped his arms around the files and clasped them to his chest. He wore an expression that was equal parts innocence, vicarious thrill and morbid curiosity.

Ducky scrubbed his hands, the motion releasing the sharp scent of the iodine soap. “As I said there are many ways that young people supplement their incomes, Mr. Palmer.”

Heidi had known something about that, herself. She'd tried to improve her station in life by becoming a surrogate for the Nelsons. He'd been all too aware of her sacrifice as he'd taken his lunch hour to buy supplies for her baby – a baby that was very likely dead.

In his line of work, he didn't often have the opportunity to supply the needs of the living. But now that the baby was safe with its adoptive parents, he could smile fondly at the memory of choosing diapers, bottles and a rattle.

He rolled down his cuffs, put on his blazer and then went to the desk to retrieve his hat from the drawer.

Heidi's death had been avenged and her child lived on. He and Heidi would now part ways, but he would always remember the girl who had tried to make a better life, and the child that lived because of her courage.

“Does that mean you actually, you know--“ Palmer's voice bumped Ducky back to the lab, with its humming fluorescents and gleaming stainless steel surfaces.

He gave his hat a rakish twirl before dropping it on his head. “Take it however you’d like, dear boy.” As he pushed open the doors, he looked over his shoulder and gave Mr. Palmer a wink.


Gibbs walked into his house and closed the door behind him with a soft click. The sound rang in the silence and he stood, taking it in, the empty house, not even a faint echo of voices in the air. It had been just him for so long that he only noticed the silence after a case that involved a chi –

He cut off the thought, shrugging out of his jacket and draping it over the back of a kitchen chair. The basement and his boat beckoned, his hands itching for familiar feel of wood under his palms. His mind needed calming, the kind of calming only that only the solitary back-and-forth of planning and sanding could bring.

Gibbs shucked his cell phone and dropped it in the Ball jar, then screwed it to the lid nailed to the workbench shelf. He didn't turn the ringer off – his shift was never really over – but at least now, he wasn't wearing the leash.

He had the sanding block against a rib before he noticed that he still had on his work shirt. He considered not changing but he hated shopping for new clothes – plus, his disciplined side kicked in. No way was he ruining a shirt because he was too lazy or hurried to do the right thing.

There was a stack of sweatshirts on the dryer in the laundry room off the basement. He went into the dark room, grabbed one without turning off the light, and went back to the boat.

It wasn't until he pulled the polo over his head that he caught it: the scent of newborn.

His knees released and Gibbs slid down until his butt hit the basement floor. The boat bore the weight of his shoulder as he buried his face in the shirt, where lotion and powder and the musk-sweet smell of baby overwhelmed him.

A film reel of memories flickered.

Shannon, her long red braid bright against the blue hospital gown, holding the baby to him. "Meet your daughter, Jethro." Her naked face, spattered with freckles and marked with exhaustion from a 36-hour labor, had never been more beautiful. He was engulfed in her golden, joyous glow.

Moving forward in time, he saw Kelly. Felt the curl of her tiny, shell-like hand around his pinkie, the weight of her on his chest. Listened to the ocean-regular rhythm of her breathing.

Flash to her, years later, with a tear-stained face and pleading eyes. "Don't go, daddy."

He knew exactly how many times he'd said good-bye to them. He also knew he never should have gone that last time. He should have listened to his gut, done whatever he'd had to, to stay – even resigning his commission. But he'd let duty and the thrilling horror of combat seduce him.

He ran the shirt over his face, remembering the bottomless universe in Kelly's blue-brown eyes. Her weight in his arms, those beautiful eyes – because of her, he finally, completely believed in God.

For one, perfect moment today, when he held Heidi Campisano's baby, he remembered that feeling of completion. He'd done something good. He'd gotten that baby home. But then, almost as soon as he felt it, the blip of happiness was gone.

Anger rose again, fresh and hot. Screw God and his little games. Screw God, for taking his family and leaving him behind, like the wreck of a firebombed building.

Gibbs sat in the silence until his blood calmed. Then he thumped his fist on the boat's rib, wiped his damp face on the shirt and pushed himself to his feet. He walked to the laundry room, flipped on the light and threw the polo in the washer. As the machine filled with soapy water, he went to the small utility sink in the corner and washed his hands.

Then he walked back to the boat, picked up the NCIS sweatshirt and pulled it over his head. He flipped the radio to the farm report, put the block on the nearest rib and began to sand.


Abby pawed through her trunk, pushing aside her empty casket backpack, a case of Caf-Pow and a stained lab jacket. There it was! She pulled her black naugahyde bowling ball bag out from under the spare tire, slammed the trunk and jetted into the Bowl-o-Rama.

Though she was actually on time for once, she was still in hyper-drive from solving the case – not to mention totally obliterated on caffeine. She took an empty spot on a bench and sat down to change her shoes, waving at a bunch of people she knew, and several she didn't.

The sisters were already gathered in their usual spot by the grill. She took a minute to adjust the collar of her pink bowling shirt and smooth her black Capris as she approached.

"Abigail!" Sister Marie spotted her first. She held out her hand and drew Abby into a one-armed hug.

"Hey, Sister Marie." Abby gave her a hard skwunch and moved down the line, getting hugs from the entire team. When she got to the end, she wiggled in between two guys from the King Pins dressed in league colors, and waved at the grill operator.

He took her order – grilled cheese with extra pickles and an extra-extra-large Caf-Pow.

Marie slipped in next to her and put in six orders for French Fries. "You had a good day." Her brown eyes sparkled.

"It shows?" Abby bounced and her ponytails jitterbugged against her cheeks.

Marie laughed. "Lucky guess." She tucked an escaping strand of hair back under her wimple. "So, what happened?"

Abby's engine revved all over again. "We saved a baby!"

"A baby? Really?" Marie whistled at Teresa and waved her over. "Abby's team saved a baby!"

Teresa grabbed Catherine by the elbow and soon the whole team had crowded in, engulfing Abby in a sea of black habits and white veils.

"Well, it all started with a stripper, only we didn't know that's what he was until later," she said, launching into the story.

By the time she finished, the French Fries and grilled cheese sandwich lined the bar. Abby took the Caf-Pow from the grill guy and sucked down a big gulp.

"It's so sad about the baby's mother," said Teresa.

"I know. But you should have heard McGee tell it when he got back to the office. Gibbs went right in, scooped that little baby up and brought him to the Nelsons. I wish I could have seen their faces!" She sighed just thinking about it.

Teresa grinned. "You're so good at your job, Abby. I love it when peoples' vocations and avocations are so beautifully aligned."

Marie nodded. "Not only are you queen of the lanes, you're queen of the lab."

“Yeah, it was a really great day. We saved the kid and Gibbs let me put the last six Caf-Pows on his tab.”

Teresa and Marie looked at each other, then at the 44-ounce cup in Abby's hand. Marie's brows rose. “Six?”

Abby sucked another mouthful of soda through the straw, then grabbed her sandwich and said, "I know, isn't it great? Let’s bowl!”