?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
21 September 2011 @ 08:54 pm
Richie Gets His Groove Back 1/1 - A Watcher Abby Fic  
Yup, you read that right, a Watcher Abby fic! It's been a while, but we're back and hopefully things will start getting some forward momentum again, reasonably soonish.

Thanks to strangevisitor7, my co-author, co-conspirator and partner in crime for her sterling beta work on this. As usual, anything you recognise isn't mine, I mean no harm.

Richie Gets His Groove Back

The music in the lab was loud, as usual, and Abby was busy concentrating on her computer screen so she didn’t notice when Gibbs entered the lab. Startled, she spun around to face him when he turned the music off.

“But… no… I’m not even working a case for you,” she said, confused utterly by Gibb’s presence in her lab. He smiled warmly at her.

“Relax, Abs, I’m looking for Blaine. He here?”

“Yo!” said Richie from behind one of Abby’s machines before he popped up and nodded hello to Gibbs.

“Richie was just learning how to run diagnostics and perform simple repairs on Major Mass Spec,” Abby explained proudly as Richie disentangled himself from behind the large piece of equipment.

“What can I do for you, Agent Gibbs?” he asked politely, but Abs could hear a trace of nervousness in his voice.

Gibbs smirked in that way that could convey about a million different things, but Abs was fairly certain it was amusement this time.

“Would I be right to think all your IDs are fake?” he asked. Totally nonplussed by the question, Richie looked from Gibbs to Abby and back again before answering.

“Well, yeah. I mean they're pretty good considering Tim never proved they were faked. It used to be really easy for Immortals to create new identities when they had to move on. You just adopted the identity of someone who died young. There wasn't a huge paper trail to trip you up, but with computers and the internet...”

Richie had gone into full on babble and Abby could tell Gibbs was losing patience with his long winded speech so she gave Richie a head slap to shut him up.

“Thanks, Abs,” Gibbs said, the corner of his mouth quirking into a brief smile. He held out a manila envelope to Richie. “I know you had your reasons, Blaine. That’s not what I asked.”

Richie opened the envelope carefully, as though afraid of the contents, and then looked confused as he drew out a passport, driver’s license and other documents.

“I don’t understand.”

“If you ever hope to make my team, they needed to be genuine,” Gibbs explained.

“Thank you,” Richie said.

Gibbs nodded and gave the briefest smile before growing serious again. “Haven’t you got work to do?”

“Yes, boss,” he replied.

Gibbs nodded again before giving Abby a peck on the cheek. As he left the lab, he called over his shoulder, "Then you better get to it."

Even after Gibbs was gone Richie didn't move, but continued to stare slack-jawed at the documents in his hands. There was even a birth certificate. Abby bumped shoulders with him to get his attention.

“But how…?” he asked.

Abby chuckled.

“Dur. We are a government agency, silly! We create new identities for undercover work and witness relocation all the time. It was easy to make Richard Blaine real. Even went in and back-stopped your history; all your school transcripts, invented a medical history. Joe had done a pretty good job, but now it’s all airtight,” she explained, feeling pleased with herself about a job well done. “You know what this means, right?”

“He’s not going to stop me trying to become an agent when I graduate,” Richie said as he stared at the door Gibbs had just left through, probably wondering if he was about to come back and tell him this was a joke. Abby sighed inwardly before pointing out what Richie had missed.

“More than that,” Abby replied and bumped his shoulder again. “He *wants* you to become an agent. He likes you.”

Richie shook his head and stuffed the documents back in the envelope.

“He’s about the only one then,” he groused as he tossed the envelope onto a desk and headed back toward the mass spectrometer.

“Don’t say that! You and Tony were getting on great,” Abs protested.

Were being the operative word,” Richie replied. “He’s barely said two words to me since we solved that serial killer case. None of them have.”

Abs laid a comforting hand on his shoulder.

“The three of them just need some time; they probably still feel awkward after, you know…”

“Thinking I was a terrorist?” Richie retorted. Abby shrugged and gave his arm a little squeeze, silently indicating that she knew it was all going to be ok. “It’s okay, Abs, you’re right. It'll work out. Eventually,” he reassured her with a wan smile before he squeezed back behind the large piece of equipment.

Abby watched as Richie threw himself back into the task of getting to know Major Mass Spec. and mulled over the situation. Boys could be so dumb sometimes, especially about things like friendship. If she left it to Richie things between him and the team would never get sorted. As she returned to her original task, she resolved that they all needed a gentle nudge in the right direction.

*-*

“Who would like to go for a drink after work?” Abby asked.

“You’re not going to take us to another Goth bar are you?” McGee asked. “Because that was great," he added quickly after Abs glared at him, "but I just prefer to go somewhere quiet, where we can talk.”

“No, I didn’t have anywhere in mind,” she said, still glaring at Tim.

“What’s the occasion?” Ziva asked. Abby turned to face her and smiled innocently.

“No occasion, I just thought it had been a while since we all went for a drink.”

“I’d love to Abby,” Ziva said.

“Me too,” McGee added.

“Tony?”

“You know you can always count me in, Abs,” he replied.

Abby beamed and bounced to his desk to give him a quick hug. “That’s great, I’ll meet you out front at six, okay?” she said. At the chorus of ‘ok’ from the others she added, “Oh and Richie’s coming too, it’s gonna be great!” before she quickly disappeared in the direction of the elevators.

“Blaine?” Tony said with a groan.

“I thought you like Ducky’s nephew,” Ziva queried.

“I just don’t feel right around the guy anymore,” Tony said as he turned back to his computer to finish typing up his report.

“It’s so very sad, to see the end of such a manmance,” Ziva said.

“Bromance,” Tony automatically corrected and then realised what she’d said. “It was not a bromance. We were just two co-workers who liked having a beer now and then.”

“Methinks the lady doth protest too much,” McGee said and smirked at Ziva who winked back. “Come on Tony, you were getting pretty friendly with Richie.”

“Maybe I was, Probie, but if Gibbs can’t trust him then neither can I.”

“Who says he can’t trust him, Tony? Gibbs has not only kept Richie here at NCIS, he’s promoted him to Abby’s lab assistant. A job, I might add, he’s not really qualified for,” Ziva pointed out. “Whatever issue there may have been, Gibbs and Richie have come to an understanding. I don’t see what the problem is.”

“The problem is I see you three talking, not typing,” Gibbs said as he entered the bullpen. The three agents hastily began working at their computers again as Gibbs sat down.

After a few moments, Gibbs looked up.

“DiNozzo,” he barked and held aloft a file.

Tony half scuttled and half hopped over to grab the file. He opened it and looked at the contents; a look of confusion spread over his face as he read.

“Er, Boss, isn’t this kind of computer stuff more McGeek’s territory?” he asked tentatively before flashing Gibbs a nervous smile. Gibbs glowered at him.

“I told you to do it, DiNozzo. If you need help, ask Blaine.”

“YesBoss,” Tony replied and with a resigned slump of his shoulders he headed toward the elevators.

“Tony,” Gibbs said, stopping DiNozzo in his tracks. The senior agent got up and strode towards him. “Play nice,” he added and slapped Tony’s head before he headed up the stairs toward MTAC.

Tony watched him for a second and then continued on his way to Abby’s lab. After all this time, Tony spoke fluent Gibbs and he knew this was his way of saying that he wanted Tony to patch things up with Richie.

He had been getting on well with the kid before the suspicion had started. Ducky and Abby seemed to trust him and Gibbs no longer showed any animosity towards Blaine, which for Gibbs meant he probably liked Richie. So, yeah, maybe they could get along again.


*-*

“This is a bad idea Abs. They still hate me and one night in a bar won’t change that,” Richie protested as they waited in the parking lot for Tony, Tim and Ziva. “Besides, I probably should be studying,” he added weakly.

“You finished your last outstanding assignment yesterday. Don’t try to lie to your Watcher, Richard Ryan,” Abby admonished, punctuating her words by poking his arm.

“OW! Might be Immortal but that still hurts,” he complained.

“Wuss.”

They stood in silence for a moment, each pouting at the other. Richie broke first, his mouth widening into a smile. He sidled up to Abby and knocked his hip against hers, causing her to smile too and then took her hand.

“I do appreciate the effort, Abs. Just don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t work, ok?”

“It will. No negativity allowed.”

Any further argument was forestalled as the others exited the building. Letting go of Richie’s hand, Abby ran forward, greeting them as if she hadn’t seen the trio in weeks, and then linked arms with Tony and Tim to direct them toward where Richie waited. As they drew near, Richie fell in step with the group, and the five headed towards the nearest bar on base.

Abby chatted about inconsequential things to Tony and Tim as they walked and Richie grew increasingly uneasy as he felt more and more the outsider. Tony had been pleasant enough while they worked together that afternoon; although a lot more professional and formal than he would have been before. Richie had not been worried about the possibility of outward animosity from any of Gibbs’ team. Just feeling excluded from a group he’d begun to be a part of hurt enough.

“How are you finding living with your uncle?” Ziva asked him, startling him from his musings.

“Ducky’s been great. He treats me like an adult, which is so great,” he replied. The answer was genuine. Duncan and Joe sometimes treated him like he was the teenager he looked like even though they'd known him for over a decade. Ducky hadn’t done that once yet.

“It must be strange to live so far from home for the first time. Nice to be with family.”

Richie smiled and nodded.

He realised that Ziva was actually interested. For the first time in weeks, he might actually have a normal conversation with one of Gibbs' agents without some secret agenda on their part to determine if he was a terrorist or an enemy agent.

“It’s not my first time away from home. My parents worked in Paris for a while when I was younger and I went with them. Plus I had my own apartment for a little while before I came here,” he explained. Of course Tessa and Duncan weren't really his parents but they were the closest thing he'd ever had so it wasn't really a lie. “But yeah, having Ducky around certainly makes life easier.”

Abby looked over at Richie and grinned, obviously having heard what he said, so he poked his tongue out at her, causing her to laugh. It was easier having people who knew about his Immortality around him. Telling people that secret increased the risk that the wrong person might find out about Immortals, but he was beginning to wonder if confiding in the rest of the team might be the right thing to do. They were all government agents who knew how to keep secrets, and he had a strong feeling he could trust Gibbs’ team; they were all good people.

He was certain about one thing though; if he wanted to save his friendship with Tony then he needed to stop lying to him. The weeks of suspicion and doubt had really hurt Richie, but the damage to his friendship with the senior agent was what hurt the most. He resolved that he was going to tell him, and sooner rather than later.

*-*
Tony and Abby had carried the conversion from the parking lot and when they went to the bar for the first round they left an awkward silence behind them. Ziva had been talkative earlier so she was obviously trying to be nice and McGee seemed to want to do the same but nobody could think of what to say.

“So did you wrap up that case I was helping Tony with?” Richie asked when he realized it would be up to him to revive the conversation.

McGee smiled, clearly grateful for a safe topic of conversation.

“Yeah, actually the evidence you two uncovered was pretty vital. I’m curious how you broke through that firewall without setting off any alarms. That was pretty cool,” he answered.

Richie grinned at the compliment and took a breath to answer, but before he could speak Ziva held up her hand.

“Please, no computer tech-speak. In fact, no store talk at all.”

“Shop talk,” Richie and Tim both corrected her in unison.

They looked at each other for a beat, and then the three burst out laughing.

“What’d I miss?” Tony asked as he returned to the table with Abby and the drinks. That caused another wave of laughter.

Tony and Abby put the drinks down on the table and sat down, looking at the other three expectantly. Once the laughter subsided, Ziva smiled at him and said,

“You really had to be there.”

Richie and McGee nodded.

“Yeah, it kinda loses something in translation,” Richie agreed with a grin. That got a snicker from McGee.

“Good movie,” Tony said. “Lost in Translation,” he elaborated at the confused look from his companions.

“Good film, but I prefer Murray in Groundhog Day,” Richie answered. Tony grinned.

“Good movie. Lost in Translation,” he said using the exact inflection and pause he had a moment ago. Richie grinned wider as he got the joke.

“Good film, but I prefer Murray in Groundhog Day,” he repeated.

“Good movie. Lost in…OW!”

Tony rubbed the back of his head where Abby had just Gibbs-slapped him.

“You’re not as funny as you think you are,” she said to them both, trying not to smile as she said it.

“How come he doesn’t get a slap?” Tony bemoaned.

Abby reached over to clip Richie around the back of the head too.

“Satisfied?” she said. Tony looked mollified but didn’t answer; he just picked up his glass and started drinking.

Richie smiled inwardly; he’d missed joking around with the team like this and it felt good to back and forth with Tony again. He just hoped that it would last longer than this night.

*-*

The following day, Richie was feeling much happier about his future at NCIS. The evening hadn’t been a huge success, but after the initial tension had dissipated he’d begun to feel a part of the group again; Tony had even made a crack about the whole internet video thing and everyone had laughed.

Today Richie was working with the team again, sifting through trash in the garage at NCIS, looking for evidence; specifically a gun that a suspect had supposedly dropped in the dumpster where this trash originated. Abby was busy elsewhere, so Ziva was lending him a hand and they were chatting happily as they worked.

Richie picked up the next bit of trash, which was a handbag with a broken strap. It was open so Richie reached inside to check for the gun. As he did he pricked his finger on something sharp inside.

“Son of a…” Richie exclaimed as he dropped the bag and clutched at his now bleeding finger. He quickly ripped off his latex gloves and shoved his finger in his mouth. He could feel the tingle of his Quickening as it healed the cut.

“Are you injured?” Ziva asked and came closer. Richie shook his head and pulled his finger out of his mouth, concealing it in case it hadn’t finished healing.

“Nah, but be careful; there’s something sharp in there,” he replied pointing to the handbag.

Ziva looked at him with suspicion for a moment so Richie held out his finger for inspection.

“See? Didn’t even break the skin.”

Ziva considered the finger for a moment and then Gibbs-slapped him.

“What was that for?” he protested, rubbing the back of his head.

“For being such a baby,” Ziva replied with a smile. Richie pouted for a second and then grinned back at her.

“Ziva, don’t you know that you can beat men within an inch of their lives and they won’t say a word, but give them a paper cut and they cry like a little girl,” he said.

“Hey, speak for yourself, Blainiac,” Tony said as he stepped out of the elevator. Richie beamed, not just at Tony’s protest, but because it was the first nickname he’d used on him in weeks. “I came to offer my assistance, but clearly you have this well in hand.”

“Oh, no, please feel free to grab some cover-alls and dig in,” Ziva said and approached Tony with outstretched hands full of garbage. Tony took a step back and held up his hands.

“I think that a senior field agent, such as myself, would be better deployed elsewhere. This is clearly a job for probationary agents and lab techs,” he said with a grin that quickly vanished as Ziva sent a rotten cabbage hurtling at his head. “Hey! Help me out here, bro,” he appealed to Richie.

“If only I could. But what hope would I, a lowly lab tech, have against a former Mossad operative?” Richie said innocently.

“Put your ninja moves on her. Her kung fu is no match for yours.”

“I highly doubt that,” Ziva said dismissively, although Richie noticed that she did give him a curious glance as she said it.

“DiNozzo!” Gibbs called from the elevator.

“Saved by the Gibbs,” Tony said with a grin.

“Tony, before you go,” Richie said and stepped closer to Tony. Tony raised a questioning eyebrow. “Can we go somewhere to talk, after work?”

“Ready to make a move on Abby?” Tony said with a conspiratorial wink that was so ridiculously over the top that he had to be joking. Richie chuckled. “Sure. I’ll drop by the lab when I finish up.”

“Cool.”

“Pick that cabbage up, Probationary Agent David, that’s still evidence!” Tony added as he headed to the elevator.

*-*

Richie spent the rest of the day musing over how he should tell Tony the whole truth about Immortals. Most of the mortals in the loop were either Watchers or, like Abby, they’d found out by accident. Except Gibbs, of course, but Richie really didn’t want to go through a repeat of that conversation.

He did realise that he would probably have to hurt himself to prove his Immortality to Tony and he wasn’t looking forward to that.

“Penny for them?” Abs said, interrupting his train of thought. Richie looked around, checking they were the only ones in the lab.

“I’ve decided to tell Tony the truth. But I don’t know how I’m going to do it,” he confessed. Abby looked surprised and thoughtful for a moment.

“Are you sure…?” she began.

“One hundred percent,” Richie interrupted. “I want Tony to be a friend, and I think that means I need to be honest with him.”

“You’ve never had a mortal friend you didn’t tell the truth to?”

“Actually, believe it or not my only mortal friends since I became Immortal have all been Watchers.”

He hadn’t realised until this moment, but his only close friends were all Immortal or Watchers like Joe, Abby and Ducky. He’d cut his ties to his friends from the old neighbourhood when he moved in with Duncan and Tessa. None of them were out and out criminals, but he’d been trying to leave that life behind and it seemed easier if he stayed away from them. After he became Immortal, he was too busy learning to survive to have time for anyone who wasn't part of that life.

Duncan had plenty of mortal friends who had no idea that he was hundreds of years old and the Highlander preached that secrecy was paramount. Richie had no plans to tell Ziva or McGee, but Tony was different. He didn’t want to use such a childish term, but he thought that they might be best friends, given enough time.

“So you and Tony are BFFs, but only if you’re honest with him?” Abby said, almost as if she'd been reading Richie’s thoughts.

“We’re not going to be braiding each other’s hair or anything, but yeah. Abs, I can count on one hand the people in my life that I can trust and half of them I met since I came to DC. I never had a real family, so sue me for wanting to create one. I have a great older brother, and a grandfather, although if you tell Joe I called him that I’ll swear it isn’t so,” he added with a glare as Abby laughed.

“So you want Tony to be like your big brother too?” she asked.

“Well, we’re close enough in age to be more like twins, but kind of. And I’ve got my sister looking out for me,” he added with a grin and pulled Abby in for a hug that she returned with a vengeance. “I trust you all, Abs. But how can I ask Tony to trust me if he doesn't know everything about me?”

“I’m glad, I hate secrets. I just wanted to make sure you were certain,” she said.

There was a cough behind them and they turned, still hugging, to see Tony standing in the doorway, a big Cheshire cat grin on his face.

“I can come back later if I’m interrupting,” he said.

“Tony!” Abby admonished and let go of Richie so she could slap Tony’s arm.

“You ready, kid?” Tony asked when he’d finished rubbing the spot Abby slapped.

“Yeah, let’s go old man,” Richie replied and with a wink to Abby they left the lab. “I thought we could go back to my house, if that’s ok. I need to speak to you in private and Ducky will be out tonight.”

They entered the elevator and Tony pushed the button for first floor. As the doors slid shut he turned to Richie, his face full of questions.

“This sounds serious. We could stop the elevator, that’s what Gibbs always does,” he suggested and pointed to the stop switch. Richie remembered his first day back at NCIS after Gibbs discovered his Immortality and their little confrontation in that very car. He shook his head.

“I have beer at home,” he replied with a grin.

*-*

They had driven to Ducky’s house in Tony’s car; Richie left his bike at NCIS, figuring he could get a ride in with Ducky in the morning. They’d chatted easily enough, but it was all light, inconsequential stuff about the weather and movies.

Once they’d arrived, Richie showed Tony into the front parlour and then went to get them both beers. Richie pulled two beers from the refrigerator and uncapped them but then placed them on the counter. He needed a moment to gather his thoughts before heading back to face Tony

He looked at his reflection in the darkened window and sighed. What would Mac do? he asked himself. The answer to that was obvious; Mac wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Not an option, he thought with a shake of his head. He picked up the beers and walked through to where Tony was waiting.

“So?” Tony said as Richie passed him one of the beers. Tony took a seat on one couch and Richie sat down on the opposite one.

Richie looked at his bottle and pulled at the corner of the label for a moment and then up, meeting Tony’s gaze.

“I know that you put a lot of store in what Gibbs thinks,” he began hesitantly. “And I know that he had doubts about me; that I’m not who I say I am.”

“Water under the bridge now,” Tony said and smiled reassuringly.

“But it’s not, not really. You’ve all been treating me like a leper, you most of all…”

“Hey, I’m sorry about that, but you have to understand…” Tony protested. Richie held up a hand.

“Not the point, Tony,” he said and then started nervously playing with the bottle again. “I want us to be friends again, and for that to happen I need to know you trust me.”

Tony leaned forward and placed his beer on the coffee table.

“I’m not going to lie to you, Rich. That’s gonna take some time,” he replied. Richie nodded.

He thought for a moment, and took a long draw from the beer before he put his bottle down too.

“Tony, I…”

Whatever he’d been about to say was interrupted as the front door opened.

“Richard, you’re home …oh, hello, Anthony,” Ducky said with a smile as he came in from the hallway. Tony nodded hello.

“Ducky, hi, I thought you were out tonight?” Richie said.

“Hmm? Oh, the opera was postponed. Would you believe it, both the soprano and her understudy have come down with food poisoning,” Ducky explained as he removed his coat and hat. He briefly disappeared, presumably to hang them up, before he returned and took a seat next to Richie. “So, what are you lads up to?”

“We were just discussing…” Richie thought furiously about what to say.

“…what movie we should see,” Tony filled in. Richie smiled gratefully at him.

“Yeah. I should grab my laptop so we can check out the listings,” he said and made a hasty retreat to his room.

*-*

In the end they’d settled on a screening of Casablanca and Ducky had decided to come along, despite Richie’s somewhat pathetic attempts to dissuade him. It was obvious to Tony that Richie had something on his mind, but with Ducky along it seemed unlikely Tony would find out what that was, so he sat back and enjoyed the movie.

As they left the cinema, the three chatted, dissecting the film, rattling off quotes and arguing over Bogart’s best film as they walked round the corner to where Tony’s car was parked.

The street was quiet; not many people had attended the screening, and even fewer had stayed until the house lights came up. As the three got halfway down the street, Tony spotted someone trying to break into his car.

“Hey!” he called out. The thief turned and seemed to recognise DiNozzo; instead of running away, he pulled out a gun and fired.

Before Tony could react, Richie had stepped in front and took three shots to the chest in rapid succession.

Tony grabbed Richie as he fell and gently lowered him to the ground, before he leaped to his feet to pursue the gunman. But when he looked around the shooter was nowhere to be seen.

“Why’d you do that, kid?” he muttered as he pulled his cell phone out and crouched beside his stricken friend. “Ducky, do what you can while I call the paramedics,” he instructed.

But instead of helping Richie, the M.E. placed a hand over Tony’s cell. Confused, Tony looked up at Ducky, who smiled reassuringly at him.

“There’s no need for medical assistance, Anthony,” he said gently.

“No need? Have you gone nuts?” Tony said and indicated Richie’s blood-soaked chest.

“He’s already gone,” Ducky replied.

“No.” Tony shook his head in disbelief. The kid couldn’t die for him, that wasn’t fair.

“Help me get him to the car. We need to get off the street,” Ducky said, shaking Tony from his daze. Tony stood up and stared at Ducky.

“No, we need to call Gibbs. This is a crime scene, I shouldn’t have to tell you that,” Tony said, torn between confusion and anger at Ducky’s apparent lack of concern.

“He hasn’t told you,” Ducky murmured so softly that Tony almost didn’t hear.

“Told me what? Was Gibbs right; he’s not who he says?”

Ducky looked at Tony and when he spoke this time his voice was stern and commanding and so very un-Ducky-like that DiNozzo was forced to listen.

“Agent DiNozzo, stop questioning me and help me get Richie to the car before…” he stopped, biting off whatever he’d been about to say.

“Before what? Ducky, I’m not doing anything until you explain what the hell is going on.”

“I can’t explain completely, that’s not my place, but Richard is going to be fine.”

“Fine? He’s dead!” Tony yelled, a note of hysteria creeping into his voice. Ducky’s behaviour was confusing and frustrating.. Tony felt like he’d fallen into the Twilight Zone or something. Searching for a bit of sanity in this crazy situation, he flipped open his cell and hit the speed dial for Gibbs.

This better be good, DiNozzo,” answered Gibbs after a couple of rings.

“Boss, it’s Richie Blaine; he’s been shot,” Tony explained. He wasn’t expecting grief from the former marine but Gibbs’ reply still shocked him.

So?

Was insanity catching? Or was it maybe Tony that was going crazy?

“Um. So, he’s dead, boss.”

He does that,” Gibbs said. Though Tony couldn’t be certain, he got the distinct impression that Gibbs was smirking on the other end of the line.

Tony was about to protest Gibbs’ callous behaviour when suddenly, impossibly, Richie sat up with a sharp intake of breath. Tony practically leaped out of his skin at the sight of his resurrected friend.

“So clearly I’m dreaming. I’ve got to cut down on the cheese or something though, because my dreams usually feature a lot more Angelina and a lot less blood.”

Tony knew he was rambling and that his sanity was hanging by a thread, but he really didn’t care right now. His brain was in the process of packing its bags for a one way trip to the loony bin.

Tony was dimly aware that he should say something to Gibbs, but when he looked at his phone he saw that his team leader had hung up. He looked mutely at the phone for a few seconds more, then at Ducky. The man didn’t look surprised at all.

“I’m being punked, right? Really not funny, Richie. But getting Ducky here involved, and Gibbs too, that’s pretty impressive. I’ve got to give you kudos for that, kid. Because this has to be a joke, any other explanation… well there is no other explanation.”

“Aw, crap,” Richie said as he got to his feet. “Listen Tony, I can explain...”



*-*

Tony sat mutely on Ducky’s couch, staring at the now-cold cup of tea in his hands. Richie and Ducky had given him the Immortal Cliff notes and were now waiting anxiously for Tony’s reaction.

After what felt like an eternity, Tony’s brow furrowed, he very carefully put his cup down and then stared at Ducky.

“You knew all along,” he said. It was a statement, not a question, but it was hard to tell whether it was an accusation or not from Tony’s monotone delivery. Ducky nodded.

Tony seemed to think about that for a moment and then a look of realisation appeared on his face.

“Abby and Gibbs know,” he said, and this time there was a definite note of accusation in his voice.

“Dammit!” Richie scrubbed a hand across the back of his neck and sighed. “I didn’t mean for you to find out like this. That’s why I asked you over tonight, but my luck ran like it always does.”

“I figured that this was what you were trying to tell me before Ducky came home,” Tony said. He smiled and Richie started to feel better about the situation. Hope flickered that Tony was going to be okay with it all.

“Oh dear. It would seem that some of the blame for tonight lies with me then. I’m so sorry, Richard, dear boy.”

“It’s okay, Ducky. I was having trouble finding the right words anyway,” he answered, hoping to assuage the Watcher’s guilt.

Ducky nodded and smiled before he stood up with a theatrical yawn.

“Well, that’s quite enough excitement for one night. I’ll go to bed and leave you to talk. Richard, if you’ll be so kind as to let the dogs out before you retire.”

After a nod from Richie he headed for the stairs.

“Night, Ducky,” Richie and Tony said in near unison.

“We ok?” Richie asked after a moment. He dreaded the answer, but to his surprise Tony smiled and nodded.

“You took a bullet for me.”

“Yeah, but I knew it wouldn’t stick,” Richie said dismissively.

“Doesn’t matter, Rich. Still means something in my book. Hell, if Ducky hadn’t known the truth then you’d have had to leave, start over again,” Tony reasoned, his voice lifting at the end and turning it into a question.

“I hadn’t thought about that, but yeah. Hurts like hell too,” Richie added and rubbed the spot where one of the bullets had entered. It was completely healed now, but the memory of the pain was still there. “Wouldn’t have mattered; I still would have done the same.”

“I know you would,” Tony said and looked down at the table between them.

Richie grinned.

“You’re not going to start blubbing on me are you, DiNozzo?”

Tony shot him a look of indignation that Richie could tell wasn’t real.

“DiNozzo’s don’t cry. We may occasionally shed a tear in a manly, Italian way, but we never cry,” he replied and grinned.

“I need a beer. Want one?”

Tony nodded. As Richie stood, he got a thoughtful look on his face and held up a hand to stop him.

“Just one question first; how old are you really?”

Richie couldn’t help but chuckle.

“I’ll always be nineteen, that’s the age I was when I first died.”.

“Funny, Pattinson, but how long have you been 19?” Tony persisted, standing so he was eye-level with Richie again.

“I was born in 1974,” he answered and left for the kitchen.

“Hold the phone; that means we’re about the same age!” Tony called after him.

“I know, old man,” Richie replied, his voice loud enough to carry to Tony but hopefully not so loud it would disturb Ducky.

He opened the refrigerator and retrieved two beers. Tony was in his face as he closed the fridge and turned, causing him to jump and nearly drop the beers.

“That nickname stops right now, kid.”

He sounded quite serious, but something in the way Tony said it, and the fact he called Richie kid, made the Immortal think his friend was joking.

“Whatever you say; you’re the senior agent,” he replied, emphasising the word ‘senior’ as he passed a beer to Tony.

“I mean it, Richie.”

“Of course. I was raised to respect my elders.”

Tony glared at him a moment, doing a passable impression of Gibbs, but then broke into a smile and laughed. Richie laughed to and raised his bottle in toast.

“To starting over?” he proposed.

Tony clinked his bottle against Richie’s.

“To friends.”
 
 
 
catyuy: Beta Iconcatyuy on September 21st, 2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
OMG!!!!
I squee'd outloud when I saw this was a Watcher!Abby fic.

I'm so happy that Tony and Richie are friends again and that Tony is on the list of people that KNOWS.
But, I don't want to be a pie,: watcher abbyidontlikegravy on October 8th, 2011 06:24 pm (UTC)
I have a massive smile on my face from your comment, thank you!
Black Rook: cutiegrachonok on September 21st, 2011 08:14 pm (UTC)
Oh, I enjoyed it so much! I missed them, really:). Good to see they are good:).
But, I don't want to be a pie,: watcher abbyidontlikegravy on October 8th, 2011 06:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you hon, I missed them too, fingers crossed they'll be sticking around this time :)
Marcus L. Rowlandffutures on September 21st, 2011 10:33 pm (UTC)
Excellent - glad to see more in this series.
But, I don't want to be a pie,: watcher abbyidontlikegravy on October 8th, 2011 06:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, glad you're still reading :)
Kayla Shay: Highlander - Ooooh!kaylashay on September 22nd, 2011 02:05 am (UTC)
YAY!!!! Watcher!Abby!!!!!!

YAY!!! Tony is now in the know!!! And poor Richie... He tried to get out and it didn't work before pesky bullets got in the way.

But I'm so happy that Tony knows now, you know! And that Tony knows they are really close in age. Makes it so much better.

And I know yours won't go slash, but now you have me thinking of Tony/Richie slash...
But, I don't want to be a pie,: richie and jackidontlikegravy on October 8th, 2011 06:19 pm (UTC)
And now I'm thinking of it! It wouldn't fit in this 'verse, but I do have that NCIS/Dark Angel/Highlander 'verse that I wrote a fic in ages ago where Tony is Immie too....

So pleased you're still enjoying this, and that Tony knowing is a good thing (I was a little worried that people might get annoyed that so many know). Thanks for sticking with us!
Ayankha Bast: gibbs/dinozzo slapayankha on September 22nd, 2011 12:40 pm (UTC)
holy crap yay!!! i'm so glad you guys are picking up this series again :D
But, I don't want to be a pie,: richie smileidontlikegravy on October 8th, 2011 06:19 pm (UTC)
I'm so very glad you're still reading!! Thank you :)
The other Weird Al: Highlander - Richie bikeaeron_lanart on September 22nd, 2011 03:20 pm (UTC)
So good to see more of this series! Long may it continue!!!

Am seeing it a lot more clearly now after mainlining NCIS over the last few days too, which is always a good thing.
But, I don't want to be a pie,: richie and jackidontlikegravy on October 8th, 2011 06:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you hon! Hopefully it will; though the muses may need the occasional prod in the correct direction! I think Richie is sufficiently rested now that he'll be back a lot more regularly. *crosses everything*

And watching NCIS is always a good thing ;)