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A Sign of the Times

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A Sign of the Times - Kate's POV

Kate had been gone for a four day weekend. As soon as she settled at her desk, she knew there was trouble. McGee was missing, probably in the lab with Abby. Gibbs was drinking his coffee. Tony, well, that was how she knew there was a problem. Tony was glaring at Gibbs with the most malevolent gaze she had ever seen. Tony, Gibbs' personal puppy, was pissed.

"What did he do this time?" she asked Tony as she sat down.

"Nothing for you to worry about," Gibbs stated flatly. He signed something in Tony's direction. The young man scowled, but turned to his computer. Kate raised a brow, but Gibbs ignored her. She resolved to figure it out without talking to either of the men.

"Boss," Tony said calmly. Gibbs didn't move. Kate blinked. Gibbs was ignoring him? That might do it. Tony snorted. He waved his hand. Gibbs glanced up at the movement in the corner of his eye. "Boss," Tony repeated, signing this time, "Why did you involve, Abby?" Gibbs smirked, signing his response. "Just so you know, I am getting Ducky to help me hide your body," Tony responded. Gibbs laughed.

"What's with the signing? Gibbs, did you lose your voice?"

"No, Kate. DiNozzo wanted to learn to sign, I'm teaching him."

"No, Kate, he's not teaching, he's torturing. He won't listen to me at all, and now he's got Abby doing it too. She pretends that she can't hear me! At least she taught me how to curse more than a year ago." Tony stood in front of Gibbs' desk now. Gibbs was still turned to look at Kate.

"I'm using full immersion. He'll never learn if he has to rely on talking to me. And it won't do him any good with a witness if he has to rely on their ability to read lips. I'm sure Abby's teaching him words I don't want him to know. On the plus side, it's been quieter around here. You should try it."

"Try what? Signing? No, thanks."

"It's useful."

Tony waved, catching Gibb's attention. "Lunch time. I'm going out. Don't expect me before one."

"Take your phone," Gibbs responded, signing automatically, but obviously not wanting any excuses. Tony flipped him off, but picked up his phone. Gibbs caught his attention and signed something else. Kate caught a quick glimpse of a blush on Tony's cheeks, then he was gone. "So, how was your weekend, Kate?"

"Have you been doing this for the entire weekend?" she asked bluntly.

"We had some cold case work to finish up with. We worked the weekend."

"So you've been doing this all weekend."

Gibbs smirked. "Even McGee's starting to pick things up. I think Abby's coaching him at night."

"I have to ask, what is this?" She mimed pulling at the side of her head.

"Abby. It's his sign for Abby. Pigtails."

****

Tony was calmer after lunch, but he wasn't looking at Gibbs at all. He exchanged a few snappish comments with McGee about hiding down in the lab, but beyond that he was silent. "How was the weekend, McGee?" Kate asked, unable to take the silent tension for another minute.

"I got a crash course in accounting," McGee responded. "Paper accounting and double books." He nodded towards Tony. "But other than that, actually rather quiet for once. No one got hurt."

"That's a start. One of Tony's dates didn't try to kill him for not showing up?" Okay, so she was trying to bait Tony. She didn't expect it would work, not with the angry tension in his shoulders.

"Appearantly not, Agent Todd. Tony," Gibbs waved. The younger agent looked up. "Get the car, we have a case." Tony caught the keys, grabbed his things and left the office. "Do you need an engraved invitation?" Gibbs snapped at the other two agents. The scrambled to get ready to leave.

****

Gibbs made his "Tony" sign - cop plus heart - and even Kate was able to figure it out. Tony cocked his head to the side. He glanced at the crime scene. He nodded, making the sign Kate recognized as "boss" now. It was fascinating to watch them interact and the profiler in her wanted to spend more time on it. The problem was, they had a dead Marine laying on the floor of the bar and seemingly no witnesses since the bar had been closed up tight until the owner opened the door at one. Tony was already taking measurements and snapping a thourough roll of film. Kate moved to her own tasks without a word. This was a well-rehearsed play for them all.

"Boss," Tony was frozen, staring at something by the body. "Trouble." The team turned all turned at that. Kate had her gun out an instant later. Sitting next to the body was a snake. It was a pretty red snake and Kate ran through the rhyme in her head. Red next to yellow, you're a dead fellow. Red next to black, you're okay, Jack. Tony obviously had done the same because he was beginning to relax. Though, how had a King snake gotten into a DC bar?

McGee had found an empty box in the back of the SUV and was advancing slowly towards the frozen tableau. He'd punched holes in the cover by the time he made it back inside. Tony wasn't moving, but the snake was fixated on him. He took the box from McGee and set it on the floor. The snake slithered toward it and into it, obviously a well-treated pet. Tony put the lid onto the box. He wrapped it with the crime scene tape Gibbs offered him. "At least Abby will be happy," McGee muttered. He retreated with the snake.

"Back to work, DiNozzo," Gibbs snapped. Kate was impressed that he managed to sign as he snapped. She got back to her own work, hiding a small smile. It wasn't until a few silent minutes later that the paranoia set. Tony wasn't bitching or teasing her. "McGee, ambulance," Gibbs snapped. Kate looked up in time to see him pin DiNozzo with a glare. The young man looked up at him innocently. The glare turned to ice. Caught on the fringes of it, Kate decided not to turn fully around and investigate what was going on. When Ducky arrived, it was a relief. At least he was still talking.

****

Hours, no centuries, later, they were tying up the loose ends. It had just been prank gone horribly wrong. No one, not even their poor dead Marine, had known he had a heart condition. No physical had ever found it. But when he opened the coffee can and found what he took to be a poisonous snake, he'd had a heart attack. The pranksters hadn't even been in the room with him. They'd been filming the whole thing. Their victim had been helping out his girlfriend - the bartender - by cleaning up. She'd fainted and collapsed behind the bar, giving herself a concussion. They'd found her there. She was in the hospital recovering.

Tony stretched, catching Kate's eye. He grinned at her. "So, you have a good time with. . .?" he trailed off, fishing for the name of who she'd spent the weekend with.

"My mother? Yes, I did. We went to a spa. Did all the wonderful girly things she likes. So, how are the lessons going?"

"Well, I can't curse as fluently as I'd like, but Abby's catching me up on that. But, on the plus side, I can make comments about your assets to McGee without you know it, so it's all good."

Her eyes narrowed. "My assets?"

"Your training, your wit, your ankles." He smirked at her. She glared at him. "Not to mention, the possibilities for ganging up on you have just expanded." The smack to the back of his head was only a surprise to him. Gibbs smirked down at him.

"Be good," he ordered.

"You take away all my fun, boss," Tony whined. He was signing automatically now and Kate had to smirk. Then, he signed something to McGee. She frowned.

"If you want to know, learn," Gibbs told her. Her email pinged.

"Join the club. We'll freak out the other teams," The email said. Then, there was a link to an online dictionary. She glanced over at her fellow agents. McGee was looking at her with a smile. She nodded at them.

Gibbs raised a brow. He signed something at her. Then, he glared at her and the order became perfectly clear. She turned to her report.

FINIS - Kate's POV