Challenge #: 4
Genre (slash/het/gen/etc): Gen
Concrit (yes/no): Offlist only folks
There was a hedgehog swimming in the punchbowl.
Tony stopped and turned around to stare at the punch bowl. The hedgehog was still there, swimming for all he was worth. Taking pity on the small animal, Tony looked around and grabbed an empty soda box. Using the ladle, he carefully fished the little guy out and placed him in the box. From the way it was panting, it was a good thing he had remove him.
The box containing the small animal went under one arm as Tony looked around the room. The party was chaos, mayhem and noise. Totally something Abby would love. There were people gyrating to the music, ingesting questionable substances and others were engaging in semi-sexual acts in public. And somewhere in the mass of people was Abby and she wasn’t answering her phone.
Tony carefully sidestepped a couple doing a credible rendition of the Dirty Dancing end scene and sighed. It was much better for everyone that he took care of errands like this one. Probie would have stopped at the door, too embarrassed to go in, Kate would have come unglued and started screaming at everyone to grow up, and Gibbs? Sending Gibbs into someplace like this party would just result in hurt feelings, crying and sulking. Some of the above from the party-goers, but most of it from Abby.
He had to circle the mass of partygoers three times before he spotted her. Abby was wearing a sparkly bra and her normal black kilt and tights combo, but the shirt that went with the outfit was missing. Leaning close to here were several other half-naked people, and from what he was getting as he lip read, talking about tattoo’s. Most of the conversation seemed to be centered on her cross, which could explain the missing shirt.
Rather than jerk her out of the party, and cause the aforementioned sulking to appear, Tony sat down in front of her. Abby didn’t pause in her verbal conversation, just carried on with a second in ASL. “What’s up Tony?”
Tony had to set down his box of hedgehog to reply, but he answered in kind. In an environment like this party they were in, signing was much more practical than shouting. And a lot more discrete. “A cold case just went hot and we need you to review the physical evidence again.”
ASL had not been a language he had ever expected to learn, but with both Gibbs and Abby being fluent, he had learned out of self-defense. The two of them talking about him had been bad enough, but it had come in handy far too often. Everything from combat situations where talking aloud was ill advised, to telling jokes in public discreetly and now trying to converse with Abby in a party that would going to leave his ears ringing for days if he hadn’t come prepared. Thank goodness for hearing protection.
“So he sent you to get me? Why didn’t he call?” Abby asked. While her hands were moving, she was saying her goodnights to the people surrounding her.
Tony waited to reply until she was looking at him. That was the biggest drawback of using ASL, it was line of sight only. If Abby wasn’t looking at him, she couldn’t see him talking to her. As soon as she faced him again though, “Your phone kept going to voice mail, the house was empty when I went to check and Gibbs said that the nuns didn’t know where you were. Sister Agatha would like a call by the way. So I got into your calendar at home to see what you had scheduled.”
She raised an eyebrow when he told her about the phone and pulled it out of her bra to check. When it didn’t light up, she tucked it back into its hiding spot. “Totally dead. I know I charged it today, so time to get a new battery then,” Abby signed firmly. Dropping her hands to the t-shirt in her lap, she quickly pulled it over her head. “Lead on Tony-boy.”
It took five minutes of careful walking around the partygoers before they got outside. A discrete reach to his ears let him pull out the hearing protection he had worn, just in case. It hadn’t been enough because his ears were still ringing. The scratching of the hedgehog brought him back to the question he had been wondering about since he had seen the little guy paddling for all he was worth.
“Abby? I need to ask you something odd. And it isn’t about the case, ” Tony warned.
Pigtails bouncing as she danced to the retreating party’s bass beat, Abby nodded. “Sure thing, Tony. What’s up?”
“Do you have any idea why a hedgehog would be swimming in the punchbowl?” Tony asked as he held the box out for inspection. He was genuinely curious to see if she knew why.
“Really? How cool! If you can’t find him a good home, I’ll take him,” Abby demanded firmly. Flashing a quick grin after her declaration, she looked back at the building they had exited. “Anyway. It was just that kind of a party.”
Tony would have to be happy with that.