|Love and Country
Author: dannica webb PM
Gibbs/Abby sequel to Against All Odds. How far would you go to save the one you love? When Gibbs returns to NCIS on a secret mission, he learns you can never truly leave the past - or your loyalties - behind. Rated M for torture in later chapters.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Drama - Leroy Jethro Gibbs & Abby S. - Chapters: 9 - Words: 15,519 - Reviews: 42 - Favs: 23 - Follows: 37 - Updated: 05-13-10 - Published: 02-26-10 - id: 5778941
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: Love and Country
Author: dannica webb
Rating: FR-18 (for torture and violence in later chapters)
Pairing: Abby/Gibbs, possible slight Tony/Ziva
Category: Romance, Action, Drama, Angst, Friendship
Spoilers: Hiatus, Shalom.
Summary: How far would you go to save the one you love? When Gibbs returns to NCIS on a secret mission, a course of events is set in motion that will change the team forever, as Gibbs learns that you can never truly leave the past – or your loyalties – behind.
AN: Please read the prequel to this story, Against All Odds, if you haven't yet. The prologue of Love and Country is set a couple of weeks after the end of Against All Odds, or about a month after the events of Shalom. A cover image for this story can be found at http :/ / dannicawebb . livejournal . com / 7202 . html
Prologue – We Are All Innocent
There are many reasons for Abby to go to Paris.
Madame Director has been on her case about all her unused leave, and spending a week or two in the City of Lights is infinitely preferable to a week or two trapped at home with the security guards refusing her entrance to the Navy Yard.
It's been years since she's participated in any kind of academic conference, and she misses the thrill of the environment of learning. She loves the lab, loves NCIS, loves her job, but there's something about pure research that she finds utterly stimulating. It's fun, and she hasn't done anything just for fun in a long time.
She's seen the looks Tony and Ziva have been giving each other, and they deserve a little bit of happiness – probably the kind they won't find, as much as she adores Ziva, while Abby is sharing Tony's bed. It's not that Abby doesn't love Tony; she does, sometimes so much it hurts. But if either of them are ever going to move on, if Tony's going to get to have a normal love life – or any kind of life, for that matter – she's going to have to learn to be by herself. If only for a little while.
As long as her quiet revelation to Tony hangs in the air, as long as Gibbs's ghost haunts her lab, she's going to be choking on those three words. She thinks, maybe, wistfully, that if she can gain a little perspective, she might be able to get to a point where she can run a piece of evidence without expecting Gibbs to walk through the door. She might be able to make it through the night alone.
But there's only one very convincing reason for Abby to stay, and he's walking into her lab instead, Caf-Pow! in hand.
She chooses a night when Ziva's over for dinner to broach the subject with Tony. She's mentioned it to Ziva in passing, and – though it balances the odds unfairly in her favor – she's praying that having the other woman's approval behind her will be enough to overcome Tony's objections.
He's reluctant at first, but something in Abby's eyes – or maybe in the touch of Ziva's hand on his arm – causes him to give in without too much of a fight, for which Abby is grateful. She can read the uncertainty in his assent, though, the deep-seated fear that if she leaves NCIS, she won't be returning. She knows this emotion well; it's the same fear that paralyzed her when Tony left for a week to go to the security conference.
Later, after Ziva's gone home, she comes into the kitchen where he's putting away the wineglasses and walks up behind him, twining her arms around his waist and pressing her cheek against his back. He sets down the glass he's holding and turns to face her, returning the embrace. Abby swallows hard, unable to find her voice for a few moments, shaken by the realization of how deeply Gibbs's leaving has affected their ability to trust one another.
Finally, she pulls back and looks up at him, her eyes searching his. "I'll always come back, Tony."
Each reluctant step down to autopsy feels a little like a betrayal of Abby's faith in him, and Tony is ashamed of his own uncertainty. But Ducky has always been the voice of reason, for all of them, and as much as he loves Abby, confronting her with what he's seen will probably only lead to an argument. He doesn't want to repay her trust in him by making her think he doesn't return it.
Ducky is sitting at his desk going through some reports when Tony walks through the double doors, and Palmer appears to be gone for the evening. The sound of the doors opening causes Ducky to turn in his chair.
"Evening, Anthony," he says, his eyes lifting in surprise. "What can I do for you?"
Tony leans against Ducky's desk, looking down at his clasped hands and then back up at his friend. "It's about Abby," he says quietly, hesitantly.
"Is she alright?" Ducky responds quickly, alarm creeping into his voice, causing Tony to hold up a hand.
"No, no, nothing like that. She's fine, Duck." Tony sighs, running a hand through his hair, then takes the plunge. "Paris isn't just about the conference, is it?" In for a penny....
"What do you mean?" Ducky asks, sitting back in his chair and meeting Tony's gaze, his tone of voice indicating that he knows exactly what Tony means.
"I saw the invitation, Ducky. It's practically a job offer." He stands, pacing back and forth in front of Ducky's desk, pensive. He can feel Ducky's gaze following him.
"I wouldn't suggest telling her you read her mail – although if you do, I'll of course provide the autopsy free of charge," Ducky says, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.
Tony waves off the attempt at humor, responding in a strained tone. "I wasn't snooping, Ducky...it was lying on her desk when I went down to the lab to see her. She'd gone up to see Jenny and I just...glanced." He knew Abby wouldn't see it quite so innocently if he told her.
"Anthony, it's an academic conference. Abigail's simply going to see some of her fellow scientists and friends."
Tony stops and shoots Ducky a dark look. "Friends who are trying to take her away from NCIS."
Ducky gives a small chuckle. "Do you know how many job offers Abby has turned down in her six years here?"
At this, Tony is a little surprised. Abby doesn't talk about her qualifications – not like McMIT and his Johns Hopkins degree. It's not that Tony thinks Abby's a low-level lab rat, but her reasons for working at NCIS – or the fact that she's probably overqualified for the job – aren't something he considers often.
"Dozens," Ducky continues. "This probably isn't even the first offer she's received since Jethro left, though certainly it's the most prestigious." He stands and walks over to Tony, laying a hand on Tony's arm. "Abby loves research, and the time away from the lab will be good for her, Tony. She'll go and have fun, and turn them down like she always does."
Tony meets Ducky's eyes. The knots of apprehension have loosened, but only slightly. "And what if she doesn't?" he asks quietly. "What if...what if now that Gibbs is gone, it's not the same for her?"
Ducky gives another slight laugh. "Well, it's not the same for any of us, dear boy." His grip on Tony's arm tightens, though, and he regards Tony seriously. "Our Abigail doesn't just stay for Jethro. He's one of the reasons, of course, but Abigail loves the work, she loves this country, and she loves all of you. She's quite a brilliant woman, Anthony...she could certainly have chosen better paying, and less stressful, positions. She's proven her commitment to NCIS, and it's not just because of Jethro."
Tony nods slowly, lifting his other hand to pat Ducky's. "Alright." As he turns to leave the lab, he's not sure if it's the hesitancy in his voice or the tension still apparent in his stride that causes Ducky to speak again.
He turns back from the doorway. "Yeah, Ducky?"
"Abigail has an enormous amount of faith in you." Ducky clears his throat, his voice suddenly very grave. Tony feels pinned under the older man's gaze. "She has her reasons for leaving, just as Jethro did, whether you agree with them or not. But trust is a two way street, my boy. The question is, do you trust her enough to believe she will come back?"
Ducky's words stay with Tony in the few days leading up to Abby's departure for Paris. Out of a selfish desire to keep breathing – for he's fairly certain he'd have to deal with the combined lethal force of both Abby and Ziva were he to voice his apprehensions – and the reason for them – aloud – he doesn't reveal to Abby that he knows the invitation to Paris is not without strings. But he does think deeply on what Ducky said.
So when he takes her to the airport, he's firmly shoved down his hesitancy, trying with everything he has to believe in Abby as much as she believes in him – to deserve the faith she has in him. He pretends everything is fine, and tugs a pigtail, smiling when she promises to call him every day. She's just about to go through the gate when she turns around and runs back to him, hugging him fiercely.
"Love you," she says, pressing her forehead to his. He barely has a chance to whisper the words back before she's gone.