A/N: …yeah, yeah, I knew I said I wasn't going to do another one. Bla bla bla.
Summary: Because playing with people's minds is the highlight of her life.
When she inhales, her throat is clogged with smoke and the sent of sex and cheep alcohol and sweat. The cool feel of the tiled wall against her overheated skin is like heaven as an unidentified dancer presses her up against it. He? She? Is something that is not gentle, and Abby can feel the bruises forming on her shoulders and arms. She needs to get home. Call someone. Get out of here before the entrancing brutality of the rushing adrenaline and dream-like anonymity pulls her too far in. If the world were perfect, she would be able to slip away easily, call Gibbs and hide in a corner until he came to pick her up in his car that smells of cigarettes that she knows he doesn't smoke and sawdust. And the next morning she would wake up in his spare room and they'd laugh about her drunken escapades even as he tries to convince her that she shouldn't be going out like that. Unfortunately, predictably, Gibbs is in California on a case, and the man in front of her is fascinated by the smooth black leather collar around her neck and she isn't going to be able to leave for a while yet.
Through a haze of smoke and heat, she can see the exit doors, swinging open and closed with a repetitive motion that she finds scarily hypnotic. She can imagine the feeling of the icy air against her skin, cold, hot, cold, hot as unnamed individuals moved on and entered and pushed outside because they haven't had Gibbs tell them if they ever drink and drive they'll be out of a job. She feels her unwanted partner's teeth graze the vein in her neck, and she shutters involuntarily. She has always had a vampire fixation. And then, just as she thinks she might be able to enjoy this, the guys girlfriend, or at least that's the only person she can think to associate with that amount of possessiveness, pulls him away, leaving Abby cold and leaning up against the wall with angry marks on her body.
She uses the opportunity to slide through the roiling masses, pushing aside people in her haste to get out before the seductive atmosphere wins her over. The chilly night air is a familiar shock to her flushed skin, and she takes in great lungfuls of it, trying not to choke on the smog and fumes from trucks and late-night busses. Her cell phone had been forgotten in the rush to get out of the lonely silence that is her apartment, and she has to walk five blocks in her stiletto hooker boots to find a pay phone. Shaking from a combination of exhaustion, caffeine and cold she punches in the only other number she can think of at the moment.
Earlier that day, when everything was still fairly normal, before the surprise case that sent Gibbs and Ducky to California, McGee, Kate, Tony and Abby had gone out for coffee at a miniature Starbucks that was stuck in the entrance to a Safeway. It had been a slow day, and Gibbs had been in a particularly good mood. Kate had pulled out her club card, and read off her phone number for some contest or points or something that Abby couldn't remember. The girl behind the counter, however, had a faulty machine, and Kate had had to repeat the number for what seemed like forever to get it to work. Abby had joked that they would all have it memorized, which had been promptly followed up by one of Tony's flirtatious shots at the former secret service agent.
"Hello?" a sleepy voice comes through on the other end of the line.
For one, insane moment, Abby is tempted to hang up, unable to believe that she is, at this moment, calling a woman whom she barely really knows at three-thirty in the morning to get a ride.
"Hello, is anyone there?"
"Kate?" Abby is still shaking, and grips the side of the phone booth to ground herself.
"Who is this?" Kate asks.
"Uh… It's—It's Abby. I'm really sorry to bother you like this. I mean, I remembered your number 'cause of the thing today and I would call Gibbs but he's not here 'cause he's in California and I'm really sorry and oh my God I probably woke you up and I can't believe I actually called you and I should really probably just hang up and you can forget I called and go back to sleep and—"
"Whoa…Abby, calm down. What's wrong?"
"Nothing!" her voice is too high, too forced as she bounces on her heals.
"Where are you?"
Kate sighs. "Abby, don't take this the wrong way, but are you drunk?"
"I think so," Abby admits.
"And you want a ride?"
"Uh… No. No, it's okay. I shouldn't have called. I'm going to go find somewhere else to be and get a ride with someone and I don't know even what I'm saying and I'll go…" her hand moves to drop the receiver, but Kate calls out sharply.
"Abby, no." Abby brings the phone back to her ear. "I'll come get you. Just tell me where you are, and then don't go anywhere. Can you do that?"
Quickly, as if afraid she will lose her confidence, Abby relays her current location to the other woman, and hangs up with a promise not to go anywhere. A light drizzle starts up, and she tries to remember if she had started the night with a jacket, but can't.
It takes somewhere around fifteen minutes for Kate to pull up, and by this time Abby's shivering violently and the desire to run back to the club and never leave has made itself very known.
"You cold?" Kate asks when Abby slips into the car.
She shrugs, trying to control her shivering even as her teeth chatter together.
Kate turns the heater on, and Abby spends a few minutes just basking in the small warmth it offers. "So, where should I drop you?" Kate asks uncomfortably after a few minutes.
This is knew. Gibbs never took her home, always to his house so he could make sure she got off to bed alright, and lecture her in the mornings. Cursing her delayed reaction, Abby tells Kate in as few words as possible where to go and what the fastest route is to get there.
"It's funny," Kate says as they pull out into traffic. "I always pictured you as a happy drunk."
Abby made an effort to not allow the semi-hysterical giggle to pass her lips. It ended up coming out more like a strangled gasping noise. "I am," she explained. "That's the thing."
She wants to leave it at that, and Kate seems to realize this, for she doesn't pry any deeper.
Abby notes that she was right in her assumption that Kate had just gotten out of bed, the other woman's ragged sweat pants and mussed hair a clear testament to this. The dark circles that Abby covers up with makeup every day are not present beneath her eyes, and her lips are not bitten raw or bleeding. Her creamy skin, from what Abby can see under the tee-shirt, is unblemished and soft, and her well-defined muscles and competent hands draw her attention more than once. Abby has a sudden, inexplicable urge to reach out and cover one of those hands with her own, small slender one, with it's translucent skin and adept little fingers with their black painted nails.
"Abby, can I ask you a very personal question?" Kate asks out of the blue. Abby, surprised by the interruption of the silence, finds herself agreeing before she can truly process the request.
Kate says it quickly, as if she has been rehearsing the question mentally for weeks. "Are you and Agent Gibbs sleeping together?"
Abby isn't exactly unused to this particular question, and always she gives the same answer. "What do you think?"
And Kate looks efficiently cowed, no doubt feeling as if the answer should be clear, though she has no idea what, in fact, the answer is. Abby smiles to herself, because playing with people's minds is the highlight of her life. They pull up in front of Abby's dingy apartment building, and Kate leaves the car running.
"You okay from here?"
"Uh huh," Abby nods. And then, because the opportunity is there, and Abby's never been shy, she leans over and kisses the other woman hard and fast, leaving black lipstick smeared over her perfect lips. Kate, always the good little Catholic schoolgirl, looks very shocked.
Smirking, Abby looks directly into her eyes. "So I suppose you could get your answer by telling Gibbs about that and seeing his reaction," she murmurs playfully, and then jumps unsteadily out of the car, swinging the door shut with a little more force than is really necessary and hurrying, giddily up to her apartment with the smell of smoke in her nostrils and the taste of Kate Todd on her lips.