The Avoidance Game

By: Thought

Disclaimer: Nobody's mine.

A/N: The characters that you don't recognize are from the show Witchblade, but they're not all that important, and you don't need any knowledge of the show to understand this fic. I'm just using Gabriel as the catalyst that makes Abby make up her mind about Gibbs. Reviews make my days brighter! All Healer: Sanina's fault. All. Of. It.

Continuity: Set before, during and after the episode Boxed In.

Summary: Abby has options.

XXX

"You know what you should do?" Abby asked one afternoon, setting down her soup spoon with a click of metal against glass.

Ziva glanced up from her salad and arched an eyebrow. "I don't know if I want to know. I went clubbing with you and flirted with McGee for you. What could be worse?"

Abby held up a hand defensively. "Hey! You enjoyed both of those, if I remember correctly!"

Ziva blinked innocently. "I'm not seeing a point here, Abigail."

Abby stuck out her tongue. "Must you—"

"Yes."

Abby sighed. "Right. Okay, anyway, back to my wondrous and amazing plan. You? Need to have a party!"

The Israeli woman stared at her like she was suggesting Ziva sleep with Ducky. "A party?"

"Yes. A party. Invite everyone, cook some sort of Jewish dish, make friends with them."

"I made friends with you without a party," objected Ziva.

"I'm different."

Ziva hid her laugh behind her hand. Abby pretended to ignore her, signaling the waiter for the check.

"Abby, I'm not exactly the party throwing type," Ziva objected. The Goth girl shrugged.

"I'll help you."

"No vampire theme," Ziva said immediately, swallowing the last of her water and putting the glass back on the table with a little more force than necessary.

"Fine. Ruin my fun." Ziva stared at her. "Okay, okay, I'll make it normal."

"Or as close as you can get?" Ziva asked, smirking. Abby didn't grace this remark with a response.

"Who do you wanna invite?"

"The team, I suppose," Ziva said, shifting uneasily. "McGee, Ducky, Palmer, Tony, you obviously…"

"Gibbs," Abby cut in. Ziva winced, but Abby was already scribbling the names on a napkin. "And don't look at me like that, I want Gibbs there and I'm the one helping you with the organizing, so he comes."

"He won't come to a party," Ziva objected.

Abby grinned secretively. "Oh yes he will."

If Ziva had still been drinking she would have choked on the water. "There are some things I truly don't need to know, Abigail."

Abby laughed. "Right, sorry."

XXX

It was pure coincidence that Sara, Ian and Gabriel were in DC that week. Abby grinned happily across the room at Gabriel where he was checking his email on her computer, because the fact that he provided her with a convenient date for the party was absolutely not her doing. Sara and Ian were off saving the world from unimaginable evils under the cover of a homicide cop and her creepy stalker, and Gabe was sitting at her apartment in his pajamas at her computer.

"I barely even know these people," he objected when she told him about it.

"You've met Gibbs, Tony and McGee," she reminded him. "And Ducky, too."

"I do not, however, know the Israeli chick," he continued trying to get out of it.

"Ziva," Abby cut in.

"Right. Yeah. I don't know her and I don't want to just appear at her door and be like, hey, guess what? I'm coming to your party! Hope that's okay." He shook his head and spun the chair to face her.

"Gabe…" she put on her best puppy dog expression. He continued to shake his head.

"Abs, I'm the owner of a business. Puppy dog eyes don't work on me."

She slipped off the sofa, walking across the room to him. "Oh c'mon, Gabe, it'll be fun. And I really want—you to meet Ziva. And Jimmy, too."

He sighed. "Are you in love with her?"

Abby shook her head. "No."

He tilted his head to the side. "So—all that stuff with McGee?"

Abby shook her head again. "Gabe, please, can we not talk about McGee?"

"Sorry, Abs." He ran his hands over his face. "I know what I said earlier, and, I mean, I wouldn't say no if you asked, but—Sara."

Abby nodded understandingly. "I know. It's just one night."

XXX

"Abby. You brought a friend," Ziva smiled at both of them and that was not a hint of jealousy in her eyes. Abby nodded over-enthusiastically, her head bobbing back and forth like a puppet operated by a person on a major caffeine high.

"Hi," Gabriel smiled at Ziva.

"Ziva David, Gabriel Bowman. He's in town for a while with his friends—" Abby cut off her sentence quickly, hoping that Ziva didn't notice her awkward ending. If she did, she didn't say anything.

They entered the apartment, and Abby walked immediately into the living room. "Oh my God!" she cried when she realized what Jimmy Palmer was doing, and with what. "You weren't kidding about the piano!"

Ziva smiled at her. "You didn't believe me?"

Abby glanced at her, returning her eyes to Jimmy almost immediately. "Well, no! I mean, I didn't doubt that you—Okay, maybe I did, but…" she trailed off awkwardly.

"You've left Abby speechless. Congratulations," Gibbs spoke from directly behind them. Abby jumped, spinning to face him.

"J—Gibbs!" she was thrown off guard to see him, not having realized that he was already in the apartment.

"Mr. Bowman" he greeted Gabriel, running an appraising eye over him. He stood calmly under the gaze without flinching – being threatened by Ian Nottingham multiple times will do that to a person.

"Mr. Gibbs," he smiled politely. Abby wrapped an arm around his back, resting her head on his shoulder and trying not to watch for Gibbs' reaction.

"What are you doing in New York?" Gibbs asked Gabriel.

"Gibbs, stop it. He's not one of your suspects in interrogation," Abby defended her friend.

"Abby," Gibbs said in that particular way, and she fell silent at once. Gabriel looked a bit unnerved.

"Detective Pezzini had a case that led her here. I felt like a holiday so I tagged along."

"Where's Tony?" McGee asked, entering from the kitchen with a drink in hand.

"I didn't invite him," Ziva stated, following behind him. Abby's eyebrows shot up.

"Why not!"

Ziva stared fixedly at the wall behind the piano. "I want to have him for a—private dinner tomorrow night." It was the first, and probably last time that Abby had ever seen the Mossad agent blush. Gabriel rested a hand on her shoulder, and she gave him a smile.

I'm fine, I'm not in love with her, she signed at him. He didn't look as if he believed her, but he made no comment. She glanced over at Gibbs, and released a breath when she realized he hadn't seen her quick interaction with Gabriel.

"Gabriel, how long will you be in town?" McGee asked, perching on the arm of a chair.

Gabriel shrugged. "It's hard to say. However long it takes Pez to solve the case."

McGee nodded. "Tell her and Ian I say 'hi'."

Gabriel frowned at him. "Will do."

"Where's Ducky?" Abby asked in the awkward silence that followed the exchange.

"He couldn't make it," Gibbs stated. "It's his mother's birthday today."

"Oh," Abby nodded, and the silence returned.

"Abby? Can I talk to you?" McGee asked suddenly. Abby shook her head almost before the words had left his mouth.

"Not now. Not tonight, Tim."

Ziva and Abby exchanged a multitude of looks. "I'll be right back," the Israeli stated, moving into the kitchen. Abby knew she wanted her to follow her, but she couldn't handle any kind of conflict at the moment, and she certainly couldn't handle sympathy.

"This is fun," she stated instead, pulling Gabriel over to the sofa and sitting down.

"Play something for us, Jimmy," McGee said out of the blue. The young morgue assistant froze, and blushed a bright red.

"Uh—I'm not that good…"

"If it sucks we'll stop you," Abby told him. He ducked his head, and turned to the keys.

The rest of the night passed with Abby playing the 'I'm invisible and attached to Gabriel at the hip' game. The only person there she would get through a conversation with without having a nervous breakdown was Jimmy, and he was much too infatuated with her to have intelligent conversation. By the time they left she was as taut as a guitar string, and about as breakable.

"Abby?" Gabriel asked when they returned to her apartment. She didn't respond, just pushed him against the wall and kissed him as hard as she could.

XXX

"We're bloody self-destructive, you realize?" he asked her much later, stretched out beside her in bed as she played with the deck of tarot cards on her night stand.

"Uh huh."

"Abby, I love Sara."

She didn't look at him. "Yeah, I know. It's okay. We were using each other. I know that, you know that. It's all good."

"McGee's good for you."

She rolled over, glaring at him. "No, he's not. I told Ziva to flirt with him. See what he'd do. And he fell for it hook, line and sinker. She could have had him chained to her bed if she wanted it."

"Well he's a hell of a lot better than Gibbs! That man, Abby, he scares me. He's got some sort of control over you."

Abby buried her head in her pillow. "I'm not a weak person."

"I know." They lay silently together for long hours until Gabriel's cell rang. He reached over Abby to grab it from the night table, and flipped it open.

"Gabriel Bowman." Abby watched him as he listened to the caller on the other end. "Yeah. I'm with Abby. –No, Sara, not like that! We're just friends! Yeah. You with Ian? Yeah. Wow, that was fast. Yeah. Kay. Cool. No, I can remember. See you soon. Yeah. Love you."

He hung up and fell back on his back, staring at the ceiling. "She's with Ian," he said flatly.

"And you're with me," Abby replied.

He nodded. "Yeah."

Abby sat up. "You need to go?"

He nodded. "They closed the case last night."

"It's four AM."

"Still technically last night. Our flight leaves at seven-thirty."

Abby nodded. "You need a ride?"

He shook his head. "I'm good. They're picking me up."

"Kay. Cool."

"Yeah."

"Look, Gabe, I'm—"

"Yeah. Me too, Abs."

XXX

By the end of the next day Abby's mind had been pushed past the point of mental breakdown. She was ready to strangle Gibbs, and had bitten off all of her nails worrying about Ziva and Tony. When McGee came down to tell her that they were back she offered him a smile. When she saw Ziva she hugged her, and her words 'I'm glad you're alive' meant more than any deep hearted speech could have ever conveyed. And she did not look at Gibbs until everyone else had left and she was the only person to witness it. That was better, she thought. The less witnesses the less people that know. And she kept this resolution all the way to his car when he asked her if she wanted a coffee.

"Of course," she replied before she thought it through. And as they pulled up outside of DC Beans, she made up her mind. If she didn't tell him that night, she would call McGee when she got home and apologize for something that wasn't her fault and set up another date.