Disclaimer: I don't not own Gibbs, Abby, or the hand cuffs. pout

Spoiler Alert: Based on a screen cap from ep 4.01, so spoilers for the beginning of the season. Maybe.

Notes: Written for brightillusions who wanted a fic to explain one particular picture.

II

She doesn't turn at the sound of someone clearing their throat. She assumes it is Tony, or maybe McGee trying to avoid another lecture about lingering in the doorway. She's in the middle of loading her mass spec, though, and doesn't take the time to look over at the doorway.

"Just a minute," she says as she slips the glass vile into an empty slot. She's about to reach for the next vile when the throat clearer speaks.

"Take your time."

Abby whips her head around so fast she's certain she's given herself whiplash. She doesn't care. The man standing in the doorway isn't Tony or McGee. It's Gibbs. He looks almost like a stranger in the casual blue shirt and chinos with his gray hair longer then she had ever seen it and a two-day growth of scruff on his face. Uncertainty keeps her frozen until he gives her an enigmatic half smile, and then she recognizes her Gibbs.

"Gibbs Gibbs Gibbs!" She runs across the room and throws herself into his arms. He is ready for her, not faltering in the slightest as he catches her and returns her hug. They stand there in silence for long minutes. Abby is the first to pull away. "I should be mad at you. You left us." Left me she silently adds.

"I had to, Abbs. I couldn't stay here. Not after everything that happened." There is no hint of apology in his voice, but as he speaks he rubs his fist over his heart in small circles. I'm sorry he says in the language that is just theirs.

"But you're back now, right?" It's been hard working here without him when everything holds a memory of him. If he leaves again she's not sure she'll stay at NCIS for long.

"I'm back in DC," he says. "I'm not sure about coming back to work, though." He runs his fingers over his chin, and Abby has to wonder if he stopped shaving because it was completely unmilitary. He didn't look like a Marine, or a decorated field agent. He looked like a man who spent his days on the beach. Given that the few cards she had received over the summer had been postmarked from Mexico, the beach was probably where he had been spending much of his time.

"You have to come back, Gibbs. Everything is off without you here. Tony doesn't joke around as much, Ducky misses you, the new agent is completely by the book, and hardly anyone brings me Caf-Pows anymore." Turning from him for just a moment, she riffles through a drawer to find the item she had stashed there in anticipation of Gibbs' return.

"Tony is doing fine as team leader, I'll visit Ducky and let him tell his stories, you guys will break in the new agent, and I'll take care of your Caf-Pows, okay?"

"Not good enough." With a speed and smoothness that reveals more about Abby then he's comfortable knowing, she fastens the loop of a handcuff around his wrist. The other half encircles her own wrist.

"Abby." Exasperation is clear in his voice, and she revels in the sound. No one gets annoyed with her the way Gibbs does. He raises his hand, lifting hers at the same time, "What is this?"

"The last time I let you walk away from me you disappeared for months. I'm going to make sure you don't do that again." She smiles at him, nodding as if handcuffing herself to her boss was a normal thing to do.

"Not very practical, Abbs. Among other things you can't do your job like this."

"Sure I can. That's why the handcuff is on my left hand, so my dominant hand is free. And don't forget that old saying about two heads being better then one." To prove her point she returns to her earlier task loading the mass spec. As she moves around the lab Gibbs is forced to move with her. After ten minutes of not being in control of his own movements he relents.

"What do you want, Abby?"

"You know what I want, Gibbs."

"I already told you I was staying in DC. I'm not leaving again, Abbs. I promise."

"It's not the same." She looks at him briefly, but returns her gaze to the table in front of her. "I'm totally capable of taking care of myself, but it's still nice to know that someone cares enough to look out for me. You're the only person I've ever trust completely to be there."

"Abby." He uses the fingers of his free hand to cup her cheek and turn her head so that she is looking at him. "I don't have to be at NCIS to be here for you. I am always here if you need me."

"Always?" she asks.

"Always," he promises.

"Okay." Abby reaches into her skirt pocket and removes a small silver key. She fits it into the handcuff lock and turns it. "So where's my Caf-Pow?" she asks cheekily.

Gibbs laughs and kisses her forehead.