-1Okay, this one's short, I apologize. And it took forever, apologize again. Writer's block sucks. But hopefully the next chapter will come easier. If Gibbs seems a bit out of character in this one, it was not my intention, but I considered the circumstances and tried to figure out how he'd act faced with this situation, and this is what I came up with. Again, writer's block sucks; I really didn't know what to do with this chapter. I hope it turned out better than it sounded to me while I wrote it, but it'll get me to the next chapter, where I do know what I'm doing. I like reviews! Thanks.

Chapter Five

It was the longest night of Gibbs' life, but he made it through it. They both did. And as the sun shone a few stray rays through the curtains of the room's small window, he sat holding Abby's hand, listening to the now-steady beep of the heart monitor, and thanking God for the arrival of the morning many people had feared she wouldn't reach. The ordeal wasn't over yet, but it felt like a major milestone had been reached.

The transfusion had gone without a hitch, and there had been no adverse effects on either woman. They'd kept Ziva in the hospital overnight to make sure she rested; she hadn't argued. She wouldn't have left, anyways - none of the team would. And Abby did seem to be doing better. Her heartbeat had steadied and gained strength, and there had been no more scares; Dr. Richards had actually smiled the last time he'd been in to check on her, and told Gibbs things were looking up. Not fully trusting him, Gibbs had questioned Ducky on the doctor's next visit, and had been reassured by his optimism as well. But he knew he wouldn't feel completely calm again until she was awake and talking to him.

For now, he was doing enough talking for both of them. His initial nervous silence had been shoved violently away in those moments of panic when she'd nearly left him, replaced by a determination to tell her anything and everything while he still had the chance. And he did tell her, every little thing that came to his mind.

He told her about the boat he was building in his basement and how he knew she'd like it, like that model ship she'd shown him once that she'd made for the heck of it. He told her about old cases and funny memories and how he knew they could have solved that case ten years ago if they'd had a scientist as skilled as she was. He told her about old movies he liked and music he listened to and how he was kind of acquiring a taste for rock and metal just hearing it in her lab so often. He told her how sometimes it did get lonely at his house working on the boat all night and she'd been right when she said he could use some company. And he told her all the million reasons she needed to wake up, because he didn't want anyone but her to be that company.

When he ran out of things to talk about, he'd just start from the beginning again, and he always seemed to find more things to add each new time around. He told her things he'd never told anyone, things he'd hidden in his memories for years. He wondered what she'd think of him if she were awake to hear all this, and then realized he already knew: the same way she always did. He'd never known her to be judgmental; he didn't expect she'd start now. Knowing that, it felt even better to finally voice all these things, and he actually found himself looking forward to telling her all this again, after she woke up. Not all at once like this; they'd have a lot longer. If he had any say in the matter, they'd have a lifetime.

It was strange the way things changed. Yesterday he'd never guessed he'd be in a hospital for any reason, let alone for Abby; now here he was. When he'd first entered the room, he'd found the beeping of that monitor a bit annoying; now it was almost comforting. And a few hours ago, he never would have admitted anyone could get into his heart like this again; but now, there was no denying she'd snuck right in and taken it over without him even noticing, and what he once would never have admitted, he now couldn't wait to pour out to her.

"Life sure is strange," he commented, stroking the back of Abby's hand with his thumb. "But, you always have been good at stirring things up, ever since the day I met you." He remembered that day perfectly. He'd caught the director in the process of trying to rid himself of this perky young Goth girl who'd been hired to fill an open lab position - the problem was, no team had wanted to work with her. No one seemed to trust the strangely-dressed, fresh-out-of-college girl around complicated lab equipment. But something about her caught his attention. He'd taken her willingly when the director had asked him to give her a trial period, and soon a week had stretched into a month and then a year and kept on going, and she'd more than proved her competence. But that wasn't what stuck in his mind.

What he remembered was being introduced to her. She'd smiled that amazing smile of hers and, upon hearing he was a Marine, saluted smartly. She didn't seem at all put down by the long list of refusals, though she did seem like she was expecting another 'no'. But when he'd gone against expectation and said 'yes', she'd looked at him like his answer was the only one that mattered. Since that day he'd earned that look many times, and it never failed to make his heart beat a little faster.

"God, Abbs, I'm sorry. I've been so dumb not to figure this out earlier," he admitted with a sigh. It shouldn't have taken this to get him to realize he loved her. She'd nearly died, for God's sake, and he could have lost his chance before ever realizing he had one. He still could lose it, he was aware - 50/50 was not the most comforting percentage. But he wouldn't let her give up, not now, not after all this. He'd finally figured this out, and he was going to make sure he got the chance to tell her.