Title: Commitment phobics
Characters: Tony DiNozzo/Abby Sciuto
Summary: Sometimes people suspect you of doing something you didn't do. If they keep suspecting will it become true eventually?
Rating: NC-17 (just to make sure)
Disclaimer: Written out of fan-appreciation I do neither own NCIS nor the characters I just borrowed them to play around with, so don't sue, please?
She walked over to the bar, her feet in stiletto boots that would have left a less practised women stumbling around like a drunken sailor on shore leave. She had just spent the last half hour dancing in said shoes and was now really thirsty. Behind her the stroboscope light was erratically illuminating the dance floor, freezing the dancers in mid motion each time it hit them. White powdered faces gleamed bluish in the light and red lips appeared almost purple.
The bass of the music vibrated through her body like a second heart beat. She was smiling, completely at ease, feeling content with the world, her life and this evening in particular.
Abby slightly leaned across the bar to place her order. Since she could imagine the bartender was sick of always being called 'hey' all night, she made a point out of reading his name from the little metallic tag that was pinned to his shirt, " Gordon," she smiled at him kindly. "do you have any green drinks?"
He looked at her strangely, trying to figure out whether he had misheard her thanks to the loud background noise of the club, "Sorry?" Gordon asked hesitantly.
The young woman's smile broadened. Her facial expression had a innocent, childlike quality to it, that compelled him to actually clarify the situation instead of just callously shrugging his shoulders and pointing at the mirror behind the bar on which tonight's special offer were scribbled as he usually did in case of doubt.
"You know…a green drink. I usually have a Zombie, 'cause that's my favourite. It's not just because of the name I actually love the taste, but tonight I saw this girl with this green cocktail in her hand and I thought, hey, that actually looks like something from a cartoon…like a potion. Really cool," she noticed his unblinking, slightly confused stare and concluded her ramble, "So do you have any?"
"Sure…you mean a Grasshopper?" he laughed softly and shook his head.
"Oh, yes…probably," at that he nodded with a lopsided grin and disappeared to mix the requested drink, which left Abby with some time to kill. She popped her head in time with the music, while her black pigtails swayed to the rhythm of the song. Her eyes were curiously roaming over the waiting partygoers that had formed a beeline around the bar. They briefly settled on a couple. He had his hand slung around her midriff as they waited together for their drinks to arrive. His chin was propped up on her shoulder and she smiled…cute…Then there was this guy, totally inconspicuous , who almost faded back in the crowd that was always overlooked by the girl who tended the bar besides Gordon. If he just acted with a little more determination…She was ripped out of her musing when her drink was placed in front of her.
"That the one?" Gordon asked with a smile.
"Yep, score!" she grinned at him and shoved a bill in his direction. Abby closed her dark red lips around the straw and took a sip of the neon green liquid that was swivelling in her glass as she made her way through the crowd, back to her friends.
Tonight was Saturday. The start of another well-deserved weekend and as much as she loved her job, she had spent all week looking forward to this night. It was "Try-something-new"-Saturday, which meant that they picked a club they had never been to and gave it a test run. If it turned out to alright, they would go there again if not they had at least broken out of their weekly routine. It usually was fun, but tonight was better than most.
She spotted Sasha's blue hair somewhere in the crowd. When they had gotten ready to go out tonight Abby had teased her, that she would never wear that whig in public. The other woman had just stuck out her chin in determination, murmured a semi-gruff 'watch me' and put it on. To their surprise it had actually looked good and so she had left it on in honour of tonight. After all this too was something new.
Sasha greeted Abby with a broad grin, as she watched her approach "Praise the lord! So you finally got your green drink. Is it any good?"
"Want some?" she recognized the curious look on her friend's face and held out her drink to her.
Sasha eagerly nodded her head and Abby had to smile. They had known each other ever since she moved to Washington…which had been about five years ago. One day she had gone shopping (she rarely did, because most of the time she ordered her clothing via internet) and both women had reached for the same t-shirt. They had fallen into conversation, the conversation had extended to drinking coffee together, the t-shirt was completely forgotten by then...Well, that's how she had met her best friend. She knew Sasha inside out, just like she knew all of Abby's little quirks.
She handed her back the glass, "Wow! Careful with that…that ain't no Caf-pow, sis. If you inhale this stuff like you usually do with your power drinks, then you gonna end up with one hell of a headache tomorrow," Sasha told her in a motherly tone, but then got distracted when she spotted her boyfriend Matt on the dance floor and gave him a wave, "Do you want to dance some more?"
"Good idea! Since the music's so good it's kind of hard to stand still for too long," Abby answered, her voice was smokier than usually thanks to her eagerness to talk even over the loud background noise of the club.
They made their way through the crowd and halfway to the dance floor someone pumped into Abby. The drink fell from her hand, she stumbled and twisted her ankle in a funny way. The man that had collided with her had at least the sense of decency to apologize profusely and grab her ere she could hit the floor. She could hear Sasha providing the acoustic background to the scene screaming insults and accusing the man of running around like a headless chicken.
"Are you alright, honey?" she asked, when she was done verbally abusing the poor guy.
"I guess," she reached down to feel her ankle. It felt okay, minimal pain, but when she reached further down she noticed that her heel had broken off. "Aargh!" she let out a loud scream of frustration, "Aaaaah! That's so typically me. Do you know how many times this damned heel has broken off in the last few weeks?"
"Do you want me to pay for it?" the guy offered immediately, a young man in his mid twenties with shoulder long black hair that wore a black leather duster and a suitably preoccupied expression on his face.
"Uhm…no, thanks," Abby answered distractedly and clumsily fumbled around with the broken off heel only to finally stuff it in her purse shortly after, where it submerged in a strange array of bizarre objects "I guess you didn't do it on purpose."
"Let me at least buy you a new drink," he offered kindly.
"The least you could do," Sasha hissed at him.
"No, honestly I'm fine. Sasha, I think I'm gonna head home."
"Your leaving, just because of this jerk…"
"You know I'm standing right here. I can still hear you," the man protested.
Sasha dismissed his interjection with an irritated wave of her hand and the guy turned to leave shaking his head in annoyance. Her friend didn't even seem to notice, "Do you want me to come with you, Abs? You know you just have to say a word an Matt and I will get you home. Absolutely no problem."
"Oh!" Abby felt the sudden urge to hug her and gave into that impulse a second later, completely ignoring Sasha's expression of mock disgust. "That's so cute, but go and have some fun. You and Matt deserve it. I'll hobble home and grab a cup of coffee on the way."
"Are you sure," her friend asked with a preoccupied frown on her face.
"Positive," she mock saluted with her hand.
Minutes later Abby had thrown over her black cape and stepped out on the street. The bouncer held the door for her courteously. It was metallic and oddly reminded her of Ducky's lab. Outside a cool breeze swept over her and she shivered a little, since her body was still heated up from dancing and the couple drinks she had had.
Across the street she spotted an all night diner, which was very Edward Hopper. It looked clean, almost sterile from the outside, with lots of glass windows, but hey, that was only a plus. They couldn't spit in your coffee without you noticing.
When Abby stepped inside the diner the patrons – an old man and a bored looking middle aged couple – gave her a callous once-over. She self-consciously tugged at the hem of her cape. Her stocking glad legs were mostly uncovered thanks to the short pinstripe dress she wore underneath. She hoppled over to the counter like a wounded deer. The old man raised his eyebrows when he saw the spider web tattoo on her neck, but then he quickly averted his eyes. He was a regular and came here every night. Occasionally some strays from the club across the street ended up here.
The waitress behind the counter looked at her in a funny way. Maybe it was because she looked even paler in the fluorescent light. Spending the better part of the day cooped up in a lab tended to do that to you. Not that she actually minded. She preferred paleness to getting skin cancer. Some people foolishly spent all of their free time sizzling under the sun in order to get the perfect tan models in beauty magazines displayed without even thinking about the risks involved.
Abby plopped down on one of the stools that stood at the counter. "Could I get a coffee, please?" her voice had the tone of a petulant child that had just been told she was not allowed to get anything from the ice cream truck this time. It was hard to resist its lure and appear unfazed by it.
"Bad night?" the waitress, a stout woman in her forties asked as she poured Abby the coffee.
"You could say that. My favourite pair of boots got ruined and I've got some sticky drink all over my dress…well, not just some sticky drink as a matter of fact I know precisely what it was. After all I ordered it," she let out a huff and took a sip from her coffee. Ah, the good stuff! She reached for the sugar and was only content when she had emptied half of it into her cup.
The ringing of the bell above the door announced the arrival of another customer. They were really cueing in tonight. This time it was a young man – handsome, maybe early to mid-thirties, a boyish smile and the glint of mischief in his eyes. The waitress's reaction to him was not as hesitant as it had been when she interacted with the young woman that had just arrived. This guy qualified for the endearment 'honey' she reserved for regulars she liked or people she could potentially grow to like.
"What can I get you, honey?"
"A Coffee would be nice…," his eyes caught sight of the muffins that were artfully displayed behind glass. He pointed at one with sugar frosting on top, his mouth already watering, "and one of these, please."
Abby turned her had to look. She recognized this voice, it was hard not to after four years of working together almost everyday. "Tony!" she called out which made him look up and acknowledge her presence with an equally enthusiastic "Abby!" They were happy to see each other, as happy as two people could be about seeing a friendly face at the end of a relatively bad night.
He got up, walked over to her. As he made his way across the diner she couldn't help but notice the fine suit he wore and his polished leather shoes that were letting out obnoxious screeches as he walked over the linoleum floor. He let himself slump casually on the stool next to her.
"Not so hot date?" she looked at him with a mocking smile on her face.
"More like the psycho date from hell," a shudder went through his body at the mere thought of it, partially for the sake of putting on a show and also because a surge of honest horror overcame him at the mere recollection of the past few hours.
"Okay, okay! Let me guess," Abby held her hand to her forehead like a fortune-teller gazing into a crystal ball, "Are we talking Kathleen Turner in 'War of the Roses' or was she more like Glenn Close in 'Fatal Attraction'?" she bounced excitedly in her seat.
"Neither…," Tony grinded his teeth in frustration, "Actually more like 'How to lose a guy in ten days'. That movie still makes me shiver. Every time I see Kate Hudson I keep thinking 'Run, Tony! Run! She's the devil'…" he inserted a meaningful pause, "Well, she actually asked what I thought about long term commitment, marriage and kids….I mean…can you believe that? I know I'm hot, but jeez! That was just our second date. I hate such high hopes for us...for tonight."
She mostly ignored his chauvinistic comment and settled on just giving him a patented eye-roll. "I'm guessing you went to that place across the street," he nodded his consent and Abby continued, "So you decided to drown your sorrows in coffee?" the mug with the steaming hot beverage was just placed in front of him, when she made her remark.
"That was the plan," he nodded and took a greedy bite from his muffin that had arrived along with it. "You?" he asked while chewing on one side of his mouth.
"I went clubbing with friends, had to call it an early night, because I broke of my heel," he looked at her shoes almost involuntarily.
"Wow! Those are freaking hot!" he acknowledged appreciatively.
"You think?" she asked with a grin, pleased of having received a compliment for her favourite pair of shoes.
"Yeah, plus one heel of course," he gave her an impish grin, which faded right after she smacked him on the back of his head as a punishment for his teasing comment, "Ouch!" Tony rubbed the spot were she had hit him overdramatically, "now that was just plain cruel. It's the weekend I have to regenerate the sore spot on the back of my head for Monday."
"It's called operant conditioning."
"Huh?" he took the sip of his coffee and stuffed the remains of the muffin in his mouth
"Operant conditioning," she said the term like it should mean anything to him, "Didn't you have a pet when you were a kid?"
"I always wanted a dog. Of course, my mother didn't allow me to get one. She said it would ruin the carpets and chew up her shoes," he shrugged his shoulder, while the hint of a pout delineated on his face and made his nonchalance act less credible.
"Poor baby!" she gave him a sympathetic pet on the shoulder, "Well, my mum loved cats. We had two, but they were too stubborn for being trained. Kind of like you actually," he shot her a dirty look, but she continued totally unfazed, "They always yawned and fell asleep when I tried it on them…Anyways it works like that: the subject, that would be you, Tony, exhibits some behaviour you would like to have occur less frequently, so you punish the subject. Wag!" her voice was getting louder out of enthusiasm and her exclamation at the end had the middle age couple that was sitting a few meters away from them jump in their seats. Tony smiled. "After that the occurrence of the undesired behaviour should gradually diminish. Of course, there is also positive reinforcement, which would mean Gibbs would have to order you a pizza every time you come up with a good idea…"
"So you're saying Gibbs is basically trying to train me like a pet?" Tony looked at her indignantly.
"Unsuccessfully though!" she tried to back-paddle, thinking she had made a mistake by telling him.
A wink and a smile relieved her of that worry, "Well, I have no intention of being a good boy anytime soon. Keeps the Bossman on his toes, plus I love the way Ziva gets flustered when she's angry."
Outside a sudden downpour started raining down on the street and made the pavement shimmer. The steady beat of the raindrops drummed incessantly against the tin roof of the diner. The waitress went to turn up the radio to drown out the noise.
By now they had both emptied their cups and since leaving was temporarily out of question, they decided to order another round. Tony waved his arms and pointed at their empty cups when he had caught the waitress's attention.
"Do you want to get married?" Abby had just taken a small sip of her by now refilled cup of coffee. She coughed a little when her mind wrapped around the words that had just left Tony's mouth without him thinking about it.
"What?!" she looked at him with wide-eyed as if he had just sprouted a horn on his forehead.
"That girl…Susan, you know, my date tonight….she kept going on about how she wanted to get married someday, have the mandatory 2.5 kids," he shook himself like a wet dog, "It's just a scary thought that this is what all women want."
His was practically begging her with his eyes to say 'no', "Well, I suppose not all women do," she commenced carefully, since she could tell it was a sensitive subject, "Especially the getting married part…Of course, when you really think about it it's a very brave thing to do, because you're promising to be with that one person for the rest of your life. Naturally marriage was never supposed to last this long. Now with a higher life expectancy you have to 'put up' with your significant other for at least five decades," he smiled at her choice of words. "Back in the day people just had the decency of dying earlier so that as long as you both shall life was not that long actually…"
"Interesting piece of information, but that doesn't answer my question, Miss Sciuto," he leaned on the counter looking at her with a mock serious glance.
"Okay, okay," she sighed, "I think to get married you have to meet the right kind of guy first - Mr. Super-Fantastic, but I guess Mr. Super-Fantastic is just some kind of myth like the Tooth Fairy or Santa Clause. Plus, I'm doing pretty well on my own. I don't need Mr. Super-Fantastic in my life to make me happy, I have my friends, work… Life is pretty good basically."
"Uh-hum," Tony nodded slowly. "So what about the 2.5 kids?"
"I like kids, don't get me wrong. I even caught myself cooing over my cousin's baby like a girly girl. She has such cute little chubby cheeks and those tiny fingers. I could eat her all up… "
"Literally or figuratively speaking?" he interjected with a mischievous grin on his face. The remark earned him a swat on the arm.
"Still…I wouldn't want to have kids. I'm just not ready for changing diapers, for waking up to a crying toddler and for the load of responsibility that suddenly gets dumped on your shoulders. I'm still young and I like to be a little irresponsible now and then," she waggled her eyebrows suggestively, "Plus, I've still got plenty of time to make up my mind about the whole thing. It's not like the clock's ticking, you know," she shrugged her shoulders casually.
"See, that's what I'm talking about! Tell that to Scary Susan! She already had me thinking all women were loons," he nodded vigorously in affirmation of her statement and emptied his second cup of coffee, feeling slightly chipper thanks to the caffeine buzz.
The sudden arrival of the waitress ripped them out of conversation, "I'm sorry, kids," she addressed them with a professional, but fake bitter sweet smile, "but it's almost midnight and we're closing in five minutes…"
"Alright," Tony said and reached for his wallet, "what do we owe you?" he asked and paid for their order without leaving Abby anytime to protest.
"Thanks," she said somewhat begrudgingly. It felt uncomfortable having someone else buy her coffee.
"No problem," he answered casually.
They stepped outside, but staid on the doorstep so that the roof of the diner was protecting them from the pouring rain. It didn't look like it would stop anytime soon. They stood there for a while indecisively.
"Do you want me to drive you home?" Tony asked suddenly. His question came out somewhat blunt thanks to the minutes of silence that had passed between filled only by the sound of the falling rain.
"You would do that? I could call a taxi…"
He gave her the look, "I basically got raised by my parent's housemaid, but I still got some manners. I'm going to take you home, period."
"Okay," she said with a shy lop-sided grin", if you're being so adamant about it."
"You can bet cha," he gave her broken boots a suspicious glance, "But you're not going to get very far in those."
She nodded. He stepped in front of her and gave her a wave with his head, "Okay, this completely undermines my coolness, but I'm sure no one will see, so jump on."
"Really?" she asked with a glint of childlike delight in her eyes.
"Really," he answered and gave her a boyish smile.
The waitress inside the diner was just cleaning the tables when she saw the strange couple from before running down the street. The man was carrying the woman pickaback and from what she could make out through the window panes, which were blurry thanks to the water that ran down on the outside of them, the woman was having a happy smile plastered on her face. People these days! She shook her head and continued cleaning.
Tony reached his car slightly out of breath. "We're there," he announced panting. Abby took his comment as the signal to get off his back which allowed him to rummage for his car keys inside his jacket pockets. He produced them with a triumphant laugh only moments later and they quickly got inside the car. It was a nice car, from what she could tell a BMW convertible (its roof was closed, of course) looking suspiciously it had been taken straight out of a James Bond movie. Tony had bought it a week ago. She could pinpoint the date so precisely, because he had been going on and on about it at work. Personally, she thought, that he was trying to console himself over the loss of his beloved Corvette. The fact that he been constantly raving about his beautiful new car, caused her to skip over complimenting him on it. (It was really nice though)
"That was fun," she told him with a grin. Her wet hair was sticking to her face and she successfully resisted the urge to wrench out her pigtails. She supposed that he wouldn't appreciate it, especially with the leather seats and all.
"Yeah," he smiled back at her, "suddenly I can imagine what Kevin Costner must have felt like when he did Waterworld," Tony added on an afterthought. He twisted the keys in the ignition and the engine sprang to life as did the radio. The velvety voice of Dean Martin and soft tunes of jazzy music filled the car.
Their drive through nightly Washington was accompanied by this soundtrack. Conversation had come to a standstill, but neither of them was bothered by it. The silence was comfortable and only interrupted when Tony hummed along to 'That's amore'. Abby smiled to herself and looked out of the window. Her reflection looked back at her contently from the window pane.
They pulled up to her condo and Tony turned of the engine. That was the part were one of them was supposed to say something, she remembered. She was always good with filling the silence - an ability she had acquired during her early childhood and had brought to perfection in the course of passing years.
"So," she stretched out the vowel of this small word exaggeratedly, "I don't know about you, but I'm still on a caffeine rush. I've already had two Caf-pows today, you do the maths. If you want you could come up, dry of and we could watch a movie or something. Sounds good?"
"Yep," he nodded in agreement. They got out of the car and ran over to the entrance of the condo. It was a rather futile attempt of evading the rain, since they were already drenched. Tony tried not to think about the implication their long ride through Washington would have for the leather seats inside his car.