Sorry for the delay! My computer was being rebellious; an experience I'm sure many of you empathize with. After screaming at it angrily and beating it soundly with a trout, it's working again.
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Five Months Later
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With the paper spread before him on the kitchen table, Gibbs perused the news with one eye and watched Abby with the other. She was munching happily on a piece of toast, the instruction manual for his remote control propped up on the edge of her plate as she studied how to program his television. She'd only been at it for a few minutes, but Gibbs had the feeling that the T.V had just evolved rapidly into something scarily futuristic.
She brushed crumbs from her shirt. Technically, it was his shirt; the old black button down from their first encounter in the hospital, but she'd claimed it as hers. It was several sizes too big for her and fell to her thighs, but he didn't really want to steal it back if she was going to be wearing it all the time. Especially with just underwear underneath.
The first few buttons were undone, and when she reached down to scratch her ankle, it gaped open and Gibbs felt that perhaps the newspaper could wait. He studied the progress of her skin. Her chest was still sore, the scars and stitches sensitive and for a long time, Gibbs had treated her delicately. He still did, but she'd long ago stopped flinching if something came into contact with the wounds. Her progression to sleeping on her stomach had been something of a milestone.
She looked back at the instruction booklet. "I know you're looking down my shirt, Gibbs."
He raised an eyebrow. "My shirt. I was just seeing how the scars were coming along."
'Scars' wasn't a word they skirted around. She took another bite of her toast and flicked a page. "They don't hurt any more. I can get you Digital." She looked up at him and smiled.
He nodded, at her comment about the scars; he didn't have a clue what Digital was. They were still pink, but they weren't raw. He'd traced along and around them many a time with his thumb. He knew them like they were his own.
Abby had been somewhat shy about them at first. Somewhat in that she had pretended she wasn't, but her feigned indifference hadn't fooled him. Five months after the shooting, she wouldn't let him take her top off, and he'd been alright with that. Except that Abby had never struck him as a person who liked to have sex with clothes on, she'd always been happy with her body. He'd managed to talk her out of them eventually; it's not like scars were an issue to him.
Gibbs lowered her to the bed, resting her head on the pillows. Making sure not to rest his chest against hers, her shifted over her slightly. He slipped his hand to her hip, rubbing his thumb in gentle circles over the bone but didn't move any further. He was surprised when her hand fell on his and moved it upward, sliding it up her side. His thumb brushed the underside of her left breast lightly and she smiled against his lips. He felt the material of her shirt shift slightly, and realized that she was lifting her top up. Gripping the hem, he helped her pull it up and away.
She stood suddenly and moved to the television. As she poked a few buttons experimentally, Gibbs didn't fail to notice the way the shirt rose up when she leant over.
When she turned, he glanced quickly back to the paper, but she wasn't fooled. "You've got sex on the brain, Gibbs."
That wasn't really true. Gibbs was long past the randy teenager stage of his life, but it was just that sex with Abby was so very good. It was mostly an appreciation for her body; not in a way that ignored her mind, but rather in a way that was thankful for the fact that beneath her pale skin, blood circulated and air flowed. He'd seen her body prepare for death; seen her blood spill out from her and onto the pavement, into his jacket and over his hands. He'd heard her breathing hitch and gasp and slow down and he'd stared into her eyes, eyes that had lost their focus, as the mind controlling them slipped into darkness. Quite frankly, the warmth of her skin was something he wanted pressed against him at all times.
Making a point of ignoring her, even though it was a show, he turned the page and pretended to pay her no mind.
She laughed and turned her attention back to the T.V. With the investigative gaze she used in the lab when studying the intricacies of blood splatter, she pointed the remote at the telly.
Voices suddenly sounded from the speakers and Gibbs looked up in surprise.
"Ah! Yes, see, you've got new channels already. I should have done this months ago. Oh! Angel! Don't you love reruns?"
Gibbs raised an eyebrow at her, as if to say "are you seriously asking me that?" but had to admit that the characters were familiar.
Freshly home from the hospital – well, not home, because there was no way Gibbs was going to let her take care of herself – and resting on the couch in his living room, Abby eyed the television in fear and waited patiently for Gibbs to return. His television was not picking up any channels except the AV, so she'd made a list of videos to hire, because he hadn't quite progressed to DVD, given him her rental card, because there was no way he'd have one himself and sent him on his way.
He came back with a couple of episodes of Buffy, The West Wing, Doctor Who and Angel. He said that the blonde girl on the cover of the West Wing was cute and that there was no way in hell he was watching a show about a time-traveling alien, so she tapped the Angel video with a glare and instructed him to put it on. She didn't tell him it was about a vampire, but that was neither here nor there.
Sitting on the floor, his back to the couch and her knees, he stared curiously at the Federal Warning about piracy. Her astonishment at how out of touch Gibbs was rising every second, she made a mental list of things they had to borrow down the track.
"See, that's Cordy. She used to be really rich and snobby back when she was on Buffy, but now she's dedicated to fighting evil and helping the helpless."
As a hulking beast with a slimy purple head appeared on the screen, Gibbs protested that when he'd said he didn't watch alien shows, he also meant he didn't watch monster shows. The ensuing fight scene between the monster and the guy in the duster pacified him somewhat.
"Ah ha! I see recognition in yours eyes! You do remember watching this. Victory is mine, victory is mine. Great day in the morning people, victory is mine." She had a twinkle in her eyes as she said this, and even though he couldn't place it, he knew she was referencing something.
"I remember the pretty girl with the long brown hair. Cordy, did you call her? Yeah, she was cute."
Abby glared and he laughed. She made her way to the table and plopped down in her seat, picking up her now cold toast. Not deterred, she bit at the corner.
As Gibbs turned the page, something caught his eye. In the bottom right hand corner, against the fold in the middle, was a name he recognized. He read the small article.
Emma Stokes, (1924-2007) beloved mother of Cassie and Paul Stokes and devoted wife of Benjamin (1920-2007) passed away peacefully in her home this Friday morning, the twenty-sixth. She is loved and missed, but comfort is found in knowing that she led a full and happy life. She made lemonade from whatever was thrown her way.
With her Benjy once more.
Gibbs noted the header at the top of her article; "Fear not the rain. Rather, invest in a sturdy umbrella and find a friend to stand under it with."
Gibbs thought about Emma's big black umbrella, recalled standing under it in the rain as he waited for any improvement in Abby's condition. He looked up from the article to Abby. She was playing with a button on the shirt and reading the instruction booklet intently. Suddenly, reaching forward she unfolded the leaflet into a big A3 sheet. A diagram became visible and Gibbs was starting to get the impression that by the time she was done with the television, she'd have it propelling itself into space to take satellite images of Mars. He'd let her.
Abby was finally free of the hospital. With DiNozzo's arm around her waist, she thanked the orderly as he rolled her wheel-chair back inside. Gibbs was about to unlock the car when something caught his eye.
"Hang on, I'll be back in a minute." He pressed the button and opened the back door.
DiNozzo nodded and helped Abby into the car. Pausing briefly to see that she was ok, Gibbs made his way over to the tree that he'd stood under in the rain when he'd met Emma. The brolly was propped up against the trunk, and a note was tucked into one of the folds of the cover.
Crouching down, he plucked the umbrella from the tree and slipped the note out.
Dear Mr. Gibbs and Miss Forensic Scientist,
For the two of you, in forty years time..
Love and best wishes,
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Sappy, I know. I couldn't seem to help myself.
Thanks to everybody who read and reviewed this! My ego just bought an apartment in Paris, so rich was your praise.
I have a set of drabbles coming out soon that are a partner to this story. Basically, I'm assigning one to each character and exploring in more depth how they felt about Abby getting hurt. Mann for example, and the conversation between she and Gibbs about Abby. Ducky and McGee in particular still have things to say. There are things left to tie up, but I wanted this story to be apart from that.
Hope you enjoyed!