Spread My Secret, Shatter Me

by channelD

written for: the an NFA Fanfic Exchange The prompt I chose was: Breaking rules is never a smart idea, especially not if it is one of Gibb's rules.
rating: K plus
characters: Abby & Palmer (non-shippy), principally

- - - - -

Chapter One

The shattering of the semi-circular lab window as the barrel came flying through showered Abby and Jimmy with glass and also slush from the lawn. "Oh, my gosh! Oh, my gosh!" Abby cried over and over, checking herself for injuries. She didn't feel hurt, but there was blood on her hands, and she could feel dampness on her face.

"Abby! Abby! It's okay. Let's go down to Autopsy and get those cuts attended to." It wasn't often that Autopsy assistant and medical student Jimmy Palmer had an errand that took him to the lab. He had thought himself fortunate earlier that today was one of those prized days, and Abby had even been treating him almost kindly!. But now this had happened...

She was suddenly cognizant again that she wasn't alone. "Palmer! What happened?! What is that barrel doing in my lab?! And, oh gosh; do I look as bad as you??"

Jimmy was startled by that; he hadn't imagined that he might be hurt, too. He touched his face and grimaced briefly when his hands came away with blood. "I think a truck hit that pothole on the street; the one that we've all complained about." He peered out the high window as cold air gushed in through the break. "Yes, the driver at least has a flat. May have broken an axel. And that barrel looks like others on his truck and, um lying on the ground out there."

"What's in them, I wonder?" said Abby, now on the trail of a mystery. "There's no label of contents on this one."

"Isn't there, uh, some kind of law requiring that? Er...I think it's leaking." A trail of colorful, thick liquid was coming out of one side of the barrel.

"Oh," said Abby, and then added with understatement, "That can't be good."

People were coming out of the NCIS building now to see the damage to the truck. They stood in the February cold, chattering to each other, shaking their heads. Better was expected of the Navy in maintaining its roadways, as curious as those words seemed. Jimmy saw Gibbs crouch to examine the fallen barrels, glance at the truck, then glance his way and meet his eyes. Abruptly Gibbs got up and ran out of sight.

He was pounding into the lab within two minutes. "I'd no idea until I saw you two through the window," he said. "Good grief! Both of you, go see Ducky now!"

"Stop!!" Abby yelled. "Gibbs, don't come any closer! We have a spill of an unknown substance! Unless you know what's in those barrels, of course, and then it wouldn't be unknown, would it? I'm babbling, aren't I? I'm babbling because I'm scared, Gibbs."

Gibbs forced himself to remain calm, though he felt anything but that. "All right. Don't be scared. But you both need to get to Decontam immediately. We'll work on identifying this and getting it cleaned up."

"My poor lab," Abby moaned. She left, with a white-faced Jimmy trailing in her wake.

- - - - -

"Got it. Thank you, sir," Ziva hung up the phone. "Gibbs, it is a toxic chemical, according to the company files. They cannot explain why the barrels are unmarked. It seems that they want to blame that on the driver." She frowned.

"How toxic?" asked Gibbs.

"If Abby and Palmer did not get any on their skin, they should be fine."

Gibbs looked dubious. "Give the chemical name to McGee; have him check it out." He leaned back in his chair, deep in thought. Idiotic, careless driver. The pothole's not his fault, but he should have had the drums secured better...

- - - - -

After scrub downs, Abby and Jimmy were relieved to hear that they weren't considered to have been exposed to the chemical. Ducky took care of their cuts. "Can I go back to my lab now?" Abby mumbled, looking at the bandages on the palms of her hands.

"I'd recommend that you not do so, Abigail," said Ducky. "Take the rest of the day off, as I've instructed young Palmer to do. Give yourself a chance to heal."

"Besides, your lab isn't fit to work in yet," said Gibbs. "It's still being cleaned up. A glass company should be here shortly to board up the broken window, and then they'll replace the window tomorrow."

Abby nodded, dully, causing Gibbs to lift her chin and meet her eyes. "You sure you're okay?"

"I'm fine," she replied, unconvincingly. "I'm fine," she then repeated, making her voice a little stronger. "Can I go now?"

"Sure. See you tomorrow, Abbs." His eyes followed her, concerned.

- - - - -

Abby passed the Decontam area, then turned around and went in. As per usual, NCIS would cover the cleaning costs of clothing deemed not necessary to destroy. However, the turnaround time to retrieving said clothes could run as long as a week. Abby didn't want to wait that long to get back the t-shirt she'd been wearing under her lab coat. She had planned on wearing it again this weekend. It was a dull green shade, a most unusual color for her, but it had such a delightful image of a skull spewing green slime.

She reached for it in the pile of clothes in the hamper, and tugged the green garment to the top of the pile. Grudgingly, it separated from the rest of the clothes. But...when had it grown so...? With a sigh she realized that this was not her t-shirt; it was the trousers of Jimmy's scrubs. The two greens were very close in color.

With a shrug, she was about to toss the trousers back into the hamper when something fell out of the pocket and clinked softly to the floor. What…? It was a necklace, made of beads. Pretty beads; of stones she couldn't entirely identify in this light. Tiny pink pearls here and there; those she recognized. Delicate little silver spacers separated some of the beads.

Abby looked for the clasp, out of habit: when she shopped for jewelry, she had certain types of clasps that she liked, and ones that would put her off from buying the necklace. She didn't believe in fussy things that required ten minutes of fumbling to secure. Life was too short. To her surprise, there was no clasp…the cord ends were simply tied off in knots; one end much longer than the other.

This is a necklace still being made! She knew a little about jewelry making; had flirted with it for awhile in graduate school. After the beads of a necklace were strung, they had to hang for awhile to get the cord to stretch into shape with the beads' weight. Then the clasp could be added.

Now what in the world would Palmer be doing with a necklace unless… Nah. Abby started to giggle, and soon was doubled over with laughter. Palmer, a jewelry maker?? That was just so…un-guylike! If Tony ever found out, he'd never stop ribbing him. Assuming that Tony didn't die of shock, or laughter, first. Even McGee would snort and snort until his cheeks looked like a chipmunk's.

Well, never mind, Palmer; your secret's safe with me, Abby grinned, slipping the necklace back into the trousers pocket. Back into the hamper it went, and out came her t-shirt. I won't tell. She was laughing as she pulled on her coat and took the elevator up.