Abby: We should play poker sometime...
Gibbs: Yeah, we should.
"I'm tired of losing Probie…there I said it. You happy?"
McGee had to smile. "It's nothing to be ashamed of Tony…losing is part of life. Just happens to be a bigger part of yours lately."
Tony rolled his eyes and stood up. "Whatever McBluff…you haven't won a game yet either."
"Yeah, well I'm not the first one out every night."
Ziva snickered at her desk and looked up. "He is right Tony…I am new at the game and still manage to stay in longer than you."
Tony rolled his fingers into a fist. "It's that stare…every time I think I got the boss pegged. He gets me." He would've growled out loud if he didn't want to look even more annoyed. "I think I'm gonna pass on this weeks game."
"You can't quit Tony…you're the comic relief." McGee added. "Plus, I'll probably go out first if you're not there."
"I don't see the dilemma, you two have worked with him much longer than I have…and you still cannot read his stares?"
Tony and McGee exchanged glances. "Oh and you're an expert?"
Ziva nodded. "I think I am getting the hang of it…"
"Is that right?" Gibbs strode in and stopped at the front of her desk. "What's this look mean?"
Her eyes shifted downward and she nodded. "To shut our mouths?"
"Something like that…" He slid behind his desk and began to sip his coffee slowly. While the rest of his team gave their best attempt at looking busy.
Abby Scuito was reviewing poker strategies in her lab when Ducky entered with a smile.
"Preparing for tonight's game I see?"
"Trying to Ducky…Gibbs has beaten all of us silly. With the exception of you of course."
He had to smile. "I have known him the longest. I'd like to think I've picked up a thing or two over the years." He handed her a folder. "Need you to sign these please."
She reached for then and quickly signed her Jane Hancock. "There you go Duck Man."
"Thank you darling." He leaned over her shoulder and glanced at the strategies she had been reading.
"Little piece of advice my dear…when he gets that little smirk on the corner of his mouth…nine times out of ten, he is bluffing."
"What about that one other time?"
Ducky shrugged. "This is Gibbs we are talking about Abigail…he is not an exact science."
And after he was well out of hearing range, she quietly pouted to herself. "Tell me about it."
Gibbs arrived at her lab late that evening to pick her up and noticed the stacks of paper with poker tips near her computer. He couldn't help but smile; that was until she came out of her back office.
"Uh oh. I don't like that look."
Abby shrugged the comment off. "What look?"
He stepped closer and gently kissed her before pointing at her eyes. "That look."
"Just practicing my poker face, that's all."
He shook his head. "No that's not all…but okay, I'll accept it for now."
Gibbs was sensing a bit of hostility, but decided tonight was not the night to bring it up. He'd been having a blast winning every week; and though he may not have admitted it; really looked forward to spending time outside of work with his team.
Tony was on his third beer before the first hand was dealt. He figured he'd try a new strategy and drink earlier rather than later. McGee looked very focused as did Ziva. Ducky had a devilish grin as he fixed his eyes on Gibbs deal. Abby harbored a stone cold stare throughout the entire game.
Tony once again went out first; after misreading a bluff on Gibbs part. McGee stayed in one more hand than Ziva before the three silently awaited the winner. All three of them were pushing for anyone but Gibbs; but wouldn't dare show it.
Before the flop, Ducky had bravely raised two hundred. Abby was quick to call and watched as Gibbs raised an additional two hundred. Ducky called and each of them waited patiently as Abby slid the remainder of her chips into the pot. "I'm all in."
Gibbs managed a smirk, and cocked his head to the side as he tried to read her stare. Slowly but surely, he called which put him all in as well. And it as now back to Ducky; and although he had initially raised; he quickly realized he was out of his league. "I'll fold."
"Shall we flip them boss man?"
And with a nod, they did just that. Tony and the team were now standing over the table in anticipation. Abby turned over an Ace, Ten. While Gibbs turned a King, Jack.
It seemed as though everyone was holding their breath as the flop came.
Gibbs tried to hide his excitement as he paired his king, and cleared his throat as he burned one card and flipped another.
Abby didn't smile; as she knew full well; the only card that could finally defeat their fearless leader was an Ace. Tony tried to dampen his burp as the silence in that room was deafening. Gibbs set aside the burn card and slowly turned over the final card.
Ace of Spades.
He managed to soften his disappointment and slowly stood up as the rest of his team tried to hide their excitement. Ziva put her arms out in attempt to keep DiNozzo from fainting; while Tim high fived the winner.
Gibbs tried to smile. "Nice play Abs."
"I learned from the Master…" She watched him smile at her now favorite reference. "Better luck next time sweetheart."
He smiled towards her and reached for a beer of his own as Ducky and her battled out the final hands. Two hands and three of a kind later; Abby was bowing down gracefully to the Doctor.
"Thank you for taking out Jethro my dear…I fear I may never have won without him out of the picture."
She put out her hand and grinned. "All part of the game Duck man."
"But I'm afraid I wouldn't want to be you on the ride home tonight."
She laughed a bit. "Not to worry Ducky, he's all bark; no bite."
He opened the car door for her; before slipping into the driver's side. After a few minutes of silence she became a bit annoyed.
"You're not mad are you?"
Gibbs stifled a laugh. "Not a chance."
"Good. Cuz it's just a game…nothing to get upset about."
He turned to her. "Do I look mad to you?"
She slowly shook her head. "No."
"Okay then." She repeated and took to staring out the window. After a few more minutes of silence she couldn't resist. "You mad about something else?"
He swiftly pulled the car to the side of the road. "I am not mad. Haven't we been together long enough for you to tell when I'm mad?"
She shrugged. "True. Maybe I'm just a little off my game."
"You're more than right there."
"And what's that supposed to mean?"
He threw the car back into drive and pulled back onto the road. "Nothing."
She put her hands up and looked at him. "What are we fighting about?"
"We are not fighting."
"Oh yes we are."
"No we're not."
"Yes we are."
He let his action speak for him as he slammed the pedal down and exceeded the speed limit for the first time in months. Abby had been able to calm his driving techniques substantially during their relationship; and he knew better than anyone how much it would aggravate her.
"You slow down Gibbs…or so help me." Gibbs did nothing of the kind and quickly made a left turn. When they arrived at his home; Abby was speechless. They sat in silence for about ten minutes.
"So this mean I'm sleeping on the couch?"
Abby shook her head. "Not until you tell me what we just fought over."
He shrugged. "What we always fight about. Everything and nothing all at the same time."
She stared out the window for a few seconds then turned to him. "Are you saying it's me?"
He shook his head. "It's me."
"And what prey tell is wrong?"
He let his head hang low for the first time in a long time. "I'm not loving you like I should."
She tried to remind herself to breathe. "What are you talking about?"
"Face it Abs…it's just a matter of time. You'll want to get married…have a family. I don't know if I can do that again."
She tried to figure out how she had gone from beating him in a poker game just an hour before; to the seriousness of this conversation. "Gibbs…I'm not in any rush…"
"But you will be. I've seen the look in your eyes at night; when we make love. You're ready, and I don't know if I am." She reached out to caress his face and he pulled away. "I'm gonna hurt you. And I can't live with that."
"What are you saying?"
"I'm saying…I want to love you more. I want to love you with everything I have in me. And it's something I haven't been able to do for a long time."
"And you're scared?"
He almost smiled and realized then how much she'd helped him grow. "I am."
"So you want to love me more?" She watched him nod. "And you don't want to hurt me?" He nodded again. "You cant love without that chance Gibbs…and I've already taken that chance with you. And loved every minute of it. I don't want to lose you because of fear…and I won't."
He swallowed hard as he stared into her eyes. "What if I can't…what if I can't love you as much as you love me?"
She leaned in and kissed him softly. "Then I'll stick around until you can. Whether it's two days from now or two years from now. You're it for me Gibbs; you're it."
He was now smiling and pulled her in close. "You know, you keep beating me at poker and it's gonna take a lot longer."
She playfully punched his shoulder and smiled. "If throwing a game is what it will take; I'll go all in on the first hand."
He shook his head. "Unless DiNozzo beats you to it…"
They kissed playfully for a few minutes before she followed him through the front door. As they fell asleep that night; Gibbs had just one thought racing through his mind as he watched her.
AN: More to come. :)