Spoilers: Witch Hunt
Summary: "That's what I like about you, Gibbs. You always follow up your tricks with treats."
Author's Note: Happy Halloween, everyone! Holiday fics are so much fun to write… This is a one-shot – meaning, it's finished! I'm posting this up now because my library's going to be closed next week, and I won't be able to post it around Halloween. But hey, I'm in the ballpark...
"Oh my god, I love Halloween…" DiNozzo throws himself into his desk chair with a contented sigh.
McGee frowns across the squad room at him. "Last year you said you hated it."
"Changed my mind, Probie. Abby's costume this year is… very persuasive."
The younger agent's butt is halfway out of his chair when Gibbs says, "McGee, when you've finished following that money trail, then you can take a break."
DiNozzo leans back in his seat with a smug smile, enjoying McGee's discomfort at the reprimand. Gibbs is an equal opportunity critic, however. "DiNozzo, when did 'the head' become slang for Abby's lab?" Without waiting for a reply, he follows up with a terse, "Get back to work."
Silence falls on the bullpen again, and Gibbs contemplates the crime scene photographs up on the plasma screen. Last Halloween, a little girl was abducted. This year, a Marine wife has been brutally stabbed eight times. Gibbs' team has been on call for the past three Halloweens, and there's always been a case for them to work.
Gibbs doesn't mind working over Halloween, but it's like Christmas for Abby. This is the third year in a row he's had to call her away from a costume party, and if he visits her lab without Caf-Pow! she's liable to hold a grudge for more than the six hours she usually manages.
He counts off the seconds until the inevitable question. It won't be more than five. Four. Three. Two-
"What is it?" McGee's voice is hushed, as if by speaking softly he'll evade Gibbs' notice.
"What's what, McGee?" Tony says innocently, antagonising the younger agent without breaking a sweat.
McGee sighs. "Abby's costume."
"I can't tell you that. It'd lessen the impact."
"Is it better than the Marilyn?" McGee wants to know, referring to the Marilyn Monroe outfit she'd breezed into work wearing the previous year.
DiNozzo's grin turns from suggestive to downright lewd. "Oh, yeah…"
Irritated, Gibbs snaps, "Do I have to fire the two of you and take on new agents to get some work done around here?"
"Sorry, Boss," two voices reply in unison, and both DiNozzo and McGee focus on their work again. Ostensibly.
"I want results in thirty minutes," he tells them, getting up. Though they exchange covert looks of despair at the unrealistic target, they know better than to argue. "I'm going for coffee. No lab trips."
He leaves them there, heading for the coffee shop around the corner. It's three a.m. and he's past due for a caffeine hit. Just as he enters, his cell rings. "Yeah. Gibbs."
"I've only been here an hour, and I already have something," Abby announces, sounding more enthusiastic than she did when he called to disrupt her evening. He knew that once she got into her workspace, with her 'babies' for company and plenty of evidence to puzzle out, her mood would lighten.
"Be there in fifteen minutes. I'm just about to get coffee – you want anything?"
"Does McGee have a nun fetish?" she counters, as if that answers his question.
"I don't know – does he?"
Her voice is thick with amusement. "Yeah, but don't tell him I told you."
Giving up on trying to follow her ninety-mile-an-hour thought processes, he hangs up and orders a black coffee and super-sized Caf-Pow! from the barista. Five minutes later he's walking back through the bullpen, double-checking that Tony and McGee are still hard at work as he passes by. Stepping into the rear elevator that'll take him down to Abby, he at last lets himself wonder what her costume will be this Halloween.
Last year, Marilyn Monroe. The year before that, the Bride of Frankenstein – the only time, she stressed to them, that she'd ever wear a wedding dress. This year? Gibbs is betting on something that doesn't leave much to the imagination, if DiNozzo's reaction is anything to go by.
In all probability, it'll be an outfit that'll make him wish he was ten years younger. But then, everything about Abby already does; not that he'd admit it to anyone.
The elevator arrives at its destination, and he walks into the lab, his eyes seeking her out. When he locates her, inputting parameters into her mass spectrometer, he stops in his tracks.
She's playing jazz music instead of her usual synthesised, guitar-laden noise, but that's not what makes the impression. The first thing he notices is her hair, loosely falling down her back, a lock of it obscuring her right eye. She usually wears it in pigtails, so he hadn't realised before now how long it really is. Even more captivatingly, it's a deep, lustrous shade of red – not the colour of flame or autumn leaves but a striking, artificial crimson.
For a second, he can't think past one emphatic, DiNozzo-esque thought: wow.
She senses his presence and turns to smile in his direction. "Ooh, Caf-Pow!. That's what I like about you, Gibbs. You always follow up your tricks with treats."
The rest of her outfit sinks in: the floor-length, strapless red satin dress with an almost indecently-high split up one side; the purple satin gloves that extend all the way up her arms; the purple eyeshadow and the scarlet pout of her lips.
He has no idea who she's modelled her costume on, but at this moment, he doesn't need to know.
Abby has to admit it to herself. Last year and the year before, she got yanked out of costume parties on a night she loves just as much as Christmas. Statistically speaking, the same thing was bound to happen this year, so she was pretty much prepared for the phone call when it came. Prepared right down to her costume.
Last Halloween, she was wearing a pretty sweet Marilyn Monroe outfit, and though Jimmy, McGee and Tony were obviously appreciative, Gibbs… His reaction still has her waking up in the middle of the night, gasping his name and burning for his touch.
She'd thought he only looked that way at his redheads, but there she was in a blonde wig, giving him her best flirtatious smile to try to hide the fact that she was melting on the inside, and he was just looking her over, not even trying to hide his appraisal of her. And then he said it. Not bad for a blonde.
When he left, all she could think was, what would his reaction have been if I'd been a redhead?
So here she is, a year on, working in her lab in her highly impractical but amazingly hot Jessica Rabbit costume. She wasn't a hundred per cent sure she'd get the call to come in, but she figured, hey, if not, she could always be Mrs Lovett from Sweeney Todd next year, or Ginger from Ginger Snaps the year after, or Clarice Starling from Silence of the Lambs the year after that.
But she did get the call, and though she is a little annoyed that she's missing yet another of Alterna's fabled Halloween bashes, she's hoping it's gonna be worth it. Not that she expects Gibbs to actually do anything – if she lets herself start with the fantastical daydreams then she's just gonna disappoint herself – but she yearns for him to look at her the way he did last Halloween, just for a second.
She hears the elevator arrive and finishes the task she's been working on, setting Major Mass Spec to run a sample. And then she glances over at Gibbs. "Ooh, Caf-Pow!. That's what I like about you, Gibbs. You always follow up your tricks with treats."
He's standing in the doorway, and oh my god, he's looking at her like he wants to take her home… His eyes sweep over her costume, her exposed leg and bare shoulders, the creative corsetry that's gone into generating the illusion that her figure's as top-heavy as Jessica Rabbit's. One of his eyebrows hikes appreciatively, and his considering half-smile sends a burning flush through her skin.
Abby focuses on taking the Caf-Pow! from his grip, spinning toward her electron microscope to prevent herself from going to pieces. "Wow, guess it's really true about you and redheads, huh?" The words are out of her mouth before she realises she's about to say them, and she kicks herself for being so transparent.
"Trying to figure out what the costume is," is all he says, his voice quieter and huskier than she was expecting.
She takes a sip of her Caf-Pow! while she tries to pull herself together. "Jessica Rabbit." His face shows no sign of recognition, but this is Gibbs – he doesn't do pop culture. "From Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The movie? 'I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way'? Okay, you better be free this weekend, cause I'm gonna make you watch it."
"Looks good," he says, and she shivers at the compliment. There's no way he hasn't noticed the way this is affecting her.
"Not exactly practical, though." She gestures to the four-inch red stilettos that complete her outfit. She's always hated heels, but she can't exactly wear boots with this dress. "Walking in these is murder."
"And moving from shoes into actual murder?" he prompts, and Abby grins, relieved that the conversation's moving into safe territory.
"Okay, so… I ran the prints on the murder weapon. Sloppy work – he didn't even wear gloves, and when he tried to wipe the knife handle he left a great big latent on the blade."
"You got a match?" Gibbs' eyes bore into hers, and she turns to bring up the service record linked to the result, trying to focus on the task at hand.
"Commander Stuart Moore."
Gibbs steps up beside her, reading the information off the screen with a frown. "That's the husband's commanding officer."
"That it is. Interesting, wouldn't you say?"
He lays a hand on her shoulder, the touch sending a chain reaction of sparks along her flesh. "Atta girl." His other hand pushes a scarlet tendril of hair out of her eyes – definitely not normal Gibbs behaviour. Her pulse races as she blinks up at him, afraid to hope.
His lips brush hers, and her knees go weak in an instant. There are a million things she hasn't allowed herself to imagine might happen tonight, and this is how every single one of them begins. She leans into the kiss, and his arms go around her waist, pulling her tightly against him as the heat between them becomes searing. One kiss stretches into two, three, four, and by the time he draws back Abby's emotions are so out of control that she's a little dizzy.
His eyes command hers, the intensity in them holding her fast. "Is your car here?"
She took a taxi here from the party. Trying to shape her thoughts into coherence, she shakes her head, already knowing what his next words will be.
"I'll drive you home when we finish up here."
He's driven her home a hundred times over the years, but the offer's never been so loaded with possibilities before. Her imagination aflame, she whispers, "You know, I'm gonna dye my hair black again in the morning…" She doesn't want to consider the possibility that he's fallen into a temporary, redhead-induced insanity, but she needs to check.
He heads for the door, leaving her with the memory of one of his rare grins. The words he calls back send a thrill of relief through her. "I know."
For a few blissful seconds Abby stays where she is, listening to the sound of the elevator doors closing. Then she kicks off the stilettos and gets back to work on the victim's hard drive, losing herself in the digital world, her bare feet tapping along with her music.
Word's spreading fast about her outfit, and several agents who usually have no cause to visit drift in and out of the lab, checking her out. She bears it all with amused tolerance, her heart jumping every time the elevator pings, anticipating Gibbs' return. Though McGee, Tony and Jimmy all show up on their coffee breaks, speaking in infatuated monosyllables, her silver-haired fox stays away for so long that she has to put it out of her mind or else go crazy. He'll be here when he's here.
When the sky begins to lighten, she hardly notices. Curious colleagues have kept her supplied with Caf-Pow! all night, and she isn't feeling at all sleepy. She's absorbed in setting up some DNA to run when Gibbs finally steps up close behind her, resting a hand on either side of her waist. "Trick or treat?"
She gazes up at him, a teasing smile tugging at the corners of her lips. "Do you even have to ask?"