Slowly lifting his head Gibbs came to the logical conclusion that he had yet again fallen asleep at his desk. Rubbing his hands across his eyes he tried to remember how many times this had happened in the past week, 3 or 4 as far as he could remember.

Damn this case was really pushing him, well not just him, the whole team was starting to suffer. Glad he'd finally seen sense and sent them home to get some well earned rest.

Glancing around his desk his eyes were drawn to several items that he knew weren't there when he had closed his eyes to relax.

Reaching out he grabbed the coffee that sat by his keyboard, taking a deep swallow he grimaced as he realized it was barely lukewarm, it was then he noticed the note that must have been underneath.

"drink this"

He smiled to himself, he'd would have recognized that hand writing in his sleep.

Slowly reaching for the next item that had been placed next to the now cold coffee, he found a slightly stale , not particularly appetizing sandwich, the note under this read:

"eat this"

Ignoring that message he reached for the last note, it was wedged under another piece of paper so he picked them both up and separated them as he read:

"see me :-)"

The second piece of paper show a photo of his favorite lab tech smiling back at the grin that was spreading across his face. No matter what was going on, Abby had a way of bringing out his soft side.

Flipping the photo in his hand he noticed there was more writing on the back.

"if you come down before eating then remember how many ways I could kill you and not leave any evidence!"

At this he laughed , even with no- one to hear him, it felt good to have something to smile about. The world would definitely become a darker place when Abby could no longer do that to him.

Glancing at his watch he wondered if she was still in the lab, gone 2330, he doubted she would still be there, probably went when he sent the others home. Worth checking though. So he reached over and grabbed the remote for the plasma screen. Leaning back in his chair he stared suspiciously at it, then pointed it at the large screen and pressed what he hoped were the right buttons.

Instantly the forensic lab flashed on to the screen, though through the darkness that appeared Gibbs was pretty sure that there was no-one there, even the audio seemed quiet, no machines or computers hummed, beeped or whirred.

Strange though, that Abby would leave him that note then not stay to let him know what she wanted, if it was urgent she would have woken him, he was sure of that.

Trusting his gut as usual, he slid his chair back and started purposefully towards the elevator, only slowing to dump the sandwich into the bin by McGee's desk, hoping he wouldn't notice in the morning.

As he waited for elevator to make its way up from the lab he began letting his mind wander towards Abby, he'd known her enough years to know when something was bothering her, but unusually enough she'd not been showing any signs of wanting to talk to him, she'd been just as bouncy and enthusiastic as always. Teasing Tony, gossiping with Ziva and Ducky in the lab and flirting mercilessly with McGee.

Not that it was any of his business who she flirted with, though in his opinion McGee didn't stand a chance, Abby would eat him alive if he ever had the gall to take her up on some of her offers.

Ignoring the flare that started in his chest when he thought of any one touching his lab tech, Gibbs stepped into the elevator and pressed the button that would take him down to Abby's domain.

As the doors pinged open he looked expectantly at his hand before realizing he hadn't picked up the coffee Abby had left him, even if it was cold, it was still good and walking into the lab without some sort of caffeine offering was definitely something even he couldn't get away with. Contemplating whether to return and retrieve the drink he looked out through the doors into the lab, though quiet and dark, the lab didn't seem to be deserted, there was some sort of presence that caught his attention.

Out of curiosity he stepped through the doors and into the darkened room, realising as the elevator doors shut that, it wasn't quite as dark and quiet as he had first thought. A slight glow emanated from Abby's work station through the glass doors and there was a dull low thud that even he recognized as the bass line to something only Abby would listen to.

Carefully as not to disturb her if she was working, he wove his way around the door and stepped into the main room of the lab. His initial assessment had been correct, none of the machines were working, the computers were dark and Abby was no where to be seen. Being the top investigator every one believed him to be he deduced that the noise was coming from inside Abby's office, behind the glass sliding doors towards the back of the lab.

Working towards the light and sounds Gibbs made a mental note to get the Director to put some sort of security lighting in the lab, damn place was dark and creepy in the dark, not that Abby minded he was sure, right up her street he guessed, but he'd do it anyway, anything to make things easier for her to do her job.

Finally reaching the glass partition he placed his forehead against the glass and tried to peer through.

In the dim light things were a little blurred and his eyesight didn't help either.

Slowly his eyes adjusted and through the blur he made out a figure curled by the desk, smiling inwardly he noted with sadness that this wasn't the first time recently he found Abby asleep in her office or under her desk, he doubted it would be the last either, if only he could convince her that she was safe.

He'd promised that nothing would hurt her, ever, and he'd meant that with everything he had, but after everything she'd been through over the past year or so, even he couldn't remove the fear that flashed in her eyes whenever she thought no one way looking.

Oh sure she'd been as energetic and hyperactive as always, and if you didn't know, she seemed to be the Abby every knew and loved dearly, but if you watched carefully, you could see the glimmers of doubt, fear and anxiety creep into her, affecting the brightness that was Abby, the way she was kept the whole team together, it would never cease to amaze him how easily it all came to her, even if in his eyes she was pushing herself to keep her mind and her sanity whole.

Hoping that the automatic doors wouldn't disturb the sleeping lab tech, Gibbs stepped into the office.

She'd know he was here, even while asleep she'd sense him. That was one thing that would never change between them. Even when she feigned ignorance of him walking up behind her, her smile gave her away, she enjoyed him being close, it made her feel safe, protected. Thats all he wanted.

Even if his body's reaction to her physical presence neglected that fact. All he ever wanted to do is keep Abby safe.

Quietly in the hope that Abby wouldn't wake, Gibbs made his way through the doors and up to the desk. Crouching down and tipping forward on the balls of his feet, Gibbs felt his knee protest, some things just didn't get better with age.

Leaning forward he brushed a loose strand of hair away from Abby's unopened eyes, his fingers lingered against her skin a second longer than was strictly necessary, Gibbs couldn't help but think how untroubled she appeared, so peaceful and relaxed, however much was going on around her this is how she deserved to be at all times, he'd do anything to let it be that way for her.

Drifting away into his own mind Gibbs became more than painfully aware of how deep his feeling for Abby really were, oh, he'd realized long ago that he thought more of her than he should but apart from his repeated promises to keep her safe, and protect her there really was no more he could do for her. His own rules prevented anything, though even he couldn't imagine that beautiful goth sleeping in front of him would be interested anyway. Not that he hadn't noticed the way she acted when he appeared in the lab, unfortunately for him, that was Abby, she'd always been the same with him, affectionate and teasing. And although normally she took a while to warm to new members of the team, ordinarily she treated them the same as she did him, though not with the same effervescence that she reserved for him, but thats what came with familiarity.

Although he knew she was sleeping too deeply to be pleasant if woken, Gibbs decided he couldn't let Abby spend the night in a cold lab, he'd have to wake her and get her home where at least she'd be comfortable, or if she protested as he thought she might. there was always his spare room, there'd been times in the past Abby had become a fixture in his house for various reasons, it might be nice to have some company to take his mind away from the current case

As he shifted to release some of the pressure on his knees he realised that Abby was no longer asleep, but had propped herself up on one hand and was watching him closely, by the look on her face, she had been for a while. Guiltily Gibbs looked away, he must have been Daydreaming for longer than he thought,

"hi" Abby sounded so sleepy as she slowly stretched out her legs, her arms reached past her head to catch him unawares and push him off balance, forcing him to sit back and draw his knees up. The mischievous grin on her face not quite reaching her eyes but making him smile anyway.

"hi, isn't your bed at home more comfortable than this Ab's?"

"i know Gibbs, but I was tired, besides its not like you never do it" Abby's counter argument came a little too quickly, making Gibbs realise she'd thought about this a little too much. Suddenly another thought came into his head.

"Abby, when was the last time you slept in your own bed?" he didn't want to hear the answer, knew that whatever it was he'd been missing something, some investigator he was.

Looking towards Abby he knew he wasn't going to a answer easily, she was looking away refusing to meet his eyes. Now he didn't even need to ask, he knew that she'd been sleeping in her lab for longer than just tonight. How long didn't matter right now, all he knew was that he'd missed it and that was something he would never forgive in one of his other agents, especially as it was about the one person he cared more about than any case they could ever work on.

"come on" hoisting Abby to her feet wasn't the easiest thing for him to do as he tried to right himself up " my spare room's calling you, grab your stuff."

looking around Gibbs grabbed the stuffed hippo she was so inexplicably attached to and started to walk out the door.

"sorry Gibbs" turning around he realised that Abby had tears streaming down her face "thought I'd be able to get through this on my own, you're going to want to talk about this aren't you?"

stepping towards her Gibbs pulled Abby into his arms. "later maybe, right now you need a good night's sleep and possibly a shot or two of jack. When you're ready we'll talk about this. Now shift, some of us need to sleep"

shoving her gently towards the elevator Gibbs realised it was going to be a long night if Abby wanted to talk, but an even longer one if she didn't. With the first option she'd relax, sleep well and be back to her usual self in no time, with the second she'd mentally retreat and he'd have to spend hours, possibly days coaxing her out of her shell and more than likely his basement so that she could conquer whatever was starting to eat her up inside