Life is a Banquet
By Formidable Opponent
Disclaimer: Not mine. Duh.
"Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!" - Auntie Mame Dennis, as played by Rosalind Russell, from the 1958 film, "Auntie Mame."
Abby strode into the Navy yard clad in another goth-schoolgirl getup only she could pull off. A short, plaid skirt of red and black flowed freely from her hips as she entered her beloved lab in a skittering craze. Her hair, in its conventional form of pigtails, swung to and fro as she scurried around the lab in a rush to start her machines. Shoving a copy of Android Lust's most recent album into the player, she turned the volume knob as far to the right as possible and quickly pressed 'play.'
Abby was feeling great. She knew today was going to go exceptionally well, or at least, that was what she had hoped. Well, no matter. She was going make this the best day ever, one way or another. A smile from one ear stretched to the other as she thought of the things that would make this day perfect.
The clock struck 0630, and Abby had been occupied with last night's unfinished lab results for the past thirty minutes. Her coming in this early did not happen always, but enough for her to be untroubled by the unholy hour of day. Her dinger dinged and she hopped up happily in anticipation. Looking through the only windows in her lab, she saw the sun had begun to rise. It would be another half-hour or so until the rest of the team came in, so she had decided to treat herself to a victory snack.
She left the lab and building in record time, hoping that none of her teammates would arrive before she came back. A familiar cup of Caf-Pow! in one hand and a box of delicious breakfast pastries in the other, she hurried back to her domain and impatiently waited for the others.
Oh! And lest she forget, Abby rushed in a secure corner of her office, pulling out to reveal six, individually decorated boxes, each of a 4x6x1 size.
McGee was the first to make a visit to Abby's lab, hoping to assist in matching some prints. He hovered by the doorway, not wishing to disturb her intent gaze at an AFIS run. She knew he was there and threatened to reveal the plot of his next "Deep Six" novel to the others if he continued to linger.
He made his way to her warily, sensing an oddness coming from her, as strange as it may sound. Before he knew it, arms threw themselves around his neck and squeezed the life from his. Pulling back as quickly as she came, she turned and grabbed something from the corner of her desk. Her form blocking him from seeing was she was getting, he was surprised to see a small, beige package appear in front of his face as she spun to meet him again. The box was small, wrapped in a copy print of the cover of his novel and laced with a vintage red ribbon.
"Don't tell the others, McGee. And don't open it. Not yet." She whispered, a smile most evident on her face.
Tony and Ziva came in together, once again arguing about an idiom Ziva managed to butcher. They ceased their silly squabble and both turned to see Abby standing huddled in the corner. From what they could hear, she was rummaging through some packages hidden from sight behind a computer monitor.
Exchanging a pair of fishy looks, they sauntered their way over to her, curious of her sudden act of secrecy. Spinning around fast enough to give a normal human a serious case of whiplash, she whacked the two snoops with her pigtails. Without say a word, she shoved her arms out in front of them. In each of her hands, there lay a box. To the left and for Ziva, a box wrapped in a greenish fabric material suspiciously like her cargo pants was draped in a bright orange ribbon. To the right and for Tony, a box enclosed in nitrate film was clothed in a dark blue tie, impersonating a ribbon.
"As much as I know how both of you love to gossip like schoolgirls, don't say a word. And don't open them yet, either." She flaunted a wide smile, covering her two friend's mouths with each of her hands.
The team had just came back from a call. A male Marine, pummeled to death, was found near the back exit of a shopping center. The poor man was down in autopsy, forced to listen to another one of Ducky's infamous tales. Ducky found traces of unknown fiber and a wooden shard, and sent young Palmer to deliver the goods. Palmer waltzed down to the lab, always happy to see Abby. She was so different than himself, and it was a pleasure be around such eccentricity like her and the chief ME.
Palmer walked straight into the lab, expecting to be greeted by the bouncy forensic scientist, but she was nowhere to be seen. Taking a few steps further in, he glanced around, rubbing his glasses in an attempt to clear any hitches from his sight. Before he had a chance to call her name, an arm from behind clasped his face and another dumped a box into his free hand. The box, covered in a wrapping paper printed with various pictures of shoes, was entwined with a frilly white shoelace.
"The tests can wait. Don't open. Don't tell the Duck." She moved from back of him to face him directly. She cupped his face below the eyes with both hands and pinched his cheeks gently, urging him to stay. Hypnosis was fun.
Ducky, in an uncharacteristic display of semi-rage, stomped down to Abby's lab. It had almost been an hour and there had been no sign of Palmer's return from the lab upstairs. He hoped he wasn't suffering from another outbreak of his gastrointestinal disorder. Ducky tried to contact Abby via the video phone/monitor contraption, but to no avail; she must have disabled it. Becoming impatient, he went to investigate himself.
Strolling swiftly into the lab, he called out to the suspected culprit responsible for disappearance his assistant. He spotted the vixen through the glass window leading to her office and promptly waved to her to come. She came nearly skipping through the doors, both arms concealed behind her. She gave the old man a welcoming hug, bear enough to rival--well, a bear. Pulling back, she handed him a gift. The box was enwrapped in an ordinary plaid wrapping paper, similar to the style of his many dress-shirts, and braided with the finest of velvet, topped with a fancy red bowtie.
"I've got your results, Duck Man. But this time, if you want them, don't open it, and do not say anything to Gibbs." She sported a smug smile and reached for another hug.
She waited all day and he still didn't come. Actually, this worked even better, him being the last to arrive. Really, he had no reason to visit. The case was a breeze to solve, and all the results were simple enough to pass along through the phone. And with her heightened state of mentality, a.k.a. natural hyperactivity, she didn't feel the need for the surplus supply of Caf-Pow!s handed to her by the boss everyday.
From what she gathered, the team had no other cases this evening, and, so she waited. Eyes fixated on the glowing screen in front of her, she sensed the silent footsteps through the sheer force of self-implied telepathy.
"I'm tellin' ya, Gibbs. We have this whole Vulcan mindmeld thing goin' on. Really." She said to him, without turning around to meet his amused gaze.
"So what have I been hearing about these mysterious boxes you've been handing out, Abs?" He walked behind her, one hand firmly clasping a cup of coffee, while the other setting a Caf-Pow! down beside her.
"Wait. How did you find out? Did McGee squeal? No, Gibbs. Don't tell me you forced it out of him. You know you still scare the crap out of him! No. Maybe it was Tony. Everything always turns into scuttlebutt with him around." She turned to face him, a bit of shock written in her expression.
"I have my ways. Tell me about the boxes."
"Good." She reached for something on her desk, and handed him the parcel. "For you, my silver-haired fox."
"What is it?" He began fingering the wrapping.
The box was elegant. Draped in a silky black wrap, and tied with a sleek silver ribbon, the box was topped with an argent burgundy bow, reminiscent of a fine and ancient wine.
"No! Don't open it yet. You've gotta wait." She clasped her hands around his to prevent him from opening the gift.
"Alright, alright." He chuckled. Lifting her hands to his lips, he kissed them gently. "Thanks, Abs. Whatever it is, I know it'll be wonderful."
"Such high expectations, Gibbs. No wonder you've scared three wives away." She jested him lightly.
"More like they scared me away." Gibbs confessed.
"Why, the Master has fears? Impossible!"
"Fine. Shutting up."
"You're sounding more and more like Tony."
"Oh! That reminds me! Since you guys have no other cases, let's all eat out! My treat!" Abby jumped from her chair and placed both hands on Gibbs' shoulders, another trademark smile on her lips.
"What's the occasion?"
"Don't you remember? Gibbs, you're not that old. You must remember!"
"Give me a hint?"
With her arms slipping around his shoulders, she pulled him into a loving embrace. Her lips beside his ear, she hastily said, "It's the one year anniversary of the day you brought the team back together!"
"Don't think I'd forget, Gibbs. You let the team be apart for over 126 days! I'll never forgive you for that." Pulling away, she let out a 'humph' and pouted.
"I'm sorry, Abby." He apologized, breaking his own personal rule. With Abby, however, he'd never been afraid of showing weakness.
Without saying anything, she leaned in and placed a long smooch on his cheek, leaving a nice red smudge. Wiping it away with her fingers, she cupped his face and laughed.
"It's okay, Gibbs. I still love you. Now, come on! I'm starving!" She told hold on his hand and dragged him toward the elevator. Gibbs, feeling a bit flustered, willingly followed suit.
Once in the elevator, he regained his composure.
"I don't know what we'd do without you, Abby. I don't know what I'd do without you."
Abby turned to look at him, for once in her life, with nothing to say. She only grinned.
"Thanks." He repaid the previous gesture, and kissed her cheek.
He turned back to face the doors of the elevator and nonchalantly looked down onto the box in his hands. It was beautifully adorned, and he couldn't help but to peek inside. Knowing she would notice, but not caring if she did, Gibbs flipped open the top and peered in to see the contents. His heart skipped a beat as he laid eyes on a photo, its border ornamented with designs and scripture. It was a photo of the team, MEs included, and Jenny. It was taken from above, probably right outside of MTAC, by a flunky Abby found to take the picture, he bet. It was a wonderful image, with each member laughing gaily and having a good time amongst one another. A rare photo, and perfectly captured. A wonderful photo, indeed.
"Gibbs! I told you not to open!" She yelled playfully, swinging an arm around to slap him gently on the shoulder.
Gibbs could only smile at her. He shook his head in bemusement at the woman that stood before him. There would never be another like Abby, and he was glad about it.
He placed the photo back into the box and put it in his pocket. With another kiss to her cheek, Abby knew he liked the present.
"You said you were starving, Abs. What do you want for dinner? Chinese? Pizza? Italian?"
"Anything, Gibbs, anything would be great. You know, life's a banquet, Gibbs, and most poor suckers are starving to death. But with you and Ducky and Tony and Ziva and McGee and even Palmer around, I'll never starve. Never."