Title: Jigsaw Pieces
Summary: Abby goes to visit Gibbs after he wakes from his coma.
Author's Note: This was written as a Secret Santa present for calalily06 on NFA. :)
I'd been gazing out of the window, but at the quiet, husky voice I turn my head toward the door. A woman is hovering uncertainly there, dressed all in black, her hair pulled into twin pigtails. At a cursory glance I can count four tattoos, and I don't doubt that there are more.
She walks into the room, clutching a huge cup of a drink I've never heard of in one hand, and a Styrofoam coffee cup in the other. "Thought you might need the caffeine," she says, handing the coffee to me and sitting in the chair beside the bed.
I have no idea who she is, but she knows how I take my coffee. I take a breath to thank her, but she cuts me off. "And don't worry. I know you won't remember me, and I'm not gonna get offended that you don't. I just wanted to see how you were doing. I'm Abby, by the way."
I store away the name in my fractured memory, hoping that at some point I'll be able to remember. "Thanks for the coffee."
She shrugs, takes a noisy sip of her drink. The sight tugs at something at the back of my mind, but it's gone before I can make sense of it. "How're you feeling?"
I don't want to talk about it. "How do I know you, Abby?"
She smiles at the evasion, as if she was expecting it. "I work with you. At NCIS. The forensic department. And yeah, I know you don't remember anything past ninety-two, and they didn't rely so much on forensics back then, but trust me, you could not do your job without me. And we're friends – really, really good friends. At least, I think of you as a friend, and I think you do too, cause you're always buying me Caf-Pow! and you don't mind when I hug you-"
Somehow, I get the feeling that she can go on like this for a while. "Abby."
She halts mid-word, her eyebrows shooting up as though she's expecting me to all of a sudden regain my lost memories. I guess I interrupt her like this a lot.
"You didn't forget how to be you," she says, seeming a little relieved. "We'll get your memories back, Gibbs. Okay, it might take a little time, but we will."
I wish I had her optimism. "If we're such good friends, why do you call me Gibbs?" I'm more curious than anything else.
Abby folds her legs under her, resting her palms on her knees as she regards me. "Because when we first met, you yelled at me for calling you 'sir', and I decided that 'Agent Gibbs' was too much of a mouthful. So I started calling you Gibbs, and it kinda stuck. I think calling you Jethro would be weird, cause you've been Gibbs for six years now."
I've known her for six years, the woman Director, Jenny, for seven years, and the guy who was with me when I woke up, Ducky, for a decade. And I don't remember any of them. Yet somehow, looking at this drastically-attired woman who I wouldn't have pegged as a scientist in a million years, there's something that struggles to surface, something I can't quite grasp.
"Think it'll help if I talk about work?" she asks, interpreting my silence correctly.
"Couldn't hurt." I don't know what to say to her, besides asking her the questions you'd usually ask a new acquaintance. Maybe something she says will knock a memory loose.
She begins, mentioning unfamiliar names: Tony, McGee, Ziva. My team, she explains, giving me brief summaries of each of them. Tony's obsessed with women and movies; McGee went to MIT and is pretty good with technology; and Ziva's Israeli, on secondment from Mossad – when the hell did that happen?
From her descriptions, I have a hard time imagining that these people make an effective investigative team, but I keep that opinion to myself. Instead, I ask her about Ducky and Jenny, and she embellishes my perception of them with details I don't remember: that Ducky lives with his mother and several Corgis, that he has an assistant named Jimmy Palmer, that Jenny's been the Director of NCIS for less than a year, and that she hates being addressed as 'Madame Director'.
"And," she adds with a slight smile, "you guys used to date. Or so I heard. You don't exactly share that kinda stuff."
It's not news to me – it's the only thing I do remember from the past few years. I'm more interested in Abby's expression, which is maybe a little wistful. It's hard to tell without the memories of how she usually acts.
I change the subject – as she says, I don't feel inclined to share. "So what're you drinking?"
Abby grins, tilting the cup so I can read the logo on the side. "Caf-Pow!," she tells me. "I think you've actually bought me more of these than I've bought for myself."
The name doesn't ring a bell, and I have no idea why I'd buy so many drinks for her. "Is it good?"
Abby takes another sip, nodding. "I'm totally hooked, and it took you about three seconds to realise and start bribing me with it."
Before I can reply, something beeps, and she pulls an electronic device out of her pocket, checking it and sighing. "I'm being summoned."
"Tony," she says. "He thinks that to take your place as head of the team means he actually has to act like you – I'm surprised he hasn't started dealing out headslaps yet."
She's lost him. "Headslaps?"
Blinking, she stands up. "Headslaps. You give them to all your team. Well, except me. And Ducky. And the Director. Though you're technically on the Director's team, not the other way around-"
"Abby." Amused, I interrupt her tirade.
Another spark of relief crosses her face before she gets herself on track. "Right. Headslaps. It's when you…" One hand reaches out toward me, and then she yanks it back, thinking better of the demonstration. "It's when you hit someone over the back of the head. Most of the time to shut them up."
God, what kind of guy did I turn out to be? "I do this a lot?"
Abby rolls her eyes. "At least once a day. Usually to Tony. I'm thinking he's gonna end up with a concussion one day."
"I'll take your word for it."
She smiles, draining the last of her drink with a slurp and throwing the cup in the trash. Then, with no trace of awkwardness, she leans over the bed, hugging me tightly. She smells of gunpowder, and the scent pulls a memory a little further into focus, dulling the pain the embrace causes me.
She jumps back after a couple of seconds, her face remorseful. "Oh my god, I forgot about the explosion! I'm so sorry! Are you okay? Did I hurt you?"
"Don't worry about it."
Abby watches me for a second, assessing me for injury. Then she kisses my cheek, paying no heed to the fact that I have no memory of us ever being close. "Get some rest, Gibbs. I'm really glad you're not dead."
As she begins to turn away, I tell her, "Thanks for the coffee, Abbs."
She freezes just as I realise what I've called her. "What did you…?"
"Is that what I-?"
"Yes!" she says exuberantly, sitting on the edge of my bed, her eyes shining. "Are you getting anything else?"
I think about it, but there's no break in the clouds shrouding my memory. "Just jigsaw pieces. Nothing coherent."
She shrugs, almost managing to conceal her disappointment. "It's a start, though. You're gonna get your memories back."
I nod, feeling a faint spark of hope ignite within me. "Get going, Abby. Don't keep them waiting."
She takes a step backward, but then her eyes narrow as a thought hits her, and she hesitates, raising her hands.
Do what the doctors tell you, okay? They know what they're doing.
I recognise the movements she makes as sign language. What surprises me is that I understand her. I must have learned it in the period after my memory fades out.
The response comes to me with a minimum of thought. You know me.
Abby snorts at the irony. "That's what I'm worried about," she says aloud, grinning at me. "See you later."
She heads for the doorway, and watching her, a question coalesces in the back of my mind. "Abby."
She turns, gazing at me expectantly.
I doubt the wisdom of asking her this, but I've lost over a decade of my life, and I'm past caring. "Has there ever been something… between us? It feels like there's something I'm missing."
To my surprise, she laughs, although it's a little rueful. "Okay, if I wasn't convinced that you'd lost your memory before, I am now…"
I frown, waiting for her to continue. She takes her cue from my expression, shrugging. "We've both been avoiding that question for the past six years."
Before I can reply, she waves at me, her lips turning up in a smile that's almost suggestive. And then she's gone, her heavy, booted footsteps receding down the hall.