Warnings/Spoilers: Takes place sometime season 4. Minor spoilers for Blood Bath and the episodes that Emily is in.
A/N: Watching NCIS with dragonessasmith always results in a million plot bunnies. This was one. Thanks to chitown_gal for the beta'ing.
"Can I have two scoops, Daddy? With sprinkles?"
"Just one, Em. You still have to have dinner when we get back to the house."
Abby smiled when she heard the young girl behind her in line, but raised an eyebrow at the father's response.
"Special agent Fornell." She turned, her own double chocolate ice cream cone held in one hand. "It's a small world."
"Very." Fornell's hand rested on his daughter's shoulder. "Em, this is Abby. She works with Gibbs over at NCIS."
"Gibbs had a boat in his basement. When he's done building it he said he'd take me sailing." Emily looked up through fringed blond bangs and Abby smiled back at her. Her smile widened when she caught Fornell muttering something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like 'maybe by the time you're in high school.'
"It's a very cool boat," Abby said between licks of her ice cream cone. It was starting to drip.
"Next," the teenager behind the counter said.
"Strawberry and rainbow jimmies, please, Daddy."
"Two single scoop cones, one strawberry with jimmies, one plain vanilla," Fornell ordered.
"Plain vanilla, Fornell? Why am I not surprised?" Abby teased.
"I'm a simple kind of guy." He handed a ten dollar bill to the cashier and pocketed his change before handing an ice cream cone to Emily.
"I was going to go across the street and eat my ice cream in the park. You guys want to come?" Abby offered.
"Can you do that? I always figured you'd burst into flame in the sunlight or something."
"It's a cloudy day." Abby kept her expression completely straight. It was far from the first time she had heard the comment, but it was something of a surprise coming from Fornell. Interesting, seeing what people were like outside of work.
"I don't get it, Daddy. What does that mean?" Emily already had a dollop of pink ice cream on her nose. Fornell picked up a pile of napkins from the counter, using one to wipe away the confectionary and stuffing the rest in the pocket of his trench coat.
"Nothing, Em. It was a bad joke that didn't work." Abby lead the way out of the ice cream parlor, Fornell and Emily following.
"I appreciated it," Abby disagreed. "So Emily, do you like ducks?"
"Uh huh. I have a stuffed duck that I sleep with. Agent Ron got it for me on my birthday."
"I was going to go feed some bread to the ducks in the pond. Wanna help me?" Abby patted her bag where she had half a dozen rolls waiting and cocked her head to the side. "If it's okay with your dad, of course."
"Fine by me."
"Awesome." Abby took a bite of her ice cream, licked her lips, and pressed the button for the cross walk.
"We'll be right down." Gibbs snapped his cell phone shut. "Ducky's got something for us, Tobias."
"Wait." Abby held up her hand.
"I thought you were still waiting for the do-da to do the thing?" Gibbs asked.
"I am, but I have something for Fornell and if I don't give it to him now you guys will get called away for something and then I'll forget and..."
"It's right here." Abby opened up one of the cabinets under the windows of her lab and withdrew an orange plastic pumpkin which she handed to Fornell. "Here you go."
"Thanks?" Fornell held the pumpkin by the handle and peered inside.
"I know it's a couple of days late, but we haven't had a joint FBI NCIS case for a while and I didn't think I should hack into your file to get your address just to drop that off." When Fornell and Gibbs both stared at her, Abby clarified further. "It's for Emily. And there's not as much candy in there as it looks like, because I found this beanie baby duck that I thought she might like to go with her other duck and that takes up most of the room in there."
"Thanks, Abby. Em's really going to like that." Fornell raised his hand awkwardly and paused for a moment, finally patting Abby on the arm. "She was just complaining yesterday that Halloween was over too soon."
"A girl after my own heart," Abby chuckled.
"Speaking of Halloween, we're due in autopsy."
"After you, Jethro."
With a kiss on the cheek and a friendly smile, Gibbs and Fornell left the lab. Abby had to laugh when she caught both of them sneaking candy out of the plastic pumpkin.
"Hey Fornell?" Abby ran for the elevator, ducking in just before the doors closed.
"Did I forget something?" Fornell pushed the button for the lobby and leaned against the wall.
"No. I..." Abby worried her lower lip before taking a deep breath. "I was hoping you could help me with something."
"Yeah. See there's this guy I met at a club a couple of weeks ago…"
"Why am I sensing this story doesn't have a happy ending?" Abby ignored Fornell's question.
"We went out a couple of times but when I told him I didn't want to go out again he didn't take it well. He's been parked on my street every night for a week now and yesterday he was waiting on my steps when I got home." He had tried to force his way into her apartment, but Fornell didn't need to know that. It was embarrassing enough to tell him as much as she already had.
"Why aren't you telling this to Gibbs?"
"Gibbs would probably break his arm."
"He'd tell Gibbs then they'd fight over who got to break Vince's arm. McGee would make me tell Gibbs, Ziva would probably not say a word but no one would hear from Vince again, and Ducky..." She couldn't bear to tell Ducky. He would worry, and after Mikel he might be disappointed in her. Ducky's disappointment or Gibbs' anger were two of the very few things she couldn't handle.
"What makes you think I'd do anything differently?"
"I was hoping you'd at least stop and think before you did anything physical. If nothing else the paper work would be horrible, wouldn't it?"
"And instead of beating him up you think I should..."
"Talk to him? I filed a restraining order but I thought if someone served it personally, convinced him that he should follow it..."
"Where are the damn papers?" Fornell asked with a sigh.
"You broke his arm!" It was a Saturday evening but when Abby heard the news she showed up at his house. Yelling at him over the phone didn't seem personal enough.
"How'd you find out?" He answered the door wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. Abby had never seen him in anything other than a suit and in the casual dress he looked different. He definitely didn't look like someone who could have broken another man's arm like it was so much kindling, which is the story she'd heard.
"Does it matter?" Abby huffed. "If you're really curious Vince's buddy's girlfriend's sister is dating my friend Page, but that's beside the point. You broke his arm."
"You wanna say that a little louder? I'm not sure all the neighbors heard you."
"Inside." He gestured to the inside of the house with his thumb. When she didn't respond right away he stepped out of the doorway and repeated himself. "Inside."
"I know you were doing me a favor, but..."
"You didn't tell me he had touched you." Fornell's voice was low and soft. Abby's eyes widened at the barely controlled anger that reminded her of Gibbs at his most dangerous.
"It was nothing."
"Really." He had her sleeve pulled up before she could react, exposing the ugly bruise on her forearm. "Doesn't look like nothing to me."
"It's not much more than an indian burn."
"Between the bruise and the way the bastard talked he's lucky he walked away with a broken arm and a promise."
"A promise?" she asked, even though she had a good guess of what it would have been.
"Yeah, a promise that if he ever..."
"Daddy, is the spaghetti ready yet?" When Emily came down the stairs Abby hurriedly pulled down her sleeve to hide the bruise again. The girl waved shyly. "Hi Abby."
"Hi Emily. Love the purple unicorn." Abby pointed at the design on Emily's shirt.
"Thanks. Did you come for dinner? Daddy makes the bestest spaghetti ever, 'cause he's really Italian and only really real Italians can make good red sauce."
"That's a great idea, munchkin. Abby, why don't you join us for dinner? My sauce is as good as Em promises, if I do say so myself." As if flipping a switch, Fornell went from threatening and seething to smiling and almost flirting.
"I really should..."
"Please?" Emily begged. "Pretty please? I can show you my room while Daddy sets the table. I named the duck you gave me Nickovetch and he's on my bed next to my other duck."
"Nice try, Em. You can set the table and wash your hands. After dinner you can show Abby your room." With an over-dramatic sigh Emily scampered into the kitchen. "It'd mean a lot to Emily if you stayed, and there's more than enough food."
"I show up to yell at you and you offer me dinner?"
"Compared to most of my life? Not really." Abby shook her head in amusement. "You should put a sign on your door, Fornell. White knight for hire; breaks arms and cooks dinner."
"We're not done talking about that, by the way," Fornell informed her. "And since you're eating dinner in my kitchen you might as well start calling me Tobias."
"Tobias," Abby repeated. "Any chance I also get to find out what the C stands for, Tobias C. Fornell?"
"They make a doll called Raspberry Rumtart," Abby said as she walked down the stairs. A tour of Emily's room had led to volunteering to read bedtime stories, and now the little girl was tucked into her bed with two ducks, a teddy bear, a pony and the aforementioned doll. "That sounds like the name of a hooker."
"Doesn't it?" Fornell was sitting on the couch, a glass of wine in one hand.
"Not a high priced call girl kind of hooker either, but one of the ones that stands on the street corner on the bad side of town." There was a second glass of wine setting on the coffee table, and without asking Abby picked it up and took a sip.
"Don't look at me, Diane bought it for her."
"I don't suppose you know where she got it, do you? I have to have one." Iit would be perfect in her lab, with the name prominently displayed. If nothing else Tony would get a kick out of it.
"Sorry, can't help you there." Fornell leaned back into the couch cushions and used the coffee table as a foot rest.
"Darn." Abby had unlaced her shoes an hour ago, and now she drew her socked feet under her as she sat in the corner of the couch. The wine, though not something she would have picked up on her own, wasn't bad.
"So this Vince character," Fornell started. "He should be staying away from you from now on, but if he doesn't..."
"It wouldn't surprise me to hear through the grapevine that Vince was moving, after the whole arm thing."
"Nah, I don't think he's that smart." Fornell frowned. "But if you see him again..."
"You'll be the first to know," Abby promised. "I owe you big time."
"You could start by not picking up any more Billy Idol wannabes. I'd hate to develop a reputation as a bastard," he said sardonically.
"Most of the guys I date are fine." It was a good thing her nose wasn't like Pinocchio's. With Mikel, Vince, Spike, and the rest she was beginning to question her judgment. "Gotta have a social life, right? Otherwise I might start building a boat in my basement or something like that."
"There's a middle ground somewhere."
"If there is I haven't found it yet. The guys I meet at clubs are either just for fun or end up being trouble and the ones I meet through work are either trouble or just friends."
"Nothing wrong with dating a friend," Fornell said with a shrug. "It's a hell of a better idea than dating a friend's ex."
"Are you suggesting anyone in particular, Tobias?"
"Really, because you gave me an idea." It might be a stupid idea, and she hadn't had enough wine to have that excuse to fall back on, but there were some things that you didn't want to over-analyze. With a speculative look, she set her glass down on the table.
"What was that?" Fornell asked a minute later.
"Surely it hasn't been that long, Tobias. You do have a daughter, so at some point..."
"Abby." His eyes narrowed. He took off his glasses and set them, along with his own wine glass, on the table behind the couch.
"It was a spontaneous thing. I do that. Quite a lot, actually. Consider it a thank you for the dinner and the thing with Vince and not telling..."
"Did anyone ever tell you that you talk too much?" Fornell leaned forward and covered her lips with his pointer finger.
"You should see me after a dozen Red Bulls."
"I'd rather not."
And then, to her surprise and complete delight, he kissed her back.