Title: Lasting Impressions

Author: Jo. R

Rating: K+

Pairing: Gibbs/Abby friendship/possibly more

Spoilers: General knowledge of the show, slight for 'Leap of Faith'

Summary: Ten years on and some impressions are still lasting.

Disclaimer: Abby, Gibbs and the gang aren't mine. No money is being made from my use of them in this story.

The first time he saw her, he was convinced there'd been some sort of mistake. Maybe she was an assistant or a student on work experience but there was no way she could be his new lab rat.

It was one of those rare times he was wrong, and even rarer times when he was glad to be.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Special Agent with NCIS, still remembered his own initial reaction to seeing Abigail Sciuto for the first time and had to smile at how wrong he'd been. He'd worried she was too young, too inexperienced to handle the work load and provide him with the results he needed. He'd thought they'd clash over work ethics, that hers would be wildly different from his own because of the way she dressed and wore her hair and make-up. He'd thought she'd be continuously late, turn up with a hangover and not last longer than a few months.

He'd been wrong, and he was thankful for it every day since.

She was as work-obsessed as he was, though knew her limits better than he did. She didn't stop until the evidence had revealed all it could and she'd not once arrived at the Navy Yard with a hangover or in an otherwise unfit to work state. In fact, Gibbs could count on one hand the days she'd taken off over the years, not counting the occasional vacation he himself had talked her into.

Abby was dedicated and nowhere near as young as her exuberant attitude and contagious enthusiasm suggested. She'd earned her qualifications and her reputation and it came as no real surprise to him that she did receive three or four job offers a year; the big surprise was that she continuously turned them down and chose to stay where she was over a bigger, fancier lab with state of the art technology that the NCIS budget just couldn't afford.

They had far more in common than either of them would have guessed – more so than the mutual addiction to caffeine that had no doubt helped to cement their relationship in stone. They were both committed to finding the truth and seeing justice was served. They both had strong morals and, whilst they might not always agree with one another, they had a distinct sense of right and wrong. They both liked time on their own, though Gibbs preferred to spend his time in silence or with the soft drone of the radio over the heavy beat of Abby's favourite songs. Although she still loved clubs and parties and dancing would always been her favourite pastime, Abby would chose an evening of quiet reflection over a night of wild partying now – his influence, she complained on more than one occasion, sipping from the bottle of bourbon in his basement as she lamented over her diminished social life.

Abby had become a fixture in his life he couldn't imagine being without. She cheered him up just by being her usual, bubbly self; she listened to his theories and his suspicions when he needed a sounding board during a tough case, often saying nothing but the fact that she was there, that she listened, helped him reach his conclusions and made him grateful for her all the more. She didn't mind if he was going through one of his phases, in one of his moods; she just smiled and turned her cheek to his lips for a kiss regardless of how snappy he'd been.

If someone had told him ten years ago that a Goth would come into his life and turn it upside down, making the world a somehow brighter, nicer place to be, he would have laughed outright and asked what they'd been drinking.

He watched her now, standing at the opposite end of the bar in between Tony DiNozzo and Tim McGee, giggling at something one of them – DiNozzo, Gibbs would bet – had said, sharing an eye roll with Ziva David when the two male agents began a light-hearted debate...

"Our Abigail is on fine form tonight." The sound of his old friend's voice didn't startle him; Gibbs had known it was only a matter of time before Doctor Donald 'Ducky' Mallard took it upon himself to ease him from his thoughts.

"It's her party," Gibbs pointed out. "And she'll hurt you if she hears you call her Abigail, Duck."

The Medical Examiner's eyes sparkled as he lifted his glass to his lips. "Abby would never hurt me, Jethro. Perhaps refuse to speak to me for a while, but I can't see that lasting more than an hour or so, can you?"

The woman in question arrived between them, an arm over each of their shoulders. Her smile was infectious, her dark red lips parted laughingly. "You guys need to mingle more," she declared. "Ducky, Tony and McGee are trying to prove to Ziva which one of them is the best dancer. I put my money on you showing them both how it's done."

"As well you should, my dear." Ducky beamed at her. "If you'll excuse me, I think I'll show these young men how a lady should be treated on the dance floor."

Abby's delighted laugh followed him across the room and she slipped onto the stool he'd vacated. She leaned against the bar and watched her four friends on the dance floor, noting Tony and McGee were only put out for a few moments as their dance partner was whisked away by the older man, both finding new, eager dance partners with no effort.

"Ducky's showing them how it's done," Abby murmured, a note of laughter in her voice. "This is great, Gibbs." She leaned across and brushed her lips against his cheek. "Thank you for coming out with me."

It seemed natural to slip his arm around her, the gesture casual and somehow familiar. "Couldn't miss out on celebrating your first decade at NCIS, could I?"

She tilted her head to the side, resting it neatly on his shoulder. "It's been the best ten years ever," she spoke decisively. "Most of it, anyway."

"You ever think you'd still be here ten years later?" Gibbs made no attempt at dislodging her head from his shoulder, shifting closer instead of moving away.

She laughed again, a soft, husky sound. "I didn't think I'd last ten days at the beginning. You were way too intimidating."

"Me?" He kept a grin concealed behind an attempt at innocence. "I don't know what you mean, Abby."

"Oh, please." She drew away from him but the sense of loss he felt disappeared at the warm glow he felt at the bright, affectionate smile on her lips. "You know exactly what I mean. You spent a week watching me from the doorway like you were waiting for me to screw up, and I know for a fact you checked with security to make sure I came in on time every day for at least three days."

He couldn't deny it so gave her what he hoped was a charming grin instead. "I was looking out for you," he said eventually. "Pretty young woman, new to town... Who knew what trouble you'd find yourself facing in a place like this."

Another bubble of laughter escaped her and her arm went around his shoulders again as she stood. "At least you didn't insult me by calling me a girl," she teased, green eyes dancing in amusement. She glanced towards the dance floor, to their friends who showed no signs of returning to the bar anytime soon. "Dance with me, Gibbs?" She turned her smile up a notch when it looked like he was going to protest. "Who knows what kind of a trouble a pretty, not-so-young woman will find on a dance floor in a place like this..."

He laughed himself and led her to the dance floor, careful to keep to the corners and not the crowded centre. His arms slipped around her easily, drawing her body against his as though it belonged there and they moved effortlessly in time with the beat of the song currently playing on the jukebox.

He held her close and recalled his first impression of her, of a young woman too bright and too happy to survive for long in the environment he worked in, too innocent to remain untarnished by the acts of crime their jobs forced them to bear witness to. She'd somehow managed to withstand ten years of it, to keep her shine and her enthusiasm and continue bringing light and warmth into his life.

"Here's to ten years more," he murmured, not sure if he was talking to her or to himself, not sure if it was a toast or a plea.

"At least ten," she responded just as quietly, nestling her head against his shoulder as the song changed to something slower, calmer. "Here's to a lifetime."