Spoilers: none

Disclaimer: Is Gibbs/Abby canon yet? Then I guess I still don't own the show...

A/N: Enormous thanks to becky_monster for being the 'and' police. This fic started out going in a different direction, but I'm pleased with the turn it took. Once again I am so mean to the characters I love.


"I need you Abby," Gibbs said the moment Abby answered her phone.

"Gibbs! I love it when you say that to me," she replied, only half in jest

"Abby," he groaned as he looked at the lab full of evidence that his team had collected. "Can you come back in to work?"

"No can do, boss man."

"Why?"

"You sent me home three hours ago."

"Good, then you should be well rested by now. This is a sensitive case, Abbs. A general's daughter has been killed. He's demanding the best, and that means you."

"I would love to help, but I can't find my DD."

"Your what?" He could barely hear her over the music blasting in the background. "Turn down that racket and repeat whatever you just said."

"My designated driver. I'm at a club, Gibbs. I can't turn..."

"Abby?" Gibbs heard what sounded like the breaking of glass and Abby's muffled swearing.

"Sorry Gibbs. Dropped my drink. Like I said, I can't find Tracy, my DD. Last time I saw her she was wrapped around some guy on the dance floor. I'd call a cab, but they don't usually come to this part of town."

Gibbs did not like the sound of that. He was well aware that Abby could take care of herself, yet the idea of her alone in the kind of place she described worried him.

"Give me the address. I'll come pick you up."

.....

The streets grew darker and more rundown looking as he followed the directions Abby gave him. By the time he reached the club, he was in a neighborhood that had only one working street light. Two men watched him warily from across the street; he would bet anything that they were making a drug deal. No one was in front of the club, for which he was glad. He was afraid Abby might be waiting outside for him to arrive.

The door to the club was blocked by a man who had to be close to six and a half feet tall with shoulders wide enough that they almost touched the door frame on both sides. He took one look at Gibbs and shook his head. Gibbs flashed his badge, making sure to pull his jacket back far enough that the glint of metal from his gun could be seen. The bouncer stepped out of his way.

Inside, the club was dark and smoky. All the lights were red or purple: he didn't understand how anyone can be in here for more then five minutes without getting a migraine. Abby was nowhere to be seen. He circled the perimeter of the room where there was a vague pathway. He had just about decided that the only way he was going to find her was to call her cell. Then he saw her.

She was in the very middle of the dance floor, dressed in an outfit that made the clothing she normally wore to work look tame. Her back was turned to her dance partner, her eyes closed. The man's arms were wrapped around her, hands flattened against hips as they ground against him to the pounding rhythm of the music. For reasons he refused to think about, Gibbs pressed his lips together and fought against shaping his hand into a fist.

"It's time to go, Abby." He forced his way onto the dance floor, stopping directly in front of the dancing pair.

"In a minute," she replied, not even bothering to open her eyes.

"Now, Abby." He took a step towards them, his gaze harsh; the man pressed against Abby backed away, disappearing into the crowd.

"Gibbs!" Abby exclaimed, eyes flying open as if a spell was suddenly broken. "This is like my favorite song and you scared Spike away."

"We have to go, Abby. Remember, work?"

"A couple of minutes isn't going to make any difference, especially the way you drive. If you're going to make me come back in the least you can do is let me finish this one song."

"Your dance partner's gone," Gibbs said, reaching for her wrist. Abby caught him, pulling at his hand and setting it on her waist, snaking her other hand up until it rested behind his neck. When a fingernail brushed his skin he flinched, but found he couldn't pull away.

"Then I guess you'll have to take his place," she whispered into his ear.

"Abbs," he protested.

"Relax, Gibbs. It's just one song." She laughed when he tensed against her and moved her other arm up so that hands clasped behind him. Her breath was warm against the skin of his neck. She moved slowly against him, her hips swaying from side to side.

"It's okay to enjoy yourself," she said. Or at least that's what he thought she said. They were close to the speakers and the music was loud enough that he couldn't be sure. A strobe light flashed almost directly in front of him and he closed his eyes against the glare. He could feel the vibrations of Abby's laughter as her chest was pressed against his. Taking a deep breath he could smell her too; a rich mix of camellias and musk with a hint of gunpowder. No one in the world smelled the same way his Abby did. Sometimes when he kissed her on the cheek the scent would be so strong and he would wonder if she tasted the same as she smelled. What would it be like to run his tongue along the pulse point of her neck, to cover her lips with his and plunder her mouth, to discover the other tattoos he knew were hidden under her clothes, to...

"We're need to leave now." He wrenched away from her and took a few steps across the dance floor, stopping when he realized that she wasn't following him. She was standing where he left her, tottering unsteadily as she took a single step. "Abbs?"

"Sorry, Gibbs, I feel a little..." she started to fall, and only Gibbs' arm wrapped around her waist kept her from crashing to the dance floor.

"How much have you had to drink?"

"Mmmm... five, or maybe six," Abby answered hazily.

"Five or six of what?" It was unlike her to have that much to drink, especially considering that she had work the next day.

"Red... um... red.." she lifted her head from his shoulder, squinting her eyes as she looked at him. "What do you call a boy cow?"

"A bull," he supplied.

"Red bull gives you wings. I shoulda 'membered that." She nodded contentedly and let her head fall back. "I had a Sex on the Beach, and then I stuck to Red Bulls after that."

"You don't get drunk on energy drinks, Abbs."

"I am not drunk," Abby said indignantly, her words slightly slurred. "I am a little dizzy, but if you'd stop swaying I'd be fine."

"I'm not moving." Running his hand down her legs to the back of her knees Gibbs scooped her up into his arms and carried her off the dance floor. He started heading for one of the tables so he could get a better look at her, but they were too close to the dance floor and the music was too loud. Instead he headed down the hallway. With his foot Gibbs opened the door to the women's bathroom, earning him more than one squeal and a few scoldings. He glared at the two women standing at the sink talking, ignored the one asking him questions, and they cleared the room without further complaint. Walking over to the counter he sat Abby carefully down next to the sink.

"Have you been taking lessons from Ziva? 'Cause I know she followed McGee into the bathroom that one time but you really shouldn't be in here." Without the other ambient noise he could now hear just how slurred her words were. The only time he'd heard her sound remotely like this was the night she broke his boat.

"It was too loud out there." Reaching into his jacket pocket Gibbs withdrew his cell phone and pressed the speed dial combination for Autopsy He was relieved when Ducky, not Palmer, answered the phone.

"Mallard speaking."

"It's me Duck."

"Jethro. Are you and Abigail on your way back? Director Sheppard is rather..."

"I don't give a damn about whatever Jen's been up to. I think something's wrong with Abby."

"Wrong?" Ducky's voice lost the slightly harried tone, became slightly sharper.

"She says she only had one cocktail, but her speaking is slurred, she can't walk a straight line, and she's acting lethargic." Even as he spoke her eyes were closed and she was almost asleep leaning against the bathroom mirror. He could hear Ducky cursing, low enough that he couldn't make out anything but a thicker than usual Scottish accent.

"I'm afraid that sounds like someone gave her Flunitrazepam, the bastards."

"Really? I was thinking someone doctored her drink with roofies."

"Same thing, Jethro. Rohypnol is simply the trade name." It was a testament to his worry that Ducky didn't go into any lengthy explanation.

"Should I take her to the hospital?" That was really why he had called. Taking care of a drunk Abby he could handle, but if she needed more than looking after Ducky would be able to tell him.

"How is her breathing? Does she seem to be having any trouble catching her breath?"

Gibbs watched Abby's chest rise and fall as he held his hand in front of her mouth to feel her breath.

"She seems to be breathing fine."

"Then I don't think the hospital is necessary. Bring her straight here and I'll draw a blood sample. We can keep a closer eye on her here they they would in a crowded emergency room, and as long as she wasn't overdosed the drug should be out of her system in a matter of hours."

"We'll be there in fifteen," Gibbs said, then closed his phone without saying good-bye. Picking up Abby he carried her out of the bathroom and through the crowded club. No one even tried to stop him from leaving with an unconscious woman. He made a mental note to speak to Abby soon about where she spent her off hours.

He called Tony, giving him the address of the club but not telling him why.

"Our missing girl doesn't seem the club type, Boss. More of a white wine and expensive restaurant type."

"Just get Ziva and get there. Keep everyone from leaving," he ordered.

"On it." There were times, Tony knew, when answers wouldn't be forthcoming no matter what questions were asked. He knew better than to push.

At every red light and stop sign Gibbs tried to shake Abby to keep her awake. He kept the windows rolled down, hoping that the bitter chill of the night air would help revive her. She still spent most of the ride sleeping, responding to his repeated questions only in monosyllables.

When they reached the Navy Yard he once again carried Abby, not having the patience to see if she could walk yet. The security guard shouted at him as he went through the metal detector in the lobby of NCIS without pausing. Gibbs let the elevator door close in his face. Two floors down and he was in Autopsy. Ducky was waiting for him.

"Put her here." Ducky motioned to the middle table, now covered with a futon that looked suspiciously like the one Abby kept in her lab. The cart next to the table was laid out with instruments that didn't usually appear in autopsy; a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, ophthalmoscope.

"Oh Abigail, what have they done to you?" Ducky shook his head.

"Ducky?" Abby asked dazedly, without opening her eyes. "What are you doing at Hell's Gate? It's not really your scene."

"You're not at the club, Abbs?" Gibbs reminded her.

"I'm not? But I..." Head lolling to one side Abby lost track of her thought and started to fall asleep again.

"Abigail, I need you to do me a wee favor before you sleep. Can you open you eyes for me?" Picking up the ophthalmoscope, Ducky moved to stand at the head of the table.

"Too tired. 's okay though. They're still green."

"And a lovely shade of green they are, my dear. Just give me one little peek and I'll leave you alone."

"Later Ducky. I promise."

"Now Abby." Gibbs, standing just far enough to be out of Ducky's way, barked the order in a tone Tony would have found very familiar. For the first time since arriving at NCIS, Abby's eyes opened.

"Thank you, Jethro." Ducky examined her pupils, muttering to himself as he set down the tool and picked up the stethoscope. With careful efficiency he listened to her heart, measured her pulse, and drew a vial of blood.

"Normally I would send this up to Abby to have it analyzed," Ducky commented with a measure of irony. "I'll have to run the tests myself today."

"I'll stay until you are done."

"Nonsense. Tony and Ziva can only hold the patrons of the club for so long before they get restless. You need to go find the bastard who did this."

"I'm not leaving her alone."

"I wouldn't think of it. Mr Palmer will stay with her until I am done with the test."

"Palmer?"

"He's more than capable, Jethro, as Abby would tell you if she was awake. It won't be long until he has his MD. More importantly he is fond of Abby and won't let anything happen to her. I trust him."

"In that case he should come in instead of lingering in the doorway." Gibbs only waited as long as it took for Jimmy to walk into the room before he headed for the elevator.

"I... I was... that is..." Jimmy stammered.

"Don't prove my faith to be misplaced, Mr. Palmer." Waving the vial of blood in his direction Ducky took one last look at Abby before walking through the doors and following Gibbs onto the elevator.

...

"I dibbet do abything wrong. I was helping them relax." Keith Drummond, bartender at Hell's Gate, held his nose as he spoke despite the fact that the bleeding had almost stopped. On the other side of the glass window Gibbs watched the interrogation and resisted the urge to run into the room and bang the bastard's head against the table until he stopped lying. McGee had brought a printout of the man's rap sheet in a few minutes ago. Drummond had a restraining order against him from a former employee at the club, two convictions for indecent exposure, and had been caught spying on a neighbor through a window. He was escalating; if he had gotten Abby alone tonight...

"Boss?" McGee looked at him expectantly.

"Beam the info to Tony's thingy," Gibbs said tersely.

"You're not going in there?"

"I'm going to go see Abby." He had stayed long enough to see that DiNozzo was handling things, and was impressed with the restraint his number one was showing- the bloody nose not withstanding.

"Ducky said she's still sle..." The observation door slammed shut, and McGee was left alone. He turned away from both the tech and the window, beamed Drummond's record to Tony's PDA, and left the room. The sight of the man on the other side of the glass made him feel sick to his stomach.

.....

"Duck?" The lights in autopsy were turned to dim when Gibbs entered.

"We're over here." Ducky called out from the far end of the room. Gibbs made his way around the autopsy tables to find that the futon had been moved to the floor. Abby was curled up on her side with a hippo shaped pillow, a blanket tucked around her. Ducky was sitting at the edge of the futon near her feet. "She was thrashing around a bit when I returned from the lab. I thought the floor would be safer."

"How is she?"

"She's mostly been asleep. The few times she's woken up she's been disoriented; she wanted to know what my autopsy suite was doing in her apartment and why you hadn't come down with a Caf-Pow! yet." He clucked his tongue softly and tucked the blanket more tightly around her feet. "Timothy says you have a suspect?"

"The bartender. He had a bottle of Flunitrazepam hidden under the counter, with his name on the label."

"Was he..." Ducky shook his head. "Never mind. I don't think I want to know what his intentions were."

"He can't do anything now. Not ever, if we have anything to say about it." He would make sure of it.

.....

A kick in the general direction of his legs and a punch squarely in the middle of his stomach woke Gibbs up. It also sent him falling off the bed.

"I don't know who you are or where I am, but if you touch me again I'll make sure they need DNA to identify you." Abby's voice barely trembled when she yelled into the darkness.

"It's me, Abbs." He spoke in a low, calm voice.

"Gibbs?" A single word, filled with relief and confusion.

"Yeah." Gibbs fumbled for the lamp on the night stand next to the bed. When he turned it on he found Abby standing on the other side of the bed, a pillow held in front of her like a shield.

"What are you doing in my..." Abby paused and looked around her. "This is your bedroom."

"Last time I checked."

"Why are we in your bedroom? Last thing I remember..." she squinched up her face, thinking. "I went out clubbing after work."

"Sit down." Gibbs walked around the bed and took the pillow from her, tossing it behind him. "You're here because Ducky said you needed someone to keep an eye on you, and my bed is more comfortable than the floor in autopsy."

"Ducky?" Abby's eyes grew wide. She rubbed her forehead with both hands. "Was I sick? I don't remember. I was at Hell's Gate, because Tracy said the band was good. Oh God. Tracy's alright, isn't she?"

"Tracy's fine." At least she was for now. He was going to have a talk with her tomorrow about loyalty, and looking out for friends. "The bartender slipped something into your drink."

"Flunitrazepam?" When Gibbs nodded, Abby jumped up off the bed. "Son of a bitch. When I get my hands on him..."

"You're not getting anywhere near him," Gibbs ordered.

"But I..."

"He's locked in a cell, where he's going to stay for a very long time. He doesn't get company, and he sure as hell doesn't get to see them woman he was planning..." He couldn't say the words out loud, hated that he saw the understanding in her eyes.

"He didn't do anything, Gibbs." Abby knelt on the floor just in front of Gibbs and wrapped her hands around a fisted hand.

"It was stupid luck that he didn't have the opportunity. If I hadn't needed you to come back to the lab..." A thousand pictures flashed in his head, full of tears, hospital beds, autopsy tables. Tomorrow's case could have been his worst nightmare. He reached out and touched a strand of black hair.

"Not luck." Abby shook her head. "Fate."

"I don't believe in fate."

"I do." She looked up and smiled at him. "You were meant to be there tonight."

"You need to stop going to places like that."

"Maybe," she said in a yawn. "They're not all bad, you know."

"We'll talk about it tomorrow." Gibbs looked at the clock; it was almost three am. "Or later today. Now it's time to sleep."

Abby slipped under the blankets and waited for Gibbs to turn off the light. "Do I get a bedtime story?"

"Go to sleep, Abbs."

"Come on, Gibbs. Just a little story."

"Alright," he relented. He turned off the light and laid on top of the bed, staring at the ceiling he couldn't see. "Listen close. This story is called The Bartender and the Bloody Nose."