AN: I still hope it appeases you and that you enjoy this newest chapter.

Chapter Eighteen

To Return

Abby was torn when it was time to return to her lab. She had found a great daycare for Anton, very close to the Navy Yard and had great reviews. Evy had gotten another job in a nearby lab, working full-time and enrolled Tristan in the same daycare after school. That Monday morning Abby woke up feeling even more conflicted.

Anton was still sleeping so she took her shower quickly and prepared herself for her first day back. She had already packed a bag for Anton the night before and had his bottles waiting in the fridge in an insulated bag. When she had everything packed for herself and Anton she went to his cradle and found him awake.

"Good morning little man." She told him with a smile.

She changed him into a predetermined outfit, a black onesie and black pants, and fed him before getting him into his car seat. She was able to balance him and all the bags enough to lock her apartment and get him into the car.

Driving with Anton was still nerve-wracking for her but she managed. The daycare was just opening when she arrived. She took her time getting Anton and his things and brought him into the reception room. The woman she had spoken to the most, Anna, walked up to her with a smile.

"Good morning Abby, hello Anton." She said with a little wave to him as he slept.

"I just wanted to make sure that you had all of the information you'd need." Abby said nervously.

"The list of those who could visit and pick up Anton was confirmed via email with all of them, and all of the identification was confirmed from the NCIS database with our daycare. We have all of the numbers and the order in which they are to be called. It's going to be fine Abby." Anna listed expertly with a calming smile to the younger woman.

Abby sighed. "I know, this just sucks." She frowned as she passed Anton in his car seat to Anna, along with his bag. Anna set him on the counter near the check in table and Abby signed him in the log and then unbuckled him while Anna put his bag in one of the cubbies.

"I'll be back for lunch, I love you." Abby murmured before she handed Anton to Anna and watched as they disappeared into the back room, all without Anton making a sound.

She managed not to start crying but it took her five minutes to leave the daycare and five more minutes in the parking lot before she could drive away. She got to work soon after and was greeted by her favorite team waiting for her in her lab.

She had to hug Ziva as soon as she walked in to keep from crying. Everyone tried to say something happy to her while Ziva held her awkwardly. Gibbs shooed everyone but Ziva out and rubbed Abby's back.

"Don't worry, you'll see him soon." Gibbs said soothingly.

Abby let go of Ziva only to fling her arms around Gibbs. When she was freed Ziva gave Gibbs a knowing smile and then left the lab.

The first few days were the hardest for Abby, just getting used to not having Anton around all the time and trusting others with his care and getting back into the swing of lab work. Vance was pretty lax during the transition period and gave Abby the space she needed to adjust.

The team ended up taking turns visiting Anton at the center. Tony liked to go just before lunch to just hold Anton and talk to him for a while, Abby crossed paths with him a few times when she went to eat lunch with Anton. Ziva and McGee would often have lunch with Abby just to get away from the Navy Yard. Ziva liked the atmosphere of the daycare and McGee just liked getting away from Tony.

Gibbs however, was much more sporadic. She didn't even know he was going until Anna said something when Abby was picking him up one day. "Is Gibbs okay?" She asked concerned.

"What do you mean?" Abby asked confused.

"Well, he normally checks on Anton three times a day, he hasn't been here at all today, it was strange." Anna said still looking worried.

Abby was practically floored. Gibbs never mentioned he was going to see Anton, even though he was first on the list to see and take Anton if needed. She almost didn't know what to say. "Busy day." She mumbled inadequately as she took Anton in his car seat to her car.

The drive back to her apartment she tried not to get her hopes up that Gibbs would assume his natural role as Anton's father or that they would all live happily ever-after. She knew that Gibbs cared greatly about everyone and that would pass on to whatever children they had.

Anton was almost four months old now and the guilt was now settling in that the father slot on his birth certificate read 'unknown'. She remembered what it was like to cuddle with her father and feel like nothing in the world could hurt her. She wondered if Anton would still feel that way with Gibbs or even Tony and McGee. She figured they would make up for anything missing in his life. Like the possibility of siblings. She hoped they would all have kids of their own so he had cousins in some way.

When she got home it was blissfully silent and unfortunately cluttered. Anton had to be fed again so she gave him another bottle and laid him in his play pen in the center of the house so she could watch him while she cleaned up, she had to start another load of laundry and clean the kitchen.

Anton was quiet even though he didn't sleep and just rolled around in his playpen which distracted Abby because she would stop to make sure he was okay and then laugh at the new awkward position he was in, and liked trying to follow his mother as she zipped around the house. It was a lot of work, like always, but she managed, all while making dinner for herself. This was her routine that she fell in line with easily.

After she was able to eat and get Anton ready for bed, she put him to sleep and showered then cleaned up the little things that needed to be done in the kitchen before she went to bed and her cell phone rang. She hoped it wasn't an emergency because she didn't know what she would do with Anton and she really didn't want to leave him.

When she finally looked at her phone she saw Gibbs name and answered it easily. "Hey Gibbs," She said quietly.

"How're you two doing?" He asked with the faintest echo from the phone. Abby could tell he was in his basement.

"We're fine. Anton is pretending he is on fire half the time with all the rolling he does." She laughed.

Gibbs chuckled at that and it made Abby smile to hear him happy. "Just wanted to check up on you guys." He reaffirmed, almost like he was telling it to himself.

Abby knew she shouldn't but she brought up what they told her at the daycare anyway. "The girls at the daycare were worried about you, they said you didn't come at all today." She said with an almost probing tone.

"Busy day." He answered curtly.

"That's what I figured." She said easily and the line went painfully quiet. "You know, you don't have to sneak into the daycare to see him, you can come over whenever Gibbs." She told him quickly.

"That's your time with him." He said quickly.

Abby frowned a little then. "I don't mind sharing him." She said surely.

"Get some sleep Abby." He murmured before he hung up on her.

She sighed and put her phone back on her bedside table and connected to the charger then changed into her sleepwear. She didn't have to work the next day, which she was happy about, she already planned on spending the day with Tony and Ziva and Anton.

She thought about inviting Gibbs, but then she realized he probably wouldn't even go since it was mostly shopping. Or at least she thought it was. They were pretty secretive on details but she didn't mind, they both liked to take care of Anton for her.

She curled up in her bed and relaxed. She wasn't as tired as she thought she was but she knew that had more to do with Gibbs perplexing her again, rather than the full day she had at work and with Anton. She forced herself to close her eyes and hoped for a nice day with Tony and Ziva when she opened them.

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