Author: Jo. R
Spoilers: 'Deliverance' and 'South by South-West'.
Summary: Post-ep for 'South by South-West'. Gibbs interrogates Abby further and makes a confession of his own.
"So he called you? A lot?"
Abby Sciuto shrugged and dug the spoon she was holding into the bowl of ice cream on the table, spooning the sweet desert into her mouth without answering. She was aware of Gibbs' gaze on her from across the table at the diner he'd taken her to – one of the several belated apologies he'd made so far for forgetting her birthday the year before.
She swallowed her mouthful and looked up at him, a small smirk on her face. "I refuse to be interrogated like one of your suspects, Gibbs."
Leroy Jethro Gibbs gave her the look that made even his most experienced field agents quiver but Abby met it with a sweet smile and the slight inclination of her head. Gibbs sighed and rolled his eyes skywards, hand tightening around the cup of coffee on the table in front of him. "I'm not interrogating you now," he said after a pause. "I'm just asking."
Abby's smile turned into a smirk and she leaned forward slightly, one arm resting on the table beside the forgotten desert as she leaned her cheek into her hand. "Why do you want to know?" She arched an eyebrow when he looked at her. "You're showing an awful lot of interest, Gibbs."
"You're my tech." Gibbs shrugged and looked down into his coffee cup, missing the look that passed over her face by seconds. "I don't like the thought of another agent trying to poach you."
"Poach me?" The laugh that escaped her made him look up again. "That's what you're bothered about?" She shook her head and returned her attention to her ice cream. "He's not in any position to do that, Gibbs. And even if he was, he was still NCIS and you aren't the only agent I work with even if I am part of your team." She played with the ice cream for a moment or two, aware of his gaze on her as she trailed the spoon through the melting remains in the bowl. "So what was up with Franks? He's retired so it's not like he could 'poach' your tech."
His features were carefully arranged into a neutral expression but his eyebrow twitched, giving him away. "I don't know what you mean, Abs."
"Oh, really?" Abby snorted indelicately. "Maybe I should remind you, then."
"Remind me of what?" Gibbs refused to be drawn, holding her gaze steadily.
Abby smirked again and leaned back into the booth. "Oh, I don't know. How about the glare you gave him when I hugged him, or the way you pushed that Caf-Pow into his face so hard you could've broken his nose if your depth perception wasn't so good? Or maybe how you made him leave without saying goodbye to me – and yes, he told me that. He's had the internet installed in that house of his since you were there last and emails me regularly."
Gibbs didn't appear startled by her declaration but his hand, Abby noticed, did tighten around his cup when she mentioned Franks kept in touch with her by email. "You email anyone else but Franks and Patterson on a regular basis, Abby?"
"What's it to you if I do?" She let one shoulder rise and fall. "You gonna start vetting my phone calls and emails, Gibbs?" He didn't answer but the expression that flittered momentarily across his face seemed to suggest he was considering it. Abby sighed and rolled her eyes. "C'mon, it was a joke. You can't seriously do that."
"It's a thought," was all Gibbs would say.
With another, heavier sigh, Abby leaned forward again, resting both arms on the table as she stared at him intently. "You still haven't told me why it bothers you so much."
"Who said it bothers me?" Again with the non-committal expression.
"I can tell." She tilted her head to the side once more, studying him intently. "And if I didn't know you better, I'd say you were jealous." She waited a beat. "But that's ridiculous, right? You don't get jealous and certainly not over me." Gibbs glanced away for a split-second, missing the disappointment that flashed in her eyes. "I'm gonna go," Abby said softly.
She grabbed her coat from the back of the booth and slid out of it, getting to her feet in one graceful movement. She had her arms in the sleeves of the long black coat before he was on his own feet, his hands making it easier for her to slip the garment on.
"Abs." Gibbs let her turn around to face him but held onto her shoulders to keep her from walking away. "You don't have to go."
Abby searched his expression but Gibbs gave nothing away. She sighed and shook her head, lifting her hands to her shoulders to remove his. "I think I do. I'll see you in the morning." She leaned in to kiss his cheek softly, lingering a little longer than usual before turning on her heel and leaving him standing in the diner alone.
The bubbles popped against her skin and tickled but Abby didn't notice them. She lounged in the bath until the water turned tepid, her body no less tense when she got out of it than it had been when she'd gotten in. She wrapped the fluffy towel she'd left warming on the radiator around her body and took her time rubbing the moisturiser cream Ziva had got her for her birthday into her arms and legs before dropping the towel and donning her favourite nightshirt - an oversized t-shirt she'd 'accidentally' put in her overnight back the last time she'd spent the night at Gibbs' house.
She found herself wondering if he was missing it yet but forced the thought from her mind; she was trying to put him out of her mind, not summoning another excuse to think about him even more.
Abby wandered through her apartment and settled herself on the sofa, drawing the blanket she kept folded over the back of it around her shoulders. Its weight was warm and welcome, the soft black wool chasing away the evenings chill.
The death of Jack Patterson still weighed on her mind though she knew she wasn't directly responsible. She thought about their last conversation on the telephone, about the excitement in his tone. She couldn't decide if he'd been excited because he was on the verge of cracking open a major case or because they were finally going to meet. She questioned herself over her decision to put him off yet again, wondering if by doing so she'd helped him die or saved herself. If they'd been out together, would he still have been killed? Would she?
Abby tightened the blanket around her shoulders and blinked back the moisture that stung her eyes. She still felt guilty, not just because he'd died. On a less rational note, she felt guilty for the small part of her that had been tempted to meet him even though she suspected he wanted to take her out on a date. Guilty because it felt like it was a betrayal, somehow, a betrayal of Gibbs even though they didn't have such a relationship.
From his reaction in the diner, they never would.
She sighed softly and nestled her cheek against the softness of the blanket. Her eyes slid shut and she found herself drifting off to sleep.
There was no answer to his knocking so he unlocked the door using the key she'd given him and let himself in. He was surprised there was no music playing to greet him despite the lateness of the hour; Abby was somewhat of a night-owl and slept even less than he did.
Gibbs had tried using his boat as a distraction but it'd failed to get his mind off her for long. He kept running it through his head, over and over. She was emailing Franks, had been speaking to Patterson on the phone... It bugged him even though he told himself it had no right to.
He could picture her sitting in her apartment, smiling to herself at a flirty email from the retired NCIS agent who'd mentored him, knowing that Franks had a way with women that could very possibly translate across the internet as well as it did in person. He could imagine her laughing at something Patterson said to her on the phone, flirting with him, twirling a lock of hair around her finger as she did so.
He hated that a small part of him was jealous of a dead man, a good man who was killed in the line of duty.
Gibbs locked the door behind him, not for his benefit but because he knew Abby felt more comfortable behind the safety of a locked door. He turned back to face the living room, standing still while his eyes adjusted to the darkness of the room.
He almost bypassed the living room completely, stopping only when a low murmur caught his attention and had him looking towards the sofa.
Abby looked so small curled up beneath the blanket. He crossed the room in a matter of strides, crouching down beside the sofa to study her closely.
She was younger than he was but he knew age had never bothered her. She wasn't beautiful in the traditional sense but he'd never thought of her as being anything but. Even the tattoos he'd tried to ignore at first were beautiful to him now.
Gibbs wasn't a stupid man. He knew Abby was attracted to him. Couldn't understand why, not really, not when they were so different, when he was so much older and had so much baggage. He was attracted to her, too; he'd tried not to be but he found he couldn't resist her flirty smile and sparkling eyes.
He reached out to trace the line of her cheek with a gentle hand, smiling to himself when she leaned into the caress despite being asleep. He gazed at her for a few moments more before withdrawing his hand and tucking the ends of the blanket around her, careful not to disturb her slumber.
Instead of leaving the apartment like his brain told him to, Gibbs settled himself into the chair beside the sofa, resting his head against the cushion behind him as he watched her through lidded eyes, eventually following her into sleep.
When Gibbs woke, it was to find himself wrapped in not only the blanket he'd secured around Abby but the woman herself. She was curled on his lap, head nestled against his shoulder, blanket pulled around them both. Her breath was warm against his neck, as steady as the heartbeat he could feel beating in his chest.
"Hope you don't mind," Abby murmured, voice heavy with the remnants of sleep. "You looked cold and I couldn't sleep without my blanket."
He tightened the arm that had somehow become wrapped around her and brushed his lips against the top of her head. "You should've gone to bed."
She snorted softly. "And give you the chance to leave before I wake up in the morning? Not happening, Gibbs. Not till you tell me why you're here."
Gibbs shrugged or at least attempted to; it wasn't an easy feat with Abby in his arms. "Just wanted to see you. Make sure you were okay."
"So why didn't you leave when you knew I was?" She wasn't giving up and lifted her head from his shoulder just enough to give him a look that made that clear. "Gibbs?"
He said nothing for a long time, drawing another sigh from her and an unmistakably disappointed look. Gibbs didn't react until she tried to detangle herself from his arms, holding her as tightly and as closely as he dared until she stopped struggling.
Her eyes cast downwards, Abby bit down on her bottom lip. "I don't know where I stand with you anymore," she told him softly. "I don't know if I'm making assumptions or reading the signals wrong but you keep changing them and it's getting confusing, Gibbs. It really is."
An apology danced on his tongue but he didn't say it; couldn't, it was against his own rules. Then again, Gibbs reasoned with himself, what he was about to do was against them, too.
Words were no longer his strong point and he knew it was something he'd have to work on. With Shannon, he'd had no problem telling her how he felt but it was something he hadn't done with any woman since her. With Abby, he'd try and change that but he hoped actions would do just as well until he was ready.
He lifted his hand to her face, fingers trailing across her cheek softly as they made their way to her chin, tipping her face up gently so she had no choice but to look at him. He read the question in her eyes but couldn't answer it, not verbally anyway. His hand slid around to the back of her neck and he asserted a little bit of pressure, keeping her still while he lowered his face to hers.
Softly at first, a brush of lips and nothing more. He waited, heart pounding in his chest, for her to push him away or leap off his lap.
She did neither, just closed her eyes and sighed softly.
Encouraged, he increased the pressure of his lips against hers, closing his own eyes when she gave in to his attempt at deepening the kiss. He kissed her gently, putting a tight rein on the feelings and urges that rose within him. Though she was Abby and he was sure there'd be plenty of passionate kisses in their future, he wanted their first kiss to be slow and tender, an affirmation of sorts that although their relationship was changing, the feelings between them had always been there and always would be.
Drawing back after a while, Gibbs let his head fall back against the chair, watching her as she brought a hand to her lips, eyes slowly opening to show her surprise and wonder.
"I was jealous," he confessed quietly, his words sounding loud in the still of the room. "A little."
Abby smiled at him then, her body seeming to melt against his as she cuddled up to him, into him, her head coming to rest once more on his shoulder as her hand covered his chest above his beating heart. "You've got no reason to be. I'm not going anywhere, with anyone, for as long as you want me to stay."
"That's good to know, Abby." He kissed the top of her head again, his arms clasped around her securely as he closed his eyes. The tension that had been clinging to him for the last few weeks had disappeared with his confession and Gibbs found himself falling asleep again, his girl wrapped securely in his arms.