TITLE: Stillwater, Pre-Dawn
AUTHOR: Matt
SUMMARY: Not only had it snowed during the night, it was still snowing.
RATING: PG
WORD COUNT: 716
NOTE: Unlike the majority of my writing, this piece has not been beta-read. This is because I don't know if my regular beta watches NCIS, and I don't have anyone else to whom I can send stuff without warning on a regular basis. It has been triple-checked with spell-check and my eyes, but nothing is perfect. Therefore, I welcome constructive criticism.


The cold front came through central Pennsylvania earlier than forecast. Gibbs heard his father move around in the darkness, before the front door closed with a quiet snick. He then heard the soft crunch of his father's footsteps and knew the weather had changed overnight. He had hoped to be back in Washington before the storm hit, but that was now an impossibility.

"What time is it?" the woman lying next to him asked sleepily.

He didn't need to look at the clock to know it was early. Jackson had always been up before the dawn to greet the newspaper truck at the store. "Around five," he estimated.

"Oh." Her head moved against his chest, and the upper part of her face peered out from under the comforter. "Light's funny," she observed. "Why is that?"

"Snow's arrived early."

"Oh." He waited for his words to sink into her head. "Oh!" There was a flurry of movement as she scrambled out of bed, taking away the blankets in the process.

"Abs, it's cold," he groaned, but she ignored him. Admitting to himself that he was too lazy to retrieve the covers, Gibbs chose to tuck his hands behind his head and watch as she pulled the curtain aside.

"Wow," she breathed.

Even from his limited vantage point, Gibbs could tell he was correct. Not only had it snowed during the night, it was still snowing. He could see the flakes descending steadily in the beam of the streetlamp. The glow of the lamp also illuminated Abby's wide eyes and matching smile, and it was enough to cause him to respond with a soft smile of his own.

"How bad is it?"

She wrinkled her nose. "Car's covered," she replied. "And your dad's footsteps are about gone." She turned to him, accusation all over her face. "Why didn't you give him a ride?"

"If he'd wanted one, he'd have asked," he retorted. "Jack's been doing this for years. It's not going to kill him now."

Abby turned back to the window. "I think it would have been a nice gesture," she said, rebuking him for his apparent lack of action.

Gibbs chuckled. "I don't do nice, Abby, in case you've forgotten."

"You do for me."

"That's blackmail. You've just never recognized it."

"Humph. I have, too."

"Have not."

"Have too."

He smiled at her back. Only with Abby could he let down his guard sufficiently to indulge in this type of lightheartedness. Abby's childlike actions brought him moments of pleasure, whereas DiNozzo's antics mostly did nothing but aggravate.

"Well?" She'd turned away from the window again, evidently waiting for some kind of follow-up from him.

He held out a hand. "Come back to bed, Abs." He was cold and wanted her back beside him.

"Okay." She let the curtain close, so that the outside world was no longer visible, and slid back into his bed.

He tugged her close, sliding an arm underneath her. Between the two of them, they brought the blankets back up around their bodies. He felt her twist so that she lay snuggled up against him, her head lying back on his chest, and he gently ran strands of her hair between his fingers.

"How long do you think it will last?" Her voice was muffled against his tee-shirt.

"Could be all day."

"Will we make it back?"

He laughed. "Anyone would think you'd never seen snow before."

"I'm from the south, Gibbs," she whined.

"And yet you've lived in DC for how long?" He knew she'd experienced several Capital District snow storms. The one at Christmas was just the most recent.

"But this isn't DC. This is Pennsylvania."

He stroked her back gently. "It's all the same, Abby. We'll get home okay. Trust me."

"Okay," she replied sleepily, and he knew she was drifting off again. He listened to her breathing slowly even out and he smiled. In s few more hours, he knew she'd have coerced him into either a snowball fight or the building of a snowman with her. Whatever it was, he probably wouldn't take much persuading. And as he began to fall back asleep beside her, he found himself picturing snowmen with straw from the barn twisted into braids and a wreath of pine needled twigs for a collar.

FINIS