"The Spaces to Fill"
By: a. loquita
Warnings: None
Pairings: No ship pairings, Gibbs and Abby friendship
Spoilers: None

The overhead lights were off so the entire lab was lit by the glow of machines, shifting in their job of processing evidence. Gibbs wasn't sure what to make of the lighting scheme, as a rule, Abby wore her emotions on the outside like she did her tattoos. But she was capable of being closed and confusing to read at times, just like any woman. And he had the ex-wives to prove it.

He stopped in the middle of the room and put the Caf-Pow down.

"Thanks, Gibbs." Abby didn't stop moving, grabbing it for a sip between punching buttons and typing keys.

"It's late, Abbs."

"But you need this hair sample run ASAP." She did a decent impression of his stern delivery, and it made him smile a little. It surprised others that he was so lenient on Abby. Lenient, meaning he didn't hit her upside the head no matter how far over the line she went. Dinozzo, on the other hand, got a smack sometimes just because. But the reasons for her special treatment were the type of reasons that remain unspoken, but not enigmatic.

"How long?" he asked.

"Let's not do this dance," she replied. Gibbs didn't understand what she was referring to. "I say, 'I need four hours.' Then you say, 'Get it in two, Abby.' And then you leave."

Suddenly, Abby stopped moving. The abruptness from action to stillness was instant and disconcerting for Gibbs. He could be reading it wrong, but he doubted it, something else was going on with her.

"You'll leave," she repeated but much quieter this time.

He shook his head. "I'm not going anywhere."

"No, I know that. You're not leaving NCIS or anything like that. But you'll…" Abby blinked. "Never mind."

And she was moving again, slurping down Caf-Pow, navigating computer settings, inserting sample vials into the mass spec. All the movement was making Gibb's head spin, but he focused in, trying to pinpoint what it could be, until out of the depth of memory it rose.

Gibbs walked over to where Abby was swinging a cabinet door open and rummaging between the bottles of chemicals stored there.


She didn't pause, even briefly, in finding what she was looking for and turning to set it on the lab bench.


"I've only got two hours."

He decided not to point out that was because of her own self-inflicted deadline. Instead, he put his hands on her shoulders and stopped her.

"What?" she asked.

"I know what today is."

She looked away. "Today is just any other day."

"I'm not going to leave like your father did. OK?"

"Sure, Gibbs."

"Look at me, I'm not going anywhere."

She finally pulled her gaze away from the apparently interesting smudge on the wall behind Gibbs in order to meet his eyes. The man who was the exact opposite of everything her father was. The man who, on more than one occasion, had picked her up, brushed her off, drove her home, and told her everything was going to be OK. The man who was the father Abby wished she'd had instead, especially every year on this day.

Abby put her arms around him and hugged tight. 'Thanks, Gibbs."

He gave in for a few moments, allowed her to take what comfort she needed, then it was time to keep moving on.

"Two hours, Abbs." He backed up from her embrace. She picked up the Caf-Pow and took a big sip.

"I'm already on it, Gibbs."

He smiled and walked out of the lab. "I know you are."