A/N: I should probably enroll in some kind of review rehab, because it's getting a little ridiculous. Anyway, been wanting to do an Abby/Tony friendship peice for a while, I think ever since 'Not Sick' cuz they were waaay too much fun in that one. And, since I've also been wanting to do a more or less Requiem tag, well, this was a given, wasn't it? Reviews are love, as always, and I love the love you love me with! -pj
A/N2: Obviously this is set BEFORE everything went to hell...
Gibbs hung up the phone but didn't look up immediately. He could feel McGee and Ziva's eyes on him, but a third pair of eyes felt conspicuously absent. Under the pretense of sipping his coffee he raised his head and glanced over at his senior field agent. Unaware that he was being watched, Tony made an uncomfortable face and touched his neck and Gibbs' gut sent up a flare.
"McGee, Ziva, gear up and pack for a few days. We're going to the USS Seahawk."
Automatically Tony also bent over to pick up his backpack and strap on his badge and gun, allowing the others to take over his usual duty of pestering his boss for details on the case.
Gibbs crossed the unit to stand in front of Tony's desk.
"No Tony, you stay."
Tony looked up, giving him an incredulous grin, "you're kidding, right boss?"
Gibbs just stared at him and Tony's face fell.
"Not a discussion Tony," he turned to follow McGee and Ziva to the elevator and Tony was right behind him, "The captain on the Seahawk is a notorious hardass and I need to be there to be sure he doesn't interfere with our investigation."
Tony quickly masked a wounded look, but Gibbs saw it anyway.
He took a step closer to the younger man and lowered his voice, "I need you here, Tony," he said, hoping it would soften the blow. Tony had an insatiable need to prove himself valuable and, though Gibbs tried not to stoke the fire, he did try to make sure it had enough material to burn.
"Gibbs Gibbs Gibbs!"
Both agents looked up and saw Abby approaching as quickly as she could in platform boots.
"Are you leaving?"
"For the Seahawk. Dead XO and an aircraft carrier full of suspects."
"But I need Tony," she said, and looked over at the man, "you're supposed to help me move furniture tomorrow."
Gibbs shrugged, "he's all yours Abbs. He's not coming."
She gave him a strange look at the same moment that Tony let out a quick dry cough. Her eyes widened and flew from Tony to Gibbs and he dipped his chin meaningfully.
Understanding what he didn't say, she nodded.
"Handle the case from this end, DiNozzo. I want a briefing in MTAC at 09:00 tomorrow," Gibbs said gruffly, as if there had been no silent exchange.
Tony nodded once and Abby stood beside him as they watched the rest of the team pile onto the elevator.
"Hey Probie, don't forget your barfbag."
Once Gibbs was inside the elevator he grit his teeth and tightened his grip on his cup almost to the point of crushing it. He was not a fan of lying straight to Tony's face.
It was easy enough to justify sending Ziva, she needed more experience investigating aboard deployed ships, and McGee had more experience than Ziva so she could follow his lead. But the part about dealing with the captain was bullshit and he was sure Tony knew it. Ziva deal with him, though probably not without inflicting bodily harm, and McGee had certainly grown himself a backbone in the past couple of years but feeding him to the sharks probably wasn't a good idea. Still, Tony had a way of getting what he wanted, especially when it related to an investigation. He could have handled the captain.
No. The real reason he wanted Tony to stay behind was one he would prefer not to voice. Ever.
Gibbs eyesight may not have been the best, but he would have had to have been blind not to notice the way the younger man winced whenever he coughed and that he had been touching and rubbing his throat as if it was sore.
Between that and the harsh winter they were having, Gibbs' gut was telling him the last place his senior field agent needed to be was in the confined quarters of an aircraft character during flu season.
"You noticed the coughing too, Gibbs?" Ziva asked quietly from behind his right shoulder.
He turned to look at her and saw both his junior agents giving him grave, knowing looks. He didn't respond. Tony was humiliated enough with being left behind; he didn't need them all talking about him when he wasn't there, worrying like he was some defenseless kid.
Without responding, he turned back around, but allowed himself a small glimmer of satisfaction at the knowledge that Ziva and McGee were not as clueless as they let on, but had the good sense enough not to say anything to Tony. The elevator doors opened and the three stepped out.
Abby stood in the shadows on the edge of the bullpen watching Tony. If he'd wanted to, he would have seen her lurking there behind the filing cabinets, but his eyes were closed as he bent his head forward, elbows on his desk, as he massaged his temples and winced. She bit her lip.
"Everything alright, Abby?"
She squeaked and jumped.
"Agent Marcum," she glanced back over at Tony, but he didn't seem to have heard her, "I'm, um, just…making sure everything's…ship shape. You know, up here. Because I already checked…down there. In my lab…where I work."
Marcum frowned slightly and then shrugged. No one questioned Abby. Mostly because she had Team Gibbs in her back pocket, and partly because it wouldn't do much good anyway.
"Okay then," he said hesitantly and stepped past her, "carry on."
"Aye Aye," she gave a Pirates of the Carribean-esque salute and watched the other agent go down the hall toward Interrogation before she returned her gaze to Tony. He was back to leaning far over his report and she tried to tell herself the swallow, sunken look of his face was just because of the bad lighting from his desk lamp, but wasn't quite sure she was convinced.
She knew Tony was confused and perhaps a little bit hurt that Gibbs had left him behind. Of course, he was too much of a professional to say so and too much of a tough guy to think it might be for his own good. But she knew.
And she also knew he would work himself into the ground while they were gone, trying to prove his value to someone who'd never actually doubted it in the first place.
Which was where she came in.
Abby understood perfectly the mission Gibbs had given her and she fully intended to complete it.
Straightening, she stepped out of the shadows and approached Tony's desk in a subdued manner, appropriate for the late hour, and came to stand just within the circle of light from his lamp.
He glanced up briefly from his paperwork, "hey Abbs. You're here late."
She shrugged and picked up the Mighty Mouse staples from his desk, "not really. No later than you, anyway." She replaced the stapler and picked up a couple of pens to twirl in her fingers.
"Everything alright Abbs?" he asked, watching as she replaced the pens and began to fidget with his stack of post-its.
"Um…yeah…why would you ask that?"
Tony raised an eyebrow, still leaning on his desk heavily and looked up at her with tired eyes, "because you won't look at me and the only thing on my desk you haven't messed with is my computer monitor."
Abby promptly froze her movements but didn't look at him, "sorry."
Hiding a grimace at the movement, he stood and rounded the desk, "what is it Abbs?"
She scrunched up her face in a slight frown, "I was just wondering if you could maybe walk me out?" she continued all in one breath, "it's just that ever since Michael was able to get on the navy yard that time I haven't been able to walk in the parking lot alone and Gibbs usually walks with me but since he's not here…"
It wasn't really a lie, Gibbs did always walks out with her but if he wasn't there she usually just asked one of the security guards to do it.
"Of course I will, Abby. All you had to do was ask."
She smiled and bounced slightly while she waited for him to grab his backpack and coat from the back of the chair. He decided he could finish up on his paperwork tomorrow, since he already felt like he'd been hit by a truck and had been in the middle of reading the same paragraph for the eighth time when Abby walked up.
Turning off the light, he put his hand at her back and guided her toward the elevator. Abby turned to face the lift doors immediately, hoping to hide a self-satisfied smirk.
Phase One of Mission: Keep Tony healthy - Complete
"Thanks Tony," she smiled at him, "you're the greatest."
"This, I know."
TBC - I just love Abby and Tony. SOOOO much.