A/N: I know that about a million people have already covered this, but I couldn't seem to resist. This is going to be my version of how Gibbs met Tony. (Maybe it's some weird kind of NCIS fanfiction rite of passage, that so many of us can't seem to avoid.) I also want to establish the beginnings of Abby and Tony's friendship in it. Lots of big plans - we'll see how it goes.... It may deviate from canon ever so slightly, but I'll try to stay true to what I know. It will eventually be a Gibbs/DiNozzo pairing, so if slash isn't your thing, you have been warned. Hope you enjoy!
A confused Leroy Jethro Gibbs pulled his car slowly into the Navy Yard, which was unusual for two reasons. He was very rarely unsure about anything, and he almost never drove slowly. Unfortunately, ever since he'd awakened that morning, his gut had been telling him something was wrong, and though he couldn't figure out what the problem might be, his sixth sense was always right, and it was his preoccupation with trying to unravel the mystery that had him driving more slowly than was his norm. He waved his hand distractedly at the guard in the booth, as the security gates opened up for him. He was, quite probably, the only person who never had to show their ID to get in, a by-product of the time he'd pulled his gun on a guard in frustration when he'd been denied entry because his ID badge had been destroyed in a fight with a suspect, and he didn't have one to show when he'd tried to return to the office. Word had spread quickly, and now every security officer seemed to know who he was, and no one felt the need to question his right to be there. Pulling his car into his parking space, an unreserved spot right next to the director of NCIS' that everyone else in the Naval Yard knew better than to occupy, he sighed. He hated having to wait for information, but there didn't seem to be anything for it. Try as he might, he couldn't come up with a reason for his gut to be acting up, so he was just going to have to wait and see what the day brought.
When he got into the building, he stopped at the snack bar to buy a large coffee and an enormous cup of Caf-Pow. With the drinks in hand, he stepped into the half full elevator, frowning when he had to weave his way to the panel on the wall so that he could push the button that would take him to the forensics lab; the other people in the elevator, seeing his scowl, all found a reason to exit at the next stop. As he stepped from the elevator into the lab, he was surprised to find it silent. Usually the air was literally vibrating in response to the punk music his favorite lab technician, Abigail Sciuto - a brilliant but decidedly eccentric scientist, favored. Abby, as everyone called her, was normally one of the first people in every morning, as she liked to take her time easing into her day and communing with her various computers and pieces of equipment, and an early start meant she was ready to go by the time anyone needed her assistance. Gibbs tried to ignore the sense of foreboding that had been nagging at him all morning, as he set the Caf-Pow down on her desk, so it would be there waiting when she got in. With no reason to stay there, he turned and headed for the bullpen, where his desk, and the day's work, sat waiting for him.
His newest agent, Elizabeth Templeton, sat at her desk in the area of the bullpen reserved for the MCRT (Major Crime Response Team), the very picture of practicality in her navy pant suit with her brown hair neatly pinned into a bun, idly chatting on the internet. 'Probably talking to her old friends over at the FBI,' Gibbs thought, as he silently walked up behind her. Gibbs wasn't sure how things were going to work out with Templeton. She'd only been with him a month, but he had yet to see the kind of initiative and drive he felt a good agent must possess. Liz was too dependent on him for direction, never wanting to overstep some imaginary line she had created for herself. Gibbs cleared his throat, hiding his smile when she jumped ever so slightly in her seat, and quickly cleared her computer screen to hide what she had been doing.
"Good morning, Gibbs," she stuttered out, as he stepped into her line of vision.
"Liz" he acknowledged, as he crossed to her desk. "Anything interesting come in, so far?"
"Not yet, but it is early, and it's only Monday, so at least there's hope. Surely something truly heinous will happen soon," she said with a smile, recovering quickly from her surprise.
Gibbs grunted in response, as he glanced back over at her. Liz's unflappability had been the primary reason he'd hired her. After his long time second, Stan Burley, had taken an agent afloat position and Brent Langer had transferred to the FBI, Gibbs had gone through a string of replacement agents. Most hadn't even lasted a week, finding Gibbs' high expectations and bark too much to cope with over time. At least Templeton didn't seem terrified of him. He supposed her time at the FBI had put some steel in her back. Unfortunately, he was also afraid it was the FBI, and it's - from Gibbs' perspective at any rate – slavish adherence to protocol and chain of command, that made her so hesitant to look at things from outside the box, or take a leap of faith. Time would tell if she'd make the grade. Gibbs reached down and turned on his computer, resigned to spending the morning plowing through all the emails he had ignored the previous week.
At 8:30, the phone on Gibbs' desk rang.
"Jethro, do you know where Abigail is, by chance? I went up to her lab to get the results from some tests she was going to run for me, and there was no sign of her, except for an untouched Caf-Pow sitting on her desk," Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard, the chief medical examiner, and Gibbs' closest friend, inquired.
Gibbs' gut reared its ugly head again. "I put that there over an hour ago. She should have been here a half hour ago. Let me call her, and get back to you Duck."
Gibbs hung up his desk phone and pulled out his cell. Punching in a number, he waited for an answer.
"This is Abby, Mistress of the Dark. I'm tucked away in my coffin right now, and can't answer. When you hear the beep, you know what to do," Abby's voice chirped out at him.
"Abs, this is Gibbs. We were wondering when you were going to grace us with your presence. Call me," he growled into the phone.
"Problem?" Liz asked, as she sat at her desk, watching Gibbs, noting the concern in his bright blue eyes as he ran a hand through the strands of his short silver hair.
"Abby's not in yet, which isn't like her," Gibbs frowned, causing a crease to form between his brows, as he spoke.
"Probably had a little too much fun last night. She's most likely still sleeping it off," Templeton said with a slight sneer. Although she'd been at NCIS for a while, she had yet to warm to the young forensic scientist, finding her numerous tattoos and oddball, gothic clothing a bit much to take. She also didn't like the way Abby refused to defer to her as an agent, going so far as to disagree with her assessments of evidence. Although Liz wouldn't admit it to anyone, she was jealous of way Gibbs doted on Abby, bringing her treats, and allowing her to hug and sass him. Not that she wanted to do either of those things really, it was just the fact that she knew he wouldn't allow her to, that rubbed her the wrong way.
"Abby rarely drinks, and I've never known her to overindulge, if you don't count caffeine infused soft drinks. Run a trace on her phone, and see if you can tell where she is," he ordered.
Liz had just started working on the trace when Gibbs' desk phone rang again.
"Gibbs," he said answered tersely.
"This is Lt. Dawson with the Baltimore P.D. Your switchboard directed me to you. I'm calling about an Abigail Sciuto."
"What about her?" Gibbs asked warily.
"So, you do have someone by that name working there?" the detective tried to keep from sighing. 'Just my luck,' he thought, 'it just figures that this woman works for a federal agency. This is truly the case from hell.'
"She's our top forensic specialist. Why are you asking?" Gibbs growled, already not liking where this was heading.
"We found her purse in the parking lot of a club here in Baltimore, and when we tried to call her home phone, we got no answer. You were listed as her emergency contact on an information card found in it."
"So why is a Lieutenant calling about a lost purse?" Gibbs asked, knowing there was more to the story than he was being told, but used to local LEOs being hesitant to share information with federal agencies.
"We found it while looking into another matter, so I just thought I'd try to get it back to her while I was at it," Dawson said, giving nothing away. "So, if you could tell me where to find Ms. Sciuto, I'll make arrangements to get her purse back to her, Mr. Gibbs."
"Supervisory Special Agent Gibbs," Gibbs corrected, "and I don't know where Ms. Sciuto is, as she didn't report in for work today. I was hoping you were going to tell me," he growled.
'Shit!' Dawson silently swore. 'That's just great.' Aloud he said, "We don't know her whereabouts, Agent Gibbs, or we wouldn't have called you. We'll look into it from our end, but if you should hear from her, please let us know. You can call Det. DiNozzo, who is working with me on this," he said, and gave Gibbs the number, after which he pleaded another phone call, and hung up.
By the time Gibbs hung up, his stomach was doing somersaults. "I'm going up to see Director Morrow," he called over his shoulder, as he headed for the stairs that led up to the director's office. "Call me if you hear from Abby, or get a trace on her phone," he ordered Liz, even as he was taking the stairs two at a time.
Director Morrow's receptionist took one look at Gibbs as he burst through the door, and didn't even try to stop him when he went directly into the director's office.
"Tom, we've got a situation," Gibbs started, before Morrow could say a thing, and proceeded to bring the director up to speed. He finished by saying, "I'm going to head over to Baltimore and find out what's going on. There was a lot that Lieutenant wasn't sharing."
"That's fine, Jethro. Do that, by all means; Abby's one of ours. I need you to leave Agent Templeton here, though, in case anything comes in. Since Pacci is out with the flu, there isn't anyone else. Do you think she's up to handling something on her own?" Morrow asked. She hadn't been there long enough for him to have a sense of her abilities, but he trusted Gibbs' assessments implicitly.
"She can deal with anything minor, but if something major comes up, you'll need to get a more experienced agent to work with her. No matter what she may think, she isn't ready to take the lead on anything that isn't pretty cut and dry," Gibbs answered with a shake of his head.
"Done," Morrow said. "Try not to alienate the entire Baltimore P.D. while you're there, Jethro. Keep me posted," he added, although by that time he was talking to Gibbs' back.
When Gibbs got down to the bullpen Liz had just completed the trace on Abby's phone. "You aren't going to believe this, Gibbs," she said. "I got a location on her phone. It's at the 9th Precinct for the Baltimore P.D."
"Give me the address," Gibbs demanded, pleased that he wouldn't have to call Dawson back for his location. As Liz wrote out the address, he told her, "I'm going over to Baltimore to find out what's going on with Abby. Call Ducky and let him know; tell him I'll call when I know something. You've got to stay here, in case something comes in. If we get a call, run it by the director before you follow up on it, and then call me. I want to know what's going on every step of the way, and don't be out of touch. I may need you to do some stuff for me from here. That means even when you aren't in the office. We aren't going off the clock until we have Abby back," he declared, as he tucked the address she handed him into his sports jacket pocket, and headed for the elevator.
He was in his car and on the highway, headed for Baltimore ten minutes later.