Tony was expecting to be led to a room so he hadn't quite had time to shove his features into the proper mask when she came flying at him in the ER waiting room.
He opened his arms and felt her check up before she crashed into his sodden embrace. Even a kidnapping at gunpoint couldn't erase the spirit that was so genuinely Abby that she didn't want to hurt him.
Tony was acutely aware of Gibbs and Ducky—and an entire metro ER—watching them. He didn't speak, wasn't sure he knew what to say or if he could even put a voice to the swirling thoughts in his head. He was concerned, though, that Abby hadn't spoken. The girl was nothing if not a motormouth.
He just held her, unsure who was shaking harder, until she said, "You're soaked."
She pulled back and stared into his eyes. He opened his mouth to try to speak, but she said, "I swear to all things holy, DiNozzo, if you apologize, I'll headslap you into next week."
"Abby, I …"
The lost look in his eyes broke her heart. She gave him her best smile. "To borrow your line, Tony, I'm fine. He didn't hurt me. He said he was going to do a lot of things, and having someone's blood splattered all over you is a little unsettling, but I swear, Tony, I am fine." She wiggled her shoulders under his hands. "I've never felt safer than when I'm with you, and that's not going to change. And before you say it, we both know he would have shot me if you had tried to play the hero. You did what you had to to keep me safe. You did, and I am. Because of you. Now, let's go get your hand looked at, and then I'm taking you home. To my home, though."
A dark look passed through his tired eyes at that statement. She talked a good game, but …
"Oh, Tony," she sighed. "We're going back to my place for one simple reason."
He thought he knew what it was, and he began formulating a plan to help her overcome the ordeal she'd been through.
She was shaking her head, and it made him wonder if she was psychic.
"I know you, DiNozzo," she said, leading him toward the ER check-in station. "And there's no way you got that door fixed already."
Tony awoke in the early hours of the next morning. His leg was propped up and his newly splinted hand was resting on his chest as he lay in Abby's bed. He reached out and felt only the black satin sheets. He struggled to sit up and couldn't quite suppress a groan as pain rippled through his body.
"Tony? You okay?" Abby's voice came to him from her perch on an antique brocade chair near the window.
She was suddenly beside him, sitting cross-legged and touching his bare shoulder gently. Through his haze of painkillers, residual pain and tiredness, he wondered if he was wearing pants and what might have happened during the foggy hours since they'd left the ER after assuring Gibbs and Ducky that they'd be fine together. He shook the thought from his head. They were just friends and had never crossed the line into anything more. After all the nights they'd returned to one apartment or the other, blind drunk, and nothing had happened, there was no reason to worry now.
"What are you thinking?" she asked, and he tried to read her voice. All he heard was concern.
A hint of a smile touched his lips. "About us. You're the best friend I've ever had, Abbs." He looked down. "I don't deserve you."
"Hey," she said softly, snuggling closer to him. "Don't say that. How many times have you held my hand while I worked through some grief or another? After Gibbs left to sun himself in Mexico, who was there for me? For all of us?"
"Holy random memory, Batman," he joked softly. "Where'd that come from?"
She held his green eyes with her own. "I think he was upset that I came home with you. I didn't let him go all papa bear on me."
"Gibbs, jealous?" Tony asked, settling back against the satiny pillowcase. Abby curled at his side, ever mindful of his sore ribs.
"Not jealous," she said, drawing a shiver from him as she traced the bootprint-shaped bruise on his side. "Just … Well, we both know Gibbs is only happy if he's in charge. He doesn't hand off what he sees as his responsibility. … Except Mexico, but that's a whole different conversation, and we've already had it."
"I thought he was letting SWAT go in to get you," Tony mused, half-smiling in the darkness and relishing the warm body beside him. "I had no idea he went in with them until he came out with you."
She was quiet. He said, "Are you really okay, Abbs?" He craned his neck to look down at the woman tucked against him. "It's okay to not be okay."
She met his eyes. "I'm still breathing, Tony. If I've learned anything in my years on this job, it's that you can't take that for granted. I mean, look at you. You've been hurt by three different people in less than a week, but here we are. And you were more worried about me than you were for yourself. You need to chill out, DiNozzo. I know you want to do the right thing—the perfect thing—every time, but that's just not possible. And believe me when I tell you that you get it right more than most. Way more."
"Thanks, Abbs. You always know what to say."
She reached up and placed a gentle kiss on the bruise at the corner of his mouth. "And you always know what to do. If you hadn't gotten my message in the books, who knows what would have happened."
"You know, I almost forgot about that. That was brilliant, Abbs."
She shrugged, then looked over to the window at the rising sun and grimaced. "I know what else you probably forgot."
"Hmmm?" he asked sleepily.
"It's Tuesday," she said, waiting for him to respond. When he didn't, she said, "And you have a date with a surgeon this morning."
He groaned and she knew it had little to do with physical pain. "What time is it?"
She lifted up on an elbow to look at the clock. "Almost six. You need to be at the hospital by seven to check in. We'd better get moving."
He made another noise, low in his throat, and she laughed. "Don't worry, Tony. You're going to be fine, and I'll take good care of you."
"I know you will," he said, pondering the reflective look on his friend's face. "What?"
The reflection was apparently amusing, he thought, because there was a sudden glint in her eye.
"If Davey weren't chillin' in Corpseville, I'd thank him. Because of my 'ordeal,' Vance gave me the week off. Looks like you're stuck here with 'Nurse Abby' 24/7 this week."
He heard the mocking in her voice when she said "ordeal" like it was a joke and wondered how he'd ever thought that she would be anything but fine after this. He gave her his first real smile in a week.
"I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be."
A/N: Well friends, that's all of it. Thanks to everyone who has been reading, and an extra-special thanks to everyone who has reviewed. I hope you enjoyed!