A/N: SWAK is one of my favorite episodes. And after thinking about an idea for a completely different fanfic, this little tag popped into my head. Immediately post-episode, Gibbs/Abby father/daughter.
Disclaimer: I do not own NCIS.
Gibbs was furious.
At himself, at Hana Lowell and her idiotic daughter, at Dr. Pandy…even at DiNozzo, for jumping the gun as usual.
He slammed his palm against his boat's skeleton, and all he could see was that woman's smirk. She acted like it was a game, all a game.
Slam. The speciman…
Slam. Sarah Lowell's tear-streaked face, pleading for him to understand her predicament. As if he could. Her dignity versus Tony's life? No contest.
Wearily, he slumped against the wall and glanced at his watch. Two a.m. He hadn't slept in over forty-five hours. Rest wouldn't—couldn't—come until he knew DiNozzo was recovering.
Small comfort stemmed from the knowledge that Kate had remained in isolation with her partner. She would look after him. They argued and made fun of each other, but everyone could see how attached they were—like brother and sister.
He picked up a stray piece of sandpaper and began to run it up and down the wood.
He turned to find Abby standing in the shadow of the stairway, looking smaller and more vulnerable than he had ever seen her. It was such a change from her attitude earlier in the day that he blinked, certain he was imagining things.
"Hey, Abs. What're you doing up at this hour?"
She came forward, Bert the Hippo wedged under one elbow and a Styrofoam takeout box clenched in her hands. Her hair was in its usual pigtails, but her makeup was gone and she was dressed only in sweats and a T-shirt.
"Probably the same thing as you," she said softly, lowering herself onto a beam against the floor. "Couldn't sleep. Worrying about Tony."
"He's gonna be okay," Gibbs said firmly, kneeling in front of the younger woman.
She met his eyes bravely. "How do you know?"
"Because I told him so."
Abby smiled wryly and looked down, gouging patterns in the carton with her fingernail.
"You ever consider the fact that maybe sometimes orders can't be followed? That as much as Tony wants to get better…he might not?"
Gibbs moved away and resumed his sandpapering.
She sighed and extracted a piece of cold pizza from her package, munching on it thoughtfully.
"That's because you're Gibbs."
A moment later, he heard the Styrofoam drop lightly to the floor and glanced automatically over his shoulder. To his surprise, tears were pouring silently down the Goth's face, her head bowed. He went to her side and gently pulled the soggy pizza away, setting it aside and putting an arm around his surrogate daughter's shoulders.
"I'm s-s-sorry," she sniffled, swiping miserably at her nose and hugging her stuffed hippo to her chest. "I don't know what's wrong with me. I-I'm just scared."
"Nothing is gonna happen to Tony," Gibbs said firmly, rubbing circles on her back. "He is going to get better, and he'll be back at work before you know it."
Abby took a deep breath and nodded. "I know…I know. He's a strong person…and all that jazz. Right?"
"Exactly. Not to mention he's stubborn as hell," Gibbs added fondly.
"There is that." Abby managed a small smile and impatiently scrubbed the leftover tears out of her eyes. "I don't know what I'd do if we lost any of them, Gibbs."
"Well, we won't." After a long moment of silence, he kissed the top of her head and pulled away. "Why don't you go up to the guest room, get some sleep? In the morning, we'll go visit Tony."
She smiled more brightly than before and stood up, already heading toward the stairs.
"Okay. Thanks, Gibbs."
He watched her disappear onto the next floor, then bent over to pick up the abandoned food and container. Abby's random tracings weren't so random after all; she had drawn six stick figures, lined up in a row across the lid. There were no labels, but it was clear who each was meant to represent; from left to right stood McGee, Gibbs, Abby herself, Tony, Kate, and Ducky. All smiling widely.
A happy family.
Gibbs sank thoughtfully onto the workbench.