A/N: C'mon, it had to be done. Loved this epi, but we got jipped with the team never showing up -pj
"You sure you don't need a ride to the airport, Abby?" Sam asked, slinging Abby's small, but deceptively heavy black overnight bag over his shoulder and throwing a dirty look at Callen, who made no move to help.
"Yep, Gibbs and the others will be here in a few minutes to pick me up." Abby nodded, her black pigtails bobbing up and down by her ears.
"They're still coming?" He said, taking great pains not to allow himself to sound as intimidated as he felt at the thought of interacting with Agent Gibbs again. The man was scary as hell.
"Well yeah, they were already on their way and the FBI let them use the jet so-"
"Wait, their new G-5 Class, multi-million dollar jet?" Kensi asked incredulously, pulling up beside them as they continue toward the door.
"Yeah, I guess so. They don't have more than one do they?" Abby asked, looking genuinely confused.
Sam threw a sideways glance at Callen who was glancing through a folder full of paperwork waiting for his approval.
"Who holds enough clout to talk the FBI out of their new jet?" He asked quietly.
"Probably the same person capable of ganging up on the director." Callen answered and and looked up at the doors as they opened, allowing the mid-afternoon sun to pour in.
As if he heard himself being talked about, Gibbs walked in and made a bee-line for them, followed closely by Tony, Ziva and McGee.
"Gibbs!" Abby squealed, dropping her coat and bag and running across the foyer to throw her arms around his neck, "I missed you!"
He hugged her tightly and then pulled back, seemingly ignoring the group of people standing a few feet away in order to give her a through once over.
"You alright?" he asked quietly, squinting at her hands and arms and then looking back up at her eyes.
"Yeah Gibbs, I already told you I was," she rolled her eyes when he pushed aside her pigtails aside in order to scrutinize her neck, still in perfect condition even after it's too close call with an axe, "Callen and Sam got to me in time."
"But mostly me." Callen piped up.
"Oh yeah, because you're so good at lowering yourself down two stories with a fire hose all on your own." Sam countered immediatly.
"I could have managed."
"I'm gonna manage you."
"Don't you do that already?"
Their easy banter caused rolled eyes from their own team, strange looks from Gibbs', a grin from Abby and a small smile from Gibbs himself.
He stepped away from to approach Callen and the rest of the team descended upon her in his absence.
"Abby are you alright?"
"I'm fine McGee."
"I can't believe you were provoking the lunatic with the axe!"
"I was trying to stall!"
"Yes Abby I do believe I need to give you a few pointers on appropriate hostage intimidation techniques."
"You got it, Ziver," giggled Abby as she was smooshed into Tony's side with a bone-crushing hug. She looked up at him with a smile and was taken aback for a moment by the intense worry in his eyes, emotions he was usually careful to keep hidden.
"Isn't this why lab bats are supposed to stay in the lab?" He asked, stepping back in order to make room for Ziva and McGee.
Ziva stepped back from hugging Abby with a confused look on her face.
"You mean lab 'rat', yes?"
Abby, Tony and McGee shared a look, all thinking of the picture Kate had drawn of Abby, that now hung over her desk in her lab.
"No," McGee said finally, "Abby is definitely a lab 'bat'."
Abby smiled a moment and then gasped suddenly, drawing everyone's attention.
"Oh my gosh McGee we have got to find a way to convince Leon that I need one of those screens in my lab! With the swish to one side and the whoosh to the other," she made sound effects as she pantomimed dragging files and digital scans and photos across the screens in the surveillance room.
"Your lab? I need one at my desk!"
"There's not enough room at your desk."
A few feet away their 'geek talk', as Tony so eloquently put it, faded into the background as Gibbs approached the LA team.
He extended his hand to Sam and shook it vigorously before turning to Callen.
"So, I hear you're pretty adept with a fire hose."
"Yeah well, its a little more 'spider man' meets 'MacGyver' than what I'm used to but it was Sam's idea so what do you expect," he shrugged a little as if the situation could not be helped and received a firm jab in the side from Sam for the backwards compliment.
Gibbs half smiled at their antics and shook his head, a look, Tony noticed, that was usually reserved for his movie references and red head jokes.
Their gazes traveled across the small foyer to where Tony had taken up a protective stance to the slight right and behind Abby, McGee was standing beside her with an arm around her waist while Abby gave Ziva an animated play by play of her time in the basement with the Phantom, with Ziva stopping her every few words to tell her what she should have done differently or commending her on her technique.
"She's uh," Callen started, and his hesitance made Gibbs turn his head slightly to look at him, "she's somethin' else."
Gibbs nodded and turned to look at Abby, surprised to see her smiling at him. "Yeah, she is."
He started to take a step toward his team and then stopped and turned back, his gaze traveling briefly to Kensi and Dom, then Sam and finally settling on Callen, "thanks, by the way."
Callen nodded, a real smile starting to form on his lips, "gotta take care of our own right?"
Gibbs nodded and turned as Abby suddenly appeared beside him.
"Gibbs, Ziva says you have Caf-Pow!, is this true?"
Tony took the opportunity while his boss was busy calming Abby with promises of caffeinated beverages to step up beside Callen, who took notice of his presence a moment later.
"Hi," he said proffering his hand, "G Callen."
Tony nodded, shaking his hand a bit more vigorously than necessary, "Anthony DiNozzo."
"Gibbs Senior Field Agent, right?"
Tony nodded and asked almost too quickly, "how is it that you know Gibbs, again?"
Callen didn't even blink, but his smile was almost too genuine, "he never told you?"
Tony smiled his car salesmen smile and just shook his head, "nope, I don't think he did."
Callen laughed slightly, "then I probably shouldn't either."
Tony's smile dissolved and Callen clapped him on the shoulder before turning to walk away. Tony looked up and caught Gibbs give him the tiniest of eye rolls and he bent to pick up Abby's bags in order to have an excuse to look away.
Abby saw her team starting to move toward the door, Gibbs was the only one lingering, off to one side talking to Hetti, but she wasn't ready to go yet.
Her eyes lifted to look around the second level, hoping to catch one more look at Eric before she left.
She saw him standing at the top of the stairs, his Bluetooth in one ear, and smiled.
We never got to finish our date! She signed somewhat dejectedly.
Eric gave her a cockeyed grin; we'll just have to try it again next time you're in town.
Have you ever been to DC?
Well now you've got a reason. I'll call you when I get off the plane.
It's a date.
Abby smiled, again.
She grinned at him a moment longer before she felt the hairs on the back of her neck raise, a sure sign Gibbs was watching her.
His eyes had the classic sharpness of a hyper observant former sniper, but with the softer twinkle he reserved only for her. He raised an eyebrow and she knew he'd observed her entire conversation.
She raised both her eyebrows in response and giggled when the corners of his mouth upturned and he slung an arm over her shoulder.
"Let's go home, bossman," she said, snuggling into his side.
Gibbs nodded, "yeah." And they headed for the door with Abby throwing promises of emails and future visits to LA to collect on the beer debt Kensi owed her over her shoulder. McGee and Ziva fell into step behind them with DiNozzo pulling up the rear, still a bit distracted by one of the younger, blonder, junior agents off to one side.
"She's not gonna give you her number, DiNozzo," Gibbs called in a slightly bored, slightly annoyed tone only he seemed to be able to pull off.
Tony smiled disarmingly and turned away from the girl just enough to look at Gibbs, who didn't even break his stride toward the door.
"Why would you say that, Boss?"
Gibbs didn't even look back, "she's engaged."
Tony looked back in time to see the blonde grin and hold up a dazzling diamond shining on her left ring finger.
"Oh, I, uh," Tony cleared his throat and stood back from her personal space, "I've got to go so…yeah." He started to walk away, but paused when he heard snickers behind him.
He turned and, much to his chagrin, was face to face with a highly amused group of NCIS agents.
Callen, Sam, Kensi and Dom all immediately wiped their smiles from their faces, as good undercover agents are trained to be able to do.
"What are you laughing at?" Tony asked, sounding more like a disgruntled teenager than a federal agent.
"I wasn't laughing," Callen said innocently and turned to Sam, "were you laughing?"
Sam shook his head, "not a giggle."
Tony rolled his eyes and was about to respond when the disembodied voice of Leroy Jethro Gibbs filled the foyer.
Tony winced slightly and turned toward the door and left at something between a brisk walk and a run, "On your six, Boss!"
The team watched the last of the DC agents run out the door and couldn't help the sudden feeling of emptiness that filled the large space.
Callen was the first to speak, he'd never liked silence much to begin with, and certainly not the kind left in the wake of the departure of friends.
"Why don't you guys call me 'boss'?" He asked, turning first to Sam and then to Kensi, "because, technically, I am your boss."
Kensi merely rolled her eyes, hands shoved into her back pockets as she turned to walk away. Dom dropped his gaze to the floor to follow quickly, hoping to avoid answering.
"I think it would be good for the efficiency of our team."
"Never gonna happen, G," Sam assured him, following in the direction the others had gone, Callen hot on his heels.
"Now here me out-"
"So am I. No."