How Old?

Gibbs' kitchen, the evening after Abby's flight returned from Los Angeles (episode "Random on Purpose"/NCIS:LA).

"He thought you were how old?"

"Shut it, Gibbs!" Abby flung her head around, her high ponytail whipping, to stare at him.

"You were the late-twenties slot?"

"I'm serious!" She grumbled, crossing her arms over her chest, the wooden spoon she had been stirring spaghetti sauce with left lying on the counter. "No one knows my real age, and I prefer to keep it that way. Besides, are you trying to insinuate that I don't look like I'm in my late twenties?"

"Never," Gibbs chuckled as he moved towards her, kissing her lightly on the forehead. "I'm only saying that at some point you're going to need to let people know how old you are. Otherwise, I'm a cradle-robber."

"I'm younger than Tony!"

"By nine months, Abs." He took a step back, reaching into the open cabinet for their wine glasses.

"You have a point?" She gave him a beaming smile and turned back to their supper.

The flight had been a long one back from Los Angeles. She had expected to spend the night with Gibbs and talk through the kidnapping ordeal, but hadn't expected him to find her indignation quite so amusing.

"At some point, the team is going to figure it out. Let's pretend you're in your late twenties, you've been at NCIS longer than DiNozzo, and he is approaching his 8 year mark. Someone is bound to start asking questions on how that is possible! Come on, Abs. Maybe we should just tell the team that you are turning forty on your birthday."

"Don't you dare!" Abby shrieked, the spoon flying through the air and hitting Gibbs square in his forehead.

As the sauce slowly began to drip down his face, he carefully set down the glasses next to the wine bottle and countered her earlier position, crossing his arms.

"Vance wants to throw you a party for your 15 years of service..."

"Absolutely not!"

"...and I'm inclined to agree."

The wail Abby let out almost had her boyfriend covering his ears.

"Why would you let Leon do that to me?"

"No one is going to think any less of you if they know your real age, Abs. I promise!"

"It's not the same for women, as soon as they realize that I'm old, they will start looking at me funny because of the clothes I wear!"

"Old! Forty is not old!" Gibbs gave his trademark glare, daring her to mention his own age.

"Sure it is, ask Tony. He's already complaining!" She continued to sniffle, totally ignoring the look on his face. "Besides, no one wants to know that a forty-year old woman is wearing short skirts."

Gibbs just raised an eyebrow, giving her a chance to take a breath before speaking again.

"I don't think there is a man at NCIS who would complain about looking at your legs in a short skirt, Abby."

She sniffed again.

"But, if you insist, I'll let Vance know that you'd rather not have a big deal made out of your anniversary."

This time, her sniffle included a batting of her eyelashes.

"And we'll take your extra week of vacation down to Mexico to visit Franks."

Abby's sniffles turned to squeals as she leapt into Gibbs' arms and smothered him with kisses.

"Ug, Gibbs, you're a bit messy," she grinned as she nuzzled his cheek, right on top of a dribble of sauce.

"Then maybe I should shower before dinner?"

He ran his hand down her cheek, signing My Girl, before hitting the stairs two at a time. She waited only a couple of seconds, before turning off the sauce on the stove and bounding up after him.

It was good to be home.

A/N: After watching "Random on Purpose" (NCIS:LA), I was totally confused about the age they gave Abby – it just doesn't make sense. She's been with Gibbs/NCIS longer than DiNozzo and Tony has been there since before the show started (so over 6 years/seasons – since Tony goes back to the JAG episodes where NCIS was introduced).

Plus, I can't find the episode name, but the one where she thinks Gibbs' has forgotten her birthday and there is a present sitting on the desk, she makes a comment about how she's shocked he remembered. He replies something along the lines of "of course I remembered, and I know how old you are". That would be a pretty stupid line if she was in her mid-twenties!

So, I started thinking – what if Abby was Pauly's age (the actress who plays her)? Now THAT makes sense! (Pauly turned 40 this year and looks REALLY beautiful, if you ask me!) And this fic was born.