Title: Close and Closer
Author: Jo. R (driftingatdusk)
Category: Post-Ep, Friendship, UST
Spoilers: 'Ex File', 'Ignition'
Summary: Abby wonders about Ms. Hart.
Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine, no money is being made. If they were.. Well, things would be a little bit different ;)
Author's Note: Felt the need to write a post-ep for this episode even though it's going to be some time before I reach it in the 'Made to be Broken' series. So I figured I'd do a little one-off for me and my fellow Gibbs/Abby shippers :)
AN2: I have no idea what's going to happen between Gibbs and the lawyer-lady but have an idea about what it *could* be. This little story sets up for that and, if the show doesn't go in that direction, I'll probably write a follow-up where this story does.
It wasn't unusual to find Tony DiNozzo hanging out in Abby Sciuto's lab after close of play. It wasn't even unusual for most of his agents to find their way down to the forensic lab as if reluctant to part ways for the evening.
What struck him as odd about the scene that he found that evening was that it was just Tony and Abby, both staring intently at the screen in the strangely silent lab. What's more, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs noticed the suspicious sheen to the forensic specialist's eyes before she blinked it away and drew back from the arm Tony had slung over her shoulders.
His Senior Field Agent threw what Gibbs could only describe as a cold glare in his direction before leaning in to speak to the dark-haired woman at his side.
"I still think you're prettier," Tony murmured, his lips brushing against her cheek in a way that made Gibbs' stomach lurch and his hands clench into fists. "If you need to call me later, I'll be around."
Tony walked out of the lab with curt nod at his boss, leaving Gibbs wondering what he'd done wrong as well as why the sight of Tony kissing Abby on the cheek in the way he usually would bothered him so much.
He walked further into the lab when Abby turned away, her attention once again focused on the image on the plasma.
Surprise flared once more when he saw what had her so engrossed, a photograph of Margaret Hart.
"Everything okay, Abs?" He moved to stand beside her, a little closer than most people would as was normal for them. It hurt, he realised, when Abby took a small step away. "What's with the photo of Ms. Hart?"
Abby didn't reply at first, tilting her head to the side as she continued to study it. "The guys think there's something going on between you."
"The guys talk too much." His tone was full of censure but Abby didn't seem to notice.
What she did notice, however, was that he didn't deny it. "She's a lawyer," she said quietly, her voice as troubled as her expression. "I figure since you hate lawyers there has to be something special about her." One shoulder rose and fell in a despondent shrug. "I figured she'd be a redhead or something but no. She's not."
"Why the interest?" Gibbs let his own gaze stray to the screen but quickly returned it to the woman beside him, his own mind doing a mental comparison of the two before he could stop it. "I've dated women before without the scrutiny."
Her smile was brief but even so the sadness in it was unmistakable, matching the sadness in her eyes. "They've been scrutinised, Gibbs. You just never knew it." With a sigh that was far heavier than he was expecting, Abby reached for the mouse and clicked, the photograph disappearing as the screen went blank. She still wouldn't look at him, though, not even when she turned a little to face him. "Is there something I can do for you, Agent Gibbs? Regarding the case?"
His eyebrows shot up at the formality of the question and he frowned a little, struggling to keep track and make sense of the conversation. Not that that was anything new, of course, given it was Abby he was talking to and he was used to being content just to listen to her voice as she babbled at him about things he didn't understand and sometimes didn't want to.
"Nothing, Abby." He reached out for her when she nodded shortly and made as if to move away, not missing the swift intake of breath when his fingers wrapped around her bare wrist. "You want to tell me what I'm missing, Abs?"
"Missing?" Her expression was carefully schooled when she looked up at him, green eyes meeting blue for the quickest of moments. "You're the Special Agent. Shouldn't you be able to figure that one out on your own?"
His grip tightened the more she tried to tug her wrist away. "Since you and DiNozzo are the ones with the problem, Abby, I think you owe me an explanation."
"I owe you?" Her eyes flashed for a moment, anger temporarily replacing the sorrow he'd noticed earlier. "I don't owe you anything. I do my job, I get you your results, you do yours and get the bad guy. There's nothing more to it than that so I think you'll find I owe you nothing."
Despite her temper, he could still hear the hurt and refused to let her go even as she struggled. Instead of loosening his grip, he tightened it further and yanked her forward, grabbing her other arm to keep her from striking his chest. "Since when has it all been about the job with us, Abs?"
"Since you made it impossible for it to be anything else!" She blinked rapidly, furiously, her cheeks flushed a deep pink. "Let me go, Gibbs."
"So you can run? No. I don't think so." Swapping his hands so that one held both of her wrists, Gibbs put the other under her chin, forcing her to lift her face and look up at him. "What's going on, Abby? I can't fix it if you don't tell me what I've done wrong."
It was both the wrong and right thing to say. Her attempts to break free ceased but her expression didn't alter much, her eyes immediately downcast and her shoulders slumped. "There's nothing you can do to fix it, Gibbs. That's the problem."
"Try me. Please." It might've been the fact that he said please, or the edge of desperation in his voice that did it. Gibbs wasn't sure.
She freed one of her hands and used it to prise his fingers off the other but didn't move too far away. Hitting a button on her keyboard, the image of Margaret Hart reappeared, her icy blue eyes staring out at the room. "I used to think it was the redhead thing. You know, because that was your thing. A woman is a redhead, they've automatically won half of the fight." Her tone was even but she wouldn't look at him, her eyes firmly fixed on the woman on the screen. "But then Hollis came along and she was blond."
He wanted to interrupt and ask what she was talking about but something inside wouldn't let him. Although he suspected where she was talking the conversation, he couldn't bring himself to stop her prematurely.
Not until he knew for sure.
"So then I thought it was the age thing," Abby continued after taking a deep breath. She shrugged her shoulders and crossed her arms over her chest. "I figured it must be a really big issue for you so I didn't say anything, I just decided to let it go. Well, try and let it go." Her smile was self-depreciating and made something inside him twist unpleasantly. "But then she came along," she murmured, her smile fading. "She's my age but she's obviously not in the too young bracket. And she has dark hair, too, so I figure there's just something wrong with me. Maybe it's the tattoos or the way I dress or something I do or don't do that's just not good enough."
"You asked, Gibbs." She glanced at him briefly, her eyes shining again. "You wanted to know what was wrong so I told you. And now you have to admit that I'm right and you can't fix this so we both have to try to get past it and pretend this conversation never happened."
She dismissed him with a wave of her hand and started moving away from him. "You can go now. Tony will be fine tomorrow. If he's not, I'll have a word with him but it might take me a little while longer, okay? Just... Just give me time. I just need time."
Gibbs watched her walk away from him, his eyes tracking her through to the small office area beyond the sliding glass doors. He watched her sit at her desk and reach for Bert, the stuffed hippo, and found himself following without even being conscious of the action at first.
Abby obviously hadn't been expecting him to join her nor had she been paying attention to his actions. She jumped when he let a hand rest either side of her on the desk, her body growing tense when he leaned down, his mouth an inch but no more away from her ear.
"Things aren't always what they seem, Abby," he told her quietly, catching the shudder that she tried to suppress thanks to his close scrutiny of her. "Sometimes you have to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Or at least pretend to."
He gave her a moment to digest what he said, to ponder on it, but continued before she could question it.
"And DiNozzo's right," he murmured, leaning closer still to press his lips against the side of her head just above her ear. "You are prettier."
He straightened and walked towards the elevators, resisting the urge to look back at her over his shoulder.
He'd made it to the elevator with the doors beginning to slide shut behind him before her hand appeared, preventing the two pieces of metal from meeting in the middle. She made no move to get into the elevator with him, or to pull him out of it, but stood with a foot over the threshold, keeping the doors from closing.
"I need to know if I'm wasting my time, Gibbs. I need to know if there's a reason to keep waiting and hoping you see what's right in front of you."
The look on her face caused his heart to speed up. He took a few steps forward until he was standing in front of her and lifted a hand up to her face. He played with a strand of black hair that had slipped from its band at some point during the day, coiling it around his finger before letting it go. Leaning in, he brushed his lips lightly against hers, a whisper of a kiss that had more an impact on him than some of the heated embraces he'd shared over the years.
"Just wait a little longer," he said softly, his eyes meeting hers in a silent plea. "I can see you, Abs, but I can't... Not yet."
With a soft sigh he felt as well as heard, Abby nodded and moved away, withdrawing her hand so that the elevator doors started closing again.
Gibbs exhaled deeply as the elevator began to move, clenching his hands in an attempt at stopping himself from hitting the button that would take him back down to her level.
He wanted nothing more than to go back but wouldn't let himself. There was a reason for his actions, a motive behind them.
He just hoped Abby could – would - wait long enough for them to be revealed.