She stood in the doorway and looked over the stacks of various types of wood he kept in the shed. Ash, beech, oak – they all had their uses. Chairs, bookcases, boats – she didn't think there was anything he couldn't build. The man was like magic, he could do it all.
She wished she could tell him that – that she had such confidence in him, not that he would listen though. He never listened when people spoke highly of him. It didn't matter, not anymore. He preferred to quietly go about his business, building what he wanted to build, or fixing things for his aging neighbors.
She picked up a piece of European Walnut – one of the few she had learned to identify with ease. It was simple, but the dark color and the sweep of the grain, would make an elegant jewelry box.
Her head snapped up at the sound of the back door opening and then closing again and she watched as he approached, a cup of coffee in hand. She took in his appearance – his hair slightly messed, an old t-shirt and a pair of cargo pants that had seen better days more than a decade ago. She smiled warmly as he drew near and took comfort in the relaxed look on his face.
He stepped past her and set his coffee cup down. She watched as he circled around, picking up various pieces and setting them down again.
"This piece," she encouraged, pointing at the walnut. "It's beautiful."
Gibbs circled around the stacks of wood and approached. He ran his hand over it and nodded. The wood had to speak to him before he would commit to a new project, and although there wasn't much, there was enough for something small.
With the wood under one arm and his coffee in the opposite hand, Gibbs led the way from the shed to the basement.
Rather than the supports he used specifically for his boat, Gibbs set up two sawhorses and a large piece of plywood for bigger work space. He placed the pieces of walnut in the middle and circled around a few times to get a better look. "What to make..?" He grabbed a pad of paper and a pencil.
She had several suggestions, but she knew that it would come down to what the wood decided. "Jewelry box? A box for all your medals that so few know about? Something for your father?"
"A jewelry box," Gibbs murmured. He liked that idea. It would be a better gift if it wassurprise, but he knew it would mean a lot if she could help work on it too.
Gibbs looked up at the sound of footsteps overhead, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. Black boots appeared at the top of the stairs and hesitated. "Need a refill before I come down?"
"Nah, I'm good."
Abby hurried down the stairs, putting her Caf-Pow on the work bench next to his coffee before turning to throw her arms around his neck. "Hi."
Gibbs chuckled. "Hi yourself."
"You miss me?"
Gibbs shrugged and kept a straight face until she started to pout. "Of course I did, though you were only gone two hours for Church."
"You could've come with me." Her fingers stroked the back of his neck and she smiled when he hesitated with his response, her touch distracting him.
"Can't face Rosita after what we did before you left for Church."
A look of smug satisfaction settled on her face. "We could have waited, but you were begging me not to stop."
"Begging you? I couldn't even speak!"
"Could've said no," she pressed up on her toes to kiss him quickly and then stepped away to look at the wood he had picked. "What are we making down here today?"
Gibbs reached out and grabbed her arm before she got too far away. "We'll make something later, think I need to return this mornings favor." Leaving their drinks behind, Gibbs directed her up the stairs, closing the door behind him.
Shannon sat in her usual spot on the work bench and watched as Gibbs hurried Abby up the stairs. Once upon a time, that had been her. She wasn't jealous, instead she was happy. Happy for the both of them, but more happy for Gibbs. It took nearly twenty years, but he was finally smiling the way he once had – without worries, without the weight of everything bad holding him back.
She jumped down and ran her hand over the walnut she had picked out for him. A jewelry box could wait, and when he was ready to build it – with or without Abby's help, she would be there to make sure it all came together. He wasn't likely to think of the small details on his own, the little things that would make it that much more special for Abby. And if the scientist did help him, she wouldn't point out any additions or details she might like, instead just happy he was making her something.