Chapter Eleven

When Abby woke it was dark and she was alone. She sat up in bed flicking on the bedside light. The last thing she remembered was being held in Gibbs' arms.

"Gibbs?...Gibbs!"

"I'm here Abby" he said as his frame filled the doorway. "You slept through the day. It's about 6. Are you hungry?" She shook her head. "You really should eat something" He told her.

"Maybe later. Didn't you have to work?"

"I took off. There were no pressing cases. Tony can handle the team for a day or so"

"You hope" she smiled. Abby swung her feet over the side of the bed. She was tired of being in bed. She had been in bed for weeks, and it wasn't as appealing if Gibbs wasn't there. She was tired of being an invalid. Her cuts had healed and she was no longer as puffy as a marshmallow. Most of her bruises had faded back into her pale skin, except for a few yellowish tinges here and there.

"I want to do something! I'm sick of being sick!"

Gibbs half smiled as he leaned against the doorjamb. He could see Abby was beginning to feel like her old self. Maybe last night had helped.

"What would you like to do?" he asked

"Anything?"

"Anything" he confirmed

"I want to go dancing" she said with no hesitation. Gibbs raised an eyebrow and gave her the look "You said anything". He nodded, that he had.

"All right. Get dressed. Dancing it is" Abby squealed in delight.

"Awesome. I only need like 20 minutes" she said as she began scrambling around for suitable clothes.

Gibbs smiled to himself. He would take her dancing. It just wouldn't be what she expected.


23 minutes later Abby walked into the front room to find Gibbs no where in sight. He was probably getting ready. She wondered what her silver-haired fox would be wearing this evening. She sat down on the couch to wait for him. She ran her hands over her outfit, hoping it was fancy enough for wherever they were going, with Gibbs you never knew. She was wearing her Mary Jane heels with her white knee high stockings. On the back of the stockings were little skull and cross bone insignias. Her black and white plaid mini skirt also had skulls in the designs. As did her belt, bracelets, and dog collar. Her shirt was a black ¾ sleeve nylon material with a red felt heart in the middle sewn with thick black thread. She hadn't worn makeup or done her hair in what felt like ages. She felt more herself now, more like the old Abby with her hair in these high pigtails.

Gibbs came jogging up the stairs from his basement in jeans and an old Marines T-shirt.

"Gibbs!" she scolded "You can't wear that out."

"We're not going out"

"We're not?" she wrinkled her brown in confusion "but you said-"

"I know what I said, just have patience. Besides, I have a surprise waiting for you" He took her hand and bade her rise from the couch. He led her to the entrance to the basement.

"Gibbs?"

"Shhhh. This is where your surprise is. Now close your eyes" She looked at him doubtfully "Trust me" Abby closed her lids and allowed him to lead her. He was feeling playful. It was good to see her back in her usual garb. There was a twinkle in his eyes as he guided her down the stairs. When the reached the bottom he released her hands and ran over to flip a switch.

"Ok…open them" he said. Abby popped open one eye, while still keeping the other tightly closed. The soon changed, however as she saw what he had done. She was amazed. Gibbs had strung colored Christmas lights all around the basement, setting it in a kind of cheery glow. He had a makeshift table in one corner, covered with a tablecloth. She hadn't even known he owned a tablecloth. On this table were white paper boxes that she assumed held Chinese food. There was also an actual bottle of wine on the table. The floor had been cleared. She had no idea what he had done with the beginnings of his boat, but there was a stack of wood in one corner.

"Gibbs! The room, dinner, it's all beautiful. Thank you! But what about dancing?" He smiled and pointed to an ancient cassette player on his workbench. "Of course" she smiled.

"Now for your surprise" he said. She looked at him, confused. He cocked his finger and gestured for her to follow him as he stood beside the woodpile. She complied.

"This" he said motioning to the planks before her "Is to build you a new coffin. I figure once it's build we can get the trimming for it later."

"Gibbs…" She was awestruck. "You're going to build me a new coffin?"

"Nope" he replied. "We're going to build you a coffin."

"Gibbs, that's-that's-wow" She said as she unceremoniously threw her arms around him. "Thank-you" she said into his shoulder. His arms came around to hug her back. Abby could not believe it. He knew how much her coffin meant to her. When she learned it had been destroyed she had been so upset. This gesture, seemingly so small to him, meant the world to her. It gave her hope. She knew then that she had to tell him. She could not hold it in any longer. From the moment she saw his face on that dungeon of a ship she had wanted to tell him, never more so than last night when he held her and eased some of her pain. She pulled back and held him at arms length. His hands still encircled her waist, as if he didn't want to let go either.

"Thank you…" She hesitated. What if… No! I'm not a coward. She bit her lower lip as she whispered, "I love you".

For a split second he dared to hope, but no this was just Abby being Abby

"Love you too Abs"

"No, Gibbs…I-I mean I love you like in-love-with-you love you. She paused trying unsuccessfully to gage his reaction. Gibbs face was inscrutable. She let him go and began to pace as she continued, "And I know what you're going to say. That there's too much of an age difference, that I'm too out there for you. Then you'll quote Rule #12 at me. And I know you don't need me complicating you're life, but Gibbs." She turned to look at him " None of that matters, not really. I love you Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, more than I've ever loved anyone else. You're my knight in Navy issue Kevlar armor. You're everything I've ever needed. Please Gibbs?" She didn't even know what she was asking as she began to pace again. His silence was worrying her. Had she jus made the biggest fool of herself? "I know you're not over Shannon, and I accept that. I know you have a hard time opening up and I know you don't love me. I mean I know you care about me. I know that but if you could just let me-"

"Don't love you?" He interrupted. All the reasons she listed were valid ones, but she was right none of them truly mattered. At this moment, a moment Gibbs had only ever dreamed of, all he could think about was how much he loved this woman. He knew he was broken. Abby knew it too, and she accepted it. She loved him anyway. Abby. Loved. Him. And she thought that he didn't love her?

"Abby" She turned and faced him, ready for the rejection. He walked over to her, his hands resting on her shoulders. He looked into her eyes, those beautiful green eyes.

"How could you think that?" He brought a hand to her cheek and glowed when she leaned into his warmth. "Abby everything I do is for you, because of you. You inspire me. I have loved you for so long. I love everything about you from your tattoos to your strange taste in music. I love your kindness and your strength. I've seen the best and the worst of you. You're one hell of a woman. But I know I don't, could never deserve you. But I dared to hope. You're the only one who sees me. The real me. The only one who can fix my broken soul. I would give my life to keep you safe. I would do anything to make you smile. I know there are many obstacles standing in the way. But for the record, my life…my heart, it's yours, always has been." There was still a tremble of fear in his voice as he finished. He could not believe what he had just told her. He had voluntarily revealed more about himself in the past 2 minutes than he had in the whole time he had known her. His fear quickly disappeared as she smiled at him. He smiled back, and for the first time in decades he felt his heart ease a bit.

Abby flew into his arms. She pulled her head back as her lips met his and Gibbs felt pieces of his soul come back together. He smelled of Old Spice and Sawdust, her favorite combination. His lips were soft as they met hers in a kiss that was both gentle and fierce. He deepened the kiss and pulled her closer to him. His hands wound around her back, crushing her to him. It was possessive and loving at the same time. Abby's fingers were snaking through the back of his hair. One of her hands came to rest just above his heart as they broke apart. Her head rested on his chest.

"I never knew. Thank you." She murmured. She looked up at him, an impish grin on her face. "What about dancing?" she teased. She didn't actually expect him to dance. She knew it was more for her to dance to. Gibbs smiled at her question. He released the woman he greatly loved and made his way over to the tape player.

"I thought you only listened to 5 songs" Abby said from behind him.

"I do. This just happens to be one of those 5" He smiled as he pushed play and the room was filled with soft music. He met her halfway across the room. "May I have this dance?" he asked and held out his hand.

"You ma" Abby replied as she steep into his arms. Etta James began to sing….

At laaaaaast. My love has come has come along. My lonely days are over. . .

Abby's arms twined around his frame as he led her in a slow circle. Neither one could believe the perfection of the moment. Even the stars themselves could feel the love that radiated between this blessed couple. Heart and soul joined as he spun her about the improvised dance floor.

"I love you Abby" He said as he gazed into her eyes.

"And I love you Gibbs"

"Jethro" he corrected.

"Jethro" She replied. He tipped her head back to meet his awaiting kiss. And Etta sang away.

~*Fin*~

Author's Note: I hope you enjoyed my story. It's reassuring to know that I am not the only crazy fan out there. Thank you for reading and commenting and I hope to continue to please you with my work. Thank you again.

* Song is Etta James, At Last. Feel free to listen as you read, or re-read.