Title: Worth Breaking
Author: Jo. R (driftingatdusk)
Rating: FR-18 (mild)
Pairing: Abby/Gibbs, hinted at Gibbs/Margaret Allison Hart
Category: Angst, Romance
Spoilers: Outlaws and In-Laws, Ignition, Jet Lag, Masquerade
For: lj user="Chauncey10", who requested 'Gibbs rules, breaking rules, smut'
Author's Note: Back-up fic for the lj comm="GAficathon".

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Rule 18 – It's better to seek forgiveness than ask permission

****

The thought of someone spying on his team, researching them, trying to find a weakness they could exploit didn't go down well with Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. His team were his family, as Abby had told him many a time, which meant they were his to protect and look after.

No matter what that meant he had to do.

Gibbs sat on the uncomfortable couch in his living room, his hand tightening around the glass of bourbon he'd poured himself.

There was one way to protect his team, to get close to the enemy in the hopes of finding out their plans before they enacted them. One way that didn't please him – not at all – but something he would do if it meant keeping them all safe and together.

Ziva David would understand, he knew. She'd done many a thing she wasn't proud of to protect and serve.

Tony DiNozzo… He'd get it, too. He wouldn't like it but he would get it.

Tim McGee would say nothing and go along with it, but he'd wonder quietly if there wasn't another way.

They'd all be hurt that he couldn't tell them before hand but afterwards, when it was over, they'd get over it.

Abby Sciuto wouldn't.

His agents could be relied upon to protect themselves should it come down to it but he couldn't take that risk with Abby. She wore her heart on her sleeve, and it was a heart he'd sworn a long time ago he'd do everything he could to keep from breaking.

He wanted to tell her, to explain why he'd have to put some distance between them. To tell her he was sorry but she was already too much of a target because she worked for him and was a valued member of his team. To let their enemy see them together, see how close they really were...

… It would make her the one they went after, and Gibbs simply couldn't allow that.

So he would do what he had to and hope, when it was over, she would understand and forgive him, too.

****

Rule 13 – Never, ever involve a lawyer

****

She was able to brush it off at first, assume it was just a temporary infatuation with a woman who actually had the balls to stand up to him. A few weeks later, though, Abby's gut was screaming at her that there was something more to it than that.

It had started when she'd seen a photograph of the lawyer who's apparently caught Gibbs' eye. The resemblance between herself and the other woman had both made her uncomfortable and given her a thrill; if he was genuinely attracted to the lawyer, there was a chance he would one day be attracted to her.

Tony's avoidance of the subject, though, clued her in that there was something amiss with the story.

Two weeks later, Abby found another photograph, one that showed the whole picture.

Margaret Allison Hart… and Colonel Merton Bell.

Her foot tapped on the floor of her lab as she waited impatiently for the photograph to print. Dating a lawyer was one thing, she decided, but dating a lawyer connected to a man who'd killing a friend of theirs was something altogether different.

Her white lab coat swished around her body as she stalked from her lab, up the stairs – the elevator was too slow – and into the almost deserted squad room.

Gibbs was sat at his desk even though his agents were gone, just as she'd known he would be. For some reason she couldn't understand, he'd taken to staying even later than usual, only leaving when she herself did after escorting her to her car.

He looked up when he heard her footsteps, a glimmer of surprise at not having heard the elevator bell disappearing behind a familiar, non-committal expression that gave nothing away.

"Calling it a night already, Abs? You got a party to go to?"

Abby shook her head, her green eyes locking with his blue ones as she brought the photograph out from behind her back. She was allowed the satisfaction of another startled look on his face, seconds before he was able to control it. "What happened to Rule 13, Gibbs? Or does it only apply as long as it suits you?"

****

Rule 4 – The best way to keep a secret? Keep it to yourself. Second best? Tell one other person – if you must. There is no third best.

****

The moment he saw the photograph in her hand, he knew he couldn't keep lying to her.

He'd been watching her closely – from a distance – for weeks, her confusion at his distance breaking his heart though he'd always been able to placate himself by promising he'd make it up to her when the charade was over.

Recently, he'd started thinking that he'd maybe do more than take her out to dinner and buy her roses when it was over. Maybe he'd take a closer look at rule 12 and see if there was a way to keep it from applying to them if she was interested.

Seeing the photograph in her hand, the distrust in her eyes and the upset she couldn't quite conceal made him all the more determined.

"I can explain." He kept his voice deliberately quiet. "But not here."

Abby's jaw clenched for a moment. "Your office, then?" She asked, jerking her head in the direction of the elevators.

With a sigh, Gibbs gave a nod of agreement and got to his feet.

She led the way, her strides long and determined. She was trying to hold onto her anger, Gibbs realised, in an attempt at keeping her hurt feelings from showing.

Fortunately for him, or unfortunately, given the surge of guilt he felt at being the cause of it, he knew her better than that.

She stood as far away from him as she could manage in the cramped metal box as he let the elevator move slightly before hitting the emergency stop. Her arms were folded defensively across her chest, the incriminating photograph almost crushed by her clenched hand.

At least it was facing away from him, Gibbs thought briefly. "She's working for Merton Bell."

"I'd figured that."

"The way I see it, she's here to get close to us..."

"Close to you," Abby injected with a flash of something that might have been jealousy in her eyes. It was gone before Gibbs could really be sure.

"Either way, she's here to get information for him. To find out where we're weakest, study our routines... " Gibbs shrugged, feeling more helpless in that moment than he had done in a while. He just wanted her to say she understood, that she'd still be there for him, his Abby, when the whole charade was over. "He's still holding a grudge."

"He did get sent to a Mexican prison," she pointed out quietly.

"He deserved it." He shrugged again and took a small step closer, pleased when she didn't automatically step back. "I have to know what they're planning, Abby. I can't let them hurt the team."

Abby's smile was humourless. "They don't need to. You're doing that on your own."

"The others will understand. Ziva, Tony, even McGee will know why I couldn't tell them."

"And me?"

"I'm telling you now."

Abby stared at him evenly. "But you weren't going to."

He gave a frustrated sigh and ran a hand through his hair, hating the fact that he was forced to break eye contact first. "I didn't want to worry you," he stated. "I still don't. And I don't want you having to keep the secret, too, Abby. If they think you know something, they'll go after you first."

"Maybe that wouldn't be a bad thing." Her comment had his head snapping up instantly, the fire flashing in his eyes making her own widen slightly and Gibbs wondered just what she'd seen on his face. Something to put the surprised gleam in her green eyes, and make a small smile begin to show on her lips. "I just meant that if they try something, you'd be able to catch them. You'd have the evidence you need and you wouldn't have to hide behind this stupid masquerade..."

"And if they succeeded? If you were killed? Sure, we'd catch them but..." The thought was too much for him to contemplate. "That's not going to happen, Abs."

"Which part?"

"Any of it." His voice was firm, his eyes hard. Gibbs stepped closer, invading her personal space without apology. "Promise me, Abby. You won't deliberately set yourself up as a target. It's not worth it."

She shrugged a shoulder, her expression suggesting that she might not agree with his assessment. "I'll promise if you promise me something."

The word 'anything' tried to escape his lips but Gibbs fought it back. "What?"

"You won't make yourself a target instead."

It wasn't a promise he could make and they both knew it. They stared at one another for several long, tense moments, before Abby nodded, the answer received, and reached beyond him to activate the elevator once more.

****

Rule 22 – Never, ever bother Gibbs in interrogation

****

She was exhausted but she was more certain than ever that the results would be worth it in the end.

It had been almost a month since her conversation with Gibbs in the elevator, a month of watching him and the dark haired lawyer dance around each other, their relationship as dangerous as it was flirtatious.

It was hard for her to watch from the sidelines, seeing him apparently fall for Margaret Allison Hart's charms. Abby tried to tell herself time and time again that it was only an act, only for show, but seeing him with the other woman, smiling at her, even scowling at her, sent a bolt of something she couldn't or wouldn't define to her heart.

The show was almost over, though. The final curtain was about to fall.

And she held the key to it in her hand.

Abby had spent all night working on it, doubling her efforts when she heard there'd been an attempt on Gibbs' life. Margaret Allison Hart and Colonel Merton Bell had been brought in for questioning but unless one of them broke and admitted having something to do with the arranged hit on their leader, the team would be forced to let them go.

Gibbs himself, fresh from the hospital, had taken over the interrogation of Ms. Hart, more determined than ever to find the truth.

He'd been expecting them to go after another member of the team first, Abby knew, and was relieved that they hadn't. Abby, though, was furious, as were the other members of the team.

They all needed their leader, and heaven help anyone who tried to take him away.

Clutching the folder in her hand, she made her way down to interrogation.

There was no sign of the others in the hallway outside when she got there but she knew they'd probably be glued to the double-sided glass in the observation room, waiting and watching, their glares burning metaphorical holes in the glass.

Abby took a deep breath and rapped her knuckles on the door, hard enough to hurt. She didn't wait for him to open it for her, or for him to call out a greeting. She turned the handle and stepped inside.

"Abby?" Gibbs approached her immediately, his eyes cold. The fresh bruises marred his skin, and the white gauze over the wound on his head stood out in stark relief against his normally warm complexion.

She handed him the file in silence, waiting until he opened it before speaking softly. "I found a money trail. From Colonel Bell to Ms. Hart, from Ms. Hart to Ms. Snow and from Ms. Snow to your friend down in autopsy."

****

Rule 11 – When the job is done, walk away

****

It was over.

Margaret Allison Hart glanced down at the print-outs he slid across the table towards her, her heart sinking as she ran her gaze over the neatly highlighted lines of bank transactions.

She recognised Merton's account number, the account he hadn't declared to the authorities.

She recognised her own, a secondary account that she'd always believed would be untraceable thanks to associates she'd met through her work at the law firm.

She recognised a large sum of money that had travelled from his account to hers, leaving again in a matter of hours.

The third account number seemed vaguely familiar while the fourth was completely new to her.

It didn't matter, though. It was enough. She was smart enough to know that.

"I'll tell you everything you need to know," she told him quietly, lifting her own blue gaze up to his. "In exchange for protection from Merton."

"You'll be going to prison. So will he." Gibbs shrugged a careless shoulder. "Don't think you'll need to worry about being roommates."

Margaret shook her head, tears of frustration stinging her eyes. That's all they were, she told herself firmly, quashing the sense of regret she felt as she looked at the man she'd betrayed. "Please, Jethro. Don't be like that."

"Like what?" He tilted his head slightly, his expression blank. When she said nothing, unable to get the words past the lump in her throat, he reached out for the file and slid it back to his side of the table, flipping it shut before getting to his feet. "Agents DiNozzo and David will be in to take your statement."

"You're leaving?" She was surprised, and hurt, that he was able to cast her aside so easily. "After everything..." She shook her head when he stared down at her, his expression never changing. "I thought there was something there. I know I lied to you but I thought..."

"You thought wrong."

He walked away from her, his footsteps soundless. She heard the click of the door being closed behind him and dropped her head, staring sightlessly at her clasped hands.

It was over.

****

Rule 26 – Never apologise. It's a sign of weakness.

****

She was packing up her lab when he got there, shutting down her machines with a fond smile and almost tender caress.

Gibbs watched her in silence for as long as he could, standing straighter when she turned to find him standing in the doorway.

"Is it over?" Abby asked softly, her eyes hopeful.

"Tony and Ziva are taking her statement now. Bell doesn't stand a chance." He watched the smile break out across her face and felt an answering jolt in his chest. "How did you find it, Abby? How'd you know where to look?"

She shrugged a shoulder, a light blush staining her cheeks. "I called Ms. Snow. She went against the advice of her lawyers – from Ms. Hart's firm, I'll add – and told me where to look." Her smile was small but present, and the sight of it eased some of the tightness in his chest. "She has a soft spot for you, I think. She was genuinely surprised you were the intended hit."

"They'll go lightly on her for volunteering the information," Gibbs pointed out.

Abby smiled, pleased at the thought. "That, too."

They stared at one another in silence for a moment or two more, before she shrugged out of her lab coat and moved to hang it up on the hook inside her small office.

He followed her into the office, an apology on his lips. "Abby..."

"Don't." She turned to look at him, shaking her head slightly. "You've broken enough of your rules because of this, Gibbs. I won't ask you to compromise yourself and break anymore." She picked up her coffin-shaped backpack and slung the strap over her shoulder. She walked towards him, pausing on her way out of the lab to stop beside him. Lifting herself slightly on her toes, she leaned in and let her lips brush against his cheek. "I forgive you."

Gibbs stood where he was and listened to the sound of her footsteps as they faded, the bell of the elevator signalling her ascent to the upper levels.

****

Rule 12 – Never date a co-worker

****

How he'd managed to make it to her apartment before her, Abby would never know. He must've known a short-cut or maybe developed some kind of time machine or something.

Not that she was complaining.

Far, far from it.

His teeth grazed the tattooed skin of her neck, his hands busy at the fastening of her jeans. She let her head fall back against the wall, her eyes closed as she fumbled blindly with the buttons of his shirt.

They stumbled together from the wall beside her front door down the small hallway to her bedroom, discarding items of clothing as they went. She giggled as they tumbled down onto the bed, her face flushed as she stared up at him.

Gibbs smiled down at her, a tender look on his face, and covered the distance between them to kiss her softly.

"What happened to rule 12?" She murmured when he pulled back. "Unless there's something you're not telling me, I'm still a co-worker..."

He let her roll them over, lifting his hands to her hips to help steady her. "You are," he told her, "but some rules are worth breaking. Some people are worth breaking them for."

Her heart in her throat, Abby leaned down to kiss him hard. She pressed herself against him, savouring the feeling of his arms wrapping around her waist, solid and warm and real. She didn't protest when he rolled them over again, her smile bright, eyes shining with emotions she couldn't put into words.

He pushed inside her, her soft moan mingling with his sigh. She wrapped her legs around him, finding his rhythm and meeting it. He dropped his head to her chest, kissing, nipping, tasting, tormenting, a hand snaking between their damp bodies to tease her further.

She shattered with a cry, his name torn from her lips. Gibbs followed, muffling his hoarse voice against her shoulder.

They shifted after a while, slipping under the tangled sheets, the cool cotton a welcome change. Abby curled her body around and over his, her head on his shoulder, his arm around her waist.

Some rules were worth breaking, Abby thought with a dreamy smile, slipping into sleep with his heart beating under her ear.

Some people were worth breaking them for.

****

End