Title: Coffee & Pastries
Pairing: Abby/Gibbs (friendship) Tony/Ziva (implied)
Rating: K

Summary: Abby confronts Gibbs about Rule 12

A/N: Thanks to my lovely new beta reader Foxtail-Padfoot! :)

"What ya got for me, Abs." Gibbs stopped in his tracks as he noticed something different in the Goth's usually buzzing forensics lab.

No beeps. No dings. No hums. No music... Something was wrong.

"Abby?" He wandered further into her domain, fearing the worst. His chest lightened when he saw her sitting at her desk, typing away at her keyboard. "You called?"

"Oh! Hi! Wow, my timing was off, I didn't think you'd be here this soon." She jumped up from her chair and stood in front of her desk, her demeanor changing quickly. "Now," she crossed her arms, "I'm ready."

"Ready for what, Abs?" He took a step closer and was toe to toe with the near eye-to-eye level goth.

"For this." She braced herself, and before he knew what happened he felt a sharp crack to the back of the head.

"Abby!" Part shock, part defensiveness he took a step back. "What the he-?!"

"Gibbs! How could you! Do you know what you're doing to these people?! Honestly, the tough love act is all well and good in the field, but you're making them go batty! All I hear is 'Gibbs this' and 'Gibbs will do that,' it's a mental mind fu-"

"Okay! Wait!" He cut her off and held her shoulders gently. "I know it might be hard for you but slow down, and start at the beginning."

"I can't slow down! If I slow down I won't say what I have to say and I think it needs to be said! Not that it hasn't been said before, but this time it needs to be said to you! I have to say it to you!" she stood and cocked her head to the side, smiling at him, proud of herself. He waited.

"What, Abby?"

"Oh! Yeah." She took a deep breath and started walking slow stride circles around her office. "Well, as much as I understand these.. Rules… you have in place, I think at a point we all must realize that some are unhealthy. I understand the knife one, and definitely understand the coffee one, but now we must realize-" she was stopped by his raised hands, calling her attention.

"Ok, let's make this easy," he cut her off, waving his hands in the air in mock defeat, "I will stay here," he leaned on her desk, and crossed his arms, "for…" he looked at his watch, "three minutes, after that I'm leaving. You have three minutes. Go."

"Oh! Now the pressure!? This entire thing isn't pressure enough?" She saw his raised eyebrows, "three minutes okay." She thought carefully for a second and then finally got to the point. "Rule 12, Gibbs. Twelve."

"Why is rule 12 make everyone go 'batty'? And who is everyone we're talking about exactly." They sounded more like statements than questions.

"Who else! You have two very strong, very passionate agents who are obviously attracted to each other working your high stress, high danger jobs, and on their downtime they can't even be with each other because of your high stress rules!"

Gibbs smirked to himself, trying to suppress his outright laughter at the situation.

"Is that so?"

"Yes! And how can you not see it?! You see EVERYTHING! But maybe you just don't want them to be happy! Not everyone ends up like you did Gibbs, you can't push that rule on everyone just because-"

"Ok, that's enough, ." Gibbs stood slowly, opening his arms to her as she stepped in slowly for a hug. "Time to calm down for a second." Abby quickly backed out of the hug she usually adored.

"No! I can't calm down, Gibbs! I won't! They want to be together but you won't let them!"

"Well…" Gibbs gave a half smile, "If DiNozzo and McGee feel that strongly about it…" Abby's mouth fell open, then she noticed the smirked and smacked his arm.

"Stop it! You know darn well who I'm talking about."

He couldn't help it, he let out a small laugh and shake of his head.

"They don't have to listen to my rules, Abs." She stood, shocked and perplexed. "It's… more of a guideline." He looked at her, waiting for a response, but all he saw was her jaw on the floor and her eyebrows raised high, vanishing into her bangs.

"…Ok. This isn't what I expected, so I'll just stick with: huh??"

"Abby, if they want to be together, they can, that rule is more of a warning, than anything. Not because I don't want my agents happy, but because I don't want them hurting."

"I… don't follow…"

"I know the pressure and pains of getting involved with a coworker. These are rules that I decided worked for me. Yes, I try to pass it on my agents for the better, but they don't work for everyone. Now, if ya woulda let me explain from the beginning…"

"Oh, do explain O boss man." Abby took a step back and sat in her chair, watching him.

He leaned back on her desk, this time facing where she sat in her chair. He took in a deep breath, ignoring flashes of himself and Jenny running through his mind.

"I understand how close agents can get to each other on missions. You put your life in each other's hands, day after day, relying on only the person next to you.. It builds a type of… camaraderie. That's a type of trust you will never have with anyone else, no matter what other situations arise." he placed his hands on the desk on each side of him, in the most comfortable position Abby had ever seen. His voice was as if he had almost forgotten he was talking to Abby, instead it came out more as a narrative for himself. "But things don't always go as planned. There are so many variable to consider. Team transfers, appropriate actions, inappropriate actions, jealousy from other agents as of favoritism, and general dangers on the job."

"But don't you think they know all of that, Gibbs? Some people just say that they'll go to the ends of the earth from someone, but your people actually do it."

"I know, ."

"Then why are you keeping them apart??" Her voice rose once more and as she started to stand he placed an arm on her shoulder to calm her. "Abby, when was the last time I reminded them about Rule 12?"

She sat in thought for a moment, opening then closing her mouth a few times. "Well.. Actually, it's been a while… but you put it in their minds!"

"I did. But I'm sure the DMV told Ziva to drive safely, too." He gave his signature half-grin. "I'm not saying I want to push them together, but I don't want to pull them apart. Give them their own time. If they want it enough, they'll realize I'm not standing in their way."

Abby had the biggest grin on her face and jumped out of the chair to give the older man a hug, nearly knocking him, and her computer, backwards.

"Oh, Gibbs, I knew you weren't as grumpy as they all say! I don't know where they get that from." He pulled away and looked at her sternly. She just smiled back at him and kissed him on the cheek. He relented and smiled back

"Delete the video of this, ," and kissed her on the forehead.

"What video!?" She feigned surprise, and was obviously a very bad liar. He pointed to a little red light from a bookshelf in the far corner. "How did you even SEE that, your back was to it the entire time!" She scurried over and deleted the video before Gibbs left and he grinned at her as he walked out the door. "Oh and Gibbs, you know I wasn't talking about Tony and Tim this whole time, right??"

His back to her he smiled, "Oh in that case, I take it all back."