Title: His Only Suspect
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: One tiny incidental comment in season seven's Jurisdiction.
Summary: Gibbs plants red roses in his garden, but gets something a little different than he bargained for…

Author's Note: I make no claims to know anything about gardening. Anything that seems off is due entirely to my ignorance. XD


The red rose plants are a gift from old Mrs. Morrison down the street. Gibbs has known her since he moved here with his young family, back in the eighties. At times, she drops by with casseroles, thick slabs of cake, the occasional pie…

Gibbs has always viewed her fondly, accepting her offerings with thanks, sometimes inviting her in; an invitation she always declines, backing away in a hurry and retreating into her own house. That she feels sorry for him, there's no doubt – but she's content to let him know she cares from a distance, and that's something he can live with.

The roses, she tells him – standing in his driveway, gardening gloves on and overall knees dark with mud – won't fit in her own garden. They both know it's a lie, but it gives him something to do, and he's grateful for it.

He plants them in the flowerbed underneath the front window of his house, so that Mrs. Morrison can see them when she passes. The buds aren't yet open, but they're a dark red that appeals to him; they'll be unobtrusive, but will offset the evergreen plants already populating the soil well.

He plants them, then mostly forgets about them, sparing them a glance every now and then as he enters or leaves his house. A month or so passes before he begins to notice something odd.

One Saturday lunchtime, he gets out of his car after a long, arduous case that's prompted him to sleep on one of Ducky's mortuary tables… again. His gaze sweeps over the roses, passes by… then returns.

"What the…?"

His first thought, as he crouches to run his fingers over the petals, is of the black roses Abby loves so much. The dark red roses looked black from a distance, but up close, they're merely a darker scarlet than he was expecting.

Shaking his head, he continues into the house, the roses forgotten as exhaustion overwhelms him.


Two weeks later, the roses catch his eye again, and this time, they're as black as Abby's parasol. He has no clue how they got that way, and fleetingly suspects an element in the soil, but he's listened to Abby's babble for long enough to know that black roses don't grow naturally.

That narrows his suspect list down to one.

He keeps an eye on his driveway when he's in the living room; glances out of the window every once in a while; listens for the approach of Abby's car's engine.

It's a couple of weeks before he catches her in the act. He's made his way down from the bedroom in the dark, his hair still wet from the shower. As he steps into the living room, his hand outstretched to flick the light switch, he notices a shadow cross the window.

He's almost certain it's Abby, but he grabs his SIG from the hall table anyway. It's not the first time he's had her accidentally at gunpoint; if it comes to that, he knows she won't take offence. She once woke him in the middle of the night when she was sleeping on his couch, at a time Gibbs had become accustomed to sleeping alone.

He moves quietly over to the window, amused when he makes out the outline of a pigtailed head, bent over one of the rose bushes. Setting the gun aside, he eases the catch open noiselessly, then pulls the window open, leaning out. "A little dark for watering the plants, Abby."

With a gasp, she stares up at him, her eyes wide. "Gibbs!" He waits her out, gazing at her patiently, and she fidgets, then cracks. "I do all my best gardening at night."

With a grin, Gibbs cocks his head toward the front door. "Beer in the kitchen, if you want it."

He doesn't wait for her response, merely slides the window shut, hits the lights and goes to grab two cold ones from the refrigerator. A minute later, Abby joins him, and he stifles a laugh at the sight of her black, skull-and-crossbow decorated gumboots, offering her one of the bottles. "Painting my roses black?"

She takes a sip sheepishly, then returns his amused look. "And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for that meddling Gibbs!"

Some pop-culture references, even he can recognise. "And I didn't even have to pull off your mask," he says, wandering back through into the living room.

She follows, flopping down onto the couch beside him. "That's what you think. I'm actually McGee."

Dubiously, he eyes her very female frame. "Good disguise."

She preens a little. "Thanks. If I'd known you were interested, I would have worn my best underwear."

Nobody teases like Abby does.

Taking a long draught of his beer, Gibbs lets her comment settle before steering the conversation toward what he wants to know. "How'd you turn the roses black?"

She draws in a deep breath, then begins one of her token spiels. "Okay, so the pigment in rose petals…"

He lets her babble for a minute, then interrupts gently. "The short version, Abbs."

"I watered the roses with water mixed with black food colouring every two weeks," she says, with the same satisfaction as when she's found something in her lab.

That explains the 'how'. "Why?"

"Cause I saw the rose bushes and couldn't resist. And because I wanted to see how long I could evade your investigative skills."

"Wasn't too tough to narrow down my list of suspects."

Innocently, she blinks at him. "You mean, you don't have a wide circle of black-rose-loving friends?"

"Only need one."

Abby's face lights up at his words. "Awwwww!"

Resting her beer bottle against her knee, she leans over and gives him a one-armed hug. He returns it with his own free arm, and she overbalances into his lap, still managing to keep her beer level. "Oops!"

Gibbs takes the bottle from her and sets it down next to his, on the table beside the couch. Abby begins to sit up just as he turns back to help her up, and they freeze a second before their heads collide, only a breath between them.

The air grows thick with tension, and the only movement for that brief eternity is in their faces. Abby blinks rapidly, her eyes darting from his, to his hand on her shoulder, to his lips. Gibbs' tongue darts out to moisten his lips before he realises it, and he takes in her almost flawless complexion, her dark lipstick, the slight curve of the corners of her mouth.

For the second time in five minutes, he finds himself thinking it: no one can tease a reaction from him the way Abby can. Affection. Amusement. Irritation. Protectiveness.

Desire.

She sees that he feels it, kisses him before he can disguise it: a playful peck on the mouth; a fleeting, suggestive smile; then a slow, light brush of her lips against his. The thought of resisting doesn't enter his head until after he's slipped a hand to the back of her head, the tip of his tongue brushing hers for the first time.

And by then, there's no point in pretending he doesn't want her; that his pulse isn't pounding in rhythmic synchrony with hers. That her scent doesn't drive him crazy, and the low murmur of his name against his neck doesn't send his senses into overdrive.

"Does this mean you like my gardening style?" she asks, the words breathy against his skin.

"That's one way to put it." He traces a finger over the thin lines of the web covering the side of her neck, and she shivers lightly.

"You know, one of my tattoos has black roses in it…"

One he's never seen before, which implies it's somewhere on her body she keeps covered. "Challenging me, Abbs?"

"Just sayin'," she tells him, the casual words belied by her grin. "I mean, it's completely relevant to the conversation we're having…"

"And you don't think you need your best underwear for that?" He devotes a few seconds to nuzzling the spot just below her ear, and when he pulls back, her eyes are closed; her smile dreamy.

"All my underwear is really good."

"I'll bet."

Her ridiculous gumboots are the first items to be stripped off as he begins his investigation, but they're far from the last. A thorough, inch by inch exploration of her skin later, he locates a double helix of black roses hiding just below the waistband of her pants.

By that point, though, he's a little distracted by other aspects of the investigation.

END.