Disclaimer: NCIS and all associated characters belong to DPB and CBS. I make no claim on them and write this purely for my own entertainment and the entertainment of others. No copyright infringement intended.

A Second Chance
Part Three

Abby sighed, warm and content as she settled in to bed for the night. Of course, that feeling of warmth and contentedness probably had to do with the body pressed up against her back and the arm that was slung over her waist. Gibbs was like a big, warm blanket, and she slept pretty well with him wrapped around her. Probably some of the best sleep she'd ever had.

The past several weeks since she'd been released from the hospital had been an experience. The doctors had wanted her to stay longer, but she'd worn them down until they finally agreed to let her go, with one condition…

"Very well, Miss Sciuto," the doctor said, his expression resigned.

"Yay!" she cheered.

"But," he added, cutting off her impromptu celebration before she could start to dance around her room, "there is one condition for your early release – you need to either stay with someone or have someone stay with you for at least a week, maybe longer but that is conditional on your next examination." He looked at her questioningly, "Do you have any family in the area?"

Abby slumped a little on her bed, and then sat up straighter, wincing at the dull pain that shot through her chest. "No, they're all in New Orleans," she admitted. "I might be able to stay with –"

"She'll stay with me." Abby turned to see Gibbs standing in the doorway, coffee cup in hand.

The doctor didn't do much more than raise an eyebrow, having become used to Gibbs' sudden appearances in her room, even when he was in the middle of consulting with her. Abby stared at him, asking, "Are you sure, Gibbs?" She smiled at him. "You've never had to live with me full-time. I'm supposedly pretty hard to live with, and I wouldn't want you to think I was hard to live with and –"

"Abby," he cut her off, giving her that patented Gibbs look.

She stopped, and then grinned at him. "I've missed that," she said. She then turned to the doctor. "Looks like I've got a roomie. Happy?"

So after stopping at her apartment to pack a bag – or three – Abby went with Gibbs to his house. He must have been planning for her to be there, because one of the bedrooms on the second floor had been cleared out and fresh bed linens put on the bed for her. In the ensuing days, Gibbs was home fairly often, claiming that they were in a bit of a lull at work. Even when he was working, he made sure he was home at a decent hour instead of working late into the night like he normally did. It certainly helped when Abby woke up screaming from the nightmares, where she saw Gibbs, Tony, McGee, or Ziva be shot down trying to rescue her. Sometimes she even watched Jenny or Kate get shot as well, as if they had been on the mission as well. More than once Gibbs would wake her up from the horrible dreams and sit with her, either until she fell back asleep or accompanying her downstairs for coffee if she couldn't bear to sleep again.

During the day, the rest of the team was regular visitors, regaling her with stories of what Abby was missing at the office. She'd been horrified to learn that the temp brought while she was out on medical leave was making a mess of her lab…

"Don't worry, Abbs," Tony told her, "we told Libby to make sure she put everything back exactly like she found it, or she'd have to deal with you." He grinned, adding, "And Gibbs."

Abby laughed from her spot on the couch, her feet tucked beneath her and leaning against Gibbs. "Definitely. Remind her of what I made you, Timmy, and Jimmy do when you three trashed my lab. You can even show her the recording I made of it."

Palmer, Tony, and McGee, who were all sitting on the floor of the living room, froze. "Recording?" McGee repeated in a strangled tone. "What recording?"

Abby just smirked at them and shifted a little closer to Gibbs when he draped his arm along the couch behind her.

Ducky even came around and cooked a lovely dinner for the three of them. Of course, it looked a little odd sitting on Gibbs' card table, but a good time was had by all nonetheless.

Abby actually found that she liked spending so much time with Gibbs. He didn't have a boat to work on in his basement anymore, but had moved on to making toys. Toys, she found, were a lot easier for her to comprehend than boats. Gibbs was patient when he showed her how to make some of the simpler toys, though she painted more than chiseled.

Time passed, though, and although the doctors insisted she stay another week with Gibbs just to be sure, eventually Abby was cleared to return to living by herself. The only catch was that Gibbs didn't seem in any hurry to have her leave…

Abby watched Gibbs move around the kitchen from the door. He was throwing together a salad, focused on his task. "Check for the parmesan in the fridge, would you, Abbs?"

She blinked, but did as asked, moving across the kitchen. She glanced at him as she opened the fridge. "It won't take me long to pack up, Gibbs." She mustered a small smile. "I'll be out of your hair."

He took the parmesan she offered him, but didn't look up. "Don't forget the dressing too," was all he said.

Abby blinked again. "Gibbs –" she started.

"Abby," he cut her off, turning away from the salad bowl, "you can stay as long as you like." She froze when he reached out with both hands. One hand went to the fridge door, but the other brushed her cheek, signing out a single word.


It might've sounded cliché, but Abby was pretty sure her heart skipped a beat. Or several.

Okay, so maybe she hadn't really wanted to leave either.

A few days turn into more. Abby started back to work – Libby did somehow manage to get the lab back in order – and her life returned to normal, with the exception of where she went when she finished for the night. Her apartment stayed empty for the most part, and more of her things gravitated over to Gibbs' house.

She admitted that she'd been a bit tentative at first, certain that, sooner or later, Gibbs would start to get tired of sharing the house with her, that he'd want his life back. He never did, though.

"Why did you ask me to stay?" she finally asked him one night in the basement. They aren't working on the wooden toys, just unwinding after a long day at the office. Gibbs sipped on his bourbon, while she nursed her vodka, sitting just a few feet away from him.

Gibbs didn't answer immediately, his eyes flickering back and fourth between his drink and her. "Didn't think I needed to spell it out for you, Abbs," he eventually replied.

Abby sighed. "Go ahead," she told him. "Spell it out for me. I'm useless when it comes to deciphering the mixed signals you send me."

Again, he stayed quiet for a while. When he didn't respond after several minutes, she sighed in frustration. "Gibbs, you've barely let me out of your sight since… it… happened. You act like…" she trailed off.

"Like what?" His voice was loud against the sudden silence.

"Like…" she paused for a minute, and the finally blurted it out, "Like an overprotective boyfriend."

Gibbs just stared at her, and the silence again surrounded them. Abby feared the worst, that any minute he'd confirm what she'd once said, that he loved her like a daughter, that she had it completely wrong. Biting her lip against the sudden urge to cry, Abby put her glass down and stood up. She moved to get past him, intent on going upstairs to her room, maybe to just sleep and forget this had ever happened, or maybe move back to her apartment –

His hand caught her arm before she could go two steps.

"Gibbs," she started.

He cut her off. "Never been good with words, Abby," he said. Then his other hand was behind her neck, and he pulled her down. Before she could react, his lips were on hers.

Abby was pretty sure she'd just found nirvana.

They didn't jump into bed together that night, or the night after that. Still, Abby knew then where she stood with him. She was no adopted child of his, that was for damn sure. They slowly moved forward, exploring the possibilities, but again, in no great rush. Gibbs had three failed marriages and a host of other relationship disasters to make him cautious, and Abby hadn't had a serious, committed relationship in a long time, if ever, really.

Still, even as they took their time, Abby knew she'd found her home.

Movement behind her caught her attention. Gibbs sat up a little and Abby automatically rolled on her back, looking up at him. "What's wrong?" she asked.

He peered down at her. "You're thinking too loud."

Her laughter didn't last long, not when her mouth was quickly engaged in much more interesting pursuits.

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