Title: Not All Who Wander Are Lost
Author: dannica webb
Category: Romance, Drama
Spoilers: Season 8, Episode 6.
Summary: Gibbs and Abby have their first fight as a couple. And then their first time making up. Missing moments from Cracked.
He bribes the security guy.
It's a mean, sneaky, underhanded thing to do, but he has to see her. The length of their exchange of words upstairs a few hours before wasn't near long enough after the crippling worry that haunted him all day.
The stricken look in her eyes when he raised his voice might have something to do with it, too. Either way, he bribes the security guy to let him into her lab, after he's sat for three hours at his desk, trying to figure out what to say.
He's been trying to figure out what to say since he saw that Mr. K was nothing but an empty booth. He'd maintained his faith in Abby, and in her blind belief in Clea, right up until that moment. Even though every practical bone in his body screamed against it. He tells himself he didn't lose faith in Abby herself, just in her obsession with Clea.
She sees it as a betrayal regardless, he knows, but he's been watching her for two days, running on fumes, nothing but Caf-Pow!, he and Ducky having to practically hold her down for five seconds to get her to eat. It scares him, the intensity. She's wandered off into the abyss and there are some places he doesn't know how to follow. Ducky says he can break through, but Ducky has always had an excess of faith in him.
She turns, startled, when she hears the door open, almost as if she were expecting it, but then abruptly turns back to her computer screen. Her hand gropes for the nearest half-empty cup of Caf-Pow! and she takes a big gulp, then taps several keys impatiently.
The word escapes his lips quietly, and at first he thinks she doesn't hear. Then she turns around and leans back against the table, her arms crossed over her chest, and he can see that she's been crying.
"Abbs - "
She cuts him off when he takes a step closer. "No, Gibbs. I'm not crazy, okay?"
"I know that," he says, scrubbing a hand over his face. "I know."
She shakes her head and begins pacing back and forth. Her words spill into one another from lack of sleep and too much caffeine, but she's still all Abby underneath. "No, Gibbs, apparently you don't," she continues, taking a deep breath and pausing to look up at him. "I'm not going to write equations all over my body and throw myself in front of a bus."
He starts to say that he knows that, too, but she sees it coming and puts her hand on his arm. "You looked at me like I was Alice going down the rabbit hole, Gibbs," she says. "You're still looking at me like that. That's not okay."
He stands there because he realizes he still doesn't know what to say to her. He loves her brilliance, but it has always made him slightly uncomfortable, seeing her name on the front of papers whose titles he can barely recognize as English, let alone comprehend. She deciphers patterns from chaos, sometimes, it seems, from nothing. The order of the bits and pieces that make up material existence is how she makes sense of the world, of everything; it's who she is.
"I'm sorry," he says finally. "For doubting you."
She turns back to him. "You're still doubting," she mutters, after searching his eyes.
"I can't - " he stops himself, then steps closer to her, wrapping his arms around her body. She's still wired and trembling from caffeine. "I don't know how to do this," he murmurs into her hair, his voice quiet in the brief stillness of their embrace, as if he's afraid she might break. Pragmatism, steadiness, routine; that's how he makes sense of the world, and though Abby's world might be ordered by rules, he has come to recognize that it sits at a slightly different angle from his own. "I almost lost it when McGee said you were gone and we couldn't trace your cell. We work cases out there. You work cases in here. That's how - that's how this works. I can't focus if I don't know what's happening to you, if I don't know where you are."
"Gibbs," she whispers chidingly, leaning back to look up at him, "have a little faith." Her computer beeps and she ducks under his arms, ready to return to her furious pace.
He grabs the Caf-Pow! out of her hands before she can take another sip. "No more working until you've slept. And eaten. Go home, Abby."
"Gibbs - "
He inhales sharply. Whatever ground he's gained in this conversation is going out from under him. "It wasn't a request."
"Fine," she says. "I'll take a nap." She brushes past him towards her inner office, where Burt and her futon are. "In the lab."
He knows when to pick his battles.
Once it's all over she does go home. With him. When she runs back into the lab for a second, he fights the urge to follow her, but the small tightness of panic in his chest lets go at the sight of her skipping down the hallway towards him, book in hand.
That night, she reads him Leaves of Grass.
Or she starts to, anyway, but a few lines in she sits up on the couch and frowns at him. "I can hear the wheels turning, Gibbs." The corners of her eyes wrinkle endearingly. "It's very distracting." He doesn't respond right away, so she puts the book down, gesturing anxiously. "I thought you said everything was okay."
He grabs her hands and holds them in his own, leaning in to press his lips to her forehead. "It is, Abbs, it is." He closes his eyes briefly. "I'm just..."
"Still afraid I'll wander off somewhere you can't follow?" she says in a knowing sort of voice. She leans back until they make eye contact, then she cuts her eyes and says impatiently, "Stop worrying already. I always come back."
He can't think of any comeback to that so he kisses her until she laughingly puts her hands to his chest and shoves him away. "Poetry, remember?" She sticks her tongue out.
Poetry, like chemistry equations, he finds mostly unintelligible, but just as with evidence reports, her voice gives the subject new meaning, interpreting things hidden. She reads him Leaves of Grass until she falls asleep with her head in his lap, and he traces patterns in her hair while he listens to the sound of her breathing.