Title: Courting at Christmas
Rating: FR-15 overall with a FR-18 scene or two ;)
Pairing: Abby/Gibbs
Summary: A court case in the run up to Christmas signals a shift in a relationship.
Spoilers: Teeny tiny one for a character in 'The Spider and the Fly' and even tinier one for 'Road Kill'.
For: bluefirebird
Prompts: Prompt 1: Gibbs gets hurt/shot/beaten up, Abby looks after him while he recuperates and things progress from there. Prompt 2: Something with possessive/protective Gibbs.

There were undeniably multiple facets to the woman that was Abigail Sciuto, Forensic Specialist of NCIS. He'd seen a lot of them but couldn't help but wonder about the ones she still kept hidden, even from him. Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs studied her as she took to the witness stand, taking his gaze off the defendant for the first time since entering the courtroom.

Her black hair was loose and mostly straight, her make up more subdued and subtle to what he knew she usually preferred. The suit she wore was one of her better "court suits", dark in colour and a little more tailored than some he'd seen her in. Peeking out from beneath it, he could see the collar of the crisp white blouse she wore and allowed himself a secret smile at the knowledge that hidden by the suit jacket was a neatly stitched skull motive in startling red.

He watched in admiration as she gave a flawless performance, delivering her evidence in a concise, professional manner while still exuding the warmth and likability factor that made her a firm favourite amongst her colleagues and peers. It was on the first day of her expected three-day testimony but Gibbs was quietly confident she'd already helped put one more nail in their murderer's metaphorical coffin.

He caught her eye as she stood to leave the stand and gave her a small nod of approval. He waited until she'd left the room and a break in proceedings was called before getting to his feet and following her out.

Arm-in-arm, they walked down the stones steps of the courthouse together, braced against the winter chill that hung in the air around them. Abby glanced at him through green eyes that seemed even bigger than normal when framed by the dark-rimmed glasses that completed her court outfit, enjoying the sight of the small grin on his face.

It made her feel better, somehow, happier to know he was pleased with her, that he thought she'd done a good job. Gibbs' approval meant the world to her and always had. Abby was pretty certain it always would. He was more than her boss, more than a friend... but still not quite enough to satisfy her completely. Still, there were some things that just couldn't be and she'd long ago decided that a romantic relationship between herself and Gibbs was one of those things.

So caught up in her musings, Abby paid no attention to the black car slowing down as it drove alongside them nor did she notice the darkened window of the passenger's side being lowered.

The first she knew of the gun being pointed at her was the barked command Gibbs gave as he pushed her down, throwing himself on top of her as a gunshot split the otherwise quiet air.

She heard the squeal of the tires as the car drove off and the grunt of pain he made but was oblivious to the cries of innocent onlookers and the various 911-calls being made.

She was oblivious to everything but the warm blood seeping through her jacket, through her shirt.

Blood that wasn't hers.

Her white blouse was no longer white. It was pink in places, dark red in others. Abby stripped out of it and changed into the oversized t-shirt Anthony DiNozzo had grabbed her from the back of Gibbs' car and stared at it blankly. There was a big part of her that wanted to tear it to shreds and burn it but the smaller part of her mind that was focused on something other than the fear and anger reminded her that it was evidence.

Evidence that someone had tried to kill her, that someone had shot Gibbs.

He'd been taken in for surgery to remove the bullet that was still lodged in the fleshy part of his upper arm but Doctor Donald 'Ducky' Mallard had reassured her he'd be fine. In a few days, the Medical Examiner had told her brightly, he'd be arguing with anyone who would listen that he was fine and wanted to go back to work. In reality, Abby knew he wouldn't be at full strength for a number of weeks and wouldn't be cleared for duty until his doctors at Bethesda and Ducky decided it was time.

Knowing how much it would frustrate him, how annoyed he'd be to be sitting on the sidelines while his team investigated only made her feel even guiltier than she already did.

It was her fault he'd been shot; the gunman in the car had been aiming for her.

"Abby?" She looked up from the ruined blouse to find her reflection had been joined by Ziva David. The Israeli stared at her in open concern. "The Director has arrived. He would like to speak to you about what happened if you feel up to it?"

"I don't really have much to say." Abby shrugged a shoulder and dropped her gaze. She focused on putting the shirt in the clear evidence bag Tony had given her. "I don't remember much. I don't even really remember the car."

Ziva's hand closed over her shoulder, warm and solid. "No one is expecting you to. Director Vance is just doing his job. It is his duty to protect his people, yes?"

"And he thinks they might try again." Abby shuddered at the thought, and turned to look her friend in the eye. "Do you think they might?"

It wasn't in Ziva's nature to lie. "I believe it is possible. Your testimony and your evidence are key in this case. Without them, Antonio Vargas will walk free."

"And Commander Lancaster's wife and kids will have to live the rest of their lives knowing their husband and father's killer is loose," Abby finished grimly. She squared her shoulders and handed Ziva the evidence bag, remembering all too well the crime scene photos taken of the Commander's body after Antonio Vargas and his men had finished with him.

All the Commander had done was intervene when Vargas had tried pushing a young Lieutenant under his command into accepting a date she didn't want and, because of that, his two young boys and teenage daughter would grow up without their father.

Without another word, she led the way out of the restroom and into the brightly lit hallway of the hospital.

Director Leon Vance was not a happy man.

He'd woken up with the beginnings of a headache, made worse by his wife reminding him that Christmas was only a few weeks away and he'd yet to track down the elusive 'must have toys' that his two children had politely – excitedly – requested in their letters to Santa Claus.

After an unsuccessful early morning shopping trip, and an equally unsuccessful attempt at Christmas shopping online, he'd received a phone call to say that one of his best agents had been shot.

Having arrived at the hospital and questioned the other agents on Gibbs' team, all of whom had raced to the scene to take witness statements and photographs, he'd been told that they believed the shot had been intended for their forensic specialist and that witnesses had described a car that had already been found abandoned and burnt out.

A car reportedly stolen by two individuals who matched the descriptions of two of Antonio Landras' loyal gang members, who couldn't be found anywhere.

He paced the hallway outside of the room Gibbs had been taken to, ignoring the looks of the two agents he'd assigned as security outside. Special Agents Tony DiNozzo and Tim McGee had gone inside a few moments earlier while Agent Ziva David had gone to fetch the forensic specialist, who'd been strangely absent from the small group waiting for news.

If Leon had been a betting man, he would've put money on Abby Sciuto being the first in line to find out about the condition of his lead agent. There was something there; something between the two Vance couldn't quite put his finger on.

When the woman in question arrived, Vance noted she looked paler than usual and that the t-shirt she wore – an old NIS shirt – swamped her slender frame. Behind her, Ziva followed clutching an evidence bag containing both the blouse and suit jacket he suspected Abby had worn to court that morning.

"Ms. Sciuto." His eyes ran over her, checking instinctively for injuries. "How are you feeling?"

"Better than Gibbs," she answered with a one-shouldered shrug. A small bruise was forming at her temple and she held herself a little stiffly. "I'm fine, Director. A couple of bruises from hitting the ground but I'm okay." She wrapped her arms around her middle, suddenly seeming very unsure of herself. "Ziva said you wanted to talk to me. I'm afraid I don't remember much; it all happened so fast. I don't even really remember the car and I didn't get a good look at the shooter..."

Vance nodded slightly. "The car that was used has been linked to Vargas men. It was found a few miles from the scene." He stared at her seriously. "Ms. Sciuto, we can't rule out a second attempt. Your testimony against Vargas could make or break the case NCIS have against him..."

"You think they'll try again." Her arms tightened around her middle. "So I'm going to have a bodyguard again, right? Will it be Darren again? He was okay, I guess..."

"I can check to see if Darren is available if that's what you would prefer." The Director paused for a moment. "I was hoping you would agree to move to a safe house, just until the case is over."

Abby looked surprised by the request. She glanced from him to Ziva and back again, her features arranged in a frown. "Are you going to ask Gibbs to move to a safe house, too?" She asked evenly.

Vance shook his head. "We don't believe he was the intended target..."

"But he's the one who got shot. And if they want to get revenge against anyone, it'll be him, not me." It was Abby's turn to shake her head. "I'll agree to a bodyguard, Director, but that's it."

The door to the room behind him opened before he could comment. Vance turned to see Agents McGee and DiNozzo exit the room but leave the door open. He arched an eyebrow at the senior agent of the team when neither said anything.

"Ah, Gibbs is awake, Sir." Tony said after a look over the Director's shoulder. "He asked to see Abby. Don't think he believed us when we said she was okay."

She was already moving to the door before Tony had finished his sentence. Vance followed her swiftly, noting the way she made a beeline for the bed, her hand wrapping around that of his senior agents within seconds

For a few moments, the pair seemed oblivious to anyone else. As Vance watched, Gibbs searched the forensic specialist for any sign of injury while Abby stared at the Special Agent as though expecting him to disappear at any moment. It was only when Doctor Mallard, the only other witness to the moment, cleared his throat that they seemed to realise there was anyone else in the room.

"They think Vargas was behind it," Abby told the recovering agent quietly, their hands still wrapped tightly around one another. "The Director thinks I should go to a safe house till the trials over." Vance didn't have to look at her to know the tears he could hear in her voice were shining in her eyes.

"Not a bad idea, Abby," he heard Gibbs say quietly. "You'd be safe."

"I'd be on my own," Abby protested. "And it's Christmas in a less than three weeks! Gibbs..."

Another moment of silence fell over them. Vance watched as Gibbs' expression softened at whatever he could see on the forensic specialist's face.

"No safe houses," Gibbs agreed quietly, his thumb moving over Abby's knuckles. He leaned a little further forward and met Vance's gaze. "She'll stay at my place till this is over."

There was no room in the agent's voice for protestations or arguments. Vance bit back a sigh and gave a reluctant nod. While ordinarily he'd have no qualms about Gibbs' ability to take care of her, the man himself was injured and would need time to recover. If Vargas' people tried again...

The Director walked out of the room, pulling his cell phone out of his pocket to make arrangements for increased security at NCIS Headquarters.

While she hadn't expected an invite to Gibbs' house, Abby was glad for it. Ducky had taken her aside after Director Vance had left and told her how pleased he was she would be there to make sure their stubborn friend actually used his time to rest and recover. It hadn't been her intention but she was pleased with the thought that she'd be able to help take care of Gibbs even while he would be protecting her.

She packed in preparation of Gibbs being released from the hospital and was already settling in when she heard the car pull up in the drive way. Despite Gibbs insisting he could make his own way home, Ducky had refused to take no for an answer, leaving Abby in the capable hands of Gibbs' three agents as he drove their leader from the hospital to the house Abby was determined to make feel like a home during her brief stay.

The team had already moved in a lot of her things – items here and there that would make her stay a little more comfortable. Gibbs' old TV had been replaced by her own much bigger, much newer model and joined by her DVD player and a stack of movies Tony insisted their boss would enjoy if only she could convince him to watch them. Her MP3 player and speakers sat discreetly on the bookshelf, waiting patiently until the silence got too much for her. Silence was not something Abby really liked.

Gibbs' old couch had been given a quick, temporary makeover with the black throw she'd brought from her apartment, a birthday present from the man himself so she was confident he wouldn't object to either it or the matching cushions. The throw was something that always made her feel safe and secure, kind of like the man who'd given it to her, and she hadn't been able to bring herself to leave it behind.

At the time of deciding what to bring, Abby hadn't felt at all nervous about invading his personal space. Now she could hear the sound of car doors being opened and closed, she felt the beginnings of butterflies dancing in her stomach.

Maybe it was too much. Maybe Gibbs would object and she'd find she'd outstayed her welcome before it'd even began...

Abby found herself holding her breath as the door opened and wrung her hands in front of her. She watched Gibbs enter the room, saw his eyes sweep over the new items that had found a home in his house and exhaled slowly when his gaze eventually came to rest on her.

For a moment, it almost felt like he was assessing her place in his home, too.

"You get settled in, Abby?" It was said without sarcasm, maybe even with a trace of amusement.

"As settled as I can be without my coffin," she answered with a shrug, only half joking. While she hadn't actually slept in her coffin for a number of months, she still liked having the option.

"Good." Gibbs moved his gaze from her to his three agents who'd done their best to blend in with the background while he took in the additions to his living room. "Any closer to finding the guys who did this?" There was a beat of silence, during which he stared at them expectantly. "Then why are you all still here...?"

"We're gone, boss." Tony gathered his wits about him first. "We'll keep you updated..."

"I'll be back at work tomorrow," Gibbs interrupted calmly, his expression neutral as Tony, Ziva and McGee hesitated on their way out of the house. Ducky heaved a long suffering sigh, suggesting it wasn't the first he'd heard of the plan.

His three agents exchanged a look but wisely chose not to say anything about it, instead murmuring their goodbyes as they continued on their way out. Abby, however, placed her hands on her hips, an eyebrow arched as she stared at him. Doing his best to hide a smile though certain neither would have noticed if he hadn't bothered, Ducky, too, made his excuses and left the pair alone.

"You're not supposed to go back until after Christmas," Abby told Gibbs sternly, a scowl arranging her features. "That's only two weeks, Gibbs."

"Two weeks too long when these guys are still on the streets." Gibbs shrugged the arm that wasn't healing. "Better to get back to work and find them..."

"...Than have me as your houseguest till the trial's over?" She gave him a hurt look that made him have to bite back a sigh. "I could go and stay with Tony, you know. Or Ziva. Or I could tell the Director I've changed my mind about a safe house though I really don't wanna have to stay in one of those till Christmas Eve, which is when the lawyers think the trial will be over..."

"Abby." He didn't have to say anything else to silence her, not when he used that tone of voice. "I don't have a problem with you staying here," he continued only when she looked up at him. "I do have a problem with drug dealers taking shots at you in the street."

"They'll take more if you're not around to stop them," Abby retorted, wrapping her arms around her middle.

"Which is why I'll be going to work with you tomorrow." He crossed the room towards her and wrapped his good arm around her waist, drawing her against him so he could press his lips against her forehead. "They won't get the chance again, Abby."

She found herself relaxing against him, letting him sway her to his way of thinking even though she wanted to protest. At least if he was at the Navy Yard with her, she could make sure he wasn't overdoing it, she told herself. And she'd have backup in the form of Ducky and the others if she thought he was. "Just make sure they don't get you again, Gibbs. Then I'll be happy."

They stood together for a few moments until Abby took a step away, forcing a bright smile on her face to cover for the flush she could feel spreading across her skin. "So what do you want for dinner tonight? I told Ducky I'd make sure you'd eat, and Ziva took me shopping this afternoon..."

She led the way to the kitchen, babbling about what she'd bought, reassuring him she wouldn't burn the house down, leaving Gibbs to follow and wonder why Abby and the things she'd brought with her seemed to belong in his house as much as he himself did.

Dinner was a relaxed, comfortable affair. Abby chose a playlist on her MP3 player to put on low in the background, a selection of songs she thought he would like and that Gibbs, wanting her to be happy, hadn't objected to.

Conversation flowed easily between them, and what silences fell over them were comfortable, companionable after years of knowing one another. It was something that had always amazed him, how much he had in common with the forensic specialist who by rights was his polar opposite.

Even from the beginning, though, he'd found Abby easy to talk to, interesting and intelligent, sometimes flirtatious... Talking with Abby was never dull or boring, and usually proved to be far more stimulating than most of the conversations he had... Intellectually stimulating, Gibbs was quick to correct himself mentally. Of course.

After they'd eaten, she insisted on doing the washing up while he took it easy and rested. She'd suggested he have a long bath to unwind but Gibbs resisted, not wanting to let his guard down and leave her unprotected on her first night with him. Instead, he leaned against the fridge, nursing a cup of coffee after Abby had refused to let him get a bottle of beer or shot of bourbon due to the pain killers he was supposed to be taking, watching her as she navigated her way around his kitchen as though she lived there.

She kept up a steady stream of constant chatter, updating him on everything he'd missed during his short stay in hospital and he listened, even to the things he wasn't interested in. The sound of her voice washed over him, soothing him, as much as her presence in his house did.

When she was done, she turned to him with an expectant look on her face. "So what do you want to do now? We've got movies to watch, or I can run you a bath…?"

An image passed over his mind of something she could do, involving the bath she'd mentioned but more along the lines of her sharing it with him. Gibbs broke eye contact and cleared his throat, his cheeks feeling uncomfortably warm under her intense gaze. "Movie sounds good."

"Great!" She smiled brightly and grabbed his good arm, half-leading, half-dragging him to the couch and making him sit down. She fussed for a few moments, adjusting the cushions behind him even as he gave her a look that would have made any of his agents back off in an instant. "You okay there? You need another cushion or…?"

Fighting the urge to roll his eyes, Gibbs shook his head at the concerned look in her eyes. "I'm fine, Abs. Just pick a movie and sit down, okay?"

"Okay." Her smile was almost shy, taking him by surprise, before she turned on her heel and moved to the DVDs stacked perilously beside the TV he recognised to be Abby's own. Oblivious to his gaze on her, Abby listed the different genres. "We've got romantic comedy, science fiction, James Bond, horror, comedy, another James Bond..." She laughed softly. "You've got to love Tony..."

He chose to let the comment slide and instead gave her a one-shouldered shrug when she glanced at him over her shoulder. "I'm happy with whatever you want, Abby. I'll probably fall asleep anyway."

She deliberated for a few more moments before selecting a title, taking the disk out of the box and putting it into the DVD player he'd noticed on the television stand. With the remote in hand, she returned to the couch, surprising him by sitting close by.

Twenty minutes later, Gibbs had no idea what kind of movie she'd chosen, too distracted by the feel of the woman leaning into him, her head resting on his shoulder to care. By the time the movie was halfway through, he'd fallen into a deep, peaceful sleep.

Living with Abby, getting to go to work and come home with her every day, was something he thought he could get used to. It surprised him at first how much he liked the thought of there being someone at home with him. Though he didn't mind it when she or Fornell had dropped by every so often for dinner before, he'd always thought he'd hate it if there was someone there full time. He'd grown to like his time on his own in the years since Shannon and Kelly had died, so much so that his need for time alone had put strain on each of the three marriages that had followed.

With Abby, though, it was different somehow. She didn't crowd him or want him to spend every second with her, listening to her, talking to her about his day. She understood his need for space and shared it, even if she did tend to fuss a little if he spent too much time in the basement but he knew that was down to the injury he was recovering from and not out of a constant need to have his full, undivided attention.

Even on the nights she came down to the basement with him, he found he didn't mind her being there. He actually enjoyed her interest in what he was doing, enjoyed teaching her the ropes. She had a genuine interest and tried her best, even when she got frustrated that she couldn't grasp the intricacies of woodworking as quickly as she'd like. They got into a routine of sorts, with him making toys for the children's ward at the local hospital and Abby doing the decorative painting once they were done.

Almost a week into her stay, Gibbs found himself accompanying her to court once more. They weren't alone as Director Vance insisted that not only Darren but Gibbs' agents accompanied them, though Gibbs noticed how close Abby kept to his side before the lawyer for the prosecution whisked her away.

Once again, he found himself watching her as she took to the stand, dividing his attention between Abby and scanning the courtroom for anyone who looked like they might plan to harm her. She seemed nervous, less sure of herself, and, as the defence lawyer tried to tear her testimony to shreds, Gibbs heard the prosecuting lawyer sigh heavily.

"Can't you do something?" Tony asked in a low whisper after a particularly difficult question was posed to the anxious forensic specialist. "Say he's badgering the witness...?"

The prosecuting lawyer, Lieutenant-Commander Joseph Hayes assigned to the local JAG office, gave Tony a disparaging look. "She's as entitled to ask her questions as I am, Agent DiNozzo. The Judge won't look kindly on us if we interrupt the opposition every five minutes. I'm sure Ms. Sciuto can handle herself. She is supposed to be an expert witness with experience at this."

The way the Lt. Commander said 'supposed to be' seemed to imply that he didn't believe it. Gibbs felt his shoulders tense and clenched his hands, fighting the urge to correct the lawyer when he saw the Judge cast them a disapproving look.

He instead sat back and watched Abby, willing her not to let her nerves get the better of her. When she looked over at him with something akin to panic in her eyes, Gibbs held her gaze and gave her an encouraging smile. A smile she returned, some of the tension he could see in her easing before she turned her attention back to the defence lawyer and delivered her answer to the latest question with an air of absolute confidence.

After the hearing was adjourned for the day, the agents and bodyguard assembled in the hallway outside to wait for Abby. She came towards him a few minutes later, smiling at Lt. Commander Hayes in a way that instantly put Gibbs on edge. He heard her laugh as she approached and tightened his jaw when he watched her put a hand on the JAG lawyer's arm for a brief moment.

It meant nothing, he told himself. Abby was and always would be a tactile person. And it didn't bother him, he added silently. Of course it didn't.

"Hey, guys," she greeted them with a warm smile that seemed to fade a little as her gaze shifted from the others to rest on Gibbs. "Joe was just saying he thinks the case will be definitely be wrapped up before Christmas, hopefully before Christmas Eve. Wouldn't that be great?"

"It will be a relief," Ziva replied when no one else did, noticing the way her male companions were watching the JAG lawyer suspiciously. "As long as Vargas' people do not decide you are to blame for it if Vargas is found guilty."

"Not is, Agent David, when." Lt. Commander Hayes gave her a charming smile that he turned up a few notches when he directed it at Abby. "With Abby's performance back there, I think we're pretty much guaranteed a conviction."

Abby beamed at the praise but Gibbs couldn't be pleased for her; he remembered the lawyer's scepticism too well for that.

"It'll mean you get your house back to yourself as well, Agent Gibbs," Lt. Commander Hayes continued. "Abby was telling me how she's moved in with you temporarily."

The thought of being alone in his house overshadowed any relief he felt at the case potentially being over in a matter of days. Gibbs glanced at Abby and frowned when she struggled to meet his gaze, biting her bottom lip as she stared in apparent interest at her feet.

Before the silence could stretch any further, Ziva elbowed Tony in the ribs, glaring at her partner when he gave her a confused glare in response. "Ow. What?"

Ziva rolled her eyes and heaved a long-suffering sigh.

McGee, taking pity on his teammate, looked to Abby and Gibbs. "We were talking about going for a few drinks before heading home, to celebrate being one step closer to it being over. And we thought we could all use a night to unwind..."

"Sounds great!" Abby replied enthusiastically, her eyes shining brightly. She darted a look at Gibbs, some of her excitement fading at whatever she saw on his face. "I mean, it's okay, isn't it, Gibbs? It'd be okay if everyone was there...?"

"I'd stay sober," Darren offered, seeing Gibbs hesitate and reading the worry that flashed in the older man's eyes. "I'm not officially off the clock until Abby's safe at your place."

He wanted to say no, especially when he heard Lt. Commander Hayes quietly accept the invitation offered to him by Ziva. The hope in Abby's eyes, however, stopped him and he found himself agreeing after getting promises from each of his agents that they wouldn't drink so much that they dropped their guard and left Abby vulnerable.

The group headed outside to the parking lot, and Gibbs found himself trailing behind with Tony at his side. The Lt. Commander hadn't left Abby's side and made her laugh again twice on their way to the cars, reminding him that although he went home with her every night, Abby was still just a friend and a colleague. Nothing more.

It was a sobering thought, and a cold dash of reality to think that once the case was over, his house would be lacking the warmth it had gained with her presence and he would be left alone again.

The bar was busy but not uncomfortably so. The group easily found a booth that would accommodate them all and Gibbs found himself sitting opposite Abby, who'd ended up sitting sandwiched between Darren and Lt. Commander Hayes.

His agents didn't say anything, but they all knew that it was customary for Gibbs to sit next to the forensic scientist on the rare occasions he joined them on a night out. Even Abby looked uncomfortable, throwing glances at the man sitting across from her as he sipped his bourbon, worrying her lip between her teeth when he avoided her gaze.

As the night wore on, Lt. Commander Hayes grew bolder in his flirtations and while at first Abby seemed interested, it soon became clear that the intoxicated lawyer was making her uncomfortable. Darren, for his part, tried to manoeuvre his way between the two of them when he came back from a bathroom break but the lawyer was having none of it, using it as an excuse to sit even closer to Abby when the bodyguard returned and had to sit on the end of the curved bench seat.

Gibbs himself didn't notice until he caught McGee and Tony whispering over which of them should invite Abby to dance, giving her an excuse to get away, and looked up to find Abby trying to move away from the JAG officer as he invaded her personal space.

"Abs," Gibbs was momentarily surprised at the sound of his own voice. Hope and expectation flared in her green eyes when she looked at him, encouraging him. "We should probably head home soon."

A look he couldn't decipher entered her eyes at the mention of 'home' but it disappeared as she nodded. "Sounds like a good idea..."

"You can't go now," Lt. Commander Hayes slurred, reaching out to wrap his fingers around Abby's wrist. "Party's just started, Abby..." He turned his attention to Gibbs and grinned slyly. "I'll be sure to have her home by midnight, Dad."

If Abby saw Gibbs' wince, she didn't notice. She was too busy trying to pry his fingers from her wrist. "It's getting late, Joe, and I've got some last minute shopping to do first thing in the morning..."

"You can still do it," Lt. Commander Hayes insisted. "You can just leave from my place instead..."

Gibbs stood up, his eyes flashing at the insinuation. Darren moved out of his way when the older man approached the other side of the booth, leaving the way clear for him to lean down so he was on the JAG lawyer's eye level. "You're drunk, Commander, and we need you to wrap up this case which is the only reason I'm happy to let you walk out of here in one piece. If you don't back off and let go of her right now, I might be forced to revise that idea."

The drunk lawyer loosened his grip, surprised at the deadly calm tone in which the threat was delivered, making it possible for Abby to stand and slip by him out of the booth. As soon as she was standing, Gibbs wrapped an arm around her waist, a possessive gesture missed by no one but the woman standing beside him.

Gibbs and Abby said muted farewells to their friends and were halfway towards the door with Darren walking a few steps behind them when Lt. Commander Hayes voice reached them.

"C'mon, Abby! He's old enough to be your father! You need a real man, someone who can show you a good time..."

Abby felt the arm around her waist tense but reacted quickly, grabbing his hand and holding it against her hip so he couldn't pull away and turn around. "Let it go, Gibbs," she told him quietly, "he's not worth it."

Gibbs nodded stiffly and continued towards the door but the lawyer's next words had him freezing mid-step.

"Geez, Abby, never figured you as a frigid tease. Guess you don't deserve the reputation you've got as the energizer bunny of NCIS. Shame, though. Thought we could have some real fun..."

Neither Abby or Gibbs turned to see what caused the lawyer to cut off mid-sentence. Abby's fingers tightened around Gibbs own and she started walking towards the door, pulling him with her. If it weren't for the flush on her cheeks and the mortification on her face, Gibbs was sure he would have turned around and dealt with the lawyer himself. As it was, he told himself he could rest assured that his agents were taking care of it for him.

They didn't speak on the car journey home, both lost in their own world as Darren, their designated driver, drove in silence to Gibbs' house. He bid them both a subdued goodnight after checking the house was safe for them to enter, leaving them alone.

Gibbs watched her carefully, hating the way she avoided his gaze as she moved from the living room to the kitchen, heading automatically to the coffee maker despite the late hour. Leaning against the doorframe, he studied her jerky movements and the tension that seemed to cause every muscle in her back and shoulders to tense. "Abby..."

"I'm okay," she answered too quickly, too brightly, all without looking at him. "You want coffee? Or bourbon? You should probably have coffee because you've probably drank too much tonight anyway since you're on painkillers. Or should be on painkillers. Don't think I haven't noticed the bottle is almost full, Gibbs, because I haven't and that's not a good thing. The doctor wouldn't have given you them if he didn't think...

"Abby." He moved towards her, standing directly in the way when she went to get milk out of the fridge for her own drink. He reached out and grabbed her shoulders, straightening his spine against the wince that threatened him when the action caused his injury to ache. "What Hayes said..."

"Is ridiculous, I know." She shook her head a little too enthusiastically. "Like you're old enough to be my father. My Dad's got a good ten, fifteen years on you at least. And calling me the energizer bunny of NCIS? Hello, I started that nickname. It's hardly an insult..."

"He made it into one," Gibbs said softly, his hands tightening on her shoulders briefly before he moved his hands, one going to rest on the curve of her hip, the other going to her chin, gently tilting her face up so she had no choice but to meet his gaze. "He upset you."

She didn't deny it. "He upset you, too." She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "But he was drunk," she conceded softly, "and I'm sure the guys have already made sure he'll regret coming out with us tonight even before the hangover hits tomorrow morning."

"If you hadn't dragged me out of there, I'd have seen to that myself," he muttered darkly. He shrugged a shoulder in defence when she looked at him. "You can't say you're surprised."

Abby took a moment to think about it before shaking her head again, a small smile playing on her lips. "Not really, no." She tilted her head and stared at him curiously. "Which part of what he said upset you? The part where he said you were old or...?"

"He insulted you. Tried to," he corrected himself. He started to drop his hand from her waist, an eyebrow arching when she took a small step closer to him instead of moving away. "Abby?"

"You're not old, Gibbs," she told him seriously, her eyes locking with his. "And like I said, you're so not old enough to be my father. Not unless you started really young and had me when you were, what, thirteen?"

He swallowed reflexively when she took another half-step towards him, close enough that he could feel the warmth of her through his clothes. "Abby... You're drunk."

"I only had two drinks," Abby retorted, arching an eyebrow. "And neither of them were particularly strong. You would have known that if you hadn't spent the night trying to ignore me."

"I wasn't ignoring you," he protested, both of his hands finding their way to rest on her hips apparently of their own accord.

"You wouldn't look at me all night," she countered softly. "So either I've done something to make you mad at me or..."

She didn't get to finish her sentence. There were a number of things he could have blamed it on, the alcohol in his system mingling with the painkillers she'd convinced him to take, the adrenaline racing through his body at the encounter with Lt. Commander Hayes or merely the proximity of her presence and the thoughts he'd been trying not to have since she moved into his house. Either way, Gibbs didn't regret kissing her, not when she melted against him, twining her fingers in his hair and opened her mouth to his almost instantly.

How they made it from the kitchen to the master bedroom, he wasn't entirely sure. All he was really aware of was the woman in his arms and the careful way she helped him undress them both on the way, mindful of the injury he'd sustained.

He found himself lying on his back, supporting her with his hands on her hips as she sank down onto him, a hiss dragged from his throat as she sighed in completion. Abby smiled at him, her lips swollen from his kisses, her cheeks flushed and her eyes dazed and leaned in to kiss him deeply, pressing her body against his.

She rose and fell against him, taking him deeper each time, tearing her mouth away from his to kiss her way down to his chest. In turn, his hands explored her body, memorising every curve, caressing every inch of the sensitive skin he could reach, and he promised himself he'd explore more thoroughly when his arm was fully healed.

He felt her body begin to pulse around him moments before a cry escaped her and her release triggered his own, drawing a moan from his throat as his hips bucked up against her.

It took several moments more before she moved off him, rolling to the side and curling up against him, an arm and leg draped heavily over his body. Gibbs tugged her closer and tightened his arms around her, inhaling deeply when she rested her head on his shoulder and turned her face to press soft kisses against his skin.

He was almost asleep when he heard her speak, her voice drowsy and partly muffled against him. "Love you, Gibbs," she said quietly, obviously not expecting him to hear.

The sleepily slurred words filled him with an emotion he hadn't felt in far too long and it was a long time later before he was able to follow her into sleep, his arm tightening around her in a silent declaration she was sleeping too soundly to feel.

The days passed quickly in the run up to the day before Christmas Eve, the last day of the trial. They found their old routine changing slightly to accommodate the shift in their relationship, mostly with the spare room Abby had been retiring to after a night in the basement going empty as she joined Gibbs in his room instead. None of their friends or colleagues commented on the change in relationship between them though the small smiles and knowing looks on their faces told both Abby and Gibbs that they were aware of it.

They didn't change too much in the way they were around one another at work but when the day was over and they were heading home, the newly established couple would walk closer, sometimes holding hands, sometimes linking arms, sometimes just brushing against one another but always in some form of physical contact.

It was a change Jackson Gibbs noticed almost immediately, when he arrived to spend Christmas with his son and his houseguest. It became obvious to the older Gibbs that the temporary houseguest was probably more of a permanent fixture, especially when a blushing Abby and smirking Gibbs told him the spare room was ready and the bed made up for him.

The trio stayed up talking till the small hours on the night before the trial, planning their visit to the children's ward on Christmas Eve itself, until Abby excused herself on the pretence that she needed to get some beauty sleep before her last day in court. Jackson averted his gaze to his coffee cup and made no attempt at hiding a grin as his son grabbed her hand on her way past, drawing her down so he could kiss her lightly in goodnight.

"You sure you lovebirds don't want me to grab a hotel while I'm here?" Jackson asked quietly when Abby was out of earshot. He couldn't keep himself from grinning again at the contented expression on his son's face. "Must be a bit of a chore having an old man around when it's your first Christmas together."

"You're family," Gibbs pointed out with a shrug, taking a sip of his own drink.

"I could still come over for Christmas Day," Jackson pointed out.

"You're staying, Dad," Gibbs responded firmly. "Abby wants you to, and so do I."

Jackson nodded, accepting the answer, and the two men finished their drinks in companionable silence. Catching a glimpse of his son throwing a glance towards the stairs, the older Gibbs gave his son a knowing look. "It's gonna be a cold one tonight. Must be another couple of inches of snow on the drive."

Tearing his eyes from the stairs, Gibbs gave his father a concerned glance. "You cold? Could turn the heating up a notch..."

"I'm fine, son, I was thinking more of your girl." Jackson arched his eyebrows. "You don't want her catching a cold for Christmas, do ya?"

The corners of his mouth twitched and the tips of his ears turned pink as the suggestion sunk in but Gibbs held his father's gaze evenly as he shrugged. "Maybe we should call it a night ourselves."

"Maybe we should." Jackson gave him an innocent look and got to his feet, carrying his mug over to the sink before heading towards the stairs. He paused on his way past, let his hand rest on his son's shoulder. "I'm happy for you both," he said quietly, giving Gibbs' shoulder a squeeze. "Be happy, son."

Gibbs' hand moved to cover his father's, resting there for a moment. "I am, Dad. Thanks."

Jackson nodded but couldn't speak past the lump in his throat. He moved towards the stairs, smiling to himself as he listened to the telltale sounds of his son locking up for the night.

A few minutes later, climbing under the covers of his own bed, Jackson heard footsteps in the hall outside, the sound of a door opening and closing and the low murmur of voices and smiled again, pleased his son finally seemed to be putting the past behind him once and for all.

Lt. Commander Hayes had trouble meeting either of their eyes at court. Neither Abby or Gibbs minded, though the latter made sure he was always between the lawyer and his lover at all times. The last day of proceedings didn't take too long, with neither the prosecution or defence calling Abby back to the stand.

As the Judge revealed his verdict, Antonio Vergas hung his head in defeat.

Mindful of what had happened when they'd last gone out, no one suggested they go for drinks to celebrate the successful end to the stressful case. Gibbs returned home to his father, where they put the finishing touches to the wooden toys he'd made while Abby and Ziva went last minute Christmas shopping.

When she returned to the Gibbs household later that night, it was to find two of her favourite men working side by side in the kitchen, fixing an evening meal. She greeted Jackson with a hug and a kiss on the cheek as he left the room to busy himself elsewhere, leaving the couple alone. Abby shook her head at his discretion before accepting the hug Gibbs wrapped her in, careful to hold the shopping bag he was trying none-too-subtly to peer into at arm's length.

"No peeking," she told him firmly, giving him a quick kiss before dancing away, the bag clutched protectively to her chest. "It's a Christmas present. You don't want to spoil the surprise now, do you?"

Gibbs' eyes narrowed as he took in the popular lingerie store name splashed across the side of the bag. "It's a present for me?"

Abby's smile grew wicked, her green eyes shining with promise. "Uh-huh. And if you're a good boy, I might let you open it on Christmas Eve."

He arched an eyebrow and moved towards her, drawing her against him again with a firm arm around her waist. "What if I'm bad?" He asked quietly, blue eyes darkening as she pressed against him.

"Oh, I'm sure we can work something out..." She accepted his kiss but broke away before he could deepen in, mere seconds before Jackson walked back into the room. Grinning at the look on Gibbs' face, and the knowing smirk on his father's, Abby practically skipped out of the room, shopping bag in hand.

"Gonna have your hands full with that one," Jackson commented as he resumed his job of chopping vegetables for their dinner.

Gibbs grinned, obviously delighted at the thought. "Don't I know it."

Christmas Eve day time was spent at the children's ward, dishing out both the toys they'd made and those that had been donated by others from NCIS. The children were thrilled by the early Christmas presents, their eyes lighting up as they were given a special gift from either the NCIS team or the hospital-hired Santa Claus.

The evening was spent preparing for Christmas Day itself, and making sure the tree Abby had insisted Jackson and Gibbs help her decorate had all of the neatly wrapped presents stacked beneath it before they retired for the night.

Bidding them both goodnight, Jackson left the couple sitting alone in the living room made cosier by the roaring fire and twinkling lights on the tree, knowing they'd appreciate some time alone before the rest of the team descended on them for Christmas Dinner at Abby's request.

Settling herself on the rug beside the fire, Abby watched as Gibbs inspected each of the presents under the tree, his eyebrows rising as he saw just how many of the handwritten gift tags bore his name.

Not one of them, however, felt as though it could have belonged in the shopping bag he'd tried valiantly to find in their room, certain Abby had stashed it there somewhere, and he turned to Abby with an expectant look on his face.

"Thought you said I could open my present tonight."

Smirking at him, Abby lifted a hand to the top button of the blouse she was wearing, popping it open as he watched. "You can. I just thought you'd enjoy it more if I modelled it for you."

With a wolfish grin, Gibbs walked towards her, kneeling beside her on the floor. He reached out and batted her hands away when she started to unfasten the next button on her blouse, his gaze intent on her as he took over the task.

She held herself still, watching him watch her as he slowly stripped off her blouse. The heat of the fire combated the cool chill of the winter night and the warmth in his eyes as he studied her was responsible for the shiver that worked its way down her spine. She moved when he urged her to silently, allowing him to divest her of the old jeans she'd been wearing, baring the full extent of the lingerie set she'd bought to his gaze.

Barely there emerald satin and black lace only just hid her from his gaze and Gibbs let his fingers trace over the lace of the bra before letting his fingers drift lower, caressing her breasts through the satin, feeling her nipples stiffen through the thin material. He smiled at the flush that spread across her skin and lowered her down so she was lying on the rug before him, straddling her legs so he could carry out a more thorough examination of his early Christmas gift.

His mouth replaced his fingers, suckling her through the satin as his hands moved lower, fingers dancing lightly over the matching panties. He ran his hand over the lace and satin, feeling her heat through the material, smiling when she moaned when he increased the pressure, her hips arching instinctively into his touch.

Sliding his hands up her sides, he moved them to the front fastening of the bra, drawing back to hold her gaze as he snapped it open, unwrapping his present.

His mouth returned first her left breast, his hand kneading the right, his thumb circling the peaked nipple teasingly before he changed sides, lavishing the same care and attention to each of them in turn. When she moaned again and tried to pull him closer, unable to lie their idly and let his loving torture continue, he let his fingers dance over her ribs, tickling lightly, before hooking his thumbs into the lace sides of her panties, pulling them down her legs.

"You're overdressed," Abby told him huskily, green eyes dark with lust.

"Sure you can help with that," Gibbs retorted, lifting his t-shirt over his head, grinning as her hands moved to make short work of the fastening at the front of his jeans.

Within minutes, he was pressed against her with nothing between them. Her thighs cradled his hips and his mouth fastened over hers as she slipped a hand between them, guiding him into her. He thrust lightly at first, checking she was ready before her fingernails digging into his behind signalling her patience was at breaking point. His lips curved against hers in a grin as he pushed himself deeper into her, swallowing her low moan.

Hands touched and mouths tasted as she followed his thrusts, arching her spine to meet him. He moved his hand between them, the firm caress of his fingers sending her spiralling over the edge. Moments later, he found himself falling after her, collapsing over her as she wound her arms around him and ran soothing hands down his back as tremors ran through them both.

He rolled off her, grinning when she followed and wrapped herself around him and reached for the throw covering the couch. He knew they'd have to move upstairs eventually or risk giving his father an unexpected surprise on Christmas morning but for the time being he was content to lie with her in front of the fire, holding her close and thanking whomever had brought her into his life.

Abby smiled up at him sleepily, tilting her face up to his to kiss him softly as the clock on the mantle place chimed twelve times. "Merry Christmas, Gibbs."

"Merry Christmas, Abs."