Title: The Coldest Winter Ever
Author: dannica webb
Category: Friendship, Romance, Humor
Summary: Abby is NOT happy about spending Christmas snowed in. Gibbs and Tony have plans to fix that.
AN: Gibbs/Abby Shipper Forum Secret Santa 2010 gift for Zabby. Prompt was Snowed In. :)
"Is Gibbs back from the coffee shop yet?" Abby stormed off the elevator looking tense and frustrated.
"Nope," Tony said. "Looks like we're going to have a white Christmas after all!" he added cheerfully.
"You shut your mouth, Anthony DiNozzo," Abby said, wandering over to the window and frowning at the snow as if she could stop its falling by force of will alone. "You're going to jinx us. This is the coldest winter EVER!"
Tony came over to where she was standing by the huge windows that lined one wall of the bullpen. "I don't get it. You love Christmas, Abbs," he said in confusion.
She turned and faced him, still in full glare mode. She could out-glare Gibbs when she chose. Tony kind of regretted saying anything; he felt a tirade coming on. "Not when we're having a BLIZZARD outside, DiNozzo," she snapped. "I was not made for the cold. Just because I like decorating and Christmas doesn't mean I like snow."
"You'll still be able to get to the airport on time," Tony said with a reassuring pat. "It'll be fine, I promise. We'll make snow angels when you come back."
"Afraid Abby's right, DiNozzo," Gibbs called as he walked off the elevator, a tray of coffee and Caf-Pow! in hand. "It's coming down hard out there. We should probably head out before we get stuck here. They're closing up the coffee shop as we speak and the roads are just about impassable." He walked over to where they were standing and handed Abby her Caf-Pow!.
Abby sucked down a long gulp of the drink before she spoke again. "Told you," she said with a heavy sigh. "This is the first time I've tried to go home for Christmas in ages. Eric is going to be so disappointed. It's Kaylee's first Christmas."
Gibbs leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. "You two can spend the night at my place; I doubt either of your cars will make it home in this."
She spared Gibbs a small smile. That was about the closest he would ever get to apologizing for their case causing her to miss her trip home; to most people it wouldn't seem like much, but to her it meant a lot. McGee had flown out two days ago and Ducky was spending Christmas with his mother, but Abby had stayed behind til Christmas Eve to finish processing evidence for their latest case, with only Tony and Gibbs for company. The rest of the Navy Yard had emptied out once everyone realized the snow was actually going to stick; white Christmases were a rare occurrence in D.C. She hugged Gibbs. "I'll go put my babies to sleep," she said, heading back towards the elevator with a little more of a spring in her step.
Gibbs leaned over and whispered something to Tony once her back was turned. The younger agent went to get his stuff together, a sneaky grin on his face.
After Abby had put each of her babies, as she called them, to sleep, and turned off all of the Christmas lights in the lab (Gibbs was pretty sure she was singlehandedly responsible for half of NCIS's utility bill during the holidays), he made sure Tony and Abby were both properly bundled up and they headed out the doors of NCIS.
Once Abby felt the freezing wind on her face and saw the snow up close, she grumbled, "I'm going to melt. I was so not made for this weather."
"I still don't get how you can't like snow," Tony said, shaking his head incredulously as he tightened his grip on her hand. "I mean...it's snow! What's not to like?"
"I'm from Louisiana, remember?" Abby said. "We do hurricanes, not blizzards." She stuck her tongue out at him.
Gibbs smiled to himself, tugging her closer to him as they stomped out into the night towards his truck. He preferred to use the sedan, but having the old truck tucked away in the garage had saved his ass more than once on days like this when nothing less than four-wheel drive would do. If they were going to get snowed in, better for it to be at his place than the deserted Navy Yard. And maybe...just maybe...he and DiNozzo could convince Abby that snow wasn't so bad after all. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, Gibbs had just about as hard a time as DiNozzo trying to figure out how anyone could hate snow, but then again, Abby defied all reason, especially when it came to weather. She loved violent thunderstorms and hated the sun with a passion unequalled by her dislike of any human being. It made no sense to him, but fascinated him nonetheless.
He wasn't so worried about Tony - he knew the younger agent spent Christmas alone about as frequently as Gibbs did himself - but he felt guilty about being the reason Abby would miss her niece's first Christmas. He had a few ideas about how to make it up to her, though. As they piled into the cab of his truck, Gibbs was surprised to find himself looking forward to Christmas for the first time in a long time.
Gibbs let Abby and Tony take showers in his bathroom and the guest bathroom and put in a quick call to Eric Sciuto before he made hot chocolate. Tony had already called dibs on movie picks and informed them both that they weren't getting out of a night on the couch; Gibbs knew it had been a bad idea to accept the TV Ducky'd bought him for his birthday the year before. He wondered idly if they'd make it til Boxing Day without seeing every major Christmas movie released in the last sixty years.
Abby made it downstairs first, studying him from the doorway of the kitchen. "Domesticity is a good look on you, Gibbs," she said with a grin as he turned around and took in the sight of her in red silk PJs.
The curve of her shoulder under the thin strap of the top distracted him for a moment. He mentally kicked himself; it was getting harder and harder to make himself focus when all he could think about was her. "Nice outfit, Abbs. And don't get used to it," he added with a smirk as he turned to pour the confection into a trio of mugs, hoping his poker face still held up to scrutiny.
Tony wolf-whistled as he came down the stairs. "You're as pretty as a picture," he said, dropping a kiss on Abby's damp hair.
She smiled up at Tony. "What are we watching first?" she asked, grabbing a mug from Gibbs and leading them into the living room. Gibbs found himself happy he'd invested in a new couch the year before; it was big enough to hold the three of them and she curled up in between them. Tony tossed an afghan over her and grabbed the remote. "Tell me it's not Love, Actually. Seriously, Tony. I can't believe you of all people would be obsessed with that movie."
"Nope," he said as the black and white images came on the screen. "I saved that for tomorrow." He ruffled Abby's hair as she punched him in the arm.
Gibbs was just beginning to think movie nights with Tony wouldn't be a bad idea after all when It's a Wonderful Life came onto the screen. As Abby curled into his side, he decided they'd have to do this more often.
Tony passed out during the last thirty minutes of the movie. Abby grinned up at Gibbs and whispered, "He hates when that happens...because usually I decorate him while he's asleep."
Gibbs laughed quietly. "Maybe not tonight," he said, pulling her off the couch and taking their mugs into the kitchen. He felt Abby's gaze on his back for a moment before she turned to cover Tony up with a blanket.
She followed him through the kitchen and grabbed his hand as they headed up the stairs. He walked into the guest room with her and made sure she was settled, then kissed her cheek. "Night, Abbs."
She reached for his hand again. "Night, Gibbs," she said, crawling underneath the covers and giving it a squeeze. "And thanks. I know you'd rather be in the basement on Christmas."
"I don't mind," he said, brushing her hair back from her face. "Sleep well." He shut off the light as he left the room, wishing he didn't want so badly to stay.
He mused over the situation as he hopped into the shower quickly himself. His rule against interoffice romance had become somewhat relaxed over the years, and he wasn't technically Abby's boss, although she made his team's cases first priority. But as much as the rest of NCIS seemed to think he was the resident expert on everyone's favorite inexplicable forensic scientist, he still couldn't figure her out. Abby loved him, sure; but she loved everything and everyone she came into contact with, just about. It was who she was. He didn't want to trade the best friendship he'd ever had unless he was absolutely sure she felt the same way about him. It was a risk he wasn't certain he was willing to take.
Gibbs was startled into wakefulness when he heard the floorboard at the entrance of his bedroom creak. He rolled over to check the time on his cell phone. "Everything alright, Abbs?" he murmured as she threw an extra blanket on the bed and crawled in next to him.
"Sorry to wake you up," she said sleepily. "Power's out and'm cold."
"S'okay," he whispered as she cuddled into him. "Did you check on DiNozzo?"
"Yup," she said with a yawn. "Grabbed your heavy blankets out of the hall closet and put them on. He's still passed out."
Gibbs had always envied Tony his ability to sleep like a log through just about anything, unless he needed to be on alert. He was awake long enough to appreciate the feeling of holding Abby in his arms - something that only happened on the rarest of occasions - and to send up a brief prayer than the power would be restored so he could surprise her tomorrow, before she tucked her head underneath his chin and whispered, "Love you." He whispered it back, pretty sure she was already asleep again, then closed his eyes.
After disentangling himself from his favorite forensic scientist the next morning and washing his face, Gibbs went downstairs. The smell of coffee and bacon emanated from the kitchen and he hoped it wouldn't wake Abby up. "I see you finally returned to the living, DiNozzo," he said, heading straight for the coffee pot as soon as he was in the kitchen.
Tony flipped a pancake high into the air. "Merry Christmas, Boss."
"Shh," Gibbs said, pointing up. "Not so loud."
"She's still asleep?" Tony responded incredulously, but in a much quieter tone.
Gibbs nodded, his surprise mirroring Tony's. Abby was usually too hyped up on caffeine to get a decent night's sleep, even if work didn't cut into her sleep schedule - and it did, more often than not. Sometimes he thought she worked as hard as the rest of them put together, between making sure all the loose ends were tied up on his cases and processing evidence for other teams. He knew Vance took advantage of her generosity by putting her on extra projects, but he couldn't fault the Director; they all did it. Her constant willingness to help made it hard to remember that she worked sixteen-plus hour days, often on nothing but caffeine and sugar. He was happy she was sleeping in for once.
Tony dished up a plate of bacon and pancakes for each of them and was just about to sit across from Gibbs when the sound of her footfalls drifted down the stairs. "Morning, sunshine," Tony said, turning abruptly to grab a mug and pour her a cup of coffee.
She rubbed her eyes blearily and yawned, then grabbed the mug gratefully. "Merry Christmas." She raised the mug to her lips then paused and looked up, narrowing her eyes. "You didn't let him brew this, right, Gibbs?" she asked, sounding much more alert.
Gibbs grinned as Tony clutched his chest in mock offense. "I got up when the power came back on and set the timer," he said. "It's safe."
"Thank God," she said into the cup, taking a long gulp.
"I don't know why you like his coffee better than mine," Tony muttered, making a plate for her. "It's strong enough to take the paint off the walls." He made a face as he set the plate down, then turned to pour orange juice for himself.
"True," she said, "but let's be honest, Tony. You have a laundry list of amazing skills, but brewing coffee is most definitely not among them." She sat down and drenched her pancakes in syrup before taking a bite. "However," she added, closing her eyes in pleasure, "making pancakes absolutely is. Thanks, Tony."
"No problem," he said. "Figured you'd need some energy for the day we have planned."
She opened her eyes, piercing him with a suspicious glare. "It better not involve going out in that," she said, pointing at the sliver of white that peeked in through the blinds of the window in the living room. The heaping two and a half feet of snow they'd gotten the previous night was just visible from the kitchen table.
"Aww," Tony pouted. "Come on! It'll be fun."
"Tonyyyy," she responded, "you always say that and it never is."
"C'mon," he coaxed, "we can kick Gibbs's ass in a snowball fight. And sledding, Abbs! What's there not to love about sledding? Careening down a hill at a gazillion miles per hour...Gibbs's neighborhood has the best hill for sledding. Right, Gibbs?" he nudged hopefully.
Gibbs glanced at the two of them over the rim of his cup. "I'm not getting in the middle of this," he said, hiding a small smile.
"I'll trade you," Tony said pleadingly.
Abby finished the bite of bacon she was working on. "What's your offer?"
"If you agree to go sledding with me, I won't make you watch Love, Actually," he responded with a smug grin. "If you still can't stand the snow after that, I promise I won't ask you to do anything else."
"I'll freeze to death," Abby said, frowning at Tony.
Gibbs piped in. "I have an extra coat and a pair of gloves."
Abby scrunched up her nose. "What happened to not getting in the middle?" she said, leaning over to elbow him. "Traitor."
"Please, Abbs?" Tony dragged out the plea, making puppy dog eyes. "Pretty pretty please with a cherry on top?"
She waited a long moment before responding. "Oh, alright, fine," she said finally. "But just sledding. That's it."
Tony reached across the table. "Pinky promise."
Gibbs was grateful Abby didn't question too much why he wasn't going with them; he made some excuse about working on his latest project in the basement. He was also happy that Tony was on board with the surprise he had planned for her. He hoped his senior agent was crafty enough to keep her out of the house for awhile so he'd have time to set everything up.
First was the Christmas tree. He'd gone out to buy one during lunch the day before, when he first suspected the weather might turn bad. That probably made him a sentimental fool - and a little bit of a jerk for wishing deep down that Abby'd be stranded at his place for Christmas - but it was a minor sin, all in all, and one he wouldn't be upset about atoning for later. He hauled the tree in from the back porch and went to carry a box of lights up from the basement. The box was nearly ready to fall apart; it had been years since he'd last felt a desire to even think about Christmas trees.
It was the packet of ornaments in the top of the box that really mattered, though. He'd added the ones Abby gave him every Christmas to the few that Kelly made in elementary school, and decided after some deliberation to put all of them up. Abby insisted every Christmas that he still needed ornaments and a stocking even if he always resisted buying a tree, and stuck them around the tree she set up in the lab each year.
The lights presented more of a problem. Shannon had complained that he sucked at decorating, and he never quite managed to get them up properly without everything ending up tangled. He almost wished DiNozzo was there to help; everything Tony owned, from his clothes to his apartment to his Christmas decorations, looked like something out of a designer catalog. Gibbs fussed with a single strand of silver lights for almost forty-five minutes before finally giving up and hoping Abby would like it, frustrated with himself for his desire for her approval. Nobody's opinion of him had mattered to him in years before she came along, but now, somehow, he felt that everything he did had to be perfect for her.
He hurried to set up the laptop and webcam Tony had swiped from her office the day before as he noticed the two of them trooping back up to the house, laughing. The bright morning air made Abby's face glow, and he could tell her hair was windblown where it peeked out from underneath the oversized beanie Tony had pulled down over her ears. "I'm guessing the sledding went better than expected?" he called from the living room once the door opened and he could hear them stamping the snow from their boots.
"Something like that," Abby called back vaguely, and he heard Tony scoff.
"You had fun, Abbs! Just admit it," Tony yelled after her.
Gibbs looked up as Abby made her way into the living room, just in time to see the excitement light up her face.
"Gibbs! A Christmas tree!" she exclaimed, jumping up and down. Then she sobered up, pausing and looking him up and down suspiciously. "You never buy Christmas trees."
He shrugged. "First time for everything, Abbs." He looked back down at the mess of tangled electronic cords on the coffee table and went back to attempting to detangle them as Tony walked into the room.
"You like snow," Tony crowed triumphantly, reaching to tickle Abby from behind. "Admit it already!"
She squeaked and turned around to punch him in the shoulder. Then she sat down on the edge of the coffee table and hastily grabbed the cords from Gibbs. "What are you trying to do, Gibbs, get us all electrocuted?" Her nimble fingers pulled the cords apart easily. "Hey, this is my laptop! What's going on?"
"I thought we could do a video call with your brother," Gibbs said. "I may have convinced DiNozzo to steal McGee's cam thingamajig for the occasion." He sat on the edge of the couch as Tony flopped down in an armchair.
"You two..." Abby sighed happily, reaching over to kiss Gibbs on the cheek. "You two are too much. I'm sure Timmy won't mind lending his webcam, as long as neither of you gets your hands on it," she added with a grin. "He'll probably want it back in one piece."
"Hey!" Tony huffed. "I'm nowhere near as technologically challenged as Gibbs."
"Yeah, right, Tony," Abby retorted as she turned on the computer. "We both know you're good with hooking up DVD players and VCRs...but I had to bail you out that time you tried to hack into McGee's computer. You are not allowed around my electronics."
Gibbs watched as she hooked everything up in a fraction of the time it had taken him to begin untangling all those cords. He loved sometimes that technology and science were things she understood and he didn't; it could be an endless source of frustration for both of them on occasion, but the sight of her darting around the lab as she processed evidence or her hands moving over a keyboard never failed to catch his attention. There was a quiet sort of efficiency in her movements when she worked, as if the language of equations and codes was a secret she interpreted for the rest of them.
Gibbs smiled as she slid off the coffee table to sit cross-legged on the floor in front of the couch, fiddling with the webcam. After a few seconds, Eric Sciuto's face appeared on the computer screen, and the two of them began signing rapidly - too rapidly for Gibbs to even pick up half of it. After signing a quick hello and an apology to Abby's brother for being the reason she couldn't make it home, he decided to go down to the basement to give Abby some privacy, and DiNozzo followed him.
Gibbs didn't hear a peep through the open basement door nearly an hour, then the sound of her footsteps on the stairs distracted him from his sanding. Tony looked up from where he sat on the workbench, a magazine in his lap. "Have fun?" Gibbs asked, turning back to the rocking chair in front of him.
There was no response as she made it down the last few steps, then he felt her hand on his arm. He turned to see her fingers flying.
I thought we agreed no Christmas presents this year, she signed, her expression unreadable.
About that... he signed back rather sheepishly. I'm not sure videochatting with your brother counts as a Christmas present. I may have arranged something else at work, though. It was always difficult to tell with her when she'd be upset by surprises and when she'd be overjoyed by them. The two of them both had too many bad experiences when it came to surprises, so he usually told her things ahead of time. The arrangement he'd made with Vance, though, he was certain she'd like. There hadn't been quite enough room in the budget for an infrared spectrowhatsit, but enough important people owed him enough favors that he'd made sure there'd be one sitting in her lab by New Year's.
She shot him a puzzled look.
You'll have to wait til Monday, he signed back.
She sighed. But my present for you is at my apartment!
He could read the frustration in her movements and tried to keep himself from laughing. I thought we agreed no presents, Abby.
She shrugged. I'm about as good at following directions as you are.
He leaned over to kiss her on the cheek, then pulled back to make sure she could see his hands. You're the best Christmas present, he signed, wondering why it was so much easier to say that with his hands. He'd never said that he loved her out loud - not when he knew she was awake, anyway. But he'd signed it enough times that sharing his feelings ought to come more easily by now. I don't need anything else.
"Okay, you can stop talking about me now," DiNozzo said from his perch on the workbench, closing the magazine.
Abby leaned around Gibbs. "Not everything is about you, Tony," she teased.
"Just most things," Tony said. "I'm kind of a big deal, you know."
She rolled her eyes, linking her arm with Gibbs's and waiting to make sure Tony was following them towards the stairs. "Want to test out that theory?" she said when they reached the landing, turning around with a glint in her eyes. "You, me, a snowball fight."
Gibbs was just about to question the sanity of DiNozzo being her vaunted opponent in Abby's first snowball fight, but Tony cut him off.
"You've had practice," DiNozzo grumbled, tossing a handful of pasta into a pot of boiling water and frowning at Abby where she sat on the kitchen counter, her legs swinging above the tile.
She shook her head, putting on her most innocent expression. Gibbs watched in amusement from the kitchen table. When Tony had found pasta and a handful of other ingredients in Gibbs's cabinet that morning, he'd insisted on making Christmas dinner, and the debate over the Great Snowball Fight of 2009 had been raging the entire time.
"Nuh-uh," she responded. "You know I'd never seen snow before I moved to D.C. And I hate being out in it." Her eyes followed Tony as he ground pepper into the pasta sauce. "You got beat fair and square, DiNozzo. Hand me the phone."
"Huh?" Tony said, confused by the quick change of subject. Abby's brain moved at about ten times the speed of light. He leaned over her to reach for the cordless.
"I'm going to call Ducky and make sure their power is back on," she explained, grabbing the phone from him and dialing the familiar number quickly. She hopped down from the counter and wandered into the living room. Gibbs heard her wishing Ducky, his mom, and the corgies a rather boisterous Merry Christmas.
"When are you going to tell her?" DiNozzo turned from the pasta and leaned back against the counter, facing Gibbs as he asked the question.
Gibbs looked up in surprise. "What?"
Tony crossed his arms over his chest, the grave seriousness on his face a sharp change from his usual joking demeanor. "We both know you're in love with her. She's the only one apparently too blind to see that."
Gibbs frowned. "It's more complicated than that, Tony."
Tony scrubbed a hand over his face. "No, Gibbs. You both make it more complicated than that but it's not." He gave the pasta a quick stir then looked back over at Gibbs. "I wouldn't say anything, except..."
Gibbs knew that; it wasn't like Tony to challenge him. On anything. When it came to Abby, though - well, that was a special case for everyone. "Except what, DiNozzo?" he asked gruffly.
Tony looked as though he was afraid he'd be paying for this later in headslaps, but he said it anyway. Honesty was one of his many admirable traits, not that Gibbs would ever admit publicly to thinking so. "She's the closest thing you and I have to a real family," he sighed. "You screw this up, and..."
"I know," Gibbs responded quietly, getting up to slice the garlic bread. "Why do you think it's taken me this long?"
Dinner, a shower, a cup of hot chocolate, and the Ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future later, and it was Abby this time who almost fell asleep, her head resting on Gibbs's shoulder and her feet in Tony's lap. Gibbs was beginning to wonder if he'd have to carry her up the stairs when she yawned and stretched.
"What'd I miss?" she muttered sleepily, looking up at Tony.
"Nothing you haven't seen the last three Christmases we spent together," he responded with a laugh. "Go to bed, sleepyhead."
She swung her legs off the couch and sat upright, shifting her weight off of Gibbs long enough for him to stand and take her hand, pulling her up with him. She leaned down to hug DiNozzo. "'Night, Tony," she murmured, squeezing him tightly. "Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas, Abbs," he said, meeting Gibbs's eyes over her shoulder. "Night, Boss," he added as they turned to head for the stairs.
Gibbs tucked her into the guest room again, berating himself mentally for being a coward. They both would have been happier in his bed, but he wasn't ready to ask her for that yet. She rolled over and fell asleep almost as soon as he kissed her cheek goodnight. He stood in the doorway several minutes, drinking her in, before going into his own bedroom.
He'd been tossing and turning for nearly an hour and a half when he heard her footsteps in the hallway. The sight of her satin-clad form in the doorway surprised him; he'd been certain she was tired out enough by the day's activities to sleep through the night, and he said so.
She shrugged, walking over to crawl into bed when he held up the blankets expectantly. "The bed seemed too empty without you in it," was all she said in response. The stark honesty of the statement surprised him. She laid on her side in front of him, waiting for him to wrap his arm around her and pull her back against his body before she covered his hands with her own.
Somehow the comfort of her body lying next to his didn't make it any easier to get to sleep, though. She drew patterns on the back of his hand with her fingertips, her incessant movements letting him know she was still awake, too. He leaned down to kiss her shoulder, breathing in the faint scent of his soap on her skin. "Abbs," he murmured, his lips hovering inches above her neck, "how come you don't like blizzards? I don't get it. You love storms."
She wriggled in his grasp, rolling over to face him and waiting for his arm to settle back around her waist before she spoke. "If I tell you, will you answer a question for me?" she whispered, studying his face in the dark. She waited for his nod. "It's always eerie to me when it snows, that's all," she answered, snuggling closer into his arms. "Thunderstorms are romantic. Especially when the power goes out," she added, ducking her head with a small smile. "But snow - it doesn't make any sound. It actually does snow from time to time in Louisiana, and it used to freak me out as a kid. No one's used to it there, so the whole world stops even if it's only a couple of inches - you can't hear cars or anything."
He nodded, pressing his lips against her forehead. Abby loved noise - music, talking, anything. Silence and aloneness came naturally to him. He'd always found it somewhat fascinating that she was uncomfortable with both.
"My turn," she said, pulling back a little to look up at him again. She swallowed hard. "Did you mean it when you said you don't need anything else but me?"
It was his turn to feel uncomfortable. He finally nodded after a few moments, afraid to speak his thoughts out loud.
"Okay," she said, tucking her head under his chin and brushing her lips against his neck.
He frowned, resting his cheek on her hair. "That's it?" he said.
She laughed, the sound reverberating against his skin. "Were you expecting the sky to fall? You've been my best friend for ten years," she explained. "You've been there for everything. I'm in love with you; you're in love with me. Doesn't get any simpler than that, Gibbs." She leaned back for a moment, eyeing him thoughtfully. "Unless you want to go the complicated route with the grand declarations and stuff. Seems more Tony's style than yours, though."
He smiled. He was pretty sure buying a Christmas tree for the first time in almost twenty years was the closest he'd ever get to a grand declaration. Well, maybe; Abby did have a knack for dragging him out of his comfort zone.
"Nope, this way works for me."