"Did we fall asleep?" Abby looked up at Gibbs who had continued to keep them cuddled together in the throw blanket.

"Uhmm-hm." Gibbs caressed her forearm and nodded in the affirmative.

"Power isn't back, is it?"

"Not yet, still freezing rain out there." Gibbs stretched his neck from one side, then the other.

"What time is it?"

Gibbs shifted his weight slightly, looked at his watch and let the blood start to flow back into his shoulder. "Just after o'one hundred."

Every muscle in her body twitched. Abby winced as she sat up and tried to arch out her back. She had forgotten about the muscles she had strained trying to yank apart the plastic wrap that had bound her wrists together.

The embers in the fireplace needed stoking. Gibbs drew his hand along her arm as he got up to place a few more logs on the grill.

"I should go grab the futon." Gibbs wandered downstairs in the darkness, and returned with the rolled up mattress and accessories.

Abby observed him carefully when he slid the coffee table away and rolled out the futon and blankets on the floor at her feet. She said nothing but felt more than a twinge of disappointment that she was soon going to be away from his hugs and closeness. It was a closeness she desperately needed to continue between them.

Gibbs turned and fussed with the blanket that still lay on the couch for a moment and then slid in beside her once again. She tried to smile as he leaned in and kissed her hair. Abby sighed quietly and assumed it was her hint move to the futon for the night.

Abby scooted down on the floor and smoothed out some of the ruffled edges of the futon. She twisted her legs underneath her and sat on the floor in front of Gibbs, leaning against the base of the sofa.

"It's still freezing rain..." her voice trailed off. Her green eyes looked up at him, wishing he could read her mind and just put his rules away for a night. She ached for him to do the forbidden and just lie down beside her and hold her tight until morning.

"Gibbs..."

"Abs?..."

As badly as she wanted to simply ask him to stay with her, her resolve crumbled. "Gibbs...I'll never... ever... lie to you again. I promise."

He didn't look away as Abby tentatively reached out to touch his knee to punctuate her words. He placed his hand on hers and squeezed it.

He paused for a minute, watching her face grimace slightly then again look straight up to him. There were a thousand things he could have said at that moment. He supposed if she didn't look so damn defeated, he could have issued a warning that if she ever broke that promise there'd be hell to pay between them, but he instinctively knew, she already knew that. The rest of the little talk they eventually might have about trust and reiterating how important he needed that between them, still sat somewhere in the back of his mind but any further discussion could wait.

He smiled and nodded in reassurance. "Ok."

With guard down and the emotional surge between them, it felt strangely easy for Gibbs to acknowledge his own feelings for Abby at the moment. How he felt, broke every rule he had born for himself. Rule 12 especially. He had grown use to struggling with them, diverting into flirty playfulness and allowing them to pain him alone at night. The remedy for those feelings had always been the same, buckle down, try to ignore them. In his heart of hearts, he knew that he was kidding himself. No matter what hurdles he set up for himself, it was those same feelings that drove him and made him equally anxious to get back to work so they could be together once again. They had cloaked themselves in a flirty pseudo-platonic game of cat and mouse; it served them well, their safety valve.

Gibbs knew there always seemed to be something "more" in her jade green eyes. A "more" that spoke of love, spoke of devotion and adoration which she saw in him that nobody else was ever willing to see. It was intoxicating. Sitting down in front of him now, he finally knew why the way she looked at him made her completely irresistible.

Gibbs pushed the 2 beige over-stuffed sofa pillows and afghan on the floor beside Abby and slid down beside her. He wasn't ready to break their quiet solitude and for once, he didn't bother to combat his own better judgement. Gibbs raised his arm to put it around her shoulders and this time Abby did not resist.

"Ok." He said again, squeezing her shoulder slightly and kissing her on the hair.

She crawled in beside him, sprawling her legs lengthwise against his under the afghan.

The sound of his soft breathing comforted her. He'd smile at her when she looked up at him. Instinctively he reached out and took Abby's right hand into his left. He lightly ran his fingers over her wrists, which had begun showing signs of real bruising. She said nothing, but allowed him to inspect her bruises to his satisfaction.

Gibbs continued to caress her slender hand with his own. He traced the small tattoo on her finger with his finger tips and then traced the lines on the inside of her palm. His fingers tickled against hers and instinctively she closed her hand lightly around his. He didn't pull away when she began to respond in kind and slid her finger tips over the small wood-working calluses on his fingers. No words were spoken. Their touch for the moment was enough. She loved his hands, warm and yet strong. She looked up at him periodically as if to get his permission to continue as she fondled his hand in hers. It was always he who would set the stage for invading each other's personal space and this took on a new level of intimacy that left her tentative, edgy and relieved at the same time. Touch. Responding to each other's touch; the simplest of acts to allow the other to discover, renew, apologize, and forgive.

With any other man, Abby may have been frustrated at Gibb's hesitance and how it brought out her own fearful diffidence. But like everything else with Gibbs, this too was different. There was a strange solace to it as well. He was clear that he was allowing her back into his very selective inner circle of closeness.

Gibbs again ran his fingers over her wrist and traced the bluing bruise. She raised her face to smile at him, silently telling him she was all right. She felt her own heart skip a beat. Something in his eyes felt different. "No." she shook it off instinctively, as she had forced herself to do so many times before. This was just her imagination getting the better of her, getting caught up in the moment.

The slight lines around his eyes turned upwards as he smiled at her. His eyes again looking at her with the warmth she sought.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs also felt the pull of emotions he fought so gallantly on a daily basis. He knew he had entered the danger zone when he slid to sit beside her on the floor. The complete unconditional love that shone though on her face would grip him every time. The sane part of him screamed at him to stand up, bid her goodnight and put a safe distance between them. The man in him could no longer bear the thought of it.

Abby kept her eyes locked with his. He leaned in just a little and then pulled back as she tilted her face up to his. Again he leaned in a little closer and she mirrored his dance. Their eyes searched each other... she held her ground and waited... this was his decision to make. Moments ticked by... her heart pounded in her chest, silently praying. One last time he leaned in towards her and finally allowed his lips to meet hers.

His lips covered hers with the warmth and tenderness she didn't dare allow herself to dream about. He pulled back for a moment before lowering his lips to hers again, this time nibbling softly on her bottom lip before sweetly sprinkling her neck with little kisses.

His kiss took her breath away. It didn't surprise her that he was as completely skilled as a kisser as she believed he was at everything else. She blinked her eyes to bring herself back to the moment.

The longing, the teasing, the cat and mouse dance that they had ritually done for so long, finally,... finally had come full circle.

Her body slid tighter into his, twisting to allow him to take her completely into his arms. The corners of his mouth turned upwards, knowing without reservation that she wanted the kiss as much as he did. Abby's face shone with all the familiarity of love and admiration she reserved for Gibbs. Her mouth curled in a flirty smile. Gibbs touched her face and smiled as she bit her lip a little.

"Nice" she purred.

"Nice back."

Gibbs traced his fingers gently over her cheek and over her lips. She kissed them lightly, rubbing her face against his hand like a contented cat.

Cautiously Abby reached out and let her finger tips touch the greying hairs that peeked out of the collar of his shirt. As she had imagined, they were soft. She had wanted to do that for as long as she had known him. He smiled as she dragged her nails over the tiny bit of bare skin that she could touch. She traced her finger over his adam's apple, along the lines of his throat and upwards to that soft spot just below his ear. Gibbs inhaled quickly as she replaced her finger tips with a few light flicks of her tongue.

Their mouths met again, kissing deeply. Leroy Jethro Gibbs slipped his hand around her back and guided her to lay with him on the futon. As he predicted, they were figuring things out... and would be just fine.

END.