Title: Origins: The Red Hoodie
Spoilers: Up to season seven's Borderland.
Summary: Gibbs' red hoodie goes missing under mysterious circumstances…
Author's Note: Written for ReplicantAngel for the Gabby Ficathon on LiveJournal. And also for ncislove, because anything related to the red hoodie automatically means Hanne!drool. XD
He wouldn't have noticed if one of his shirts had gone missing, or even another one of his sweatshirts. 'The clothes make the man' is a saying held dear by DiNozzo, but Gibbs has never particularly subscribed to the philosophy.
The red hoodie, on the other hand, is an item of clothing he feels the loss of keenly.
The sweatshirt was a gift from one of the men in his platoon - Private Jensen. The Jensen family lived down the street on the naval base he and Shannon moved to before his deployment to Iraq. As part of a private joke, Jensen had commented that Gibbs should wear some brighter clothes, and thrown him the hoodie straight from his washing line.
Gibbs had kept it because Kelly had chosen that moment to fall off her bike. Before he got around to returning it to Jensen, the man was caught in the crossfire of a convenience store robbery; killed before he had the chance to serve his country.
Gibbs kept it as a reminder that tragedy could strike at home as well as abroad. When Shannon and Kelly were murdered, he no longer needed the reminder, but he'd grown used to the hoodie's fit.
He doesn't wear it often, but occasionally he feels its pull - usually when they've been working a case at Quantico. When he returns home one night and can't find it, he figures he left it at NCIS.
When he can't find it at the Navy Yard, he knows something is, as Abby would put it, 'hinky'.
The thought is ridiculous, though. Granted, he never locks the front door of his house, but who would break in and steal a red hooded sweatshirt? Gibbs has met a few insane criminals in his time, but never that kind of insane.
He can't think of a single place he might have left it, though he spends the better part of his spare time for two days trying to figure it out. That, and working on his boat. When he's ruled out his own forgetfulness, he begins to mull over possible suspects.
A member of Jensen's family could want the hoodie back, but why not just ask him? Along with that, there's the fact that he hasn't spoken to anyone he used to know from back then in years, and he doubts they even remember that he has a hoodie of Jensen's, let alone would want it back.
That rules out people who would want the hoodie for its own merits. Gibbs has to figure that the culprit is someone who wants it because it belongs to him.
But for what purpose? To frame him for a crime? That doesn't make sense. Why not take something like his comb, which he'd be much less likely to notice missing, and which would contain strands of his hair? He has to be overlooking something, but he can't figure out what.
All he knows is that he's lost something of sentimental value, and he's pissed about it.
Then again, sentimental value is a motive for theft, and though he's ruled out anyone who might know who the hoodie's original owner was, that leaves the people who would know that he is the current owner.
An ex-wife? Nah. He can't see any of them stooping to what they would consider a despicable low. Alice, Diane and Stephanie were all very different women, but in certain ways they were all alike. Red hair notwithstanding.
Ex-girlfriend? He recalls wearing the hoodie around a few of them, but none of them ever commented on it. Of those few, Hollis Mann is in Hawaii, Jenny Shepard is dead and the others were far more interested in getting him out of his clothes than appreciating what he looked like in them.
That grinds his mental 'investigation' to a halt. There doesn't seem to be any other avenue to go down.
He puts the matter from his mind for a couple of months, occasionally letting it surface and mulling over it before allowing it to sink back into the depths of his subconscious. He suspects that if the matter is ever resolved, it'll be in a way that he can't predict or bring within his own timeframe of acceptability.
He's right about that. Dropping by Abby's lab one evening, he finds her already gone, and her wallet lying on the floor by the elevator. Speed-dialling her cell, he turns the skull-covered item over in his hand. Her driver's license photo ID is slotted into a clear plastic card-holder on the back, and Gibbs smiles a little at the picture of a very uncomfortable, dressed-for-court Abby in the picture.
"Gibbs! I'm at home already. Did you need something that can't wait? Cause I can come back in…"
"I know, Abbs, I'm in your lab."
"Don't touch any of my machines," is her automatic first response. "How come you're in my lab?"
"Wasn't planning on it. Are you at home?"
"Missing any items from your purse?"
A brief pause later, she groans. "You're holding my wallet in your hand, aren't you?"
"Don't look at my driver's license."
"Too late," he says, and she sighs. "I'll drop it off on my way home, unless you have company."
"No company. I'll make fresh coffee if you want to stay long enough to drink it."
Wanna come in for coffee? His mind re-structures her offer to one a little more laden with possibilities, and he scowls at his own folly. Thinking of Abby in that way is something he should have stopped doing the second she begged for him to tell her that she was like a daughter to him, and yet it seems impossible to reclassify his feelings for her.
Pushing aside the whole issue, he tells her, "Sounds good."
The drive to her apartment doesn't take long, and though it's not technically on his way home, it's close enough. Abby's wallet lies on the passenger seat, and he feels its presence almost as keenly as he does hers. His gut tells him something is about to change, and while he's learned to trust his instincts, he's learned that matters don't always turn out the way he hopes.
When Abby pulls open her apartment door with a smile, he hands over the wallet as a greeting. She gives him a quick hug in thanks, but before he can really relax into it she pulls away again, spinning and heading for the kitchen and babbling the whole time.
He interjects whenever he can get a word in, following the smell of fresh coffee through to her kitchen. She pours him a mug, and he takes it from her with thanks, not bothering to take care that their fingers don't brush. He and Abby have been close enough not to worry about things like that for years already.
Together, they sit on the couch, and Abby pushes aside a red, wadded-up item of clothing in order to make room for him. Again, his gut tells him to pay attention. "Abbs?"
"Yeah?" She looks a little cagey, and his confidence in his observational skills grows.
"Is that my red sweater?"
She looks down at the article of clothing in question, sets down her coffee cup and then holds it up in front of her with both hands. "Yeah."
"Been searching for that for months," he says, keeping his tone mild and his eyes on her as he sips his coffee.
"I can explain," she says hastily, shoving the garment toward him. He lets it drop to the couch between them, raising an eyebrow at her.
"Go on," he prompts, when the promised explanation doesn't come.
Abby sighs, picks up her coffee cup and stares into it. "You left it at the Navy Yard one night, and it had turned colder than I expected, so I figured you wouldn't mind if I wore it home, y'know, so I didn't freeze to death or anything."
"I wouldn't have. If you'd returned it."
Her glance is startled, and she makes an uncertain joke of the situation. "Wow, Gibbs, for someone who yells at Tony for obsessing about his clothes, you're pretty protective of yours."
"Sentimental reasons," he says, and watches her guilt advance toward distress.
"Gibbs, I'm so sorry. If I'd have known, I never would have touched it; I would have worn my lab coat home or-"
"Abby." She falls silent immediately, chewing on her bottom lip as she waits for his judgment. "I don't care that you borrowed it. I just wanna know why you didn't return it."
"I forgot." She already knows he won't believe it, and ploughs on before he can say anything. "Okay, okay. I just… didn't think you'd notice it missing, and I like having it around."
Of all the things she could have said, he didn't expect that. "What, like a security blanket?"
"No!" she says, seeming offended by the notion. "Just… when I wear it, it's like having a Gibbs hug, you know? It smells like you, and it feels like you…"
She presses her lips together, as if judging that she's said too much, and though he tries to catch her eye, she won't look up. He gives himself a moment to think it through, and his eyes fall on a pair of pyjama pants that are hanging, folded, over the arm of the couch – not far from where the hoodie was before she moved it.
"You wear it to bed, Abby?" The words spill out before he can help himself. If he didn't feel the way he does about her, he wouldn't have mentioned it. As it is, he just wants to push her, make her tell him what's going on inside her head. He needs to know.
"No." The response is too fast, and she groans, pushing aside her coffee cup again and dropping her head into her hands. "Sometimes," she confessed, the word muffled by her fingers.
Gibbs sips his coffee, then sets his cup down next to hers. "Abbs."
She turns her head enough to look at him guardedly, and her pigtail falls into her face. Gibbs tucks it out of the way carefully. "Stop looking so scared."
Abby uncurls with a shrug. "I'm not scared."
"Yeah, you are." He waits, ignoring the adrenaline rush that's beginning to hit. If he's right, there's only one way this is gonna end.
"I don't want things to change," she whispers.
"All you had to do was ask, Abby." He's said the words before, but never like this. She wants so badly to believe she's reading him right, but she's scared he'll knock her back. She blinks those wide green eyes at him, and he gives up on rule twelve.
"You don't want things to change to this?" Leaning in closer, he brushes his lips over her cheek, pulls back for an instant and then returns, leaving a trail of kisses down toward her neck.
She tilts her head to give him better access, which he takes full advantage of. When he finally draws back, there's a wide curve to her lips, and her eyes are closed. "I wouldn't say that," she murmurs.
Gibbs slides a hand up under her jaw, into her hair, just behind her ear. Her pigtails are loose, and he can entangle his fingers there without resistance. She gazes at him from under lust-heavy eyelids, content to let him make all the moves for now.
For a few seconds, he doesn't move, prolonging the anticipation. Then, teasing her with a slight smile, he moves to within kissing distance, watches her glance down at his lips, then close her eyes… It's too much for him to take, and he kisses her harder than he'd intended.
Abby returns the gesture, kissing him with a wordless murmur of appreciation. Her hand is light against the side of his face, brushing the light stubble that a full day's work has left him with. He pulls back before the simple touch provokes too much of a reaction within him.
She grins at him, her expression a little dreamy. He glances down at the red hoodie, which is crushed into the small gap between his legs and hers. "Wanna wear the sweater now, Abbs?"
She shakes her head. "I was thinking of taking off some clothes, not putting them on…"
His imagination is enough of a tease without her words reinforcing it. Grabbing her hand, he pulls her to her feet and against his body, letting go of his self control. "Won't argue with that."