Another ficathon fic over on livejournal – written for Maria.

Abby toyed with the ring that she kept on a long chain, hidden under her blouse. It was the night before her birthday, and technically their 9th anniversary, but she was fairly certain she was the only one keeping track of that. She checked her reflection one last time and then headed for her living room to wait for Gibbs.

"Abby…" Gibbs reached out for her, wanting to wipe the tears from her face. "I'm okay… I'll be okay. Not the first time I've been shot."

"I know, I just… what if you weren't okay? What if… what if it was worse?" She tried to busy herself by packing up his personal items the hospital had removed from his pockets before taking him in to clean up his shoulder and stitch him up.

"Marry me."

"Gibbs, I… Wait, what?" Abby looked up from the bag she had in her hands. "What did you say?"

"Marry me," He deadpanned. "I don't ever plan on getting married again, and you're right, if it happens again, it could be worse. I don't want other people going through my stuff, I want you to have it all, the house, the car… do with it what you want, but I… if I die, I want you to have my benefits."

"Gibbs…" her eyes went wide. "Don't talk like that, please… please don't."

"You said you weren't the marrying type. I'm not trying to keep you from dating whomever you like, and if you change your mind, down the road, that's fine, but… I don't trust anyone else with my stuff." He was just out of his third failed marriage, and he wasn't about to go down that path again.

"Pain medication Gibbs, it's the pain medication talking. Ducky is pulling the car around, we'll get you home and then you can get some sleep."

Abby jumped at the sound of Gibbs knocking on her door. She tucked the chain back into her blouse and hurried to the door. "Right on time, bossman." Both her coat and purse were by the door, and she followed him to the elevator, down to the first floor and out to his car.

"You look nice, as always." Gibbs opened the door, and waited until she was situated before closing the door and circling around to the driver's seat.

"You look pretty sharp yourself, Gibbs. Tony would be thrilled to know not everything you own comes from Sears."

Gibbs didn't respond, but Abby saw the stirrings of a smile on his lips as he directed the car toward downtown and the restaurant he had chosen for her pre-birthday dinner.

"How're you feeling today?" Abby slowly edged down the stairs to the dusty basement. She wasn't surprised to find him there, but she had hoped to find him napping or resting on the couch.

"I'm fine." Wasn't the first time he'd been shot, and probably wouldn't be the last.

"You need a pain pill?"


Abby offered a few ibuprophen and a glass of water anyway, holding them in front of him until he sighed and took them from her.

"I meant what I said yesterday, I want you to marry me."


"You told me yourself, you aren't the marrying type, it's not in your future. It's not in mine either. But everything I have… everything I've worked for… I want you to be taken care of." They hadn't been working together long, just over a year, but things had been tough – they had lost agents, Gibbs had been through his third divorce and Abby had been in and out of one bad relationship after another.

"Can't you just write it in your will – oh, God, why are we even talking about this? Gibbs, you need to be smart, wear your bullet proof vest, and do things by the book." Abby paced across the basement floor.

"Nothing is certain. And if we're married, you can make medical choices for me in the case that I can't. Abbs, I know it's not something you want to talk about, but in our line of work…"

"I know, I know, I just… What if things change?"

"Like what?"

"You want to get married again? For real?"

"Not going to happen. But if you… I won't hold you to our marriage, and you are free to date whomever. No one will know but us."


"Hm?" Abby startled from her memories and realized that they were parked outside their destination. "Oh, sorry, just lost in thought, didn't even realize we were here." She reached for the door and then remembered that Gibbs was a gentleman off the clock and preferred if she let him open the door.

"You okay?"

"I'm fine," she smiled sweetly at him. "I was just thinking."

Gibbs hesitated a moment and then got out, circling around to open the car door for her, offering his arm before leading her into the restaurant. It was fancy, but not over the top. They had made that mistake once, going to a restaurant that had been above their comfort level. The food had been overpriced and underserved, and they had ended up at the 24-hour diner down the street, sharing a milkshake and a slice of apple pie.

They were seated right away at a table toward the back. As usual, Gibbs had called ahead, and there was a black rose on the table, and a happy birthday balloon tied to the back of her chair. "Happy Birthday, Abbs. May this year be better than the last," he kissed her cheek and helped her to scoot her chair up before taking his seat opposite her.

"I love that you're so predictable, Gibbs. I don't mind change, but sometime it's nice to be able to count on certain things, like pre-birthday dinners with you," she smiled shyly.

"This is what, nine years of pre-birthday dinners? That makes you how old…?"

"I said it's nice to count on you for certain things, reminding me how old I am is not one of them; unless you'd like to discuss your age next?"

"Not ashamed of how old I am, Abbs."

That's because you scored yourself a younger wife, Abby thought, resisting the urge to say it out loud. They hadn't spoken of their marriage since that first year. When their first anniversary rolled around, Gibbs had suggested dinner… and then quickly amended it to a pre-birthday dinner, just like after their court date. They hadn't spoken about it since.

"I can't believe we just did that." Abby leaned into Gibbs and wrapped her arms around his torso, hugging herself impossibly closer.

"It'll make things easier…"

"Shut up. You told me we wouldn't have to talk about the worst case scenario once this was finalized."

"My apologies. To make it up to you, how about dinner? It's your birthday tomorrow, and I assume you've got plans. We can just make it a pre-birthday dinner."

"I guess I've got time, where we headed hubby?"

Gibbs tapped the back of her head softly and rolled his eyes. "Anywhere you'd like to go."

"I don't have any preference… so long as they have cake. No wedding, or birthday for that matter, is complete without cake."

Gibbs took her to a favorite diner – a place he knew had the best chocolate cake. After dinner, as they were about to share the large slice of cake, he smiled at her. "Shouldn't I be feeding you the first bite?"

"You shove it up my nose and I'll ask for a divorce."

Gibbs took a piece of cake in his fingers and reached across the table to push it between her lips, unable to resist smearing a touch of frosting on the tip of her nose. "You just might be my shortest marriage."

Abby laughed and used her napkin. "You're lucky that I want your benefits so badly. I guess I'll hold on to you a little longer."

Gibbs rolled his eyes, and then took a deep breath. "I got you something… I… you don't need to wear it, it's just… in case you need it. If you need to tell people about us and they don't believe you." Gibbs pulled a small box from his pocket and pushed it across the table toward her. "Open it."

"I…" Abby's words trailed off when she opened the box and stared down at the vintage ring.

"Oh. !" The waitress nearly over-filled Gibbs' coffee cup. "Is he proposing?"

"No. No, we're already married," Abby glanced up at Gibbs and smiled as she slipped the ring onto her finger before returning her attention to the waitress. "It's a gift."

The waitress looked disappointed. "Oh, I ain't evah had anyone get engaged at my table before."

"Abby? Is everything okay?" A look of concern washed over Gibbs' face. "You sure you don't have somewhere else to be? We don't have to-"

"What? No, of course not. This is the highlight of my birthday each year," Abby blushed. "Sorry, I've just… been thinking, that's all. Sorry."

"Someone bothering you?" Gibbs' face clouded. "Abby?"

"No, no other guys. I mean, no guys in my life at all. I mean, like Jerry said, I'm married to my work, right?" She could've slapped herself, they didn't talk marriage. Ever.

Gibbs opened his mouth to say something, but their waiter returned with the wine and pulled out his notepad to take their order.

"Gloria called via skype," Abby said as soon as the waiter left, "it's a video chat. She said to tell you hello."

"How is she doing?"

"She's good, badgering me to come visit, the usual."

"You going for a visit soon?"

"I don't know, maybe. A short visit. I can't stay down there for long… at least she's got my brother, my sister-in-law and my little niece." Once on the topic of family, their conversation flowed nicely. Family was easy for Abby to talk about. Easy, and safe. She genuinely cared for Jackson Gibbs and once they talked about Gloria, she always had questions about Jack and Gibbs was always willing answer. By the time their food was finished, Abby was finally feeling relaxed. She could almost forget about the ring on the chain inside her shirt and enjoy the evening for what Gibbs saw it as - a pre-birthday dinner.

The waiter dropped off the bill, and took Gibbs' credit card when he handed it over right away. He returned shortly with the card and receipt for Gibbs to sign. "Goodnight Mr. & Mrs. Gibbs, have a good evening and come back soon."

"Oh, we're not…" the words died on her lips as the waiter was called to another table.

"We are married," Gibbs finally said as they stepped out into the evenings' cool air. "Nine years now."

"That long, huh?" Abby tried to play cool. God, if I could just have kept my cool. What is with me tonight?

"Officially makes you the wife that lasted the longest." Including Shannon, he thought. "Least demanding, too," he added with a smirk. "That should deserve an ice cream." Gibbs nodded at the ice cream shop across the street.

Abby sighed. "I don't feel like ice cream tonight." She just wanted to crawl into bed and forget about everything and hopefully Gibbs would act like nothing weird had happened.

"Talk to me," Gibbs tugged the sleeve of her jacket and led her to a bench on the sidewalk.

She didn't want to lean against him as he wrapped an arm around her shoulder, she really didn't, but she couldn't help it. When he pressed his lips to the side of her head she let herself get lost in the fantasy, pretending that, for just a moment, they were a real couple. "Nothing to say, Gibbs."

"You sure?"


Gibbs breathed deeply into her hair and pressed another kiss to the side of her head. "You haven't been yourself all evening. I'm here whenever you do want to talk."

"Not a conversation you want to have. Trust me."

"Every time the word marriage has come up tonight, you tense."

They sat quietly for a while and Abby knew it was one of his interrogation techniques. It angered her that he would resort to interrogating her to get her to talk, but at the same time she knew it was working. She had to bite her lip to keep from blurting everything out.

Eventually the silence was too much. "I'm tired of pretending… I don't…"

"If you want out, Abbs, say the words. I told you I would never force-"

"I don't want out, Gibbs," Abby snapped and jumped up to pace the sidewalk, "I want it to be real! I… I didn't love you at first, not like love-love. Or at least, I don't think I did. Then you left for Mexico and it, it hit me. But you didn't seem to feel the same way, so I stayed quiet."

"Abbs," Gibbs reached out for her, but stayed seated.

"No." Abby paused as a couple passed them, eyeing her curiously. "No, it's my turn to talk. I… sometimes I wear this when I go out," Abby pulled the chain with her ring out from her blouse to show him. "I wear it so people will assume I'm going home to someone. I go to bed pretending that you're working late and that's why I'm going to bed alone." She dropped back into the bench beside him, careful to keep her distance.

When he reached out for her again, she shrugged him off. "Can you just take me home, please?"

"I want ice cream." He got up and started across the street, knowing she'd follow. If he brought her home, she would distract herself and avoid his questions (if he even managed to get an invite in). If they were in public he could push a little further.

"But I don't…" She gave up and followed him across the street and into the shop. He was ordering a sundae and turned to her with a raised brow. "No, I don't want anything, I want to go home."

Once he had paid, he moved to a small table in the corner and sat down, handing a second spoon to Abby when she joined him. "I think I've loved you from the very beginning. Since the first time you demanded a Caf-Pow for rushing science, rushing you," Gibbs said matter-of-factly before taking a bite of his ice cream.

Abby's head snapped up. "What?"

"I wouldn't marry someone I didn't love, not after…" He had thought he loved his three ex's and maybe he had at some point, but after Diane… he wasn't going to marry again unless he was certain. "And even if it's not traditional, I wanted to make sure you'd be taken care of if I wasn't around to make sure of it."

"Why… you never…"

"There are a lot of reasons why I didn't," Gibbs scooped up a bit of ice cream and held the spoon out for Abby, "I wasn't in any sort of place for relationship."

Abby accepted the ice cream and then spoke. "But you and Hollis..?"

"That wasn't a real relationship," Gibbs shook his head. They had gone through the motions, but he hadn't been ready for her constant need to define what they were so early in the relationship. In retrospect, it hadn't been fair to let her assume things were moving quicker than they actually were, but he never claimed to be good at relationships.

"I don't get... I don't get it. You were in love with me? From the very beginning?"

"Mmm." Gibbs gave a slight nod before taking another bite of ice cream.

"And now?"

"Abbs," Gibbs' head dropped forward slightly as he smiled, "never stopped."

"Why haven't you…? All this time, I've been trying to talk myself out of… of loving you."

"I'm your boss, am I supposed to pull you into my arms in the middle of a case? In your lab?"

"Yes!" Abby slammed her hands down on the table and then glanced over at the couple a few tables away. "Sorry."

Gibbs shook his head. "Couldn't do that, you know that. Not exactly professional."

"And slapping the back of your subordinates head is professional?"

"You never seemed quite sure of what you felt. You and dated a few guys off and on and I-"

Abby interrupted. "You were too damn proud to make a move."

"No." Her tone was edging on hurt or even angry, and he had to make sure she understood. "I didn't make a move because if I was wrong, and if ruined… if I lost your friendship… I couldn't risk it."

"So what now?" Abby eyed him curiously. She didn't want to get her hopes up.

"I leave that up to you."

She thought for a moment. He was being far too calm about everything. "I want to go." He was careful to keep his expression neutral, but there was a slight shift when she said 'go' so she amended her statement, "I want to go to your house," and smiled when he smiled.

"Can I finish my ice cream first?"

Abby stood and grabbed the dish of ice cream, dumping it in the garbage behind her. "No."

"Wait." Gibbs grabbed her wrist before she could breeze past him. He took the chain from her neck and carefully lifted it off her head and unhooked the clasp. He slipped the ring off into his palm and dropped the chain in his pocket. He picked up her left hand, and his eyes flicked up to hers to make she was okay with his actions. "I think you should wear this."

Abby nodded. The ring fit perfectly. It had been a little big when he had given it to her, but she had gone and got it fitted the next day without saying anything to him about it. "What do you think?" She held her hand up.


"It is, isn't it?" Abby admired her ring as Gibbs gave a little tug at her other hand, leading her out to his car.

"Wasn't talking about the ring."

The ride back to Gibbs' went by in a blur. He didn't speed or take any short cuts, but Abby could barely remember getting back into the car, let alone any of the 15 minute drive. They only thing she had registered was Gibbs' hand covering hers.

"I can't believe…" She looked down at the ring on her hand. "Make it real, Gibbs."

He reached out and traced his fingers along her jaw line. "Okay."

This time she didn't wait for him to come around and open the door. Instead she hopped out and waited for him, accepting the slight scowl with a smile.

Once up the front step, Gibbs used his body to trap her against the front door of his house, leaning in close to whisper against the slope of where her neck and shoulder met. "You need to be sure, Abbs, very, very sure that this is what you want." He couldn't bring her into his bed if it was just an inch she needed to scratch.

"I've never been more sure of anything in my entire life," she pushed her hands up along his chest until she was cupping his face in her hands. "I've been married to you for nine years. Nine, Gibbs. Make it real. Please."

Gibbs looked down at her, watching her watch him. He loved that all he saw was love in her eyes and it suddenly hit him, that it was the same thing he always saw in her eyes (minus the few times he'd caught her doing something she wasn't supposed too, and even then it was still there, just slightly clouded by mischief). He didn't fight the grin that spread across his face. "Shouldn't I carry the misses over the threshold?"

Abby grinned back. "I think it's a little late for that." She reached down to her side and twisted the doorknob, steadying herself when the door pushed open at their weight against it.

"Rushing me, Abbs?"

"Rushing you?" Abby pulled him inside and pushed the door shut, smiling to herself when he reached for the lock. "I've waited nine years Gibbs… if that's rushing you, then yeah. Damn right, I'm rushing you." She shrugged out of her jacket and tossed it over a chair in his living room before turning back to face him.

She hadn't expected him to be right there, but the feeling of one of his hands on her hip and the other coming up to grip the back of her neck had her knees shaking.

He didn't wait to kiss her, only waiting long enough for her to turn around. The words on her lips dying before she had the chance to speak. It wasn't their first kiss; that had been at the court house. It had been a simple kiss, their lips touching together to finish the small ceremony. This was anything but simple. He crushed his lips to hers, teasing his way into her mouth, showing her just how much he wanted her, leaving her breathless.

"Mmm, should've done that at our wedding."

"You want a real wedding?" He didn't, but suddenly all he wanted was whatever she wanted. If she wanted a real wedding he'd give it to her.

"No," she shook her head. "Want you to kiss me again."

Gibbs smirked. "I could do that." He leaned in to press a softer kiss to her lips, "but I'd rather take you upstairs."

Abby nodded and took his hand, allowing him to lead her toward his bedroom. She entered without hesitation – she had been in his room on multiple occasions, grabbing a shirt, helping him when he'd been shot, but she'd never spent the night – and sat on the edge of the bed, looking around at everything in a new light.

Gibbs sat beside her, tilting her chin up to his for another kiss.

She gripped the front of his shirt in her hands as he kissed her, sighing happily against his lips. She was surprised at how gentle he was compared to his first kiss. Abby was breathless by the time they parted, "we just gonna… gonna make out like teenagers?"

"Feel like one," Gibbs pressed his forehead to hers before standing up to shed his jacket.

As Gibbs shrugged out of his jacket, Abby reached for her shoes, but was stopped by Gibbs. "Let me."

"The boss at work and at home, huh?" Abby swept her hand along his cheek with a smile.

"Not the boss, Abbs. Just want the chance to undress you." For real, not just with my eyes. Gibbs reached out to undo the top button on her blouse.

Abby flushed slightly and stood still and he slowly pushed one button after the other through the small holes holding her shirt closed. When he pushed the fabric off her shoulders, and down her arms, her heart skipped a beat. His lips were warm and soft against her collar bone and left a trail of fire as he kissed out along her shoulder.

He smiled when her hands moved to his shoulders, up the back of his head so her fingers could tangle in his hair.


"Hmm?" Gibbs switched his focus from her shoulder to the spider web on her neck.

Abby moaned as his hands dropped to the button and zipper on the black skirt she was wearing. He let it fall to her feet for her to kick away, his hands dropping to her hips to pull her close.

To Abby, it seemed like an eternity before they were stretched out on the bed, their movements synchronized. He was gentle at first, his touches soft and reassuring, but it didn't take much for Abby encourage him – faster, harder, stronger.

As her nails raked down his back, he leaned in to nip at her neck. She gasped as the sudden pain, and then purred as he soothed the hurt away with his tongue.

She rolled him onto his back and then straddled him, taking him inside again. She rocked back and forth slowly, watching the way his eyes roamed over her body, taking in every inch of her.

He watched the way she moved, the way she moaned when he brushed his thumb across her clit.

By the time they had both finished, Abby lay spread out over Gibbs' chest, listening as his heart beat thundered below her ear. "Gibbs?"

"Hmm?" He pressed his lips to her forehead and tightened his arms around her.

"We should've done this a long time ago. Nine years ago."



"It wasn't right back then. You said it yourself you didn't love me back then," he quieted her before she could speak. "I still would have gone to Mexico. If we had been in a relationship then, I would have ruined it. I'm lucky I didn't ruin what we've got now."

Abby nodded. "But think of all the good times we could've had already."

"We've had good times, Abbs. Just not in bed. I don't regret that we've taken this long to get here. We're doing this right."

"Ok, but couldn't this have happened a year ago?"

Gibbs grinned and pressed another kiss to her forehead. "Okay, a year ago would have been good."

"You're mine now," Abby held up her hand, flashing the ring at him. "I've got your ring on, so don't you think you're ever walking out of my life. Ever."

"Understood." Gibbs shifted out from under her so he could reach down for the blankets they had kicked away, and covered them both. Once they were tucked in, and Abby was back in his arms, he glanced at the clock.


"Hey Abbs?"

She responded with a kiss first. "Yeah?"

"Happy birthday."

The End.