Author's Note: I apologize for not posting this sooner. It's been a crazy couple of weeks, but at least another year didn't lapse! Anyway, I'm not sure how I feel about the second part of the chapter, but everything else I had in my head sucked, so it is what it is.
"Tim… what are we doing here?"
Tim smiled as he parked in front of Vittorino's. "I told you earlier. I made reservations."
Yes, she remembered that… That was before he roasted, toasted, and burnt her rear to a crisp. Then, once she'd calmed down, he'd encouraged her to take a shower and get changed. 'Put on something nice,' he'd said. It had confused her at the time, but now she understood. Her little black dress was perfect for the restaurant's dressier atmosphere. "I know that, Timmy, but that was before… well… you know."
"You said you were hungry now."
"Yes, but I don't know if I can sit through dinner…"
He chuckled. "We'll sit in a booth; they're well-cushioned. You'll be fine. I really wanted to take you out to dinner tonight, and it seems I made the reservations for just the right time." Getting out of the car, he walked around and opened the passenger side door for her. Tim held out his hand to Abby, smiling as she took it and stepped out of the car. "Have I told you how beautiful you look tonight?"
A smile played on her lips. "You might've mentioned that once or twice. But why are you so insistent on eating here?"
"Why are you so insistent on not eating here?" he countered. Tim wrapped an arm around Abby's shoulders and guided her inside the restaurant.
They were escorted to their booth almost immediately. It took Abby a moment to find a comfortable position, but finally she was able to sit without squirming much. Although she hadn't admitted it to Tim outright, she was happy to be at Vittorino's. It was, after all, her favorite restaurant, and it had an extra special meaning to her. Vittorino's had been the restaurant Abby and Tim had eaten at on their first date.
They ordered their meals – Abby, the lasagna, and Tim, the chicken parmesan. They chatted about their day at work while they waited for the food to arrive. It might've seemed odd to the average outsider that they worked in the same place yet hardly saw each other at times, but it wasn't unusual for them. Tim told Abby about the people he'd had to interview that day, while Abby told Tim what she'd learned from the evidence in her lab.
An hour later, they were both comfortably full, their hands intertwined on the table. Yes, Abby was glad they'd gone out for dinner. In spite of her bottom, she'd had a wonderful time.
"Thank you, Timmy. I'm glad we came."
He smiled, but it didn't seem to be his typical smile. He seemed as though he had something on his mind. "I'm glad we came too, Abby. I want to, um, talk to you about something, and I'd really like it if you listened all the way through. Can you do that?"
Abby was confused, but she nodded. "Sure, Tim. What's going on?"
Tim took a deep breath. "I remember when I first saw you at NCIS. You were this cute little Goth who I didn't know quite what to make of. You were smart, funny, and not at all what I expected the lab person to look like. But I was intrigued by you.
"As I got to know you, you became one of my closest friends. I felt like I could talk to you about anything, and no matter what you thought of the dorky things I'd say or do, you stood by my side. I enjoyed our 'family' that had developed over time at work.
"And then, I started seeing you as more than a friend. When you agreed to go out with me that first time, I was elated. And before I knew it, I'd fallen in love with you."
Abby felt her eyes become misty. "Timmy…"
Tim slid out of the booth and walked to Abby's side. She turned so she could look at him. Her heart caught in her throat when he knelt down in front of her and took her hand once more.
"I know I will never find anyone else on earth like you, Abby. You are the first thing I want to see when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing I want to see before I go to sleep at night. I love you, Abigail Sciuto," he said as he pulled a small box out of his pocket and opened it. "Will you marry me?"
Abby didn't trust her voice to work properly, so she nodded her head, blinking back the tears that threatened to spill as she stared at the most incredible ring she'd ever seen. A black diamond, clearer than any she'd ever seen, was surrounded by smaller white diamonds, set on a delicate white gold band. He took the ring from the box and, taking her left hand in his, carefully slid the ring onto her finger.
Standing, Tim pulled Abby to her feet. Before he could say or do anything, she wrapped her arms around his neck and planted her lips on his.
On any given day an outsider would watch Abby in amazement. She was a contradiction, walking around in dark, Goth attire, all while maintaining a cheerful disposition. Today's outfit consisted of a black tee, a short, pleated red plaid skirt (complete with a chain belt), black boots, and two black pigtails. To someone who didn't know her, it was downright confusing.
However, that next morning at work, even the people closest to Abby seemed to be surprised by her exuberance. She was bouncier than usual, with a goofy grin that wouldn't leave her face. Everyone was whispering back and forth about what had Abby Sciuto so bubbly.
Out of all of the explanations or suggestions they had as to the cause, no one mentioned the new piece of jewelry that adorned her left hand. They hadn't seen it yet, as it would've only fueled the rumor frenzy. Abby herself was a bit surprised by this, as she wasn't exactly trying to hide the ring, but she didn't stop to ponder it or stare at the glittering jewels on her finger (she'd done quite a bit of that already the night before).
Abby was looking at a particularly interesting microorganism under the microscope when the door to her lab opened.
"Hey, Tony," she said with a smile, not looking up from the microscope. "Amazingly gorgeous day, isn't it?"
"I guess you could say that," Tony agreed, though less energetically. "What are you up to?"
"Looking at some bacteria from the lieutenant's hands. It's amazing how something so small and so beautiful can be so deadly." She straightened and twirled to face him, the silly grin still on her face. "What can I do for you?"
Tony narrowed his eyes, scrutinizing her. "You're rather peppy today, Abs."
Abby chuckled. "And that's unusual how?"
"More than normal," Tony amended
"There's no such thing as normal," Abby countered.
"Everyone at NCIS is talking about it."
She snorted softly, though she didn't stop smiling. "No one at NCIS has anything better to talk about than my mood?"
"There are rumors flying around."
"Really," she mused.
"They're saying you've found a new job…"
She knew he was looking for some subconscious reaction to his comment, to either confirm or refute the rumor. "Are they now?"
"Or that maybe you've won the lottery…"
"Is that so?"
"Or that you and McDweeb did the McNasty last night."
"Whether or not Tim and I had wild, passionate sex last night is irrelevant," she said casually, as if they were discussing the weather.
"A-ha! So it's true then!"
"I didn't confirm or deny the rumor. I just said it's irrelevant."
Tony growled in frustration. "Then why in the world…" He stopped abruptly, his eyes darting from her face to her hips, where her hands were now settled. "What. Is. That?"
Of course Abby knew what Tony meant, but it wouldn't be nearly as fun to just come out and say it. "What is what?"
His expression was incredulous and accusing all at once. "You know what!"
"I really don't," she insisted with a straight face, "but you could always enlighten me."
"You have a piece of jewelry on a particular finger on your left hand."
Abby pretended to just notice the ring. "I do? Huh. How about that…"
"Abby!" Tony exclaimed exasperatedly.
"What's wrong, Tony?" The giggle escaped her lips before she could stop it. The clueless façade was beginning to fail.
"Where did that ring come from?"
"A store, I'd imagine. Don't rings usually come from stores?"
He threw his hands up in the air. "Oh for the love of…"
Bouncing over to the senior field agent, Abby threw her arms around Tony for a sisterly hug. "I'm sorry, Tony. I couldn't resist."
"So glad you're having fun at my expense," he muttered.
She took a step back and grinned. "McGee proposed last night."
Pulling Abby into his arms, Tony spun her around. "Congratulations, Abs. I'm going to have a talk with McGee… I can't believe he kept this a secret from me!"
Abby smirked. "If he had told you, it wouldn't have been a secret from anyone any longer."
"I can keep a secret!" Tony exclaimed indignantly.
"Sure you can…"
"I can. So, let me see this ring!"
She held out her left hand for Tony to inspect. He held it gently, tilting her hand a bit to better see the gemstones. "McGee has decent taste," he admitted, slightly begrudgingly. "What's the black stone in the middle?"
"A black diamond," Abby explained.
Tony chuckled. "A black diamond… I have to hand it to Probie, he knows you well."
"I would hope so."
"Does anyone else know?"
Abby shook her head. "Not yet. I was going to tell you all tonight, but you just couldn't wait, could you?"
"Sorry," he offered, though he didn't sound sorry at all.
"Eh, it was inevitable. But do you think you could manage to keep your mouth shut about it? McGee wants to be there, so we can tell everyone together."
"I told you I can keep a secret, Abs. But you know, you're going to have to stop calling McGee 'McGee.'"
"Why's that?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.
"You're going to be a McGee soon, too."