Notes: I really shouldn't be writing anything but my assignment for the NCIS ficathon on LJ right now, but I was inspired by the prompt for "No Safety Pin" LJ challenge: "Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage". Also, I was watching Season 1's "Minimum Security", and I found an exchange between Tony and Paula interesting (Tony:" Never broken a rule?", Paula: "Have you?", Tony: "If the risk is worth it.").

"We haven't had lunch together in so long!" Abby squealed around a bite of her salad.

Tony's head turned up in thought. He couldn't remember the last time he had lunch with Abby. Months. Maybe a year. He usually—

"You always eat with Ziva," Abby pouted playfully.

Indeed. "Today I'm eating with you," he grinned. He took a big bite out of his burger. Ziva would have given him a really hard time if he tried to order a cheeseburger with bacon and fried onion rings, plus a side of fries.

"I'm your fallback," Abby teased.

"No…" Well, maybe.

"Would you be eating with me if Ziva wasn't at the dentist?"

No, probably not, he thought. But to Abby, he just shrugged. He didn't need to answer out loud. She knew. "I'm having a good time though. Ziva doesn't let me eat stuff like this." He shoved a few fries in his mouth to punctuate that point.

"She doesn't let you?"


"Like, she actually tells you that you can't order something?" Abby was way too amused by this.

When she put it that way it sounded bad."No, not exactly…"

"What exactly?"

"She gives me such a hard time about eating something this greasy that it's just easier not to. She just wants me to eat better." And truth be told, his stomach usually felt a little better after lunch than it did today.

"That's good," Abby smirked. "Wishing you'd eaten better today now?"

He scowled, pushing his plate away. He didn't need the rest of those fries. He picked up his water and took a big gulp.

"So, what's new? You haven't been down in the lab without Gibbs in like forever."

"What's new?" Tony pondered. "I don't know if anything's new. We've been slow." Out of habit, he reached across and took a forkful of her salad.

Abby quirked up an eyebrow, but continued on her line of questioning. "I'm not talking about work."

"What do you want to know then?"

"Are you still dating Agent Barrett? I saw her around the other day…"

Tony shook his head. "I was never really dating E.J…."

"Are you still sleeping with her then?" Abby asked with a chuckle.

"No, that's done," he assured her quickly. "I've had to see her a few times for work stuff, but nothing more than that." He prayed Abby wouldn't ask for more details. He'd already filled in Ziva and Gibbs on some of the details of the Black Op he was working on, because he couldn't bring himself to lie to either of them. He didn't want to lie to Abby either, but he really couldn't tell anyone else.

Thankfully, for that at least, Abby's focus was much more gossipy than serious today. She asked, "Decided you didn't click?"

"We clicked well enough," he shrugged, "It was a few weeks of fun. It was never supposed to be anything more serious than that. Casual fun."

Abby's brow furrowed.

"What?" he demanded.

"I don't get it."

Tony sighed. "What don't you get?"

"If it was all just for fun, and not serious at all, why did you ifinally/i risk breaking Rule 12 with her?"

"She wasn't on our team, so I didn't consider it—"

"Gibbs did."

"I know."

"Why was she worth the risk?" Abby asked, curious.

He knew where Abby was headed with this, in her roundabout way. He hesitated for a moment before he answered, "Because there was no risk."

Abby's face scrunched up again. "But Gibbs was mad at you."

She didn't get it. Truthfully though, he had only recently started to "get it" himself.

"I know that, but that's not the risk I'm talking about," he began.

Abby sat quietly, just waiting for Tony to continue.

"I mean, Gibbs' Rules, most of them are helpful. And logical. Straightforward, basic stuff. Always carry a knife. Great. Never let suspects stay together. Makes sense. But Rule 12 doesn't make sense. It exists because Gibbs couldn't make things work out with Jenny."

He paused to collect his thoughts, and Abby nodded along with his last point. His phone chirped the arrival of a text message from Ziva. He picked it up

I need a root canal :(

"Aww, she has to get a root canal," he told Abby. He quickly keyed in: aww. that sucks. need anything?

Almost immediately she responded: maybe later

Tony typed: let me know. good luck!. He put down the phone and turned back to Abby.

She was looking at him with amusement. "I hate the dentist."

"I know," he grinned. He recalled her mourning the death of her tooth.

"Are you going to take care of her later?"

"If she'll let me," he smiled. He was certainly going to try.

"Hmm," Abby exhaled.

"Hmm, what?" he couldn't help but ask, even though he was pretty sure where this musing was going.

"If you think Rule 12 is stupid, why have you never—"

"I have only recently decided that Rule 12 really doesn't make sense," he answered carefully.

Abby nodded.

"And then it comes down to what we were taking about before. Risk."

"Breaking the Rule isn't the real risk," Abby summed it up.

Tony shook his head.

She studied him for a moment before asking, "Now why do you think it's so risky? It seems to totally make sense. You are obviously crazy about her."

He chuckled. "Obviously?"

"I saw the way you smiled when she texted you. And the picture that comes up when she calls! I'm surprised it's taken six years."

"It's complicated."

"What's complicated about it?" Abby challenged.

"It can't be something casual again," Tony sighed. Abby's eyebrows shot up, but she didn't interrupt him. "It's too important. If we take the risk…it's taken us so long to fix…it has to work."

Abby patted the top of his hand. "Take the risk. If you wait for it to be perfect it never will be."

"No, I guess it won't," he exhaled.

"Really, Tony. You two make each other miserable dating other people. It's worth the risk."

He nodded. Maybe it was worth the risk.