Wasn't sure if I was going to split this into two or not, but I don't know if I'll be around to post again the next day or so... so I've wrapped it all up here. Thanks so much for all the lovely reviews and private msg's with comments, questions and suggestions. I hope I got to everyone's review... I think I did, but if I missed you, I apologize. Thanks for sticking with it, and if anyone has any plot ideas... I'm always looking for more!
Abby watched him leave with tears in her eyes. The way she had pushed him away earlier, wanting to stay in her apartment a while longer, had been hard on him, though she thought he had misunderstood how long she had wanted to stay. She figured he assumed she meant days, whereas she had only wanted a few hours. The last thing he had said, about wanting her in his life for good, had confirmed everything for her, so as she turned back to her bedroom, she had no hesitations as she started pulling things out of her closet.
She hated how upset he had looked, as if he thought she had doubts about them, but she was determined to put his fears to rest. She found her suitcase in the back of her closet and placed it on the bed, filling it with clothes she would need for the immediate future, as well as a few personal things – a photo of the team, and a small teddy bear Gloria had given her shortly before she had passed away.
She rolled her suitcase to the front door and then tidied up around her apartment, not wanting to run right to his place. The last few hours had been intense, and she knew that they both needed a little time deal with it all, despite her wanting to just curl up in his arms. She knew it was the adrenaline, but she was on edge, every little noise making the hair on the back of her neck stand up. She kept herself busy for as long as she could before she struggled down the stairs in front of her building and then rolled her suitcase to her car.
The drive to Gibbs' house was quick, but she was a bit concerned to see that his car was gone. She debated on whether or not she should call him, but decided she didn't want to push him. So she parked, and wheeled her suitcase up the front step. The door was locked, but he had given her a key, so she let herself in, left her suitcase by the stairs up to his bedroom and made herself comfortable on the couch. As soon as she was comfortable, she felt herself slowly fall asleep. Gibbs house was comfortable, and even though she was alone, she felt safe. Curling up on his couch was the next best thing to curling up in his arms. She just hoped she could curl up in his arms as soon as he was home, and that he didn't try to push her away again.
She was determined to explain it all.
Gibbs was surprised to see Abby's car parked in front of his house. Once he left her apartment, he'd gone for a drive to clear his mind and then picked up some groceries at the store. He had been gone a few hours and hoped that she hadn't been waiting for him long. He pushed open the front door and glanced around, closing it quietly behind him when he saw her sleeping on the sofa. He carried his groceries to the kitchen and put them away before starting coffee. Once the coffee pot was turned on, he headed back toward the living room and sat on the edge of the couch. He reached out and brushed the hair from her face, gently tracing her cheek with his fingertips. She startled at his touch. "Shh, just me," he soothed.
It took her a moment to piece things together, but suddenly her eyes were open and she pushed herself up to a sitting position. "Please don't kick me out, let me explain."
A hint of a smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. "I'm not going to kick you out."
"Okay," she let out a sigh of relief. "I… earlier, when I said I needed time at my apartment, I think you misunderstood me. I didn't mean I wanted to stay there, like overnight, I just meant a few hours. Kinda like when you need some quiet time in the basement, I just needed a little time. Not a lot, and I've certainly had plenty now. I just wanted the chance to go through some photo albums and dig through my drawers and… you know, just… be with my stuff."
Gibbs nodded. "You've been through a lot lately. I just want you to be sure that this is what you want. Things were rushed between us and it's okay for you to take some time. I don't want to pressure you into anything." He picked up her hand and traced over the lines in her palm. "I've spent so much time hovering around you, for my own sake and wanting to keep you safe, I haven't given you much time to think."
"Gibbs," Abby pulled her hand out of his and reached up to touch his face, "I've never been surer of anything in my life, ever," she said. Then added, "except that I love science," with a grin.
"I thought I lost you," he turned his head to kiss her palm, "it nearly killed me."
"Gibbs, why are we going through this again? I love you, and I want to be with you. I just needed the chance to look through some of my stuff. I know you were upset with me for not taking Rex seriously as a threat and I get it… I was wrong, but why do you doubt what I feel for you? Why are you so convinced that I need more time to think it over?"
Gibbs swallowed against the lump in his throat. "I want you to be damn sure, because I want you here with me, in myhome, and because I want this to be our home."
Abby wasn't sure she had ever seen so much emotion pass over his face. She was so taken aback at how much he was able to convey with just a simple look that it took her a long minute to respond. "I have a lot of stuff."
Gibbs was caught off guard by her response. "I'll make room for everything."
"And I need high speed internet."
"I'll call first thing tomorrow."
"And a puppy."
Gibbs' eyebrows shot up.
"Only kidding, just testing my limits." Abby leaned forward and into his arms.
They moved together until they were curled up on the couch, their legs stretched out and their heels on the coffee table. "If you really want a puppy, you can have a puppy." Shannon had asked about a puppy for Kelly, but they had decided to wait until she was a bit older and could take on more of the responsibility.
"I would love a puppy, but with our work schedules, it's not fair to the dog. Unless you could convince Vance that every day is take your dog to work day."
"Doubtful." He pressed his lips to her temple. "But I'll give it a try, if you want."
"Sometimes I worry that you'll make yourself sick of me by being so focused on trying to keep me safe," she admitted honestly. With how focused he could become, she didn't want him to come to resent her for how much of his time she was taking up. He had always cared about her, but he had plenty of time and space to himself before all this had happened. "I don't want you to resent me."
Gibbs understood her worry – he often felt the same, worried that his over-protectiveness would push her away. He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed over her knuckles before nipping at her fingertips. "How about we make sure we make time for ourselves?"
Abby nodded. "If you ever just want to be undisturbed in your basement, just tell me. I won't be offended. And I… if I ever just say I'm going to the library, or to my lab… I'm not mad at you, I just need quiet, to think."
"We can give you a quiet space here."
"Nah, it's okay." She liked the guest room the way it was and didn't want to have to worry about putting things away for times that Jackson needed a place to stay, or even one of the team. Kelly's room was also upstairs, but as far as she was concerned, it was a non-issue. Their ghosts were welcome to stay, and she had no intention of moving things out of there. "I don't want to clutter the guest room with stuff. I like it simple, the way it is. Not that I want to sleep there when your bed is much more cozy and comes with a warm, comfortable, muscular, sexy body..." she ran her hand across his chest and then squeezed his bicep.
"Wasn't thinking of the guest room, was thinking of Kelly's old room."
Abby was shaking her head before he even mentioned her name. "Nope."
"Why?" Gibbs hadn't expected her to be so against it.
"Because I've heard all the horror stories of your ex-wives wanting to turn it into a sitting room or whatever, so no. Plus, my biggest concern is how I'm going to get all my clothes upstairs in your closet," she changed the subject.
"We'll make it work."
They sat together, talking, until nearly mid-night, grabbing a bit to eat when their stomachs started to growl, and then curling up together again. Once their yawns threatened to snap their jaws in half, Gibbs helped her to carry her suitcase up to his room. He set it down and watched as she opened it and grabbed something. "I have one other request."
She held up a framed photo of the team. "Can we put this up somewhere, it's my absolute favorite."
"Anywhere you want, except in here," he took the photo from her hand and looked it over, a smile on his face. When he was done, he set it face down on the dresser. "I refuse to have the team watching me make love to you."
A soft giggle bubbled up out of Abby and she reached up to Gibbs-slap the back of his head, her slap ending up more of a stroke than a slap. "But I bet Tony would enjoy it."
Gibbs let himself relax as they moved through their bedtime routines. He hadn't really thought ahead to sleeping alone, but now that she was back in his house and getting ready to join him in bed, he was glad that he didn't have to spend the night without her. He doubted he would get much, if any, sleep. Vaguely, he wondered if he'd have gone over and parked outside her building to keep watch even though Rex was locked up. At the very least he'd have spent the night in the basement or on the couch, checking every twenty minutes that he hadn't missed a call or a text, driving himself mad with worry… over nothing.
"Whatcha thinking about?" Abby asked as she slipped under the covers, rubbing the last of the lotion into her arms.
"Good, hot, sexy things, I hope?"
Gibbs smiled and held out his arm, inviting her to snuggle in close.
"Because if you're not thinking those things, then really… why bother thinking about me at all?"
"Are you going to have nightmares tonight? About… about everything that's happened? Rex…?"
Gibbs sighed as she wrapped her arms around his middle, and pressed a kiss to his chest. "I don't think so."
"Wake me up if you do, okay? If you can't fall back asleep, alright?" She pushed herself up so she could lean in for a kiss. "Love you."
"Love you too."
Abby's first two weeks back at work full time was just what she hoped. No big cases keeping them over-night, but it wasn't slow enough for her to spend time second guessing her work either. Gibbs was adamant that they leave before dinner time and he checked in on her regularly – if he wasn't around he had someone else check in on her. The first weekend she had been too exhausted to do much of anything, but by the time the second Friday rolled around, she was ready for a long weekend relaxing with Gibbs and maybe spending some time outdoors. They still hadn't had time to figure out moving the rest of her stuff into her apartment.
"Hey babe," Tony strolled into her lab at quitting time on Friday. "Whatcha up to this weekend?"
"Ugh, I don't want to hear about what you and the boss do between the sheets." Tony made a show of being grossed out.
"Shut it, Tony." Abby grinned at him. "I'm excited to sleep in."
"Me too, but then I was wondering if you want to grab lunch or come over and watch a movie or something. You know, like old times. Hang out."
"I don't know…"
"Sounds like a good idea to me," Gibbs scared them both.
"Jesus, what have I told you about sneaking into my lab!"
Gibbs grinned and moved to her side, sliding an arm around her. "You weren't paying attention, nothing I could do."
"Now you know how I feel when he sneaks up on me in the squad room. But anyway, you wanna hang out tomorrow?"
"I… I guess, if you don't mind?" She looked to Gibbs.
"Nah, plenty of time this weekend. I've got some stuff to work on in the basement anyway."
His encouragement was all she needed. "Okay then."
"Great! I'll pick you up at ten, we'll have a fun day. And I'll have her home before dark, boss."
Gibbs snorted at that and headed back to the elevators. "Come up when you're ready, Abbs. I'm done for the day."
"You're sure you don't mind?" Abby asked for the third time as they climbed into bed. "We had decided to relax all weekend."
"I'm sure, it's good to see you back to your regular self. Tony's missed you. I think he's been a bit cautious about taking you out. It'll be good for the both of you. Plus," he pulled her in and rolled over her, "I get you tonight."
"Gibbs!" Abby shrieked as he attacked her with kisses, his boyish side making an appearance. Abby felt as though sometimes she had to peel back his layers to get his playful side out, but once they were in bed, he was all smiles.
As much as she wanted a relaxing morning in bed – especially after their less-than-restful night before – by the time they woke, Abby was excited to head out with Tony. Gibbs sent her on her way with a kiss to the cheek as he refilled his coffee mug and went to sit down with the newspaper.
For once they were both feeling relaxed. Getting back into the swing of work had given them both something other than each other to focus on, and it put them both at ease.
"So I was thinking brunch first, then maybe a walk around some of the monuments, you know, work off all those calories, and then maybe a movie and some sugary snacks at my place?"
"Perfect!" Abby buckled herself into the passenger seat of Tony's car and they headed on their way. Tony took her to his favorite place for brunch and they found a quiet corner to sit in. "So things for you and the boss, they're good?"
"Very good. I'm… I'm really happy."
"I can tell," Tony smiled, "you both are. And it's good to see."
Abby smiled back. "You can tell he's happy, too?"
"Totally! The force of his head-slaps doesn't have me on the verge of a concussion anymore."
"Your scientific evidence is groundbreaking, thanks."
"Oh hey, what about Rex? How is that going?"
Abby fiddled with her napkin, "they are still monitoring him and stuff. They asked me if I wanted to press charges," she shrugged, "Gibbs wasn't happy about it, but jail isn't the right place for him. He needs help, so I agreed to drop any charges against him as long as he went somewhere that would keep him and those around him safe. Ironically enough there is a place, just outside of Santa Fe, that has agreed to take him in."
"Maybe he's been there before?"
"Maybe. I haven't dug into it too much. I guess I just don't want to know, my only thing was that I want to be notified if he ever leaves the residence. They've agreed to notify police. No way I want him showing up back around here, Gibbs won't hesitate to pull the trigger again, you know?"
"Yeah, I get it. I mean, I know this guy took care of you and I can see how you want him to get help, but from Gibbs point-of-view, this guy is a nut job that tried to kidnap you. I'd probably pull the trigger, too."
Once they had the more serious bits out of the way, the fell back into their semi-childish behavior, discussing pop culture, the hot women that passed the window by their table and planned a night at the bar.
It was just past dinner time when Tony pulled up outside of Gibbs' house. Abby called Gibbs and offered to bring home food, but he said he had already made something to eat, with plenty extra if she hadn't had dinner yet. She tried to invite Tony in, but he claimed to have something to do, so she kissed his cheek and headed up the front steps.
"Have a good time?" Gibbs asked as Abby shut the door behind her.
"Yes, I… what's all this?" Abby stopped short when she saw the dining table was set for two, candles glowing.
"Made you dinner," he paused to kiss her as he moved around her and went to the kitchen to grab their plates.
"Did you… is that why you were eager to send me off with Tony?"
Gibbs laughed. "I wasn't eager to send you off so I could make you dinner. Have a seat."
"But Tony knew, right?"
Gibbs shrugged. "He's a smart guy, probably."
Abby sat down and let Gibbs serve her steak, mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. "I'm going to owe you many, many favors once we head to bed. This looks wonderful."
"You don't owe me anything, but I will gladly accept a thank you in the form of physical appreciation." He would never say no to that. "How was your day, have a good time with DiNozzo?"
Abby nodded and took a bite. "Yeah, it was good to do something normal outside of work. I feel like I spent so much time trying to remember, rather than just letting things happen. We talked a little about Rex and I told him everything that was going on, so I think he fully expects to be the first one you call, should Rex be released."
Once they got past the topic of Rex, dinner conversation was light. "What'd you do today?"
"Worked around the house, nothing much," Gibbs shrugged.
She found it odd that he shrugged off her question so quickly, but she decided to say nothing. He had his right to spend a day around the house and do nothing. She was still worried about stepping on his toes after he had spent so many years alone in his house.
Gibbs could see it on her face that she was worried about asking too many questions, or demanding too much information, which he found amusing considering how over-protective he was. He glanced at her plate, she was almost done (if not actually done) eating. He scooted back his chair and stood, "come with me." He waited for her to stand and then held out his hand, offering it to her.
She was cautious as she took his hand and let him lead her up the stairs. "Eager for your thank you?" She teased, unsure of what else to say.
"Nope, something to show you."
"Gibbs, what's with you?"
He was quiet as he led her up the stairs. He went past the bathroom, the guest room and the master bedroom, stopping outside the door to Kelly's room. "Go in."
"Gibbs…" Abby hesitated, "what are you…?"
Gibbs could see that she was uncomfortable, so he leaned forward and twisted the door knob and pushed it open. He could tell the exact minute that everything registered. She gasped, her body tensed, and her hand flew to her mouth.
"Go in…" he nudged her forward. Kelly's room had been a faded pink, with stacks of dusty boxes. Now, with a little help from Tony it had been transformed into an office for her. The walls were painted a soft grey with the exception of one that was accented in a deep, dark purple. For the past two weeks he had been building furniture – a desk, and large bookshelf. For the past week he'd sent Tony to his house for a few hours at a time to supervise the painters and air out the hallway so she didn't smell anything. He'd taken the old furniture to good will and re-boxed everything he wanted to keep and moved it to the attic. She never went near the room, so he wasn't too worried, and he'd made the furniture in smaller pieces, telling her he was working on items for his next boat. Then, with Tony's assistance in keeping her out all day, he'd carried it all up two flights of stairs and put it together.
The shelves and desk were empty, and there was a spot for a small sofa or oversized chair, or even her coffin if she wanted. Most of her personal belongings were still at her apartment, but Tony had stopped by and picked up one of her favorite lamps to give the room some light.
"I… I'm speechless." She was frozen in place.
"I'm no good with decorating, so I'll leave that to you, but plenty of room for all your books and photos and whatever else. You can still have your stuff around the house, but so you have you own space as well," he didn't want her to think she had to contain all her stuff to one room. "Tony suggested the wall colors. We can change that too, if it's not what you want."
"So you like it?"
"But what about… everything?"
"I dropped the stuff I didn't want to keep at goodwill, and the rest I packed up and moved to the attic."
"But this was… it was her room." And he'd kept it as her room for over 18 years.
"Was," he agreed. "I don't come in here to remember her, I… I use the basement. This room was only collecting dust. And this is a much better use for it."
"I don't… I don't know what to say."
"Just want you to be comfortable in our house. It's our house now."
Abby turned and threw her arms around him and buried her face against his neck. She was suddenly overcome with emotion at the fact that he had done this for her. She remembered him telling her about his ex's and how they had been quick to want to redecorate, thinking they'd turn Kelly's old room into a new nursery, or a home gym. "I am comfortable, I just… you can't turn your house upside down to fit me in. I love your house the way it is." She wiped a tear from her cheek.
Gibbs smiled, "I know, but I want your stuff around too. And plus, this room has valuable closet space that I'm sure we'll need. Your skirts might not take up much room," he slipped his hands down over her ass and gave her a quick squeeze, "but still, the closet in our room won't hold everything."
Abby turned in his arms to lean back against him, her eyes looking over the room again. "I can't wait to get it all set up."
"We can start tomorrow."
Abby spent the majority of Sunday morning hastily packing her books, photos and small trinkets. The rest of her apartment could be packed later, but the stuff for her office was high priority. Gibbs boxed up her DVD's and wrapped up her TV and loaded in his truck and then helped her carry the boxes she had packed down as well. She was bubbly as they drove back to the house, rattling on about where to hang which photo, and how to organize her books. Gibbs helped her carry everything up, and then brought the tv to the living room. They still needed to figure out some sort of tv stand – they both agreed that hers didn't fit with the rest of what he owned, so while Abby unpacked upstairs, Gibbs set out to do a few sketches on something he could build.
At dinner time Gibbs ordered pizza and headed upstairs to check on Abby. "How're things going?" He leaned against the doorway and watched as she flattened another box.
"Good, I think I've got most everything up, but… it's missing… something."
"Yeah? Like what?" They still needed to put her coffin in, but she was staring at the wall of bookshelves.
"I don't… I'm not…" she sighed. "Something." She moved to his side and leaned into him. "Actually, um… do you have, um... would you mind if… can I have a photo of Kelly?" She tensed as she waited for a reply.
Gibbs was quiet a moment and then stepped out of the room, "wait just a minute…"
Abby was terrified that she had pushed him too far with her question, so she waited, glued to her spot.
"Here, maybe you want another frame, but for now…?" He used his shirt to wipe the thick layer of dust off the glass. Kelly was grinning up at the camera, her favorite doll clutched to her cheek. "This is a good one." He handed it to Abby.
A slow smile spread across Abby's face as she looked at the photo in her hands. She went over to the bookshelf and rearranged a few things, placing Kelly's photo between a small toy from her own childhood and a little bear that Tony had given her. "I love it."
"Perfect," Gibbs wrapped his arms around her middle and kissed the back of her head between her pigtails.
He tightened his arms around her and kissed the shell of her ear, "I know." He wanted to elaborate, make sure she truly understood that he was okay with the change, but the doorbell interrupted him. "That'll be the pizza."
"Oh, good! I'm starving!" Abby wriggled free of his grasp and was out the door in a flash, her footsteps hurrying down the steps.
Gibbs watched her go and then turned back to look at all of Abby's stuff, his attention moving back to the photo of Kelly on the shelf. He walked over and picked up again, smiling down at it. "You know," he started; it wasn't often that he spoke aloud to them, "when I lost you, I thought this was it for me. That I'd end up alone in this old house, with nothing but dust-covered memories. But I'm not alone. Not anymore." He brushed his fingers over her face and set the frame back where Abby had put it.
He could smell the pizza before he was downstairs. Abby was on the couch with the box in her lap and a bite of pizza in her mouth. "Hungry much?"
"I've been working hard, Gibbs! You've just been drawing!" She pointed to his sketches of TV stands.
Gibbs rested his arm along the back of the couch behind her and picked up a slice. "I carried boxes earlier. Plus, I'll need my strength for later," he leaned over and took a bite from her slice, "thinking you'll need your strength as well."