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He was never going to be able to look at a toothbrush the same way again. Toothbrushes had betrayed him. Something so innocuous, causing so much grief. Any reasonable person would have skipped a night. If she didn't have that weird thing about her teeth… He should have forfeited his to her threat. He could have bought another so easily, anything to prevent what had almost happened and their current situation.
One of them would lose this battle eventually. They could not continue staring at each other for very much longer. The longer they waited the worse it got. This was Abby. Gibbs was already going to lose his mind. If he wasn't careful, Gibbs was going to be coming after him, right alongside Mawer, with a baseball bat. It was already well past the time frame Gibbs would have considered appropriate for the call to be made. That grace period had ended about two seconds after Mcgee had pried Abby off of him and did a preliminary once over to make sure she wasn't hurt. Then they would have been expected to call. Not after they had started this futile argument.
Both of them had logically known what they had to do. Mcgee had turned her around in a circle a few times and settled her back facing him. She was not hurt. He could breathe a little easier knowing that. He was the one who brought up the inevitable. "We have to call Gibbs." She processed for a few seconds. "No, you have to call Gibbs." That didn't go over well. As thankful he was that she was fine, she was the one who had opened the damn door. Twice. Before he came up with a response, she was already validating her point. "You're the agent." While accurate, like that counted for anything. He may be the agent but that wouldn't stop Gibbs from turning on him. "He likes you better." She didn't have a comeback for that, couldn't refute what was true. That was when the stare-off had begun.
They were both stubborn. Mcgee knew that he was doing a decent job of holding his position against her this time. He was one of the few who had never found her as frightening than Gibbs. But then, for a moment, he could see a flash of the other side of Abby. If he didn't know her so well, he would have missed it. It was the side of her that hadn't let him get more then six inches away from her since he'd returned to the apartment. The part of her that wasn't demanding what she wanted but was begging him to do this because she couldn't. She was wrong and she knew it, but she couldn't confess it. Not to Gibbs. This was the side that genuinely needed him. Abby needed him to do this for her. He could never turn that down. He broke off his stare. "Okay. Okay." It wasn't especially comforting that she looked relieved instead of pleased that she had won.
It was settled, Mcgee was going to call Gibbs. It might be one of the last things he ever did. Maybe Gibbs had developed a new sense of mercy in the past few hours. He pulled out his cellphone and stopped. "You should probably put some clothes on." The last thing he needed was Gibbs showing up and thinking they had jumped off the relationship cliff again. Not tonight. Plus, he did not particularly want her hanging around to listen to the explosion he was sure was coming. He waited until she had slunk off into his bedroom before hitting the speed-dial. His throat was closing up. Before the second ring could even finish Gibbs was on the line. "What happened?"
Mcgee flipped through explanations. 'Abby opened the door and her stalker got in' was out. So was 'you know how sometimes things just happen?' He went with the succinct "Mawer was here, Abby's fine." The dead silence on the other end of the line was deafening. The voice Gibbs used was even worse: "did he get to her?" Honesty was best. "Kind of. But she's not hurt." Then came the question he'd been dreading. "Where were you?" Mcgee knew that he was probably going to have to leave the country. Did he even know where his passport was? "My car." "You do not move. You do not do anything until I get there." It definitely wasn't the worst thing in the world that Gibbs had hung up without any further acknowledgment.
Abby returned. She had added pants. She still had his shirt on. Apparently she was going for compromise. She dropped down to the floor, againt the wall, and pulled her knees up to her chest. He couldn't let her sit there alone so he joined her and knocked his head back. It was like waiting on a hurricane to hit. You knew it was coming and that it was going to be bad, but there was nothing you could do to prevent it. He held out his right hand to her and she clung on to it. That gave him something to focus on. Her hand in his, rather than the punishment he would probably be receiving. He would never live this down. He would never be trusted with her again.
It was still and quiet, sort of nice, in a weird way. "You have your gun, right?" "Yes, Abs." He adjusted his left hand so that she could see the metal clasped there. She was sacred. He knew and understood. The clinginess, how she hadn't even pretended to close the door when she went to change, asking about the gun. He didn't like it but there wasn't much he could do to change it right now. Not in their current holding pattern. There wasn't a way for him to make Mawer disappear but he could promise that the creep wasn't getting anywhere near her again as long as she was still with him. "I'm sorry Tim." All he could do was nod. Then they could hear tires squealing in front of his building. They had seconds.
Mad didn't begin to cover it. Gibbs had broken every traffic law in existence to get to Mcgee's apartment. This had been his best option. He had actually thought it out, who should do protection detail. He was busy, he could not focus on finding Mawer if he was trying to watch Abby too. She was comfortable with Mcgee and it helped that this agent typically personified an oversized puppy with a gun. He had needed the loyal guard dog type tonight. Out of the three of them, Mcgee was the one he could trust to handle Abby. He didn't need her going home with Tony just for the two of them to decide it was a good night for drinking games. Gibbs had broken up that little activity more than once. He could not send her with Ziva. There was no way Abby would listen to a word Ziva said. There was too much animosity between them. Mcgee had been his best bet.
Realistically, he was sure there was more to the story than what he had gotten over the phone. Mcgee would not have put her in jeopardy. Gibbs was more than aware of how Abby could manipulate his agent. No, she was somehow involved. But now was not the time to deal with whatever Abby had done to facilitate this turn of events. Not when she was scared and he was angry. Abby's guilt would eat her alive and eventually she would admit to whatever had happened. No matter what Abby had done, Mcgee had messed up too. He had left her alone. That Gibbs could focus on now. It was a clear violation of orders. He had an established pecking order to follow. He swerved onto Mcgee's street.
The door slammed into the wall as the raging bull, formerly known as their boss, barreled through. Mcgee had already been in the process of getting up to face him, Abby still had a hold on his hand and moved along with him. She broke off from Mcgee and went to hug Gibbs. Once he had determined that Mcgee's assessment of her wellbeing was accurate, he had turned to his agent for answers and a report. Mcgee had lightly skipped around the circumstances that led to him being out of the apartment and Gibbs hadn't asked. It wasn't important at the moment. They needed to find Mawer. Abby had tried to interrupt but Gibbs had silenced her. He did not need her giving him a reason for Mcgee's behavior. What he needed, was to keep up his level of rage and get things done. He needed to have a target and Mawer was nowhere in sight. He never claimed to be fair.
Preliminary facts out of the way, Gibbs had taken control. He had called and dispatched DiNozzo and retrieved the collection kit. They all started processing without discussion. There wasn't much to say. Mcgee was sure Gibbs was never going to stop glaring at him. If looks could kill, he'd already have been dead and probably dismembered and disposed of in various locations around the tristate area. Mcgee and Abby had spent the next few hours collecting evidence from his apartment under Gibbs' steady gaze.
It had been a sad moment, collecting the pieces of the type writer and boxing them away. He couldn't help shoot a look at Abby for that one. Of everything in the room, a type writer didn't even make sense. At least she had the good conscience to look sorry. Finally, as the sun was rising, they finished processing the evidence. Gibbs had grunted out the single instruction: "Both of you, office. Now." There was no question or room for debate. They both got dressed and headed for Mcgee's car without discussion.
They had kept up the silence until they were in the building and heading for the bullpen. The elevator stopped on the correct floor and Mcgee went to get off until he noticed she wasn't following him. "What are you doing Abby?" "Protection detail is over. You don't have to watch me anymore." He flipped the switch to keep the doors open. "Gibbs wants us here, come wait with me." "Can't do that. Need to stay here." "In the elevator?" She nodded. She was serious. He didn't have time for this right now. "Come on Abs, you can't sit in there all day." "Yes, I can." He looked at her for a few seconds. "Why?" The only response he got was a shrug. She would be safe in the elevator and she obviously didn't want to talk to him about it. He released the lever and let the doors close.
Fine. If she wanted to sit in the elevator all day, he wan't going to stop her. He'd be able to see and check on her every time it stopped on their floor. Gibbs understood Abby too. He would leave figuring out the elevator thing to the boss. He needed to start the traces before Gibbs came around. The last thing he wanted to do was give Gibbs anything else to take out on him, not when he was just beginning to reach any semblance of relaxing. Gibbs things were already on his desk. Where was he? It didn't really matter, not as long he wasn't standing behind him waiting to attack. Mcgee went towards his desk. Everything seemed to be in order. He could get everything going, maybe even finish the start up before Gibbs reappeared. It was possible things weren't so bad, Abby wasn't dead after all and Gibbs wasn't waiting at his desk anticipating his arrival. Those were positive outcomes. Wait...where was his chair?