Waiting For You
Spoilers: Season 9 – Till Death Do Us Part, Season 10 – Extreme Prejudice, and Recovery.
Disclaimer: NCIS, it's characters etc aren't mine, I just borrow them to play with.
A/N: This was originally started for SeSa on the Gabby shipper forum but because it continues to grow and won't be finished in time I'm posting it here as I write it. A billion hugs and thanks to Gosgirl for the help, encouragement and bunnies, and in particular for kicking my butt.
Chapter 1 – Setting Off
"They're here!" Abby yelled excitedly from the front door of Gibbs' house, hurrying down the front steps to greet the arrival of the two SUV's that pulled up out on the street.
Gibbs watched her with amusement as she shuffled nervously down the icy pathway in her boots, a wide smile lighting up her face when she saw the occupants of the vehicles. She'd been looking forward to this trip all week...they all had.
From where he stood packing various boxes and bags into the back of his truck in the driveway, Gibbs noticed the two other cars were loaded up with supplies as well.
"How long are we goin' for again?" He mumbled to no-one in particular, rolling his eyes.
Director Vance had made Gibbs and his team, as well as Abby, Ducky and Palmer all take four days off over the Christmas period. After the chaos and stress caused by Harper Dearing they were in need of a serious break, one which included some relaxation and time to themselves. Fatigue was obvious in all of them and Gibbs, as well as Vance, was only too aware of how he needed each of them functioning at their best for them to be productive as a team.
It had been a rough few months for everyone, coming to terms with their own memories while trying to help each other. Abby especially had suffered, her nightmares exhausting both her and Gibbs as she turned to him for comfort and answers in the hopes that he would be able to help her through the terror she continued to live with long after Harper Dearing was gone.
In the weeks that had followed the explosion at NCIS, Abby had become a regular overnight guest at Gibbs' house. At first she'd stayed with him nearly every night, but that had gradually lessened after her reunion with her biological brother Kyle and now she usually only stayed once or twice a week.
Gibbs knew things had changed between them, they'd always been there for each other but it had become more than that. He'd had feelings beyond simple friendship for Abby for some time, but he refused to take advantage of her vulnerability, her need for him, while she was still trying to get over the ramifications of the explosion.
The first night she'd stayed, Gibbs had come home to find her sitting in his living room. With barely a word exchanged between them they'd laid out on the couch, his arms completely enfolding Abby as they'd fallen asleep.
Since then, the two of them had always shared either the bed in the guest room or the couch. When they were in the same house, neither of them slept alone, drawn to the comfort they could only find from one another.
On the occasions that Abby had tried to sleep at her own apartment when her nightmares had been at their worst, Gibbs had received panicked phone calls from her in the middle of the night. After he'd calmed her down with his voice and words, he would tell her to come over or go and get her himself, both of them eventually falling asleep surrounded by each other's body. He refused to leave her to try and make it through the night on her own, knowing as well that he'd be too worried about her to sleep.
Beyond their usual brief kisses, all they did was hold each other close. Though for Gibbs it had taken an enormous amount of self control to keep from doing what he wanted to do. The warmth and softness of her body next to him helped to sooth his anxieties but it also raised his blood pressure, his own personal torment keeping him awake some nights.
When the time was right, Gibbs had vowed he would tell Abby how he felt, there were too many uncertainties in life to keep going on like he was. She deserved to know, and he couldn't hold it in anymore. Every day that went by was a lost one, and it was also an opportunity for someone else to take her away from him.
The sound of McGee's dog, Jethro, barking from within one of the vehicles brought Gibbs out of his thoughts, a slight grin curving up the corner of his lips when he watched Abby fuss over the dog.
"Ready for a road trip, Jethro?" She asked, rubbing him enthusiastically behind the ears as he sat sprawled out over the back seat.
"You sure there's no room up front in Gibbs' truck," Tony asked getting out of the car and walking around to stand next to her. "I don't know what McGaseous has been feeding that dog, but we're gonna have extra engine power on the road if the trip here is anything to go by."
Abby stifled a giggle, watching Tim roll his eyes at Tony's comment. "Sorry, but with Gibbs, Ziva and me all in his truck it's gonna be pretty snugly as it is."
"How 'bout we swap you for Jethro then...you're both wearing a collar, maybe no-one will even notice."
Abby gasped, her eyes narrowing in on him. "Did you just call me a dog, Tony?"
Ducky and the recently wed Jimmy and Breena all congregated around them, giving Tony the perfect opportunity to sneak away without answering. Abby knew he was only joking but it was fun to make him squirm a little.
Most of Gibbs' truck was already packed, but Tony and Ziva helped him with the last few things. Meanwhile Abby ran through the list she had written out over several pages with McGee and Palmer, ensuring they had everything they'd need for the next few days.
"She's loving every minute of this isn't she?" Tony smiled as he helped Gibbs cover over the back of the truck.
"What gave you that idea?" Gibbs smirked, shaking his head as Abby made McGee drag something out of the back of one of the cars so she could inspect it for herself. "She's even been talking about it in her sleep..." he trailed off, realizing what he'd it was too late, his agents didn't miss much.
Tony and Ziva exchanged awkward but knowing glances, all three of them suddenly at a loss for words. They were all aware that Gibbs and Abby had been spending a lot of time together, and that she stayed with him some nights, but beyond that they had no idea of the nature of the relationship between the couple.
"It will be good for all of us," Ziva finally spoke up and Gibbs let out a slow breath.
He didn't want to have to try and weave his way out of a conversation about his personal life when he was having trouble defining exactly what it was he had with Abby. Gibbs hoped he would get some time alone with her while they were away so he could at least try and get an idea if her feelings for him had changed over the last several months.
The last thing he wanted to do was try and push her into something she didn't want, but he was aware that it was only a matter of time before his feelings would begin to show, and he was eager to reveal them to her on his own terms. He needed to feel like he had at least some kind of control over himself, because when it came to Abby, Gibbs felt like he was gradually beginning to lose his willpower.
"Best just to let her go hey boss?" Tony chuckled as Abby held up a big bag of marshmallows in triumph after making McGee and Palmer unload half the contents of the car. "She deserves it."
"Yeah, she does..." Gibbs agreed quietly.
So enthralled by Abby's radiance Gibbs didn't notice the way Tony was closely observing how he couldn't keep his eyes off her. It filled him with such relief and joy that Abby was happy and that she might finally be able to let go of the last few remaining scars she still carried.
Eventually making himself look away from her, Gibbs watched on as Tony and Ziva went to join the rest of the group, leaving them talking while he went back inside the house to make sure all the lights were off and to lock the door. Since Abby had been staying he'd started locking it on the nights she was there, and because she'd brought some of her stuff over Gibbs wanted to make sure it would be secure while they were away.
Quickly taking the stairs up to the guest room he stopped in the doorway and looked down on the bed he and Abby had shared last night. His NIS t-shirt that she'd been wearing had been thrown onto the end of the bed and Gibbs walked over to pick it up.
Lifting it to his face he inhaled her lingering scent. He closed his eyes for a moment, revelling in her essence as he breathed her in. Once they got to their destination Gibbs didn't know if he'd have the chance to hold her, nor if things would turn out between them the way he hoped, so he wanted this one last chance to let her infuse him.
Abby's soft voice from behind startled him out of his thoughts and he quickly opened his eyes and turned to face her, dropping the t-shirt behind his back so she couldn't see it.
"Everyone ready to go?" He asked, approaching her and trying to deflect her attention away from asking what he was doing.
"Yep, just waiting for you...is everything okay?"
For a split second Gibbs thought about telling her right then how he felt. He bridged the distance between them, running his fingers down the side of her face, his blue eyes searching her emerald ones.
Several heartbeats passed and Gibbs was certain Abby was holding her breath. He swallowed, trying to form coherent words, but heavy footsteps coming up the stairs shattered the moment.
"Boss?" Tony's voice was hesitant as he neared the doorway.
"Guess we should hit the road then," Gibbs sighed, moving back from Abby and motioning for her to leave the room ahead of him.
A couple of minutes later Gibbs had locked up and was ushering Abby into the truck to sit in the middle seat, all three cars then driving off from the house.
The SUV with Jimmy, Breena and Ducky lead the way seeing how Palmer had the directions. It had been his idea for all of them to spend their break together and with Abby's help everyone else had agreed to go on the trip. And now they were headed to some cabins a few hours away to spend Christmas together...as a family.
Most of them tended to spend the day either alone or with each other anyway, and this was a way for them all to be grateful that they'd made it through the year alive and in one piece.
They hadn't come through it unscathed though and it was Palmer's strong relationship with Ducky and his affection for his mentor that had prompted him to plan the trip. They had almost lost him, and Jimmy was adamant some quality time with the people he cared about would be the perfect medicine for Ducky. For once, they were going to put their personal lives first.
For Palmer it also further reinforced the relationship he had with his new bride. Breena's willingness to spend Christmas with all of his friends rather than her own family, on top of missing out on a honeymoon, showed just how understanding she was. Jimmy was also excited that she'd have the chance to better get to know the people that had become his family.
As they drove along the highway, Gibbs kept his speed under the limit, content to just cruise along behind the others and enjoy having Abby sitting so close to him. He'd taken a little more persuading than the others but in the end he'd agreed to go along on the trip, wanting to spend some time with Ducky after what had happened, as well as needing to be near Abby.
Gibbs glanced down to where her leg rested alongside the length of his, a pang of guilt stirring in his gut when he wished he and Abby were alone so he could reach down and take hold of her hand. Abby shifted under his gaze and he lifted his eyes to meet hers, quickly looking at the road ahead before turning back to her briefly.
Abby smiled at him shyly, Gibbs giving her a lop-sided grin before the sound of Ziva clearing her throat reminded him they weren't alone. He averted his eyes away from Abby and back to the road, trying to focus on anything but thinking about her.
As they continued on their journey the two women talked animatedly about what they intended on doing while they were at the cabins, with Gibbs listening on quietly. He would be happy to just sit and read a book and just enjoy watching the others having a good time.
"You think there'll be deer there Gibbs, wouldn't that be cool since it's Christmas?" Abby asked, trying to stifle a yawn.
"It's out in the woods, so I'm sure there will be."
"I'll bet Timmy goes all boy scout on us," Abby joked. "But you're in charge of the fire okay Gibbs?"
Abby beamed at him, placing her hand down on his knee and rubbing it gently. Gibbs held his breath at the contact, his attention diverted when Abby frantically waved at DiNozzo and McGee as Gibbs put his foot down on the accelerator and overtook them.
Tony's eyes were wide, a look of sheer horror on his face as he wafted his hand in front of his nose. Gibbs could make out McGee yelling something at him from the passenger seat and Abby and Ziva both burst into laughter.
"I am glad I am not in that car," Ziva said once Gibbs had passed the boys and was trailing behind Palmer.
When Abby yawned again, Gibbs instinctively dropped one of his hands from the steering wheel to settle it on top of hers. "Why don't you take a nap Abbs, we were up late last night and early this morning."
"I am a bit tired, maybe I'll just close my eyes for a few minutes." She turned to face Gibbs, resting her head on his shoulder and mumbling sleepily. "You should be used to me laying all over you by now anyway."
Gibbs was about to answer but Abby's eyes drifted shut, so instead he turned to look at Ziva who had the slightest of grins on her face as she looked out the window. He thought about trying to explain, but then what would he say?
He was so blinded by his feelings for Abby that he could no longer tell if her flirtation and need for physical contact with him was just Abby being herself, or if there was more behind it. And it was another reason why he needed to tell her how he felt...he couldn't keep going around in circles in his head trying to figure it out and getting nowhere.
As Gibbs kept his eyes on the road and got lost in his own thoughts about the woman next him, he had no idea that Ziva's thoughts had also turned to the couple beside her.
Ziva hadn't been oblivious to the changes in the relationship between her boss and their forensic scientist during the months since the explosion caused by Harper Dearing. While Gibbs had been mostly tight lipped, Abby had said herself that she regularly slept at Gibbs' house.
But it was the things that went unsaid that stood out for the special agent; body language and actions that were subtle giveaways to the fact that their relationship was developing into more than just friendship...even if they weren't yet aware of it themselves.
It was more than Abby merely being Gibbs' favorite, and it was more than Gibbs being the one who protected Abby above all else.
Ziva just hoped that after everything they'd been through, the days they were spending away would make the pair realize that time was too precious to be spending it apart if they wanted to be together.