“I only heard much later how much Director Shepard had to go through to get into Trauma 1 when you were injured. I believe it may have to do with her that I got allowed in there, but… you know, I told her that we were closer than blood, and it was really convincing, of course, because it is only true, Gibbs – we’re closer than blood, aren’t we?”
Gibbs smiled at the overload of words coming from her mouth. Of course, he had only learned later how both Jen and Abby had come rushing there hysterically. He could vividly imagine Abby rummaging through her handbag and not finding what she had been looking for, then turning it all upside down on the nurse’s counter to find her NCIS pass to identify herself as a member there… and the knowledge of what crap she usually carried with her in that handbag. He would have loved to see the look on the nurse’s face as she dug up her rubber spider and the like. Oh, yes, he was sure that Jen Shepard had something to do with it… but he thought that possibly without her, Abby would have charmed her way in as well in one way or another – even if only to give the nurse some relief of her fidgety behavior or rambling. “We are,” he agreed, glad to see a smile upon her lips. Then he saw her face fall. He looked at her intently with those blue eyes, questioning her in silence.
She gazed up at him, seeing the look of mild concern and smiling for a millisecond again at how familiar that look had become. “I just… I remember when you lost your memory, how Director Shepard said you didn’t even remember Ducky and, and… not me. You not remembering me, that was…”
“Shh. That’s over now – I’ve remembered you,” he said, gently squeezing her shoulder over the table. He smiled as she held onto his hand tighter. He really didn’t mind her hugging him, or showing affection like that. He never thought of her hugs as too much or inappropriate or at an inconvenient time. She looked always so tough, but inside, she was one of the most emotional people he knew, and Gibbs liked that about her very much. No, he never minded her hugs. They liked to recall that stuff when together sometimes, look back on old cases, weird happenings…
“You didn’t say anything when you left,” she said, tears welling in her eyes like then.
“I knew nothing I would say could ever soothe you.”
“I’m glad you came back to NCIS, you know,” she said, looking across the diner to see if the waiter wasn’t arriving with dessert yet. No luck, though. They always ordered the same dessert every year with her birthday. It had all begun very innocently. It had been her second year at NCIS, when she hadn’t had anything scheduled for it and had been a little sad over this a day prior to her birthday – on which Gibbs had said to make sure she had a nice dress somewhere, because he would make sure she had something scheduled. Ever since, Gibbs had taken Abby for copious dinner on her birthday every year, and every year at the same place, ordering the same delicious dessert – well, delicious in her eyes. This place was known for its great tiramisu and its specials on birthdays. Of course, Abby being Abby, she liked all glitters which always came with her dessert. Gibbs being Gibbs, being closer to her than blood, enjoyed to see the look on her face as she smiled like that every year and the few times in between, too. He liked to see her happy.
“Me, too,” he said, as she continued to look like a little girl, waiting for her dessert. A smile immediately appeared when it did. She squealed, too – he didn’t have to really look over his shoulder to realize a waiter had just left the kitchen with her tiramisu dessert, adorned with its little glitters and other stuff – just like Gibbs had asked. Well, he no longer had to after all these years. They were familiar faces in the expensive diner now, after all.
As always, Gibbs eyed her as she began to wolf her way through the tiramisu. It was supposed to be for two and had two spoons, but… truth told, he had never really liked it. He suspected she knew, too. Thus, every year, no matter how hard she tried, it happened Abby was already overly full halfway through and had to leave a good portion. He did not suspect it to be any different this year in any way. He just watched and smiled for the next couple of minutes, ignoring the gazes of others as they eyed Abby as well. He didn’t really care if they thought she behaved like she hadn’t eaten for many days in row – let the girl have and like her tiramisu, he thought.
He was surprised to see only a small few bites remained when she finally laid the spoon down and Abby looked at him with eyes that showed she regretted it very much. He laughed as she said, “I really… can’t eat more.”
Gibbs gave a generous tip, asking for their coats and guiding her on the street again about a quarter of an hour later. She held onto her tummy as the door to the diner swayed shut after and looked like she might be sick any moment. “Ate a bit too much then, Abs?” Gibbs asked, voice laced both with amusement and concern.
“I just find it so sad that I never ever manage to finish it while it is so good and those guys always do their best to make it very festive and all, and… it makes me feel special.”
She halted and as Gibbs drew closer, he wrapped his arm about her just to make sure that if she was going to be sick… “You are special to me every day,” Gibbs murmured in her hair and then kissed the top of her head. She turned to him as a smile took over Abby’s face and her eyes twinkled. Gibbs smiled mildly as he noticed it and inclined his head ahead, asking silently whether to continue or not. She nodded, and so they walked. “Best not to catch a ride anytime soon?”
Abby’s head shook. “No… That might not be wise. It might even digest better if I walk a bit now.”
“I’ll walk you home then and take a cab from there.”
“Aww!” She smiled.
“I thought it might make you feel even more special tonight,” he teased. “I don’t really make good tiramisu, but hey…”
“It does, Gibbs,” she said, leaning into his side and wrapping her arm about him as they continued walking. He always made her feel safe, and he was the one that most often made her feel really special. They were indeed tighter than blood and her life had a great deal of Gibbs in it. She wondered if she could still imagine life without Gibbs and discovered that she couldn’t. NCIS was like her life, her buddies, her family not by blood and Gibbs had always been a little… more? He was sort of like the father she had lost early, but altogether not at all. She never would have thought of her adoptive father as remotely attractive, not even when in an objective sort of way. She really liked Gibbs’ silver hair. As she thought it, she gazed up at him fleetingly once more and how the silver shone in the moonlight made it even more nice-looking than ever. She stopped and said so. “I like your silver hair – I find it very sexy.”
He furrowed his brow. “Why, should I be thanking you for that?” he said, rhetorically asking. She had mentioned this already, but there was something in her eyes when she said it that had never actually been there until then. There had always been the sexual innuendos, the teasing… He couldn’t really imagine that part of their ‘relationship’ gone. Others thought it weird often, thought they were an item, but that wasn’t the case… not that Gibbs hadn’t thought of it sometimes, of course. He had, but he had been a man four times married… Somehow he knew if he and Abby were ever to be a couple and married, they would never end divorced, though. Altogether, he thought he possibly wouldn’t opt for getting married for a fifth time anyway – unless maybe she really wanted to get married to him at a certain point. No, Jethro, old man… Gibbs told himself. He could have been her father and… he possibly wouldn’t be able to follow her in everything. He had never had issues in that special area and instead always been praised for the ‘effort’, yes… but still. Abby was very… active in daily life as well.
“Oh!” Abby suddenly exclaimed, pointing straight ahead at an abandoned bench beside a tree. “That one looks like just from the movies, where couples madly in love sit together and all! I’ve always wanted to do that with someone!” She grabbed his hand and began dragging him there at a fast pace, excitement in her eyes and behavior. It really looked just like from a movie, a typical girly romance one, and no matter how Abby liked thrillers, she liked watching those as well occasionally. It was her secret private indulgence, at a ‘certain’ time of the month mostly. She sat down on the bench, dragging him down to sit beside her. Abby sighed in contentment and looked ahead, feeling… special.
“Private wish now indulged?” Gibbs asked, looking at her with a warm smile and a raised eyebrow.
“Yeah,” she said and then nodded, though somehow it didn’t seem convincible.
“What’s the matter, Abs?” he asked, reaching over to raise her face again when she hung it – the real evidence that something indeed was the matter and no matter how much she squirmed, they both knew she would tell him in the end either way. Gibbs was the one who nearly always got her to tell him all. That time with her defective lunatic ex-lover had been an exception. Truth told, it had hurt his feelings a bit.
“I just…” she began. “Well. Those movies always include kisses and… we can’t, so.”
“Why do you believe we can’t?” he asked.
“Well…” she said, looking up into his eyes and waiting for a moment to continue on. “We’re not a couple and… I guess our relationship is sort of limited to sexual innuendos throughout the day; it has been like that for many years, and I don’t even know if you… I guess I’m just too weird or too childish for you.”
“Abs, you’re not weird or childish,” he said. “As opposed to me being old.”
“You’re not old!” she said, offended, jumping up and standing before him, putting her hands to her hips, any feelings of nausea long having passed. “You look much younger than you are and you are young by heart. As a matter of fact, I like the effect of maturity on you. It makes you more attractive.”
He smiled, opening his arms and offering her a hug, burrowing his gray head in belly, and it felt comfortable and smelled like ‘home’ as he did so, his arms wrapped tightly about her. He smiled in her black attire when he felt her hands ruffle through his silver hair and thought that if someone told him he would have to stay like this forever, he wouldn’t mind it one bit. Then a thought struck him – something she said earlier. He pulled back and eyed her closely. “Do you regret it?”
She seemed to consider this for a moment before answering, knowing what he pointed at. “Well… I’m not sure. I like things how they now are, but sometimes I do wonder what it would be like if it didn’t stop with sexual innuendos sometimes. I mean, maybe it even could be better. Maybe we could live happily ever after or so. I just always supposed you didn’t want to, and that you deliberately held it off. Like, quite possibly the boss and the forensics chick shouldn’t be… ”
He stood, closer than he ever had been without hugging her, it seemed, and it made her stop babbling, stop breathing. His hand reached to cup her jaw line before leaning down to kiss her… and she melted against him, kissing back with vigor, her tongue slipping in Gibbs’ mouth from the moment he just let her. The time of just sexual innuendos and light-hearted teasing was over now. Years had been wasted abiding to rules they had both wanted to see broken for a very long time. Rules were meant to be broken. Permission for a hug and more than that already had been given long ago, whether they both realized or not.