Author's Note: This story is a tag to the episode 'Bloodbath'.

MONDAY

“I hate Mondays,” Jethro Gibbs mutters, walking briskly through the bullpen and taking a seat behind his desk. He picks up a napkin and wipes agitatedly at the damp stain covering the front of his shirt, undecided whether he's more perturbed by the recent trouble with his team, the dead Marine lying on Ducky's table, or that his usual consumption of caffeine has been delayed.

Ziva twists in her seat, alert gaze leveled on her boss. “What happened, Gibbs?”

“Some moron ran into me and spilled my damn coffee.”

“Aw, that hurts, Boss,” says Tony, who's been following at a safe distance.

Gibbs glares at his senior special agent, but Tony simply grins and shrugs off his jacket before dropping into his seat across from Ziva.

“It will hurt, DiNozzo, if I don't have another cup in my hand by the time I find a clean shirt.” The younger man's grin falters, and he stands, snatching his jacket off the back of the chair.

“On it, Boss,” he tells him, before trotting in the direction of the elevator.

Gibbs' mouth curves faintly as he tosses the soggy napkin into the trash. Still got it. Well, when it comes to Tony, anyway, he thinks, and glances over at his junior agent. Tim's fingers tap wildly over the keyboard. Probably hacking into something. Don't ask, don't tell.

“Any news from Abby on that phone yet, McGee?”

“Uh, no, Boss. Still working on it,” the kid reports, eyeing him as if he isn't quite sure Gibbs won't blame him for this.

Gibbs sighs and stands. “I'll be in the lab.”


********************************


“What have you got?” Gibbs asks Abby, pulling his sports coat on over his spare button-down shirt.

Abby jumps, then beams a smile at him. “Gibbs! You're not supposed to be here; I don't have anything for you yet. Nice shirt,” she adds, a mischievous twinkle lighting her blue eyes.

“How long?” Gibbs peers at her monitor, as if staring at it hard enough might intimidate it into giving up its secrets.

“Hard to say.” Abby shrugs. “Hours, days; it really just depends on - ”

“Tomorrow,” Gibbs tells her, turning to leave.

“Right. And you had to come all the way to the lab to tell me that.”

Gibbs glances over his shoulder at her. “Yeah.”

“Wait; I just need to access our psychic connection,” Abby informs him, screwing her eyes shut and putting her fingers to her temples. Gibbs impatience is almost palpable, and she does her best to channel quickly. “Done!” she announces triumphantly. “I know exactly what you came down here to say.”

“You do.”

“Yep.” Oblivious to his skepticism, she points both her index fingers at him. “You wanted to say now that this is all over, I should have told you about Mikel, and that I need to tell you when these things happen, and then offer to get me a Caf-Pow.” Her black brows rise in eager anticipation.

Gibbs offers a slight shake of the head. “Nope.”

Abby blinks. “Nope?”

“Nope,” Gibb repeats, turning again and heading for the elevator.

Frowning now, Abby picks up a furry, stuffed hippopotamus from the counter, eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Did you hear that, Bert?”

The toy emits an impressively reverberating fart.

“Yeah,” Abby agrees, with a sideways glance for the closing elevator doors. “I concur; totally hinky.”


TUESDAY


Hinky is confirmed the very next day, when Gibbs stops by for the numbers Abby has against-all-odds and ever-so-brilliantly pulled from the fragments of Campbell's cell phone. That should at least merit a Caf-Pow – some days even a kiss - but what she gets is a distant 'good work' and the beginnings of a paranoid personality.

Abby scowls at her monitor, fingers wrapped around one of the six Caf-Pows she'd bought herself this morning. The other five are stashed in Labby's refrigerator, but they won't last long. She's going to need all the caffeine she can get to keep working at this pace, and not drive herself crazy worrying about Gibbs. Maybe there's nothing to worry about, anyway. After all, it's not like she hadn't wanted to tell him about Mikel; Gibbs would have taken care of everything, and even if he'd given Mikel a few bruises, the guy wouldn't have come to any lasting harm. No, the real reason she hadn't told Gibbs about Mikel was because she was afraid – not for Mikel, but for herself. Afraid Gibbs wouldn't approve of her dating someone who had a blood kink and liked to be laced into a straight jacket. Although, all things considered, he might have had something there.

And then there was her mistake of opening the door at McGee's, and the chunk she chipped out of Gibbs' boat. He hadn't seemed mad at the time, but there'd been a professional hit man after her at the time, and maybe Gibbs thought it was impolite to yell at someone who was about to die.

Sighing, Abby glances around the lab. She keeps it neat enough, but there has to be a better way to organize it that will maximize productivity and efficiency. And the equipment should be recalibrated and tuned, and some of the programming rewritten. Along with her casework, that will certainly keep her occupied. She draws a loud and final slurp from her Caf-Pow, squaring her shoulders determinedly.

It's going to be a long week.


*********************************


“Someone really didn't like this fellow, Jethro.”

Gibbs' eyes narrow on the swollen lips and mottled face of the Marine on Ducky's table. Not being liked is one thing - lots of people don't like him, his three ex-wives topping the list. Ending up in the morgue is another. “Cause of death?”

Ducky sighs. “My initial suspicions were correct, I'm afraid. Our young lieutenant died of anaphylactic shock.”

“Service record says he was allergic to bees.”

“Yes, but there isn't a bee sting on him,” the M.E. remarks. “We'll need the blood work to confirm, but I suspected Lieutenant Campbell ingested the apitoxin.”

Gibbs frowns. “Api-what?”

“Bee venom.”

Gibbs crooks a half-smile and retrieves his coffee from the nearest exam table. “Thanks, Ducky.”

“Oh, Jethro,” the man says, just before the senior agent takes his leave. “I've been meaning to ask about the Spooner case. Dare I hope he'll find himself permanently behind bars this time?”

“Yep. The hit man he hired was more than happy to tell us everything he knows.”

Ducky's brow furrows. “Really?”

Gibbs smiles his not-nice smile. “He had incentive.”

Ducky chuckles, turning his attention back to his latest guest. “You're a man of many persuasions. Speaking of which, I trust you'll be speaking to our Abigail regarding the hazards of omission?”

“I'm her boss, Ducky.”

The flat response has the M.E. frowning, and he glances up again. “You're much more than that, Jethro.”

“Not my place.”

“Since when?” Ducky asks, unfazed by the other man's curt response. “Let's face it, my friend. Compared to these young people, you and I are virtual dinosaurs, and it's nearly impossible for our antiquated, chauvinistic hearts to endure a woman's peril.”

“Abby had her reasons for not involving us; we need to respect them.”

The words are practiced and well-recited, and Ducky pins the man with a discerning look. “Abigail is no Kate or Ziva.”

“I know,” Gibbs says sharply, heading out the doors and nearly mowing down a returning Palmer.

“Is something wrong, Dr. Mallard?” the young assistant asks, glancing worriedly in the direction Gibbs has disappeared.

Ducky resists the urge to sigh. “Yes, Mr. Palmer; I do believe there is.”


WEDNESDAY


“McGee, have you seen Abby today?”

McGee looks up from his desk. The mix of curiosity and concern in Ziva's dark eyes is discomfiting. “Noooo. Why?”

“It's a little weird down there,” Tony tells him.

“How weird?” Because, really, weird is Abby's status quo.

“Well, she's wearing the same clothes she wore yesterday, and she's high on the Caf-Pow.”

“It is true,” Ziva confirms. “I have never seen her quite so bouncy.”

Tim's brows draw together. Abby's overindulgences in caffeine never end well. “Cover for me with Gibbs?”

Tony smirks, lifting up his file. “Make some of these calls to Campbell's old company? Ouch!” he exclaims, as a crumpled ball of paper hits him squarely between the eyes.

Ziva smiles smugly as Tony rubs the spot. “Cover for him, and I will not tell Gibbs about the porn in your desk.”

“Why, thank you, Ziva,” Tim says, pleasantly surprised. He doesn't wait for the impending bickering; just shoves his hands in his pockets and strolls off with a whistle.

“Yes, thank you, Zi-va,” Tony says sarcastically, dropping the dauntingly thick file back to his desk.

“Do not mention it.”

“What? Don't mention you blackmailing me with my own porn stash? Ow!” Tony jumps as a familiar hand smacks against the back of his head.

“Lose the porn, DiNozzo,” Gibbs tells him, walking over to take a seat at his desk.

“No, as in 'do not mention it, Gibbs is right behind you',” Ziva supplies tartly.

With a muted grumble, Tony opens the file and picks up the phone.


***********************************


“How many Caf-Pows have you had today?” Tim asks suspiciously, watching Abby jump from station to station in the lab. She seems to be running all her system checks simultaneously.

“I don't know, McGee. Seven? Eight?” She waves him off. “I lost track after the first few.”

Tim can only stare at her. “How can you sleep at night?”

“Actually? I don't. That's why I have the futon; grab a few winks and I'm good to go.”

“Yeah, about that…”

“What?” Abby asks, black pigtails swinging in his direction.

“What's going on, Abby?”

Abby huffs, looking away. “Geez, Timmy, why does something have to be going on? Maybe everything's just fine, maybe I just like having a few Caf-Pows and staying up all night and - ” She risks a glance at Tim, and crumples under his pointed gaze. “It's Gibbs, okay? You can put away the thumbscrews and sodium pentothal.”

Tim frowns. “Gibbs seems fine to me.”

“No, McGee,” Abby says, holding up a hand. “You don't understand. He's like the UnGibbs; no overprotection, no adoration – and that is just wrong!”

“Uh, that sounds pretty Gibbs-like to me, Abby.”

Abby throws her hands up. “That's exactly my point, Timmy. My Gibbs is not your Gibbs, and my Gibbs is gone.”

“He's not gone, Abbs,” Tim tells her. “He's probably upstairs barking at Tony right now.”

There's a faint sigh from the perky goth. “I wish he were down here barking at me…” She crosses her arms at Tim's startled look. “What? Come on, McGee; even when you guys do something stupid, he's always smacking you in the head or threatening to put his boot up your ass. And Gibbs hates being left out of the loop. But he hasn't said a word since we picked up Spooner, and it's really starting to freak me out.”

“Maybe he's just trying to give you some space,” Tim suggests reasonably, surreptitiously reaching to take her current Caf-Pow.

“Gibbs and I don't do space,” Abby retorts, smacking Tim's hand away.

Ow,” he complains, but takes a step back. A good agent always knows when to retreat. “Well, okay, then maybe he's trying to treat you more like a grown-up. I mean, it's not like he's your father – or – anything…” He can see by the shuttering of Abby's usually expressive face that he's hit a nerve. “Oh.” Oh.

“Stop staring at me like that, McGee.”

“I'm not – like what?” He fumbles for something to say that isn't going to end with him getting punched, then realizes that isn't going to be a problem. Abby's turned her back to him, her eyes focused once more on the computer.

“Look, I've got a lot of work to do here, and if I don't finish, Gibbs will be – If you don't mind?”

“Sure, Abby.” Tim releases a deep breath as he heads for the elevator. With any luck, that Caf-Pow machine will break.


THURSDAY


Tim decides that the best time to approach Gibbs is before Tony irritates him; basically, any time before the other agents speaks. Not that Tim wants to get involved. From the very beginning, it's been pretty clear that Abby and Gibbs have their own set of permissions, and outsiders aren't welcome. But Abby appears even more manic and closed-off this morning, and it's simply impossible for him not to want to help her.

Even if it does get his ass kicked from here to Norfolk.

He makes his move as they're about to head out to do some questioning.
“Boss? I think you need to talk to Abby.”

Gibbs looks over as he pulls his jacket on. “She got something for me?”

“No.” Tim falters under the direct gaze. “I mean, not yet, but I'm sure she will - ”

“Can you spit it out, McGee?” Gibbs demands impatiently, pocketing his cell phone.

Tim swallows. “Abby thinks - ”

“Yeah?”

“I think she thinks your feelings have changed,” he blurts.

“My feelings?” Gibbs' eyebrows shoot up to his hairline.

McGee blushes. Way too Jane Austen. “Since the trouble with Mawher and all. She expected you to be mad, or yell or something, I guess.”

“Abby's over eighteen, McGee,” Gibbs replies tiredly, as if he's had this conversation a million times already. “I can't force her to confide in me about her personal life.”

“Maybe you should.”

“Excuse me?” Gibbs wonders why McGee has to pick now of all times to show some backbone.

“I agree, Gibbs,” Ziva puts in. “Abby has been acting very strangely this week.”

“Even for Abby,” Tony adds.

“It is obvious you and Abby have more than a professional relationship,” Ziva continues, apparently thinking Gibbs needs convincing. “She looks up to you, you're her stone.”

Tony grimaces. “I think you mean 'her rock'.”

“Yes; that is what I said.”

Gibbs mentally shakes his head. “If you three are done with the share and care, we've still got a dead Marine in autopsy and I'm sure someone would like to know who killed him,” he says acidly.

“Well, that went well,” Tim mutters, reaching for his gear as Gibbs and Ziva head for the elevator.

Tony claps a hand on his shoulder. “Don't worry, Probie – I'm sure he'll respect you even more for making the effort.”

“You really think so?” Tim asks, grasping at the gleam of hope.

Tony huffs. “Not a chance.”


************************************


“What's on your mind, McGee? And make it quick; I'm scheduled to be reordering the file system,” Abby tells him, glancing at the clock. Seven thirteen p.m. Tim shouldn't even be here. Right now Abby is supposed to be alone here in the forensics office, accomplishing multitudes. Not standing around making small talk.

“About what happened when you stayed with me that night...”

Abby frowns. “Which night?”

“Not those nights.” Tim's not sure he can think about those nights and still speak coherently. “The night I was supposed to be protecting you from Mikel.”

“I don't want to talk about it, Timmy.”

“We need to,” Tim tells her, keeping his tone serious. “I think we can agree that things happened that never should have, and that nothing like that will ever happen again.” He lifts his brow in a Gibbs-like manner. “Are we clear?”

“Crystal,” Abby says with a nod.

“Really?” Tim asks, unable to hide his surprise. Maybe this is easier than he thought. “Well, ah, good,” he says, relieved that that much is settled. “I think now would be a good time for an apology, don't you?”

“Okay,” Abby agrees.

“Okay…” Tim waits, but his waiting is only met with Abby's expectant look. “Abby?”

“What?”

“You aren't saying anything,” Tim points out.

“I'm waiting for you to apologize,” she reminds him.

Tim gapes in disbelief. “You think I'm the one who should apologize?”

“You thought I was going to?”

“I told you not to open the door!”

“You knocked!” She practically shouts. “How was I supposed to know it wasn't you?”

“You couldn't know – that's the point of not opening the door,” Tim grinds out.

“Well, if you would have just remembered my toothbrush, it never would have – hey!” She's caught off guard when Tim grabs her wrist and yanks out the desk chair. It's when he sits down and tugs her over his lap that she begins to struggle. “McGee! What the hell are you doing?”

“I have no idea,” he admits, raising a hand and bringing it down firmly on her crimson-pantied backside, and God he loves her short skirts… Focus, McGee! It's by sheer force of will that he manages to deliver a second smack.

“Ow!” Abby yelps, finally coming to her senses. She twists and reaches backward to pinch Tim's thigh. Hard.

“Ow!” Tim roars, and Abby scrambles from his lap. “Abby - ”

“Geez, McGee!” she shouts, flipping down her skirt. “Have you gone mental?”

“I was trying to help,” he swears, mouth twisted with pain.

“You thought spanking me was going to help?” she demands, calmer now, but still unconvinced.

“Yes. I mean, no,” he says quickly, when her hands move to her hips. “Maybe not, but… I wanted you to know I'm here. Whenever, for whatever you need,” he adds sincerely.

Abby melts. “Aw; McGee.” He flinches as she moves closer, but Abby only plops herself into his lap, dropping her head against his shoulder. “That's really sweet.” Her eyes narrow. “Don't do it again.” He nods, one hand still glumly rubbing at his thigh. His extremely muscled thigh… “Unless, you know, you really want to.”

Tim rolls his eyes. “Feel better?”

“Honestly?”

Tim nods.

“Not so much,” she confesses.

“I'm sorry, Abby.”

“No, you were right, Timmy. This whole mess is my fault. Well, maybe not Mikel going all crazy stalker on me, but if I had told Gibbs about it, he could have eliminated him as a suspect, and things wouldn't be so weird between us. And I shouldn't have opened the door and gotten your chair taken away.”

“I don't care about the chair. Or my typewriter,” he adds, trying not to think of its dented shell. “I just want you to be okay.”

“I will be,” she promises, rising from his lap. “I just need to finish all this.” She gestures at the contents of the office.

“You'll go home tonight and sleep?” he asks, standing himself.

“Of course I will.”

“And cut back on the Caf-Pow?”

“No more tonight,” she agrees.

He smiles. “I guess that's something,” he says, and kisses her cheek on the way out.

Abby guesses it's time to pull out the coffeemaker.


FRIDAY


Gibbs has never been big on talking. He guesses he's always been more comfortable with action than words. A functional mute, as Tony likes to say. Which is probably why he has the three ex-wives.

Gibbs sighs as he looks around the now empty bullpen. He released the team an hour ago, after wrapping up the Campbell case. They'd done some good, solid work this week, and Gibbs would normally be more than satisfied. Instead he's feeling restless; off. Maybe Ducky and McGee are right; maybe he should stop by and see Abby. Not to check up on her, of course. Just to say hi. Talk. He can do that without prying into her personal life.

Decision made, he grabs his coat and heads downstairs.

He's oddly disappointed when he doesn't find Abby in the lab. Then again, it's past six on a Friday night, and she's probably off to see one of those God-awful bands of hers. His lips curve in a small smile, recalling her attempts to get him to broaden his musical horizons. He's never mentioned that if he listened to her music, he'd be deaf and mute.

With every intention of spending the evening drinking some bourbon and sanding his boat, he heads for the parking garage. It's not until he approaches his car that he notices the vehicle crushed against one of the garage's concrete pillars. The hood is dented and bent, and he can't see the driver, but there's only one person Gibbs knows at NCIS who commutes via hearse. He rushes to the driver's side and peers in. Abby's sprawled across the front seat, limbs limp and lifeless. Gibbs jerks the door open and gives her arm a small, urgent shake.

“Abbs? Abby!”

The blue eyes flutter briefly. “Gibbs? Why are you yelling at me?” she mumbles in sleepy annoyance.

His gaze moves methodically over her, from her head down to her mary-janes, but he's unable to locate any source of injury. “Are you hurt?”


“I'm sleeping,” she replies indignantly, as if sleeping in a crashed hearse is a perfectly normal thing to do.

“Come on,” Gibbs growls, reaching over and taking her by the upper arm. “We're going to see Ducky.” Despite her protests, he deftly extracts her from the car and steers her toward the elevator, his pulse pounding like it's taken enemy fire. If Abby was tired enough to fall asleep in her car after an accident, she was absolutely too tired to be driving in the first place. If she had fallen asleep on the road… Gibbs thinks he might be sick, and tries to temper the nausea with a good dose of fury.

Abby allows Gibbs to direct her to the morgue; mostly because he seems angry enough to drag her if she resists. As if suddenly he hasn't been all distant and aloof this week like some testy feline. Abby's exhausted, she needs sleep, and if he thinks she's going to be bullied just because he's a Senior Lead Special Agent, then he can just -

“Sit,” Gibbs commands, and Abby wonders when they got to Autopsy.

“I'm fine, Gibbs,” she says, finally noticing Ducky's presence beside her. Maybe she dozed off? She frowns.

“Did that sound like a suggestion to you?” Gibbs asks silkily.

Abby grudgingly takes a seat on the exam table. “I'm fine, Ducky; nothing hurts.”

“She doesn't appear to have suffered any injury, Jethro,” Ducky agrees, his skilled hands moving over her, turning, seeking. “Thank god for seatbelts. But how on earth did you drive into a pole, my dear?”

“By closing her eyes,” Gibbs puts in grimly. “How many hours of sleep have you gotten this week, Abby?”

“You're the Senior Special Agent; you tell me.”

“Abigail,” Ducky interjects, before his old friend can explode.

“I'm not sure. I was really busy this week. Thirteen, maybe?” she replies. “And a half?”

“Thirteen? In four days?” Gibbs demands. “Son of a bitch,” he mutters, not trusting himself to look at her without wringing her neck. How many Caf-Pows did she drink?

“You of all people should know the effects of sleep deprivation on driving, Abigail. Your coordination and reaction time would be quite impaired.”

“You're sure she's fine?” Gibbs asks tersely.

Abby scowls. “I already told you - ”

“Oh, I imagine after a week or two of healthy nights' sleeps, our lovely scientist will be good as new,” the M.E. assures Gibbs. “But I wouldn't recommend her driving home.”

“I'll drive her home; I just need to make a few calls.” Gibbs glares at Abby. “Don't. Move.”

“Can I breathe?” Abby grumbles, lying back on the examining table.

Ducky frowns as Gibbs stalks off, noting the stiff set to his shoulders. “Abigail, I know you're upset, but I think it unwise to antagonize Jethro any further. You've given him some dreadful scares lately, and I dare say he may have reached his limit. Why, you should have seen him after that bout with the cyanide gas; dear me, the man's hands were shaking, and he's an experienced sniper. No, I'm afraid you're just going to have to – Abigail?”

The only response is a quiet snore.

“Sleep now, my dear,” he murmurs, stroking the dark bangs from her forehead with a gentle hand. “Because I'm afraid you're going to regret this come the morrow.”


SATURDAY


The bad news is that she doesn't wake up in a coffin. The good news is that at least she hasn't been kidnapped by a hit man or homicidal maniac. No, she's in Gibbs' guest room, which after last night might be only slightly less dangerous.

Abby peels back the covers and sits up, noticing her clothes neatly folded over the back of a chair. She winces down at the USMC tee and faded sweatpants she's wearing, and hopes that she undressed herself and just doesn't remember. Because having Gibbs put her to bed like some over-rambunctious toddler? “Awkward,” she sings under her breath. She doesn't even remember the drive here. Well, maybe she does; bits and pieces. And none of them good. Gibbs is probably pissed.

Unable to withstand waiting, she climbs from the bed and pads into the kitchen, where Gibbs is pouring himself a cup of coffee.

“You made coffee?” Abby asks uncertainly. If Gibbs is making breakfast, maybe he isn't planning on her untimely demise. Unless instead of that last supper thing, he's planning on a last breakfast, because Marines like to get up early, and why put off until tomorrow what you can -

“For me,” Gibbs says, glancing up. “You're off.”

“Coffee?”

“Caffeine.”

Some things are worse than death. “But, Gibbs - ”

“Nonnegotiable, Abbs,” he warns her, taking a seat at the breakfast table. She notices he's set a plate for her, with a piece of buttered toast and some orange juice, and feels a tiny squeeze of guilt in her stomach.

“Are you mad?”

Gibbs wonders if all that caffeine did brain damage. “Gee, what do you think? First you nearly overdose on caffeine, and then - ” His jaw tightens, his mind flashing to another time, another accident. “You do realize you could have killed someone in that car, right? Including yourself?”

“I didn't think I was that tired,” she says quietly.

“You didn't think.” Gibbs jerks his chin at the chair across from him. “Sit down and eat.”

Abby sits, nibbling anxiously at her toast and glancing across at Gibbs as he reads the paper. She barely manages to choke down half.

“Gibbs - ”

“Juice,” he orders, without even lowering the newspaper. Not wanting to anger him further, Abby begins sipping.

Gibbs waits until the glass is empty, then sets his paper down. “Let's go sit on the couch.”


********************


Abby shifts restlessly on the sofa, her nerves slowly beginning to fray. She doesn't think Gibbs would fire her – he's definitely a fan of her work – but he's certainly fired people for a lot less.

Gibbs leans forward, resting his forearms on his knees and clasping his hands. “Talk.” Confusion crinkles Abby's forehead, and Gibbs sighs. “About this week?”

“Well, I was able to recalibrate the system module for the mass spectrometer and reconfigured the database to be able to cross-reference not only the - ”

Gibbs puts a finger against her lips, ignoring her startled look. “Not work, Abbs.”

Not work? “Oh.”

“Yeah.”

“I guess I went a little overboard with the reorg,” she admits.

“You think?” He watches her teeth worry her lower lip. “Why?”

“Because, Gibbs.”

“Abby...”

“Because you weren't you, and I was worried! Geez, Gibbs, isn't your gut telling you anything these days?”

Gibbs raises a brow. “Right now it's telling me to spank you and put you back to bed.”

“You wouldn't – okay, you would,” Abby submits, not at all comfortable with being the recipient of his famous stare. “But I don't get it. Why were you ignoring me?”

“I wasn't ignoring you.”

“You were different,” she insists, because sure, she might have gone a little overboard this week, but she still wasn't crazy.

Gibbs sighs. “I've overstepped the boundaries with you. I realized it when I got bent out of shape about Mawher. I'm not your father; I can't demand your confidence, or dictate your personal life.”

“But I trust you more than anyone; you know that, Gibbs,” Abby insists, suddenly on the verge of tears. “I should have told you about the restraining order, I know I should have, but I was just so embarrassed, and I didn't want you to be disappointed - ”

“When have you ever disappointed me, Abbs?” Her gaze falls to her lap, and he feels like the bastard he always claims to be. This shouldn't have happened. He asks the question he should have asked before he tried to contain the situation. “What do you want here?”

“I just want things to go back to normal, Gibbs,” she says, gazing up at him with wide eyes. “I like you hovering and overprotective and threatening to kick our asses. And, yeah, you're not my dad, but it kind of makes me feel like I still have one.”

An odd warmth spreads through Gibbs' chest; this job might end him yet. “And what did your dad do when you were in trouble?”

“Am I in trouble?”

“A world,” Gibbs assures her.

“Actually, I didn't really get into trouble. My parents had enough challenges, and my brother was always getting suspended, so it really didn't seem fair to worry them.”

Gibbs raises a brow.

“Not that it's fair to worry you,” she amends quickly. “I mean, you already have Tony, and if he hasn't made you entirely gray, Ziva's about to finish the job. Really, if you think about it, Tim's the only one who doesn't - ”

“Abby.”

“Yeah, Gibbs?”

“Once we go here, we don't go back.”

“You mean you're stuck with me?” Abby asks. That doesn't sound too bad.

“I mean you're stuck with me.” Gibbs tries to spell it out for her. “Remember what I said was going to happen if I had to start smacking you like DiNozzo?”

“Seriously?” The only response is a faint tilt of Gibbs' head, and Abby's stomach flutters. Somehow she doubts a pinch will be getting her out of this one. Not that she doesn't sort of deserve it after the last few weeks, but it doesn't mean she's looking forward to it. “But what if I'm too big? What if you aggravate your iliotibial tracts, Gibbs?”

He crooks a finger at her, biting back a smile when after a moment she heaves a resigned sigh and scoots closer. Not wanting to give her time to panic over the punishment, Gibbs promptly pulls her over his lap, wrapping an arm around her waist to steady her.

“Know why we're here?” he asks conversationally.

Abby nods. “For not telling you about Mikel and probably opening the door for him at McGee's and because it was dangerous for me to drive while sleep-deprived, sir!” she reports snappily, before she remembers that it might not be the best time to smart off. Fortunately, Gibbs seems okay with the answer.

“Fair enough.” Gibbs rucks the sweat pants down to her knees and blinks. The Jolly Roger grins up at him from the seat of Abby's black panties, and he tamps down on a sudden rush of affection. Now isn't the time for dereliction of duty; this is all part of the job. All it takes is imagining Abby at the mercy of that nutjob, or crushed within some smoking heap of mangled metal, and his hand falls on its own accord.

“Ow, Gibbs!” Abby whines, kicking one foot into the sofa cushion in response to the sudden sting. “Your hand is hard!”

Gibbs' mouth quirks as he begins to spank her in earnest, ignoring her squeaks and squirms in the interest of bringing a lasting glow to her upturned behind. The clap of each deliberate smack echoes from the walls like heartfelt applause.

“I'm sorry!” Abby gasps after a few minutes, flushed and wriggling in Gibbs' grasp. How did she get herself into this? She wanted compliments and Valentines and Caf-Pows and oh my god, her butt is going to spontaneously combust. She can't even imagine how this would feel without panties, and her fingers clutch at the cushion with a death grip. “Ouch! I'm really sorry!”

Gibbs believes her. Bright pink skin peeks from the elastic trim at her thighs, and warmth creeps through the thin cotton. But he still hasn't heard what he needs to hear.

“And?” Gibbs prompts sternly, continuing the smacks to the roundest part of her backside. Abby's breath catches and stutters, and he realizes she's in tears.

And – and – Abby's mind spins frantically. “It w-won't happen again,” she wails, going limp over his lap. “I promise!”

“Okay,” Gibbs concedes quietly, and lands a few more half-hearted swats before stopping and easing up the sweats. Leaning forward, he carefully hauls her up from the sofa and turns her over in his lap. Any hesitation regarding his chosen course of action disintegrates the moment Abby flings herself into his arms. He pats her back, murmuring reassurances.

Abby sniffles into Gibbs' shoulder, still waiting for the fire in her backside to subside. “Never, ever,” she mutters fervently, because this wasn't nearly as much fun as a spanking should be. Still, the hand on her back and soft words soothe the rougher edges of her upset, and within minutes her breathing evens out, her body warm and heavy and drowsy.

Sensing the change in his wayward scientist, Gibbs eases her into a more upright position, his thumb lightly erasing all remains of tears. “Don't make me do that again,” he says, and damn if it isn't less a warning than a plea.

Abby shakes her head. “I won't.” She gingerly touches her cotton-clad behind and winces. “Geez, Gibbs, did you have to be so enthusiastic?”

A reluctant smile tugs at his lips. “Just letting you know I care.”

Abby manages a watery snort. “Ever heard of a card? What is it with you and McGee and the spanking?”

Gibbs' brows shoot up in rare surprise. “McGee spanked you?”

“Well, not exactly. I mean, he tried, but then I pinched him. I think he was doing that W.W.G.D. thing of Tony's.”

“W.W.G.D.?” Does he want to know?

“Uh huh.” Abby nods. “What Would Gibbs Do.”

Gibbs doesn't know whether to be proud or chagrined by that bit of intel. “Go get some more sleep,” he urges gently, with a final pat for her back. “I'll call you when it's time for lunch.”

“Yes, sir,” Abby says with a mock salute, before easing herself from his lap..

“And don't call me sir,” Gibbs reminds her.

“Yes, ma'am.”

Should have seen that coming. “Abby.”

“Love you, too, Gibbs,” she signs.

Yep. Gibbs is a goner.


MONDAY


It's late morning when Abby pops by, setting one of her two coffees on his desk.
“That's just to say thank you for being my ride this week,” she tells him sweetly.

Gibbs continues with his paperwork. “I hope that's decaf,” he says, referring to the cup she's still holding.

“Of course it is,” she replies brightly. “At least for now, unless - ”

“One week, Abbs.”

“I know, I know,” she says, holding up her hands. “Wow, who knew the Senior Lead Special Agent could be such a party-pooper?” she asks no one in particular, before breezing off towards the lab.

Gibbs smiles, pencil still moving.

Ziva chuckles. “She's the favorite again, Tony.”

“I don't have favorites,” Gibbs retorts. “And if I did, it would be McGee. He causes the least trouble.”

Tim is touched. Maybe the guy is finally warming to him. “Thanks, Boss.”

“Try spanking Abby again and you'll only wish I'd take your chair away.”

Or not. “Understood.”

“Ha! McGoo tried to spank Abby? That's – not funny at all,” Tony finishes, immediately sobering in the face of Gibbs' disapproval.

Gibbs is just about to put him in his place when the admin passes him the note. His eyes scan over the hastily scrawled message.

“You know, Boss,” Tony has to add, “Abby might thrive under your endearingly overbearing paternal side, but we're Special Agents.” He pauses as Ziva clears her throat. “And a Mossad assassin,” he amends generously. “You don't need to go all Great Santini on us.”

“Really?” He stands up. “Because I'm starting to think I've been too easy on you people. Get your gear,” he tells them, snatching his cap and coffee and walking off.

“Too easy?” Tim repeats.

“He's kidding – right?” Tony asks Ziva, who shrugs and heads after Gibbs. Tony and Tim grab their packs and follow at a trot, squeezing into the elevator with the rest of the team just in time. “Boss? You're kidding, right?”

“I don't know, DiNozzo,” Gibbs drawls from beneath his hat. “I guess the question you really need to ask yourself is: W.W.G.D.?”

There's a disturbed silence from his team that's damn exhilarating. Gibbs hides his smile with a long drink of special blend. Hell; he might just like Mondays after all.

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