FACTS OF LIFE
Set immediately after Dog Tags.
Gibbs goes to see Abby.
An established relationship story.
Written: April 2008. Word count: 1,369.
"Hey, Gibbs." Abby beamed at him.
He saw her glance at his hands, but this time he'd come empty-handed. This time his object was not to bring her a Caf-Pow. He wasn't quite sure why he was there; this wasn't normally the kind of thing he bothered with. But his gut had told him it was right. His gut and Ducky, who had not been pleased when he'd heard McGee telling Gibbs about the dog's new home.
"McGee's going to take Jethro home with him," she smiled.
"Know that, Abbs. McGee told me."
"Oh. Isn't it great news?"
"Abby," he said, learning back against the workbench and looking at her. "Don't you think you were a bit unfair?"
"Butch attacked McGee, Abby." He deliberately chose to use the dog's real name; not the one Abby had given it.
"I know that. But that wasn't Jethro's fault. That was the cocaine."
"Butch could have killed McGee." He spoke quietly but firmly.
She frowned. "Don't be silly, Gibbs. Jethro couldn't kill anyone. He's sweet and gentle."
Gibbs shook his head. It was partly his own fault; he should have been firmer with Abby during the case. He should have taken the damn dog away once Abby had run her tests. He should have made sure it was taken away. He shouldn't have asked the Base Commander if Abby could keep the damn dog, he'd only done it because he was certain the man would say no. He never should have let this happen. "Abby. The dog attacked McGee, for whatever reason he attacked McGee. He drew blood, a lot of it. You saw McGee. You saw the bandages. Didn't you?"
She nodded slowly. "Yes, but –"
"McGee's afraid of Butch."
"That's just silly, Gibbs."
"No, Abbs, it's not. But even if it is, it doesn't matter. He's afraid of him and Butch'll know that. He'll pick up on it."
"He's a big dog, Abby. A trained dog. And cocaine or not, he's tasted blood. He needs strong handling."
"McGee can take him to classes. It'll be all right, Gibbs. After all he did shoot Jethro."
"Yeah. Know that."
She glared at him and continued to speak; her tone was passionate. "He shot him, Gibbs. He shot an innocent animal. He – What did you say?"
"Said I'd have done the same." He met her astonished and angry stare and held it unwaveringly.
"You'd have shot him?" Her voice was heavy with disbelief and the look on her face was just like that of a little girl who had been told Father Christmas does not exist.
He tried to ignore the look and the tone and bit down on his resolve. "Yep. I would have." He paused for a moment and then said, "And if I'd done it he'd be dead." He left her in no doubt that he meant what he'd said.
"Gibbs." The name came out as a half sob, half plea.
He hated upsetting her, but he stood his ground. "Abby, it's unfair to expect McGee to take the dog. I thought you liked McGee."
"Well, you're not showing it. You've done nothing but take the dog's side over him."
He simply stared at her.
"Okay, well maybe I did, a bit. But Jethro's –"
"Innocent? Yeah, Abbs, so you keep saying. But you know what? McGee is too. What did he do to deserve being nearly mauled to death?"
"He . . . Nothing, I guess."
"Damn right, nothing. It's not fair of you, Abbs. You're being selfish; that's not like you."
"I just want to . . ." She trailed off and finally looked away from him; under his stare she squirmed. "I wanted to be able to see Jethro again."
"That the only reason you want McGee to take him?"
She didn't answer him.
"Abby?" Why was he doing this? What the hell was he doing interfering like this? He should have left it to Ducky; it wasn't his kind of thing. Ducky was better at this than he was, but Ducky didn't have the same kind of surrogate Father, not to mention boss, relationship with Abby as he did. No, if anyone was going to talk sense into Abby, tell her she'd screwed up, it had to be him.
"Then uncomplicated it, Abbs."
He rolled his eyes. God he must be getting old. "How about going for a coffee or a beer or whatever you two used to do when you hooked up together."
"What about Jethro? Gibbs, I want him to go to a good home. He has to. He's lost his master. He was killed and Jethro couldn't help him. He's traumatized, Gibbs. I need to help him."
"What about the Sisters?"
He watched her thinking. She frowned and started to twist one of her pigtails around her fingers.
He pressed his advantage. "They've got a lot of room, Abby. Far more than McGee, and there would always be someone around, even on the nights you go bowling, I'd guess. They've got some land, haven't they?"
She nodded. "Yes."
"Well? You can at least ask them, Abby."
"I suppose. Sister Maria said they sometimes got worried when most of them were out, and only a couple were left."
"Well, then. Jethro'd make a good guard dog." Now he deliberately used the name Abby had given the dog.
"And I'd still be able to see him."
She nodded and turned away from him. Then she tuned back, "Gibbs."
"Was I really that awful to McGee?" Her voice was low, and she looked at him from beneath her lashes.
He looked at her, again torn, not wanting to hurt her. But knowing he had to. "Yeah, Abbs," he said gently but firmly. "You were."
She bit the bottom lip, but still looked at him. "I'll call the Sisters," she said quietly.
"That's my girl." He kissed her cheek and walked out.
"Gibbs said you wanted to see me." McGee's tone was hard, as was the look in his eyes, which weren't looking at her, but slightly over her left shoulder.
"McGee. Yes. Um," she paused.
"Well, Abby, what is it? I have to go. I need to stop at the pet store and buy things for Jethro." Still he didn't meet her eyes.
She swallowed hard. "McGee," she said, putting her hand on his arm. "Tim."
He frowned. "What?"
"You won't have to take Jethro home with you."
"But you said your landlord won't let you keep him."
"He won't. But I've found him another home."
"You have?" As she heard the relief in his voice, she realized, she really realized just how horrible she'd been. Just how selfish she'd been; how stupid she'd been. She could have lost him. He could be dead. And what had she done? Put a dog, the dog that could have killed him, before him. Been horrible to him. Made him think she didn't care about him, when she did. When she . . .
She nodded. "I called the Sisters. They'll love to have him. And they have room and . . . Tim, I'm sorry," she spoke quickly. "I'm sorry for how I behaved. What I said."
He looked at her. His eyes were still hard, and then as she watched, they began to soften slightly. She kept quiet, knowing she should say more, knowing she shouldn't say anything else. She waited. She just hoped . . .
"Want me to come with you to take him?" he finally said, as the last bit of hardness faded.
She flung her arms around him and gave him a quick hug. "I'd like that," she said. And then, before she lost her nerve added, "And afterwards, maybe we could get a coffee or a beer or we could go to a poetry reading. Or . . ."
"Or we could get a take-out and go back to my place."
He smiled at her, for the first time since the case had begun he really smiled at her. "I'd like that, Abby," he said. "I'd like that a lot." He took her hand and squeezed it.
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