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PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:01 pm 
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Director's Secretary

Joined: Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:47 pm
Posts: 2382
Location: Southern Tier
Name: Jennie (please NOT Jen)
Gender: Female
link: Blog
link: First Novel
AN: My mind was boggled when I realized there are no other Jimmy/Abby stories posted anywhere on , LJ, or NFA. Really. None that I or anybody I know can find. And after Short Fuse aired, the story's pre-readers all said the Jimmy and Abby scenes played like they came from the Jimmy and Abby of this story. :) Huge thanks to harempreistess, violetwarnercobalt, and my mom for pre-reading and to the ever-patient Kyrie for editing! For all readers, if you're looking for some music while you read, try Listen To Your Heart, Edmee's Unplugged Vocal Edit version. It's on YouTube.

For those of you who have not read my Breathe uni: My main universe is a Tim/Tony one, and despite being completely non-explicit, I know a lot of people aren't comfortable with slash stories. This Jimmy/Abby sub-plot really seemed like something that would have broader appeal, so I pulled it out, de-slashed it, and edited it to make sense without the surrounding story. For reasons that will become clear, I couldn't excise all mentions of the larger universe this fits into, but I tried to write it so that it could be read as Tony and McGee being good friends and housemates. I hope you enjoy!




Jimmy found a shoveled-out, unclaimed parking space two blocks from Tim and Tony's house and maneuvered his car into it, then walked the remaining way. He carried a small box under one arm.

When he arrived, Tony and Jethro greeted him at the door.

"Hey, boy," he said, crouching down to pet the dog. "How are you?"

"Excited," Tony said. "We wore him out this morning, but then he napped and now he's bouncing off the walls again."

"Wish I could say the same." At Tim's voice, Jimmy looked up to see his injured friend standing in the doorway to the living room.

"Getting shot is hard work," Jimmy said. "They fixed a lot of damage in your shoulder, and you lost a lot of blood. Give it time." He handed Tim the box he'd brought.

Tim reached out for it with one hand and looked it over. "A coffee grinder?"

"What? No. That's the only box I had handy." Jimmy felt his cheeks heat. "Open it."

Tim quirked an eyebrow at him.

"Oh, um, right. You can't open it with one hand." He mentally kicked himself for not thinking of that. "I can, I mean, if you don't mind-"

"I've got it, Jimmy," Tony said, plucking the box from Tim's hand. "Go toss your jacket in the mudroom and meet us in the kitchen."

He scrambled back to the small space near the side door before he could say something else dumb. When he walked into the kitchen, Tim was sitting at the table with the box lid open while Tony stirred something in a pan on the stove.

"That smells delicious," Jimmy said, sniffing. "What is it?"

"Chicken cacciatore, and it is," Tim said. "So, what's with the present? We're trying to thank you with this dinner."

Jimmy felt his face flush again and ducked his head. "You don't have to thank me," he said. "Abby and the others all helped, too."

"Told you," Tony said.

"Yeah, yeah." Tim replied. "So he's smitten with Abby. Name me one man who isn't."

"Vance?" Tony's tone was dry. "And yes, Jimmy, we do want to thank you. Between checking Tim out so Ducky wouldn't worry and arranging for Allison to walk Jethro during the week and doing the bulk of the shoveling Thursday. Well, you've gone above and beyond."

"That's what friends do," Jimmy said. "You guys have been good friends to me; I figure it's the least I can do to return the favor." He was uncomfortable with being thanked, so he turned the discussion back to the box. "Did you open it?" He pointed at the open container.

"I was waiting for you," Tim said. "Tony just opened it so I could lift it out." He reached in, but the object was a tight enough fit that the box lifted along with it. Jimmy reached over and held the bottom so Tim could tug the item out.

"Thanks, Jimmy," Tim said as he pulled out the tissue paper-wrapped object. "I never realized how many little things take two hands." He placed the item on the table and tore the paper off. "It's... What is it?"

"It's a book stand," Jimmy said, rushing to explain. "You can put a book or a magazine on it and the lip at the bottom will keep the pages open while you read. That way you don't have to put it down every time you need to turn the page."

"Thanks, Jimmy," Tim said. The wide grin on his face said more than words could. "I was afraid I was going to be stuck watching movies all day."

"Hey!" Tony looked over his shoulder and stuck his tongue out. "What's wrong with movies?"

"Nothing," Tim said. "But I already can't write for at least a couple more weeks, probably more. I was hoping to catch up on some of those books I didn't get to read on vacation and a few magazines. Now I can."

"You could have said that without dissing my movies," Tony said. "Cinematic masterpieces, all of them."

"'Friday the 13th' is a cinematic masterpiece?" Tim smirked, and Jimmy had to hold back his laughter.

"Low blow, McCritic," Tony said.

"Abby likes those even more than you do," Tim said. "I watched them plenty when we were dating."

"So, speaking of Abby, did you hear about Keith?" Tony said.

"Keith, the guy she's dating?" Tim said.

"I try not to think about Keith," Jimmy said, then clapped his hand over his mouth. "Wait, that was out loud."

Tony snorted. "Yes, Jimmy, it was. And yes, that Keith, but they're not dating any more."

"What?" Jimmy was glad Tim seemed to be as surprised as he was.

"What happened?" Jimmy couldn't help asking. Not that he had any interest in Abby that way. Really. Oh, heck, who was he fooling? Of course he did. Ever since he first joined the team and she was dating Tim, he'd been fascinated by the woman.

"Keith was reassigned to LeJeune. I have a new breath therapist starting Monday," Tony said. "Abby mentioned it to me yesterday, but I forgot about it when I got home, because Ducky walked in right after I did."

"And then Gibbs, and then I feel asleep on the couch," Tim said. "I'm going to be glad when I can stay awake for more than three hours at a time."

"You'll get there," Jimmy said. "So Abby and Keith aren't trying the long-distance thing?"

"Abby doesn't do long-distance," Tim said.

"Norfolk's almost 200 miles from DC," Tony pointed out.

"Which meant we could still get together for an afternoon or evening without one of us having to spend the night," Tim replied. "Besides, it seemed like I was up here every other week anyway helping you guys out. That last month or two before Gibbs got me a spot on the team, I spent more nights in DC than in Norfolk."

"That's because the coffin was in DC," Tony said.

"I never said I didn't enjoy spending nights in DC." Tim smirked.

"So I've gathered from Abby's comments," Tony said. He waggled his eyebrows, and Jimmy was afraid to ask. Still, years of working with a bunch of investigators had him opening his mouth anyway.

"Do I want to know?"

"Only if you want Abby's assessment of Tim's bedroom abilities," Tony said.

"No, I think- No."

"Good answer," Tim said. "Bad enough she shared it in front of Kate, Tony, and Gibbs."

Jimmy stared. "Gibbs? And he didn't kill you?"

"He was too busy getting evidence on our current case from Abby," Tony said. "Now, enough about sex. Let's eat."

"Hell has finally frozen over," Tim said. "Jimmy make a note of the time."

"1721, Saturday, February 13, 2010," he said. "Wait. Why am I making note of the time?"

"Because Tony just tried to change the subject away from sex," Tim said.

"Hey!" Tony set plates in front of them before walking away to get his own. "I don't always think about... Well, OK, so I usually do."

Jimmy snorted. "Usually?"

"Hey!" Tony repeated. "Can I help it if I enjoy sex?"

"Can we maybe stop this discussion here?" Tim said. "There's no good place for it to go."

"This is really good," Jimmy said, spearing a piece of chicken. "Thanks for inviting me over."

"Thanks, Jimmy," Tony said. "My Nonna died when I was little, but I have her box of recipes."

"Nonna?" Jimmy frowned.

"Italian for grandmother," Tony said.

"Not to be confused with Nana, which is what my great-grandmother was called," Tim said. "Mom called her Gram, but we always called her Nana."

Jimmy smiled. "My grandfather on my mom's side was always Grumpa. My oldest cousin couldn't say Grandpa correctly, and it stuck."

Tim smirked. "Oh, we have to save that for Gibbs when the first Gibblet baby is born. Can't you see his face when he's Grumpa Gibbs?"

"So what are the chances Abby has the first baby?" Tony said, grinning. "Because you know she's the only one who can get away with calling him that."

"Um, guys, wouldn't she have to be dating somebody first?" Jimmy asked and regretted it as soon as they turned to look at him. "What? No, don't look at me. I mean, not that I wouldn't like to- Abby would be a great mom. It's just- Um, yeah, I'm going to, um, get some more water." He stood up and carried his glass to the sink to refill it from the tap.

"Relax, Jimmy," Tim said. "We're just giving you grief."

"Come on, let's finish dinner before McSleepy needs another nap," Tony said.

-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tim sat nearby while Abby massaged soap into Jethro's fur. She was already soaked, and Tim was glad he had given her some of his clothes.

"Abs, you know you're going to have to mop up all this water, right?" he said.

"I know," she said. "But Jethro has to be all clean first." She worked the suds into spikes on his back.

"He's a dog, not a dragon," Tim said, stifling a laugh. "Or a dinosaur."

"He's adorable," Abby retorted, as a clump of suds dislodged from Jethro's fur and landed on her head. "And he's having fun."

"He likes bath time," Tim said. "Tony just doesn't, because he gets so wet."

"Yeah, probably not a good thing for his lungs," Abby said. "Good thing I stripped down before putting on your clothes, because I'm soaked through and wet underwear sucks."

Tim shook his head. "Too much info, Abs." Although he had already figured it out by the way his clothes stuck to her. "But Tony will be glad if he gets home before you dry off."

She turned to look over her shoulder and stuck her tongue out. He smirked at her. "Just because I haven't shared where all your tats are doesn't mean he's stopped wondering, and the clothes aren't hiding much."

"Oh, you guys love it," she said. "Tony's still hoping he can talk me and Ziva into that tongue kiss. I told him he can indulge his fantasies if we can watch you guys do the same."

Tim rolled his eyes. "Keep it up, Abs, and I'm breaking out the camera."

She started rinsing Jethro off and grumbled. "It isn't enough that Tony has pictures of Kate in a wet T-shirt and Ziva in a bikini?" She stopped for a second. "Right, it's Tony. Dumb question."

"I was thinking more of something to thank Jimmy for all his help," Tim said. He knew it was unfair to tease the two of them, but couldn't resist. "I heard you spent most of the time at Bethesda snuggled up to him."

"We're just friends, Timmy," Abby said. "Tony and Gibbs were watching over you while you were unconscious."

Tim sighed. "Just be careful, Abs," he finally said. "He's always had a bit of a crush on you, and you could hurt him if you aren't careful."

She started to sputter, and he held up his right hand. "I know, I know, you don't mean to. You never mean to. Doesn't mean it won't happen."

She finished rinsing Jethro and drained the water from the tub. "I'll try not to, Tim," she said, then paused. "You really think he's interested in me? I mean, not just in my shoes."

Tim snorted at the memory of how they'd discovered Jimmy had a shoe fetish. "Pretty sure, Abs. He came over for dinner yesterday and basically admitted it."

She nodded. "Thanks. I'll keep that in mind." She looked around. "Towels?"

Tim stood and pulled a stack off the shelf above the toilet. "These are his."

Fifteen minutes later, Jethro was mostly dry, and Abby released him. Tim could hear him thumping his way downstairs.

"I'll be down in a few minutes," Abby said. "Just need to change."

Later that evening after Abby had left, the guys sat down to watch a movie. "Oh!" Tim said. "I mentioned Jimmy to Abby. She sounded like she might possibly be interested."

"An autopsy gremlin and a lab bat," Tony said. "Between Jimmy's penchant for sex in odd places at the office and Abby's ability to leave no evidence behind, that could make for some interesting possibilities."

Tim slapped Tony's head. "You're incorrigible," he said. "I'm not hacking the security camera feeds."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Despite a hot case, Gibbs had sent Tony home the night before so McGee wouldn't be alone, so Tony brought in breakfast for the rest of the team, including Dwayne Wilson, their TAD until Tim returned to the field.

He delivered everybody's food, then headed down to the lab, which was silent for once. Abby was curled up on her futon, wearing the sweatpants she kept at the Navy Yard for the nights she ended up crashing there, her hair down.

Tony placed her food on the counter and bent over to shake her shoulder. "Abs, I've got breakfast for you."

She blinked her eyes open. "How's Timmy?" she asked, her voice gravelly and low from sleep.

Tony straightened and winced as his knees popped. "He's fine, Abs." He stood and twisted a couple of times to unkink his spine.

"We need to get you back to yoga class," Abby said. "There's one tomorrow night if we don't catch a new case."

Tony nodded. "Tim's mom is coming out tomorrow to visit with him during the day, so he'll probably be too tired for anything besides dinner anyway."

"I'll check with Jimmy," Abby said. "He told me yesterday that he'd be willing to stay with Tim on Saturday so we could go to class. He might be willing to stay with him tomorrow, too. Even if Tim's asleep, he can study."

"How much longer does he have before he finishes his degree?" Tony said. "Seems like he should be done by now."

"I think this semester is either his last or his next-to-last," Abby said. "He was talking with the school about counting his experience here toward the practical portion so he doesn't have to take leave from here to do basically the same thing someplace else, but they haven't ruled yet. If they'll count it, he'll basically be done in the spring, even though he won't officially graduate until December."

Tony nodded. "Sounds good. I'd better get back upstairs before Gibbs comes to hunt me down."

When he returned to the bullpen, Tony settled into his chair and ate his rapidly cooling breakfast. Gibbs was working away at his desk, and Dwayne and Ziva weren't around — probably cleaning up in the locker rooms.

"Gear up." Gibbs grabbed his SIG and holster. "Let's go nab the dirtbag."

Three hours later, when he still hadn't cracked their suspect in interrogation, he was beginning to wonder if he was going to have to pull Vance in for a round of bad cop, worse cop. He stalked out, leaving the man to cool his heels in interrogation. Ziva was waiting for him in the hallway.

"His partner has given Tony and Dwayne a full confession," she said. "Dwayne has better skills in interrogation than I would have expected."

"Need 'em working cold cases," Gibbs said. "People who've gotten away with it once don't give themselves up that easy." He thought for a second. "Send them in with this guy. Let's let them have at him."

Ziva nodded. "Also, Abby has some additional evidence for you."

Gibbs nodded. He headed for the Caf-Pow machine for his usual thank-you for Abby. When he got to the lab, he could hear Abby and Jimmy talking.

-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-


Jimmy took a deep breath as he headed up to Abby's lab. Ducky hadn't been at Tim and Tony's last week to see him kiss Abby's cheek, so he couldn't know Jimmy hadn't been able to get it out of his mind since then. He'd been interested in her since he first started working at NCIS, but first she had been seeing Tim and then he didn't think she would actually be interested in him. He wasn't really part of the team, just Dr. Mallard's helper. But since they had rescued Ziva from Africa, he'd felt more included in the group. Tony still called him the 'Autopsy Gremlin,' but it was almost like he still called Tim 'Probie' — it had started as hazing and had become a friendly nickname.

The past couple of weeks had just made it harder on Jimmy. With Tim in the hospital and Tony and Gibbs watching over him, Jimmy had been the one nearby when Abby needed a hug. And as the respective best friends of the two guys, they had been over to the house, together and separately, several times to help the guys out.

He got off the elevator and reminded himself that Abby just thought of him as a friend, and even if she was interested, she'd just broken up with Keith. So when he walked into the lab, he was mostly back to normal.

Her usual music blasted from the speakers.

"Abby!" Jimmy tried to make himself heard over Brain Matter, but Abby was engrossed in her computers. He walked closer and tapped her on the shoulder.

"Abby."

She jerked around, then reached for the remote to turn the music down.

"Hey, Jimmy. What's that?" She pointed to the specimen jar in his hand.

"Tissue samples from the dead petty officer Balboa's team is investigating," he said. "Dr. Mallard sent them up and wondered if you'd had any luck with the stomach contents on the lance corporal Cassie's team is investigating."

"You guys are going to start running out of tables down there," Abby said, signing for the jar and taking it over to Major Mass Spec. "Still working on the GI analysis, but it should be done soon. I'm trying to get out of here on time tonight."

Jimmy felt a sinking sensation in his gut. Maybe Abby had moved on quicker than he thought. "Big plans?" He was proud he'd kept his tone even.

"Yoga class, if I can manage it," she said, turning to face him. "There's an advanced class tonight I want to try. I usually go to the one on Wednesdays, but Tony hasn't been in a couple of weeks, so I suggested he come with me to one of the beginner classes tomorrow night if Tim's mom is willing to stick around that late."

"She doesn't need to stay," Jimmy said. "I can go over, as long as Tim doesn't mind if I study."

"He won't mind," Abby said. "He'll probably sleep."

Jimmy nodded and decided to take a chance. "Do you want me to pick you up?"

Abby smiled. "Jimmy, that would be so sweet. You know my baby doesn't like going out in this weather."

Jimmy smiled back. Sure, she didn't think it was a date, but it was progress, of a sort. "I thought Major Mass Spec and his buddies were your babies."

"My car's my baby too!" Abby spread her hands to encompass all the machinery in her lab. "I have many babies." She stopped. "Well, not really. I mean, don't get me wrong, Major Mass Spec and the rest of the gang are like kids to me, but they're not really my babies." Her expressive mouth briefly dipped into a frown. "Although at the rate I'm going, they're the only babies I'll get."

Jimmy was surprised — Abby usually was the wild and crazy one. It seemed really out of character for her to be talking about kids. But then he thought back a bit to the fall and her interest in Tim, before she found out he was taken. "Is that why you were interested in Tim a few months ago?"

"No!" Abby glared at him, before her face softened. "I mean, not really." She sighed. "We were good together when we dated before, I just wasn't ready for serious and he was. I'd always figured in the back of my mind that he'd be there when I was ready for serious and forever. And after seeing how quickly things could change, after Ziva almost died, I realized I couldn't just keep putting things off." She frowned. "Wait, you knew I was interested in Tim?"

Jimmy pressed his lips together so he wouldn't smile. "Um, yeah." He rubbed the back of his neck. "You see, I got to the game night right after you guys had finished talking, and Tony told me what had happened so I wouldn't stick my foot in my mouth. I mean, I knew you were interested in him before then, and that you didn't know he was taken, but, um, yeah. I'm going to stop talking now."

"Good idea, Jimmy," she said. Then she sighed. "You know, this would be easier if I was a guy."

Jimmy could feel his forehead wrinkling as he tried to puzzle through that. He finally gave up. "You lost me."

"You guys have it easy — you don't need to have kids by a certain point. Take Tony. He's a year older than me, and he doesn't have to worry about having kids in the next year or two or risk not having them." She turned away and back to her microscope. "Can you imagine how cool it would be to have our first baby in the family? Tim would make a great dad, and he's probably going to be the first one to have kids now that he's gotten serious about somebody. You should totally ask Timmy about it tomorrow night."

"What? No!" Jimmy made a face. "Abby, that's not our business."

"But-"

"Abby, think about it. You just said you had been thinking about kids. Say you were with somebody and you were talking with them about having kids. Would you really go around announcing 'Hey, we're trying to make a baby lab bat'? And say you got serious about a guy. How would you feel if Ziva or Tony asked you if you were going to have kids?"

"I totally would tell Ziva about something like that," Abby said. "That's complete girl talk."

"OK, so not Ziva." Jimmy thought for a second. "What about Ducky or Gibbs? Or Vance?"

Abby thought about it for a second. "You might have a point there, Jimmy," she said. "That's a little... hinky. I mean, that would be like telling my dad about my sex life."

-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-


Ducky studied the x-rays of the dead lance corporal on the light box. The pattern of cracks on the ribs reminded him of something, but he couldn't place what it was. He frowned, sorting through his years of memories, but hadn't yet found it when young Jimmy returned from his foray into Abigail's lab.

"What did you find, Dr. Mallard?" he asked as he walked up.

Ducky decided to answer his question with a question and test his young apprentice at the same time. "What do you make of these cracks?" He pointed them out on the x-ray.

"That's odd," Jimmy said. "It almost looks as though he was struck, each blow just a few inches to the side of the previous. Very methodical."

"Of course," Ducky said. "I knew it reminded me of something. One summer during my medical studies, I was spending the holiday in Manchester working with a physician who provided medical care at several of the factories there. Many of workers were treated quite dreadfully, horrid working conditions." He shook his head at the memory. "This particular day, we were called out after a worker got his arm stuck in one of the machines. The owner had been reluctant to spend money on what he termed 'fripperies' such as safety guards. By the time his co-workers extricated him, the man's arm had pounded by a metal bar several times, each time pulling him further into the machine. The pattern of cracks in his radius and ulna was quite similar to this."

He looked up to see Jimmy looking at him, the familiar expression of puzzlement on his face. "So a machine killed the lance corporal?"

Ducky shook his head. "Oh, I quite doubt it. But whatever caused these breaks in his ribs was methodical, working its way across the body. It could have been a machine, but I suspect our deadly weapon was wielded by a human."

Jimmy nodded. "That would rule out something accidental, or spur-of-the-moment, then," he said. "If you're striking out in the heat of passion, you aren't going to take the time to precisely space your blows."

"Correct, Mr. Palmer. Cassie will be quite interested in this." He walked to his computer to send an e-mail to the Pentagon team leader.

"Did Abigail say how long it would be before she had results?" he asked as he typed.

Jimmy shook his head. "She said she wanted to get out of here on time tonight, but that doesn't narrow it down much." He hesitated. "Dr. Mallard, can I ask you a question?"

"Of course," Ducky replied. He noted the pink tips of his assistant's ears and suspected he knew what was coming.

"What do you think of Gibbs' rules?"

Ducky raised one eyebrow. "While I have thoughts on many of Jethro's rules, perhaps you should tell me which one in particular you have in mind, else he might walk in as we are discussing it."

Jimmy shook his head. "He was in Abby's lab when I left, and I think he wanted to talk to her about more than just a case, so I think he'll be there for a while."

"The rule, Mr. Palmer?"

Jimmy flushed pink, so Ducky wasn't surprised when he said "Rule 12."

"Ah, that rule." He stifled a smile, not wanting Jimmy to think he was laughing at him. "Yes, that rule has a rather interesting past. You know, of course, that Jethro himself has broken Rule 12. And he has obviously allowed exceptions in the past, as Timothy has dated Abigail."

"But..." Jimmy paused and chewed his lower lip. "Abby is his favorite, and he trusts Tim with her. Would he..."

As Jimmy's voice trailed off, the pink tint of his skin spread down his neck.

"Would he trust you with Abby?" Ducky kept his voice quiet, wanting to encourage the young man.

Jimmy just nodded. "I know he never said anything about me and... and Michelle, even after we found out she was the mole. And I wasn't really part of the team then, not the way I am now. But Michelle was a lawyer, and he doesn't think much of lawyers. He thinks the world of Abby."

Ducky raised one eyebrow. "Have you mentioned to Abigail that you are interested in breaking Rule 12 with her?"

Jimmy shook his head. "Tim and Tony have been encouraging me — Tony even tricked her into letting me kiss her cheek the other day — and we've been spending a lot more time together lately, but I'm not sure if she's interested, or if she's just being Abby. It's hard to tell sometimes."

Ducky chuckled. "Yes, I can quite believe that. So you are debating if it is worth the risk of suggesting you two-" As the doors hissed open, he stopped. "Good afternoon, Jethro. Do you have a dead body for us?"

Gibbs shook his head, and Ducky could tell he wanted to talk. "Mr. Palmer, why don't you go wait in the lab for those test results. I myself have to leave on time tonight, so that I might accompany Timothy to physical therapy and assess his progress, so the sooner Abigail gets those results, the better."

Jimmy nodded and left, the back of his neck still a bright pink.

Once the doors had closed behind him, Jethro spoke. "You playing matchmaker, Duck?"

Ducky shrugged. "Merely testing to see if repeated exposure either cools young Mr. Palmer's interest or increases Abigail's. They have been spending quite a lot of time together, and she seems to be relying on him more and more these days."

"Yeah, Duck, I know." Gibbs said. "Heard them talking in the lab earlier."

-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-


Ziva rolled her shoulders as she paused from filling out the copious paperwork for the case. Arresting an admiral for funding an unsanctioned op in Afghanistan generated far more than the usual amount. And, she had stopped several times to help Dwayne with his.

She sighed, then jerked back as Gibbs stood in front of her desk. "Something boring you, probie?" He smirked.

"It is this... this paperwork," Ziva said. "I have experienced torture sessions that were not this painful." She looked at the file on her computer. "I have been at this for two hours already, and I am only on page 6 of 77. Some of my forms have forms."

Gibbs nodded. "Go on, get lunch for everybody. Be back in 30."

Ziva nodded and headed out, stopping by Abby's lab to see if she wanted to go with her. They had not had a chance to talk in ages.

"Sure!" Abby punched a few buttons on her computer. "These tests won't be done for at least an hour, and Sarah is stopping by to see Timmy today." She grabbed her cape and followed Ziva out. "So how did you get out of Bossman's clutches?"

"I compared paperwork to Mossad torture tactics," Ziva said as they got in her car.

"Ugh," Abby said. "But that doesn't explain why you're barely hiding a smile."

Ziva shook her head and thought back to the e-mail she had received earlier in the day. "Damon is back in town."

Abby turned to look at her. "Damon? I thought he was in Ohio."

"His friend's wife and daughter have moved on. She is engaged and planning to be married this spring. That was the only reason he had gone out there, to honor his promise to his friend to look out for them." She allowed the smile to fill her face. "He didn't even have time to find a job out there, so he decided to return."

"Really?" Abby said. "You should... Never mind."

"Abby?"

"I was going to say you should bring him to the next game night, once Tim can stay awake long enough not to face-plant on the board, but I forgot Tony's still not a big fan of his." She frowned. "I mean, I get it. I didn't like him at first either, because he hurt you guys. He hurt your face and broke Tony's nose and dislocated Timmy's shoulder, and he was really seriously scary. But then he saved Layla and Amira and you guys when Col. Bell's men were after you, and you guys worked together to catch the man who killed his friend. And if that lawyer Gibbs and Tony linked to Col. Bell shows up again like she did in the jet pack case, he might be a good guy to have around, especially since Timmy's not really up for a fight right now. But Tony... Tony still hasn't forgiven him for the broken nose, I don't think."

When Abby paused to breathe, Ziva put out her hand to stop the flow of words. "Abby, Abby, please," she said. "When Damon left for Ohio, Tony gave him the name of a fraternity brother to help him find a job. It is true, Damon is not somebody Tony is close to. But I think in time he will come to accept him." She paused. "I was thinking... Damon and I are meeting tonight for coffee near campus, just to catch up. Maybe I will see if he wants to meet all of us for lunch one day next week."

Abby nodded. "Maybe Timmy can even come. Jimmy or I could go pick him up if the day doesn't get too crazy. By then, he'll probably want to get out of the house a bit."

Ziva smiled and asked the question she had wondered about since she saw Abby snuggled into Jimmy at the hospital two weeks ago, his face the picture of bliss. "You and Jimmy seem to be spending a lot more time together," she said. "Are you...?" She let it trail off to see how Abby would react.

"Are we what?" Abby wrinkled up her forehead, her expressive face telegraphing puzzlement. "Oh, no. We're not." She paused. "But you're the second person who's said something about that. Am I... Do I seem like I'm leading Jimmy on? Because I don't mean to, but everybody saying something makes me wonder. Because I know he's had a little bit of a crush on me since he got here, and I never thought much about it before, but..." This time it was Abby's turn to trail off.

"You did not seem to mind when he kissed you last week," Ziva said, allowing just the hint of a smile to curve her lips.

"Ziva, that wasn't a real kiss," Abby said. "Gibbs kisses me like that all the time, and he doesn't mean anything by it. I mean, not like you're talking about."

Before Ziva could reply, they had arrived at the take-out place, and she had to let the conversation drop for the time being. While Abby ordered lunch for her, Ducky, and Jimmy, Ziva took out her phone and sent a quick text to Damon. Then it was her turn to order for the rest of the team. As they walked over to the pick-up area, Ziva's phone buzzed, and she looked to see a reply to her text.

Ziva held off until they were back in the car, talking about the yoga classes Abby had been taking and her own martial arts classes. As she piloted the car toward the Navy Yard, she brought the subject back to her meeting with Damon tonight. "Abby, about tonight. Do you have any plans?"

"If I can get out in time, there's a 5:30 yoga class I want to try," she said. "Why?"

"I was just thinking. I do not want Damon to think this is a date. I do not think he does, but we have flirted in the past." She sighed, forcing herself to confess a little information she had not previously shared with anybody. "I am... After Somalia, I am not sure I am ready to date again. Every other time Damon and I have see each other, it was boats passing in the night."

"Ships, Ziva," Abby said, placing a hand on her shoulder and rubbing small circles.

"Yes, ships." She mentally filed it away. "Now that he is back and here to stay, we will be seeing each other regularly. I do not want to rule something out, but tonight... A coffee shop is not the place to have the type of discussion we would need to have, and I do not want to lead him on. I know how I react around him, and I am afraid I would find myself acting as though I am ready when I know I am not." She sighed. It was mostly the truth, even if she was not being entirely forthright with Abby. "I was going to ask you if you wanted to come along, but you are busy. Maybe I can ask Jimmy, though he has not met Damon before. Tony is busy, as is McGee."

"I know!" Abby said. "My class is over at 7. Why don't we see if Jimmy will go, and I'll meet you guys there? That way you won't be alone with Damon until I get there, and it won't be weird for Jimmy to be there if I'm coming too. It's almost like the team getting together with him, except that Tony and Tim aren't there."

Ziva smiled. "Thank you, Abby. That would be a good solution. I will go ask Jimmy when I deliver lunch to him and Ducky."

Abby shook her head. "No, let me," she said. Her face flushed a bit. "I want to ask him. I... Maybe I am a little interested, and I can kind of see if he might be interested, if this is a good idea, without going all the way on a real date. Because I don't want to ask him out and then find out it's a bad idea because that would be awkward. That's why Gibbs has Rule 12, because those things are always awkward."

Ziva smiled. She had thought Abby was returning Jimmy's interest a bit, but this had given her the perfect opportunity to confirm it. She could not wait for tonight.

-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS


Later that afternoon, Abby walked into Autopsy, Ziva's question still circling her brain. Ducky and Jimmy were bent over a body on the table farthest from the doors and were so engrossed in their work, they hadn't heard the doors hiss open. She stepped closer, careful to keep her steps quiet, and watched the two work. She was surprised to see that Jimmy seemed to be leading the way, and Ducky assisting. She was so used to it being the other way around, it hadn't occurred to her that would change. Ducky had lowered the lights in the rest of the room, so she was back in the shadows a bit, and she decided to just watch for a minute. She hadn't said anything to Jimmy when she delivered lunch, wanting to take some time to think. Ziva wasn't the first person to comment on her and Jimmy, and she wondered if this was another one of those times she was so blinded by having a conclusion in mind that she was overlooking evidence.

She'd always considered Jimmy kind of like her younger brother: goofy, and impossibly innocent. Except that he'd been on the team for years now, and you could only be so innocent when you worked with dead bodies every day. She'd seen another side of him, too, the past two weeks. He'd been there for her at Bethesda when she'd needed somebody to hold while waiting for news that Tim was going to wake up and be OK. And he'd been there for the guys since they'd been dug out from the hospital. He wasn't a kid anymore, hadn't been for a while. And watching him do an autopsy, she realized he was no more a kid than McGee or Ziva or her or Tony. He was a man, and a good one. He was loyal to his friends, and if he was occasionally a little too excited that somebody had died, well, she just considered that a sign of passion for his work. She couldn't fault that, not when it was what drove her and everybody else on Team Gibbs.

So if she liked him as a friend, and respected him as a person, the only real question was if she was attracted to him as a man. And watching him, his face serious as he puzzled over something he had found, she thought maybe she was.

Just then he straightened up and looked at her. "Abby."

"Hey, Duckman, Jimmy," Abby said, bouncing over. "Didn't want to interrupt. I've got a question for Jimmy, but it's not work-related."

"I have to go fill Agent Balboa in on Mr. Palmer's findings, so take all the time you need, Abigail," Ducky said. He smiled at her and winked, and Abby began to think maybe she really was the last one to figure this out. She definitely needed to start using her forensics skills on her personal life.

"What's up, Abby?" Jimmy asked, lifting the plastic shield from his face.

"Well, it's like this," she said, explaining Ziva's request. "So would you? I know you've got a lot of studying to do, so if you can't, I understand, but..." She decided to stick her neck out. "I'd really like it if you were there."

"You... you would?" Jimmy looked stunned, and she couldn't help but smile as how cute he was when he was befuddled. But she didn't say that, knowing it would just embarrass him. "I would. It'll be nice to hang out without it being because we're checking on Timmy or helping Tony or waiting for news from doctors. Just relaxing together for once."

He swallowed and nodded, but Abby could tell from the tips of his ears that he wanted it to be more than just friends, too. "I wish I could be there the whole time, but if I didn't have yoga class, Ziva probably wouldn't have thought of inviting you, so I guess I'm glad. You'll save room for me?"

"Me? Save...?"

"At the table," she said, letting a wicked grin flit across her face. He really was cute when he got flustered. "You know how crowded it can get at coffee shops, and this one's right near campus, so I'm sure it will be busy. Save me a spot?"

He nodded, and Abby decided she'd better pull back before somebody walked in and caught her flirting. Tim had already warned her once to be careful with Jimmy, and she had every intention of it, but she didn't need more lectures on the subject.

-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:01 pm 
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When Ziva arrived at the coffee shop, Jimmy and Damon were both standing inside the door. She wondered why they were not sitting at a table and was about to ask when they each greeted her and then turned to face each other.

"Wait, you're Damon?" Jimmy said.

"And you must be Jimmy," Damon replied.

"Oh, I am sorry," Ziva said. "I did not realize you two had not met."

Jimmy shook his head. "I had exams the week you guys caught the hijacking case," he reminded her.

"It's OK," Damon said. "I just got here, and I think you did, too. We weren't standing around for long."

"Yes, enough standing around," Ziva said. "Let us get something to drink and find a table."

"It's filling up quick," Damon said. "Tell me what you both want and I'll get the drinks, then you can find a place to sit."

"Are you sure?" Ziva asked.

Damon nodded. "Unless either of you wants something really complicated, then you'll have to get your own because I won't remember it."

Ziva shook her head. "I would just like a cup of Earl Gray tea," she said.

"That I can remember," Damon said, smiling. His hair was still short, like the last time she had seen him, and his jeans and navy sweater looked good on him. She smiled and looked away, not wanting to be caught staring. She had meant what she'd said to Abby earlier about not wanting to lead him on.

"Jimmy, how about you?"

"Just plain coffee is fine," he said. "Just have them leave a little room for cream in it."

Damon nodded and headed to the register.

"So," Jimmy said. "Do you see a free table?"

Ziva scanned the room. "It appears this is a popular place to study," she said. Spying a possibility, she pointed to the corner. "What about there?"

He nodded, and she led the way to the overstuffed leather couch and chairs. She took one chair, waving away Jimmy's offer for her to take the couch. "I would... prefer the chair," she said.

"Why... Oh, right." He nodded. "Abby can sit with me on the couch."

"Toda."

He smiled and relaxed back on the couch, shedding his coat and other winter gear. "This is a nice place."

She nodded. "I had been coming here for several weeks before I discovered Sarah works here. I usually stop by in the morning before work, and she works evenings."

"That's right, Waverley's not far from here," he said.

Before she could reply, Damon walked up, two mugs in one hand and one in the other. He handed the one to Jimmy. "Here's your coffee." She took the proffered tea as Jimmy went to doctor the coffee to his standards.

"It's nice to see you again, Ziva," Damon said as he settled into the other chair. "Good to be back in DC, too."

She smiled as she sipped her tea. "You are looking good, Damon. Did going to Ohio help?"

He shrugged. "I don't feel as responsible for Heatherton's wife and daughter," he said. "They'd split after he got back, so she'd moved on, gotten engaged. Wasn't really a place for me there. At least I know folks in DC." He paused. "I have to thank Tony for giving me the name of his frat buddy, though. Mike was a good guy."

Ziva nodded. "Tony is indeed a good guy, though he tries to hide it." She smiled. "Abby and I were thinking maybe you could meet us all for lunch one day. She or Jimmy could even get McGee so he could get out of the house."

"Wait, what am I doing?" Jimmy settled back on the couch, his coffee now a dark tan instead of black.

"Abby and I were thinking Damon could meet us all for lunch one day, and she said one of you two could probably go get McGee."

Jimmy nodded. "Sure. He's already getting pretty bored at home all day, even sleeping half the time. By next week when he can stay awake, he'll really be ready for a change of scenery."

"What happened to McGee?" Damon said.

Ziva started filling him in.

As she finished her explanation, Jimmy waved toward the door, and Ziva looked over her shoulder to see that Abby had entered. A few minutes later, she settled down on the couch, slipping her boots off so she could tuck her feet up under her, shoulder touching Jimmy's. Ziva managed not to smile as she introduced Abby and Damon.

-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-


Abby walked in the coffee shop and scanned the room, finally seeing Jimmy's wave from the cozy sitting area in the corner. She waved back, and felt a little bubble of happiness when she realized Ziva and Damon had chairs, so she would be sitting on the couch with Jimmy. Yeah, definitely needed to start doing forensics on her personal life. How had she not realized she had a thing for him until now?

She walked up to the counter and scanned the menu, finally deciding on a fruity, red tea. It wouldn't have the punch of Caf-Pow, but it would have some of the taste. She was so relaxed from yoga, she wasn't really sure she wanted to wind herself up again anyway.

Abby put her giant tea mug down on the coffee table before slipping off her clunky boots and tucking her feet up under her. She picked a spot close to Jimmy, her knees touching his leg, their shoulders brushing. "Hey, guys," she said. "What did I miss?"

"We were just catching Damon up on Tim," Jimmy said, turning to look at her. "I didn't think you drank anything other than Caf-Pow."

She smiled. "They don't have Caf-Pow here. Besides yoga class mellowed me out — I've never taken this instructor's class, and he's really good at the relaxation/meditation part. I figured I'd actually stay chilled out for a while."

Jimmy and Ziva laughed, while Damon just looked confused.

"I'm usually totally wired on caffeine," Abby said.

"The guys in the mailroom call her Energizer Abby," Jimmy said. "She's the only person I know who can bounce in six-inch platforms."

"Hey!" Abby said. "I don't bounce."

"You bounce," Ziva said. "I have seen it."

"Well, OK, so I bounce. But Gibbs is totally the enabler with all the Caf-Pows he brings." She sipped her tea, feeling the warmth flow through her body. "This is great. It's freezing outside — must have dropped 15 degrees since I went to class."

"Oh, great," Jimmy said. "I walked so I wouldn't lose the parking space I found in front of my building."

"Is your apartment far?" Ziva asked. "I did not realized we lived near each other."

"We don't." Jimmy sighed. "I live almost a mile in the other direction, but I figured it was OK walking. I didn't expect the temperature to drop any more since the sun was down."

"I'll give you a ride," Abby said. "Ziva, do you need one too?"

She shook her head. "In the time it would take you to warm up your car, I could be home," she said. "It is only two blocks."

"And I drove," Damon said. "I'm staying outside the city because it's cheaper, at least until I find a place and a job."

As the others started talking about job hunting and other things, Abby just settled back into the couch to watch. Jimmy was different here, and she wondered how much was because she was looking at him differently. He wore a sweater and faded jeans, instead of the suits or scrubs she was used to seeing him in at work. As they talked, she realized he didn't stammer. She'd noticed it a few times before, when they were just hanging out. But she was so used to his verbal backtracking at work that she'd always assumed that was the norm for him. Seeing him quietly talking with the others had her reconsidering.

He smiled at one of Ziva's mangled idioms, and Abby caught herself staring. He had such a big smile and a dimple in his cheek, and she had never noticed either before. She hadn't noticed a lot of things, apparently. He glanced over, and she felt her cheeks turn pink and looked away. Definitely hadn't noticed, because she never blushed. McGee and Jimmy, sure. All the time. But she never did, no matter what turn the conversation took. She was usually the one making the others blush.

Abby finished her tea and set it down on the coffee table, her arm brushing Jimmy's. She felt a tingle and kicked herself yet again. Definitely missed what was right under her nose. He looked over, and she smiled at him, nudging his shoulder with hers. She was rewarded with pink at the tips of his ears.

She spent the rest of the evening wondering if she could suggest they do something after this or if she should just ask him to go out with her on Friday.

"I hate to break things up, guys, but I've got to get going early tomorrow to try finding a job," Damon said, getting up from his chair.

"We, too, have to be to work early," Ziva said. "It is of no consequence."

Abby nodded and started gathering her stuff. "It was good to see you again, Damon," she said. To her surprise, she really meant it. She pulled on her boots and cape, before wrapping the scarf around her neck. As Jimmy bundled up and pulled a wool hat down over his ears, she renewed her offer to give him a ride.

"Are you sure?" Jimmy said. "It's not really on your way home."

"You're giving me a ride tomorrow," Abby said. "Besides, you'll freeze before you get home. The wind chill is down below zero. You really don't want to explain to Ducky why you have frostbite tomorrow."

"No, that wouldn't be good," Jimmy said. "Thanks, Abby." He blushed, the way he had earlier, and Abby couldn't help but smile. He was really cute sometimes, even when he wasn't trying.

Once outside, she led him quickly to the car, not wanting to linger in the freezing weather. She cranked the heater as soon as she turned her baby on, giving the engine a minute to warm up. "Sorry, Jimmy," she said. "She's a little grumpy in weather like this."

"It's OK," he said. "I'd be a lot colder walking."

Jimmy only lived about a mile away, so it wasn't long before they were pulling up by his apartment.

"Do you want to come up for some coffee?" he asked. "I mean, no, that's dumb, we just came from having coffee, why would you want more, especially since it's late and we have to work tomorrow and-"

It had been a long time since she'd had a guy this nervous around her, at least a guy that she actually thought was cute when he was nervous. Most of the guys she met out clubbing over-estimated their appeal. Abby interrupted his rambling and stammering. "I'd love to come up. Maybe not coffee though." She smiled, so he would know she really meant it.

"Hot chocolate?"

Abby grinned. "Hot chocolate would be perfect!"

He pushed his glasses up his nose and smiled back at her. She found a place to park, and soon they were headed up to his third-floor apartment.

Once inside, they shed boots, jackets, and the rest of their cold-weather gear by the door. Then he motioned her to the living room, while he disappeared into the small kitchen. "Just make yourself comfortable," he said.

Abby looked around. The room wasn't anything special, some worn furniture that looked as though it was chosen for comfort rather than appearance. A picture of Jimmy and an older woman she figured was his mother sat on the bookcase, along with a few others. She wandered over to look more closely at the pictures, which included one of Jimmy when he was little with a man who had the same curly hair ─ both on bikes in the street. Jimmy's still had training wheels and was a little big for him, but he grinned over the handlebars, his dimple evident in one chubby cheek. Tucked in a corner of the frame was a memorial card from his father's funeral. Looking at the date, Abby realized his dad had probably died not long after this picture had been taken.

She felt her heart melt and had to walk away before she teared up. As she looked out the window, she saw snow start to fall. This was light, just enough to seem wintry ─ nothing like the swirling snows that had blanketed the city twice in recent days. She smiled and watched it fall.

-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS


Jimmy finished pouring the hot chocolate and pulled out a can of whipped cream he kept on hand, spraying a big pile on top of each mug. He opened his mouth to speak as he walked back into the living room, but stopped when he saw Abby looking out the window. Setting the mugs down on the end table, he walked over to stand behind her. Without her boots, the top of her head only came to his nose.

"Abs?"

"I was just thinking about how my dad taught me the sign for snow one Christmas when I asked what all the white stuff was on the holiday specials," she said, her voice quiet. She fluttered her hands, and Jimmy could almost see snowflakes falling from her fingertips. "I didn't really get it, so he shredded up some paper and shook it out of a cup to fall on the coffee table. Bubba came over and sniffed, and his ears got in the way and swept it all on the floor. It took me an hour to get it all picked up." She giggled. "But I was 18 before I experienced snow for the first time. Dad's paper snow hadn't prepared me for how cold and wet the real stuff was." She shivered at the memory.

Jimmy found himself rubbing his hands along her bare arms below the sleeves of her T-shirt to warm her up.

She leaned back into him a bit, and he slid his hands down to rest over her hands, tugging her closer. She sighed and relaxed back even more. "So now every time it snows, I make a snowman, take a picture, and send it home."

He moved his head to try and look at her. "So that's where you disappeared to when they started shoveling out Bethesda?"

She nodded and looked back at him, her face inches from his. "Couldn't let a storm pass without making a snowman for Daddy." She smiled, and Jimmy found himself leaning in. He let go of her hands and reached up to frame her face. Their lips were about to touch when his watch snagged on one of the spikes on her collar, jerking her head a bit.

"I'm, really, really sorry!" He pulled back, trying to unhook his watchband from the spike, but then the end of her pigtail got tangled up in it, too.

"Jimmy, just stop moving," Abby said. She unbuckled her collar, lifting it away from her neck. He tried to hold still while she untangled her hair. Once she was free and had separated his watchband from her collar, she put it down on the window sill. He started to stammer out an apology, but she put a finger to his lips. "It's OK. Now I don't have to worry about stabbing you with my spikes."

She stretched up on her toes and placed her lips on his. Automatically, his arms slid around her waist, pulling her close as she wrapped her arms around his neck, and he wasn't sure which one of them deepened the kiss. When they finally had to pull apart, they were both breathing heavily, and her lipstick was completely smeared. He opened his mouth to say something, then gave in to his greater need to just kiss her again. Her hands moved down his chest and up under his sweater.

"Whoa!" she said, pulling away. "Jimmy, where have you been hiding these muscles?"

He grinned. "Oh, I've got all sorts of muscles." He reached down and nipped at her neck, then backed her against the sofa.

"Not the couch," she said. "Bed." Her hands were roaming over his skin, sparking sensations. He slipped his hands under her shirt as he walked her back toward the bedroom.

By the time they made it there, they had left a trail of clothes between the living room window and the bed. Jimmy pulled back slightly, fighting the urge to keep kissing her long enough to ask, "Are you sure about this?"

Abby didn't answer, just pulled his head down to kiss him again. They dropped to the bed, rolling over until she was stretched over him. Jimmy couldn't believe this was happening, but at the same time it seemed like the next natural step of their relationship since she fell asleep snuggled on his lap at Bethesda. The sensation when she rubbed her body along his brought him back to the present, and he lost the ability to think.

It wasn't until later, as she cuddled against him half-asleep, that he thought back to the first time they had snuggled.

Gibbs had gone to look in on Tim by the time he, Abby, and Ziva returned from their caffeine run. They handed out drinks to Vance and the McGees, who were huddled with Ducky and Brad, talking in low tones. Sarah was staring out the window, and Ziva moved to speak to her. Jimmy was at loose ends as to what to do with himself, until he saw Abby sitting on the floor cupping her tea in both hands. He walked over and slid down the wall next to her.

"So what's with the tea?" he asked, not commenting on the way her hands trembled around the paper cup.

She took a sip and leaned against him, so he wrapped his free arm around her shoulders. The rest of her body trembled like her hands. "They didn't have Caf-Pow, and if I drink coffee, I'll get too wired," she said. "I know I can't go see Timmy again until tomorrow, and I really should try to sleep. Gibbs knows he'd better wake me up if something happens, because otherwise I'll kill-" Her voice broke. "Kill him if he doesn't, but I can't seem to stop shaking."

Jimmy set his coffee on a nearby table and wrapped both arms around her. "Tim's going to be OK, Abs. He's not going to be out in the field for a while, but Dr. Mallard and Brad both said he's going to be OK. You helped too, giving blood." He rubbed one hand in long strokes down her back, hoping it would soothe her just the way it had him when his aunt had done it during those long, unbearable days right after his dad died. He could still feel her trembling. "Abby, let it go. I've got you."

She shook her head and buried it against his chest, mumbling.

"Abby?" He pulled back a bit so he could see her face. Tonight was one of the few times he'd seen her with no makeup. She'd washed it off after crying in the blood donation room and had never bothered putting it back on.

"Gibbs said I couldn't," she whispered.

He bent down close to her ear. "Gibbs said you couldn't what?"

"Cry," she said, her breath hitching. "When I was giving blood. He said I needed to pull it together for Tony's sake."

Jimmy exhaled. "Abby, that's because Tony was barely holding on himself, hoping Tim would be OK. But he's in with Tim now, and nobody here is going to mind if you cry." He pulled her into his lap so she could easily hold onto him. "Come on, let it out. You'll feel better." When she shook her head, he said, "If you want, I can get Dr. Mallard over here to tell you a story about a time he once..." That got a weak giggle out of her. Then her giggles developed into hiccups, which turned into gentle sobs. He pulled her close and felt her arms tighten around him the way they did when she squeezed Bert. Finally came the big, heaving sobs, and her body shook with each one. Abby might never return his affection, but he was resolved that he would show her he could be more than just Ducky's sidekick and the family's comic relief.


That night, Abby had finally fallen asleep in his lap. Having her wrapped around him had led to thoughts that had been completely inappropriate. And, OK, he was always thinking stuff that was way more inappropriate upon reflection than it seemed to him when it first popped in his mind, but even he didn't have to examine the situation to realize that getting turned on by his friend was was snuggled against him for comfort after her best friend almost died was wrong. The kind of wrong that would have Dr. Mallard chastising him and Gibbs dishing out one of his head slaps.

Tonight, though, she was snuggled into him after they'd had mind-blowing sex. Now those kind of thoughts were completely appropriate. He grinned as he ran his hands gently down her back, not thinking of comforting her this time. After a couple of minutes, she lifted her head, her voice heavy with sleep. "Jimmy, I should go home, but if you keep doing that, I'm not going to want to."

"Stay," Jimmy said. He had a moment of panic — he never asked women to stay, but he wanted Abby to stay curled close to him all night. "I'll set my alarm for early so you can go home and change before work."

"Mmmm." She scooted up his body to kiss him. "I like the way you think."

"And maybe..." He hesitated.

"Speak, Jimmy," she said, fully awake now. She looked up at him, and in the glow of the streetlights through the window, he could see her wide green eyes just inches from his.

"I could drive over with you and give you a ride into work, since I'm giving you a ride to Tim and Tony's," he rushed on. "That way you wouldn't have to take your car out in the cold to work, and it would be easier after work and-"

She silenced him with a kiss. "On one condition."

"Anything."

"Bring a bag," she said. "That way you can just stay at my place tomorrow after we leave the guys' house." She grinned. "I think you'll really appreciate the coffin."

He laughed. "An autopsy table, the ME's van... I think a coffin fits right in."

She laughed hard, dropping her face into his chest. "Just so you know, Ducky is NEVER finding my underwear in Autopsy."

"Well, of course not," Jimmy said. "Ballistics has a lot fewer people in and out." He grinned and pulled her up so they were nose to nose. "But if we're sleeping together at night, I think we can make it through the day without jumping each other at the Navy Yard."

"Mmm... I like the sound of that." Abby shifted, brushing against him. "Especially when it's very clear you're interested in more than sleeping." She reached down with one hand and distracted him with a kiss at the same time, so he didn't have a chance to reply.

The next morning, Jimmy groaned as he reached for his alarm. He felt like he was wading through muck, but Abby bounced out of bed.

"I'll go make coffee while you shower," she said, grabbing one of his T-shirts and sliding it on as she walked out of his bedroom. The sight was enough to snap Jimmy to wakefulness. By the time he had showered and was buttoning his shirt as he walked into the kitchen, she was redressed in last night's clothes and pouring two cups of coffee.

"Glad to see you're awake now," she said, grinning. She headed for the living room, but he wrapped an arm around her waist to stop her for a kiss. "Definitely awake," she said, when she finally managed to pull away.

-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-NCIS-


Ducky had just tucked into the mountain of dreaded requisition forms when Mr. Palmer walked into Autopsy with a rather goofy smile on his face. While the younger man hung up his coat and suit jacket, Ducky stifled the smile that threatened to overcome his own countenance. Perhaps Jimmy and Abigail had finally realized what had been apparent to most of the rest of the team these past couple of weeks.

"Good morning, Dr. Mallard," Jimmy said as he approached the table piled high with papers. "Requisition forms?"

"No time like the present," Ducky said. "We have no guests with us, and we can hope that will stay true for a day or two." He handed a stack to Jimmy, whose smile never wavered even as he started sorting through the many papers.

"I went to physical therapy with Timothy last night," Ducky said. "He appears to be doing quite well, given the extent of his injuries."

Jimmy looked up. "Oh, good," he said. "I know he's been frustrated waiting to see what will happen."

"I expect he will be back on desk duty within a few weeks," Ducky said. "Not as quickly as he would like, perhaps, but at the early end of the range I had estimated when he first was injured."

"He'll be glad to get back," Jimmy said. "Not that Abby and I mind going over to check on Tim at lunchtime."

"But you two wouldn't mind a chance to enjoy lunch alone perhaps?"

"Yeah, that would be nice-" Jimmy's head jerked up. "Wait, how did you know? We didn't even know until last night."

Ducky smiled at the confirmation of his suspicions. "Ahh, Mr. Palmer, when you have been around as long as I have and worked with people as closely as I work with you and Abigail, it takes very little to deduce these sorts of developments." He held up a hand to pre-emptively halt the explanation or excuses sure to come out of Mr. Palmer's mouth next. "I have no need of details, Mr. Palmer. Indeed, once Anthony learns of this development, I daresay you will prefer nobody have details to be able to share. He is quite persuasive once he gets going." He paused. "I just have one question for you."

"Yes, Dr. Mallard?"

"Are you and Abigail happy?"

At the big smile on his face, Jimmy's answer was evident even before he said, "Oh, yes! We're very happy. In fact, we're-" He broke off, flushing. "Never mind. That's one of those details I'd rather Tony not know."

"Understood." Ducky turned back to the forms. "And now, to conquer this bloody paperwork."

It wasn't only the paperwork that had the M.E. looking for an excuse to visit Abigail's lab later that morning. Not that he didn't trust her, but he wanted to be certain that she and Jimmy were on the same page in regard to this change in their relationship.

When he walked into the lab, she had her usual music on loud enough to rattle the windows.

"Hey, Ducky!" She turned down the volume as soon as she saw him. "I know you don't have evidence for me because the team's just investigating a robbery today, and not even a difficult one, so what brings you to my lab?" As she bounced between the various machines in her lab, he could almost see the happiness radiating from her.

"I'm just glad to find that Mr. Palmer isn't the only one in such a wonderful mood today," he said, unable to resist smiling. Abby's emotions were so strong, they were infectious on a normal day. He rather suspected that today even Gibbs would smile after being exposed to the forensics expert's joyful spirit.

She turned to him. "Really? You can tell Jimmy's happy? I mean, really happy? Like happy the same way I'm happy?" Her grin stretched even wider.

"Yes, really happy," Ducky confirmed. "I don't think even Jethro could squelch him today, though with no need of our services on the current case, I don't imagine he'll get a chance to try."

"Thanks, Ducky," she said. "I'm glad it's not just me."

"That is one thing you need not concern yourself with, my dear."

As he walked back into Autopsy, his assistant was just finishing up the stack of requisition forms.

"I'm sorry, Jimmy," Ducky said, abashed. "I didn't mean to leave you with all of those dratted forms."

He shook his head, the grin from the morning still on his face. "It's no problem, doctor. I've got them done, and now we don't need to worry about them for another quarter."

His irrepressible good humor confirmed the impression he had gotten both earlier and after his visit to the forensics lab. "I must say, Mr. Palmer, after seeing you and Abigail this morning, I do believe your decision to begin seeing each other is long-overdue."

His assistant's eyebrows shot up. "You approve, Dr. Mallard?"

Ducky nodded. "I do, Mr. Palmer. And I will tell that to anybody who asks me, should it be required." He was rewarded by an even-wider smile.


AN: I hope you enjoyed that. And before anybody can ask, there won't be a sequel. Or rather, their story will continue in Life (and future Breathe stories) because it's pretty integral to that story. But that also means anything beyond this is impossible to write without that context — even editing it out of this section was difficult — so if you want to see what happens next, you'll have to read Life. If it helps, there's nothing in Life (or any of my stories) more explicit than what's in here, so you don't have to skip over smut if it's not your thing. ;) And I might do another Jimmy/Abby story in the future in a separate universe — I'm really enjoying playing with their dynamic.

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