Leroy Jethro Gibbs read over the divorce documents his lawyer sent one last time. He was glad it was over. His divorce to Stephanie, while hardly the most amicable in the world had, at least, been the most civil of his divorces. They never should've married, he realized. They just didn't have what it took to make a relationship work. He definitely didn't. She'd tried, he couldn't fault her for that. No, this was all on him.
He saw it now, too little too late, the pattern, the hopeless wishes, the fondest memories. None of his ex-wives could hold a candle to the light shining in his heart.
He missed her so much. She was gone though, and he would have to accept that no one could replace her light in his life. He needed to break the pattern of trying to replace her.
He didn't want to be alone. He knew he didn't do well alone, but he seemed to do worse with women who weren't really good for him. The worst part was now that he saw it, no woman in her right mind would want anything to do with him now. Three divorces? He may as well tattoo the words 'train wreck' to his forehead.
He got through the work day, most of it spent quiet rather than barking orders and growling at anyone he perceived a hindrance rather than a help to their case load. The truth was he was too morose to growl and felt too much like a failure to bark at anyone, except maybe himself.
At 1700 hours, he let Stan leave. Of course, Stan had seen the envelope from the lawyer's office and had even bought him a cup of coffee, which Gibbs repaid with a small smile and even the word thanks. Gibbs knew he was too hard on Stan most of the time, but he was the most capable agent Gibbs could stand to work with right now, and had even started calling him by his rightful name. At the least, the man knew how to offer comfort without pity. He'd give him that much.
Gibbs sighed and decided that a few hours working on the boat was a good idea. He had gathered his stuff and turned off his computer when the elevator dinged. Abby Sciuto stepped off it. He smiled as she approached him and once again, he admired her. She had taken her hair out of the pigtails she normally wore and it framed her lovely face. She wore a red and black plaid miniskirt, black stockings and her platform boots and a red top with a black skull and crossbones in the center with the word DANGER stenciled underneath.
[i]God, did she even know how gorgeous she was?[/i] Gibbs wondered. She had a style, a flair all her own and it suited her.
"Hi Gibbs," Abby said quietly without her usual enthusiasm.
Gibbs frowned just a little. "Hey, Abs." He cocked his head to the side a bit as he considered her. "You okay?"
"You didn't come to see me today."
Since Stephanie filed for divorce, Gibbs had started visiting Abby in her lab almost every day, taking her a Caf-Pow or just seeing how she was doing. The minutes he spent with Abby every day cheered him up. She was unlike any woman he'd ever known. She liked the goth look but possessed none of the typical goth attitude. He liked that about her. She was a happy person, and being around her made him happy. Now, seeing her sad, he silently cursed himself. He'd been so preoccupied thinking about his failed marriage, he hadn't visited her, punishing himself, he realized.
Gibbs sighed. "Sorry, Abs, had a lot on my mind today."
She nodded, seeming to understand and then a small smirk lit up her face. "All right then, I'll let you make it up to me by buying me dinner. I'm starving."
Gibbs smirked a little and then chuckled. "You got it." It'd be a small price to pay to put the smile back on her face.
He had said the right thing because her smile brightened and it was wider and warmer than he'd seen it in a long time. He couldn't help but smile back. She put her arm in his as they walked to the elevator together and didn't let go once in the elevator. She stepped out ahead of him once they got to the parking garage level and he took a moment to admire her from behind. She had great legs, he wished she didn't cover them with the boots. She was tall and thin, and coupled with her smile that promised two parts sweetness and one part sin (and sometimes two parts sin and one part sweetness), he knew she was one of a kind in a way no other woman he had ever met was.
She smiled at him a lot, he realized. Was it possible that she noticed him the way he noticed her? He was a little older than she was, but not that much though you'd never know it to look at her. They'd always had a connection, even when he was dating Stephanie, but it was understated. Though now that he thought about it, since it hit the scuttlebutt that he was getting divorced, their connection strengthened. She had hugged him more. She had gone out of her way to make him smile and laugh and usually succeeded. She certainly was nothing like any of his exes and nothing like Shannon, but he felt happier whenever she was around.
"So, where do you want to eat?" he asked when they reached his truck after a quiet trip in the elevator and through the parking garage.
Abby turned around and smiled at him and he saw her glance at his lips briefly before going back to his eyes. Her gaze gave him the answer he needed. She wanted him. He didn't know why, but she did. He took a steadying breath.
"Have you ever been to Benedict's?"
Gibbs knew of Benedict's. It was definitely a 'date' restaurant downtown. It was known for great food and service, expensive but not outrageous and a romantic atmosphere. He'd never taken anyone there, but if Abby liked it, he would.
"We dressed for that?"
Her eyes danced over his body. "You look good, Jethro," she murmured. Something about the way she said it sent shivers coursing up his spine.
"Do I?" He didn't look any different than he normally did at work.
"I think you do."
He studied her a moment. He could see exactly where she wanted this to go and God help him, he wanted it, too, but not more than he wanted to protect her, make sure she knew being with him wasn't for the faint of heart. "I'm divorced, Abs. Three times. You sure you want to do this?" He had to ask. The last thing he wanted was to break this woman's heart, but even he knew she didn't break that easy. She was tough and strong and smart. Maybe that's what he needed.
Abby smiled, not the least bit put off. "Which is why I'm here now. I don't want to turn around and find out another red head has attracted your attention."
"You think there's a danger of that?"
"I'm more observant than you realize," Abby said. "When I met you, Stephanie had already attracted your attention, but I didn't escape your attention either. I'm used to men paying attention to me because of how I look, but it was always more than that with you."
Abby's smile changed a little. "I know about your first wife…and your daughter." Abby cleared her throat and held up a hand to still any words Gibbs might say. "And I know you don't want pity or everyone else would know about them, too. I get it. I've seen your exes and realized you were trying to replace Shannon. But that's impossible. I see how you are and I understand why. Stephanie didn't get it, and she didn't get you though she tried. I liked Stephanie until she selfishly expected you to forget your daughter and your wife. I know she hurt you. The worst part was having to stand back and see it happen and not have any right to do anything about it…until I noticed that the only time you smile at work is around me."
Gibbs was floored. "H-how?" He stammered.
"I wanted to know everything about you and I did deep background on you. I won't tell anyone, I respect your privacy, but the first moment I looked at you, I wanted you and no one else. I know you still love Shannon and Kelly, and I wouldn't dream of asking you to stop. I just want to make you smile and every time you do, it just makes me want to make you smile more."
The shadows cast by the dim lights in the parking garage seemed to play on Abby's pale skin and her dark hair and she looked beautiful and almost ethereal in the light. He could only stare at her and he could feel his heart pounding in his chest.
Abby smiled then and for a moment, Gibbs thought she'd kiss him but instead she reached out and laid her hand on his cheek. "But first…I'm starting to feel grouchy from hunger and that won't make you smile, so let's go eat." She stroked her hand away and turned toward the passenger side. Gibbs felt the imprint of her hand on his face and he smiled. Trust Abby to reveal something heartfelt and then switch gears to the more pragmatic. His stomach growled as he headed to the driver side and decided Abby had the right idea but the smile on his face stayed put.
Hours later after a fantastic meal and conversation that flowed far easier than he would've ever expected with probably the most interesting person he'd ever spent time with, Gibbs pulled up in front of Abby's apartment. He got out, opened her door for her and walked her to her door. She paused at the door and turned toward him. "I can't believe it's nearly midnight," she said, stifling a yawn. "It seems like we only talked for maybe an hour or two."
Gibbs smiled and nodded. "Haven't talked so much in a long time."
"You tell great stories," Abby said. "I want to hear more of them."
Gibbs smiled. "Been a long day, Abs. You should get to bed."
"I want another date with you," Abby said, sidestepping his long day comment. "I want to spend as much time with you as possible. Tonight was the best date I've ever had."
Gibbs smiled, touched and flattered by that. "Tomorrow night, if we don't get a case?"
Abby's smile lit up her tired face. "I can't wait. Even if we do have a case, I want to have dinner with you, even if it's just a salad from the sub shop."
He stepped closer and hesitated only a moment before he kissed her. She kissed him back and she deepened the kiss. Gibbs groaned at the contact. He'd never let himself imagine this and now he was glad he hadn't. She tasted a little smoky and a little musky with a hint of the wine she drank at dinner. He ran his hands up and down her back, feeling her angles and curves. He had never kissed a woman so close to him in height and the way she melted in his arms made her feel like a perfect fit. Her warmth against him melted something cold in his heart that he hadn't known was there. He drew out the kiss as long as he could, not wanting it to end. It was definitely the best first kiss he'd ever experienced.
When they broke apart, Abby gasped. "Wow!" she said. "Anyone tell you that you're an amazing kisser?"
Gibbs smiled a little softly. "Just you."
She stared at him a little stunned, breathless. "Kiss me again?" she whispered.
He couldn't deny her anything but he deliberately kept this kiss gentle and easy. Right now, the way he was feeling, it would be too easy to let it turn passionate and he didn't want to screw this up. It was too late, they had work tomorrow and during dinner, they had connected in a way he hadn't connected with a woman since Shannon. He'd never wanted to talk to any of his exes from the time he left work until midnight, and then was sorry the date was over.
"It's late," Gibbs said, staring in her eyes. "Work tomorrow."
"Rule 12?" she asked, her voice uncertain.
"You know about that?"
"You've used it to put off coworkers in the past."
"Only if I wasn't interested in them."
"So, I'm just special?"
"Very," he said meaningfully.
Abby smiled then. "You choose the place tomorrow night since I chose tonight…and I'll buy since you paid tonight."
"Don't really care about that, Abs."
"I do. I want you to know that you're as special to me as I am to you."
Once again, Gibbs was floored and his smile made his eyes crinkle and Abby smiled back. "I'd like that," Gibbs said with a smile. "Good night, Abby."
"Night," she said with a wink, the two parts sin back, if only briefly. He waited until she was safely inside and he headed toward his truck with a smile. Even though it was late and dark, he stopped as he stared at his truck. He was parked under a street light and it obviously had a new bulb in it because it shined brighter than the rest in the darkness. He stared a moment and then grinned. The bright light reflected his feelings in that moment so perfectly. If it was a sign of things to come, he dared hope that Abby would light up his life for the rest of his life.