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Staying for the Weekend
by: kazel (Send Feedback)
Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 004 Word Count: 23355
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Ducky Mallard, Abby Sciuto, Tom Morrow, Stan Burley, Brent Langer, Vivien Blackadder
Category(ies): Alternate Universe, First Time, Hurt/Comfort
Summary: Recalled from a temporary assignment to take on a new case, Gibbs is aware that there could be a leak. Not fully confiding in his team, he works part of the investigation solo.
Author Notes: Some character background is recognisably canon but in the SFTW universe there are many things that did not/will not happen...
Chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
Very few people working for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service had a reserved car parking space at the Naval Yard that served as Headquarters. Those that did were pretty much convinced that it was snatched by someone else whilst they were on leave or otherwise absent. There was one space, however, that no-one had dared to usurp and had remained vacant for almost two weeks. It was just as well, because the man who had laid claim to it for the last nine years had unexpectedly arrived at the Navy Yard and was in the process of reversing without having look if it was occupied...
Inside the main building, Special Agent Stan Burley, senior member of the Major Case Response Team headed by Leroy Jethro Gibbs, was feeling remarkably bored. With the previous case long since solved and nothing new to be investigated whilst the current status of the team had been down-graded to standby, he was left with reading through numerous cold case files with the hope of picking up new leads. Hence he was relieving the growing tedium by intermittently surfing the internet. It was an activity he would not usually have dared to conduct at work, but with the boss away on a temporary assignment, Langer on sick leave and Blackadder still out on what had become a much extended coffee run, he had no concern about being seen. Or so he thought.
“Good afternoon, Stanley.” A smooth British accent reached his ears.
Visibly startled, he looked up to find Doctor Mallard standing in front of his desk. Quickly closing the internet window before the other man could see the content of the site he had been browsing, he ventured, “Anything I can do for you, Ducky? ... I haven’t heard of any new cases coming in.”
“No. Fortunately, there have been no new corpses recently brought in for my attention, so things are relatively quiet at the moment.” Mallard sighed. “I was just wondering if he had arrived yet.”
Puzzled by the seemingly unconnected comments, Burley tried not to frown as he asked, “Who?”
“Who do you think?” a more worrying voice was heard above the sound of the reclosing elevator.
“Gibbs!” Burley shot to his feet at the unexpected sight of his boss. “What are you doing back?”
Ignoring the question, but acknowledging the Medical Examiner with a curt nod and “Ducky,” as he strode passed the two men, Gibbs was soon climbing the open stairway to the first floor offices.
“Jethro.” Mallard returned the greeting, then casually continued, “So, Stanley, will you be visiting Brent later today?”
“Brent?” Burley echoed, his eyes tracking Gibbs retreating figure until he disappeared from view.
“I was intending to visit him on the way home to see how he’s progressing and drop off a few things, but I think I’ll have to postpone it until tomorrow. The Carer telephoned to say that Mother is having a bad day. Seems that she decided to spend the afternoon sunbathing in the garden, but the temperature has dropped below comfortable and it’s proving somewhat difficult to get her to put her clothes back on...”
“I’ll be going after work.” Burley cut off the explanation of why Mrs Mallard’s carer had needed to telephone, and shuddering at the thought of a woman in her mid-nineties sunbathing naked.
“Good. Perhaps I could prevail upon you to deliver a book for me. The poor man is suffering from mounting boredom with nothing to do except look at the walls of his room whilst that broken leg of his slowly knits together.” Mallard sympathised. “He ought to be discharged from hospital in a day or two, but I know he’s eager to get back to work, even though he will be restricted to desk duty for a while. I once knew someone who had a very similar break, but it occurred in a totally different manner. As I recall, he was trying to impress a very attractive young lady and fell from the back of...”
“I’ll take it for you.” Burley interrupted what was likely to become another lengthy anecdote.
“So kind.” The doctor smiled his appreciation. “I’ll get it up to you before you leave. Thank you.”
As the doctor departed, Burley’s thoughts soon moved away from Langer. Much as he could sympathise with his team-mate, he was presently more concerned with what was going on upstairs between Gibbs and the Director.
Thomas Morrow heard Cynthia’s voice and felt a pang of sympathy for her as she tried to reason with the unstoppable whirlwind that was his most valued agent, then the door of his office was forcefully opened and the man practically burst inside unannounced.
“What’s going on?”
Inwardly smiling at the immediate and outright demand for an explanation, Morrow looked at the slightly rumpled attire of his agent and responded, “It’s a small wonder that my secretary hasn’t handed in her notice rather than having to deal with you. Do have a seat, Jethro, you must be feeling a little tired from the journey. I know I left a message for you to return without delay, but I wasn’t expecting you to report in quite so soon. Tomorrow morning would have been quite acceptable. You could have taken the time, at least, to go home and freshen up first.”
“I can do that here. Don’t change the subject.” Gibbs tersely replied. “I was making good progress with Aziz which will probably go to waste now, so perhaps you’d cut to the chase and tell me why I was recalled almost two weeks early.”
“I’m sure that Agent Cassidy is more than capable of picking up from where you left off.” Morrow remarked. “I’m going to have a drink. Would you care to join me?”
Gibbs nodded as he moved to the closest chair and sat down. Everything about his return from Gitmo had been much too rushed for his liking, from writing up the result of his last interview, handing over the updated case file to Paula Cassidy for her continuation, arranging a seat on the next flight back to the States and just about everything else connected to it. Morrow was right, however, he ought to have taken some time to go home. He should, at least, have had a short rest, then a shower and change of clothes before coming in, but the former could wait and he could take care of the latter once the Director had told him why he had been so abruptly recalled.
Neither receiving nor waiting for a response, Morrow poured a measure of bourbon into two glasses and handed one to his annoyed agent and long-time friend before taking a seat on his couch.
Taking a moment to savour a small drink, Morrow easily countered, “Were you really making good progress with Tariq Aziz?”
“I thought I’d already covered that.” Gibbs replied, but there was a hint of a smile around his lips.
“Don’t try the ‘second b is for bastard’ routine with me, Jethro, it won’t work.”
“Okay, Tom, but cut to the chase. Are you going to tell me why I’ve been recalled any time soon?”
“That’s better.” Morrow took a second drink of his bourbon. “We’ve been handed a file by the FBI that I want you to look into.”
“I know they need all the help they can get to solve anything, but since when did we start to work their cases for them?” Gibbs voiced his low opinion of some of the FBI agents he had known.
“We don’t, since it’s our case now.” Morrow sounded smug, appreciating the fact that NCIS were taking over because the FBI had failed. “Rather, ‘ours’ as in ‘yours’. I want you to take it on.”
Aware that he was finally going to be provided with all the information that he required, Gibbs slowly raised the glass to his lips and allowed himself to relax a little.
Eventually returning down to the bullpen with two files tucked under his arm, Gibbs glanced around and noted that he still had one agent missing. Turning his attention to Burley, who had his nose in a cold case folder, he asked, “Where’s Blackadder?”
“She’s on a coffee run.” Burley provided her given excuse before realising that it sounded weak.
“How long has she been gone?”
“About...” Burley edged, wishing he could say she had been back and left again whilst Gibbs was with the Director. Inwardly grimacing when he noted the other scowl, he admitted. “A while now.”
Gibbs wasn’t angry with Burley for being reluctant to reveal how long his team mate had been absent from her desk, but as the most recent addition to the team, he was annoyed that Blackadder didn’t appear to be making much of an effort to fit in more or, apparently, pull her weight.
Trying for a distraction, Burley nodded to the files Gibbs held. “Do we have a new case, boss?”
Inwardly approving of the tactic, Gibbs asked, “What do you know of Ricardo DiMarco?”
“Ricardo Enrique DiMarco, multi-millionaire, President of DiMarco Industries?” Burley responded, easily reeling off a few facts that immediately came to mind. His previous employment had been that of a Senator’s Aide which, in turn, had led to acquiring quite extensive knowledge of wealthy business men who contributed campaign funds. It was four years since he had relinquished that role, but it did not mean losing touch with such things. “The sole proprietor of several companies held under the umbrella of DiMarco Industries, he’s also a major share-holder in as many others that are semi-independent. His business interests are quite varied, ranging from real estate and land development, import and export, cosmetics and fashion, to contracts with the Department of Defence. Would that be the DiMarco in question?”
Suitably impressed by his agent’s accurate recitation, Gibbs nodded to the sound of the elevator doors again closing.
“DiMarco?” a feminine voice belatedly joined the conversation. “As in fashion, cosmetics, real estate and...”
“Coffee.” Gibbs tersely interrupted, having subjected the late arrival to brief scrutiny.
“I don’t think he’s connected to...”
“Not him, you.” Gibbs’ expression should have warned her that he wasn’t impressed. “It looks like you’ve misplaced the coffee from your coffee run. Make good on it.”
“You want me to go on a coffee run?” Blackadder sounded her displeasure. “Traffic is really bad right now. The rush hour has started and I’ll get caught in...”
“You won’t need to leave the building. In fact, if you do leave this building again when you’re on duty without a genuine reason stated beforehand, I’ll put you on suspension.” Gibbs coldly stated. “Meanwhile, you can make use of the staff facilities.”
“But...” Wisely cutting short the resentful objection, Blackadder headed for the kitchen.
Clearing his throat, Burley asked, “Is there a reason for NCIS to be interested in DiMarco, other than suspicion of illegal arms dealing, money laundering and involvement with organised crimes?”
“That just about covers it.” Gibbs wryly admitted. “The FBI have conducted an investigation but were unable to come up with anything solid that would stand up in court. Most relevant to us is the matter of illegal arms trading. It appears that they found a loose connection with the disposal of weapons from several marine bases, but couldn’t backtrack it far enough to prove who was behind it so they’ve turned it over us.”
“That must have hurt.” Burley bit back the amusement that threatened to spill over.
“I doubt it made Agent Fornell happy.” Gibbs agreed with a visible smirk.
Grinning openly, Burley enquired, “Have they given us any specific leads to go on?”
“Nothing I’m willing to rely on.” Gibbs shook his head as he handed over the larger file. “Go over everything they’ve managed to collect. Anything that can’t be verified needs clarifying. Add to it if you can. Give it the full works.”
“It’s going to eat up a lot of time, boss.” Burley warned.
“We’ve got a few weeks before any more weapon disposals are scheduled. Make it your priority.”
“I’ll get Viv to...”
“She can stay on the cold cases, maybe take a few off your hands.”
Wondering why his team-mate was being excluded, Burley gave a puzzled frown.
“DiMarco always manages to stay at least one step ahead. Could be that he’s getting warned.”
“You think that someone at the FBI could be giving him the tip-off?”
“Hope not, but can’t rule it out.” Gibbs flatly replied. Blackadder was ex-FBI and still associated with her former colleagues. An innocent comment reaching the wrong ears could ruin any progress.
“Understood.” Burley nodded, realising it was a necessary precaution rather than being personal. Eyes on the other file as Gibbs stepped away, he pointedly asked, “What about that?”
“It’s something that I’ll be looking into.”
“Just you, boss?” Burley was intrigued. “If it’s relevant to investigation...”
“Then, I’ll be sure to let you know.”
“Concentrate on what you already have.” Gibbs silenced him. “If you need me, I’ll be with Abby.”
Gibbs’ team might have been having a quiet time and not be in need of the skills of a Forensic Specialist but NCIS had many other teams. In various ways, several investigations were waiting upon the findings of the resident expert to come up with results that would further the progress of their cases. Hence the lab was still a hive of activity being run by its solitary occupant. In the midst of machines running tests, Abby Scuito sat in front of twin computers about to begin her most recently appointed task. Provided with a disc holding the call log for a particular cell-phone, she had got as far as loading it and was about to begin the task of identifying and cross-referencing numbers when her eyes were suddenly covered by the hands of someone standing close behind her. Delighted, she squealed, “Gibbs, you’re back!”
Taken into a brief, but fierce hug as she turned to face him, he waited for her to take a step back before admitting, “Missed you, too, Abby. Have they been keeping you busy?”
“I’ve not exactly been rushed off my...” Abby suddenly paused and narrowed her eyes. “Why do I get the feeling you haven’t just come down to say ‘hello’?”
“Hey, unfair.” Gibbs held back his amusement.
“Maybe.” Abby tried to keep a straight face, too pleased to have him back to be mad at him. “But now tell me the other reason. Do you have a new case? Is that why you’ve come back early?”
“There is something that the Director wants me to look into.” Gibbs replied in answer to both questions. “You should be receiving details of cell-phone records...”
“I’ve just got them loaded.” Abby waved a hand in the direction of her computers.
“Good. I need to know...”
“Who’s been called, made calls,..” Abby imitated his often used expression of raising an eyebrow.
“That’s my girl.” Gibbs smiled. “So, you’ll get onto it...”
“I’ve started, already!” She reminded him and half-turned back to look at the two monitors.
“It’s sensitive, Abby. I need you to keep the findings just between the two of us.”
Intrigued by the ‘sensitive’ comment and why it was all to be kept so confidential, she had a sudden flash of insight and boldly ventured, “You’re going undercover! That’s why you’ve come back early. The Director wants you to...”
“Slow down.” Gibbs admired her shrewd leap of logic, but needed her to stay focused. “The Director did bring me back for this, but he won’t have any further involvement unless it’s needed. The cell records do relate to the assignment, but I’ll be assessing all the information before deciding the best way to handle it. I won’t be going undercover if it’s not called for.”
“But you might be going undercover?” Abby pressed with renewed excitement. “And if you do, only I’ll know, so I’ll be your contact and...”
“It’s possible, yes.” Gibbs admitted, wanting her to calm down. “That’s why it’s important that there are no leaks. You only report to me. Okay?”
“Okay. You can rely on me.” Abby agreed with a glance at the monitors that were now displaying rows of data. Her eyes darting from one screen to the other, seeing something she had certainly not expected, she became alarmed and her wide eyed expression gave it away.
Noticing the sudden hitch in her breathing, Gibbs touched her arm. “Abby, what’s wrong?”
“Wrong? I haven’t done anything wrong! I swear it, Gibbs!” Abby shook her head, worriedly. “I wouldn’t... I wouldn’t do anything wrong...”
“Abby!” Gibbs gripped her arm more firmly. “What is it?”
“That’s my number, Gibbs! See, on the calls received.” She pointed to the monitor on the left and then the one on the right. “And the calls made...”
Gibbs looked at the screens and saw a number he recognised appearing several times on both.
“What’s going on Gibbs? Why are we checking Tony’s cell-phone records?”
Abby somehow having a personal connection was both an unexpected and unwelcome twist that Gibbs could not have anticipated. Because of her role in helping him to discover more about the man, he had been prepared to provide more information as necessary, but her personal connection demanded it was sooner and in more depth. It was forcing his hand and he did not like having the choice taken away from him.
“Gibbs?” Abby anxiously fretted and bit into her bottom lip.
Thinking through what to say and where to start, Gibbs decided to begin with the obvious. “Why have you been in contact with this guy?”
“No. Oh, no.” Abby shook her head. “I will tell you everything you want to know, of course I will, but first you have to tell me why Tony’s being investigated.”
“It isn’t ‘Tony’ I’m going after. It’s his father.” Gibbs stated. “Now, I want you to calm down and keep this professional. Do you think you can do that?”
“I’m calming. It isn’t Tony. Keep it professional. I can do that, too. I’m doing that. I’m calm.”
Accepting the partial truth at face value, Gibbs lifted her chin and said, “I’m going to get something for each of us to drink. Then we’ll sit down and talk this through. Okay?”
Not wanting to be away from Abby longer than needed, Gibbs made a bee-line for the corridor housing a chilled drink dispenser, followed by a detour to the bull-pen. Seeing both of his agents now present and hard at work, he informed them that he would be unavailable for the short time that remained of their working day. Sensing Burley’s curiosity, he picked up the coffee that Blackadder had placed on his desk and headed for the elevator.
Re-entering the lab to find Abby pacing the floor and looking anxious, Gibbs found a place to put his coffee, then handed over a Caf-Pow and guided her to a chair with the gentle instruction, “Sit.”
Complying, Abby latched on to the straw standing proud of the beaker and drew a large drink.
“Feeling better?” Gibbs asked, hoping for a nod and receiving a shrug. “Okay. I know I can trust you, Abby, but I still need to say it. What we’re talking about doesn’t go any further. You got that?”
Appreciating that he was going to confide in her, Abby nodded.
“Doesn’t leave this room. Got it. Loud and clear, sir!” Abby straightened to attention.
“At ease.” Gibbs halted her half-made salute with concealed amusement, adding, “Before we get into this, let me ask you something. How long have you known... Anthony DiNozzo?”
“About two months.”
“Do you know what he does for a living?”
“Yes, he’s a cop, a detective. I have a friend who works as a lab tech with Washington PD and...”
“A cop.” Gibbs interrupted to prevent her from going off at too much of a tangent as she was prone to. “So, I’m doing the guy a favour and going for damage limitation. If he’s clean, he doesn’t deserve to have his reputation tarnished and no-one else ever needs to know about this part of the investigation. I haven’t even informed anyone else in the team. But if we discover otherwise...”
“He is. He doesn’t.” Abby insisted. “We won’t...”
“Either way, I’ll be checking him out.”
“And you’re going to ask me not to say anything about any of this to Tony. Right, Gibbs?”
“Do I really need to ask?”
“No, but I don’t like it.” Abby pouted. “I can do it, but only if you don’t ask me to like it.”
“If it’s any consolation,” Gibbs tweaked one of her pigtails. “I don’t much like it myself.”
Summoning a small, but tremulous smile, Abby asked, “So, what happens now?”
“Now,” Gibbs reached a decision. “You get your coat and I take you home.”
“But...” Abby looked over her shoulder at the waiting monitors.
“We can come at it rested and with fresh minds tomorrow.” Gibbs insisted and watched as she reluctantly began to power down the computers. “C’mon, we’ll pick up something to eat on the way.”
“Can I choose what we have?” Abby wheedled, clearly pleased with the suggestion of food.
Brushing aside the mild objection to the ride, because of Abby needing her own vehicle for the return journey in the morning, by saying he would collect her, Gibbs soon had them on their way. Despite knowing that she was filled with barely contained curiosity, there had been very little conversation during the opportunity provided by the journey, although that could have been down to Gibbs usual style of driving and Abby holding on tightly as he veered in and out of the increasing traffic. Making a brief stop to buy a takeaway meal from a local Italian restaurant, they were soon parked on the driveway of a modest semi-detached property.
Following inside, Gibbs paused beside her in the hallway to remove and hang his jacket. By no means a stranger to her home, he also took off his shoes and placed them on a rack before entering a well furnished, comfortable lounge.
Wasting no time in making drinks to go with the food, Abby piled everything onto a tray and carried it to a table close to the couch. Taking a place at the opposite end to Gibbs, her legs tucked beneath her, she invited, “Help yourself.”
Gibbs reached for his coffee and took a large drink. Almost scalding hot and very strong, the brew was exactly the way he preferred it. Taking a second, appreciative and equally large gulp, he patiently waited for the questions and comments that he knew would be forthcoming.
Taking a small bite from a slice of pizza that was quickly chewed and swallowed, Abby was about to take another bite but, unable to delay the inevitable any longer, instead put it down and asked, “So, what have the FBI got against Tony?”
“Amongst other things, his father is strongly suspected of illegal arms dealing.” Gibbs bluntly revealed. He knew she did not believe her new friend had any involvement in such things and was trying to seek comfort from him, but until or unless he had proof positive of the man’s complete innocence he could offer nothing more than he had already stated in her lab. “Considering the family connection, it’s only standard procedure to check him out.”
“Can you tell me what’s already in the file? Is that allowed?”
“You’re already in on this, Abby, so there’s no need or reason to keep it from you.” Gibbs replied, retrieving the lean file and flipping it open to reveal that it only contained a few pages. After deciding to hand it to NCIS [or had Morrow demanded that they completely take over?] the FBI had obviously cut their loss and not spent anymore time or man-power on further investigating the DiNozzo connection. Holding out his arm, he waited for Abby to shuffle closer and then the two of them bent their heads to silently share reading through the information that was provided.
It briefly detailed DiNozzo’s education at Rhode Island Military Academy followed by Ohio State University, stating that he had majored in Physical Education and gained a BA. Noting his time at a police academy and subsequent two years of employment with the Peoria Police Department, then a transfer to Philadelphia PD, where he stayed for eighteen months, followed by a move to Baltimore less than two years ago, there were some basic notes on a few of the cases he had been involved in. Overall, however, it was shamefully sparse and lacking in detail.
Pleased there was nothing incriminating in the file but equally unimpressed with the depth of the information, Abby moved back to the other end of the couch and could not help saying, “Is that it?”
Finding a page that had almost statically sealed itself to another, Gibbs took a moment to go over it and summarised, “It says here that he’s the only child of a wealthy family from Long Island. His mother died when he was eleven years old...”
“His father had remarried before he was shipped off to prep school. That marriage and the two that followed all ended in divorce.” Gibbs could see that she was now even more in sympathy mode, so added another snippet of information he had been made aware of whilst talking with Morrow, a part that should guarantee a new perspective. “There is also the fact that Anthony Daniel DiNozzo only came into official existence after a legal Petition for Name Change. According to the birth certificate his original name was Antonio Enrique DiMarco. There’s no reason listed as to why it was changed, but DiNozzo was his mother’s maiden surname.”
Abby had no idea how to respond and, for once, did not make the attempt.
Taking out an A5 envelope, Gibbs closed the file with a snap. “It’s not much to work with.”
“So that’s less time spent on checking it.” Abby went for the positive angle. “Besides, you prefer to work with information that we gather ourselves. You always say it’s more reliable.”
“It is.” Gibbs admitted wryly.
“I’ll start running a background check tomorrow.”
Nodding approval, Gibbs added, “I’ll need the kind of stuff you can’t get from computer records. You can help with that by telling me how you...”
“...met each other.”
“Okay, but he is my friend.” Abby insisted.
Gibbs inwardly sighed and added a gentle reminder. “What’s the best way to keep a secret?”
“Rule four.” Abby smiled.
“And that would be?”
“The best way to keep a secret is to keep it to yourself.” She easily recited. “Second best is to tell one other person, if you must. There is no third best.”
“Can you keep our secret?”
“I can do it.” Abby said, valuing his willingness to trust her word. “I don’t like it, but I can do it.”
“Good.” Gibbs upended the envelope and caught the photograph that slipped out. It was a copy of the one taken for his PD personnel record and showed a young man with dark brown hair that had a deliberately unruly style. The colour of his eyes looked like hazel, but according to a description was actually green. Whilst the photograph could not conceal the fact that the man was undoubtedly handsome, it was unable to reveal anything of his character. Needing to know something of what was hidden behind the image, Gibbs prompted, “So tell me how the two of you ... became friends.”
“It was Tamara’s birthday. She’s the friend who’s a lab tech with Washington PD. We had tickets for a concert, but Tamara had agreed to have a few drinks with some of the people she works with first. I’d met and knew most of them already, but there was this one guy there that I hadn’t seen before...” Abby recalled the occasion. “Tamara introduced us and it was... Well, it was Tony. She told me he was a detective with Baltimore PD and I asked how come he was here in DC.”
Gibbs patiently waited, letting her have a moment before raising an impatient eyebrow.
“He said he’d been working on a case in Baltimore that crossed jurisdiction with Washington. It had been agreed to make it a joint investigation and he was part of the team.”
“We’ll need to find out how it’s going. When he goes back to Baltimore it could make things...”
“It’s already wrapped, but he won’t be going back for a while.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because when the arrests were made, three of the Washington cops ended up hospitalised...”
“Abby.” Gibbs tried not to sound snappish, but he had had enough with the dramatic pauses.
“It left them short-handed and since Tony would have to come back to give evidence at the trial, they asked if they could keep him for a while. He’s here on loan until he’s given his testimony.” Abby revealed. “And before you ask, the original trial date was set for next month, but last I heard, the defence lawyers were trying to get it postponed for at least another two or three months.”
“And you know all of this, how?”
“Tamara said he was on loan when she introduced us.”Abby tried not to sound defensive, aware that Gibbs needed to know what was fact or simply gossip. “Then, when Tony and I got talking, I asked how long he would be here and he said it would be until after he’d testified at an upcoming trial. The rest came out the other times we met.”
“You’ve seen a lot of each other?”
“Well, Tamara’s been lusting after one of the other detective’s, so we’ve starting off quite a few evenings at their local and Tony was usually there as part of the group. We’d sort of clicked and become friends the first time we’d met so, whilst Tamara went off to do some flirting, I’d have a drink or two and chat with Tony. We got on really well, so I asked if he would do me a favour...”
“What kind of favour?”
Abby smiled at his protective tone and fondly recalled the occasion.
“You want a favour? From me?” DiNozzo looked intrigued but didn’t hesitate. “Just name it.”
“Did you mean it when you said that you liked hanging with me?”
“With my favourite Goth chick?” DiNozzo smiled. “Do you really need to ask?”
“Enough to go out with me tomorrow night?” Abby pushed for a positive response. “There’s a club I like and I think you might like it too...”
“You want me to take you? You must know dozens of guys that would jump at the chance...”
“I’m not looking for a date, Tony. I’m asking as a friend. I have other friends that go there, but they’re sometimes late getting in and I’d rather not arrive alone...”
“Hey, I wasn’t saying that I wouldn’t want it to be a date, but it’s cool that you don’t.” DiNozzo was quick to ensure her that no offence was meant or had been taken. “If you want a friend to walk in with and keep you company for a while, I can do that.”
“Tony, you’re the best!” Abby gave him a hug and stepped back to look him over. Noting the smart trousers and jacket he was wearing, she advised, “You’ll need to dress down, though. It’s a t-shirt and jeans kind of place.”
“Whatever.” DiNozzo shook his head in amusement. “What time shall I pick you up?”
“So, if it wasn’t a date, then the two of you aren’t...”
“Me and... No! Oh, no! Not that there's anything wrong with him. I mean, he's gorgeous and...”
“Abby!” Gibbs reined her back towards answering the actual question.
“No, there is no me and Tony, at least, not in that way. But we are friends, good friends, better than good...” Abby trailed off when she caught the growing annoyance on display.
Relieved that the relationship between them was platonic and avoided further problems, Gibbs again looked at the photograph. Noting the slight tilt of lips that seemed to be trying to keep a serious expression instead of giving into a smile, he almost felt as if he was being mocked.
“So, he agreed to take me and he was the perfect gentleman.” Abby shrewdly assured. “Arriving on time to collect me.....”
Pressing the bell and grinning at the ‘spooky’ movie theme that played, DiNozzo had no sooner seen the front door being opened than his arm was grabbed and he was pulled unceremoniously inside. As suddenly as he was hugged and then released, his benign assailant subjected him to a lengthy visual inspection. Beginning to feel uneasy with the intensity, he ventured, “Dressed okay?”
“Mmm..,” Abby nodded, thinking that Tony really should wear close fitting t-shirts and jeans more often. Beneath the open black leather jacket, the moss green t-shirt brought out the green of his eyes and the fit of it more clearly defined his already impressive torso. Likewise, black denim hugged his hips, thighs and... Deciding it was best not to dwell on the conjured image, she still could not resist saying, “Looking good. More than good, you look... hot!”
“Abby!” Tony admonished with a shake of his head.
Abby chuckled. “Don’t try telling me that no-one’s ever told you that you look good before!?”
“I’ve been told.” Tony admitted without false modesty, but not admitting it was being called ‘hot’ that had him trying not to blush. Turning the tables, he looked closer at Abby to conduct his own appraisal. He had never seen her wear anything that did not fit into her Gothic life-style. It suited her personality and he thought she always looked good, but tonight there was something more displayed by her totally black ensemble. From the deep platform, knee high, heavily buckled leather boots and fishnet stockings that her short, short skirt revealed were held up by lace and ribbon garters, to her equally short crop top that revealed a large expanse of her midriff. Something more alluring, something... reining his thoughts, he said, “You’re looking pretty damn good yourself, Abbs. If this was a real date...”
“Tony!” Abby grinned in delight. “You say the best things!”
“Only telling you the truth, Abbs.”
“Abby, if you’re going to insist on telling me every single thing that was said and done we’re going to be here all night and neither one of us will get any sleep." Gibbs teased, but even if she was up for it, the effect of his very long and hectic day of travel, briefing and discussion was beginning to catch up with him. Even so, he wanted her to know that he was not discounting what she was saying or did not value her input and said, “Any and all things that either of us think may be relevant can be discussed tomorrow. For now, satisfy my curiosity and answer just one more question. Why did you ask him to take you out?”
“Well, he was obviously new to DC, didn’t know many people and didn’t know his way around. The only nights out he got was in the company of the other cops he works with and they only took him to the same place where they always hang out.” Abby grimaced, clearly indicating that it would not be her preference. “I thought he’d like to try somewhere different and meet more people. Anyway, that was the reason why I asked him to go with me to Xander’s. I thought he might enjoy it and I wanted him to meet some other friends of mine.”
Gibbs caught the club name and shook off a little of his tiredness. “Abby, Xander’s is a gay club.”
“Well, duh, you think I don’t know that?” Abby grinned. She and Gibbs had a deep friendship and trust in each that entailed knowledge that not many were privy to, but thinking of Tony’s reputation and his career in law enforcement, she quickly added, “But you don’t have to be gay to go there. I mean, just because someone goes there doesn’t mean...”
With an unflinching gaze, Gibbs asked, “So, why did you take him?”
“I thought... I kind of noticed... I mean, I wondered...” Abby briefly chewed on her bottom lip. As Gibbs, himself, would not think badly of herself or Tony whatever their reason for going there, she said, “Well, Tony gets so much attention from so many different women and for all that he plays up to it, big time, and I mean big, he never seems... That is, he doesn’t... I’ve never known him... I began to wonder if it was all for show because,.. He doesn’t follow through or make dates or... anything...”
“Really?” the word slipped out uncensored and Gibbs mentally slapped his own head.
“Really.” Abby replied, for once not picking up on the sub-text. “It made me wonder if he might be interested in other options. Like, maybe he was, he might have been... repressed or something...”
“How did he react when he found out what kind of club you’d got him to go to?”
“He didn’t freak out, if that’s what you’re asking.” Abby responded in defence of her absent friend, then realised that the friend in front of her had not meant it that way. Relenting, but trying to hold back a smile, she admitted, “I guess he was a little bit... surprised.”
“Well, he didn’t know where I was taking him and when we got there he was... Well, once he realised... I’d say he was surprised!” Abby chuckled, remembering Tony’s briefly displayed, wide-eyed expression as he had realised the nature of the club. “But he was really good about it, even though I knew he must have been feeling a little bit out of his depth.”
An eyebrow mirroring his rising curiosity, wanting further elaboration, Gibbs reached a decision. Getting to his feet, he said, “It’s late, so we’ll leave it there for now and come at it fresh tomorrow. I’ll pick you up at 0700.”
Chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
MTAC - NCIS Fic