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Still Waters Book II

by: silverfoxfiles (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 003 Word Count: 18761
Rating: MATURE
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Abby Sciuto, Other Male Character
Category(ies): Alternate Universe, Angst/Drama, Established Relationship
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo, Gibbs/OMC
Crossover Shows: CSI:NY
Summary: Standalone sequel to Still Waters.

With their relationship crumbling, Mac and Jet find themselves entangled in a new development that could make them stronger or tear them apart for good.

Author Notes: This story is dedicated with much love to AnnieR who won our auction on the Live Long and Marry LiveJournal. Annie, we're humbled by your faith in us and hope this story meets your expectations.HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

The two books from Still Waters can be read independently. If you're just starting with this one, here is a brief overview. Back chapters can be found on this site or by our direct link, which can be found in our profile on this website.

Gibbs and Mac Taylor (CSINY) have been in an on again off again relationship for twenty-five years. They live two hundred miles apart and visit each other whenever they can. They're each other's best friend and rock.

While Shannon died back in 1991, Kelly was badly injured but survived. Mac and Jet essentially co-raised her. She's currently based out of New York.

Only one person on the NCIS team knows about Jet and Mac's relationship. When New Orleans native Abby needed someone to lean on during the terrible time of Hurricane Katrina, she went to Gibbs. An only half clothed Mac answered the door, thinking it was food delivery. Even though Gibbs wanted to talk his way out of it, he was aware that he couldn't.

Mac and Jet tried to be Abby's rocks that horrible time. One of Mac's old friends was able to help get Abby's parents out of New Orleans and the men comforted Abby, both physically and emotionally.

Still Waters Book II takes us to the present day. Mac's friend Ethan has become Abby's significant other and Mac and Ethan co-run a company. Mac moved to Dc not long after the first book ended.

But all is not good for our favorite slashy couple. The men have been getting further and further distanced from each other and seem poised to break up for good....

Can Abby and Ethan help them see the light?

Chapters: 1 | 2 | 3

Next Chapter

Chapter 1

August, 2008

Jethro Gibbs took his reading glasses off and rubbed his eyes. Work had been a trial of late, really since the Frog situation was resolved. He and Mac hadn’t had a weekend alone together in months and things were stressed between them. Some nights they barely mumbled a greeting before tumbling into bed.

Jet had always thought things would get better when Mac was down in DC. He’d been here two years now, working with the feds, training agents in hand-to-hand combat methods. Mac was one of the best, holding top belts in over two dozen types of martial arts and hand-to-hand combat techniques.

But he hadn’t counted on his lover being so exhausted when he got home, and so frustrated by not working in a lab environment.

When he opened his eyes, he noticed Tony staring at him, concern written all over his features. Gibbs knew he was looking more tired than usual. This whole Mac situation was taking a lot out of him.

DiNozzo wasn’t the only one worried about a coworker. Gibbs was worried about DiNozzo, who hadn’t been the same at all since Jeanne had accused him of killing the Frog.

Gibbs stood, throwing his glasses onto his desk before he went down to Abby’s lab. Maybe she could cheer him up.

Abby heard the elevator doors open, which caused her to look up. When she saw her boss coming in, she wasn’t sure if it was for work or just to talk. Ever since she had spent a couple of days with Gibbs and Mac while waiting for her parents to make it out of New Orleans, she’d learned a lot about her boss. Abby knew that Gibbs would come down just to see what was going on, and it had been one of the things that had strengthened their friendship. She often went out with the couple, making it look as if they weren’t dating but just friends eating out.

“Gibbs! You bring me my daily extra caffeine, or maybe something of the brownie variety?”

He held out his empty hands. What had he been thinking? “Sorry, Abbs. Not on top of things lately.” He looked down at her. “Ethan or the nuns keeping you busy tonight?”

He really wasn’t interested in another night of strained conversation with Mac; he needed a break. It sounded terrible that he needed a break from Mac—his Mac. But they’d just been quietly falling apart for months and he needed a way to bring them back together. Abby would take it on as her project and he’d at least have a game plan. Something to hang onto.

“We’re between leagues right now, so you don’t have to fight Sister Mary Teresa for me tonight.” She would have to cancel on Ethan, but they both worked for the feds, so it was a common occurrence. At least tonight she knew that she could call and let him know that she would be there after dinner with Gibbs and Mac, and that they could just move their club excursion to later in the evening.

“Where do you and Mac want to go tonight, Boss? When are you two going to come out clubbing with me? I’ve almost got Ethan convinced to come out for the Alien Lust knock off band that plays every week. You and Mac should come along with us.”

“No Mac, Abby. Just you and me. I need some time away.” She gave him a concerned look and he nodded, confirming that things weren’t exactly all right. He tried to smile at the thought of him and Ethan and Mac following Abby to some club. Wouldn’t happen—
they wouldn’t even be let in.

"There is a piano bar not to far from my place. The food is decent, the drinks are cheap and the music is more along the lines of something you'd like." Abby always went out with Mac and Gibbs, and at least when they'd gone out last week it seemed that things were fine. They were still adjusting to living in the same town after a year and a half, but they'd spent so much time apart that it was no wonder they hadn't managed to have things go totally smooth. "My treat, you can tell Dear Abbs what's wrong and let me fix all your problems."

“Don’t need anything that refined. A burger and a beer would do.” He nodded, knowing he needed her. “Need you more than anything else.” He nudged her shoulder with his. “Just tell me when you’re ready to go.”

"Give me three minutes. I just need to bring everything down for the night. It's not like crime won't be here in the morning." Abby went through the lab, bringing her babies down for the night. "You pick where we go, if you don’t like my idea. All I need is a good drink, and I'm happy. You're buying, by the way, since you forgot my Caf-Pow."

“I’m buying,” he agreed, thinking of the neighborhood bar he and Mac went to sometimes. “I know just the place, Abbs. Perfect place actually.”

He went upstairs and logged off, collecting his gear and saying a quiet goodnight to DiNozzo before coming back to the lab. “Ready to go, Abbs?”

“You betcha.” Flipping the lights off, Abby held her arm out waiting for Gibbs to take it. “Now, we are going to have a good time tonight whether you like it or not. You’re going to tell me all of your troubles and just by getting them off your chest, you’ll make things better. Then you are going to trust me to figure out some way to fix whatever is going on. I won’t let my guys be miserable because of their own male deficiencies.”

Jethro nodded his head, taking her arm. “I just think it might be over, Abbs. It’s getting so hard to pretend.” He sighed. “Yeah…let’s wait and get some food and then we’ll talk. This isn’t something easy or trivial though.

"I don't consider your love life trivial, Gibbs. I have a vested interest in you two, and I would hate to see you two break up when you still love each other so much." Abby had no doubt that the two men were still in love. If they weren't, her boss wouldn't be so tortured about this. "Let me work my Abby magic, see if I can't come up with even a patch, to get you through until we can figure out what's really going on with you two."

He nodded, holding off on talking about it at work, where even the walls had ears.


Mac Taylor stowed his gear and looked over at Ethan Moore. They’d become business partners together when Mac came down to DC, teaching elite combat fighting techniques and covert mission strategies to various branches of the federal government, most of the three letter agencies, though they were officially under the banner of DOD.

Today they’d been teaching evasive measures to a bunch of guys bound for Iraq in case snipers targeted them. He was sweaty, sore and tired and he didn’t want to go home and face Jet.

Things were a mess between them; Mac knew it. He just didn’t know how to fix things. Maybe they weren’t meant to be together permanently. He’d been spending more and more time at the furnished apartment he’d rented for appearances sake and even slept there a couple times a week. Wasn’t like Jet noticed or commented.

After they’d hit the showers and dressed, Mac turned to Ethan. “Buy ya a burger and a beer, old friend?”

"Sure, sounds like a deal to me." Ethan would have to cancel on Abby, but she would understand once he told her why. Mac had been looking down of late, and he couldn't get his buddy to open up any. "Been a hell of a week already, I think we deserve a little down time. I'll let Abbs know that I'll catch up with her later. She wants to go to some club I'm too old for to see a band I've never heard of. I can catch her after the show, she'll have a good buzz from what ever she's been drinking, and she'll be all sorts of playful. She's a lot of fun after clubbing. Much more my style."

“Hey, I don’t want to get in the way of your love life, E. We can do it some other day. Really, man.” Mac knew he was backpedaling, unsure if he could put into words the problems between him and Jet. He had nowhere he could go, either. Outside of Ethan and Abby, only his parents and Kelly knew and he wasn’t gonna stress his family about it.

“Ethan, go see your girl. We’ll get together some other time.”

"There is no getting in the way of my love life. Abby's always ready for love, even if I have to work late. We’re doing just fine. You, on the other hand, look like you're doing less than fine." He'd noticed that Mac hadn't been looking so hot of late, but he couldn't see that his friend was sick. He was just as strong and quick as ever "Can you see me at one of her clubs? We'll get out of here. I could use a beer, not some crazy drink that I would get at one of those places. They don't just make a Jack and Coke, it's always something more."

Mac smiled but it was tinged with sadness, He nodded, grabbing his stuff. “Know the perfect place, E. Follow me.”

Mac drove to the bar and gestured Ethan inside. He took a position with his back to the wall, old habits dying hard. There was a really good looking guy at the bar who smiled at him. Must think we’re a couple, Mac surmised. For a moment that felt okay, the guy’s appraising look, slight smirk, even though the bar was pretty conservative. Mac hadn’t even looked at another guy that way before. What was he thinking?

They ordered and Mac sighed, running a finger over a scar in the table. “Ethan, I don’t know what the hell to do any more.”

“What do you mean? What’s going on, Mac? You just haven’t been you lately, but I haven’t been able to figure out what it is.” Ethan had tried to bring subject up with Abbs, to see if there was a reason why his friend was so down, but she hadn’t seemed to know anything. “You’re starting to worry me. Haven’t seen you like this in years and I can’t say that I like it.”

He nodded, knowing that Ethan was referring back to the dark time after Claire had died. He was one of the few people who knew he and Jet had attempted forever with her. A threesome. A permanent relationship. It’d all gone to hell on 9/11.

They ordered and he waited for their beer and food to arrive before he spoke.


Jethro walked into the bar and almost walked out. Ethan and Mac were at a corner booth. He squared his shoulders. “Abbs, Ethan and Mac are here but I don’t want to deal with him. You mind if we don’t go over there?”

“I didn’t even call Ethan yet. He couldn’t have known we were coming here, I didn’t even know we were coming here.” Abby let Gibbs lead her away from their respective boyfriends, not sure what to think. “I don’t care where we sit, I’m here for you. Whatever you need that won’t get my boyfriend up in arms.”

“Thanks,” he said, setting his jaw.

"For what? For being your friend, for putting you first?" Abby was really concerned, she hadn't seen Gibbs like this in a long time, if ever really. "You both are very important to me, and I don't like seeing either of you hurt. I owe you both a lot, even if you say I don't. I want to help."

“For being here,” he sad simply. “Otherwise, I’d be dealing with a boat and bourbon and I get drunk almost every night now.”

“Not a good sign, Gibbs.” Now she was worried. Gibbs having a drink, sure that wasn’t out of the normal, but she didn’t see him get drunk all that often. “We’re going to fix this, I’m not going to lose you to your boat or your memories Jethro Gibbs. You’re too important to me.”

“Thanks Abbs,” he said very quietly. “It’s the only way for me to get through. Calling him, waiting, driving by the apartment to make sure the lights are on and that the car is there. Watching in case I can see his shadow.”

"So you're hiding your drinking?" It seemed to only get worse. Mac was living at the apartment and not the house? When had that happened? She wondered if Mac had noticed or if he was keeping his head in the sand about this. "After how many years you two have been together, you still can't communicate, can you? Ever think you could have nipped all of this in the bud just by asking Mac what was happening with him?"

“No, not kidding. Just don’t think he cares enough. And Abbs, I’ve forgotten how to talk with him. We used to be able to talk but now there are all these walls…” He sighed, looking over at Mac.

"You've got tools and skills Jethro Gibbs, you can break down those walls. Instead of wallowing, you should be trying to make things better." Never again would she adopt a couple, this was hard and she was too invested. "Bring down the wall, you're capable of is, I've seen go after people or evidence in a case, and not give up. You shouldn't give up now."

“Not giving up, just frustrated. Missing him. Can’t reach him emotionally.” He blushed a little, not sure of giving all this info. Even to Abbs. But he was desperate.

“Frustration I can work with, it can be put to good use, and you can even use it in trying to get him to communicate with you.” Or, sexual frustration could just lead them to bed, where they can work out whatever it was that was going on. “Maybe it’s not emotionally that you need to reach him right now.”

“It was never just sex with us…emotion. Need. Heart. Can’t just be fuck buddies”


Mac just watched him, blinking slowly, a grim smile on his face. Jet raised a hand, acknowledging him and Mac nodded, looking away. “He doesn’t really want to deal with me either.”

"Come on, buddy. What's happening? You were so excited to move down here, now you're absolutely miserable." It couldn't be because of what was going on with them professionally. Mac was extremely successful at what he was doing, both of them had more people contacting them than they could handle. And from what he was hearing from Abbs, things at NCIS were plugging along. "So what's really going on?"

Mac leaned forward, staring into Ethan’s eyes. “I think…” He took a deep breath. “Ethan, I think I’m losing him. We don’t communicate any more; we don’t even sleep in the same bed some days. I’m spending more and more time alone at the apartment, not even an acknowledgment or comment from him.”

“I don’t know where I belong any more. I miss the lab…I love what we’re doing, but I miss the lab and investigations. And…Claire.” He’d taken to going to Ground Zero even though her body had never been found. “I left because it was too much, Ethan, and now I just want to go back.

“Have you been back to visit since you left?” He understood that the city and everything going on there could be too much. It’s why he had to leave New Orleans. He’d tried to go back and help, but there seemed to be no helping. Every inch he gave, someone wanted to take another three feet. “Mac, it’s okay to miss the lab and your friends and everything about the city. But you know as soon as you get back up there for good, you’re going to hate it and want to come back here.”

“No, E. Nobody stayed in contact, what’d be the point? All I have up there is Kelly.” He sighed heavily. “I know that rationally, but I always thought I’d feel at home here and I don’t. Still his house. Still…not my home. It was more my home when I was driving a thousand miles a month to visit.”

He took a sip of his beer, only vaguely aware that it had arrived. “Unsettled, E. Was thinking of going to Chicago for a long weekend and thinking it out.”

“You two were fine. What was it, a couple weeks ago when we had dinner and played cards?” Ethan had accepted that Abby was the girlfriend cover for his friends, and tried to meet them whenever possible after their dates, to hang out and do couple things. “Mac, whatever this is, it can’t be that bad. You two love one another, this is just a rough spot, right?”

“No, we haven’t been fine for a long time. We’re just good at pretending.”

“Damn good, I wouldn’t have known there was a problem if you hadn’t told me.” He was supposed to be an investigator, but Ethan had missed some big signs. “What can I do to help, Mac? You’ve done so much for me and Abby both, I want to be able to do the same for you.”

“We’re good at pretending with each other but the last couple of weeks we don’t even have the strength to try.” What could Ethan do? Nothing. “Make him love me again…” Mac said without meaning to.

"I don't believe that Jethro doesn't love you. I think he's a hard man to understand and doesn't know how to say he loves you. But not every man is enlightened like we are."

“Used to, E. We used to throw those words around like we were damn girls.” He drummed his fingertips on the table. “Now we can’t even find ‘em anymore.”

"You brought up being girly, not me." Ethan knew things had to be real bad, normally he wouldn't get Mac to talk like this without a lot to drink. "When was the last time you told him you loved him?"

Mac shrugged. “Couple days ago. He grunted, went downstairs, closed the basement door and locked me out for the night. No I love you back. Nothing, E. I just…he does this. I’ve seen it. With the wives. He’s infatuated then…bang. He moves on.”

“Half a lifetime isn’t infatuation. I mean, I can buy that the sex might be good. But you don’t stick around that long just for good sex. There has to be something deeper there to keep both of you coming back.” He really didn’t know Gibbs that well, the man was difficult at best and he was starting to see the worst that the man could do. Whatever this was, it was destroying Mac.

“In case you missed the memo, you’re not a wife, buddy. You two have never worked the way he did with his exes. Abby said she’s never seen Gibbs act the way that he did with you that first weekend. Not even with Kelly. That means something, even if you don’t want to admit it.”

“There is. You have no idea. No idea. I can’t describe it or explain it. Soul connection. Other half of my soul. Completes me. That’s why it hurts, it hurts like the first love you ever have and feel. That intensity, Ethan, it’s that way between us. Permissible when you’re a horny fourteen year old. Not as politically correct when you’re in your forties. He…I see things in him and he lets me into places nobody else has gone before. Makes it harder when he shutters off.”

“Bastard probably doesn’t even know he’s doing it. It could just be instinctive to him, you said it’s like with the ex-wives.” It occurred to Ethan that it might be exactly like that, he may not have been married, but he always knew when he was dating someone and it was coming to an end. “Do you think that he might be getting some vibe from you Mac? That something isn’t right, and so he’s shutting off to not get hurt? With as many ex-wives, he’d have to of perfected the skill.”

Mac shrugged “I don’t know, E. I was always the one he came to when the wives were becoming exes. Now…I guess he has Abbs.” Mac looked across the room. “God, E, I miss him so much.”

“Then tell him how much you miss him. He’s talking to Abbs, you’re talking to me and you’re less than fifty feet from one another. How does that make any sense?” Not that he thought Mac was listening to him. He was too busy gazing across the bar at Jethro. “Don’t let him get away, fight for him.”

“I know. Give me a couple drinks then… I’ll go over. He might reject me but I’ll take the chance, Ethan. When I’ve got a little more courage.” He watched Jet’s mouth move, imagining the hot touch on his skin. “He has the best damn mouth. Even when he’s throwing around nasty words he still has the best damn mouth.”

“I’m not touching that. I don’t want to think about Jethro’s mouth, and why you think it’s the best mouth.” Ethan was more interested in Abby’s mouth and the magic it worked. “Drink up, but not too much. Never known you to need liquid courage to do anything. Must be the Marine coming out in you, never would you find a SEAL drinking to go pick someone up.”

“We’re in sort of public, E. If we were home, I’d throw him on the bed, rip his pants off and drive home. After lubing up. There was this one time. He pissed me off. I took him so hard we saw stars. And when we were with Claire there was one time that they...”

Could Ethan’s face get any redder? “Embarrassed, Squid?” He leaned in close. “The sex? Amazing. And he does this thing with his tongue right in the slit that…”

“I get the point. You have a great sex life and that’s why you’re not going over to see Jet.” Here, he thought he’d heard it all hanging with Abby, but never expected Mac to start in. “Don’t need to hear just how active your sex life is. Way more than I need to know!”

“All right, E. All right.” His smile turned wistful. “We just have a bond…and I miss him. The friendship, the companionship. We had something there.” Had.

"You still do. Come on Mac, this can't be the end of your relationship. You've both come too far to give everything up. You don't want that do you Mac?" Ethan had known Mac a long time, and couldn't remember seeing him so distraught, not counting 9/11. "Seems to me like you are giving up, and that just isn't like you."

“I’m not giving up, Ethan. I love him so fucking much. I’m just tired, my friend. Damn tired. I just need to find a way and the strength, whatever catalyst I need, to get him back.”

“Well, start thinking. I don’t want to see you hurt, because you’re too tired to bother anymore Mac. Seems like a lot to give up. And you not doing something would crush Abby.” Glancing at the table where his girlfriend sat, he knew she was probably having the same conversation with Jethro. “I don’t want to have to put her back together again because of you two.”

He shook his head and closed his eyes. “You can’t understand, old friend. The highs and lows…such a roller coaster. And yet…I just can’t imagine my life without him. Ethan, I want this to work, I’m just not sure I can handle it any more. Not getting any younger, don’t want to end up alone.”

“You’re not ancient, Mac. Yeah, a few years older than me but come on. Not that I think it’s going to require you needing to find some one else.” Not if Abby had anything to say about it. She was involved, and wasn’t going to let her friends break up because of their own stupidity.

“You also won’t be alone, if the worst case happens. You have us, Mac. And you have Gibbs’ kid. I’ve talked to her when she’s called to chat with Abbs. She thinks you walk on water. I counted your name at least fifteen times, in a three-minute conversation. That’s not someone who is going to just bail on you.”

“Kelly’s pretty incredible,” he said with a small smile. “She’s the best of her mom and me but mostly her dad’s little girl.” He couldn’t face things without Jet…they’d been a part of each other’s souls for too many years.

“If it doesn’t…E…” He shook his head and took a long swallow of his beer. “Getting depressed. Enough, okay? Let’s just….stop.”

He gave Ethan a look that he knew was probably pathetic, but he couldn’t help it. He’d reached his emotional limits.

“And I just…needa home, E.”
"You should see if Gibbs would want to get someplace where you both could be at home. I know that's where he raised his kid, but it isn’t fair to expect you to move into his life and not give up anything." Abby didn't care where they got together, and she'd moved since he had made Washington his home. He didn't feel uncomfortable at her house, and enjoyed the time he got to spend with the elder Sciutos who he had bonded with on the escape from New Orleans three years prior.
“Its her house still. Shannon’s place. We’ll never get beyond that, Ethan. Shannon, Claire, the ghosts of our lives. I didn’t sell my place in New York because Claire’s spirit is still there. Kelly gives me a thousand in rent…” He sighed. “The relationships that defined us. He…he and Claire were so damn close too, Ethan. We’d almost made it together.”

"You two have the most bizarre relationship. It's not just you and him. It's you, him, the kid… Add a handful of exes and two wives who are haunting the both of you so it's a real major deal that you two managed to get as far as you did." Ethan liked what he knew of Kelly, and was glad she was living in Mac's apartment. At least he really had no place to go back to if he tried to run.

"You two need to deal with Jethro and Mac, not Claire and crazy ex and Shannon and other crazy ex and crazy third ex. Empty out the closets, change the sheets and get to being just you two. You keep everyone else in your relationship, and it's never going to work.""

“You have no idea, E. Claire was…” God was he really going to say this in public? “It was the three of us, Ethan. Me, Claire, Jet. All…together. So in essence he lost two wives. We kinda….experimented with Abbs, but it wasn’t right. We worked the best when we had someone else in the middle. Claire…she balanced us out. Our intensity.”

“Don’t down play what you had with Abby, not for me. She told me how you two got her through that day, even after she knew her parents were on her way up.” Ethan wouldn’t be angry about something that happened before he met Abbs, and it hadn’t been more then that brief time. “You can’t have her back in any more capacity then you have her. If you’re looking for balance, you two are going to have to get some sort of teeter-totter that doesn’t involve my girl.”

“Not gonna lie. She was incredible. But she wasn’t ever going to be our forever girl.” Mac had wished she had been. “But she’s a dam good friend, E. Both of you are.”

“Not sure Abbs is anyone’s forever girl. I can hope, but I’m afraid to ask. Don’t want to scare her off.” Ethan had been in town for two years, and he’d been with Abby the whole time. If he thought she might say yes, he’d try to make her his forever woman. Until he knew his girl wouldn’t bolt, he’d settle for what they had.

“Abby loves you both, even if I couldn’t stand you, I’d have to suck it up and make her happy by playing nice. She’s not going to be happy about this turn of events you know. She’ll probably smack the both of you if you don’t get smart about this.”

“She’s yours. She knows it, Ethan. She loves you like Jet tells me she’s never loved any guy before, and he and DiNozzo know her the best of all. And she’s keeping you from her best friend, which means you matter. Abby doesn’t do that with casual guys.”

Mac flashed a smile at Ethan, brief but heartfelt. “I’m glad you like us, E, though if you didn’t, we could turn poker night into strip poker night.”

“No, you couldn’t. She may not be my forever girl yet, but I’m wearing her down. A new collar now, maybe a ring in the future, although not too soon. She might love me, but she’s not ready for anything more then what we have right now. If I push, I’m going to lose her. Think of it as me reeling her in slowly. Before she knows it, she’ll be hooked and I get my dark bride.”

“She’s your girl, E. She might surprise you. She was talking to us a couple weeks ago about making little black booties when the time was right. She’s thinking forever even if she isn’t ready to admit it.” Mac chuckled. “Could you ever have imagined yourself with perky Goth?”

“Not even when her mother was trying to fix us up on a seventeen hour drive did I’d think I’d end up with my Goth pixie. From the second I walked in and signed to them that they were getting in the car with me or Abby was coming down to get them.” Abby’s parents were fantastic, and loved him for not only taking care of their daughter, but for what he had done for them as well.

“Black booties, a little Goth prince or princess to spoil? Now, that does give me hope that I can convince her that she wants to do forever. I’m not getting younger, a baby with Abby’s pigtails would be the perfect cap to all of this.”

“You want a kid, E? I think Abbs would like one. But you do it right, make an honest woman out of your Goth.”

“I would love a kid. Never thought it was possible, never found a woman I’d want to make that commitment with.” He’d been too busy with his military career then training and his career with NYPD. “Think I just knew that somehow I was going to meet Abbs. And if we get around to the baby making, I plan on doing it right. Gloria would take me out back and kill me if I didn’t.”

“Gloria can be pretty fierce, Ethan. But she loves her little girl, so that has to count for a hell of a lot.” He gave his friend an encouraging look.

"It does, she seems to like me a lot too, although I think that has a lot to do with my ability to swoop into hurricane torn neighborhoods in my big truck and save people, although she seems to think I have great taste in women which goes a long way."

The Sciutos may be an untraditional family, but they were a family who loved one another totally and completely. It was something else for a loner to be accepted into that kind of unconditional love. "I love her little girl too. I know that we aren't exactly the most normal of couples, but I do love her and if I could convince her to marry me tonight, I would. Just know that the marriage issue is going to be like reeling in a big fish. One zig when the fish zags and I'm going to lose her."

“One thing I know, Ethan. You’re not losing her. She loves you; you make her so happy. And her family, they think the sun rises and sets on you. If Gloria could consume you, she would, my friend. It’s like my folks with Jet. Even after twenty-five years, he can do no wrong. Makes running to them a bit awkward at best.” Mac sighed.
"Your parents would love to have you. Wouldn't even seem like you were running away, not that I think that's what you're doing exactly. You do plan on coming back, don't you, partner?"
Mac nodded. “We’re building a company, E. I wouldn’t screw that up. And yeah…it is running away. Something I do particularly well.”
"Who is the one who left New York after a particularly bad case and moved to New Orleans? Then when things went to hell in a hand basket there, I bailed and ran to DC. I'm not exactly mister stability here."

“Thought you might understand the need. If I go it won’t be for long. I won’t fuck this up, E. We’re partners, even if you’re a squid, and I’m not breaking my vow to you.”

“You take the time you need. If you’re going to be miserable here Mac, you aren’t going to be any good to anyone.” Mac was the lead in their partnership, but he could make it work even if Mac was the one requested for classes. “Me and the business, we’re here for the long haul. Got a great woman who makes me want to settle down so I’m planning on sticking around. You need to get your head on straight though.”

“This is one of my dreams, Ethan. I’m not fucking that up for a lover, no matter if it’s my soulmate or not. This is my career.” He leaned in close.” And I’m not screwing my best friend unless he asks for it. Never got those vibes from you though, E.”

“I get enough freak in my life through Abby, don’t need you too, Mac. Not that I wouldn’t do you if I were that kind of guy. Just you’re not really my type. To many tabs, not enough slots.” He could appreciate what Abby called the ‘prettiness’ of his friend and the boyfriend, but he would rather see Abby with another hot woman, instead of two guys. “But at least now I know why you’re not trying to check me out in the shower. I was starting to get a complex that my ass wasn’t tight enough.”

Mac leaned in close, speaking quietly but intensely. “Only one guy ever did that for me, and he and I have been together on and off for the last twenty five years. He’s it, E. No other guy ever caught my eye like that.”

He looked his friend over appraisingly. “But if I were interested in more than one guy, you’re not a bad specimen, E.” But they had the same look really. Short hair, muscular but slim builds. The gray haired Gibbs was much more…he didn’t even know. Just different.

“Well, as long as it’s that and not that I’m a troll that wasn’t worth catching your eye.” Before meeting Abby, this conversation would have made him uncomfortable, but now it was actually one of the more tame things he’d done. “I’ll take not a bad specimen. You need to learn to compliment your partners though. Not bad isn’t fucking sexy.”

“Fine, Eth, you’re fucking sexy,” Mac said with a wink. Ethan blushed—the tough ex Seal actually blushed. “See? You’re not ready for me to find you hot, babe. Sexy boy. Stud.” With every word, Ethan was getting more embarrassed.

“See? You’d rather have us as purely platonic buddies.”

“Yeah, I’m happy with the buddies’ thing, although Abbs would pay good money to see the three of us together.” Not going to happen, not even for the woman he loved. “So while I appreciate the sexy stud, I think we need to forget that the rest of that conversation ever happened.”

“Any time you want to be taken…or take, you call me. You’d be taken to another place, my friend. It really is incredible, the power of another man, especially an alpha male like you or me or Jet, pounding, driving, working over your prostate. The power of equals in bed.”

“Mac, I may not get all the alpha power, but I’m extremely satisfied with my sex life. Abbs and I, we’re not exactly Ozzie and Harriet. Don’t think my needs aren’t being taken care of.”

“Wouldn’t dream of thinking otherwise, my friend. I’ve seen enough of Abby to know that she can be damn wild out of bed.” And in bed but he sure as hell wasn’t going to admit that.

"Yeah, she is. But wild in a way that yes, she may go party in cemeteries, but she also bowls with her nuns and does all kinds of charitable works." Once a person go past all the leather and tats, and saw the real Abbs they loved her. He'd tried not to, he'd even gone back to New Orleans after dropping the parents off.

But Abby would call, after the most horrible days and just want to chat, or pick his brain. When he was at the end of his rope, she'd shown up at the firehouse he'd been working out of, in a hearse of all things and packed him and his few remaining belongs and brought him back to DC with her, to stay. He'd never thought about going back, not after being treated to the full Abby. "We're both lucky to have her."

“Yeah, she’s become a damn good friend, Ethan. You’re a lucky man. Don’t screw it up, my friend. Understand me?”

“I don’t plan on it, Mac. She’s everything I’ve never known I wanted. Spent a long time alone, and never had a problem with it.” Ethan had dated, but his career had always taken precedence over whatever relationship he was in. Maybe he’d grown up, or maybe Abby was the right woman but he always wanted to go home.

“Don’t go all big brother on me, Mac, I don’t need reminding that she’s perfect or that you’ll kick my ass if I hurt her in any way.”

Mac gave him a brief smile. “Helps me get my mind off that guy over there with your girl.”

“Great, I’m more determined than ever to get you two back on the right ground then. I’ll let Abbs do all the work, but any support she needs, including forcing you two into a closet and locking the door behind you. I’m better at being the brawn, and she’s such a dead sexy brain.”

Mac smirked. “I wouldn’t mind that. Might heat up our relationship.” He knew Ethan was trying and he appreciated it. “You do good brawn, she does excellent brains and empathy. You did good there, Ethan. Ever wonder how you got that incredible woman?”

“I don’t have to wonder. Her mother was selling Abbs from the second I walked in the door. The levees were ready to let loose, and Gloria was more concerned with making sure that I knew she had a beautiful, single daughter.” It would have been comical, if they hadn’t have been on the run. He was pleased that Abby had been everything her mother had said, and then some. “Abby had as much to do with it as I did. She did her fair share of pursuing to catch me. I didn’t think I was ready, but Abby was sure I was.”

“Abby’s hardly someone to sit back and let it happen. Kinda like Jet. I was the aggressor, but he showed me he has the upper hand really soon. Like a week later.” He smiled at the memory, but knew it was bittersweet.

“No, she’s not going to sit back and wait. Guess we both needed someone to take charge after everything was said and done. Probably shock the hell out of my drill sergeant to know I ended up with a bossy woman. Never sat real well with me to let anyone tell me what to do.” As the amount of push ups and laps he’d done had shown. “Abbs might be more beautiful, but she’s got a bossy streak that puts any SEAL or Marine to shame. And she’s got all of us wrapped tightly around her pinky.”

Mac nodded, chuckling, lifting his beer in agreement.

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