thehappyfangirl: (Abby - quirk)
[personal profile] thehappyfangirl
Title: Resting Place
Author: [livejournal.com profile] onlyonechoice
Rating: PG for now :)
Spoilers: Mild ones for Outlaws and In-Laws (7.06) and Faith (7.10)
Disclaimer: Not mine, I swear!
Author's Note: Written for [livejournal.com profile] alesia027 for the [livejournal.com profile] gaficathon - sorry it took me so long! Bonnie wanted: 'a happy ending, a good bit of romance, Bert the hippo'. She doesn't want 'a whimpy Abby, or Gibbs/other'

Summary: Gibbs offers to help Abby in a time of very odd need.

"Oh Gibbs, it's terrible!"

Gibbs heard her clunky boots on the basement stairs and turned in time to catch Abby in a hug; she squeezed until Bert farted between them.

"It's awful, Gibbs. It's ruined and it's not like insurance can replace it either--"

"Abby." Gibbs took half a step back, hands at her shoulders. "What's going on?" He saw the dark tear-tracks on her face and frowned.

"I went away for the weekend," she said, sitting on the nearby sawhorse. "Two days and I came back to a nightmare. My apartment flooded again, and this time it wasn't even my fault! The unit above me was empty...which was pretty nice because that guy snored like a freight train and liked to cook food that was ugh..." She shook off the reverie and scowled again. "And some kids busted in and plugged up the bathroom sink and they thought it was funny!"

She squeezed Bert again. "My coffin's ruined. By the time I got home the lining was mildewing and the lid wouldn't close right."

"Abby..."

"I've had that coffin since I graduated high school, Gibbs. I found it, my best friend and I worked really hard to refinish it and...it was mine. If I'm not going to be buried where I've spent my happiest nights, then how am I supposed to be comfortable with moving on?" She looked up at him. "I'll be a ghost! Doomed to haunt that between-world of life and death because of these stupid kids--"

"Abbs." He reached out to touch her shoulder again as Bert again added his own flatulent commentary. "Take a breath."

She obliged with a soft huff and he saw her shoulders slump, though the frown was still there. "What am I gonna do? My apartment's a mess--"

"You can stay here." She'd stayed before, under far more dire circumstances as a flooded place.

"My coffin's ruined."

He looked around at the basement, empty since Christmas and lacking a new project to occupy his mind. "We'll...build you another one." It cost him to say it; the idea of building the coffin that he'd have to bury Abby in sent more than one chill up and down his spine.

"Gibbs?" She must have sensed even a little bit about what he was thinking, how many people they'd both lost in their work...

"Y'told Vance you'd taken up woodworking." He reached up to tug one of her pigtails. "Wouldn't want you to be a liar. Or a ghost."

He could do this for her. Couldn't he?

This time Bert waited on the sawhorse while she hugged him, and he smiled against her temple.

"Thank you, Gibbs."

Yeah, he could do this for her. "C'mon. Let's get you settled." He guided her towards the stairs. "We'll look at some plans in the morning."

*****

Abby's remaining belongings (and Abby, of course) migrated to his spare room during the repairs to her apartment. At least the insurance adjuster had...adjusted his estimate of the damage once Gibbs had taken an interest in her claim, and she was now being properly reimbursed for her losses both material and financial.

It hadn't been an easy adjustment, having someone in the house with him full-time. For all that Abby was a night owl, he wondered if she ever slept at all because she was just as perky in the mornings as she was well into the night. At least she understood the 'no speaking before coffee' house rule, which made the transition a lot smoother.

The oddest thing about building a coffin in his basement wasn't the new radio that he demanded be kept at a reasonable decibel level. It wasn't the pants and longer sleeves that Gibbs insisted Abby wear while they worked, or the fact that she started spending the weekends at his place instead of going clubbing with her friends.

It wasn't even having to measure and mark the width of her shoulders as she lay on the slab of wood she'd picked out for the exterior; to her credit and his relief, she hadn't closed her eyes when she crossed her arms over her chest and held Bert close.

No, it was something else.

Each of his boats had been a labor of necessity, as a way to sort out his thoughts at the end of the day, the end of a case, retreating into the smooth motions of the hand tools and building something that had nothing to do with the job.

It had never been a private labor before. He'd shared his boats with his daughter, his wives, his co-workers, his girlfriends, material witnesses of all ages...even SecNav on his rare visits.

This was a project that was intended for Abby and her alone. That meant that he kept it under a cloth when they weren't working on it. It meant that he didn't work on it when Abby wasn't there, which led to other pursuits to occupy his hands.

The rosebush looked nice in the front yard.

The beer bottles were better off being recycled than left on the dining room table.

The afghan looked a lot better folded over the back of the couch instead of crumpled on it.

He bought new towels for the second bathroom for when Abby's toiletries were gone.

Good god, he was puttering. Tony would have a field day.

Abby's night table hadn't been destroyed but definitely needed refinishing to match the wood she'd chosen for the coffin, so when he put her to work on the tasks of the coffin that didn't require a lot of supervision, he worked on the table.

Things at work hadn't changed; the Caf-Pows and affection continued, as did Abby's determination to find the results they needed to break their cases. She hadn't told anyone about her new living situation, or he would have been getting a barrage of curious questions from Tony that would result in more than a few headslaps, and he'd be getting deadly looks from Ziva if he dared upset her or made her unhappy in any way.

It couldn't be further from the truth; after that transition, Abby had been an excellent guest.

There was a surprising lack of chatter that came with Abby staying at his place. When Abby was focused on a task, she was quiet, her lips pursed with concentration. She moved with deliberation, rarely a step or a sander-stroke out of place, and the more they worked in his basement, the more he realized there was a good bit of Abby that he hadn't seen, not even during their birthday dinners over the years, or during his time at work or her necessary stays at his place on prior occasions.

Enlightening was only one of the several words that he'd use for the realization.

Not that there was silence; the music, while irritating at first, provided a white noise that calmed them both after long days or hot cases. It also didn't mean they never talked.

****

"Do you think you'll build another boat after this?" She looked over the frame of the coffin at him. "After what happened to the Kelly and all..."

He looked up from the more mundane task of her end table, meeting her gaze with a half-smile. "Hadn't thought about it." He'd long since put the destruction of the Kelly behind him;it wasn't as if she'd sent her to him as evidence, and he couldn't hold anything against her for what she had to do to her. "Made some toys for Christmas."

"I heard," she said with a grin. "Jack told me about you two playing St. Nick at the hospital."

He smiled; he knew that she and Jack exchanged phonecalls now and again. "Yeah. Not sure if I can top what we're workin' on now."

"Come on, Gibbs," she'd said later, after they'd worked in silence another hour and Abby called it an evening. "You have to admit you've never built something like this before. It's really coming together too." She curled on the couch, leaning against his shoulder and stealing a handful of popcorn he'd made to watch a movie.

He hadn't done movies or popcorn in a while. Abby had mixed a garlic-butter topping that made both much more appealing.

The way she leaned on him, cozy and warm, made a lot of things appealing.

"Gonna need a couple of Habitat weekends to tell you much more than that." He smiled all the same, grudgingly affected by her enthusiasm. "Easier to build something for people to live in than what's downstairs."

"It's something that I'll enjoy for the rest of my days and beyond," she said as The Untouchables unfolded on the big flat-screen (she'd set up her TV in the living room after taking one look at his dusty all-but-antique). She curled her arm around his and squeezed. "There's nobody I'd rather have build it with me than you."

The movie began before he could say anything, but she didn't mind when he dislodged his arm to curl it around her shoulders.

She fell asleep before the movie was over. She didn't wake up when he carried her to her bed, or when he kissed her forehead and smoothed her hair back from her face.

His bed seemed that much colder that night, and it was a while before he fell asleep.
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