mrwubbles: (NCIS Abby Gass)
[personal profile] mrwubbles




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6. She'd always wanted to take one of the kettle corn bags and run a full analysis.

Spoilers: 3X23 "Twilight"

There were times when her job was boring.

Abby stared resentfully at Major Mass Spec, feeling a little like the i7 processor she installed had turned around and killed her motherboard.

Bad Mass Spec. Bad.

Every tiny sample in the centrifuge was spinning, dissembling and analyzed for the third time. This time was it, she was sure of it. She patted Mass Spec three times, then a fourth time for luck.

The music today was Plastic Death since Numeriklab was too upbeat for her current mood. Too much 400hz; she needed the reassuring boom of 20hz, thumping like healthy heartbeats under her feet.

The track she left in a loop was loud, loud enough to drum the 'bored, bored, bored' mantra out of her head. Apparently, it was too loud for Jimmy, who yelped as he entered the lab, scurried back to where he came, waiting until he made it back to Autopsy before he texted to ask about the results for another case. Abby ignored it; replying would only mean acknowledging how Mass Spec worked for Agent Castor and his boring hit-and-run while it failed to find who killed Lieutenant Frank Rogers and shot a car into a ditch, stranding Gibbs, Tony, Tim and Ziva in the middle of a snow storm and a firefight.

Boring. Her job was boring. All she could do was wait for Mass Spec, for AFIS, for hard drives to cooperate and prove their worth in NCIS budgets and give her answers.

Abby looked over to her monitors. Ziva, Tim and Tony's faces were printed out in pixilated 200 dpi and taped along the border. Tony had peered into her cell phone lens, close enough his arched eyebrow and crooked smirk stretched across the image as if he were behind a fish bowl. Tim's picture consisted of only his shoulders and a blurry hand waving frantically at her, vetoing the candid shot. Ziva paused long enough to wink at her, only to have the shot ruined by Tim and Tony's twin 'Look I'm a zombie' expressions, perched on either shoulder.

There was no picture of Gibbs; he didn't do candid camera. Kate tried to get one for her once, but after a long glare, she gave up. She had promised to get Tim to hack into files and find one for Abby.

But that was before Ari. That was before everything became dark and sad and dead-permanent. It was a long time before anyone felt like making goofy faces for her phone again.

Abby sniffled. She shook her head, the ends of her pigtails banging against her cheeks. No, no, snap out of it, she thought. Good thoughts. Good thoughts only. Gibbs called her. They were fine. Good thoughts. Only good thoughts.

"Are you trying to take flight?"

"Tony!" Abby whipped around. She skidded to a halt when Tony thrust out a Caf-Pow between them like a force field.

"No hug?" Abby asked timidly.

Tony grimaced. He held up a bandaged hand like a big white paw. "Not with these ribs. Sorry, Abs."

"Fine," Abby decided as she claimed her Caf-Pow. She took a long, reviving sip of fizzy goodness. "I'm giving you a big squishy hug in my mind."

"Thanks," Tony pretended to wheeze in return. He grinned when she threw the straw wrapper at him.

Abby stilled when she saw he was alone.

"Ziva and McGee are upstairs, debriefing Madam Director with Gibbs. I was sent down to enable your caffeine habit in exchange for some evidence." Tony leaned against her Mass Spec. Because Tony had the scruffy, 'I need a nap' raccoon look, Abby forgave him for it.

"Are you guys all right?" What a time not to have developed x-ray vision. Abby tentatively approached Tony but stopped within breathing distance, in case her germs might make things worse.

Tony shrugged. "We look like extras from 'Saving Private Ryan'."

Abby made a face. "D Day?"

"Kinda, but with our guts intact and no slo-mo camera action." Tony flicked at one of her pigtails. "We're okay, Abs. Gibbs bruised here and there. McGee has a gash, and a sprained ankle but the doctors saw no need for him to be in the hospital. He doesn't even need stitches, so no manly scars. Ziva broke her index finger and thumb, but trust me, she can still kill with the other eight." Tony scowled. "Although if McGee had stayed, we could have had lunch." He patted his flat stomach.

Abby stuck out her hand. "Money," she demanded.

"Funny, I think I can hear my medical insurance." Tony cupped an ear. He eyed her hand suspiciously. "I came down here expecting sympathy not a shakedown."

"The vending machines?" Abby reminded him.

Tony brightened. He tried to fumble out his wallet, but Abby had to fish it out instead from his back pocket. Neither of them was going to mention that, of course.

* * * * *


Abby suspected the food in the break area's vending machines had been there since NCIS was just NIS. She'd always wanted to take one of the kettle corn bags and run a full analysis. Tim advised her sometimes it was better not knowing.

Abby selected a bunch of the nut packs and trail mixes for Ziva since she never indulged in (or succumbed to, as Ziva often put it) any of the available fructose, carrageenan-laced, soy lectithin-based, partially hydrogenated palm kernel treats. Maybe Ziva was wary of them because of the suspicious and ubiquitous artificial flavor number fifteen like Abby was. Abby tried to find out; she had them broken down to six key compounds, about to go further until Tony pleaded with her to stop before the resulting knowledge made it impossible for him to enjoy his snacks.

Her finger faltered on E3 though. The golden raisin trail mix with the chocolate chips was Kate's favorite. After Maureen Ingalls blew herself up with her murdering lover, Tony had dropped off a bag of it on her desk the next day. It was one of the rare times Abby caught Kate smiling at Tony like she wanted to hug him, not strangle him.

Abby moved to E4 instead. Ziva might not like golden raisins anyway.

Since Tim was still determined to hit the gym five times a week, Abby snagged a couple of the protein bars for him. She made a face when she scanned the ingredients. She mentally made a list in her head, to look them up later. After a beat, she tucked the peanut butter flavored one into her lab coat pocket. Major Mass Spec needed to do some extra credit to be back on her good side anyway.

Double chocolate crunchy bar, cookies and cream bar, peanuts bar, fruit jelly bar…Abby punched every button that held captive a brightly wrapped treat. Bonus points if they had goofy faces on them. As the arm twirled and released B2, B3 and B5 into the receptacle below, Abby checked each expiration date. She discarded the ones that wouldn't expire for another three years. Long expiration dates usually meant chemistry degrees went into brewing these gooey, sweet concoctions. Abby rescued the Raisnets though. Tony did get her a Caf-Pow.

Her pockets were bulging, pulling on the seams at her shoulders by the time she got everything she could. Abby stared at the dozen quarters left on her palm. She stuck her lower lip out and stared at the clear glass door, thinking. There was nothing in there to substitute for coffee. Knowing Gibbs, he would slip away to get that for himself.

"A sandwich might be better."

Spinning around nearly emptied her pockets. Tony's chocolate covered toffee bar flew out but was rescued with a simple stretch of an arm.

Gibbs glanced at the object in his bandaged hand. No reaction, not even at her pockets bursting full and crinkling loudly every time she moved. Blue eyes. Colorless when they looked at her. Waiting. Because Gibbs never asks. He never has to. He's Gibbs. He was like the Marine Psychic.

"Tony said they didn't have lunch." Abby patted her pockets. "And he gave me a twenty and I figured he didn't want his change back in coins because his jeans has really, really tight pockets and I had to slip my hand all the way—no, you didn't hear that—and you were all shot at and you all almost died and he got me a Caf-Pow and…" She stopped.

Gibbs stared back silently.

"If I hug you, will you break?" Abby asked hesitantly. A beat later, she smushed her face into the broad chest. Arms quietly went around her.

It wasn't a squishy hug, her pockets crammed with cellophane wrapped fructose, soy-based, artificially flavored stuff that crackled like peeling egg shells. But she didn't care; they left as four and came back as four.

"We're fine, Abby."

Abby nodded against him, unable to speak because she was too busy sniffling. She stepped back. Gibbs let her.

"You got something for me, Abs?"

A louder sniff, one that drew up her shoulders briefly and Abby nodded.

"I think so. Major Mass Spec is almost finished but it could still take some time. Tony's waiting downstairs for it, but he knows not to touch it—he better not—and I figured we could all eat in the office and wait and—"

"I meant that." Gibbs nodded to the machines behind her. Abby wanted to hug him again but instead, she turned back to the display.

The rows of food still held no answers, as helpful as Mass Spec and it took two scans and a pout before she decided on A5. The Chex party mix baggie dropped down with a subdued crinkle.

Abby nodded to herself as she inspected the final snack. It was full of sodium. It had nachos. It had pretzels. It had funny looking cracker things. It had a manly crunch. She tossed it over to Gibbs, who caught it easily and studied it with all the intensity he would any piece of evidence Abby ever gave him. He lifted his gaze. The corner of his mouth quirked.

"Perfect." And Gibbs pivoted around and headed for the elevator.

Abby patted her pockets and beamed at his departing back. "I think so too," she said to no one in particular. She trotted to him and the elevator Gibbs held open for her.



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