Word Count: 3,442
Characters: Tony/Abby, McGee
Genre: drama, romance
Summary: McGee wants to know what Abby's first impression was when she met Tony.
AN: Sequel to With Benefits. This was originally going to be part of a series where McGee asks everyone on the team about their first impression of Tony in effort to grok our favourite obfuscation expert, but I've made it into a big gooey Tony/Abby romance.
Abby was in the midst of separating some DNA when McGee finally asked her.
"Hey, Abby," he paused, reconsidering, then nodded to himself and continued, "What was your first impression of Tony when you met?"
Abby snorted, entertained by either the question or the memory. She turned from her machines, her voice amused but definite as she smiled conspiratorially at McGee, "Bad."
McGee felt his ears prick up at that, feeling slightly vindicated that he and the Goth genius were once again on the same wavelength. 'Bad' was not quite his own first impression, but it was close to second. "How's that?" he asked, knowing he was hiding his delight poorly.
Abby knew as well, "Don't you smirk at me, Timmy! I was wrong and it taught me not to be a snob. You can't judge people based on appearances." She bent over a microscope, her face lit from below as she studied the slide.
"Appearances?" McGee was incredulous.
"Yeah, McGee," Abby said with an air of patient indulgence. "Maybe you don't notice, but Tony is like super, crazy amazing-looking; he came in here all tall, dark, and handsome with his charm turned up to eleven and I went 'no way this is gonna work' and I wrote him off as a vain, useless nightmare waiting to happen." Abby looked more sincerely contrite than McGee had ever seen her. She sighed, "You can't write a man off for perfect proportions and gorgeous eyes, McGee, he can't help it."
He stared at her for some time as she continued on about her business, devastated more than a little that Abby a) found Tony so attractive she'd needed four superlatives to describe him and b) that she apparently considered this his only failing.
"So what happened?" he heard himself ask before he'd really decided he was going to.
"How'd you end up becoming friends?" They were annoyingly close now.
Abby smiled in a manner which frightened him more than a little, "We found something in common."
McGee muled it over, but it was only a formality; he knew he had to know, the not-knowing would consume him. "What was that?"
Abby's eyes narrowed as she contemplated whether or not he was prepared to handle the truth, at least that was what he hoped it was, not that it was something she didn't want to tell him.
A light of inspiration suddenly went off in her face and she smiled enigmatically. "We both like black."
McGee frowned. "Tony hardly ever wears black."
"Au contraire," Abby countered, "he wears it every day... well, almost."
The suspicion which had been silly, had been his insecurity and his personal knee-jerk reaction to Tony talking, began to take on a sickening solidarity in his mind.
(Once there had been another time this same dreadful possibility had wound its way around his soul. They'd had a streaker in the bullpen with an evidence bag over his head. Height, build, and nakedness-as-humour had made Tony prime suspect of the equal parts amused and annoyed IA operative sent to handle the situation. Tony hadn't helped matters by making himself unavailable for comment, citing an eight car pile-up between his apartment and the Navy Yard.
Abby had watched the security footage, zoomed in, watched it again and declared DiNozzo innocent. It had been good enough for Gibbs- who probably knew anyway due to his psychic marine powers- but McGee just had to know how she knew.
"Easy-peasy, McGeesy!" She'd chirped with way too much energy for zero eight hundred on a Monday. "Tony has a raised scar, just here," she indicated a spot very low on the left side of her back almost at the curve of her bum, "that looks like a heart. He got stabbed with a piece of steel pipe by this washed up pusher man while he was a beat cop in Peoria. Sweet, huh?"
McGee gave that some space. "Stabbed."
"Yeah," she said, carelessly, "I told him he doesn't need tattoos because he's got great body art. It's just more, like... avant garde."
He had told himself it was nothing like that, that Tony had undoubtedly shown her his scars in the lab during a worst-injury one-upmanship contest. That was one he knew better than to get into, especially with Tony. No one could beat him at it, not even Gibbs' life had been in immediate danger so many times.)
"Abby..." his voice died in his throat. Their relationship had fizzled before it began, but he thought there was still something between them. Thought it was understood (the jealousy and the possessiveness on both their parts, the innuendo, the closeness) that they were giving it space to clear the air after he'd pushed too far too fast and then they would start again. He thought maybe he wasn't out of line to ask her highly personal questions, but then, this was Abby. She disliked the idea of anyone having the right to keep tabs on her.
"How did you know about Tony's pipe incident scar? Did he show you?" As he had done for everyone after the whole streaking incident. Badges of war were often traded like the medals they were, though usually the stupid ones were glossed over. DiNozzo's trump card was the scarring he couldn't show off, in his lungs, but he had a chest x-ray which was indistinguishable from that of a drowning, so they all got the picture.
"Not as such," Abby hedged, looking wary that he was pursuing this. She'd probably counted on him being too chicken to call her on this stuff- as usual- well, too bad. "I felt it and I wanted to know what it was."
Felt it. And the black she said Tony wore every day was doubtless his underwear.
McGee flushed, pressing his lips together, "Is he one of your boy toys?"
"No!" Abby's cheeks coloured at the strength of her own outburst. She steadied herself a moment, then faced him, very still. "McGee I knew Tony years before we even met. He's very important to me, when Kate... Don't come down here for validation, because if you make me choose sides I'll be on his and I'd never be able to look at you the same again."
"But- did you-" it was so petty and ridiculous of him, and he was digging a hole too deep to climb out of, but he had to know.
Abby was nursing a righteous fury. Ever since Chip, she let her protective streak run a little rampant. Off-balance with McGee's shift in behaviour lately, the terrible sinking feeling mentioning Kate always stirred in her, and having her loyalties divided yet again, she wasn't thinking clearly. If she had been, she would have told him where to stuff it until he got over himself.
"Yes, McGee, I have had sex with Tony. Is that what you wanted to hear? I have learned exactly how wrong I was to judge that book by its cover. Couple times before we met and lots more after. And before you insult us both by asking; no, it had nothing to do with you." She was panting.
"I thought you were the one girl- the one- where I didn't have to compete with him, where I didn't have to feel..." he bit down his wagging tongue.
She didn't soften, "Well you were wrong and it's not superficial if you're about to start feeling sorry for yourself again."
"I know, but-"
"Hey, Abs is McGee around, 'cause..." Tony stopped, looking up from the file in his hands. Reading, walking, and talking at the same time had left him unaware he was interrupting until he was in the thick of it. "Whoa there, what'd I miss?"
Abby quickly put herself in Tony's personal space, hooking a hand over his elbow and another on his shoulder, her eyes on McGee to make certain he understood she was making a statement about where he ranked among the men in her life. Now that he thought about it, all the physicality he had thought made him out as the special one was very quick and limited. Abby practically hung from Tony as if he were a set of monkey bars, not to mention that when she launched herself into a flying tackle hug, it was always Tony who caught her. Even when the entire team was injured, he was the one she always wanted to fawn over.
"Nothing important," Abby said, somewhat darkly. "What do you need from me, hun?"
"Just your winsome smile," Tony shared one with her, almost nose-to-nose. "But I am sent for the McGee," he jerked him thumb upward, "our fearless leader wants you in the squad room yesterday. Needs some techno magic."
Trying desperately to swallow everything- especially the downright ridiculous, suicidal part of him that wanted to challenge Tony to a fight- he nodded and headed upstairs.
Tony looked at Abby and she shied away guiltily, hiding her face against his shoulder.
"Abby," his tone was patient, free of judgement, barely even questioning.
She burrowed into his neck, slightly on tip toe. "You know, I really love you, Tony. You get me when I really need gotten. And you smell nice."
She felt his slight smile, "Thanks, Abs."
Crap, she thought, she'd smeared black lipstick on his shirt. Oh well, it was dark navy. No one would notice. "Something is really hinky with McGee lately and I... I said some stuff. But it's his fault! Mostly. Oh Tony, I'm sorry, I keep doing this!"
A tendon jumped in his throat, "You told him?" his voice was mildly incredulous.
She burrowed even closer, if that was possible. "I didn't mean to," her voice was miserable, "technically I didn't tell Kate."
"But you did tell McGee." It wasn't a question and he wasn't angry, he just sounded tired.
"You think he'll tell Gibbs?"
"It's the fact that he tends to babble off everything in his head when he's nervous- which is all the time with the boss around- that worries me, Abs."
Her lips were on his pulse now. She started kissing her way upwards, then along his jawline. Her hand ran down his back, her fingers noting every muscle.
"What's this?" his voice was slightly unsteady, emotionally she could tell, not in response, he wasn't that easily seduced.
She smiled, "If we're going to die, I want a last supper."
"Not we, Abby. I." Even as he shot her a look of indulgent affection, he started to push her away.
Abby pouted, curling her fingers into his shirt. "Nothing terrible happened last time and you still gave me a kiss goodbye."
Tony's expression was somewhere between annoyance and grim determination, "And that's all it was. All it ever is."
He stepped away from her, walking over to the shelves that ran under her windows and pretending he was suddenly interested in their contents. "I'm just... tired of it. Nothing ever changes anymore unless it's to take a turn for the worst. The things I want to change, the things I try to change; they just keep staying the same. Why does this always happen?"
The conversation had taken a radical turn without bringing her along and Abby felt out of her depth as she recognised familiar warning signs. "You're not leaving."
He turned to look at her, "Why should I stay? Why did I stay?"
"Because we're your family! This isn't one of your two years and gone gigs, DiNozzo, you broke that pattern." She wasn't comfortable, they weren't supposed to have these kinds of crises at work. This wasn't work-appropriate interaction. You kept it light at work because otherwise you went crazy.
"Why? So I could get shit on from a great height by the Director? So I could go completely nuts keeping the team together when the one person I ever thought I could rely on in my entire life decides to up and quit? So that no one could thank me for that? So I could go way out on a limb for you, try to buck up for you, only to have to pretend I never meant it?" His voice sank to a whisper, "Not dealing with it only goes so far. I can't... with Kate and Paula and Jeanne and Gibbs and the lying hitting critical mass. I've always lied, Abby, but even I have my limits."
He never really wore the mask with her, he always let her in that far, but this was something raw and unprecedented. Something which deserved to be met with candour and more than a bit of quid pro quo. Something she probably should have seen coming.
"Stay because I love you." She'd said it before she'd thought about it, but seeing it out there hovering on the air between them, she realised it was a good reason. There was always a specialness about their friendship, it had always been a bit their little secret, the two of them against the world. It was warm and quiet and fun and exciting and so unexpected. She liked that he surprised her, that she surprised herself when she was with him. And suddenly, the idea of telling him that without hiding it behind a breezy tone and child-like faux-innocence seemed more important than scary.
"Abby-" he was warding her off with both hands, trying to put the worms back in the can, pretend she'd meant it the same way she usually did. Puppy love, little girl devotion.
But she didn't.
"This isn't an Abby-loves-everyone I love you, Tony. This is an I-really-honestly-love-you I love you. Really. Honestly." She pushed the pads of her index fingers together in front of her, biting her lip, "I love you."
His fingers were flexing at his sides, radiating nervous tension. "Is that also a maybe someday we'll be well-adjusted enough to mean that romantically and have a normal relationship I love you or is that just a please don't leave me because my dysfunction matches yours and we're friends aren't we? I love you?"
"It's an I need you I love you. You get me and nobody really does, I meant that." She started to cross the distance he'd put between them, her hands shaking a bit, "And maybe it's also... maybe we should go on a date. A real one. Because maybe we've always wanted to, maybe we weren't seeing anyone else when we were seeing each other even though we pretended we were. Maybe I haven't gone out with anyone since Marty dumped me.
"Maybe I think I want to change, too. Maybe we've changed already and we're scared."
He intercepted the hand that headed towards his cheek and held it firmly, grey-green eyes searching her expression. "No take-backs."
She shook her head vehemently, pigtails flying. "Scout's honour!"
"So what are you saying, Abby?" He held her hand against his, his long fingers dwarfing hers before pressing between them and folding over her knuckles.
A little breathless and a little shaky, she wondered when she'd become such a chicken. "I'm saying come to dinner with me, we'll have candles and red wine and minstrels and- and- and- chocolate covered french fries and whatever all that fancy stuff is. We'll have it all. And we won't make excuses about needing a break after a long case or restaurants being on our way home anyway or not knowing anyone else who wants to see that one new movie with the zombies. It'll just be a date, because we want to go on one and we want to go on one with each other and at the end of it you'll kiss me."
"Yes, because you think I'm pretty and you like my pigtails and how I'm the only person with more energy than you and how I see past your DiNozzos Don't rules and your Tonyness- even though I love your Tonyness- to your secret Anthonyness and I love your Anthonyness even more. And-"
He closed her mouth gently with his index finger and smiled at her all the way into his eyes, sparkling bright, green as verdigris. His real smile was so soft, so warm, so different than his grins and leers. "And it'll be the only way to get you to stop talking."
She opened her mouth to his kiss at the same moment she went boneless in his arms, forcing him to hold her close and support her weight. That was another thing she loved about Tony, he was the only person of her top five favourite people she could throw herself at; he could not only catch her without a stumble, he could hold her full weight and barely seem to notice.
She kissed him harder, pressing up into his mouth and running her tongue along his. Of all the things he was nearly super-humanly good at (sports, trivia, solving crimes, kicking ass) she thought he was best at this.
"Oh my." Palmer sounded long-suffering more than shocked. He did seem to walk in on an awful lot of things he shouldn't. "I'll come back."
Tony was stuck between a sigh and a chuckle. What had he done in a past life to deserve his schizophrenic luck? On the one hand, he'd been blown up and stabbed and kidnapped and God-knows-what- and Gibbs was going to kill him for sure- but on the other hand, he had always managed to escape in the nick of time and the one thing he had never known he wanted until it started to look like he couldn't have it- one person to love and to love him forsaking all others forever and ever Amen- seemed to be finally within his reach. Lady Luck didn't want him dead, but she sure enjoyed seeing him suffer.
"Hi, Palmer! Sorry, Palmer." He called after the gremlin's retreating back, wincing a little.
He knew he was now wearing some of Abby's black lipstick and very likely some of her white foundation as well, but in the ecstatic-fatalistic mood he was in, he realised he soundly did not give a fuck if the whole world saw.
He looked down to see her smiling up at him, bright jade eyes smug and happy. She started to pull away, to turn to her computer to look up options for dinner that evening, but he drew her back.
She raised an eyebrow.
He supported her head between his hands and kissed her so hard she squirmed.
They parted, panting. Tony felt like his head was spinning, felt like he was Cary Grant, it was the last reel of the picture and he'd got the girl.
"It's not just the pigtails, I love all your Abbyness," he said quickly, rushing the words out before he could decide not to say them, "I love that you don't take any crap from anyone- especially me- and I love your joy. You seem to have extra, because you always leave a little behind. And you have a chastity belt. Oof!"
"If you make me hit you again, you will never see my chastity belt."
"Noted." He grinned.
She ran her thumb under his lip and rubbed a smudge off his cheek. "Oh my God."
Tony tipped his head, "What?"
Abby's face was awash in wonder and a flush was rising steadily over her pale skin.
"Something in my teeth?"
"No. Tony, great googly moogly," she licked her lips, "my lipstick. It looks so hot on you. So hot. We might have to lock the door and go in my office."
He made a face, "I thought you weren't a snob?"
"I'm not, it doesn't work for everyone. Some people- most people lets be honest- look goofy when they go for the look, but-" she raised her hands and made finger curl grabby motions in his direction, "you look edible. It's that classy bone structure, you can be pretty and macho at the same time. I kind of want to lick you."
Tony wanted to giggle until he cried. "I love you, Abs."
AN: So this was originally more like "With Benefits", with a very light Tony/Abby relationship, but theinnocentrose pointed out the issues in that story that I left unresolved made it sad and I wanted to add a little more romance. So this takes a somewhat awkward u-turn... whole thing's a bit of a mess, I'm sorry. There was originally another scene with McGee and Gibbs. Let me know if you want to see it, because I wasn't sure it still belonged.