All I'm asking is to be alive for once. - Vienna TengTitle: Worth Talking
I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw. - William Shakespeare, Hamlet
Characters: Abby Sciuto & Tony DiNozzo
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: i set fire to the phone book.
Notes: Post-S2, spoilers for "Twilight"
It's Tony's hands that tip Abby off.
Usually, his nails are perfectly manicured, though he never, ever admits to having them done. Three weeks after the funeral, though, she asks him to hand her the other carton of tofu rad nah. When he passes over the empty box, she glances idly at his hand, then freezes. Looks closer, and sees ragged cuticles. Weird.
Tony clears his throat. "Abby?"
She grabs the proffered noodles, covers her pause with a grin. "Sorry. Thought I saw a piece of shrimp in there."
Tony returns his attention to the curry before him. "Nothing wrong with a little seafood, Abs."
"Do you know what shrimp eat, Tony?" She wrinkles her nose. "Ew."
"Your loss," he mumbles, through a mouthful of food.
When Gibbs storms in, as he's done for the last three weeks, spitting information and impatience like hail, Abby tunes him out for a second. Tilts her head, and watches Tony's face.
Of course something's up with Tony, Abby thinks. Something's up with all of them, how could something not be up with him?
She hates the way the line of his jaw has changed, since Kate died. Instead of shifting to accommodate his familiar, easy smile, Tony's jaw is set. Stern. Immobile when he isn't talking, and if courtesy dictates he smile, he does it tightly, his lips thin. The smile never reaches his eyes, never transforms him back into himself.
Sometimes she wonders what happened to the Tony she loves, the one that always had a joke to share with her, but when she catches glimpses of herself, she realizes she's stopped smiling, too. They all have.
This, she thinks, will not do.
Four weeks after the funeral, McGee comes down to the lab during lunch, bearing organic fajitas and Halo 2. Abby produces forks and an Xbox, and for half an hour they immerse themselves, muttering goads over the tin of the sound effects, snatching bites of food when they can.
The lab phone rings, startling Abby into provoking an ill-planned explosion. She yelps, then spins her chair around to grab the phone. "This better be good."
It's Ducky. Abby gestures to McGee, has him pack up the game and the trash while she confers.
When she sighs, hanging up the phone, McGee raises his eyebrows. "What's up?"
"No joy on the Baltimore autopsy." Abby swivels to her computer, opens up two windows to type in the results.
McGee curses, then settles in his chair beside her. Doesn't say anything.
She turns her head, but keeps typing. Purses her mouth and waits.
"So." He scratches behind his ear. "Tony's taking it kind of hard, I think."
Abby turns back to her monitor. "Yeah." She manages not to add duh, because she knows what he means. She also doesn't add, So am I. Instead, she lets him continue.
For a while, the only sound is the click of the mouse, the faint rattle of her keyboard. Then, finally: "I'm worried about him."
"Did you talk to him?" she asks. "What'd he say?"
McGee grimaces. "I wasn't--Tony didn't--" He shakes his head.
Abby bites her lip, stills her fingers. "I'll try."
McGee touches her elbow, smiles. He starts to say something, but then his cell rings.
When he answers, Abby can hear Gibbs shouting over the line.
Four weeks ago, that would have made her laugh.
She finds Tony at home, and she's disappointed. She wanted to find him at a bar. Or a club, or a concert, or a restaurant. On a date, or out with his frat buddies.
Anywhere but at home.
He smells like aftershave and tequila when he opens the door, and she wants to give him a hug.
Instead she skips around him, through the door, and into his living room. There's an open box of pizza on the coffee table, and Space Cowboys is playing on the big screen TV. Abby helps herself to a slice, kicks back on the sofa.
"Hey," Tony says, dropping onto the sofa next to her.
Abby points her pizza at the screen. "Slumming, Tony?"
"I'm a completist," he replies. "How'd you know I was home?"
"I tried calling."
"And I didn't answer."
"I know," she says. "So I hacked into the GPS tracker in your car."
"You..." Tony frowns. "Is that legal?"
Abby shrugs. "What's an infringement of privacy among friends and coworkers?"
He snorts, grabs a bottle from the coffee table, and she notes the empty ones underneath.
She looks at him directly, he looks at her sidelong. "What?" he asks.
"Nothing," she responds.
He shrugs. "Okay."
They watch the movie.
There's a break in the case the next day, but three nights later, she shows up on his doorstep again.
"Ever seen D.E.B.S.?" she greets him, patting him on the arm as she shoulders past.
He shuts the door. "Never heard of it." He shrugs. He's been shrugging a lot lately.
She smiles. "You'll probably hate it."
He does, but they watch it anyway.
When the credits finally roll, though, he's almost smiling, almost Tony, so Abby bites her lip and takes a deep breath.
"I miss her," she blurts out, because she can't think of a better opening.
Tony turns the TV off, stands up. "See you tomorrow, Abs."
His bedroom door clicks shut.
Abby turns off the lights, lets herself out.
The next morning, as Abby logs onto the database at work, a large cup of bubble tea appears at her elbow. She looks up.
Tony offers her a smile, the tight one that doesn't mean anything.
She looks at the tea, then up at him again. "If this is an apology, it's a pretty sucky one," she says. She takes the cup, takes a sip.
"Yeah, well." Tony drags a chair over and straddles it. He stares at the blinking cursor on her monitor. There are faint shadows under his eyes.
When he doesn't say anything more, Abby sets the tea down and gets to work. She answers her e-mail, logs the few files that have come in so far. There's a soil sample that needs analysis, so she runs it, faxes the results to the necessary parties.
Eventually, she runs out of things to do. She settles back in her chair, and swivels to face Tony. Raises an eyebrow.
After a long minute, he blinks, and whispers, "I miss her, too."
Abby reaches out, takes one of his hands in hers. She traces the shape of his nails with her fingers until she's blinked the tears from her eyes.
"Yeah," she whispers back. "I know."
A/N: Title and summary adapted from Tim Blackwell's nights. Link courtesy of breathe_poetry.
Originally linked here.