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07 September 2009 @ 09:37 am
Vindicated :: Chapter 6  
Title: Vindicated
Rating: T
Pairing: Gibbs/Abby (Gabby)
Summary: Abby's involvement in a recent case leaves Gibbs stuck between his head and his gut. It's hard to be cleared innocent when you've been caught red-handed...literally. Gabby. Mostly.
Disclaimer: NCIS = not mine!
A/N: Transferring this to LJ for gibbs_abby Long overdue... The battle continues between our beloved Gabby. *dundundun*





“DiNozzo.”

Smack!

“David…”

Smack!

“And McGee.”

“Boss, I didn’t do any – “

Smack!

Gibbs looked McGee straight in the eye. “Exactly.”

He turned to all three of them, his field agents all standing in a line at attention. Tony was still rubbing the back of his head; Ziva was the ever stoic mossad. McGee still kept his attention on him, but the young man’s eyes showed he was still a little stunned. He should be, Gibbs thought, amusement tickling his lips, but he fought it back. This was no laughing matter – no time for attempted murder with office supplies or fists, when a real murder had already taken place and hit close to home.

“If I catch any of you instigating another round in this squad room,” Gibbs glowered and paced in front of them, “I will personally send you to the Director for a real bout.”

McGee gulped. Ziva stared ahead. Tony grimaced.

Gibbs smothered his face with his hand to hide the draining sigh that passed through his lips. The weight of this whole case was beginning to wear on him. He thought he could rely on his team to at least be mature, especially since one of their own was more than entangled in the details of this case. In spite of the inconsiderate vibes he’d been giving off earlier, Gibbs was just as concerned about Abby’s outcome as anyone else in the team was – maybe even a little more.

He could still feel the ghost of her warm, scarlet body, completely helpless and vulnerable. The dying glimmer in her eyes as she passed out in his arms. It was starting to cloud his better judgment.

He needed his team. To clear the fog. To clear Abby’s name.

“Ziva,” he said more soberly. “Interrogation observation.”

Tony glanced to his left and saw the thin line formed by Ziva’s brow, but she nodded silently to Gibbs’ order.

“McGee. Report to the lab – keep an eye on our replacement specialist. She’s gonna need the help.”

McGee perked up when Gibbs said she. “Will do, Boss.” The cyber agent eagerly left the discipline line.

“DiNozzo, you’re coming with me. Let's pay this‘establishment’ of yours a visit.”

“It’s not really mine, Boss, it’s – “

Gibbs looked at him.

“… Gearing up, Boss.”

Gibbs watched Tony walk to his desk and gather his things. The only one left and not doing her job stood before Gibbs and looked at him intently. The special agent walked up to her with the same intensity in his eyes. Gibbs saw the line between her brows deepen, but the rest of her face was relatively composed.

“Now, Ziva,” Gibbs said after they had stared at each other.

Her eyes became cold. “Abby is not a criminal.” With that, Ziva silently turned to leave. Her hair grazed Gibbs’ face.

As Tony swung his backpack over his shoulder, he saw Ziva walk away from the bullpen, and he immediately wanted to shiver. He kept staring at the way she silently stormed off in the most sophisticated way. One of her hands reached for her opposite arm, as if she had hurt herself, and she soon disappeared into the shadows of the back corridor leading to the interrogation room. Tony covered his mouth in thought.

He was lucky enough to get one more glance at his boss’s face before they departed for the establishment. Gibbs shared the line Ziva held between her brows; but along with the other lines etched into his boss’s face through age, Gibbs’ stare became even more intimidating. Tony kept his eyes transfixed on Gibbs while his hands picked up his notes and a piece of paper from his printer.

“Here’s the address, Gibbs,” Tony said.

His boss looked at him and snatched the paper from him without a word.

Tony waited till he could only see the back of Gibbs’ head before deflating like a balloon. He took a last look at the dark hallway - where in its twists and corners, Abby was waiting.

*** *** *** ***

Abby took a good, long, hard look at herself; she was the only person she could look at, at the moment. The other Abby that looked back at her was exhausted and slouched her shoulders. Her green eyes were dull puddles in her head. She tried to ignore the hideous bandage on her nose that reminded her of the nose strips football players sometimes wore. Her hair was borderline frizzy a while ago, but she fixed her hair into two braids on either side of her pallid cheeks. Her arms felt oddly naked without armwarmers or jewelry, even with the tattoos she had. She wore a black t-shirt with a red broken heart sewn on the fabric, which made Abby chuckle bitterly.

At some point, maybe half an hour in, Abby couldn’t look at herself anymore. She gave the other Abby a one-finger-salute and brandished the small smiley face inked on her saluting finger. Abby rose from the wooden, but metallic, chair and crossed her arms. She looked at her own plaid pajama pants and flip-flops she wore and wiggled her toes. It also felt odd not wearing her boots. The extra inches added to her height gave her a sort of confidence that she deeply wished she had now.

Abby suddenly entered a sneezing fit – once, twice, maybe four sneezes in a row. The superstitious side of her brain told her either someone mentioned her name or someone was thinking of her. A lot. Her thoughts became hopeful, as to who was thinking of her, but only for a fleeting second.

Some time later, she began to feel the ever growing presence of the small camera in the corner of the room. Abby remembered she was being watched. She looked at her reflection in the one-way window; someone other than the dirty old bastard was there. Abby gasped, realizing that her very special salute was probably unintentionally given to someone else.

“Hey,” she spoke for the time in the room. The room had horrible acoustics, and she could practically see the sound waves crash and die at the corners of the ceiling. “Sorry if I flicked you off earlier. That wasn’t meant for you. Seriously. Tony. McGee. Or Ziva.”

No response.

“If y’all even saw that...” She made a face and turned away from the window.

Abby slowly lost track of time. She almost lost her mind, too. She kept her mind and herself awake by lying on the table and occasionally looking at the light bulbs above her. She slipped off her flip-flops and lay on the table in different positions, as if she were lying in bed. She finally curled into a ball and embraced herself; she kept one of her hands on the threads of her broken heart. Abby tried to close her eyes, but she knew what she’d see if she did. She didn’t want to recall anything, and yet she wanted to. She made the battling sides of her brain happy by postponing her memory searching for when the dirty old bastard came back.

Dammit! I don’t want to think about you either!

Abby rolled over and pouted. Seconds later, her head ached. There wasn’t much to do other than to take one of the routes that the fork in her stream of consciousness created. Both paths were unpleasant, and standing at the end of each of them was a man she wished she hadn’t known.

She met Jason Knight at the bowling alley she frequented. He was a player on the opposing team during one of the game nights at the alley. Jason had a boyish charm to him – a charm that caught Abby off guard. He had gone before her and impressed her with a single, swift strike. Abby was simply fascinated with the fact that a wiry guy with thick-rimmed glasses could play with such precision and power. She remembered the pins clashing and falling down, and Jason spinning in a victorious circle and instantly catching her eye. After an awkward second, Jason adjusted his glasses with his thumb and smiled at Abby.

Abby never knew that Jason was in the Navy. He never mentioned it. Now she understood why their dates were so spread out, why his phone calls and emails were more prolific than his visits, and maybe why he was so reserved. There was a period when he never called her at all; she wasn’t all that upset, but it did bother her. That’s when she started seeing other men, in the bowling alley, at clubs, at concerts, wherever she might bump into them. But she always went back to Jason whenever he was “back.” He’d always say he was busy or was out of town, both of which were true, she guessed. Looking back now, Abby felt betrayed; she wondered why he would leave out such a huge part of his life from her....

“I’m not going anywhere. I can finally be here for you, Abby.”

“Really?” She beamed.

His lips met hers in a gentle kiss. His hand spun her around...

Abby squinted and willed her brain to try to retain this unexpected fragment. Her mind just started playing it...

...and they danced. The bass from the speakers replaced her own beating heart. His hands were all around her. His breath on her skin made her smile.

The memory was euphoric, but Abby felt strangely saddened by it.

She gave him a huge kiss on the cheek; she laughed when she saw that she made her mark on him.

Abby touched her faintly maroon lips.

They left the flooded dance floor in a hurry. Where they were going, she didn’t know...

...but the film cut to piece of the movie she’d already seen. The bloody, gruesome part of the horror romance she actually didn’t want to see again. She thought she had forgotten it.

Pain. All too much to bear. It hurt – kept hurting and hurting and hurting and hurting.

“What are you doing – stop it!” Jason ghosted into the yellow light.

“You lying son of a bitch!”

“Abby! Abby!!!” Jason called out.

“To hell with both of you!”

Blood - everywhere.

“ABBY NOOO!”

A knife was in her hands, bloodstained and warm.

The knife fell from her paralyzed fingers and clattered on the concrete ground.

Someone pulled her –

“Abby.”

Abby blinked profusely. She sat up; she wanted to punch the wall. She thought she was empty of tears. No wonder her vision was blurry. She quickly wiped away the salty water from her eyes and turned around, still sitting on the table. The girl was looking at herself again, but she could have sworn she heard a voice speaking to her. She got off the table and walked up to the one-way window. Abby knocked on the glass and pressed her hands on it.

“I hope you’re happy, Gibbs,” Abby snarled.

No response.

Abby shook her head and folded her arms. She walked back to her seat and rested her chin on the heels of her palms.

On the other side of the glass, the button for the intercom was still pushed down.

Ziva didn’t know what she was doing. She released the intercom speaker and folded her arms.

She’d been watching Abby for what felt like forever. Watching her was interesting at first, as Ziva witnessed all of her different idiosyncrasies. Ziva, however, thought it a waste of her time and skills to be stuck watching a harmless girl wait around to be interrogated. Abby’s involvement was still shrouded in mystery, so Ziva admitted to seeing the reasoning behind keeping her under surveillance. But from the pictures she’d taken, Ziva could see that Abby was sitting next to the victim when he died. It didn’t make sense for the murderer to be in the same death trap with her victim.

Abby had distracted her from her thoughts sometimes. She saw Abby suddenly raise a finger at her, but Ziva couldn’t help smiling to herself when she heard Abby apologizing later. Some of the ways she had twisted herself onto the table made Ziva stare. The last time Abby caught her full attention was when Ziva heard her crying. Ziva couldn’t see Abby’s face; she didn’t need to. That’s when she pressed the intercom button.

Ziva’s hand reached for the switch. A feeling she rarely felt made her fingers linger on the button, so she didn’t know why she couldn’t press it again.

*** *** *** ***

Gibbs parked the car and checked the paper once more.

Tony craned his neck and looked out Gibbs’ window. “Yeee-up, this is it. I didn’t know Abby partied here. She has great taste. For a Goth.”

Gibbs squinted at the building. “There’s apparently a lot we don’t know about her, DiNozzo.” He opened his own door. “That’s why we’re here.”

Tony sat in his seat thinking. Gibbs is actually talking... I shouldn’t be happy.

Their car ride was deafeningly silent. The tension Ziva had cast on Gibbs spread throughout the car interior like a poisonous cloud. Tony got out before Gibbs could say anything about it, silently or verbally. He found his boss standing right outside the car, almost leaning against it. He didn’t know if Gibbs was being unusually nice and was waiting for him or not.

Gibbs isn’t talking… I shouldn’t be happy.

Plush 9 – this was the meeting place for Abby and her “friend” Jason. An outwardly innocuous building, this was the swanky club where McGee said the car was seen last. Gibbs then recalled everything the young agent told him on the phone and folded his arms, still looking at the camouflaged club building on the strip.

The “business establishment” was technically just outside their search area. A friend of Ms. Anita Griffin’s, who owned a café within their range, forwarded their email to her. Ms. Griffin called NCIS soon after receiving the message; she recalled the vehicle – more so the happy couple entering and leaving in it than the actual car. As hostess/manager, she could see all who came and went. They were, in her words, “leaving Plush 9 and jumping aboard Cloud 9.”

Gibbs tightened his arms. He could see it now – Abby glowing and holding hands with someone that made her truly happy. In the face of her happiness, Gibbs saw himself watching her behind an invisible glass wall.

“Plush 9 – also known as Lush 9,” Tony commented out of nowhere, “but you didn’t hear that from me...”

Gibbs blinked and stared at Tony from the corner of his eye. “Hear what, DiNozzo.”

They entered the club, Gibbs leading the way. Tony stayed a step behind; his eyes however, were strides ahead and perused the daytime customers that were there. Oh, the place was like a playground to DiNozzo - at night anyway. The swanky club felt more like a chill restaurant during the day than a party place. Soft, pop-ish music with a sensual beat played in the background, from the various speakers planted throughout the high-ceiling room; and lights behind the array wall fixtures and greenery changed colors every thirty seconds or so. The whole place gave off an overall exotic vibe to Tony, especially with the selection of customers present for the afternoon. Tony caught the eye of a woman sitting with her friends at a booth near the back of the room. She wore elevator eyes and tapped her lips with her finger. Tony grinned and smoothly took off his shades. He almost walked into one of the standing columns that separated the bar from the tables. All the women at the booth burst into laughter.

Gibbs glanced at DiNozzo and immediately knew his senior agent was clearly surveying another part of the club entirely. The special agent was more concerned with finding this Anita Griffin from whom Tony received his call. If she was such an observant hostess, her absence came as a surprise. They passed a lounging area, where a large spiral staircase stood in the corner and led to the second floor. His eyes swept over the bar, with its endless collection bottles behind the counter. Gibbs decided to sit at the bar; he leaned over and saw someone coming from the back. Tony got himself together and sat next to Gibbs as the mystery someone came out.

“Good afternoon, gentlemen,” the entering bartender greeted. He was drying a wine glass with a towel. “What can I get ya guys?”

Tony clenched his fist under the counter. Here was the reason why there were more female guests in the afternoon than Tony remembered. The bartender’s black shirt snuggly hugged his firm set of abs. He pushed up his sleeves, when he set the wine glass down and slung the towel over his shoulder, and revealed toned, muscular arms that made Tony stare. His brown eyes were accented by his thick, yet sculpted eyebrows – all of which was balanced by the most chiseled square jaw line Tony had ever seen. His hair was a whole other work of art – perfectly styled brunette tidal waves crashing into each other in one, hot mess of a hairdo. Tony thought he would suffer from sensory overload.

Gibbs stamped on Tony’s shoe. “NCIS,” the special agent replied, unphased by the bartender. The two of them showed their badges – Tony, again, a beat behind. “Agents Gibbs and DiNozzo. We’re looking for Anita Griffin, she called us earlier regarding our current case.”

The bartender paused to think. He picked up the wine glass and tossed it between his hands without looking at it. “You mean Norah?” he said after a moment.

“Norah?” Gibbs and Tony asked in unison.

“We platonic people call her Norah.” He spun the glass around its stem with his fingers and finally put it back in its place. “That’s her ‘business’ name, Norah – it’s also her middle name.” He leaned on the counter and grinned deviously at them. “Do one of you know her personally?”

Gibbs gave the bartender a look, then Tony a look, who raised a brow and stared at the bartender some more.

“Anita Norah Griffin?” Tony enunciated.

“Anthony D. DiNozzo - to save you the embarrassment.”

All three men looked in the voice’s direction.

Ms. Griffin wore stilettos that clacked down the stairs. Her pinstriped pantsuit was tailored well to her hourglass figure; and her sandy, medium length hair complemented her blue eyes and red-orange lipstick. The way her bangs were so cleanly cut added to her “professional” look, but Gibbs could still subtract a few years from her appearance. She was young - for managing a club that she could just as well enjoy herself as the majority of her customers do. She came down the stairs, a phantom smile on her lips, and walked right up to Tony and Gibbs at the bar.

“Mr. DiNozzo,” she held out her hand.

“Why, you’re too kind, Ms. Griffin,” Tony feigned gratitude and shook her hand.

The hostess squeezed his hand with an iron grip. Pretending she couldn’t hear Tony’s soft yelps, she turned to the other agent and said, “I don’t believe we’ve met.”

Gibbs looked her in the eye. “Ms. Norah, you called saying you have more information regarding the last night Seaman Jason Knight was alive...” He paused briefly and fleetingly glanced at Tony. “Ignore my partner.”

Tony yelped in what sounded like agreement. Ms. Griffin immediately let go of Tony’s red hand. “Gladly.” She looked at him. “Forgive me for being rude - agent...?”

“Gibbs.” He shook her hand.

“Agent Gibbs – call me whatever, I don’t care anymore.” She started clacking toward the lounge; she sounded more her age when she finally spoke to him. “Take a seat and I’ll tell you the rest.”

Gibbs smiled for the first time in what felt like a while. He quickly smacked Tony in the back of the head and followed the hostess into the lounge square, leaving Tony with the incredible bartender.

“That was very interesting,” the man commented.

Tony puckered his brow. “Shouldn’t you be juggling Smirnoff bottles or something?”

Gibbs followed the hostess to one of the modern couches by the spiral staircase. He got a better look at her once they were situated. His best guess at her age was her around mid-twenties. Ms. Griffin crossed her legs and adjusted her hair at least five times before tucking it all behind her ears.

“Something wrong, Ms. Norah?”

The hostess looked up at him. “No, sir.” She sat back, a little more relaxed, and folded her arms. “I first saw the car outside at about eight o’clock. His date got out of the front seat – cute girl, bubbly…Gothic, but still cute.”

Gibbs covered his grin.

“He drove off to find a parking spot, and I said hi to his date. Ten or fifteen minutes later, maybe, he came in – tall, lanky…almost called him Peter Parker, he was a charm. I pointed him to his table with his date.”

“Did they drink?”

Her blue eyes became slit. “I suppose they did, Agent Gibbs, this is a club.”

She reached to tuck a stray lock of hair behind her ear, but Gibbs grabbed her wrist. “Hey. Don’t be a smartass with me.”

Ms. Griffin glared at him. “You’ll have to ask Sheldon about that.” She pointed at the bar, looking at her lap, her head quivering. “Agent Gibbs, please let go of my wrist, you’re hurting me.”

Gibbs did so and saw the elegant, intricate watch that hugged her pink wrist. He suspiciously looked back at her. “What are you doing here?” he questioned.

The sandy blonde threw a questioning look back at him, until his question finally came to her. A troubled look swept over her eyes, and she leaned in toward Gibbs, uncrossing both her legs and arms. “Look,” she lowered her voice, “I inherited this ‘establishment’ – “ She drew bunny-ear quotes around the word. “ – and worked my butt off since I graduated to get this place to where it is. This used to be a dying café my grandmother owned – now look at it. The last thing I want is for all my hard work to go down the toilet because of something I didn’t do.” She went a few steps ahead of Gibbs and quickly added. “I was standing at that counter by the door for most of the night, Sheldon and anyone else here can testify, and I only left to use the bathroom or get a bottle of water.”

Gibbs looked away from Anita N. Griffin; the look in her eyes was reminiscent of another pair of eyes he’d seen that day. “We’re not yet sure if Seaman Knight died in your club, Anita,” he switched to her “personal” name, to which she became alert. Gibbs went on. “I didn’t say we suspected you of anything. You said you had information that could help us.”

“I’ll do whatever else I can to help, Agent Gibbs – I’ll even go upstairs when we’re done to give you the security tapes from last night.”

Gibbs held back a smile. “Tony can fetch them for you. Now, you said they left – “

“At around midnight, with the whole ‘Plush 9 to Cloud 9’ thing – I really meant that.” Ms. Griffin genuinely smiled and sighed happily. “But, now that you mention it, the Goth girl may have had a few more drinks than Peter Parker.”

Gibbs stare-glared. “Describe.”

“Sh-She seemed a little more loosened up than the guy was. He was holding her hand and leading her out the door. I mean, they were both high on ecstasy – figuratively, Agent Gibbs, chill – but the girl... They turned and walked southward on the sidewalk outside.” She peered over the couch and looked out the glass panels in the front of the club. “Out the door and to the left. The girl tripped over her boots once. They both laughed – then they walked away.”

Riiiiing!!! Gibbs grabbed his phone. “Tell my partner where to go, Ms. Anita.” He got up from the couch and walked over to the alcove of the spiral staircase. “Gibbs.”

“You know, Jethro, when I said we were virtually done with Seaman Knight, I thought you would at least virtually return to the morgue.”

“Ducky.” A thought occurred to Gibbs. “Did tox come back in yet?”

The ME paused for a moment or two before answering his abrupt question. “Your seaman was clean and sober when he died,” Ducky said, “as was Abby. Jamie came in a few minutes ago with the results. Where are you, anyhow?”

Gibbs hung up. He saw Ms. Anita tap Tony on the shoulder, who was in the middle of questioning Sheldon, the bartender he’d been ogling earlier.

A few minutes later, after Gibbs watched Tony and Ms. Griffin climbed up the steps - Riiiiing!!!

“Yeah, Gibbs.”

“Boss, come down to the lab whenever you can,” McGee said. “Jamie and I have been working together on the evidence...”

Gibbs squinted at his agent’s lingering tone. “And?”

He heard shuffling sounds in the background. McGee lowered his voice. “I’m as happy as you are, Boss.”

Gibbs clasped his phone at once. And almost instantly following that –

Riiiiing!!!

“What?” Gibbs answered.

“How long must I watch over an innocent girl, Gibbs?”

The agent tensed and turned back to the alcove with his phone. “You think you have all of this figured out? Huh, Ziva?” he asked through gritted teeth.

“No...” Ziva answered as calmly as she could. “I thought you did.”