The Rest is Up to You

Gibbs sat at his desk and began turning on computer monitors, printers and random other things he would need throughout the course of the day. Kate and Tony weren't there yet, but that was just fine with him. He wanted some time to himself and welcomed the abnormal break from their bantering. So often he had been incredibly tempted to spell it out for them and then lock them in a broom closet or something. But- at least so far- he had been good and had resisted the urge.

Gibbs noticed a figure wandering in the general direction of the bullpen, clad solely in black. He half grinned as he noticed his lab rat Abby. But something wasn't quite right. Actually, now that that he was actually paying attention, he suddenly noticed that several things were out of place. First of all, her hair- normally worn in two pigtails that reached to just barely past her shoulders- was hanging limp and loose and reached about four inches past her shoulders. He had noticed that it was getting longer, but it had been awhile since he had seen it down and was therefore pleasantly surprised. Abby's head was down; it appeared as though she was concentrating exceedingly hard on putting one foot in front of the other- or else she found her shoes, the floor or both incredibly fascinating. He belatedly noticed that she was also limping slightly, though she was doing her best to hide it. Had she been in a fight maybe? He arms were crossed in what he assumed to be a mixture of anger and defiance, though her hair was hiding her face, so he couldn't be quite sure.

"Hey Abbs," he called hesitantly as she walked slowly past his desk without as much as a wave, never mind a returned greeting.

He frowned and stood up, intending to find out exactly what was going on with Abby. He saw her standing awkwardly by the elevator, looking lonelier and much more vulnerable than usual. She was hugging herself loosely with one arm. The elevator doors opened and Gibbs lunged forward. He grabbed Abby by the arm and pulled her back out of the elevator. He felt her arm tense involuntarily under his touch.

Gibbs spun Abby around to face him and looked down at her. When he realized that she didn't even pretend t have the ghost of a smile and he saw her bruised and tear stained cheeks and swollen lips, what little anger he felt towards her immediately melted. Who in the hell had done this to Abby? When he found out, that bastard was worse than dead! Nobody hurt Abby and got away with it...

"Abbs, what's wrong? What happened to you?"

Gibbs could see the obvious debate behind her green eyes and he felt his heart reach out and beg her to let him in. God, who was behind all of this? Who was heartless enough to let or- even worse- make this happen?

"Gibbs, I can't- I- I- I- mean, I- I don't really want to talk about it..." she answered finally as she tugged self consciously on her sleeves. Something in his gut was telling Gibbs that there was more to it than the fact that she 'didn't want to talk about it'. Her voice was hoarse, which he assumed meant that she had been crying. But for how long?

"Okay Abbs, okay," he attempted to calm her as her bottom lip quivered slightly. "Could you at least tell me who made you cry?"

She looked up at him as though that was the last thing she wanted to do and the first thing that she should do. He mentally smacked himself upside the head. Obviously his question had upset her even more. "Hey, I'm sorry..." he apologized softly. "You don't have to tell me, but- if somebody made you cry- I really want you to tell someone." He tried his best to ignore the bruises covering every visible part of her body, at least for the time being.

"Gibbs, I don't even know that I could tell Ducky..." she admitted sheepishly as she reached up and began twirling several strands of hair around her fingers. Gibbs resisted the urge to pull her into his arms and tell her that everything would be okay.

He gave her a sympathetic half smile. "You could tell me you know..." He wanted her to confide in him, but he didn't want to cross any boundaries and scare her away.

"No, Gibbs, I can't tell you." He gave her an odd look. "See, if I tell you, then I'll have to tell Ducky. And if I tell Ducky, then I'd sure as hell better be prepared to tell Kate. And if I tell Kate, I won't get away without telling Tony..." She looked up at him reluctantly. "I have to tell someone though. So can I tell Kate? Like, only Kate? Because this is sort of a girl's thing and it's kind of embarrassing..."

"Abbs, you forget yourself. I've had three ex-wives, I know all about PMS and menopause and-"

"Gibbs!" she protested. Normally she would have at least been remotely amused, but right now the fact that Gibbs could talk about that sort of thing without even blushing wasn't exactly what she needed to hear. "Why in the hell would I let period stuff make me cry? God, if this was something as easy as early menopause, I'd be damn lucky and-" She sighed. Either way, she was eventually going to end up telling the entire team, so she might as well go ahead and get it over with, right? "Fine, you win. If you can the entire team and Ducky down to my lab in ten minutes or less, before I chicken out, then I'll tell all of you. And with that, Abby turned back to the elevator. Just before the doors closed, she turned to face Gibbs. "I've been a bad girl Gibbs, a very bad girl..." The doors closed, and Abby headed for her lab.