Perceptual

By: Thought

Disclaimer: Nope

Summary: Abby dreams in fog and lives in a dream.

XXX

She drives to work in a fog. Her headlights work extra-hard and she focuses that little bit harder, doesn't turn up her music quite as loud.

On her motorcycle it's perfectly clear and the only fog is that inside of her head. Thump, thump, thump and she knows her heart's going too slow. Note: caffeine is important.

Kate is standing by the elevator crying because her boyfriend broke up with her. The tears run down her cheeks, staining the skin black and Abby comforts her because it's the right thing to do. Heavy raindrops, fat and cold beat down on the windows and leave water marks on the glass. Abby breathes in the scent of a man's cologne and forgets what Kate is saying.

Three hours, find everything that Gibbs asks and don't say a word because if she does, he might notice something's a bit different. She drives to his house that night through the fog and he isn't there, but she confesses everything to his boat, which is just as good.

He knows, somehow. "I love you too." And he gives her another Caf-Pow and some evidence and walks away.

"I could never love you," Abby growls as she shoves Ziva up against the glass wall and kisses her with all the anger that she doesn't feel.

"you're not capable of love."

She wishes Tony were there to hear this. No one believes her when she says it, but Ziva's a hundred times better than her so maybe she'll garner their attention.

"I won't marry you," she tells him when he calls to tell her that Kate was almost shot. They bring her back and Abby wonders if Kate will ever stop crying.

"We're more than coworkers," Tony tells her while they watch Kate being debriefed. She doesn't think they're allowed to be seeing this.

"We're family." Her smile isn't forced, which surprises even her.

"I also know you love him," Tony continues like a steam roller, not stopping until he's gotten to his point.

She considers playing dumb, but there's an angel above her head and she's always listened to angels. "I do."

Tony leads the team better than Gibbs ever could, which is why the director gets herself fired. Ziva lives and breathes passion, but Tony is dead – not in the peaceful, bang bang sort of way like Kate because his body's still well and functioning. He tears everything apart, deconstructs it to find any scrap they can use to do their jobs. They're all something akin to an unstoppable force.

"You're doing fine, Abs," Kate tells her early in January when Tony's consulting with the rest of the team on how best to cover up the latest terrorist threat.

Abby taps him on the shoulder. "I'm hallucinating again."

He smiles and nods. "You're doing fine." She has a sudden urge to pull her weapon and shoot him right between the eyes to get rid of this physical shell that's walking around, calling itself Tony. She doesn't because she can see a snake wrapping itself around his neck and it has the face of an angel.

Time passes and she cuts her hair and goes to war. The mouse and keyboard are her weapons, the information traffic circle her battle field. All the shiny machines she used to determine who the bad guys were got dusty and lonesome sitting behind her. They would have cared, she knows, some time in the before. Now its okay if she doesn't eat and never leaves and she can go about with the business of killing herself without any interference.

The smoke is thick and cloying in her lungs as she stands outside in the biting cold and contemplates all the ways that they haven't died. She slides on a patch of ice on her way home from work – Ducky told her it was too late in the year for motorcycles. The snow drips down her cheeks and stains them black but she's never stopped crying.

--

A hundred years go past and they do not get married because he doesn't want to lose her and she's never been big on written, signed off marriage. She plants roses in his garden in the spring and cuts them the next summer to bring to everyone at work. He helps her dye them black early one morning and they end up having sex on the floor of the basement. The boat's long been finished, and she convinced him to put all the pictures of his wife and daughter in it before it sets sail under the flag of fire.

He dies long before she does, and she tends the house for an entire three weeks before she decides that she wants to tour Europe. Everyone's moved on from NCIS, and she sees Tony in a beautiful little park in Italy. They watch the sunset together and talk about all the ways they didn't die. She wonders if Kate will think her dead when the yearly Christmas card is returned to sender.

Everyone always said that Abby was going to die young. In her mind, sixty-five is the equivalent to living forever, so she tells the doctor that she doesn't want to be treated for the cancer that is eating her from the inside out. Instead, she picks out a coffin, made of dark cherry wood. Her old one had been destroyed in a fire a million years before. There is no funeral, because she had asked it to be that way. No one really wonders what happened to her, because Abby has always been a free spirit, and no one bothers to try and track her down. Wherever she is, they figure, she's happy.