Spoilers: Hiatus, more later. Set during the winter of the as yet to air 4th season.
Disclaimer: I do not own anyone or anything related to NCIS. I am, however, tempted to dye my hair black and use the word hinky frequently.
A/N: Thanks to powerof3 for the quick and awesome betaing, and all my new friends the NCIS forum at take that down to Abby," Gibbs ordered as he slipped out of his wet jacket and hung it on the back of his chair. An outdoor investigation in the middle of a February storm did not put him in the best of moods, and even if the word 'please' were a part of his vocabulary he wouldn't have used it.
"Sure thing Boss." Tony was wise enough not to say a word as he carried the box full of evidence to the lab. In all honesty, he was glad to be following orders. The summer months after Gibbs left were enough to teach him that he wasn't ready to be the one in charge. He had been more then happy to hand Gibbs his gun and badge back when he had returned a few months ago.
"Hey Abbs, I have a present for you." Walking through the sliding doors, Tony looked around the room. It was oddly silent.
"Abbs?" He checked her office, but it too was empty. Frowning, he locked the box up in the cabinet, and made his way back to the bullpen.
"Did Abby give you how long it would take to analyze the gun and the bullets?" Gibbs asked before Tony even made it to his desk.
"Nope." Opening the file cabinet drawer that doubled as a dresser, Tony removed a clean shirt. His was completely soaked, despite the jacket he had worn; the one that he had spent a ridiculous amount of money on because it was supposed to be waterproof.
"You didn't tell her to work on the clothing first, did you? I want to know if the gun is the same one that was used on petty officer Samuel."
"Didn't tell her anything. She wasn't there," Tony explained.
"What do you mean, she wasn't there?"
"She wasn't in the lab. I figured I'd come up here and change, and then go see if she's back." As he spoke, he began to unbutton his soaked shirt.
"Well you though wrong. Go find Abby and ask her to run the damn tests."
"Hey boss, how come you never ask me to do things? Order, demand, dictate, but never ask." Gibbs glare was all the answer he received. "I'll just go back to the lab now."
"Good idea," Gibbs said.
Tony waited in the lab for twenty minutes. The last time he remembered this room being so silent was the week after Gibbs left. Abby hadn't listened to any music and had only spoken when necessary. It had taken more then a month for her to begin to resemble her usual self, but it wasn't until Gibbs returned that she was completely back to normal.
Weighing the risk of returning to Gibbs without talking to Abby or being yelled at for staying away to long, Tony decided that he couldn't wait any longer. Stopping downstairs briefly to check in with Ducky, he once again returned to his desk.
"Give me good news, DiNozzo," Gibbs demanded without looking away from the plasma screen.
"Don't know if it qualifies as good, but Ducky has confirmed that it was the bullet to the heart that killed the Petty officer."
"I pretty much figured that." It might have been overcast and wet in the woods, but it hadn't taken more then a glance at the young man leaned up against a tree to figure that the gapping hole in his chest had killed him. Gibbs was much more interested in the who and why than the how. "What about the gun?"
"I don't know. I haven't been able to find Abby. She's still not in her lab."
"She's always in her lab." McGee turned away from his computer and looked at Tony with a perplexed expression.
"Not always, Probie," Tony remarked.
"Well I didn't mean always always. But if it's a work day, she's in her lab unless she's called somewhere else."
Ignoring them both, Gibbs rapidly dialed seven digits on his phone. His first call confirmed that Abby hadn't checked in that morning. When he was directed to leave a message after making his second call, he barked out 'call me' and pressed the end button. Immediately he dialed her home number.
"You know, if you programmed the numbers in it would be quicker."
Ignoring McGee, Gibbs impatiently listened to the ringing. Again he reached an answering machine. "Damn it, Abby. Where are you? Call me."
"Tony, Ziva, I want you to find out everything about Samuel that you can. McGee, try to find Abby. Call her, e-mail her, if she has a strawberry then call that too."
"A Blackberry, Boss?" McGee asked.
"Whatever," Gibbs said as he put on his still damp jacket.
"Where are you going?" Ziva asked as he headed for the elevator.
"I've got a hinky feeling," was Gibbs' only reply.
In the eight years he had known her, Abby had only missed half a dozen days of work. In every one of those cases, she had called in to say that she would be absent. Only major illness or the rare vacation day kept Abby away from work. With a sinking feeling in his gut, Gibbs left the Navy yard and drove faster then usual to Abby's apartment.
"Abbs, it's me. Open up." Gibbs knocked on the door. When she didn't answer after a minute, he removed a pair of long metal picks from his pocket. Ten seconds was all it took to have the door swinging open. He would have to talk to her about a better lock.
"Abby." It didn't take long to realize that the apartment was as empty as her lab. The gnawing in his gut grew worse. He inspected the apartment briefly, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary; at least not for Abby. The only thing obviously missing was her keys and the hearse, and he fervently hoped that she was simply stuck at the side of the road somewhere with engine trouble. As he drove back to the yard, he mentally listed everything that could have happened between last night and this morning to keep Abby from showing up to work.
"Jethro." The doors of the elevator had barely closed behind him when the Director's voice called from overhead.
"I'm busy," he remarked, only giving her half of his attention. "If you want to talk you'll have to come down here."
"No Jethro, you need to come upstairs." Something in her voice caught his attention, and he climbed the stairs briskly without another word.
"This better be important, Jen." Waiting for her to lead the way, he followed her into the MTEC communications room. His heart almost stopped when she stepped out of his way and he got a clear look at the image on the screen in the front of the room. A woman was tied to a chair and someone was holding a gun to her head. A blindfold hid most of her face, but he had no trouble making out the tattoo of a spider in its web on the side of her neck. Abby.
"Son of a bitch."