Happy Face

By: Thought

Disclaimer: Lyrics © The Dresden Dolls. All characters belong to DPB and such people. Suing is bad for my health.

A/N: See? Told ya Hemmingway's analytical third person and my Dresden Dolls CD on constant repeat would spawn fic.

Summary: The day after Gibbs left and everyone's "fine".

XXX

The sky turned white and everybody froze

Heaven knows how they got into the fireplace

But everybody's saying grace and trying to keep a happy face

She wakes up at his desk, curled in the chair with her head resting on a stack of files. It's still dark and the night guards know better than to disturb her. She's stiff, and if she were to look into a mirror she'd see the streaks of make-up blotting her face and the frazzled state of her hair. She gets up too quickly, and has to stand, hands bracing herself on the back of the chair until the world has stopped spinning.

Her steps are heavy on the carpet, but make little noise and she passes through the deserted squad room in the manner of a shadow that is at one moment there, the next gone and leaving no trace of its presence. Not quite true, there is the empty Caf-Pow container on the edge of the desk, the few strands of black hair sticking to the back of the chair, the metallic scent of her perfume burying itself into the wood and fabric; an overwhelming collage of evidence that gives credence to the suspicions that many will undoubtedly already be contemplating.

The music in her lab is off, though the various machines still run on, humming steadily, methodically analyzing and searching for a multitude of different bits of information. She moves around the lab in the way that is common in sleepwalkers, checking on each test individually with the same clinical precision and emotionless manner as the devices surrounding her.

When she has finished, she settles into her chair and starts to work steadily on her annual equipment requisition requests. At eight AM exactly Tony walks in, setting a large coffee, two sugars, at her elbow. "Good morning."

She looks up, smiles. "Hey. Sleep well?"

He smirks. "Wouldn't you like to know?"

"Was she good?"

"I never said--"

"It was implied."

"That's assuming a lot."

She spins in her chair to face him. "You're an open book to me."

He arches an eyebrow. "Is that so?"

She sips her coffee. Winces. "Yes."

"I need the final reports from the Lawrence case. Gibbs never got the final case file submitted, so I'm having to put it together."

She nods. "In my office. In the printer."

He frowns. "Where anyone could snatch it?"

Her jaw clenches. "I'm in the middle of an emotional breakdown, here, if you haven't noticed. Hand me that stapler." He hands it to her and watches as she gentley slides the stack of papers between the jaws and presses down. She looks back at him. "That all?"

He watches her for a moment before striding across the lab to Abby's tiny office. Before he leaves, he calls over his shoulder, "He's not dead." She does not respond, and after he's left she gulps down the coffee and throws the paper cup across the room.

XXX

The squad room is quiet. Tony is busy actually doing work, Ziva and McGee are going over their case reports, dotting every I and crossing every t and none of their gazes ever move to the empty desk. The Director walks by, stops.

"Can we help you?" Tony asks.

"Is everything—We'll need to get your promotion on record. There'll be paperwork."

He nods. "Yes." She stands in front of his desk, shifts from foot to foot and finally, her shoulders sag and she walks away. Tony tells McGee it's time for a coffee run.

At ten thirty Ziva goes down to Abby's lab. Ducky is already there, and he smiles tentatively at her. She does not return it.

"I think that God is mocking me." Abby's physically vibrating, signing along with her spoken words with shaking hands.

"Computer break down again?" Ziva asks.

Abby reaches out, fingers grazing across Ziva's cheek. "I'm not speaking to you." Ziva nods.

Ducky leaves shortly after and Abby pushes Ziva gently down into a swiveled chair. She continues working and Ziva's eyes follow her as she moves confidently around the lab.

"You're taking this well," the Israeli says after a few minutes.

Abby doesn't break pace as she strides to another computer. "Yes."

The shorter woman rises, coming to stand beside Abby. "You hit me."

Abby nods. "Yes."

"You were acting irrationally. I was just—frustrated. There was no need for physical violence."

"If you're trying to make me feel guilty, I should probably tell you, I'm not listening."

A breath hisses out between Ziva's teeth. "I'll leave."

"Excellent." Abby trails her palm down Ziva's arm as she walks away.

XXX

On his way home from work, Ducky detours to drive past Gibbs empty house. There is a long black Hearse in the driveway, squished in beside a gleaming Mustang. His shoulders slump and he shakes his head as he lets his Morgan idle by the curb. After a moment, he sighs and pulls out back into traffic.

"Donald!" His mother is relatively lucid when he walks into the house. "Did you have a good day at work?"

There is a long pause before he speaks. "Yes mother. The day was fine."