Disclaimer: I don't own anything having to do with the show. Abby's journey, though, I do claim. At least part of it.
Genre: Like life, a mix of drama and humor. More angst to start with, more humor later.
A/N 1: I went to Louisiana a couple weeks ago, and among other things toured the Ninth Ward of New Orleans. As is my usual reaction I put everything down on paper, in the words of a fictional character. I find the emotions easier to deal with that way.
A thousand thanks to NYCIby for the beta'ing and suggestions. You are so wonderful, sweetie. And a thanks to Brightillusions, for lending me Jason.
It was an excruciatingly slow day. Hours of paperwork followed by a meeting with the director had Gibbs ready to climb the walls. Escaping from the office, Gibbs walked down the street to the cafe. He ordered a coffee for himself and a Caf-Pow for Abby, figuring that he would surprise her. It was an excuse, really, to go visit her. He had been doing that a lot lately. Bringing her drinks, checking on results when he knew that she hadn't had a chance to run the required tests. Sometimes he didn't bother to make an excuse, just walked into the lab and stood in the middle of the room, watching her.
When he returned from the coffee shop, the lab was silent, and at first he thought it was empty. It wasn't until he walked into the office that he found Abby. Her back was to him, and she was digging through the drawer of her desk as if looking for something.
"Hey Abbs, I brought you a..." His words died on his lips when she turned her head to face him. Her eyes were red and there were drops of mascara-dyed tears running down her cheeks.
"I have to go home. I need to call the airport, but I can't find the number. I swear I had it here." She turned from him and continued pawing through the drawer. Gibbs set down the drinks on the closest surface. Gently, he pulled at Abby and turned her around.
"What's wrong?" he asked as he wiped away her tears with the pad of his thumb.
"My brother just called. I have to go home." As she spoke she signed. Hoping to comfort her, Gibbs did the same.
"I thought everything was alright. Your brother called to let you know that he and your parents were safe, didn't he?" It had been a harrowing couple of weeks, since hurricane Katrina had struck land. Everyone had been tense, but for Abby, whose family lived in the city, the anxiety had been so bad that she had stopped
drinking Caf-Pows! Her system just couldn't take the extra energy.
It had been almost four days after the storm first hit before she had been able to reach her family and find out that they had all made it through the storm safely. Four days in which the lab was quieter than it had ever been. No music played and Abby only spoke when direct questions were asked. Gibbs had a TV brought into the lab, and it was always tuned to CNN with the volume on mute. The whole team had made frequent excuses to visit the lab, keeping close watch over her. Ducky had been the one with her when the call had come.
"Everyone's okay," Abby signed so quickly that her hands were a blur. "But the house... my parent's home... the home I grew up in..." She couldn't say it out loud. The words wouldn't come, but her hands moved of their own volition. i Destroyed. /i
"Oh Abby." He pulled her to his chest, his shoulder muffling her cry. It was the first time in over three months that he had seen so much as a hint of tears in her eyes; the past May when they had lost Kate.
"Hey boss, the director is looking for you. She said..." Whatever the director said was forgotten when Tony heard Abby's sobs. "Abby?
Gibbs shook his head. "Call the airport, DiNozzo. Get a ticket on the earliest flight to New Orleans."
"For Abby, of course," Tony stated. He had known it was only a matter of time before Abby would need to make the pilgrimage back home. "It'll be waiting at the counter by the time you get to the airport."
"Come on, Abbs, I'll take you home so you can pack," Gibbs said when Tony left. On their way out of the room Abby grabbed Bert the Hippo off the shelf and clasped him to her chest.
"No go on the ticket," Tony said reluctantly as Gibbs and Abby walked into the squad room. "The closest I can get is Texas, and that's no help. There are no flights going anywhere near the gulf coast area."
Abby didn't say anything, just looked at Gibbs with wide, sad eyes.
"I'll take care of it." Gibbs had the phone in his hand and was dialing numbers before he'd even sat down. Tony walked over to Abby and squeezed her shoulder.
"It's not your fault, Tony. You tried." She allowed herself to lean against him, taking comfort from his strength.
"Hopefully Gibbs will have better luck," Tony said.
"It's not about luck, DiNozzo." Gibbs said as he hung up the phone and looked at Abby. "You leave in two hours. That doesn't give us much time, so we have to go now."
"How'd you manage that?" Tony wanted to know.
"Someone owed me a favor."
It only took Abby ten minutes to throw what she needed into a duffle bag once they'd reached her home. She was almost at the door when she turned and ran back to her bedroom.
"We have to hurry if you are going to catch the flight, Abbs."
"I'm ready," Abby said as she returned to the room. She was carrying a thick blue album, labeled i Photos. /i "For my mom," she explained. "I don't know if she was able to save any of hers."
Gibbs drove in his usual style, and it only took twenty minutes to reach their destination. Gibbs insisted on carrying Abby's suitcase across the tarmac, and if he thought it was funny to see her carrying a giant stuffed animal onto a Navy helicopter he didn't say anything.
"Call me when you get there, so I know you arrived," Gibbs ordered softly as he tucked her bag into the storage space and made sure she was buckled into her seat.
"I'll be fine, Gibbs. I've flown thousand's of times." She was trying to be her normal light, confident self, but the mask was thin and Gibbs could see through it.
"Call anyway." Gibbs kissed her lightly on the cheek. "Anytime you need to talk, I'm around, okay?"
Abby nodded, and reluctantly watched him leave. He stopped and spoke briefly with the pilot, and although she couldn't hear them she had a good idea of what was being said. He was making sure that someone would watch over her. When the door closed she looked out the window and saw that Gibbs standing on the tarmac, watching her. She gave him a half hearted wave, not stopping until the helicopter lifted off the ground and he disappeared from view.
i To be continued /i
A/N 2: I am attempting NaNo this year, and wasn't planning on posting any fic during the month of November. This story wouldn't let me go. I have written enough that I will be posting every four of five days during the month.
If anyone has any questions, about this fic or the gulf coast region feel free to ask.