A/N: I spent last weekend writing too much fluff, and needed some angst to balance out. This is a post ep to Kill Ari part 2. Much thanks to nyciby for the beta'ing.
When the announcement came that it was safe to turn on electronics and lower their tray tables, Gibbs pulled a dozen files out of his briefcase and opened the top one. The plane was quiet and he was hoping to loose himself in work. Across the aisle, Tony had slipped headphones into his ears and closed his eyes. A few rows up, McGee was typing furiously on his laptop. Gibbs couldn't see what Abby was doing, and that would have troubled him if it weren't for the fact that she was sitting with Ducky. Only two of their five seats had been together. There had been no question that one would go to Abby; none of them were going to let her be alone today. It had only taken a few minutes of discussion to come to the decision that Ducky would be the best one to keep her company on the flight.
The Sec Nav had been kind enough to lend the team his plane for the trip of Indiana; the courtesy did not extent to their return flight. The private jet, carrying Jen, had left for DC hours ago. The team had opted to stay for the gathering at the Todd residence after the funeral. Now they were on their way home, and in two days they would be returning to work.
It was after midnight when the flight attendant came through with the drink cart. Gibbs was about to request a cup of coffee when he heard a commotion at the front of the plane. Almost everyone seemed to be asleep, and at first he was annoyed that his quiet was being disturbed. As the voice grew in volume though, he realized that it was familiar. Abby. Ignoring the flight attendant's startled protest when he pushed the cart out of his path, Gibbs jogged up the aisle.
Abby was sitting forward in her seat, frantically knocking her fisted hands together and biting her lower lip. When Gibbs looked questioningly at Ducky, he simply shrugged and glanced at his seat-mate.
"I thought she was falling asleep," Ducky said. "But then she woke up quite suddenly and said something about forgetting Tony. She seemed rather distressed, but when I tried to ask her what was wrong, she simply repeated that she had forgotten Tony, and that Kate was never going to forgive her."
"Abbs?" Gibbs said softly as he crouched down next to her seat.
"I forgot him, Gibbs. How could I forget him?" When she hit her knuckles together hard enough to hear the sound of bone meeting bone, Gibbs sandwiched her hands between his own.
"DiNozzo is fine. He's back there listening to his O-pod thing." Abby shook her head in disagreement, but Gibbs stilled the movement with a hand to her cheek. "Tony, McGee, Ducky- all of them are okay."
"Not our Tony," she said finally. "Kate's Tony."
"Kate's Tony?" Gibbs repeated, not understanding.
"Her dog, Gibbs. Tony is the dog that Kate adopted. Remember, after the case at the national park?"
"I remember." He hadn't thought Kate was serious when she said she wanted a dog. After she had left that day with the dog and the NCIS cap full of kibble he never gave it another thought. "She took him home?"
"Her. Tony is a girl." Her hand were still now, wrapped around her arms.
"It's a bitch, Kate." he had informed the brunette when she had named the dog.
"I promised Kate that whenever she was out of town for work I would take care of Tony. I don't travel the way you guys do, and I already had a key. We joked about having joint custody of her. We joked a lot, Kate and me." Joked. Past tense, like everything about Kate was going to be from now on.
"I had a dog once, a cocker spaniel," Ducky said as Gibbs silently studied Abby. "One winter he got locked in the basement by accident. It was three days before I found him, and only because I had broken the runner on my sled and was looking for something to repair it with. A rather nice sled it was too."
Abby, understanding that his stories usually had a moral to them if one listened carefully enough, looked at him hopefully.
"Hannibal knocked me over when I opened the door, and raced outside. I swear the animal was more interested in sniffing the yard to make sure no other dogs had been around then he was in the bowl of food I put out for him."
"But he was okay, right Duck?" Gibbs pointed out firmly.
"He was fine. I however couldn't sit down properly for a week after my father saw the mess the dog had made in the basement." Ducky rubbed his leg absently at the memory.
"See, Abbs? The dog will be fine," Gibbs reassured. For an instant Abby relaxed, but then her eyes widened.
"Kate's house was always so clean, Gibbs. She isn't going to..." Abby paused and pressed her lips together tightly. "She wouldn't have liked knowing it was a mess," she finally whispered.
"We can clean it up, okay? After we take care of the dog we'll make sure the house is spic and span." Abby studied him solemnly before nodding her head.
His knees aching from being crouched down for so long, Gibbs stood up. He looked to Ducky and motioned ever so slightly with his head. In the way of longtime friends, Ducky understood immediately and unfastened his seat belt. He squeezed Abby's shoulder as he climbed past her, and headed down the aisle to the seat that had previously belonged to Gibbs, stopping to say a few words to McGee and then Tony.
Gibbs sat in the recently abandoned seat and tugged at the armrest that separated the adjoining chairs, moving it out of the way. When he tugged at one of Abby's pigtails she leaned into him, resting her head on his shoulder.
"We'll make it through this, Abbs," he whispered to the sleeping woman after he felt her relax against him. He called over a flight attendant to request a blanket, and tucked Abby in the best he could. Leaning his chair back, he spent the rest of the flight starring out the window.