Prologue
Bete Noir
See No Evil
Kill Ari
Bloodbath

Prologue

He is bad-tempered and cold, relentless and rigid. He has his rules and they keep everything in its place, no room to bend. Black and white, right and wrong. Yes and no and never ever maybe and don't waste time on sleep.

She is sunny and warm, distracted and accommodating. She long since threw away the rulebook and delights in variety. Black only in clothing and make up, her maybes could circle the earth, too much to fit into the day to waste time on sleep.

She holds the mirror up to him and sees her Gibbs. Passionate for the truth, invested and warm. Too tired to sleep, with a smile that bathes his face in light and makes her stomach flutter. She holds this Gibbs to her, delighting in the sole possession.

He holds the mirror up to her and sees his Abby. Forensics doesn't lie or deceive, always yes and no and never ever maybe. Order and certainty to keep her delicate equilibrium, lest she should spin off and shatter into fragments at his feet. Too scared to sleep, her smile lightens his heart and makes him feel young and alive. He holds this Abby to him in the deepest corner of his heart.

Signing is their private shorthand, in their own world where they see the other complete. In her lab they talk in looks and touches and kisses.

Because he is him and she is her.

Bete Noir

He is, as on countless nights before, working on his boat. Steady and smooth, the feel of the grain under his fingers is balm to his soul. He is almost content. Until his cell vibrates across the workbench, disturbing the tranquility and the sweep of his strokes. One handed, he flips it open, grunts into it. He scowls when no-one replies.

"What?"

He leans into the phone, struggling to hear, to decipher the faint sounds at the other end.

"I'm coming. Stay with me, Abs."

He finds her, small and dark, curled tight in a corner of her bed. Knees tucked under her chin, arms wrapped around tight, she raises her fearful eyes to him.

"Stay with me, Abs."

He snaps the cell shut, tosses it down, hearing the shaky breathing, the desperate suppression of tears at first hand. Sitting on the bed to face her, he runs his thumb across her cheek, slides his hand round the back of her head, and gently pulls her into his arms.

She doesn't ever cry.

But when she is finished, he lies down on the bed, keeping her tight against him, tucking her head under his chin. He unwraps an arm from around her waist, lifting his hand to her face. Slowly, he signs, "Tell me, Baby."

"Bad dream" she signs back.

"What about?"

"Being dead. Cut open. In Autopsy."

He catches hold of her fingers, bringing them to his lips. He doesn't need to know any more.

She leans up on her elbow and looks at him, gently pulling her hand away to sign once more.

In the years between them they have never asked for more than can be given, and so he doesn't hesitate, just touches a fingertip to her chin and lets his warmth seep into her mouth.

Because he was asked to.

See No Evil

He'd turned back in the doorway and the sight made him falter. There were tears in her eyes, an arm around the small body next to her, her other hand shielding the studs of her collar from the little head tucked next to her own. It was hard to say which of them looked the more vulnerable.

They'd rescued the wife, reunited the family and then watched it be torn apart again. He'd pinned the Captain to the wall and it had taken Kate's gentle touch on his arm, soft voice in his ear to bring him back. He watched the excuse for a father being led away, before throwing the car keys to Tony, stuffing his hands in his pockets and walking out.

He's sent the others home before he realizes he hasn't even told her how the case has turned round and bitten them in the ass. He doesn't want to see the myriad of emotions flow across her face ending with dejection at such inhumanity.

He knows his duty. Filing the last of his paperwork, he snaps the overhead light off and heads for the elevator.

As the doors open he goes to step forward, then hesitates as he sees the figure standing in the corner. He can tell from her eyes that she has heard and he takes a deep breath as he moves forward. The doors close behind him and he stands in front of her. Head down, she scuffs the toe of her boot on the floor, her bag swinging loosely from her fingertips.

He flips the switch, and the elevator shudders to a halt and she pitches forward at the unexpected jolt. It runs through his mind for a split second as he catches hold of her but he doesn't listen. She is soft and eager, bag dropped at her feet, fingers clutching his lapels, tongue pushing back against his own filling her mouth.

Because he shouldn't.

Kill Ari

She is tucked tight under his arm, her gloved hand gripping his own as it clutches at her knee, all the better to pull her into him. His face is buried in her hair, strands clinging to his face still wet from the rain. He said it to make her feel safe but he knows safe is far from her mind. He can feel her heart racing pressed against his chest, the adrenalin still coursing through her. He pulls back and looks at her; she is quiet and calm and it throws him off balance, this other Abby. She wipes the rain from his face with the cuff of her sweater, her knuckles touching his skin.

A flash of lightening illuminates the room and she comes back to him in that moment. She is electricity; sparks, volatile...and life. He feels a breath filling his lungs for the first time since his ears rang on that rooftop and awakens from the trance he was lost in.

But the numbness only gives way to a hollowness that he aches to fill. He pushes his fingertips against Abby's warm face before covering her mouth with his own. She opens her lips at the feel of his tongue seeking entrance, giving in to his insistence. With one hand he pulls her body against his own, his other hand tangling in her hair as he searches for her to hold onto.

The contact is not enough for him and he pushes her down, her black hair spilling over the white floor. His eyes find her bare neck, a rare sight for him and he grazes his teeth over her skin at the new opportunity. His fingers pull at the bottom of her sweater, freeing her smooth, pale skin to his touch. He pushes his hands over her ribcage, long slim fingers sliding round her back as he seeks her mouth again. He whispers lost words into her mouth and she pushes them back into him, knowing him as she does. He cannot feel anything but the hollow inside.

But still he tries to fill up on her kisses.

Because he needs to.

Bloodbath

He had kissed her under the shell of his boat and she had tasted of whiskey and relief. She had sobered up in a heartbeat at his news, stunned giving way to one of her smiles before she buried her face in his neck. He had kissed her and soothed her, before putting her back in bed.

"Stay," she had signed and he couldn't ever refuse her anything, so he'd curled her against him and stroked her shoulder through the thinning cotton of his old t-shirt.

And so stay he had, at her side all day in court until she finally let go of his hand to enter the witness box. He kept hold of her with his eyes, while the imprint of her hand slowly cooled on his own. He was unsure which he hated more; the attack on her science, or the attack on her choice in men, as he watched her begin to wilt under both. He was only grateful they didn't know as much as they thought. She had held his arm tight as they walked out, and not just for balance. It had felt good to finally get one over on both the sniveling crook and his old flame, but not as good as the feel of Abby pressed against him,

She is upstairs now, her hated blue suit discarded as she washes the past few days off her skin underneath the stream of his shower. He is in the kitchen, and, although he would never let anyone else see the proof, he knows his way around it. A calmness has settled around him as order is restored in their lives, for the moment at least and it amuses him that Abby of all people could have this effect. He turns, aware he is being watched, and sees her leaning against the doorframe. He smiles, and walks over to her, seeing his contentment reflected back at him.

"My girl" he signs against her soft cheek, and kisses her.

Because he wanted to.