Gibbs stood on the edge of the cemetery watching the procession of people leaving for the reception. He had watched as Tony gave a moving eulogy, he had watched as Jen had dabbed at her eyes and he had watched Abby sit staring at the coffin without flinching for the entire ceremony. The sight filled him with guilt but not as much as the image of her dropping to her knees by his empty coffin and crying her heart out.
It was then that he had to remind himself that he had had to do this. He had not had time to think about the repercussions fully. Repercussions such as Abby. He heard every word she said to his coffin, and hand watched her fingers linger over the wooden box. But in all the time he watched her he had not expected her to open the lid of the coffin. Not in a million years.
When she had done that he had had no choice but to move through the mist and gather her in his arms. She couldn't tell the others, no one could know. She shouldn't know, it would put her in danger if anyone suspected that he wasn't dead. But some small part of him was happy that he had someone to share his isolation with and he was happy that person was Abby.
She held him so tightly that he could barely breathe. And he was worried someone might see them, so he pried her loose and took her hand. He shut the lid of the coffin on his way past. She couldn't take her eyes off him as though he might disappear if she did so. He guided her through the dense forest until he was satisfied they were safe. The mist covered them, but it would lift soon and darkness was falling.
"Why?" she asked him tearfully.
"I had to Abbs. Someone high up is after me. Someone from our own government." He looked over his shoulder subconsciously as he said it. She caught his nervousness. "Do they suspect?" He shook his head slightly and in an exhausted voice he said, "There's no way to know for sure."
He didn't look like the calm Jethro Gibbs she knew. "What are you going to do?" She asked him. He focused his eyes fully on hers. "I'll head south, I have a safe house in Mexico." She breathed in sharply as if stung. "You can't tell anyone Abbs." He said seriously. "You're putting yourself at risk by talking to me."
"But what about your friends?" she cried incredulously. "They think your dead!"
"Keep your voice down." He scolded.
"You let me think you were dead!" she shouted quietly, tears spilling over. "You can't just disappear again and leave me here all by myself. Especially now that I know! I'll worry where you are and whether or not you're safe." She was crying harder.
He pulled her close to him but she pushed him away, angry and crying. All her emotions smashing into one another and exploding into a fit of confusion. The familiar guilt returned.
"I don't have a choice." He said resignedly. "They've already tried to kill me twice, and the second time they almost succeeded."
That didn't make her feel any better. She was sure Jethro had his reasons but right now she was overcome with joy that he was alive and anger that he'd let her think he was dead.
She couldn't take the sadness of him leaving her another time, she couldn't and she wouldn't. She slammed her body into his and hugged him tight. "I won't let you go Gibbs." She cried. "I can't live through this again." His coat muffled her voice.
Gibbs felt his defenses and harsh tone melt away as he stroked her hair. "What do you want me to do Abby? I can't stay here, I can't go home." He breathed in the scent of her hair.
"Take me with you." She said deadly serious. Her eyes piercing his, telling him not asking him.
"I can't do that Abby! They'll kill you if they see us together!" now it was he who was incredulous.
"I'd rather die then be without you. When Tony told me you were dead I couldn't breathe or eat or sleep. I didn't want to live! And if you leave again I will never ever forgive you." The silence grew between them as Abby's chest heaved from her intense outburst and Gibbs fought with his emotions.
His hands on her back made her feel safe in this dark forsaken place. But the thought of losing him for a second time made her desperate, she'd do anything to make him take her with him.
"You'd have to leave your job, leave your home, leave everyone you know." He listed the first problems that sprang to mind. She shook her head to dismiss the problems, "I don't care." She replied.
Gibbs sighed. Maybe she would care in the future though and then blame him for letting her leave everyone she loved behind. But as he looked into her eyes he knew that she would not let this lie. This wasn't a sane idea. He didn't want to put her in danger.
"I promised that I'd never let anything happen to you Abbs. This is putting you in direct danger." And it would be selfish too he added for himself only.
"And if you're miles away not seeing me or knowing where I am or what's going on how are you going to protect me then?" she retorted.
She was making some sense to his delight and dismay. His heart said take her with you and his mind said don't. Now he just had to figure out which decision he could live with.
There was a very long pause. "Please Gibbs." Abby said softly.
"You'll have to lay low for a while. If you disappear right now they'll suspect something. You'll have to go to work as you would usually, but you'll have to convince them that you're depressed. Then quit your job and tell them you're moving. Don't tell them when or where or with whom. You can't mention this to anybody. Understand?"
She was so happy and so excited that she forgot every part of anger she had. She hugged him tightly again, squeezing him hard and then letting go to kiss him hard on the mouth just once.
"Thank you thank you thank you!" she bounced up and down. Gibbs was caught off guard by her kiss and he wasn't sure if that was because he enjoyed it so much or because it had been so passionate.
Suddenly she realized what she had just done, and she loosened her grip on him and brought a trembling hand to her mouth. She lifted her head slowly to measure his response and their eyes met. Her heart beat rapidly, his body grew in temperature. "Are you sure you want to do this?" He asked seriously, his head at her level. Suddenly she wasn't sure what he was asking her.
"Yes. More sure then I've been in my life." she said with conviction.
There were voices coming from behind her. "I have to go." he whispered. "I'll contact you in one week." He kissed her quickly on the cheek before disappearing into the trees and the mist.
As he had promised he made contact with her one week from that day. He was waiting for her in her kitchen when she got home from work. But he almost hadn't come. He spent the week wondering if he was allowing this because of some selfish desire, wondering whether he should diasappear again and not contact her. Let her live her life. He almost hadn't come. But something drew him to the house that afternoon.
"You'll quit on Tuesday." he told her as they sipped coffee in the lounge. "We have the weekend to pack your things," his eyes moved across the room. "You'll have to pack light." he said cautiously.
She hadn't talked her self out of this insane idea, if anything she'd convinced herself that it was the right thing to do. Feigning grief at work was hard, until McGee turned up in her lab needing a hug. Then she'd felt sad for them, guilty even for not telling them that he wasn't dead. But she knew she couldn't, she'd promised she wouldn't. Now she was going to leave them too. She'd done as Gibbs had told her, been more then unhappy and more then a little snappy. She'd even started a fight with one of the cleaners. Very uncharacteristic, Tony had said.
But her wish to be with Gibbs and to never feel that sadness again outweighed her feelings of guilt.
On Tuesday she would quit her job, say goodbye to her friends and tell them she was going away for a while, tell them she had to get away from the city that reminded her so much of her lost friend. Gibbs had told her she would be able to see them again, unlike him. She wasn't hiding. He was. And they would leave that night to wherever Gibbs and her decided they wanted to go. And they would live happily ever after.
Gibbs would lie low until Tuesday, keep an eye on her and then meet her at her house Tuesday night before the gang had a chance to visit her and try to talk her out of it. He knew they would. And when they did they'd be met by an empty house, with empty rooms and no note. And him and Abby would go somewhere warm, and spend their days doing...anything they wanted. He wondered if she'd appreciate the early retirement or if she'd get itchy feet and return to the excitement of the job she loved. But only time would tell.
And right now, all they needed was eachother.