A Kate. The gun…he said it was called a Kate. Was fate really that funny? Did God honestly have such a sick sense of humor? Maybe it was all coincidence. No. There was no such thing. She was a forensic scientist; her job was to disprove coincidence. The sadist in her mind only laughed, wondering if there was an Abigail or Abby or Abbs gun, or maybe she was close enough to Kate to get that same bullet in the head.
"Tony, I'm gonna miss her."
She couldn't hold back anymore, the tears spilling from her eyes as he held her tightly against his body. It hurt more than she ever wanted to admit; reality was finally taking over her, murdering the fantasy that it was all just a bad dream. She wanted to wake up, she wanted to pretend it wasn't real, but then she heard it. The glass shattered and she screamed.
Her fists slammed against her lab counter, her teeth sinking painfully into her bottom lip. She had tried so hard to stay reserved, to hold in her anger, her sadness, her fright, but she was never good at hiding.
"I'll keep you safe, Abby." He pulled her against him, pressing his lips to her hair. "I promise."
Her hand clasped over his tightly, holding on to the simple fact that he was there and so was she. It hit her then, in that moment, how close she had been to death. The pain in his voice and the conviction of his promise was all it took. He was afraid; for the first time in all the years she had worked for him, he was vulnerable. But he wasn't just afraid, he was afraid for her.
He silenced her, pulling her even closer, burring her shaking form in his warmth. His mind was full of flashes, the sound of the bullet, the breaking glass, her scream. The thoughts stabbed at his mind, making his heart beat faster as he relived the moment, remembering how it felt to think she was dead, that he would walk into her lab only to find her stone cold, covered in her own blood.
"I won't lose you, Abby." Now, he was the one shaking. "The next bullet he fires is for me, not you."
Maybe it was that care and concern that made it easier for her to swallow all she felt. Maybe it was the gentle kiss he placed on her cheek when he felt her shake that gave her confidence. Whatever he had done to soothe her, it had all shattered in one simple word: Kate. She knew he hadn't meant to hurt her and he hadn't, it was the irony of truth that hurt and it forced her to her knees, her hands clutching the countertop above her head.
"No, Gibbs." The strength of her voice made him turn around and, for the first time in his life, she intimidated him. "This isn't just another investigation. Todd was your agent, but Kate was my friend, so can you stop it with the John Wayne stare and tell me what your gut says?"
"What don't I believe in, Abby?"
He had seen the look in her eyes, how she had fought to pretend it hadn't fazed her. Maybe he shouldn't have said it, but it was too late to take it back. He wasn't even sure why he told her, but he did; he had to tell someone and she had been willing to listen. Had he used her? She's nearly killed and all he does is lash out and walk away? No. He wasn't like that.
He turned back.
She didn't respond, she didn't move. He walked over to her, gently taking her hands off the table as he knelt beside her. In one swift motion, he was cradling her in his arms, his lips gentling brushing against her hair. There were no words, no apologies, just silence and security.
"Do you think he has one with my name on it, too?"
Her voice was so sudden that it nearly made him jump, but it was what she said that frightened him the most. His arms tightened around her, his breath quickening at the idea. No. He had lost Kate, but he wasn't going to lose Abby. It had nearly killed him to hear her scream when the glass broke, it had nearly ripped his heart in half to be running toward her lab thinking he was too late; he wasn't sure if he could survive if it became reality.
"No, Abby, and even if he does, I won't let him fire it again."
He hated that word. Again. Why did he have to say "again"? It should have never happened. She should never have been within his reach. That glass should never have broken. He should never have left her so vulnerable.
"You're going to stop him, right? The guy who did this?"
"Ari did it." His response was automatic.
"You still believe in that even with all the doubt everyo-"
"What do you believe in, Abby?"
Their eyes met. For a moment, they simply stared, both attempting to read the other's thoughts. They could read each other's hands, but eyes? That, too. It was the desperation swimming in the ocean of his gaze that made her pull out a reassuring smile.
"I believe in you, Gibbs."
She never doubted; she understood.
Without another word, she wrapped an arm around his neck and rested her chin on top of his shoulder. Her right hand was on his chest, a sign pressed against his heart that she knew he could feel. Her thumb, index, and pinky spoke more than she ever could.
He closed his eyes, burning the feel of the sign in his memory, memorizing the comfort of her closeness. His arms held her, his lips gently pressed against her neck; he knew she could tell he had understood. That was all. The unspoken remained implied wordlessly as they held each other, enjoying the silence.
She believed and he knew, from that moment on, that he did, too.