Title: What We Leave Behind
Disclaimer: Do not own NCIS or the characters used.
Spoilers: Through Season 5 Requiem (does not spoil the contents of the box)
Warnings: Death of Character Mentioned
Timeframe: 5 years post-Requiem
Note: Not beta read. All mistakes are mine.
Summary: "For some life lasts a short while, but the memories it holds last forever." - Laura Swenson
Abby finally broke the silence of the last hour as she turned towards Tony. "Do you want to keep it?"
Tony shook his head to clear his thoughts before responding. "Yeah, I think I do. The bastard probably knew it was the only way to keep me in DC."
"It's not your fault, you know. Gibbs would have found a bullet that day no matter what. I don't think he had another retirement in him, even if it was mandatory."
Tony let out a sigh. "My brain knows that, but the rest of me hasn't caught up yet. That bullet was meant for me Abs, not Gibbs. You know what one of the last things he said before he-- before he died was?"
Abby scooted closer to Tony on the wooden workbench and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. Tony was finally opening up about the day they lost Gibbs and it was tearing at her heart. She stayed silent to let him gather his thoughts.
"After he asked if I was okay, which was almost comical given the gaping bullet wound in his chest, he got this… look on his face." Tony scrunched his face in concentration as he brought up the memories of that day.
"I had only seen it one other time, right after he opened his eyes five years ago on that dock. You know, I never told him I did CPR on him first. Probably would have slapped me for trying to save him before the girl. That and 'kissing' him without his permission."
Abby chuckled lightly at his derailment. "Yeah, the Bossman would have slapped you silly for that one. So, I never did ask what it was like kissing Gibbs on the lips. I always wondered about that," Abby said with a twinkle in her eye.
Tony leaned into her and let a small smile cross his face. "They were kinda clammy at the time. Probably that whole 'on the brink of death' thing. Maybe a hint of sawdust and coffee," he added with a wink.
Abby looked around the basement they were sitting in, "Yeah, that's what I always imagined."
Tony dipped his head before going back to the original topic. "He was looking at me like he did when I had the plague and said, 'I never said thanks.' At first, I had no idea what he was talking about. Thanks for what? Thanks for causing him to get shot in my place?"
Abby tightened her grip on his shoulder, running her fingers in small circles.
"I must have said something out loud, because he got that 'I'm slapping you right now, DiNozzo' look on his face. Then he managed to move his hand up to cover my hands over the wound and squeeze them. He said-- He said, 'I never thanked you for saving my life Tony. I'm just returning the favor.' That's when I told him he wasn't going to die. He just coughed and told me that wouldn't work on him."
Tony stopped as a sob choked him up. Abby just whispered that it was okay in his ear, told him to let it all out, that she would be there for him.
"Damn!" he said loudly, causing Abby to jump. "I miss him Abby. I keep thinking he's going to walk in at any moment and ask why the hell we're in his basement. Like he's back in Mexico with Franks and we're just biding time 'til he comes to his senses."
"I know," Abby said quietly. "I think the same thing. I knew it would hurt when we lost him, but I didn't think it would be this much."
"Yeah. That day on the docks I felt it. I looked down at him and he looked dead. Then I had to decide whether to keep working on him or switch to Maddie. Toughest choice of my life."
"You gonna keep the boat in the basement?" Abby switched gears as she swung down off the bench and walked to the boat in question. She ran her hands over the smooth wood. "What number do you think this is?"
"Six or seven I think. He told me in the letter that if I kept the house, the boat stayed too and that I was suppose to finish it correctly or he'd come back and kick my ass. Told me it would teach me that patience he never got through my head."
Abby laughed lightly before asking, "Can I help you with it?"
Tony stood up and walked behind her to take her into a hug. "Anytime Abs."
"Thanks," she whispered. They stayed in that place for several more minutes, before Abby pulled away. She walked over to the tape player she had seen before and glanced back at Tony. "I wonder if this has one of Gibbs' five songs he listens-- listened to?"
"Don't know. Why don't you play it and see what the Bossman liked."
Tony leaned back against the ribs of the boat skeleton while Abby hit play. Both gasped lightly as they heard the obvious sound of a piano lesson piece filter through the dusty room. As the piano music faded and they listened to the voices of Shannon and Kelly come through the speakers, both blinked back tears from their eyes.
"Guess we know what he liked to listen to," Tony said to break the silence.
"Yeah," Abby replied as she moved to pick up four more tapes sitting by the player. "Must be a different song on each one. What's this?" She held up a folded piece of paper from between the tape cases. "It has our names on it."
"Want to have a swig of his bourbon before we open that thing?" Tony asked in shaky voice.
"It won't bite you silly," Abby said as she lightly punched him in the arm. "Maybe slap you on the head."
In an unspoken agreement, they sank to the floor and leaned back against the wood of the boat. Abby carefully unfolded the paper and held it between them.
I don't know which one of you found this, but if I'm still alive you'll wish you weren't.
They both laughed at how they could almost hear his voice.
But if I'm dead, I'll give you a grace period until I see you again. You both know I'm not good with words, but I figured I could write something out for you as long as I'm dead when your read it.
I thought of you both as if you were my own kids. I know you knew this already Abby, but Tony, I couldn't have asked for a better son than you.
"The bastard," Tony mumbled. "Why didn't he tell me?"
"Do you think either of you could have had that conversation without lots of alcohol or a fist fight that Gibbs would have won?" Abby asked as she pulled him close. At his expression, she added, "I thought so."
Don't hesitate to smack some sense into him Abby. It's your job now. And Tony, if I see Abby anytime before she's old and grey, you won't want to show your face near me. Got it?
"Got it Boss. Take care of Abby." Abby just smiled at Tony's response.
Take care of things there and however I went out, don't blame yourselves. And there's one more thing… Remember Maddie Tyler, Kelly's friend? Make sure she knows about me and tell her it's okay to take our memories from the backyard. Tell her that Kelly would have wanted it that way. Semper Fi.
"That's so Gibbs," Abby said with conviction.
"Yeah, it is," Tony agreed. "Wonder what memories he's talking about? Think you can find her contact information?"
Abby pulled away from him and slapped him in the back of the head. "This is me you're asking DiNozzo. Of course I can find her."
Two Weeks Later
Tony and Abby smiled as they watched Maddie pull a dirt covered lunch pail from the ground. She had come from California after hearing what the note from Gibbs mentioned. She didn't answer their questions as to what he had meant; just told them she would share it with them when she arrived.
They looked up at her soft voice. "Kelly and I buried a time capsule before she died. Jethro didn't know we had done it, she never got a chance to tell him. Guess he wanted me to take the memories, so they wouldn't be lost."
Abby walked over and wrapped an arm around the younger woman. "Do you remember what's inside?"
"A few things, but not all of it. I think--" Maddie paused for a moment before looking at the two. "Would you mind sitting with me while I look?"
"Not at all," Tony said as he moved to join the two. "I always wondered what a child of Gibbs' would be like, maybe now I can get an idea."
Maddie looked up him with a smile. "Jethro said she would be a lot like me."