I drew my feet up to curl up tighter into the corner of the elevator and made a tight fist with my right hand, pressing the metal band on the brass knuckles the director loaned me deep into my palm. Everyone thinks I'm hiding in here because I'm scared. That's partially true. That is why I chose the elevator. It's the safest place in the building. Only five deaths a year occur in elevators, you know. The odds of some psycho stalker finding me in here and killing me are astronomical. Besides, he'd hafta get through Gibbs and the team first, and there's like less than zero chance of that happening.
But being scared is only part of the reason I'm hiding in here. The stalker isn't the only one I'm hiding from. Yeah, I know it's a shock. After all, I've pretty much terrorized every custodian and agent in the building at one time or another. Except one.
You guessed it. I'm hiding from Gibbs. I'm not scared of him, not like this crazy stalker. Gibbs would never hurt me. He won't even headslap me. He's always super careful to be very gentle with me. The second b may stand for bastard—after all, he can be every inch of that—but he's also very much a gentleman. So why am I hiding? Well, he's um…he's…he's… Sigh. He's disappointed in me, and I just can't stand it.
Why didn't I tell him about Mikel? Truthfully, it really was just what I said. I only wanted him gone, not beaten within an inch of his life, or worse yet, dead. Make no mistake about it. Gibbs would have hurt him—badly. He's very protective of his family. And trust me, this team is family.
Yeah, yeah, I know a lot of places say it, but we really are, right down to having our own unique family roles. Tony's the cool older brother. Ziva's the tough, independent, older sister. McGee's the nerdy kid brother, and me, I'm the baby, the one they all dote on. Gibbs? Kinda thought that was obvious. He's the dad, of course, protector and authority figure all rolled up in one. And right now Dad is disappointed in me, and it hurts just as bad as when I was a kid and got in trouble with my daddy.
Bet that surprises you. Bet you thought I was a hellion as a kid, didn't you? Everybody does, but I wasn't really. I mean, yeah, I've always been independent, that much is obvious, but I was mostly a good kid. I might've been a little eccentric, but for the most part I was the good Catholic they raised me to be.
Gotcha then, didn't I? It's true. I may be the mistress of the night now, but I was baptized Abigail Maria Celeste Scuito in St. Stephen's Catholic Church in New Orleans, and I spent my childhood in catholic schools. How do you think I ended up on a bowling team with nuns? I still go to mass sometimes. Once a catholic, always a catholic, I guess, and we Catholics are good at guilt.
The door opened then, and I jumped to alert, gripping Ziva's tazer gun, then…slumped back with relief. "Hey, Gibbs." He stepped into the elevator, closed the door, and sat down beside me, and I was suddenly nervous again. "Did you know that only five of the two and a half million deaths every year occur in elevators?"
"No," Gibbs answered quietly.
"Ziva gave me this," I say, holding up the gun, "and Cynthia gave me the pepper spray. The knuckles are Director Shepherd's." I was rattling, and I knew it, but I just couldn't seem to stop.
Gibbs, as usual, saw right through it. He met my eyes straight on. "No one is going to hurt you, Abby."
Of course he says that, he's Gibbs, but I really, really wanted to believe him. Still… "You're just saying that to make me feel better."
"Did it?" Gibbs asked.
I love that he doesn't argue with me or deny it. He's just simple and straightforward, just the opposite of all my secrets and trying to keep it quiet. I scrunch down a little farther thinking about it. Then, I realize he's still watching me, waiting for my answer. "Yeah," I admit quietly. I may not quite believe it, but I do believe him. "Can you say it again?"
It sounds a little silly even to my own ears, but Gibbs doesn't laugh. "Nobody is going to hurt you, Abs," he repeats, quiet and firm. He opens his arms, and I scoot over into them, laying my head on his shoulder and curling intohim like a little girl snuggling in for a bedtime story. I may not deserve it, but I need the comfort badly. I've come close to dying twice in the last twenty-four hours, and it's rattled me down to my bones.
"Can I stay at NCIS until you catch him?" I ask quietly, unable to stop the tiny little girl voice that escapes.
"Mm-hmm." Gibbs nods slightly, pulling me closer and gently kissing the top of my head. "I'll move your whole lab into the elevator if it'll make you feel better."
I laugh at that. The mass spec alone would take up the entire elevator. Still, I appreciate the gesture, and more than that, I understand what lies unspoken in the silence beneath the words. He's pissed that I didn't come to him; he's pissed that I opened the door at Mcgee's and let Mikel in, but he still loves me, and he'll do whatever it takes to protect me.
The ding of the elevator and its clumsy shuddering halt take me by surprise. I hadn't even noticed we were moving until we stopped. The doors slide open and Jimmy appears goggling at us like we've suddenly grown two heads. I don't move and neither does Gibbs. Right now, I couldn't care less what Jimmy Palmer or anybody else thinks. Right now, the only opinion that matters is the one of the man sitting beside me. He loves me, and that's enough.