As she walked from the car park to her lab Abby knew it wouldn't give her the comfort she craved. The lab like the rest of NCIS was not the same since Gibbs had returned or really since he had left. He had returned not because he wanted to but to help save Ziva and having once done the unthinkable and left there was no reason he wouldn't again.

The first time had been such a betrayal she knew she couldn't handle it if he left again. As he left that day it took all her self control not to shout "No Gibbs. No." as she simply could not believe he would abandon the team like that. All these months later she still had no idea why he had. I won't let him hurt me like that again she swore to herself. If I mean so little to him that he can leave with nothing more than my name and a kiss and then not a word in four long months then he means that little to me. I won't let him see how much he hurt me. I won't.

On her desk was a thick white envelope addressed in a hand she knew so well from evidence bags, performance reviews and (she smiled ruefully to herself) birthday cards, simply to Abby.

Dear Abby,
I know you are angry with me and this letter is about four months overdue...but I owe you an explanation and thought if I wrote to you I'd have more of a chance of you thinking about what I said instead of being too busy yelling and hitting me.

He's got that right at least she thought.

No-one was listening to me Abs and those sailors died because of it. I couldn't save them like I couldn't save Shannon and Kelly, Pacci, Kate. I couldn't see anyone else get hurt with me standing uselessly on the sidelines. Remember I was still recovering from my second coma too. I was broken and would not let the team see that weakness. Not even Ducky or you.

Oh Gibbs she thought when will you learn that knowing when to ask for help from those who love you is a strength not a weakness.

I had to look after myself. I know the way I left hurt you and I should have checked in but you have to know I would never intentionally hurt you. I just did the only thing I could. You know how I feel about coincidences Abby so you probably know how I feel about apologies too. I'll let you in on a secret - the exception is that apologies are not a sign of weakness between friends. Abs I am so, so sorry and though I have no right to ask this I still do. Will you forgive me?
Your friend,
L.

As she read the last lines she sensed a presence behind her. Somehow he always knew. He was still there a few minutes later after she slowly re-read his words.
"Gibbs" she said as she turned.
"Abby" and in that moment she saw the pain in his eyes and knew it wasn't his pain at the sailors dying, of not saving his family or his pain at having walked away from the team that she saw there. It was his pain at having hurt her and her heart opened as the bitterness left her and she knew what she had to do next.

In a gesture mirroring his own of four months ago she silenced him with a finger to his lips, kissed his cheek and pulled him into a tight hug.
"I forgive you. You only had to ask."
They pull apart and with a wickedly Abby grin she asks
"So where's my CafPow?"
Gibbs laughs.

Author's Note - The letter is meant to be signed by Gibbs but the site keeps editing out the signature and I can't fix it.


Chapter 2: Conversation With Abby

Once again she had not let him down. She had used her skills to make the evidence speak to her as no-one else could except maybe Ducky with a victims body. It was like watching a sorceress at work. Gibbs chuckled inwardly at what Abby might say if he shared his uncharacteristically fanciful thought. He turned from the plasma and kissed her cheek. He was shocked when she responded by slapping him hard across the face.

"Abby!"
"Don't you ever do that again".

Gibbs stared at her. He thought he knew what this was about but it was probably better to let her get it all out.
"How could you Gibbs. You walked away from NCIS, from the team, from me...then four months and not a word..."
He was stunned to see Abby was fighting back tears as she spoke. Abby who never cried not even at Kate's funeral. He placed his hands on her shoulders and held her firmly as she tried to wriggle out from under them.

"Gibbs let me go. Let me go."
"Not until you listen to me Abs. I am so, so sorry I hurt you but those sailors died and I couldn't handle it anymore. I had to leave to take care of myself. I had nothing left to give. Can you undrestand that? Can you ever forgive me?"

Abby stepped back and he let her go. She stared at him for a long minute then pulled him into a tight hug.
"I forgive you Gibbs. You only had to ask." Releasing her hold on him she asked with a wickedly Abby grin
"So where's my CafPow?"
Gibbs laughed.

P.S. - I thought Abby deserved a chance to yell at him. ;-)