Disclaimer: I own nothing, though the idea of the memory candles did come from me. See A/N for more details.
Spoilers: Anything after Judgment Day1/2
Summary: Valentines Day was never a good holiday for Gibbs, but Abby has other plans.
The air was crisp as he stepped out onto his porch, the moonlight glinting off his car beside him. Leroy Jethro Gibbs was a man, confused and bewildered by what had transpired just hours before.
The case had been a tough one; a Petty Officer had been murdered in a most horrendous way, right in front of his wife and 3 month old baby. Gibbs and his team had been unable to convince the young woman to give her statement, shock written all over her face as she held her oddly peaceful daughter in her shaking arms. He had been unable to even convince her to speak one word, her mouth moving in silent words that no one could hear.
Their big break came from the evidence found at the crime scene. Droplets of blood clung to the lampshade of the murder weapon; an old fashioned lamp which looked antique. Like Abby had pointed out, whoever had done this had a bad taste in picking weapons. She had been shaken, but held herself strong as she processed the evidence, finding the one drop of blood that proved the suspect they had their eyes on was guilty.
An hour of interrogation later and Gibbs was glad to be home. It was the eve of Valentines Day – a day he hated more than Christmas. It wasn't the pink flowers or the love that seemed to emanate from around him as he passed stores, it was the memories. Memories of waking up on Valentines Day to see Shannon stretching up to kiss his cheek soundly, or Kelly running up to him before he went to work on his boat, throwing her arms around him and giggling as he smothered her in kisses. He didn't want to think of that anymore, the pain was still fresh in his mind, even though the tragedy had happened years before.
Breathing in the fresh air reminded him of why he was here. Not only to protect this country that he loved, but to stop crazed lunatics like Leon Fradly who beat innocent people with anything they could get their hands on. His hand tightened against his coffee cup, the liquid cooling at his touch and sighed. Looking up he closed his eyes, the drifting memory of Shannon's' face behind his lids. He smiled, whispered a small prayer to her and Kelly and opened his eyes to see a black hearse pulling up into his driveway. Of course she would have picked up on his mood and driven over to make sure he was okay. Leave it to Abby to try and cheer him up.
Just the name alone brought a smile to his face, which he quickly covered, his Marines' mask replacing it before she could even step out of her car. She had been there for him when no one else would. She was the light at the end of the darkness he called his life. All she had to do was look at him with her bright green eyes and his mood was fixed. He couldn't imagine a day without her vicariousness surrounding him and his team. Yes, the beautiful Goth had captured his heart but there was one thing stopping him from pursuing what his heart wanted, Rule 12.
Her door opened and he caught sight of her long leg, encased in black blue jeans which seemed to hug her curves as her other leg moved to the other. He quirked an eyebrow as he leaned over the railing, surreptitiously watching as her body emerged. When she was finally fully out of her hearse she closed the door with a soft flump and turned towards his house, a smile already caressing her features. Today she was wearing a red shirt with cupids and hearts arranged in random patterns. The shirt alone should make him scowl with disgust, but the woman wearing it made his heart skip a beat.
She noticed him watching her, even though he was trying not to make it look obvious and walked up the pathway, her chains beating a soft beat against her thigh. The moonlight glinted off her collar; today a normal looking one with heart-shaped spikes- as she approached closer.
"Don't you have a concert or something to go to tonight?" Gibbs asked as she climbed the few steps and leaned against the railing beside him, her pig tails swinging gently.
She didn't say anything but smirked a bit, her eyes cast in shadows. "You looked like you could use some company. I didn't want you to be alone." She replied softly, warmth in her voice as she turned to look at him.
If he wasn't so annoyed with this holiday he would have smiled. Instead he turned his body towards her, his shadows from the porch light enveloping her. "I'm fine Abs." He stated gently.
"No you're not. But you will be. Come on." She replied cheerfully, grabbing his hand and pulling him towards her car.
He felt himself being dragged and stopped, "What's going on Abs?" He asked stopping her with his other hand, coffee cup long forgotten.
She shook her head, pig-tails flying around her as she pulled him along. "Don't want to ruin the surprise." She stated simply as she opened the door for him.
"Abs…" He warned in a soft voice, secretly curious as to where this would lead.
"Gibbs." She teased grinning as she closed the door before he could get out and hurried to her side. "Just bear with me okay?" She asked, her eyes pleading with him.
He could never say no to her he thought shaking his head as he put on his seat belt. Deciding not to ask anymore questions and see where she was going to take him he sat back, staring out the window as she turned the hearse on, and a loud bang escaping the exhaust. He jumped slightly, reaching for his gun which was inside the house. She giggled like a small child as she pulled out of the drive, turning right and driving along the deserted street. For a Friday night things were too silent. He was used to partiers walking down his street, shouting and causing his head to pound. Most nights he just wanted to lock them all away, but then he remembered what it was like when he was young and decided against it.
They drove along in a compatible silence, her humming along to a tune he couldn't hear. He wondered briefly where they were going until a few minutes passed and she pulled up a gravel road, pebbles ricocheting off the sides. Curious now he looked out his window, seeing nothing but trees and grass. It looked peaceful he mused, a small smile playing at the corner of his lips as he glanced at Abby, who glanced back with a grin. The air was filled with anticipation in the small space, the mood calm and mellow. Finally she pulled the hearse to a stop and got out gesturing for him to follow and she practically danced around to his side.
"Come on Gibbs!" She exclaimed, reaching into his side of the car and almost pulling him out when he didn't get out quick enough.
A tingly feeling went through his arm, passing to his very core as her hand lingered on his arm. Deciding it would be best if he just let her lead he followed her silently, the small smile now fully on his lips reaching his eyes. Abby had been through a lot this year, so it was only fitting for him to accommodate her, even if it meant missing one night away from his boat.
Abby smiled secretly thrilled with herself for what she was doing. It had taken a lot of planning, begging and whining to pull this off. But it would be worth it to see Gibbs happy, that's all she ever wanted from him, to be truly happy. To see his electric blue eyes light up in warmth as he looked down at her, his lips creased into that gorgeous Gibbs grin he only kept for her. Yes, that would make this all worth it. Even flirting with that guy to get the last item would be worth it she mused as she began climbing the small hill their destination almost in view.
"Come on Abs; give an old guy a break." Gibbs said in a mock-whiny voice as he began the trudge.
Abby grinned, her eyes bright. Definitely worth it she thought as she glanced back, "You're not old Gibbs. It's just a few moments further." She replied before making it to the top.
He shook his head, any complaints he had on his lips dashed when she gave him that look. He allowed her to pull him along, finally getting some insight as to where they were.
The hilltop was surrounded with trees; there was no path except the one they had entered on. In the center, a small pond sat, water trickling down from a miniature waterfall. The grass was covered in a soft film of dew, a slight chill coming in from the south. Since it was the beginning of spring, the snow hadn't quite melted yet and there were small patches cluttered in small groups. He had to admit it was beautiful.
Finally releasing his hand, which immediately felt the empty-ness Abby practically pranced towards the pond. Gibbs, full of curiosity now followed closely behind, wishing he had brought a jacket, though she hadn't given him a lot of time to do much more than put his cup down. As he neared the pond he noticed something that looked out of place. Candle surrounded a small tree; it looked like a sapling, if his mind thought correctly it would turn into an Evergreen when it was full grown. Abby lit the candles one by one, gesturing for Gibbs to sit on the thin blanket he hadn't noticed she had brought. Quirking his eyebrow again he shook his head, not wanting to ruin her moment and did so, his bones protesting the motion.
Finally, after what felt like hours Abby sat down beside him and closed her eyes, breathing in the fresh air. He figured if he were to get answers he'd better ask them now, so turning to look at her peaceful face he asked softly,
"Where are we Abs?"
She smiled; keeping her eyes closed and replied, "The place of memories Gibbs." As if it was the obvious answer.
"Okay. But why am I here?" He asked, his mind reeling as he looked down at the sapling.
"Because Gibbs, sometimes it's good to remember." She stated, opening her eyes and staring at him with such an intense look it took his breath away.
"I do remember Abs. Sometimes I don't want too." He whispered his voice filling with emotion.
Abby shook her head, "No Gibbs, not the bad memories, the good, fun ones. The ones that put a smile on your face, cheer you up when you're down. The ones you never want to forget but sometimes do when things get rough." She explained softly, her eyes searching his face.
He closed his eyes briefly, not liking where this conversation is going. "I try to keep those locked away Abs. They're too painful to think about." He stated, as if that was the only answer he'd give.
"Come on Gibbs. You must have some good memories that are not painful to remember." She nudged her arms loose by her side as she watched the flames flicker.
"Okay, I'll give you that. But what are the candles for?" He conceded trying to change the subject gently.
At this she sobered slightly, crossing her legs in the Indian style and whispered, "For those we've lost.
"Abs…" He gently said images of Shannon, Kelly, Katie and Jenny appearing in his mind. He didn't want to think of them right now, it hurt too much.
"Trust me on this Gibbs, when we're through you'll feel a lot better." She offered, some of her cheerfulness coming back. "Just give me the benefit of the doubt. Okay?" She asked, staring at him with an almost pleading look.
He knew he'd lost the battle as soon as she looked at him. "Okay. So, how do we do this?" He asked glancing at the unlit candles scattered around them.
"Yay, trust me, you'll feel better after this I promise." She exclaimed, throwing her arms around him in a brief hug before moving away. She took out the lighter she always carried around with her and handed it over to him, a gleam in her eye. "Okay, so you light a candle and say one happy memory of the person you're thinking of." She explained watching him. "And it has to be a happy memory Gibbs, none of this sadness. This is a time to remember, not to wallow." She added
Holding the lighter in his right hand he glanced over at Abby and allowed a small smile to flit across his face. Swallowing a lump that he didn't even realize was there he bent forward and lit the first candle. "Shannon; the first time I met her at the train station. Her eyes were so warm and bright it made my heart beat a little faster." He said in an oddly thick voice.
Abby watched, listening as he muttered the memory he normally kept to himself. It was a testament to their relationship, how he could go and share something so personal with her, something he would normally keep hidden from others. She watched as he leaned back, his eyes drifting over the candle he lit, as if watching his memory drift up like the smoke that was now forming.
"How do you feel?" She asked timidly. She was slightly nervous that he'd get up and try to hike it back to his place, angry at her for attempting this.
He surprised her though when he smiled, some of the tension that filled his shoulder ebbing away. "Strange." He replied, not knowing how to reply.
"Strange is good. Keep going." She urged him gently, knowing he'd go at his own pace. A slight shiver went up her back as he leaned forward, his arm brushing hers ever so slightly.
"Cold?" he asked with a small chuckle as he turned to the next candle, the lump forming in his chest. What memory could he use for Kelly, his pride and joy? There were so many good times he had with her that he found himself hesitating, until he felt Abby's calm hand on his forearm ushering him on in her own way. She didn't reply, but watched him.
"Kelly, my Kelly." He began, lighting the next candle beside Shannon's. "The first moment I looked at you when you were born, your little eyes scrunched up as you wailed loudly. That was the moment I realized my life had changed for the better. You brought sun into my world, I miss you baby." He recited, his eyes misting over slightly as he watched the flame flicker.
Abby felt a tear trying to escape her eye as she listened with a lump forming in her throat. How this man had survived that horrible accident was beyond her. How he even got up in the morning with the knowledge that no one would be there to hug him or love him broke her heart. It took a lot of courage to do this; she knew. She had gone through it herself year before.
She knew whose name was coming next and took a deep breath as that day played through her mind again. Receiving the call that there had been someone who was murdered, walking into the lab on the verge of tears knowing she'd never see her again. She placed her hand on his, feeling his jerk back before she shook her head,
"We do this one together." She said by way of explanation.
He nodded, knowing how hard it must be for her as well. Gently he lit the third candle, watching as it burst into gentle flames. He looked over to see a tear glistening at the corner of her eye as she said in a strong voice,
"Kate, I'll never forget that time we got the matching tats, you were so nervous you nearly ran out of there until you saw how painless it could be." She shook her head, smiling warmly as her eyes flickered in the candle light.
He didn't want to know what tattoo Abs was talking about if he did then his mind would wander into dangerous territory and he didn't want to go there now. Instead he turned back to the candle, "Kate, there is only one memory that comes to my mind that makes me smile when I think of you. The day you came into the bull pen, eyes shocked as you realized you were working with a Goth. Your face was priceless." He said, thinking of that day as if it were yesterday.
Beside him Abby sniffed as the lone tear slowly cascaded down her cheek. Instinctively he reached forward, brushing his index finger over her cheek, catching the wayward tear. She looked at him, her face registering shock, as well as something else he hadn't seen in a long time. They sat together for a few moments, the atmosphere around them tingling in electricity as his finger continued to caress her cheek. She leaned into his touch, her face smoothing out to show a warm smile.
Their relationship had been full of ups and downs. As of late she couldn't stop thinking about him. It was as if his face was permanently etched behind her eyelids, seeing him when she closed her eyes before bed. The familiar tingly feeling swept through her belly and she resisted the urge to sigh as his hand gently moved away. She knew this wasn't the place or time to have those distracting thoughts so she cleared her mind and asked gently,
He continued to stare into her green eyes, the flames flicking gently in the cool breeze before them. Lost in the moment he smiled; one full of peace and contentment. "No, I've made my peace with Jenny." He replied calmly as he shook his head gently. "Thank you Abs." he added softly.
"Don't thank me Gibbs; this is something you had to go through. And if you want, we can do this every year." She replied grinning, back to her normal self. She turned her body to face the candles, a look of contentment on her face to match his.
They continued to stare at the flames flickering, lost in the happy memories before the chill became too much and Abby started shivering. Not saying a word Gibbs stood, his bones creaking as he cringed at the sound. Abby, taking the hint, blew the candles out and rolled the blanket up, tucking it under her arm. Taking her hand in his he led her back to the hearse, sliding into the passenger seat while she slipped into the drivers'.
It had been a night he wouldn't forget and he would always do the ritual that had begun with him thinking of the past and wondering about the future. The future was his; he only had to decide what to do with it. As she drove he took her hand again, squeezing gently. She would be there the whole way, helping, encouraging, and loving him.
Authors Note: This is dedicated to all those who lose someone they loved. I lost my Aunt a year ago and it still hurts. I began going to a small hilltop and lighting candles, saying one good memory. It really does help ease the pain.
Authors Note 2: I just came back from a long Hiatus from writing, I could not get my muse to work. Hopefully this is somewhat good. If so I'll post my others :D
Write a review, tell me if you love it, hate it or whatever.