I could see her there, sitting; just sitting. And crying. It was hard for me to stand the tears. I wanted to run to her and make everything right again, but I forced myself to walk at a normal pace until I stood in front of her, and I waited.
She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, creating a smear of mascara down her pale cheekbone. She did not look up. "I'm sorry Gibbs," she said quietly.
"Don't say you're sorry, Abs; it's a sign of weakness."
"But I am weak," she protested, "and it's all my fault."
It really wasn't, but there was no convincing her; she had to come to terms with that on her own.
I sat on the grass next to her. She shivered; I put my jacket around her shoulders. "Thanks," she huddled into it.
And so we sat, neither of us speaking, listening to the wind whispering, and watching the stone that marked his eternal resting place.
JAMES T. PALMER
BELOVED SON AND UNCLE
Her sobs quieted until they were nothing more than whimpers. "Did you know he was an uncle?" she asked softly.
"Nope," I scooted a little closer to her; we were almost touching.
"He was an uncle. I didn't know that. Maybe… maybe if I had, I would have been more careful. Maybe I wouldn't have… maybe I wouldn't have killed him," her shoulders were shaking.
I wanted to make it all go away, for her to not feel this way, but I have to wait; I know from experience that these things had to run their courses when it came to Abby. "Abs, it is not your fault," I insisted.
"But it is," she sniffled, "If I had paid more attention then this wouldn't have happened. I didn't know; I didn't know… I didn't know, but that doesn't change anything."
I had never seen Abby weep like that before. It was bad when Kate died, but she pulled through, and it was bad when Jenny died, but she pulled through. Now, she was adamant that it was her fault that Jimmy was gone. I wanted… no, had to get her to see that she was not responsible. "Abs, you did nothing wrong, and it is not your fault. You had no way of knowing that the body was contaminated. You're lucky that you didn't get infected from the samples he brought up."
"I know," she said, "But I should have run that sample first instead of putting it in line with the others. If I had, I would have known that the body was contaminated, and I could have warned him. And if Ducky had been there, he could have died to. Gibbs, I could have killed Ducky!"
"Abs," I put my arm around her and pulled her close; she was the only one that I would let get this close to me. "If Ducky had been there, he would have asked you to run the samples first. Jimmy was a good kid, but he wasn't as experienced as Ducky; he didn't know there was a possibility of the body being toxic. You would not have killed Ducky. This is not your fault. If anything, it's the fault of whoever killed that man, so can we go catch the bastard, please."
"You… you said the 'p' word…" she gave me the tiniest hint of a smile. "Yeah, let's go."
We stood up and I put my arm around her waist, steering her to my car. "Abs, the next time you go to a graveyard at night, bring a flashlight. Preferably some type of protection too," I said.
"Gibbs, please. I have a light," she pointed up to the sky.
It was supposed to be the darkest night, but somehow, the moon was out, shining down on us. Its light reflected off her silky black hair. She was going to be alright, but it would take some time, just like it had with the others. Everything would be fine.