A/N: Well, after drabbling to my little heart's content, I'm back with another multi-chapter story. This is completely outside the realm of my other fics so you needn't read those first to enjoy this one. This takes place just before "Agent Afloat" and is my little invention from that point and moving forward. I own nothing but the ugly sweater I got for Christmas. All characters belong to their respective owners. Enjoy!

Abby watched the door of her lab, waiting for Gibbs to come down. She wasn't waiting to give him an update on a case, though. She wasn't waiting for a Caf-Pow or a hug, though she could certainly use both.

She was waiting to crush him. To give him news no one should ever have to hear.

She kept thinking how wrong this felt. He should be the one giving her this news. He should be there to hug her and tell her everything was going to be okay.

It was all so wrong. So very, very wrong. Not that anything had been right since the team had been broken up. But things were starting to get back to normal with McGee and Ziva restored to where they belonged. Abby knew Gibbs would get Tony reunited with the team, too.

She just never imagined it would be like this. Never like this.

She choked on a sob at that thought just as Gibbs swept into her lab. Tears streaked black makeup down her pretty face at the sight of him, her silver fox, the head of their weird little family. He would make this right, somehow. He had to—because she couldn't bear to think otherwise.

Gibbs saw the tears and immediately pulled the young scientist into his arms. If he had been baffled by her phone call minutes earlier demanding his immediate presence with no other details, he was truly confounded by her sobbing. The way she was crying—so brokenly—he knew this was serious. Something was very wrong.

"He wouldn't do this, Gibbs. There's no way. There's just no … fucking … way he would do this to me… to us."

Gibbs felt the curse like a slap to the face. He was shocked by the harsh language, but more so by the anger in voice after she had looked so terribly sad just moments ago. He doubted a boyfriend could make her sob like this.

"Who, Abby?"

"Tony," she said, her voice breaking on his name. But then the fury returned to her tear-filled eyes. "Of all the stupid, selfish things he's done. That son of a bitch. He promised me, Gibbs. He goddamn promised."

Well, at least part of that made sense. Tony probably was the one person who could evoke such complex, seemingly polar emotions.

"He's still on the Seahawk, Abbs," Gibbs said, frustrated with Abby's incoherence and furious at DiNozzo for causing it. "What could he possibly have done to upset you this much from there?"

Abby's eyes burned with rage even as the tears slipped down her cheeks. "I won't believe it. I won't," she said resolutely. "He wouldn't. He. Would. Never."

Gibbs watched Abby hug herself and start to rock. He couldn't take it anymore. "Wouldn't WHAT, Abby?" he yelled.

She didn't flinch. She just looked up and met Gibbs' eyes. "I got a call from a doctor on the Seahawk, Gibbs. It's Tony."

Gibbs felt his stomach hit the floor and he stopped breathing, waiting for Abby to tell him his agent—his friend—was dead. He was wholly unprepared for what actually came out of her black-lipsticked mouth.

"They said he tried to kill himself, Gibbs."

Gibbs felt his jaw drop, a sensation followed by the intense, immediate, almost overwhelming need to hit something. But he just took a deep breath, knowing that if he lost it, Abby would too, and he needed her to answer some of the million questions careening through his dazed head.

"How, Abby?" he asked, amazed—and a little disgusted with himself—at how calm he managed to sound.

"I'm his health care proxy. Have been for years," Abby said blankly. She seemed suddenly exhausted, with no energy left for tears or anger—or anything but numbness.

Gibbs swallowed his frustration. "Okay, Abby. I know that. But how? How did he—" He couldn't speak those words, couldn't give them a voice and therefore truth and reality.

He didn't know where she found the strength to say, "Took a knife to his wrists."

"No," Gibbs spat. "No way. Not DiNozzo."

Abby's eyes shone with her relief but her voice was tired. "That's what I told them. There must be some mistake. Tony would never kill himself. Never."

Gibbs frowned, debating his next words. He had his own doubts, definitely, but Abby's absolute denial would only make things harder if Tony had tried to take his own life. Gibbs decided to try a safer—ha—subject first. "How is he, Abby? You said 'tried,' right?"

Abby nodded mutely.

"They tell you anything else?" Gibbs prodded as gently as he could.

Abby took a deep breath. "He's unconscious. Has been since the … since he … well, just since. They said he lost a lot of blood before someone … found him. They don't even know if he's going to make it," she finished dully, but the soft words knocked the air from Gibbs' lungs.

He tried to think, to focus on the facts and not his raging emotions. "Abby, listen to me," he said, taking her by the shoulders. "He's DiNozzo. He'll make it. I don't think he would do this either. But I need you to at least consider that he did this to himself—that he wanted to die."

Abby homed in on the one thing she wanted to hear. "You don't think he would, either, Gibbs. You just said it. You think something else is going on. Someone did this to him."

Gibbs paused, debating the best way to crush the fragile hope that had bloomed brightly in her eyes. "Abby, that's not realistic. It's possible that someone hurt him and made it look like a suicide attempt, but you have to know that's unlikely."

"But you said—"

"Abby, that's not what I meant when I said I didn't think he would do it. I meant not like this, not cutting." He looked into Abby's expressive green eyes. "DiNozzo would eat his gun first, if he was going to kill himself."

Abby flinched as if Gibbs had slapped her. But she just dropped her eyes to her hands knotted in her lap. The mossy orbs were filled with anguish when she looked back up.

She whispered, "But Gibbs, that's how … that's how she did it."

"Who, Abbs?" he asked tiredly, already knowing the answer.

A single tear slipped down her black-streaked face. "His mother."