Numbness saturated almost every fiber of his being even as the scalding shower rained down on his exhausted body. As he tried to scrub everything away; the bad taste the case left in his mouth, the images of the victims, the reminder that he'd almost become one of those victims; the raw emotions that shined so painfully in the glaring light of the hindsight that plagued him now and the truth of what this all said about him and who he really was. With Herculean effort, he forced himself to put it all away where it belonged. As he carefully cracked the vault open on his bank of emotions; he forcefully threw the new pain, sorrow and even the willingness and desire to cry, into the almost full, allotted space and quickly and firmly locked them all securely behind the now dead bolted door of his self control, forged now in the steel of the strength it had taken him to slide the lock home, into place.

As he firmly stomped the stubborn tears trying to be let out, back; he abandoned his toward finding mindlessness through the relaxing heat of the shower and stepped out; drying himself off and getting dressed. After all, there was one stubborn fiber of his being that was refusing to succumb to that complete numbness he'd been so close to achieving and now it was demanding he find an extreme escape instead. This would have to be an escape of the totally unexpected and uncharacteristic kind. There would be none of his usual attempts to handle things. After all, this was not a normal situation. But, then again, he doubted he would ever experience normal again.

Almost absently, after recalling hearing the mention of a place that would serve his purpose; he'd found what he was looking for; what he needed, anonymity. Now, here he was, a mere two hours after work, sitting in one of the noisiest, not yet crowded places he'd ever been in his life, yet thankfully, he was alone. Knowing the night was young and the crowd would be filtering in soon enough, he gratefully found what he wanted; a secluded seat alone and away from prying eyes. Sitting here, in the last place anyone would ever look for him; a place no one would ever expect him to be in; he began to relax.

After all, he wasn't here for anything but to escape and the loudness of the music certainly didn't hurt. Tonight, he was safe from the world in which he lived and the people who lived there with him. Now, he could let his mind go blank. Drinking his way toward feeling more relaxed, he reached for his goal, steadily, slowly. A lost count of both time and drinks later and ah. There it was! Mindlessness. That blessed place where pain, time and memories all stood still for as long as you wanted them to, without seeming to rip your heart out and hand it back to you on a silver platter. Complete and utter numbness of mind, body and soul.

It was only 11:00 PM and Abby was happily on her way to a party where she'd be able to relax with some friends. It had been a hard week at work, although, truth be told, there weren't many times when work wasn't hard on the mind and soul, anyway. But, this week had been especially difficult and she hadn't been able to deal well with the pain and heartbreak she'd seen in her team mate's eyes at the end of the day. The worst part had been when her team mate wouldn't talk to her about it. Everyone talked to Abby because Abby always listened and Abby always successfully chewed out anyone who had hurt one of her team mates. But, this time had been different. Now, she didn't know what she could do, except keep an eye on her team mate when she could. Tonight, she knew he needed to be alone and although that in itself wasn't unusual; she hoped that she was doing the right thing by letting him handle things his way tonight. As these thoughts ran through her head, her cell phone rang.

"Abby Scuito." she answered, ever mindful that it might be work related.

"Hey, Abby! It's Dan!"

"Hey, Dan, aren't you at work?" Abby asked in surprise.

"Yeah, I am. Actually, that's why I'm calling. Got one of your work people here and he's not doin' so hot. I think someone needs to come talk to him, no, scratch that, someone just needs to come drive him home." her friend told her with genuine concern. He'd met all of Abby's work family and knew that Abby loved them all completely and would kill someone over any one of them and they felt the same about her. It was why he liked them all and looked out for them, in the rare times they ever graced his establishment. This was definitely one of the most rare, as they never came without Abby; until now.

"Oh, wow! Who is it, Dan?" Abby asked, now concerned herself. As she listened to Dan describe his current patron in question, her heart broke and she quickly pulled over to the side of the road.

"Thanks, Dan, I'm too far away but I'll send someone to come get him. Thank you so much for letting me know and for watching out for him." Abby said as she disconnected the call.

Taking a deep breath and slowly letting it out, her brain attempted to wrap itself around what she'd just been told. The person, the place, the time he'd been there, what he'd done, it just didn't make sense, it didn't even add up. But, then again, it had been a horrible last couple of days for the team. Maybe, it had been a hell ova lot more horrible that she'd even realized.

Bringing her brain back to focus, she picked her cell phone back up and dialed.

"Hey, it's Abby. I need your help with something."

A/N: Which team member of Team Gibbs is hurting like this? Why? Where the heck is he? Who is it that Abby calls for help?
Stay tuned to find out.