He banged on the door again, this time with more urgency.
"Abs, open up!" Tony ordered. He wasn't actually sure he had the authority to order her to do anything but it was worth a try.
There was a muffled response from inside and Tony stepped back as he heard the electrics of the lab door whir to life. The sight that met him drew part of the knot in his stomach up into his throat. Swallowing hard, he stepped into the room.
"Abs." he said again, this time with no hint of authority. Only softness which few knew he was capable of. His friend was slumped on the floor, leaning against the glass-doored refridgerator. One hand limply held the remote for the doors, the other clutched her flatulent hippo for all it was worth.
He slid down the door to sit beside her. The glass felt strange against his back, cold and solid. It fit his mood perfectly. Perhaps that is why she had chosen this spot. Tony put his arm around the dejected woman beside him and pulled her close. She rested her head on his shoulder and sighed deeply.
"It's happening again, isn't it?" she asked flatly.
"Yeah." He agreed. There was no point in lying, no point in sugar coating it. They were both too smart for that. Had been through too much. "It is never going to be easy."
"Easy?" she asked, lifting her head. She glared at her friend, her grey eyes oddly blending heartbreak and anger. "You have no idea, Tony. Every day I come to work, say good morning to my friends in the elevator or the squad room and never know if I will be saying goodnight to them in autopsy." She slid out from under Tony's arm and stalked to her computer station. She clicked a few icons and pulled up a graph.
"Look!" she stabbed at the screen with a finger. Tony stood and walked over to her. "This graph shows the location of each of team Gibbs the last four summers. Each year, at least one is in a different place. One year, all of them were. You were."
"Except one." Tony whispered, suddenly realizing.
"Except one," she confirmed. "I am always here. Always running DNA and fingerprints and ballistics and waiting every day for my friends to come home." She pointed at a stack of photos on the stainless steel lab table. Tony's heart wrenched again when he realized it was the team, already printed out to sit another summer vigil in the lab. "I can't go through another four months of that. Not when it is my fault this time. I can't. I won't.
"You won't have to, Abby" Tony said. "I promise. We will bring him back. We are not going anywhere. Any of us."
"Don't." she narrowed her eyes. "Don't make promises you know you can't keep"
"It is a promise I want to keep." He said sincerely. "I want to keep that promise more than…." Tony stopped. He searched desperately for a movie reference.
"Ha." Abby laughed dryly , realizing why her friend had stopped mid-sentence. "You see, it is bad if you have lost your movie mo-jo."
"Yeah." He admitted. He pulled her close again and kissed the top of her head. "It's bad but I promise you this. I will do everything within my very special agent power to keep ALL of us safe. Bring ALL of us home for the summer."
"That" she smiled a hint of a smile, "Is a promise which you also can't guarantee. But I know you will try."
"I will" he looked at her intently. "Besides, this year it is important that we have a 4th of July party."
"Yeah." She agreed, this time a real smile creeping onto her face.
"Yeah" he echoed thoughtfully. "Now, whatdya got for me, Abbs?"