Title: Masks
Author: KouenTaisa [on ] Chedders
Rating: T [just playing it safe]
Fandom: NCIS
Pairing: ...
Status: Complete
Category: OneShot, Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Romance
Spoilers: Nothing really.
Summary: I'm always in this twilight, in the shadow of your heart.
A/N: For Hiatus Week 8. The prompt was, as you can guess "Mask."

No dawn. No day. I'm always in this twilight.
In the shadow of your heart. - Cosmic Love: Florence & The Machine

Fingering the inscribed words, Gibbs didn't know whether he felt angry or sad. All he did know, however, was that no matter what he was doing, he always thought of her. Her smiles. Her laughter. The looks meant just for him that warmed his heart and soothed his soul.

"New fetish, Abbs?"

Looking up from the executioners mask in her hand, she grinned at him. The mask was still in it's evidence bag, but the opportunity to tease her was just too good to pass up. As expected, Abby took the joke the way it was meant to be, setting the mask back down into it's box.

"Just a few years too late, Gibbs."

The tone she used was teasing, and he couldn't stop his eyebrow from raising in a silent question as he stepped closer to her. Humoring him, because it was just as much fun for her as it was for him, she turned away from the evidence and back to her computer.

"I was all into masks and stuff when I was in college. It was kind of fun, you know? Daring. Dangerous."

"What made you change your mind?" he asked, moving to invade her personal space with no remorse. It was Abby. He was always more intimate with her than with anyone else, even on a subconscious level. Grinning at the computer screen, she typed a few commands in, never turning to look at him.

"I got the job at NCIS. After having stalkers and almost being killed a few times, I'd much rather know who I'm dealing with in bed. Of course, I could make an exception."

She turned to look at him, the grin replaced with a very coy look. It suited her well, he realized with surprise. His gut told him he should step back, but his heart told his gut to fuck off, and in the end it was his heart that won. Standing his ground, Gibbs stared down at her, trying to feign indifference. "That so, Abbs?"

Nodding, she stepped closer. They were just inches apart, and he could feel the heat from her skin and smell gunpowder as it mixed with sawdust. It was a very intoxicating smell.

"You like masks, Gibbs?" her voice was huskier than he expected, but it caused the knot in his stomach to unfurl and he felt himself tense and relax simultaneously. So much was residing on his answer, and the indifference faded from his face to be replaced with the cocky smirk that was familiar. She felt her knees go weak at the look, his intense blue eyes boring a hole into her dark green ones.

"Not a mask person myself, Abbs. Much rather use hand cuffs." his voice was gruff, but the smile on her face let him know that he had given her the correct answer. Leaning down to kiss her cheek, he forced himself to take a step back before he initiated something entirely inappropriate in the middle of her lab. Practically spinning on his heels, Gibbs turned to leave the sanctuary of his forensic scientist, only pausing when he heard her voice behind him.

"I like handcuffs, Special Agent Gibbs." she quipped from behind him, the smirk on her face easily mirroring his. Without turning, Gibbs nodded, making his way toward the elevator with a single statement thrown over his shoulder.

"That's my girl."

"Boss?"

The voice held none of the cocky conviction he was used to, and it did little to make him want to move away, but he knew that he had to. Sighing, he let his hand drop away from the cold stone as he stood up, turning to face his team. They all looked so lost, and he knew that he had to keep it together. He had to keep his team strong, even if he himself felt weak. His blue eyes landed on his senior field agent, the one that had called to him just seconds ago. Tony shifted under his intense gaze, but he didn't look away, not immediately.

Eventually, however, he folded and turned his eyes to the ground. Ziva was standing beside him, and tightened her arm around his, offering her silent comfort. McGee was on her other side, his eyes focused not on Gibbs, but what was behind him. Ducky and Palmer were there too, seeming just as lost as his agents, and he wondered what he himself looked like if they were taking it so hard. Relaxing, he realized that Director Vance and his wife were already gone, and it was just them.

Team Gibbs. Minus the soul, of course, because that's what Abby had been. She had been the soul, and perhaps in some cases, even the heart of his team. Everyone loved her, because it was just so damn easy. Her forgiveness was given without much thought, and her smiles came even easier. She loved to make friends and was strong in a way that he had never really understood until faced with her mortality.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs had thought that loving Abigail Sciuto was hard, if only for the fact that he loved her so much he couldn't always express how much he felt for her. Today, he had learned that burying her was even harder. He was a man that had many regrets. He had been in love twice in his life, but he had loved others. He had loved all of his ex-wives, and even Jenny, but he had never been in love with them… and that was the biggest difference.

He had been in love with Shannon, and years later when he was sure that it would never happen again, he had fallen in love with Abby. The thought caused his chest to ache slightly, but he pushed it away. Nodding at his team, Gibbs watched as they all snapped to attention immediately, saluting Abby with small smiles and a relaxed stance. Something she often did to tease him.

Something he would never forget.

Turning to the headstone, Gibbs slowly brought his hand up to salute her, a million different memories flashing before his eyes.

The lazy, but sated smile on her face caused a familiar tug in his chest as he returned the look. She was lying beside him in bed, her body concealed from his intense gaze by only a thin white sheet. She had never looked more beautiful.

She was humming softly as they worked on his boat. Her hand was under his as they worked on sanding it together. His chest was pressed to her back, one around her waist. The tiniest of smiles graced her features when he kissed the back of her head.

Her laughter drifted over him, followed by the sound of rapid footsteps. He was chasing her around his house, down the stairs and then up again, running around the couch before she made a mad dash for their bedroom. He was close on her heels of course, and he couldn't help but chuckle as she scrambled up the last few steps. When he finally caught her, they ended up tumbling on his bed. She was breathless, but still laughing as she buried her face against his shoulder.

He felt like closing his eyes against the sudden assault, but instead he kept his intense blue gaze focused upon the black headstone, his hand not quite yet in the proper position for a salute.

"Wanna marry me Gibbs?" her voice was teasing and he looked up, raising an eyebrow. She just smiled back at him, holding out the folder in her hand. "I thought Miss Gibbs would be a nice touch when I go for an interview with Scarlet Secret."

He clutched her body to his, pressing his lips to the top of her head. He was soaked through from the rain, but she didn't seem to care, and honestly, neither did he. "I'll keep you safe, Abby. I promise."

"Gibbs…" her voice was trembling, but he gently placed his finger over her lips. Silencing her. Leaning forward, he brushed his lips against her cheek, trying to ignore the tears as he pulled away.

"Hey, Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs!" he paused, turning to look at her. She was smiling at him, making some kind of hand gesture that he honestly didn't understand, but it made him smile and shake his head anyways. "Peace out man."

"Just give me their names, Abbs, and I'll break 'em for you!" He can't stop the amused look crossing over his features as he fiddles with the coffee she just handed him. Her impression is dead on, and he shakes his head with a half smirk at her next statement. She is, of course, as true to herself as always. "I know you will, Gibbs, and that is why I love you." Still shaking his head, he leans forward, kissing her cheek before he exit's the lab.

Exhaling deeply, he stands straight, his hand finally finding it's position. He is silent, observing without really seeing. He is of two minds. One is focused on the here and now. He can feel his team behind him. He can hear them breathing and sense the undercurrent of emotions in the air. He feels himself breath, slow and calculated, relaying a calm that he doesn't really feel.

His other mind is lost in the memories. The warmth of her hand against his cheek. The sound of her heart beat in the quiet of the night. A stolen glance across the bullpen. The easy smile when he would bring her Caf-Pow and give her cheek kisses. It will all be with him for the rest of his life, but none of it will ever erase the last time he saw her beautiful green eyes full of life.

That is the memory that sticks with him long after he lets his arm drop back to his side without a word, and it stays with him until he makes it back to her lab, his hand reaching to turn off the light for one last time.

"Gibbs- are we there yet?" her voice is full of the smile he knows she has on her face, and he turns to glance at her. Like he expected, Abby is looking over at him, and their eyes meet for a brief moment. She smiles, waiting for his answer and he grins before turning his eyes back to the road.

"Not yet, Abbs."

She pouts at him, but it's not something he sees. It's more of a feeling he gets in his gut, and his grin fades to a light smile.

"Soon, though." he offers, relaxing when he feels her hand on his knee for a moment before she pulls it away. They drive in silence for a few more moments, her eyes taking in the scenery while he steals quick glances her way whenever he can. She's beautiful in the black pants and form fitting shirt she is wearing, and for once he's not too put off by the fact that NCIS has decided to send them to a conference. It gives them some time a lone, and later, he'll get to see her dressed up.

She catches him staring, and she smiles over at him. Her green eyes are beautiful and bright, and he makes a note to tell her later how much he loves her.

It never crosses his mind that he'll never get the chance to tell her.

The last image he has of her, however, is tainted with blood and pain and the smell of charred flesh. The ambulance has arrived, but he already knows that it will be of no use. She has lost too much blood in the time it takes them to arrive, and he can't get the words past the horrible lump in his throat. He feels her fingers against his cheek and the smell of blood assaults his senses, but he can't distinguish whether it belongs to her or it's his own.

The words she forms against his cheek are familiar, and cause tears to sting his eyes, but he knows he won't cry. Not now, and perhaps not ever. He fights the urge to close his eyes, and instead he stares into her green ones as her last words are etched into his mind forever. A simple sign.

I love you.

He raises his hand up, pressing hers to his cheek. The sound of the ambulance is loud, the sirens drowning out all other sound, and he knows that this is his last chance to tell her how much he loves her, but the words won't come and his fingers won't move to repeat the sign he felt against his cheek. Instead, he uses his free hand to brush along the side of her spider web tattoo, and the words come easy.

My girl.

That is the memory that sticks with him, long after the life from her green eyes is gone.