Title: Fate
Author: BlueFireBird
Rating: PG
Pairing: Gibbs/Abby
Word Count: 560
Status: Complete (one-shot)
Category: Angst
Spoilers: 7x22 Borderland (and every other episode dealing with Gibbs' 'secret')
Summary: My take on Gibbs' thoughts at the end of Borderland
Disclaimer:I don't own anything but the DVDs. Copyright acknowledged to the respective holders. Thanks to all involved in the production of the TV series for the inspiration.

A/N: I wrote this in May 2010 immediately after the episode aired - originally as an untitled episode tag and posted to the Gabby Forum - for all of the Gabby fans throwing things at their TV when Abby asked Gibbs to tell her he loved her like a daughter... It's had a couple of very minor tweaks since then (commas & italics).
I deliberately didn't introduce the characters, so if you don't know who I'm talking about you are reading the wrong story go watch the episode. *grin*

He'd always known it was possible for this day to come, and now it looked as though it was almost here.

He'd never really been able to bring himself to regret doing it. Despite Franks' attempts to distract him from his goal, he knew that the drive to accomplish the act had made all the difference - it had given him a focus that stopped him eating a bullet of his own just to join his girls. He'd had 20 years for something akin to atonement, 20 years hunting down the bad guys who thought nothing of taking or destroying the lives of good people, of other Marines and their families, and he'd been good at it.

After his "Mexican sojourn" he'd always assumed that the entire team knew pretty much everything about that time, that they would have read the files and - because they knew him well and were good investigators - that they would have figured out the rest. Hell, with Tony's open fascination with all things Gibbs he must have figured it out. So he was a little surprised down in autopsy when Ducky told him the name of the man whose corpse he was rummaging in for the bullet, surprised that there'd been no lecture or rambling story with a hidden point – it was unlike Ducky to overlook a name like that.

Macey's revelations, in LA the previous year, had also surprised him: not that there'd been evidence to find - after all his military training was in avoiding the enemy during the operation, not covering his tracks against a Federal investigation afterward – but that she'd been prepared to risk her own career in covering up for him.

As time had gone on and three extra marriages had fallen by the wayside he'd come to accept that if he ever had to answer for his actions he'd do it with his head held high, there was no one dependant on him, he didn't matter to anyone.

But he'd overlooked his team.

The looks Abby gave him in her lab, as they went over the list of Collins' victims with McGee, pulled at his heart. For all her assertions that they had a psychic connection he couldn't truly read her expression – just that she had come back from their visit to Mexico knowing that it was him. He wasn't going to deny it if she asked, although he wasn't going to volunteer anything if she didn't.

All he could do was the familiar ritual of woodworking while he waited for this whole thing to play out.

It hurt almost as much as losing Shannon & Kelly to have Abs standing there asking him to tell her he loved her like a daughter. He couldn't tell her that - because as she stood there in front of him he knew that he didn't love her like a daughter, he loved her as a woman.

Yet he couldn't tell her that either, he couldn't hug her to him, as he so desperately wanted to, and tell her it would be alright, because he knew that she had to do what she had to do (as he had done to start all of this) and he couldn't break her heart by declaring his love for her now, not when he didn't know how it was all going to end.