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What was done was done. Kate was dead and nothing was going to change that. Ever since he had watched her fall onto that rooftop his mind had been a pinball machine. His thoughts had yet to calm down: pinging between Kate, the rooftop which had become deathbed and crime scene, the investigation that would have to happen, Tony and McGee, and as it had been for months, his mind inevitable went back to Ari. That bastard. He would find him. Ari would not get out of this alive. He could at least promise her that. One of the last things he would ever be able to do for her. Revenge and vengeance were old friends. He was responsible for her and now she lay in her own blood at his feet. Her blood was on his hands both literally and figuratively. She hadn't even been removed from where she fell and Kate was already one of the ghosts that would follow him the rest of his life.
Time was acting oddly. Speeding up then stopping; focusing the strangest moments in his head. Going from booming loudness to still silence. Her last smile still flashed before his eyes. He was aware when McGee had made it to them. He hadn't been able to tear his eyes away from DiNozzo and McGee as the younger agent had taken the photos of Tony's face. Her blood. Evidence. Tony hadn't said two words and Gibbs wasn't sure he even knew that McGee had basically taken over both of their jobs. While McGee was staunchly refusing to look at his fallen friend, Tony couldn't stop staring at her, hadn't taken his eyes off of her since Gibbs could remember. Where the hell was Ducky? She shouldn't be here. They needed to get her away.
Headquarters. He needed to get them all there. They all needed to get as far away from the rooftop of unspeakable atrocity and devastation as they could. Ducky was there. When had that happened? They were going home. Taking her home. The arrival of Ducky was enough to pull him out of his own mind and bring him back to his role of leader of the troops. Orders were given, everything, everyone packed up. Ducky was beside him, talking, more gently then he normally did to Gibbs, he should pay attention, it sounded important. "I didn't tell her where we were going. She doesn't know." That pulled Gibbs right back into the moment. A whole new sense of horror and dread filled him.
He got into the car with Ducky. The ride back to NCIS passed far more quickly than he'd expected. He hadn't considered his next task until Ducky had brought it up. He'd been too focused on those present for her death. But riding in the truck back he tried to prepare himself. There was no way he could ever be prepared. He was going to have to tell one of the most important people in the world to him that her best friend was dead. This was going to break her heart. He was going to break her heart.
They all accompanied Kate to autopsy. Gibbs waited with DiNozzo and McGee until she was settled. Ducky came back to them and looked at Gibbs questioningly. It would be worse if she found out by accident. By someone who didn't know her like they did. He was one of the ones who knew her best. One of the others now lay on that harsh metal slab. Losing Kate was going to devastate her. He looked back to his two remaining agents. Both of them looked like they were in shock. He probably did too. He nodded to Ducky as he went to leave. "Convince DiNozzo to wash his face." He could leave Ducky with that chore. He had the proper finesse. The senior field agent had blanched at any previous attempt to wash away the macabre reminder of her he now carried. It was more than a little disturbing but everything was today.
Gibbs got to her lab. She was at her computer, back to him. She had been through so much. She didn't really have close friends beyond the team and her nuns. A small group. He knew she kept everyone else away. If nobody is truly close to you, it can't hurt when they leave. A favorite philosophy of his own. Still yet; He knew things about her. How much she had had taken away. The darkness in her past the others wouldn't have dreamed of. Except for Kate, he knew she had told Kate everything. For as sunny and happy as she was, Abby came with scars that didn't go away. Now he got to bring her another. She didn't deserve it. She was so good. She had lost so much.
He watched her turn around to find him staring at her. She knew something was wrong. That much was certain. He went to her as she stood up. "What happened?" She was quiet. Even worse than the frantic panic she was famous for was the quietness. He couldn't say anything. "Tony?" She looked to him for answers. "Tim?" Maybe he wasn't the best person to do this. Ducky would have handled this better. "Kate?" He felt himself flinch at her name. She was deathly quiet now. "What happened to her? Gibbs. Where. Is. Kate?" He finally found his voice. "She's dead. Ari. She's gone Abby." He watched the tears fall start falling down her face. Tears dyed black from her makeup. He didn't think she knew she was crying.
She demanded to see her. Gibbs would do anything for her. But, He couldn't let her. Not that. Not before Ducky cleaned her up. She would see it all in the evidence. He couldn't prevent the fact that she would have to run the evidence, see the photos, from her best friend's murder, but he could sure as hell make sure she didn't see her lying there like that. It was different when you saw it yourself; she didn't need Kate laying in autopsy with a bullet through her forehead to add to her nightmares. Defeated, she asked to see the others. They started for the bullpen. He hoped to God DiNozzo had washed the blood off his face. She followed him like a lost puppy, still crying. When they got there they both took in Tony, who had come to his senses about the blood it seemed, and McGee, both relatively unharmed. Well physically at least. It was a start.
He was still taking in his remaining agents and didn't notice she was gone at first. He whipped his head around looking for her. He pulled out his phone. Hopefully she was headed for the lab. To be safe he dialed Ducky as he ran after her. When Ducky had picked up, he gave one instruction before promptly hanging up; "Whatever you do, don't let her in." He made it to her lab. He didn't see her but that didn't mean anything. When she was this upset she liked to hide, make herself as small as possible, lock herself down in her own mind. He weaved his way through the maze of rooms to the very back. Seeing her made him stop, made him break a little bit more. For all of them. She was there, curled up in the corner sobbing so hard he could see her shaking from the doorway.
Gibbs walked over to her, sank down and pulled her against himself. He knew he should say something; he refused to tell her it would be okay or any of the other vague things you heard people say all the time. It was not okay. He didn't know if she would be okay or not. He was not going to lie to her. They sat there. He held her. She cried. After awhile he could hear her talking under her breath, through the tears. He kept his vigil with her. He was not going to be another person to leave her when she needed him. Eventually he could make out some of what she was saying. Begging him to bring her back, bargaining with God, lines of prayers, a mishmash of Latin and English. He didn't know if it was for Kate or for herself. He'd guess it was whatever floated to her mind, but she wasn't really making sense. Lines committed to memory since childhood, he hoped it was helping her. "Just want Kate." She was so completely broken.
They were a fine pair. Gibbs was always the one she went to fix anything. Kate could not be fixed. He could not return her to Abby. This might be the first time he ever let her down. On the other hand, he was the one everyone else came to for all issues concerning Abby but he wasn't sure he could keep her from going off the deep end. Nothing was right today. He knew nothing he said would probably make any difference to her. Wasn't even sure she could hear him. None the less he promised to find him. To kill him for what he did to Kate. To all of them. Promised her Tony and McGee were still with them. He stated obvious things that didn't have much to do with anything. Trying to bring her back to him.
He stayed with her until she seemed to breathe easier, the sobbing had stopped, and she seemed to not be completely at the edge of a mental breakdown. She told him to go. Knew he had work to do. He told her he'd send Tony or McGee down after awhile. That seemed to help a little. Before he left he stopped and made her swear not to leave the Navy Yard. Assured she wasn't going anywhere he returned to the bullpen. He wasn't sure of very much right then but he knew he couldn't get Kate back. Kate wasn't ever coming back and he was not going to lose Abby. Ari was not going to take anything else away from him. Ari was going to die.