Chapter One

It had been a hard decision, one that didn't come lightly or without its heartaches. She'd spent years doing a job she loved- making a difference, but something was missing.

She knew what it was, or rather who it was. Her computer screens had once been filled with pictures of him. While he was gone she stared at them and prayed he'd return. She never really doubted he'd be back. NCIS was his home.

Home? That was what made the decision so difficult. Could she really leave her home? Her family? The man she'd waited so patiently to love her?

He did love her. There was no doubt in her mind. The type of love confused her however. A few hints that his love went deeper or farther than his love for the rest of his team made her wonder if he could ever desire her as she desired him.

She smiled. It was well known she was his favorite, but it didn't answer that question. Could he ever be all that she wanted?

So now packing her precious belongings she wiped away a tear. It hurt deep inside to be close to him and not be able to tell him the depth of her love- her most hidden secret.

Patience had kept her, but again and again she saw trying to find love or maybe something else with other women. She would've been happy for him, but none were right for him. She could be. Would be, if only he'd let her.

Now he wouldn't even look at her. He saw her leaving as a betrayal, but she saw it as survival. If she stayed he'd go on breaking her heart and she needed to find a place to be happy again.

She hoped that the old adage would be true. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

"You are just going to sit there and do nothing?" Ziva threw her arms in exasperation. She looked at her teammates who were equally as angry, but unsure if anything they could say would make a difference.

"What do you expect me to do Ziva?" he stood and glared at her. "She's a grown woman and can make her own choices."

Ziva nodded. "Yes she is. She is a grown woman and you need to acknowledge that," she pointed at his chest before spinning back toward her desk.

He sighed and rolled his eyes up as he tilted his head back. He dropped his pen on his desk and ran his hands over his head. After taking a deep breath he regarded each of his team members who watched him expectantly.

He shook his head then pressed his hands down on his desk as he pushed himself out of his chair and strode off toward the back elevator.

Ziva smiled.

"What are smiling about?" Tim asked.

"He will make her stay," she stated and began to type at her computer.

Tim shrugged his shoulder not as confident as she was. He knew how head strong Abby could be and what she wanted seemed implausible to him.

Tony just stared wondering what Gibbs could possibly say or do to keep their lab rat from escaping.

Gibbs was wondering the same thing himself. He stopped the elevator and cursed at himself. He managed to reunite his team when they had been sent to all corners of the world, but let the one closest to his heart slip away.

He couldn't deny the range of emotions that filled him whenever he saw her, or even thought about her. Part of him was angry knowing she had to realize how much he cared about her. Yet he knew too that she deserved so much more than a broken man. And that was the truth, no matter how he continued to go on each day. He was a shell of the man he once was and Abby deserved so much more.

He flicked the switch and continued town to try to convince her to stay. When he entered the lab he knew he was too late. The silence and emptiness engulfed him.

It was almost like walking inside his own soul. He glanced around envisioning her at work; her smile, her carefree energy abuzz with excitement. But she was gone and the weight of her absence brought him to his knees and he held his head in his hands wondering if he'd truly lost her forever.

Gathering himself he stood and took one last look around the lab. It was then that he saw the post-it on the side of her monitor: 'I'll be home all night' was all she had written, but it gave him a small ray of hope he could go to her and bring her back.

A sad smile played at his lips as he took the note and ran his fingers over her delicate script. He gave himself a short nod, slapped the note against his leg and with determination headed back up to the squad room.