The day before the team was heading off to Somalia, Abby cornered McGee in her lab. She knew he was a field agent, knew that he'd come into his own in recent years. That didn't stop her from worrying, though. "Promise me that you'll come back safe."
McGee looked up, a small crease between his eyebrows. "Abby…"
"Promise, McGee," she insisted. She needed to hear the words. She just… did.
He met her gaze for a long moment before nodding slowly. "Okay; I promise."
She hugged him then, tightly and longer than their usual. Neither of them really believed him—it wasn't the kind of promise he could really make. But that day, in her lab, it was enough.
Later, she hugged each of them good-bye in the Bullpen with Ducky and Palmer, even Vance. Gibbs first ("Bring them—and yourself—home safely, Gibbs. I'm depending on you."), then Tony ("Be careful, Tony—I expect you to come home in one piece."), and finally Tim ("Remember your promise, McGee. I'm holding you to it.").
They all squeezed her back and whispered comforting words. Abby hoped they were right; she didn't want Africa to break any of them. Not after Ziva.