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Monday, May 2nd, 2008

It had been another long day at NCIS headquarters; she’d gotten so many warrants today, and there were barely any thank yous. Sure, she knew the agents appreciated her work, but how many actually knew her name? How many times in the past did someone else get recognition over her hard work? How many times a day did that freak in Forensics get thanked? More than she did, that was for sure.

It wasn’t fair. She’d been at the agency longer than that Gothic whore and yet she never got any recognition. Who got the search warrants, sorted through the legalities? It wasn’t the mini-skirt wearing scientist, that was for sure. No, it was all her. Every fucking person in the building came to her for legal needs. Sure, she passed cases off to the other agents in legal, but she was here late most nights, making sure everything got done right. It was exhausting. Once, just once, she wanted someone to see her as more than just the pretty blonde lawyer. But to do that, she needed to get rid of her number one competition.


 

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2008

Abby received numerous job offers on the daily, all promising a variety of different bargains. She was used to them popping up in her email. But this, this she wasn’t used to. An envelope had been left on her desk, her name written on it. It was just after 0630, and she was curious. Not a lot of people were in when she was. The janitors maybe, but not regular agents. She took a sip of Caf-Pow as she sat at her desk, opening the envelope. She pulled out a typed letter. That was definitely odd.

Dear Abby Sciuto,

I think you’ve overstayed your welcome. You’re nothing but a parasitic insect that feeds off the affection of everyone around you despite doing nothing that impressive. You think you’re so brilliant, when, in reality, you could never measure up to anything the agents do. They risk their lives day in and day out while you sit in your lab, safe and sound running tests all day, like the lab rat you are.

If you want everyone to believe you’re so smart maybe you should have rethought getting all those tacky tattoos. If you didn’t dress like such a slut maybe you’d actually keep a relationship for longer than two months.

Your dog collars and shoes are even tackier than your clothes, and I’m sure even the Director can hear that trash you call music from her office. I’m actually surprised she didn’t fire you when she took over. Maybe that assistant was a warning, hm? That anyone can replace you. I suggest you resign now because if you don’t, things will only get worse from here.

There wasn’t a signature. By the time she finished reading, she was crying. How could anyone say such hurtful things? She liked the way she dressed, and she knew Jenny didn’t have a problem with it, same with her music. And she’d complained for years she needed help; Jenny was just trying to help her. Whoever this person was didn’t know her, not at all. She wiped away her smeared mascara. She had work to do, damn it. She didn’t need this affecting her day. She didn’t even bother re-folding it, leaving it on her desk as she got to work, letting the sounds of Numeriklab drown out her sadness.


 

It’s barely 0730 when she feels his presence behind her. Despite all her attempts, that letter still got to her. She’d taken off her collar, let her hair cascade down around her shoulders.

“No music?” What was the point of her music? She didn’t really need it to do her job.

“Not in the mood,” she turned towards him, “I don’t have anything for you yet, Gibbs.”

She sees the worry in his eyes as he softly strokes her cheek. She shouldn’t have looked at him.

“You okay?”

“I’m fine.” It’s automatic, robotic, and even if she could lie, he would’ve saw through it anyway.

“Talk to me, Abbs.”

She shakes her head, sinking into him as he pulled her closer, “It’s nothing.”

“Abbs...”

She looks up at him, eyes shining with unshed tears. There was nothing else she’d rather do than talk to him about it, but she couldn’t have him fighting her battles, “Please, Gibbs, I have work to do.”

He reluctantly releases her, heading to the door, “Call me —”

“When I have something,” she interrupts.


 

The notes continue off and on over the next few months, each more cruel and insensitive than the last. She doesn’t know why she keeps them, tucked away in the only locked drawer in her office. Evidence maybe? Maybe she’ll get lucky if she dusts for prints. But she’d done that on the first note and turned up nothing.

Whoever the person is, they’re wrong. One note insinuated that she was sleeping with Tony and Tim, sometimes separate, sometimes together. She considered burning that one, mostly because of the image it put in her head.

One letter talked about how Kate and Ziva would talk about her behind her back, how this mystery person knew that the team secretly hated her. And, of course, it was all lies. There was no way they hated her. But there was still that one part of her, insecure, anxious, that dwelled on it. Late at night, alone in her coffin, she wondered if just maybe, maybe, this person wasn’t as wrong as she wanted to believe.


 

It had been a blissful three months. There had been no loud music that gave her headaches when it came through the vents, and that made her days better. And yet, she would overhear other agents talking about it: the lack of music, no collars or outrageous hairstyles, was Abby okay? God, what was wrong with these people? Couldn’t they just be glad the lab was silent for once? All this worry for one freak? It was insane. And still, she wasn’t getting the recognition she deserved. Well, she would fix that.

“Special Agent Keller, are you listening?”

She blinked up at the Director, the woman’s office coming back into her surroundings, “Yes, Director Shepard, of course. I’ll have the papers for you tonight.”

She was dismissed with a curt thank you and a smile. She exits the room and nearly collides with Special Agent Gibbs. It was as if she was moving in slow motion as she passed him, his blue eyes catching into her own. It felt like he could see all her secrets. It was unnerving, so fucking unnerving.


 

She runs out of excuses for not telling either Gibbs or Jenny sometime around the 5th letter. This one doesn’t even bother with accusations or insinuations. She rereads the words Just kill yourself and No one needs a freak like you, and it feels like she’s thrust back in time to high school, when the popular girls just wanted to pick fights. Back then, she was stronger. She could fight cruelty with kindness. Now though, she feels the weight of 3 months’ worth of hate mail suffocating her. She calls for the weekend off, and rarely leaves her bed for those 48 hours, ignoring her coffin because it already felt like she was suffocating.


 

She knows ignoring her phone is a bad sign, never be unreachable sticking out in her mind, but she doesn’t care. She just wants to be left alone with her thoughts. Every call and text she gets goes unanswered. No one will ever love you. What if they were right? What if Gibbs and Jenny were just playing her, using her? She falls into a restless slumber, tossing and turning in her sleep. When she wakes the next morning, she’s not alone in her bed. She finds herself in Jen’s arms, her head resting in the crook of the Director’s neck. For a moment she’s confused because she didn’t remember her coming over. But then again, she had a key, so maybe she had stopped in to check on her. Her alarm blares from the nightstand behind her, and she turns to shut it off, even as Jen starts to wake up. She shuts it off, relaxing back into her arms.

“Gotta get up,” Jen says gently. Monday meant another day of work, and she dreaded it. What if there was another note? Jen presses kisses against her exposed shoulder, “Don’t shut me out, Abby.”

She pulls out of her arms, trying to put out what she hopes is a convincing smile, “It’s nothing.”

Jen follows her, snagging her wrist gently, “Sweetheart, please.”

How could she look so adorable and serious at the same time? She snuggles into her again, unable to look at her, and Jen lets her, arms going to her waist.

“I’ve just been feeling down, I guess.”

“That why you ignored everyone this weekend?”

“Yeah.”

“And no music, collars, or pigtails for the last few months?”

She nods, feeling tears in her eyes as she looks up at her, “Yeah.”

Jen presses a soft kiss to her lips, “I really like your collars. Miss them. And your pigtails. And I miss your music coming through the vents.”

“I love you too,” she replies softly, and Jen smiles against her lips, her free hand signing back what she’d said, “I’ll meet you at work.”

“Kicking me out already?”

She smiles at the joke, “Gotta get ready, Madame Director.”

She keeps the smile on her face until the door shuts behind her red-headed lover.


 

She held the blade gently in her hand, contemplating. Always contemplating. This was wrong. She was stronger than the words on the paper.

Just kill yourself.

She just wants everything to stop. Her will to live always stops her. Even now, with the blade cool against her skin, she can’t. She doesn’t understand why this person hates her so much. She wants to go back to before the letters, back to before she was in this constant battle with herself. She was more than this. She was...she was happy. Wasn’t she?

She tries to drown out the noise in her head.

No one would miss you, freak.

Just kill yourself.

Just. Fucking. Do. It

She was more than cruel words on paper.

And yet.

She watches the blood as it slides down her wrist, slow, methodical. Adrenaline rushes through her, her heart pumping as she brings the blade across two more times.

The cuts are shallow, and she feels a twinge of regret as she cleans and dresses them, putting her black sweatbands on over top them. The sting makes her feel alive. And that causes even more regret.


 

Monday August 9th, 2008

The note sits on her desk, taunting her, torturing her. She ignores it, processing evidence for the team’s latest case. Major Mass Spec is running evidence, and she’s already run the blood test, so by 0930, there’s nothing stopping her from reading the letter. She finds her hands are shaking and silently curses herself. This was just stupid. She didn’t have to read it. It was probably just more bull. It opens like all the others did. Her wrist throbs.

Dear Abby Sciuto,

I don’t understand why you haven’t killed yourself yet. You wasted over 3 hours of the agency’s time over the weekend because the MCRT kept attempting to get ahold of you. 3 hours. They could have solved the case sooner. You’re nothing but a burden to them. I’m sure you can see it too. Do everyone a favor and just die. I’m sure you’ve already realized no one would miss you. Everything would be better if you were dead.

Complete bull. All of it. She knew that and yet — She folds the letter, puts it in the drawer with the others before locking it. She focuses back on the case.


 

Each day felt like torture. The next note is more specific, coming just days after the last.

Wednesday, August 11th, 2008

Dear Abby Sciuto,

I wonder how many people will come to your funeral. How many people will come out of obligation? How many people really care about you?

How many people did care? Really, truly cared?


 

She sits naked in the shower, water beating down on her. Her left wrist throbs, fresh cuts adorning her previously unmarred skin, and she holds her hand out, wrist up, letting water drip onto it. She’s transfixed by each drop of blood as it falls to mix with water. It only makes her feel guiltier.

The notes were nearly daily now, ignoring formalities altogether. Briefly, she wondered how they were getting there, but 3 months ago, she would’ve cared more.

Thursday, August 12th, 2008

You don’t deserve your job. You’re just a waste of space.

Friday, August 13th, 2008

I’m surprised you’re not home. Aren’t you freaks superstitious?

She barely read them, having long gone too numb to care. Later that night, she finds herself alone in her bathroom again.

She pushes the blade harder against her skin, muting the thoughts in her head, ignoring the daily messages that stay on her phone unanswered. Every day was like fighting a war with herself.

She hated it. This wasn’t her.

She threw the blade, and it clattered against the wall as she grabbed a wet cloth. She’d cut too deep, damn it. She ran her wrist under hot water, and the stinging made the pain worth it. She heard her phone ping again and glanced at it.

Her heart fluttered at the picture of Gibbs asleep in his bed, the mischievous glint in Jen’s eyes as she smiled at the phone’s camera, tucked into his arms.

We miss you.

God, she missed them too. But they wouldn’t want her, not the fuck-up she’d become.


 

Monday, August 16th, 2008

The note is short, ominous, back to formalities.

Dear Abby Sciuto,

I was sure we already had this talk. I told you it’ll just get worse from here.

She wasn’t sure how much worse it could get.

 


 

Today, she decided against a note. If she left one every day like she’d been doing, it would be more suspicious. Perhaps she should stop them all together. After all, it wouldn’t be long before the freak either killed herself or was fired. The questions about music and hair were there silently, but people kept wondering if she was okay. She could see it when they mentioned her, the silent question in the back of their minds. It made her sick. If she would pull away from everyone, would the same be said about her? No, of course not, because she wasn’t Abby Sciuto, the genius Forensics lab rat.


 

Tuesday, August 17th, 2008

Today, there wasn’t a note. She didn’t know whether to be thankful or disappointed, and that scared her. The case goes by quickly, and she leaves the building before there are any offers for night-outs. She drives home, sees the missed call from Gibbs, listens to his voicemail as she changes into nightclothes.

Miss ya, Abbs. Come over and help me with the boat?

That meant he wanted to talk too. And boat talk led to really good sex, not always, but sometimes. Great sex, actually. But then he’d know about the cutting, and she couldn’t have that. She texts him back instead.

Sorry, Gibbs, not tonight. Tired.

His reply is instant, Ok. I love you.

Her heart flutters again. Her wrists sting. I love you too.


 

It’s close to 10 pm and she can’t sleep. Her mind is working in overdrive. All she wants to do is sleep. She finds her sleeping pills, takes two. An hour later, she’s still awake. She takes two more. Contemplates. Just kill yourself already. She’s dialing Kate at a quarter to midnight, the empty bottle clutched in her hand.

It doesn’t take long for Kate to show up, and maybe she’s only slightly surprised to see Ziva with her. You’re a burden. She shouldn’t have called. She should’ve been glad they hadn’t called Gibbs or Jenny or Ducky.

Ziva all but sticks her fingers down her throat, trying to force her throw the pills up. She knows they need to act quickly or she’ll have to go to the hospital to get her stomach pumped. Kate’s more concerned about why. Did that even matter? She dry-heaves into her toilet, makes herself throw up. Ziva holds her hair back, mutters words of comfort in Hebrew.

Neither of them leaves her alone, and she’s almost grateful. Almost. The other part of her, the part that keeps her wrists covered with sweatbands, wishes she’d used her blade. At least then she’d have been able to sleep without all this fuss.

She knows they’ll tell Gibbs. Or maybe even Jenny. Probably both. Kate and Ziva care about her, she knows that. But they were enjoying a night out, and she ruined it. Everything would be better if you were dead.


 

It’s too bright, and through her haze, she can make out voices.

“Boss is looking in her lab now,” familiar, male but she can’t place it.

“He’ll find something.” Kate’s voice she recognizes.

“If there’s something to find,” It was Tony. That was sweet of him to come over. But then, that meant he knew too. And something about Gibbs. Looking in her lab?

“You think she’d do this without persuasion?” Ziva sounded angry. “She hasn’t been herself in months!”

“I just meant—”

A new voice joins them, sounds like Timmy but she’s still so tired, “Boss wants you two at the office. We’ve got it here.”

He’d find the letters, she knew. He’d find them and confront her. Why didn’t you come to me, Abby?

She falls back asleep.


 

It’s August 18th, early, and she heads down to the lab to leave the next letter. It took her awhile before she realized between 3 am and 4 am, the lab footage ran on a loop. It was the perfect time, and even if she was tired, she still did it. Anything to get the freak to leave. This time, however, the lab isn’t dark. Light pours through the doorway, illuminating the hallway. She hears curses, and when she peeks in, she sees boxes, a lot of boxes. The lab is more of a mess than she’s ever seen it, drawers pulled open, and in the center of it is Agent Gibbs. He looks livid, more pissed than she’s ever seen him. He rifles through the boxes, searching for something. He goes into the office, digs through the drawers. One won’t open. She hears another curse, and then he’s pulling out a knife and breaking the lock.

That whore hadn’t kept them, had she? But then Agent Gibbs is sitting down, sorting through a box of letters, and she knows, she knows that they’re the ones she sent because why else would they be under lock and key? That fucking whore -

She quietly leaves, her latest note tucked away in her pocket. If he knew, she couldn’t continue. He would find her. But the question of what tipped him off was in the back of her mind. Did the freak finally kill herself? Or did she tell him instead? Either way, the deed was done, and it was time for her to request a transfer.


 

She wakes up on the couch, tucked in with a blanket. She opens an eye, sees Tony and Timmy sitting at her kitchen table. The sunlight from the windows gives away how late in the morning it is.

“Why aren’t you at work?” Why wasn’t she at work? Where were Kate and Ziva?

“You’re awake,” McGee says instead, eyes soft as he makes his way towards her, “How’re you feeling, Abbs?”

Alive.

“Work?” she questions again.

“You have the day off, Abby.” Tony says, “Boss has us here with you today.”

She didn’t need a babysitter. She’d taken one too many pills, she wasn’t trying to kill herself.

“I’m fine.” She sits up, still wrapped in the blanket.

“Taking a bottle of pills isn’t fine, Abby.” McGee says.

“I was tired, Timmy.” She’d called Kate, hadn’t she? God, why was he making such a big deal out of this? “I wasn’t trying...”

“It’s ok, Abbs.” Tony interrupts, moving over to her, “We know you weren’t.” But did he really? “You want something to eat?”

“No. Not hungry.”

She lays back down, ignoring them both. Eventually she falls back asleep.


 

Gibbs shows up after work, Caf-Pow in hand. It’s late, nearly 2200. She drinks it slowly, sitting on the couch beside him. They don’t speak until it’s empty, but the silence isn’t uncomfortable.

His voice is quiet, “I found the letters.”

She knew he would, “They’re nothing.”

“Why keep them?” She doesn’t have an answer to that, “They’re not true.”

“I know.”

He presses a kiss to her lips, pulls back before she can reciprocate, “Do you?”

She doesn’t look at him; her scars ache, “Gibbs…”

“What are you so afraid of?”

“Stop,” she replies as she stands.

He grasps her wrist gently, and she bites back her gasp, “You think I don’t know?”

“Gibbs,” she tries again. Of course, he knew. He always knew. She felt tears in her eyes, “Gibbs, please. Let go.”

“Need to talk about this,” he releases her, and she sits back down, “Let me see?”

She nods.

He pulls off one sweatband, and then the other. He doesn’t speak, doesn’t touch them, but she can see the way his eyes mist over, “I stopped. Couldn’t do it anymore.” But, God, she hadn’t wanted to stop, even now.

Jen needs to see, she knew.

“Jenny should…”

“I know,” she replies softly, putting the bands back on, “Stay the night?”

He does. They fall asleep entwined on the couch.

She’s not surprised the next morning to find Jen at her kitchen table, lost in thought; she hears her shower, knows Gibbs is there. The Director looks up, and yes, it was the Director because the seriousness in her eyes wasn’t one of the many looks Jen showed her. She doesn’t bother with any games; Jen already knows, she can tell. She walks over to her, already slipping off the bands.

And when Jen starts crying, she cries with her. Unlike Gibbs, Jen touches them, her callused fingers cold against the damaged skin. She doesn’t think her scars are beautiful. They’re not. Self-harm isn’t beautiful. It’s a cry for help because she knows she can’t do this alone.

The letters stop. She starts playing her music, puts her hair back in pigtails, wears her collars. Ducky prescribes her antidepressants. She goes out for drinks with the team, drinks Caf-Pow instead of alcohol. Everything is good. She hears Gibbs and Jen one night, talking in Jen’s study. The letters stopped the same time one of the agents from legal requested a transfer. They had their suspicions, but she knew that whoever this agent was, they were the culprit. She finds out the agent’s new station, sends her a letter, asking – praying – for the confirmation, if only to put her mind at ease. She doesn’t expect a response.


 

August 28th, 2008

The letter is left at the front desk, and she gets it when she comes in that morning. It sits unopened until she’s done for the day. She sits at her desk, Android Lust playing, and opens it.

Dear Abby Sciuto,

Your powers of deduction are quite good, but then, I knew they would be. It was me who sent those horrible letters to you, and I’m ashamed that I did. I don’t know if you’ll forgive me, but please know that I am sorry for what I put you through. I was jealous of the recognition you got while I was in legal getting none. But now I’m better off. I know I am. And I hope you are too. I wish you the best.

Sincerely,

Agent Amanda Keller

She smiled as she folded the letter. She was sad, yeah, but she was also relieved. Relieved to finally get closure. She knew she had a long road of recovery ahead of her, but she knew that she didn’t have to do it alone.


 

August 30th, 2008

The storm starts sometime around 8 pm, wild flashes of lightning followed by loud cracks of thunder. The team had come down a little earlier to invite her to come out with them, but she’d politely declined; she’d been waiting all day to spend the night with Gibbs and Jenny. She waits by Gibbs’ desk for them, sits in his chair. She looked towards the catwalk when she heard MTAC’s door open. She smiled as they walked out, Jen heading towards her office and Gibbs making his way down the stairs to her.

“Hi,” she says, looking up at him.

He smirks down at her, holding out his hand, “You ready?”

“Almost,” she looks around him as Jen descends the steps, walking over to them, “Ok, now I am.”

Jen smiles softly, squeezing her hand, “Stairs?”

The lights flicker above them. Gibbs doesn’t even hesitate, “Mmm. I’ll bring the truck around.”

They’re an odd pair, she and Jenny, standing under the cover of NCIS HQ waiting for Gibbs. No one pays them much attention besides quick goodbyes, and she’s grateful, Jen’s hand low on her back. They don’t talk much, the day emotionally and physically exhausting. When Gibbs pulls up in front of them, she lets Jen get in first, relaxing against her, the truck’s heat on full blast.

That night in Gibbs’ bed, cuddled in-between Gibbs and Jen, she never felt more content.