Elena was rapidly loosing her cool. With all those people around her, her head was starting to spin. She had not moved much from the place where she had lost Maria… damn, I promised her. She’ll be so scared, she won’t leave home. Ever.
She was starting to lose focus, too preoccupied to think clearly, when a big hand gripped her arm and turned her around. She tensed immediately, but relaxed as Razi smiled tightly at her.
Elena slumped in his arms, heedless of the shocked glances that were coming their way.
- It’s all my fault, Razi. I shouldn’t have forced her to come… I promised her I wouldn’t have lost her and look, I have! – Elena kept talking, clearly upset and agitated, without even breathing. Razi tried to stop the flow of words a couple of times, but without success.
When she ran out of air, he gripped her shoulder and shook her a bit.
- Stop this useless guilt trip right now. You have to stay calm and think. You need a clear head, you hear me? -
Elena nodded. She dried her tears with her hands and took a deep breath. Razi smiled and let her go. His big hand caressed her cheek.
- I know you’ll find her, honey, because you always keep your promises. -
The strength and certainty in Razi’s voice gave Elena her confidence back and she blushed a little, smiling.
Antonio snorted, annoyed.
Elena looked around her. On her right there were some jewels displayed on a counter. They were shining in the light that was filtering through the buildings. From their shape she could determine they came from Egypt. There was a hair clip in the shape of a butterfly. Elena smiled and got closer.
Antonio smirked. – Maria is missing and she goes looking for her next set of earrings … - he muttered in a low voice.
Razi cuffed him on the back of his head and glared at his ready reply. Antonio subsided and pouted.
Elena looked all around the bench without any luck, when, in a moment of relative quiet, she heard a little sobbing. Relieved beyond belief, she crouched down and lifted the canvas that covered the counter only to find Maria curled in a ball underneath.
- Hey… - Elena tried to rein in her tears, - … see, I told you it didn’t change anything if dad cam or not… I found you. -
With a gigantic sob, Maria launched herself in her sister’s arms and cried. Elena hugged her tightly and smiled at Razi among her tears.
She lowered her gaze and looked at her brother. – Did you find that sword of yours? –
His head came up sharply and he looked quite surprised at her concerned voice. – Yeah, but… there wasn’t time, you know… - Antonio turned to avoid seeing the look of contempt on her face. He felt a hand ruffle his hair and turned around again to give her a piece of his mind, but the words died in his throat. Elena was smiling tenderly, at him… Antonio felt warmth all over.
- Don’t worry… that blacksmith is always here and I think we’ll be coming at the Market more often from now on… -
Maria dried her tears on her vest and everyone just laughed, making her blush.
Elena put her back on the ground and looked at that counter again. – Now, about that birthday present… look at that… -
Maria squeaked with glee at the butterfly clip and Razi sighed.
Antonio helped Maria pin the clip in her hair, while Elena kept her vigil on her siblings.
… we got back to the Villa and dad was waiting for us, a little preoccupied. Sophia had been forced to change plans for lunch because of our delay in coming back. But you were so happy and kept telling everyone how you enjoyed yourself…
- But we didn’t fool dad, right? – Abby asks in a small voice.
Tony smiles. – Nah, he knew there was something wrong, but he never asked us kids anything. –
Tony sighs and keeps holding and cradling her. So many memories… but this one is worth remembering.
Abby shifts and straddles his lap. – I suppose he waited to get Razi alone to have some answers… -, she asks hugging him.
Tony hugs her back and nods. – Well, to be honest, he called me in his study, early the next day and told me… - Tony hesitates a moment, remembering when ‘she’ hadn’t been able to…
- Told you what, sis? – Abby asks, smiling.
Tony looks at her. His right hand cradles her cheek tenderly and he swallows the knot in his throat. - … he told me he was very proud of me. –
Abby nods, but the smiles she gives him is spoiled by a huge yawn.
Tony laughs. – How about we keep your dinner warm and you catch a little sleep, honey… mmh? –
Abby sighs and lets him pull her on her feet, but before they reach the stairs, she hugs him again, tightly.
He leans his forehead on her shoulder and lets go of all his fear about her.
- I love you, baby. – He tells her.
- Love you too, sis. – She says.
And together they go back up to their friends.
- Really, you couldn’t wait ‘till tomorrow? – Tony whines at the videoconference. Everyone has called to know how Abby is doing, without any regard for the hour.
- It’s 2 a.m., you know… - Gibbs slaps him on the back of his head and Tony glares.
- Tomorrow is Saturday, so stop whining and tell me how she’s doing… - Nick is pissed. Tony decides that it’s safer to answer without further ado.
- She is sleeping, peacefully. Has been since… - he looks at the clock on the screen, - …9 p.m. actually. – And smiles.
Nick sighs, relieved. – Good. I knew you could help her… - And that leaves Tony completely speechless.
In Miami, Speed smirks. – Hey, you found a way to shut him up… - Everyone laughs, while Tony glares.
- Shut up, brat… - And that make the two of them smile a bit.
- Don’t you two go there, you hear me? – Warrick warns.
- Yes, mum. – Comes from both Tony and Speed at the same time and ‘Rick glares at an hysterically laughing clan leader.
As they’re ready to call it a day, someone enters the study.
- Hey, dad… - she tries to say something else, but yawns instead.
Abby sits between Tony’s legs and waves to everybody.
- You ok, baby? – Nick asks concerned.
She smiles brightly. – Sis helped me, as always… right Speed? –
Tim’s eyebrows shoot up and he blushes a little. – Yeah, something like that. –
Abby nods, satisfied, while Greg, H and Jethro look confused.
- What is she talking about? – They ask.
The Meridius smile secretly. – That’s a story for another time. ‘Night everyone. –