FROM DEATH COMES NEW LIFE
Fornell is dying. He makes Gibbs promise him something.
A first time story.
Written: March 2008. Word count: 1,482.
Some say love,
It is a river that drowns the tender reed.
They entire team were together in the squad room when Gibbs's phone rang.
"Gibbs. What? I'm on my way." He slammed the phone down.
As he grabbed his Sig and coat he glanced at Ducky. "Fornell's had a massive heart attack. He's asking for me." Then without another word, he raced off across the room.
As one the remaining members of his team stood and watched him go.
"Well that's a surprise," DiNozzo said, as they watched Gibbs forego the elevator and head for the stairs. "I didn't think they even liked one another."
"Anthony, there are times when I really wonder just why Jethro keeps you around." And with those words, which were as close to a rebuke as Ducky tended to get, he turned and walked away.
After a second or two of looking wide-eyed, Palmer hurried off after him.
"What did I say?" DiNozzo called after him. "What did I say?" he demanded again. "Well?" He looked at each of the remaining team members in turn.
"And you claim to be Gibbs's senior agent," Ziva said, moving to her desk and sitting down.
"I'm going to go and see Ducky's got anything that needs analyzing," Abby said, turning on her heel and walking away.
DiNozzo stood and stared after her.
The only person left standing was McGee.
DiNozzo looked at him. "Well, come on then, McGeek, make some cryptic remark or just walk off, why don't you?"
McGee looked at DiNozzo, and for a moment he felt a tinge of sympathy for his coworker. DiNozzo wasn't being cruel; he'd just failed to see the obvious. Not for the first time McGee wondered how DiNozzo could be such a good agent, because everything aside he was, but so dreadful at anything that wasn't part of his assignment well everything that didn't wear short skirts and high heels and have sexy figure.
"Gibbs and Fornell are close friends, Tony," he said quietly. "After Ducky, Fornell's probably Gibbs's closest friend. That's why he's asking for Gibbs. That's why Gibbs raced off. He cares."
DiNozzo opened his mouth. "I kn" He stopped suddenly. Glanced away, letting his gaze hover over Gibbs's desk before coming to rest back on McGee. "Guess I didn't," he said quietly.
"Yeah," McGee said, before turning and moving to his own desk.
The three members of Gibbs's field team settled down to work in silence.
Some say love,
It is a razor that leaves your soul to bleed.
Gibbs walked quietly into the semi-dark hospital room.
As his eyes adjusted, he could clearly see his old friend. Could clearly see his deathly pallor. Could clearly hear the death rattle as Fornell struggled to breathe. Saw and heard the machines that were fighting a losing battle to keep the man alive.
There was no hope. He'd been told that.
And he'd been told Fornell knew it too.
Even so . . .
"Hey," Gibbs said softly, moving closer to the bed.
Some say love,
It is a hunger, an endless aching need.
Fornell's eyes struggled open. They were dull, lifeless. The spark that had been Tobias Charles Fornell had faded. "You're not going to be able to save me this time, Jethro."
Gibbs said nothing.
There was nothing he could say.
Instead he sat down and took Fornell's hand.
"That bad am I?" Fornell's eyes drifted shut again.
I say love, it is a flower,
And you its only seed.
It's the heart, afraid of breaking,
That never learns to dance.
Several hours later, during which the hospital staff had tried and failed to make Gibbs leave, Fornell's eyes struggled opened again.
It's the dream, afraid of waking,
That never takes a chance.
Fornell gripped Gibbs's hand. "There's something I've got to tell you, Jethro. I kept promising I'd take Emily to Disneyland. I never did. I kept making excuses: too busy at work; didn't want to interrupt her education; she was too young. That kind of crap. I kept saying 'next vacation'. 'Next year'. 'When I retire'. 'When she's older'. And look what happened. I never did get to take her. Now I never will."
"Tobias, I -"
It's the one who won't be taken,
Who cannot seem to give.
And the soul, afraid of dying,
That never learns to live.
Fornell interrupted him. "You see, Jethro, life's too short. That's what I wanted to tell you. You've got to stop waiting. Stop making excuses. Stop saying 'tomorrow', 'next month', 'next year', 'when we retire'. Don't wait any longer, Jethro. Stop being afraid. Stop being afraid of love. Take a chance; for once in your life take a chance. Don't do what I did." He stopped speaking for a moment and drew in ragged gulps of air, Gibbs could see how much he was struggling.
He wanted to say something, wanted to hush his friend, but Fornell went on doggedly. "Promise me. Promise me you'll do it now. And promise me you won't screw this one up. Promise me, Jethro."
Swallowing hard around the lump in his throat and not bothering to fight the tears that were in his eyes, Gibbs said, "I promise, Tobias."
His grip on Gibbs's hand loosened.
The machines started to scream.
When the night has been too lonely,
And the road has been to long,
And you think that love is only for
The lucky and the strong
ABOUT AN HOUR LATER
"Jethro." Ducky opened the door to find his old friend standing on the porch.
"Hey, Duck. Can I come in?"
"Of course. Is Tobias . . . ?"
"Yeah, about an hour ago. I was there."
"Oh, Jethro my dear. Come along and have a drink." Ducky slipped his arm inside Jethro's.
"Thanks, Duck." From somewhere inside him, Ducky watched Jethro dredge up a half-smile.
Ducky led Jethro upstairs to his sitting room and poured his friend a large drink.
"Tobias," Jethro said, raising his glass.
"Tobias." Ducky clicked his glass against Jethro's.
They sat in companionable silence for some time.
Finally Jethro shifted in his seat, put his glass down and took Ducky's hand. "Duck."
"Before Tobias died I made him a promise. And I intend to keep it." He swallowed. "Duck, I love you. I want to be more than just your friend. And if I've read you right over the decades we've known one another, you feel the same way. You do, don't you?"
Ducky looked at Jethro, looked into his eyes and saw the pain Tobias's death had caused his dearest friend; he also saw hope, a hint of uncertainty and complete honesty. "Yes, my dearest Jethro," he said, leaning forward and putting his hand over Jethro's. "Yes. I love you and have done for many, many, many years."
"Good." Jethro moved again, this time to pull Ducky into his arms and kiss him.
SEVERAL HOURS LATER
They lay in a loose embrace in Ducky's bed, still sharing gentle kisses and light caresses.
"What did you mean when you said you made Tobias a promise?"
"He told me how he'd always promised to take Emily to Disneyland. But he kept putting it off, work, her school, all those kinds of things. You know how it is. Kept telling himself he'd have time and now " Jethro broke off and swallowed hard. "And now he's dead. He told me not to wait any longer. He didn't want me to make the same mistake he did. He didn't want me to die regretting something he should have done. Told me to take a chance. Told me to stop being afraid of love."
"How did he know?"
Jethro shook his head. "Don't know. Didn't get a chance to ask him. It sounds daft, but I reckon he hung on to life just long enough to tell me that. And get me to promise him."
"It isn't foolish at all, my dear. It wouldn't be the first time that has happened."
"Going to miss him, Duck."
"I know, Jethro. So will I."
"Got you though. Haven't I?" And for a split second there was no hint of the cock-sure, self-confident Leroy Jethro Gibbs Ducky knew so well.
Ducky smiled and stroked his lover's face. When he spoke his tone was one of reassurance and love. "Yes, Jethro. You have. Shall I prove it to you?" And without waiting for an answer, Ducky did that thing.
A HOUR OR SO LATER
"Do you think Tobias would like it if we took Emily to Disneyland?"
Jethro opened his eyes long enough to look at Ducky and smile. "You know what, Duck? I reckon he would."
In the winter far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the suns love
In the spring becomes the rose
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