THE BEST DEFENSE
Set after The Meat Puzzle.
After sorting things out at the office, Gibbs goes to the hospital to see Ducky.
A first time story.
Written: December 2010. Word count: 1,000.
It was four o'clock when Gibbs strode into the hospital. The place was far more peaceful than he'd ever known it to be. Lights were dimmed, people talked in low voices and walked rather than hurried; there was none of the normal hustle and bustle of daytime.
Despite the reason for being there the atmosphere seemed to work some kind of magic on Gibbs. He felt the tension which had been radiating through him from the moment Ducky had been captured begin to seep away, leaving him feeling almost peaceful himself.
That feeling was shattered a moment later when a nurse tried to prevent him from seeing Ducky. "He's asleep, Agent Gibbs."
"Are you sure?"
"It's 4:00 a.m., what else would he be doing? He lost a lot of blood. His body needs to rest, to recuperate."
What she said made perfect sense; Gibbs knew it did. But that didn't matter; he had to see Ducky. He thought quickly of various arguments, threats even, he could try before settling on a peaceful solution. "Please," he said quietly.
He didn't know whether it was the simple word, spoken with honestly, the way he looked or something else. However, after a moment or two of silent appraisal she sighed softly. "Very well. But do not disturb him or wake him up. He needs to sleep; it's the body's best way of -"
"Of healing itself. Yeah, Duck's told me that more than once. I won't wake him," he said. And he wouldn't, at least not intentionally. What he had to say to Ducky he'd rather say when Ducky was asleep.
He slipped into Ducky's room and found his friend apparently sleeping peacefully. Sparing a quick glance at the tubes going into and coming out of Ducky and wincing at the bag of blood, he pulled the chair near to the bed and sank down.
For several minutes he just sat and watched Ducky, casting the odd glance at the machine that was showing his pulse rate and blood pressure. Leaning forward he put his head in his hands and sighed. "Why, Duck?" he growled quietly. "Why?"
"Why what, my dear?"
"What the -" Gibbs sat upright with a start and stared at the bed to find Ducky watching him. "You're awake."
Ducky's lips twitched slightly. "So it appears," he said his tone mild.
For some reason rather than calm Gibbs, reassure him even, it angered him. "It's not a joking matter," he snarled, keeping his voice low as he glared at Ducky.
Ducky's eyes widened slightly. "I am aware of that," he finally said, his tone formal. After a few moments of tense silence he added, his tone softer, "It wasn't your fault, Jethro."
"I know it wasn't." Gibbs snapped the words, ignoring the small voice that told him he'd said earlier that it had been his fault. "Why the hell weren't you more careful, Duck? Why do you let your mom just wander about in the middle of night? Why didn't you call out for Kate? Why didn't you at least try to struggle? Why didn't you - Oh, hell, Ducky. What the fuck did you think you were playing at?" Mindful of where he was and what the time was, he continued to keep his voice low. "Well?" he demanded, after Ducky just stared silently at him. "Haven't you got anything to say?"
It appeared the answer to that question was 'no' as Ducky still just watched him in silence, his head now slightly on one side. Finally, he gave a small shrug, took a small sip of water from the glass next to the bed, put it carefully back down and said softly, "I love you too, Jethro."
Gibbs felt his mouth fall slightly open and hastily closed it. "What? Ducky, what the -" And then he felt suddenly chilled. Without thought he moved from his chair to sit on the bed. He took one of Ducky's hands in his and put his other on Ducky's forehead. "Duck, are you okay?" he whispered, his voice heavy with concern. "You're not . . . I don't know. Did something else happen to you? Are you . . . Duck?" he whispered.
"I am quite well, thank you, Jethro, certain things aside, of course." He smiled at Gibbs.
"But why did you -"
"Tell you I loved you too?"
"Well, firstly I do and always have done. And secondly it seemed appropriate given you had just told me you loved me." For the second time in a less than two minutes, Gibbs felt his mouth fall open. Again he closed it as he stared at Ducky. "That is what you were saying, is it not?"
"I . . ."
"I know you do tend to get angry with people when you are worried about their safety. But this time there was more to your anger than mere concern, was there not?"
"I . . . Duck?"
Ducky smiled. "Good," he said, sitting up a little straighter and leaning towards Gibbs. The next moment Gibbs felt Ducky's lips brush across his, the touch light, tentative, but also assured. In a split second he went from his initial instinct to push Ducky away and get the hell out of his room, to putting one arm around Ducky and gathering him nearer to him as he kissed Ducky back.
After far too short a time, he felt Ducky move back a little and even though he was reluctant to do so, Gibbs let him move, but still kept his arm around him, still kept holding onto him for another minute or two before letting Ducky sink back against the pillows.
He took Ducky's hand between both of his and kissed it, first the palm, then each finger, then the back of it. Ducky's eyelids looked heavy as he gazed at Gibbs, a smile on his lips. He looked more at peace than Gibbs had ever seen him.
As Ducky's eyes closed again, Gibbs leaned forward and lightly kissed him. "Go to sleep, Duck. I'll be here when you wake up."
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