THE WAKE UP CALL
Gibbs is sitting by Ducky's hospital bedside, waiting for him to wake up. As he does so he makes a decision.
An established relationship story.
Written: April 2009. Word count: 1,000.
Find someone who will stay awake just to watch you sleep.
Gibbs sat in the chair he had been sitting in for some sixty hours, just watching Ducky sleep. At least now his lover was merely asleep and not unconscious. Gibbs was exhausted and he ached from sitting in the same place for so long. But he was not going to give in to sleep until Ducky opened his eyes and he knew he'd be okay.
Four days ago DiNozzo had arrived at the office sneezing and complaining he had flu. Ducky, who'd been in the squad room talking to Gibbs, had snapped at DiNozzo, telling him that if he really had flu, he would be at home, in bed, far too ill to even contemplate going to work, let alone doing so. For more than five minutes he had pointed out to the entire team exactly what real flu was like.
With the benefit of hindsight, Gibbs knew he should have realized that Ducky snapping and in effect ranting, was a sign of a less than on par Ducky. However, after his little outburst, Ducky had been 'Ducky' for the rest of the day and thus Gibbs had dismissed the incident from his mind.
However, the next morning he'd awoken to the faint sounds of Ducky moaning and coughing. He hadn't needed to put his hand on Ducky's forehead to work out his lover had a very high temperature, a very high temperature indeed. Ducky had been shivering and yet feverishly hot, he'd told Gibbs the bed cloths and his pajamas hurt him where they touched him, in fact, he'd groaned, every part of him, even his hair, hurt. It was only with Gibbs's help that he'd managed to get out of bed to go to the bathroom and that short trip had totally exhausted him. If Gibbs hadn't known what flu was like before, he did that morning.
Concerned for his lover, he might keep telling Ducky he wasn't old, but at sixty-seven any illness was likely to hit harder than at thirty-seven, Gibbs had suggested he stay home and look after Ducky. However, Ducky, his stubborn Ducky, had refused, pointing out that all he wanted to do was to sleep; thus there wasn't any point Gibbs staying to watch him do that.
So against his better judgment, after extracting a promise from Ducky that he would call him if he felt any worse, Gibbs had gone off to the office. In turn he had promised Ducky he'd go home at lunchtime to see how Ducky was.
Gibbs had been in the head when McGee had raced in to tell him that a Helen Patterson had called and needed to speak to him urgently. Less than thirty seconds after putting the phone down, Gibbs was on his way across the squad room leaving the kids staring after him.
As he'd driven to the hospital, he'd cursed himself for ignoring Ducky and going to work. Had it not been for Helen calling at Reston House with a batch of homemade jam she'd made for them and, following some inbuilt maternal instinct, letting herself into the house using the key Ducky hadn't felt it necessary to ask her to return once Mrs. Mallard had gone into a home and, upon hearing very faint sounds of distress coming from upstairs, had gone to investigate well . . . Gibbs didn't want to think what might have happened. Apparently Helen had taken one look at Ducky and immediately dialed nine-one-one.
Gibbs had arrived at the hospital mere minutes after the ambulance and had bullied and threatened his way to Ducky's side and there he had stayed.
Ducky had slipped into unconsciousness by that time and his fever was of great concern to the hospital staff as well as to Gibbs. Yet apparently it still hadn't spiked, as for several hours it continued to climb slowly, despite the treatment Ducky was getting, until finally it seemed to reach its pinnacle and everyone, especially Gibbs, had breathed a collective sigh of relief.
A few hours later Ducky had regained consciousness, murmured Gibbs's name and then slipped into what Gibbs hoped was a healing sleep. And that is what he'd been doing every since: simply watching Ducky sleep. Watching and waiting, occasionally glancing at the machines that showed him Ducky's temperature, blood pressure and pulse rate. At times he held Ducky's hand at other times he let it rest on the bed.
And as he'd sat and watched and listened to the sounds of machinery beeping at him, he'd thought and had made a decision. If this brush with death had taught him anything, it was that life was far too short and far too fleeting. He and Ducky had always agreed they'd both retire once Gibbs reached the mandatory age of retirement for field agents, and although that was now only two years away, it was, in Gibbs's opinion, two years too long.
Anything could happen in two years. Gibbs's job wasn’t the safest in the world, and while he knew either of them could lose their lives in other ways, it was time he took the most dangerous aspect out of the equation.
He wasn't going to wait another two years, wasn't going to wait any longer before they did all the things they'd talked about doing once they had retired. He was going to do it now. He knew Ducky wouldn't raise any serious objections.
Thus once Ducky woke up and was better Gibbs would tell him his plans. Thus they could end the chapter of their lives that took them into the Navy Yard for hour upon hour every day and start a new part of their lives where people weren't firing at him, and Ducky wasn't talking to and dissecting dead bodies.
"Yeah, Duck," he said, once again taking Ducky's hand. "That's what we'll do."
Still holding Ducky's hand he bent forward and lightly kissed Ducky's now much cooler forehead before settling back again in the chair to continue to watch his lover sleep.
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