AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship. Episode Related. Angst
SUMMARY: Set in the fifteen minutes after the final scene of Broken Bird. Gibbs goes down to Autopsy.
SPOILERS: Broken Bird
RATING: PG-13 (purely for the subject matter of the episode)
WORD COUNT: 1,167
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
Ducky welcomed the hands on his shoulders. They weren't the hands he wanted, not by a long way. However, right now, he would take any comfort he was given. Not that the touch was really comforting, it wasn't. Instead it was - He didn't really know what it was. He just knew there was another human being in the room with him. Another human begin alive.
As he let the tears fall, his mind returned to the horrors he had witnessed - both on the video Jethro had made him watch and, far, far, far worse, in reality. He was taken back thirty years to the sights, the sounds, the smells of the camp. He was taken back to the brutal and insidious injuries Jerek had caused. He was taken back to the torture he had never been involved in, but had never tried to stop. He was taken back to Javid and the men like him. The men he had killed.
Ending their lives had been the hardest thing he had ever done. At the time he had told himself he had done it to prevent further suffering, and that as a doctor it was his duty to do so. But now he knew the truth. Now he had to admit the truth: he had killed. He had taken human life. He, a doctor, a medic, had killed. And now he didn't know how he could go on day after day, go on living with what he had done. Go on living knowing that those around him, those who loved him and cared for him, now knew the truth about him.
As he returned to Afghanistan he was no longer aware of the hands on his shoulders. He was no longer aware of anything other than the hell that had been the refugee camp and the acts he had committed.
Therefore, he didn't hear the Autopsy doors swish open. He didn't hear a steely voice telling Jordan she could go. He didn't see the look on her face when she was more than a little discourtesly dismissed.
For a fleeting second he was aware that the hands had left his shoulders. At the loss of the contact, even through the tears that still fell, he made a noise, halfway between a whimper and a gasp. But a second later the hands were back.
Except they weren't the same hands. Now they were the hands he wanted. Even though his pain, he recognized the change.
And he was gently but firmly pulled back until he rested against a solid body, where he was held in place with the same firm gentleness. "It's all right, Duck. It'll be all right." Somehow through the darkness, the pain, across the distance, he heard the words. But for the first time ever they did not help him.
"How can it be, Jethro," he managed. "How can it ever be all right again?" For a moment he struggled against the fiercely protective grip his lover had on him. But Jethro wasn't letting him go anywhere. And finally too weary, in too much pain, too lost, too in need of the comfort, Ducky stopped fighting.
"It will be, Duck. I promise you. I'll make it right."
For the first time in his life, Ducky doubted Jethro's words. Even though he had watched Jethro bulldozer his way over and through anyone and everyone just to prove he was innocent of the accusation. Even though he knew that Jethro had been relentless; had taken risks; had done deals. Even though he knew that had it been necessary, Jethro would have offered his own life, his own freedom, to save Ducky. Even though he knew all those things, he couldn't believe the words his lover spoke.
But again he was too weary to refute Jethro. And not just that, part of him, a small, tiny part that wasn't disgusted with himself, that didn't hate himself, wanted, needed, had to believe what Jethro said was true. Maybe, just maybe, in time, with Jethro by his side, with the love and support he knew he would get, maybe, it would be.
Then he saw Javid again. Saw what Jerek was doing to him. Saw the re-opened wounds. Saw the infection. And saw his own hand drawing more Morphine into the syringe than was necessary; more than was safe. Saw the same hand, quite steady, free from shakes, put the needle against Javid's arm and empty it into his vein. Saw the look of peace descend over the pain-filled eyes as Javid went to sleep.
He saw the image as it replayed over and over and over in his mind. But he didn't just see it, he lived it. He was back there. It was him filling a syringe. It was him pushing the over-dose into Javid. It was him. Him.
"Oh, Jethro," he murmured. "There are some things even you cannot do." And he began to sob again.
For a moment hands tightened on his shoulders, but then the grip changed and he felt himself being guided to his feet and gathered, as tenderly as one might gather a child, into strong arms that wrapped themselves around him, holding him firmly, tightly, protectively, possessively. Offering him comfort, support, love, reassurance, forgiveness; offering him everything Jethro had to offer. But even as he took the comfort, even as he rested his head against Jethro's shoulder and put his own arms around Jethro, moving even closer until no one could have got anything between their bodies, Ducky didn't think that even Jethro could offer enough.
He fought between Afghanistan and where he now was. He tried so hard to push away the vision, to pull himself back to where he was loved. He cried for Javid. He cried for the others he had helped. He cried for all those he could not help. He cried for Javid's sister. He cried for Jethro learning the truth about him. He cried for his mother. But he did not, he could not, he would not, cry for himself. He was utterly unworthy of those tears.
As he pushed himself impossibly closer against Jethro's body and gripped Jethro's jacket, he ignored the duel pain in his leg and hand. Jethro's mouth was near his ear and he could feel his breath. He could feel something else too: he could feel the tears his lover was also shedding. Those tears he knew were for him. He wanted to tell Jethro to stop, to tell him not to cry for him, that he wasn't worth the tears. But he couldn't. It shamed him, it disgusted him, but he couldn't tell Jethro to stop crying for him.
"I will make it right, Duck. I will." He both heard and felt the words as Jethro put his lips against his ear. "I promise." And then he heard a softer whisper, "But if I can't make it right, I swear I'll make it better. Trust me, Duck. Trust me."