PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUMMARY: Ducky suffers another heart attack and Gibbs finally admits his feelings.
WORD COUNT: 1125
The hospital room was silent apart from the machines that surrounded the man lying in bed. The machine to the left beeped out a steady rhythm whilst the one on the right pumped up and down, keeping the man alive.
Footsteps approached the door which swiftly opened and Leroy Jethro Gibbs entered, taking in the sight of his old friend.
This hadn't been the first time he'd been in this situation, but at least last time Ducky was awake and walking again by the time he got to see him. Cautiously, he approached Ducky's bedside, looking down with sorrow written clearly in his eyes.
"He's on a machine to make him breathe." The doctor said, "There's no guarantee he will survive through this, but we're giving him a chance."
Gibbs simply nodded and the doctor left them alone.
Pulling the chair in the corner closer to the man's bedside, Gibbs sat down and rested his head on the bed edge. He let out a heavy sigh, running his hand over his face.
"Ah, Duck. Hang in there." he said, his voice crackling slightly as he tried to keep his emotions in.
"If only you knew, my dear." a female voice suddenly said.
Turning to look to his right suddenly, he saw an elderly lady, dressed all in black. The lace at the cuffs of the sleeves covered her hands as far as her knuckles where her fingers were wrapped around the bronze head of a walking cane.
She took off her hat, revealing her face properly to him. Her hair was as he remembered it. Silver, short, but with a slight curl to it; just like her son's.
"You can see me?" she asked, looking rather surprised.
"Not the first time I've had encounters with ghosts of people I knew."
He watched as she slowly walked around to the other side of her son's bed, looking upon him with tears in her eyes.
"He visited me every day without fail, even though most of the time I didn't know who he was. When I finally died...where were you?"
"On a case. It was a busy one. He never told me you'd passed. Abby found out and she then told me."
"You never asked him how I was?"
"I didn't know if I should. I didn't know if asking would make him feel even worse."
"The fact you showed you cared would have been enough." her voice slightly sharpened.
"I do care. I'm not good at showing my emotions."
They stayed silent for a long moment until the awkwardness had passed.
"Is Duck- Donald...there with you?"
"No..." she let out a small sigh "but he's close to leaving."
Gibbs looked over but saw no ghost, just Ducky's physical body; his chest rising and falling slowly as the machine did its job. Deep down he knew that everyone's time would come at some point or another, but he didn't want to lose his friend yet. Taking hold of Ducky's hand, he gently squeezed it.
"I don't want- " he choked back something that almost sounded like a sob,"I don't want you to go, Duck! Please! Can he hear me?"
"He probably can."
"I can explain this as much as you can. The fact you're seeing and hearing me...It's like I'm a part of your conscience."
He wanted assurance right now, but knew he wasn't going to get it. The fact Ducky was still in some way 'alive' gave him a small glimmer of hope. This feeling within him was familiar, but only happened when Sharron and Kelly were killed.
Since then he had quashed his feelings down, leaving him to appear at times as a cruel and cold man. It was far from the man he truly was, and very few people knew that.
Ducky of course was one of them. Even when the stubborn side of him came out and he let anger take the forefront of his feelings, for some reason Ducky never left his side for too long.
"Duck, please hold on. I just...I don't know how to tell you."
A few tears rolled down his cheeks, and he furiously wiped them away immediately.
"Agent Gibbs, visiting time is over."
Gibbs jumped as a nurse stood in the spot that the ghost of Victoria had occupied not moments ago.
"I think you should leave him be and we'll call you if anything changes." she said, giving the distinct impression that she wanted him gone.
Shaking his head, he reigned back his emotions before speaking.
"I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying until he wakes up."
"But there is no guarantee-"
"He will wake up!" he suddenly snapped, surprising himself.
"I do not appreciate that tone, Agent Gibbs."
Her voice was harsh and her face creased into a scowl. He knew that he couldn't argue with her in case she had him banned from returning. He couldn't risk that; not whilst Ducky was in limbo like this.
"I'm sorry. Please, just five more minutes."
With an inward sigh of irritation, she nodded and left again. As the door closed, Gibbs leaned close to his friend, and whispered in his ear.
"I love you, Duck. I'm sorry I never told you before now."
Hovering, he wondered where he was going to kiss him before giving in and going for a soft kiss on the lips. Pulling away, Ducky remained still.
"Aren't you supposed to wake up now? Isn't that how it fucking works in the Disney movies?" he said, letting out a bitter laugh.
Sitting back down in his chair with a thud, he felt a weird sensation on his shoulder, Victoria's hand resting upon it.
"He's staying, Jethro. Be patient, and when he's ready, he will wake. It'll take a long while for him to properly recover. Promise you'll take care of him for me, won't you?"
"But what if he doesn't want me to?"
"He does. I know how stubborn he was when he had the first heart attack, but a second, his heart is strong to have survived it. I was all he had left in terms of blood relatives, but he often told me about how you and the others at NCIS were like a family to him. You especially, are very important to him."
With a wink, she smiled, and Gibbs felt aghast, looking back to Ducky.
"You mean after all this time, you never told me you felt the same?" he said like he was expecting a reply. "What did he say to you?"
As he turned around again, Victoria was gone. He let out a sigh and tentatively, he reached for Ducky's hand and gave it another gentle squeeze.
"I'm here, Duck. Whenever you're ready."