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by: taylorgibbs (Send Feedback)
Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 1472
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs
Category(ies): Character Study
Pairing(s): - No Pairing -
Episode(s): 6-04 Heartland
Summary: Young Gibbs gets through a very difficult summer and makes some discoveries.
Author Notes: Written for the NCISFF list challenge. Thanks to Anna for the beta.
Leroy Gibbs stared out the window glumly. All his friends were outside playing and enjoying the summer day but he was tired after watching the astronauts step on the moon, and he didn’t want to play anyway. The astronauts had been the best part of the entire summer.
He kicked at the dust bunny on the weathered hardwood floor. Mama wouldn’t have ever let a dust bunny grow. But Mama wasn’t here any more. She was in a wooden box in the ground at a cemetery. All cause of an accident that Leroy knew wasn’t an accident. Not really.
Even though it had happened three months ago, Leroy could still remember it. Dad was working extra long in the mine and he and Jason Green had been playing in the woods. They were pretending to be soldiers—Leroy was the Marine and Jason was in the Army—and they’d been clearing brush just like they were in the Pacific in the war. Not Vietnam. That wasn’t a proud war. It wasn’t the war their daddies had fought.
Leroy rode his bike home real fast. He knew Mama would be upset. She’d been talking ‘bout making an apple pie and they were gonna eat chicken salad sandwiches and watch an hour of television. Mama hated when he was late. She was a real worrywart.
When Leroy came home, all the lights were on but there was nobody home. Buck, the neighbors’ dog was barking real loud. The Gantrys had gone to the New Jersey shore. Sure enough Eddie’d boast about it. Mama called him insufferable and Leroy agreed.
“Hush it, Buck. I fed you!” Great, Mama would yell at him and he had fed her. “Dumb dog!” Leroy peered out towards the driveway and the front yard. He’d ridden home cutting through the path that bordered the woods and had walked in the back door. Buck was standing at the end of the drive, woofing at something in the street that was making noises. Was it a deer?
Leroy stopped a moment, looking longingly at his dad’s Winchester. Dad would tar and feather him, but if a deer was dying, it was best to put it out of its misery, right? But he couldn’t bring himself to grab it. Where was Mama? She’d know what to do.
Leroy shrugged, squaring his shoulders. Maybe she brought Dad some dinner and stayed a little longer. He could handle this. He was a big boy. When he opened the door, Buck woofed excitedly and Leroy started jogging. The thing in the road was covered in fabric. Was it a person? There was white…and blue. And red, lots of red.
Leroy started running faster. Mama was wearing a blue dress. And a white apron. And...
She was lying in the road, her legs all funny and her back twisted. And that red stuff was her blood. There was so much of it. “MAMA!!!!!”
Her eyes opened and her mouth moved. Leroy leaned in close, tears running down his face. She was hurt real bad.
“Lee…love you.” It didn’t even sound like his mama.
“Mama, it’ll be okay. You’ll see…” He looked at the dog. “Buck! Buck! Go get Aunty Patty. Go!” Aunty Patty and Uncle LJ lived on the other side of their house. The stupid dog just sat there and Leroy realized he was standing guard. How long had Mama been here while he’d been playing?
“Aunty Patty!” he screamed as loud as he could. “Mama’s hurt! Help!” Leroy screamed again, pressing down on where Mama’s skin on her tummy was ripped. You were supposed to apply pressure, right? That was what the first aid said.
It felt like forever but probably wasn’t no time at all before Aunt Patty came running up, her hand covering her mouth. “Leroy! What happened?”
“Dunno,” he said through his tears.
“Gladys…Winslow,” his mama gasped. “Hit me…can’t move…legs. Leroy…inside.”
“No, Mama.” He didn’t want to leave her even though seeing her all hurt and stuff made him scared.
“Leroy, run and get Mr. Gantry.”
“Can’t, they’re away.”
“Okay, then go inside and call an ambulance. Then I want you to ride as fast as you can to the mine and tell Daddy and Uncle LJ that your mama is hurt. Can you do that for me? Can you be a brave and strong boy for me?”
He nodded. “Will Mama be okay?”
“I don’t know, honey. Give her a quick kiss.”
“Love you, Mama!” He bent down and kissed her cheek. When he pulled his hands away he realized he was holding wormy like things. Her insides. His Mama was real hurt.
The next week passed in a blur. Mama was in real bad shape, nobody had to tell him that. Her back was broken and she couldn’t walk. And her insides had broken out and given her a real bad infection. She fought for three days and then she died. And they put her in the ground. She was only twenty-nine years old. That sounded real old to Leroy but everyone said she was real young.
And Leroy knew he was as much to blame as old Mrs. Winslow, who had drunk too much of her sherry when she drove and hit Mama. Leroy had been playing. If he’d come home when he was supposed to, maybe Mama would still be alive.
Eddie and his family came home. He and his best friend, Chuckie Winslow. were always doing stuff with Jason and Leroy wasn’t included. The same Mrs. Winslow who had hit Mama was Chuckie’s grandma, so Leroy wasn’t allowed to play with Chuckie and Eddie, even if he wanted to. And he didn’t. Boys who made their mamas die didn’t deserve to play with other kids. And Uncle LJ and Daddy looked real nervous and kept talking about payback from the Winslows.
“Hey, Leroy. Whatcha doing?” Leroy’s head snapped up at the deep tone of his Uncle LJ. He stayed with them a real lot, most afternoons and even sometimes overnight. It wasn’t like being with Mama but it was okay. Aunt Patty cooked real good and sometimes when she sang, he smiled.
“Nothing,” he replied in a low voice. He hadn’t spoken real loud since Mama had died. Yelling reminded him of screaming for Aunt Patty.
“Well I’m going fishing, and I want to take you with me. Need someone to keep me company.”
“What about Daddy?” Uncle LJ always went fishing with Daddy and never Leroy. He was too loud, they said. He’d scare off the fish.
“Your dad is feeling sick today.”
Uncle LJ had a really icky smile on his face and Leroy knew. “He had too much beer, huh?”
“Doesn’t matter. We’ll go out, be back before noon.” He gave Leroy a wink. “Bring your knife and I’ll teach you how to whittle.”
Leroy managed a smile and nodded at that. “Dad?” he asked, knocking at the bedroom door and poking his head in. The room was dark and it smelled like beer.
“Whatcha need, Son?”
“Uncle LJ wants to take me fishing. Is that okay?” He climbed slowly onto the bed and gave his father a tight hug.
“Yeah. That’s good. I’ll be here when ya get back, Leroy.”
“Promise?” Leroy knew his eyes were shining with tears but he stubbornly wouldn’t let them fall.
“I promise. Now go. Be a boy. Have some fun. Be a kid again.” He mussed Leroy’s hair. “I love you, son. Have faith. I’ll be waiting for you. However long you’re gone, your old man will be right here waiting.”
Hours later, Leroy came running up the driveway, the bridge of his nose sunburned and itchy looking. Jackson watched him hauling a pail along.
“Whatcha got there, Leroy?” he asked, mussing his son’s dark hair.
“Three fish. I caught dinner. And Uncle LJ built his own boat, did you know that? He’s gonna teach me how to build my own someday. And he told me you and he are gonna open a store and I can help out. Can I?”
Jackson sighed and nodded, taking in the first genuine smile he’d seen on his son’s face in months, and nodded a thanks to LJ. They had a long way to go but with time and patience, he and his son would heal. Things would never be the same but Gibsses were survivors and as long as he had his son, they’d do just fine.”
MTAC - NCIS Fic