Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 622
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Ducky Mallard
Category(ies): Angst/Drama, Challenge, Hurt/Comfort, Song Fic
Summary: He was still there when the silent tears came. When Ducky reached up and clutched at his jacket. He was there and always would be. "I'm here, Duck..."
Author Notes: Originally written in response to Fanfiction Challenge #6 at [ncis_gibbsducky] on LJ, but I realise it can just as easily function as a proverbial touch of comfort to all the people who've had a need for them these past days and weeks. Love to you all!
(The song - see title - is by Jessica Andrews. She's amazing)
Something was wrong.
The moment it was clear to him that Ducky intentionally avoided eye contact, he was certain of it. Seemingly trivial changes in the way the man held his body, the subtle way he politely but curtly carried the one-sided conversation to a close, he noticed. And didn't like it one bit.
"...ethro?" DiNozzo jumped back when it was clear Gibbs had heard. And didn't like it one bit. Tony was good at reading Gibbs' eyebrow. It wasn't pleased. "Boss, I really--"
When Gibbs lifted his hand, Tony immediately responded by closing his eyes, anticipating the slap with a cringe. But nothing came, surprisingly. When he opened one cautious eye he saw Gibbs moving off to the elevator where Ducky stood waiting.
"Don't ever think about pulling such a stunt again, or it'll be your ass on my knee next time, got it DiNozzo?"
"Boss, yes, Boss!" Tony watched the two get on, not a word spoken between them. Somehow he could already feel the phantom pain building down below, mingling with the thick veil of tension which filled the workfloor.
[ In the elevator... ]
"'Your ass on my knee', Jethro? Really..."
Gibbs shrugged, looking ahead of him at the reflection on the metal doors. At Ducky. "Gotta keep him on his toes somehow, right?"
Ducky sighed, but stayed silent otherwise. To Gibbs, the silence of his friend spoke volumes about his state of mind. In some way it scared him to see the man he'd known for so long clam up in such a way. Scared him, made him worry. He knew the emotions were visible in his eyes, but Ducky still refused to look at him.
Gibbs turned, the cup of coffee he'd laid down next to him the only thing between them. "You want to tell me what's wrong, Duck?"
"I'm tired, Jethro. The drive home is taxing enough as is..."
When it was clear to Gibbs that Ducky wouldn't continue, he stated firmly, "Then tell me."
Ducky did turn then, his countenance from what Gibbs could see with the hat obscuring part of his view was annoyed, but most of all, weary. "Look, Jethro--"
He stilled however when Gibbs lifted his free hand to tip back the old hat. When he was finally able to look Ducky straight in the eye he was startled to see the same worry and fear he felt mirrored there in his friend's bright eyes.
Without a second thought he wrapped his arms around Ducky's shoulders, pulling the yielding body against him. Ducky didn't utter a sound of complaint, but he didn't encourage either. Instead he just sagged a bit in the embrace, leaning against Gibbs, favoring his bad leg in the process.
The quiet continued and Gibbs let it. He knew Ducky needed it, the comfort, the quiet. Explanations would come eventually. For now, Ducky needed him like this. And he would damn well stay this way for as long as the need was there. Because he couldn't count the times their roles had been reversed. The times it had been him in need of physical comfort. When Ducky had been there for him when his own wife hadn't.
He was still there when the silent tears came. When Ducky reached up and clutched at his jacket. He was there and always would be.
"I'm here, Duck..."
Whenever the road is too long
Whenever the wind is too strong
Wherever the journey may lead to
I will be there for you
I will be there for you
I'll always be there