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With a Little Help From My Friends (Sequel to 'Help, I Need Somebody')

by: BuffyAngel68 (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #2
Chapters: 065 Word Count: 103164
Rating: ADULT
Warning(s): Disturbing Imagery or Content, Violence
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Abby Sciuto, Timothy McGee, Ensemble, Caitlyn (Kate) Todd, Tobias Fornell, Gerald, Kelly Gibbs, Jeanne Benoit
Category(ies): Action/Adventure, Angst/Drama, Established Relationship, Humor, Hurt/Comfort, New Character, Romance
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo, Abby/McGee, Ducky/Gerald
Episode(s): 3-12 Boxed In
Summary: As Gibbs and Tony grow closer, an outside force is working to destroy the younger man. Meanwhile the rest of the team find their joy in varied and interesting places...

Chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65

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49

With A Little 49/?

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11:10 p.m.

After showing his ID to the current pair of FBI agents on guard, Gerald ducked silently into Tony's room and moved to the near side of the bed. He had difficulty breathing initially as memories rushed through him of the recent family gathering and the younger man's joy and shock at receiving his platinum bracelet from Jethro. Realizing suddenly that the item was no longer in its proper place, he made a mental note to ask his lover about it whenever he was home next.

Over a few minutes, Gerald's heart slowed and his anxiety eased a fraction, but witnessing someone he cared about look so battered and bruised was something he knew he would carry with him for a very long time. He now began to understand how some of the harrowing experiences Ducky had gone through might have helped to make the ME the gentle, compassionate professional he was, treating every corpse that came through his autopsy suite as the human being they once were, not lifeless flesh laying on his table.

A soft inquiry broke into his intense thought process and he looked up, finally noticing that the new director was awake.

"Doctor? What are you doing here so late?"

"Hey, Director Mackenzie. I'm your relief. And please, it's Gerald."

"Gerald. Thank you for the honor." She responded as she rose and moved around the bed to meet him. They shook hands then Sarah lightly touched his shoulder and joined him in gazing down at Tony. "I know it looks bad right now... but the doctors have assured me he'll be fine. They should be weaning him off the sedation tomorrow."

"Good... that's really good. I just wish..."

"I know. Sitting here, in the quiet... I've had a lot of time to think. There might be a tangible, meaningful way you'll be able to help. I read the reports on what happened to you... how you were shot and what you've endured since."

Gerald tensed.

"Uh-huh."

"Can you answer a question for me? As honestly as possible."

"I can try."

"Would you have given up on your physical therapy if you hadn't had Ducky with you all those weeks? If he hadn't been there to push you and keep your spirits out of your sneakers?"

Gerald turned away and took one step back toward the door, his chin on his chest. It was several minutes before he was able to answer.

"I probably would've given up on everything. Therapy, the family... my life."

"You understand what I'm asking of you?"

"I do. I'm just not sure I'm the one for the job. I mean... he'll want the man he loves... just like I had."

"No. Jethro will be the last thing he wants or needs."

Gerald swiped a hand over his face.

"Damn it... yeah, it makes sense. I felt helpless and embarrassed in front of Don the first few weeks... and all I was dealing with was a damaged shoulder. Tony... he'll be in a wheelchair for at least three weeks, maybe longer. He won't be able to really use either arm for a long while... God, you're right. Knowing Gibbs will be seeing him like that... the kid'll pitch a fit and fall in it."

"Plus, if anyone knows what kind of pain his PT will entail..."

Gerald groaned under his breath.

"The first yelp and Jethro Gibbs, the Marine's Marine, will melt like a stick of butter in the August sun. After that, Tony'll be able to get away with anything and his healing process will take three times as long."

"Agreed."

"I'm the only one who understands, aren't I? The only one who's been there and come out the other side with my sanity intact."

Sarah frowned.

"As far as I know. I remember reading something in Agent McGee's file... but I can't quite make the details come back to me."

"That's 'cause you're exhausted. Go on home and get some real rest. Let me take my turn."

'Ducky knows where you are?"

"I told him what I was planning before we left the ballet recital."

"Recital? Ballet?"

"Later. Much later. Head out, before the lack of sleep makes your brain shut down completely " He chuckled as he handed her the purse and coat that were lying on a table by the door. "I'll call you a cab on my cell. It should be here in ten or fifteen minutes."

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8:20 SUNDAY MORNING:

Ducky slowly walked he perimeter of Jethro's living room, examining various objects and joyfully uncovering the new elements Tony had added to the once spartan, aloof space, while he waited for the other man to emerge from the basement with whatever it was he'd promised to show his friend.

Pondering what it could be, Ducky's pleasure dissipated somewhat. He was fairly certain the revelation was connected to Jethro's slain daughter and anything that unexpectedly sent their thoughts back to those incredibly difficult days could, he knew from experience, take as much as a week to free themselves from. With all they currently had on their emotional plates, he was almost reluctant to add a new burden, but he was the one who'd pushed Jethro to do this, so he stuck it out.

Hearing Jethro climb the stairs, Ducky turned to look and was mildly surprised to see the former Marine carrying a large, old-fashioned cassette player.

"Hello. Haven't seen one of those in ages. I hardly remember what it looked like, never mind how to make it function."

"I feel old enough most days, Duck. Quit makin' it worse." Gibbs retorted with a wan smile.

"Please, kindly wait until you move a little closer to my stage of life before you begin calling yourself the O word, hmmm? To my eyes you are, as they say, still a Spring chicken." He countered as Gibbs set the player down on the coffee table, dropped to the couch and slowly stroked the dusty machine with one hand. Ducky sat down next to him. "What is this about, Jethro? I have my suspicions..."

Instead of answering, Jethro merely pushed a button and started the tape inside whirring. Several minutes later, as the last echoes of careful piano notes and Kelly and Shannon Gibbs' voices were fading out, Ducky was wiping away tears and his best friend was struggling valiantly against them.

"I wanted so bad to be there for her recital. I wrote and told her as much. She said she understood... but you could tell how disappointed she was. Hard for little girls to hide it when they feel bad. I only play this when I think I'm startin' to forget, ya know... who they were, what they sounded like. You told me about Abby an'... it kinda felt like betrayal, I guess. Like I didn't have the right to go watch her dance an' if Kel somehow found out..."

"She could never hate you, my friend. Never."

"You didn't see or hear her the last time I left to go back overseas. I thought she was gonna scream the neighborhood to rubble."

"Hmmm, I can imagine. Military service is hardest on the children, I think. They can't understand the whys and wherefores. All they see is a beloved parent walking away... all they know is the loneliness and absence. Telling them it isn't their fault and that you'll be back simply doesn't compensate."

Gibbs' eyes widened as long-buried images and words flooded back to him.

"You know that as well as I do, but you had it even worse. Can't believe I forgot, Duck, I'm really sorry..."

"Please, don't. I *encourage* memory loss in everyone who knew Steven or I during those last few years, including myself. Far better to recall his youth and childhood... better to remember the peaceful times instead of the illness and turmoil that overcame him later on. I apply that to our friendship as well, actually. The days when you were grieving in my arms rarely cross my mind anymore. I prefer to dwell on joyful things... like the night we were all here together. That remarkable moment after Tony received his gift... it was passionate and tender and everything a kiss should be. I must say that it's since inspired quite a few similar encounters with Gerald. Of course, we're almost always on our own when they occur, so lips tend to wander until..."

Gibbs coughed. Ducky looked over and responded to his friend's highly amused expression with a slightly self-conscious gaze, a rueful smile and a faint blush. "Yes, those details should be kept private, of course."

"Yeah, they should." Gibbs agreed lightly.

"Oh dear, I must be going." Ducky said as he rose slowly to his feet. "They expect me a bit early this morning to assist with teaching the younger children a special song. I don't suppose... if I asked..."

"No sense in wasting questions when you know damn well what the answer is, Duck. Unless you're doing an interrogation."

"Ah. Rule 29?"

"28."

"Close enough. I'll count it a victory. You know, it occurs to me, Jethro... young Kelly blamed you for leaving her, for causing her heartache... but you actually bore no guilt. You loved her dearly but you couldn't change what was happening. Are you, just perhaps... reacting the same way to God? Just a thought. I'll return after church, shall I? We'll have lunch?"

Gibbs nodded half-heartedly, but he was no longer looking at his friend. Ducky favored him with a gentle grin, turned and left.

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TBC.....

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