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by: rainsquall (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 652
Rating: YTEEN
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs
Category(ies): Character Study, Episode Related, Poetry
Pairing(s): - No Pairing -
Episode(s): 3-23 Hiatus (1), 3-24 Hiatus (2)
Summary: Gibbs's ghosts follow him to Mexico.

Author Notes: Gibbs's ghosts follow him to Mexico. Written for ncis_flashfic.

Chapters: 1

Marine life, Gibbs thinks, on seeing the ocean, stepping off the pathway that winds around Mexico's shoreline and onto the sun-baked sand, into the glassy twilight.

This time of year, Mexico is warm and he can almost feel the air shimmer with something other than the dense heat - something visceral, unreadable. The foreshore curves off far, far into the distance, and he squints as he tries to see the point where the ocean and sand meet the sky. His footsteps are loud within his eardrums, the sand shifting roughly underneath his feet. The ocean beats ceaselessly against the shore, and he is reminded of horses - phantom hoofbeats, echoing through his mind.

The route is familiar under his feet, having visited this place once before - and many more times in dreams. He looks up at the sky, then at the house of his old boss, and can't shake off the feeling, following him like the gathering darkness, that he is lost.

(In Washington he dreamed:

Ziva who falls into his arms, tears soaking through his scrubs and dampening his shoulder, letting loose the torrent of hurt and regret she'd never let herself acknowledge before; Ari whose feral, nightmarish grin near well drove him to madness, whose sadistic, twistedly perverse pleasure gained from playing Gibbs' games never relented - even when it cost him his life. Kate, blank and staring eyes, the hole through her forehead and blood pooling beneath her, for which he knew he was entirely to blame, no way out of it. Sawdust, splintered wood; boats, built for one. Ducky and Abby and Tim and Tony, whose unshakeable devotion to him had been strangely comforting - almost like having a family. And oh God, Shannon and Kelly—

The pillow he woke up to was damp, though he would never, ever acknowledge why.)

The memories still sit awkwardly on him, fifteen years' worth of events and emotions that still don't feel entirely his. It had been not unlike picking up a weapon for the first time - the way the fluid outlines and cold steel had felt foreign, unknown in his grasp; like swimming for the very first time.

But then, that's why he's here.

Michael Franks - boss - is well-known to him, although the deepening lines around his eyes, the greying hair, not so much soo. Most nights, they sit out on the porch together, watching the sun set and drinking as if their livers are made of steel.

There is comfort in this easy familiarity, the laid-back disconnection from the rest of the world. Here in this limbo, Gibbs is not boss but Probie, here he is safe from suicide bombers and lost time - most of all from himself.

(The scars on his face are still raw and the saltwater stings them as he dives further, deeper beneath the waves - seeking oblivion, intoxicating thing that it is, not really wanting to think about anything. The ache of his muscles, the weariness that he's carried around with him for years - everything seems to dissociate in the icy water he slips through.

Drowning is said to be one of man’s most primal fears: the sudden loss of air, the frantic desire to escape the choking, cold water that forces its way into your system, lining your lungs, the sheer, terrifying panic that overwhelms you as badly as the omnipresent ocean.

Yet Gibbs who is wrapped in water, sinking slowly, turning gently in the current; Gibbs who is entirely blissfully free of the ties of memory, thinks of nothing at all.)

When he wakes it is in the quivering, uncertain half-light of dawn, creeping palely up the walls of his otherwise empty room. He can smell the sea on the sheets that cling to his skin like salt and sadness. He knows instinctively that he is alone.

Chapters: 1

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