Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 3488
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Ducky Mallard, Abby Sciuto, Ziva David, Timothy McGee, Jenny Shepard, Caitlyn (Kate) Todd
Category(ies): Character Study, Episode Related, Pre-Slash
Episode(s): 3-23 Hiatus (1), 3-24 Hiatus (2)
Summary: Gibbs' POV as he lies in a coma in the hospital.
He floated for a long time in darkness, unaware of where he was. He heard voices sometimes, but mostly it was...nothingness. He couldn't seem to get his eyes to open - his limbs to move. He tried to speak several times, but no sound emerged.
He remembered waking up in a hospital and discovering that he'd lost ten years of his life. Ten. It seemed inconceivable to him. He was Jethro Gibbs - Marine, father, husband...not 'Agent Gibbs' - widower, ex-marine, divorced three times... Hell, how had his life changed so much in ten years, and why couldn't he remember it?
The pain of losing his wife, Shannon, and his daughter, Kelly, were still fresh in his mind. Could they really have been dead for ten years? Really? It didn't seem possible, and yet there were people all around him - people he didn't recognize - telling him it was so.
He wanted to scream, to cry out in frustration. He wanted all these people and doctors to leave him alone so he could have a good cry and maybe blow his brains out with his own gun. How could he go on living without the two of them? How did anyone survive this?
Shortly after regaining consciousness, he'd flipped on the TV, desperately hoping that this was all some sick joke, and yet...the date and time stamp on the bottom corner of the evening news had confirmed what everyone had been saying. Ten damn years...
After that, he remembered having trouble breathing. Nurses had rushed in, and he'd been aware of some piece of machinery beeping shrilly by his ear. There had been shouting and panicked voices, and then...nothingness. At the time, he'd welcomed it gratefully.
Now, however, it was pure torture. To be left all alone, with no distraction from his unbearable grief, was the most miserable sort of hell he could imagine. He wasn't sure how long he suffered alone before something in him rebelled, fighting against it. He clawed with fingers he knew weren't really moving, desperate to tear down the blackness around him and find some form of light - anything. His mind screamed out in frustration, begging, pleading for someone to hear him until suddenly something seemed to click into place.
He still couldn't move or seem to manage to open his eyes, but at least he was sort of aware of his surroundings. He could hear the beeping of his heart monitor - was aware that there was a television switched on somewhere nearby. He could hear the doctors and nurses moving about, speaking to people who had evidently come to check on him. Phrases like, 'taken a turn for the worse,' and 'have to wait and see,' were thrown around. It was awhile before one nurse finally whispered a word that sent icy chills through his consciousness - 'coma.'
He'd often heard that people could remember things that went on around them while they were in a coma, and now he supposed he was living proof that that was true - if he lived long enough to awaken and tell someone about it, that is.
Weariness had overtaken him then, and the noises around him seemed to fade into the background. He drifted for awhile, resting without really dreaming, until voices once more broke through. He heard one of the doctors talking to a young woman - a different one than the redhead that had been there when he'd woken up. This new woman was crying, asking if there wasn't anything they could do to help him. After a long pause and a sigh, he heard the doctor tell her that people in comas could sometimes hear them, that he might even now be somewhat aware of his surroundings.
Gibbs wanted to jump for joy - finally perhaps someone understood at least that much. He heard the woman tell the doctor that she'd make sure he was never alone, that someone would be with him. He wondered what his relationship was with her, if she was some relative he'd only just discovered he'd had or if she was merely a good friend. He just couldn't remember, but he was grateful to her all the same.
His most frequent visitor was one he actually liked quite a bit. "Doctor Mallard" he'd heard one of the hospital staff address him as until he'd been corrected with a, "Please, it's 'Ducky' to my friends and associates."
Ducky. An odd name for a man who was apparently even older than he was, but fitting none the less. Ducky would sit by his bedside for hours at a time, always talking. Sometimes he was rather annoyed with the man, because it seemed that he never shut up, but most of the time he was grateful for the distraction.
The man had been through a lot in his lifetime and had millions of stories to share. Most of the ones he told were about things and places far away and a long time ago - things he assumed he wasn't supposed to know and that was just fine with him. He could lose himself in the gentle tones of the older man's voice and get swept up in the stories without trying to find faces to place to names that he knew he ought to know.
Sometimes, he drifted off into unconsciousness during the stories and they would incorporate themselves into his dreams. Other times, when his dreams would turn to hallucinations of war and nightmares of coming home to a dead wife and daughter, waking to find himself in the middle of one of Doctor Mallard's stories would be a welcome relief. They helped take his mind off things, if anything else, and he almost - almost - wished that he could find the strength to open his eyes, if only for a minute, and thank the man.
His next frequent visitor was also the one that he liked the least. That redhead that had been there when he'd awoken - Jen her name was, probably short for Jenifer, but he had a distinct memory of calling her 'Jenny.' She came almost as much as Ducky, and he wondered how she had the time if she was truly the head of some government agency like she claimed.
Most of the time, her visits weren't all that bad. She would just sit with him, evidently reading. He often heard the soft 'whish' of the pages of a magazine turning, leaving him alone for the most part, and only becoming animated when a doctor or nurse poked their head in. She seemed quite content at playing the 'little wife' although he'd gathered during his consciousness that what they'd had between them had been over a long time ago and had never gotten as far as marriage. He wondered if she even realized she was doing it or if it was just some reflex left over from a time when she would have been by his bedside for an entirely different reason.
It was the times when she actually talked that irked him. For some reason, he didn't like her calling him 'Jethro' or acting as though she knew all that was to know about him - he didn't like it at all. When she talked, it was always about them, about their history together. He hated that - wanted to forget it from the moment he'd woken up. He didn't remember much, but he damn well didn't appreciate her trying to bring back even more memories by talking about them - memories of sweat-soaked sheets and heated skin glistening in the moonlight and a woman who definitely wasn't Shannon.
Shannon - oh god, Shannon! Just thinking of her name brought unbelievable amounts of pain blossoming in his chest.
He knew it wasn't entirely this woman's - Jenny's - fault. He knew that a lot of the anger and hostility he was feeling towards her at the moment was unjust, but at the moment he simply couldn't find the energy to care. The pain of losing his wife was still so fresh in his mind now that the very idea of being with any other woman repulsed him. It was inconceivable that he'd managed to marry even one woman after he'd lost her, let alone three - three for god's sake! How had he done it - no, why had he done it? Was he that desperate to fill the void that Shannon and Kelly had left in his heart?
He must have been. What other explanation could there be? If he'd really loved these women - loved them like he'd loved Shannon - he'd have never let them leave. He'd have worked out any problems and moved heaven and earth for them to stay together.
That knowledge gave him a grim sort of satisfaction - that he'd never loved another the way he'd loved her - but it also sent a fresh wave of loneliness and despair washing over him like nothing else.
Another visitor who came quite often was a girl who called herself Abby. Well, she was more of a woman than a girl, but she had some sort of 'little sister' quality about her that made you want to keep her away from all harm. He recognized her as the one the doctor had told about comas, the one who'd promised to keep visitors by his bedside.
When she sat next to him, she tended to chatter, always talking. There was a sort of desperate determination in her words as she told him that he would get better and he would regain his memory. She seemed to have such faith in him, and there seemed to exist some sort of shared connection that reminded him of his daughter, Kelly.
Sometimes, listening to her go on would remind him so much of Kelly that he wished she would just leave him to his misery, but the feeling was always short-lived. Abby was so optimistic, so full of life and hope, that it was hard not to want her around.
She mostly spent their time together telling him how various people were doing in his absence, people he could no longer remember. He listened diligently though to all she said to him, trying to piece together as much information on his life as possible. He wasn't sure how, but he knew that if Abby mentioned a person or place it must be something he would normally care about. Sometimes she would mention things that they had been through together, things he wished he could remember because the memories were so obviously important to her that they must have held some place in his heart as well.
There were times, however, when she wasn't so optimistic - when her voice betrayed how tired and worried she truly was. Then she would repeat to him that he had to get better because he was Gibbs, and Gibbs always got better. She'd say it like a mantra until her voice broke, and he knew she must be crying.
These occurrences were few and far between, but when they did happen, he felt something in him actually try to wake up. It had yet to succeed, but at least something in him wanted to make the effort to go on living.
His other visitors weren't as frequent, yet they seemed equally important to him somehow. One was a man called Tim, although he'd heard him be addressed as 'Agent McGee' by the redheaded woman, Jen. Tim called him 'Boss', and from what he gathered, worked for him in some capacity.
His voice was young, but had a weariness to it that seemed out of place, like a child who lost a parent and seemed old beyond their years. He wondered if perhaps it was his own 'death' that caused that weariness or if, perhaps, he'd always had it.
Tim mostly was quiet. He always said hello and like Abby, told him how things were holding up at their place of work, but that was mainly it. Gibbs didn't mind the silence, though, because it gave him time to think on the things he had said, and it wasn't an uncomfortable sort of silence like Jen's was. When Tim did speak, it was often hesitant, almost as though he expected a reprimand, and painted a picture of a young man, inexperienced but eager to please and learn.
Often he would hear the clicking of a keyboard and knew that the man must have a laptop with him. Once Tim read him something from a book he'd apparently written. It was actually very good, but there was something so familiar about it...about the characters and the places. He wondered if perhaps he hadn't read it before.
His quietest visitor was a woman called Ziva. She didn't speak much and made little noise to even let him know that she was in the room. Still, he could sense her presence - almost feel her gaze on him. When she did speak, it was clipped and sounded more like an official report than a visit to a sick colleague. He wondered, perhaps, if she only came because she felt some sense of duty to him for some reason, that is, until one night.
She'd been sitting with him quietly, when he felt her take his hand. When she spoke, her voice was softer than he'd ever heard it. "Please get better, Gibbs. Tony is doing well in your absence, but he needs you. I - We all need you."
She sounded so sincere even though her voice was choked and forced. He got the impression that she wasn't used to expressing these types of emotions openly. Well, neither was he, really, so he could understand that.
After that, she made a few personal remarks when she 'reported' to him before being content to sit in a companionable sort of silence. He got the distinct impression that he hadn't known her for long, but that there was something - some event perhaps - connecting them. It wasn't romantic, of that he was certain. It reminded him rather of the connection he felt to the men in his unit. Brother marines. Bonded together in some strange way forever by experiencing the war together. Ziva sounded far too young to have been at war with him, but still it was something...similar.
His least frequent visitor only arrived when things seemed to be going badly. When he could hear the shrill cries of his monitors and the frantic voices of doctors and nurses around him. That was when he would see her - actually see her - even though his eyes were closed.
She was beautiful with brunet hair and a sweet smile. He knew her name was Kate, although he couldn't remember how he knew, and he also knew that she was dead.
She would sit by him, radiating calm and reassurance, and even hold his hand as the nurses applied the paddles, shocking life back into him when he flat-lined. "It's alright, Gibbs," she'd told him. "You're going to live through this." And he did.
Kate's presence fascinated him and opened some longing locked deep inside him. He couldn't really remember her, not well anyway, but he got the distinct impression that he could have loved her. He wondered what the circumstances had been that had kept him from doing so. Perhaps she had died too soon, or maybe he'd been too gun shy after his last failed marriage.
Either way, seeing her made him feel lucky and blessed. It gave him hope that perhaps he would survive this, would open his eyes someday and regain his memories.
His favorite visitor, although he really had no idea why, was a man named Tony DiNozzo. Tony called him 'Boss' as McGee and Ziva had, but there seemed to be more respect and meaning behind it.
Tony had a nice voice that sounded cheerful and a little cheeky most of the time. He mainly rambled on about things at work with frequent sidebars about movies and their actors. Everything seemed to remind him of a movie...or an episode of Magnum, which was apparently his favorite TV show.
Gibbs wasn't sure why, but he felt an odd sense of aggravation and an urge to smack the other man every time he heard the words "You know, this reminds me of a movie..." Still, there was a fierce sort of affection behind it that rather startled him. He genuinely liked this man and trusted him implicitly, although once again, he had no idea why.
A brief echo of the words, "On your six, boss!" passed through his mind, but he had no memory to go with it.
One evening, while Tony had been telling him about his first girlfriend - another subject Gibbs seemed to want to smack him for bringing up - he heard the voice of Tim interrupt.
"Tony, we've got a lead on the bomber. Ziva's got the car waiting outside."
"Out in a minute, Probie," Tony had replied, before asking. "You going to sit with him?"
"No, I'd rather come with you," Tim said. "I called Ducky. He said he'd be happy to come down here until we get back."
He heard footsteps that must have been Tim leaving, and then a weary sigh that must have come from Tony. "We need you back here, boss," Tony said quietly. "You've gotta tell us what happened to you on that damn ship."
He heard the sounds of Tony's chair being pushed back from the bed and the sound of cloth - probably a jacket - rustling. Tony's voice was suddenly very close to him and held a sorrow he'd never heard from the younger man before. "I miss you, Gibbs," was the soft whisper, and he felt a feather-light kiss pressed to his temple. Then Tony was gone, striding out quickly, the rubber soles of his shoes squeaking a little on the hard hospital floors.
To say that those actions shocked him was an understatement, but he simply couldn't explain the burst of hopeful joy that spread through him, making him feel warm and wanted. Had he perhaps had something with this man? He dismissed the idea as absurd - he was a Marine after all - but still the idea refused to leave him alone.
He didn't think they'd actually been in a relationship because Tony probably would have said something during their time alone together, but still... Perhaps he'd been harboring feelings for the younger man and just hadn't admitted them to anyone? He wasn't sure, and he sure as hell wasn't going to find out in this hospital bed.
For once, he really and truly wanted to wake up, to find out what had happened to him in those elusive ten years. He thought about the people who had been visiting him and realized that he wanted to know these people again. He had no memory of them and yet he couldn't deny that some part of him must remember them on some level because the emotions were still there. It was as if there were two invisible threads connecting his brain to the memory of each person - one for the actual memories and another for his feelings for them. It seemed that the explosion had snipped only the first, leaving him the second intact, binding him to these strange people he couldn't remember.
He thought of Ducky and felt a deep-rooted sense of friendship and trust...
Jenny, who he obviously harbored some resentment toward, but still, there was something else there, something left over from a time when she'd been more to him than a boss...
He thought of Abby with whom he felt a fierce need to protect...
Tim, with his almost childlike innocence and the feeling of unfinished business, as though he'd still had so much more to teach him...
Ziva, a similar soul who had also been through too much in her life and as a result, had difficulty expressing herself...
Kate. His link between the dead and living. His reminder of how brief life was and how much it was to be cherished...
And Tony... Well, he still wasn't quite sure what was going on with him, and at the moment he didn't feel the need to examine it. It reminded him too much of his feelings for Shannon for him to be able to cope with at the moment. Still, though, it was the thought of the younger man, whose face he couldn't even remember, that finally pulled him up the rest of the way through the darkness and back into the world of the living.
His eyes opened to a hospital ceiling and the voice of Ducky saying, "You know, Jethro, I don't believe I've ever told you about the time in medical school, when I..."