Title: Battlefield chapter6 - Sickness and health
Challenge: Sickness and health
Characters: Gibbs, McGee, Tony, Hollis Mann
Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS or any of these characters otherwise I wouldn't be writing fanfics. Words:1013
Summary: A final chapter to Battlefield. Each chapter is an answer to challenge: 'memory', 'fire','ice', 'porn', 'cracfic' and now finally 'sickness and health'. Story centers around Gibbs' response when McGee is injured during a car crash.
The sun was rising again. Gibbs had lost track of how many sunrises he'd watched from his hospital bedside chair. It was like he and McGee were trapped in some Groundhog Day recreation with everything but the Sonny and Cher music. He shifted slightly in his seat, a feat rendered more difficult as the days passed and the chair moulded more to his contours.
Gibbs could only just remember a time when he hadn't been in the hospital grounds. He had realised he was becoming too comfortable with the place when he found himself absent-mindedly planning the rails of McGee's bed.
The man in McGee's bed was a shadow of his former agent: a wire frame with the meat sucked from it. The once magnificent bruises had faded to a dull sepia tone and were slowly draining towards the nearest gland designed for such a duty. The large scar across his forehead was marked only by a rather anti-climatic single bandaid. His arm was still in a caste but it was so graffiti-laden, mainly with skulls, crosses and various voodoo symbols, that it had long ceased to look functional and was fast becoming a fine example of modern art.
Another morning ritual began.
"Can I go home?"
Gibbs pressed his lips together in a grim smile. McGee had asked the same question the last three days but after each visit, the doctor had refused him with a sad shake of his head.
"I'm much better, boss."
Gibbs considered his statement. Barely recognisable as the strong young man he once knew, McGee was hovering somewhere between the sickest healthy person and the healthiest sick person he had ever seen. Certainly if McGee had turned up to work looking as he did now, they would have rushed him off to hospital but in comparison to where he had started his journey, he looked positively robust.
"We'll see what the doctor says," Gibbs replied.
Slowly McGee began the painstaking task of rolling out of bed. Reaching the floor, he grasped for his cane with his good hand and slowly shuffled his way to the bathroom. Gibbs had a sudden insight into McGee as an old man: if he ever made it that far.
He heard the shower start and his ears strained. McGee was desperate to prove himself fully capacitated but there was a serious danger he would overdo it. He almost breathed a sigh of relief when McGee reappeared a few minutes later.
"They left breakfast about half an hour ago," said Gibbs nodding to the tray.
"You want some, Boss?"
"Got mine." Gibbs held up his coffee – Tony had brought in a supply.
McGee smiled and hobbled carefully back to his bed. Gibbs watched in slight bemusement as McGee investigated the contents of his breakfast tray. He was getting more comfortable with their morning routine than he had been with some of his ex-wives.
The doctor arrived just as McGee was finishing up and repeated the familiar checkups: same measurements, same old scars and the same sore spots. McGee endured it all in sullen silence, Finally the doctor picked up the chart, read the details and added his own annotations.
"How'd you feel about going home today?" he said expressionlessly.
There was a pause.
"Are you kidding me?" McGee's voice was more disbelieving than excited.
"Nope." The doctor looked up at him. "I think you can go."
McGee turned to stare at Gibbs, unbridled joy in his eyes. Gibbs smiled back: the nightmare was finally over.
"Get your things and the nurse at reception will discharge you," the doctor concluded, replacing the chart and calmly walking out as if nothing remarkable had happened.
McGee moved with a jerky excitement, hastily gathering the clothing that had sat idly in his bedside cupboard for too long and shuffled back to the bathroom.
As the door closed, Gibbs hoisted himself out of the chair he had long since begun to think of as his own and made some calls.
The corridor was alive with fond farewells as they made their way slowly through well wishers. McGee moved carefully, trying to smile but clearly focusing his energies on mastering each step without faltering. Gibbs followed quietly behind, a backpack on each shoulder.
Then they were outside the building and among the everyday people of the world who acted as if nothing unusual had just taken place.
A car horn beeped twice. "Hey, Probie!"
Tony was waiting at the curb, his trunk already open. McGee smiled and began the long trip to the car, his energy reserves already slipping noticeably. Gibbs strode passed him and dumped his backpack in the open trunk.
"Hey, Boss," Tony protest, "that's where McGee's riding."
"Ha, ha," McGee's response was suitably sarcastic but slightly distracted as he analysed the car entrance determining the easiest way to manoeuvre his awkward body into the car.
"Here." Tony was at his side, holding him under one arm, taking his weight, joining in the dance until McGee was securely seated. Then he took the cane and threw it into the trunk.
"See you back at work Boss," Tony called back over his shoulder without even a glance as he bounded to the drivers seat.
Gibbs watched as the car drove away, barely acknowledging Hollis drawing her car up alongside him. It was always hard when they didn't need you anymore, when they found their own company and support. It was a sign of good leadership that his people didn't feel a need to say 'thank you'. They expected him to be there, and he was: always. Sometime tomorrow or maybe next week, whenever the excitement of freedom had subsided, McGee would appear, as they all did eventually, and thank him for his efforts but for now, his job was done.
It was a thankless and fulfilling task all at once. In some ways like a parent child relation, in others like a marriage: to be there in sickness and in health, so long as you both shall live.