Gibbs had always wondered how he'd die, he'd come to peace with the fact that it would probably be premature. But this scenario would never have crossed his mind. Bedridden, dying slowly from a disease he couldn't fight, regretting all the things he would never get to say.
But as he looked around listlessly at the faces around him - he realised they understood. He could no longer hold his regrets.
His team sat at his bedside as he drew his last breath. It was a shocked silence in the moments that followed, watching the face of their team leader relax into an almost peaceful expression. The nurses and doctors had long since taken the heart monitor and various flashing machines, leaving the room peacefully silent, save the rasping breaths that the bed's occupant had been taking.
Tony looked away first, unable to bear the thought that, the man who had been healthy as a horse only a few months ago would soon be lying on a slab, death written upon his tired but peaceful features. As his mind ran through the years they'd been working together, as partners mostly - he realised the impact Gibbs had upon him. Beyond the gruff exterior, his memories were of a man whose actions spoke much louder than his sometimes thoughtless words would ever. The commanding presence that never failed to capture attention.
A feat Tony had yet to emulate.
McGee was the second to look away, hand grasping Abby's tightly. His eyes were kept firmly closed fighting tears. Memories of a team leader who even until this day had the ability to terrify and comfort him. Tim had begun to understand that while he was a man to be respected and sometimes feared - especially if you knocked over his coffee - he always had the team's best interests at heart. Somehow, it didn't matter if Gibbs claimed he didn't teach, you watched and he made damn sure you understood exactly what he did.
Tim let a solo tear escape his control.
Ziva stared blankly into the face of the man who had gone to hell and back to see her returned safely home. A man to whom she owed her life - although it was more so, a team to which she owed her life. She couldn't even begin to describe the feelings overwhelming her. They'd shared a trust since the beginning, a bond nearly shattered by her father, but rebuilt over the slowness of time. He knew one of her darkest moments, and had helped to cover her actions. A man who gave his life to protecting those he loved. He was a marine. Fought until the very end. Not even months of Chemo had slowed him down.
He had refused the law few rounds of treatment. After doctor's had explained the severity of his plight, he had put his foot down. Said if he was going to die, he would do it with dignity. Not wasted away by a treatment that would see him lose more hair, more weight and all of his independence. No, Leroy Jethro Gibbs would not bow to illness. He would make peace with his end, and he had.
Abby could only be described as in shock, her pale skin unbelievably paler than it was normally. She couldn't believe her silver haired fox was brought down by illness. This was the man who never had a cold, never had the flu! Absently she squeezed McGee's hand tight. Always the favourite, she knew exactly how to get Gibbs to do exactly what she wanted. He had been wrapped tightly around her little finger. Over the years, the Caf-Pows, the kisses and the "Good Job Abbs." She couldn't believe he'd never walk into her Lab and utter those words again.
Donald 'Ducky' Mallard - the man who had known Gibbs the longest - was the only one who was smiling. His friend, for the first time in over a decade had a peaceful smile on his gaunt features. It had been unthinkable, when he'd first heard the diagnosis. Even then, Gibbs had never given up hope. Slowly, relentlessly, the cancer had worn him down.
It had an odd affect on the man; smiles and encouragement were more frequently heard in the bullpen. Not often, but more often than those of the past. The things taken for granted, and those things that most annoyed him he would now miss most - barging into autopsy demanding results, cutting off his stories at the most inopportune moments. Dr. Mallard never believed that he would outlive his reckless, invincible seeming friend.
Yet here they were. The team watched in silence as the nurses took him away. After all was said and done, there was no more they could do.
Together they would mourn. Together they would move on. But they wouldn't forget.
Author's Note: Opinions and critiques are most welcome.