Author's Note: I have a feeling people can either love or hate this story. I, for one, really like it, which makes me think that most of you will hate it lol. Either way, remember that feedback is appreciated. And if you think this is horribly OOC, tell me, because the thought crossed my mind but I didn't want to change a thing. I'm stubborn like that.
No beta for this, as usual, and English still isn't my first language.
Also, I blame the contents of this on MatteaAM for the most part, and also on the latest episode of Sanctuary and Lady Antebellum's music. Just sayin'.
Beep. Hiss. Beep. Hiss.
Rhythmic and constant, the noises were like a lifeline for Jenny Shepard, certainties in a world that was falling apart before her own eyes.
She stopped in the doorway of the private hospital room and observed the still - too still - form of her husband's body, large in the impersonal hospital bed, but nonetheless looking so weak and frail it brought fresh tears to her eyes.
Angrily, she wiped at them, annoyed by her own weakness. Being weak was not an option, not now; not when her husband was unconscious and barely alive in a hospital bed and the agency needed her to assess the situation, limit its repercussions on NCIS' international relations, assure SecNav that they could deal with the crisis even though their casualties had been many and their spirits were battered and bruised; but not killed. Never killed.
Letting one lonely tear roll down her cheek, her jaw set and hands clenched into fists, Jenny walked up to the bed, her eyes once again taking in the wounds and bruises on her husband's face. She knew so many more bruises and wounds were hidden under the thin hospital clothes and bedding, and the knowledge made her stomach clench.
An unbidden, and unwelcome, sob forced its way out of her throat and she swallowed the rest of her tears hard, reaching out to brush her fingers ever so lightly over Gibbs' creased brow. His head was wrapped in a white bandage that was now tinted with red from where the blood had seeped into the cloth through the wound on his temple. His skin felt hot under her fingers, even though the room was chilly, and she shivered in her thin light blue cotton sweater. From the cold or the shock, she could not say.
A bowl filled with water was on the table next to the bed, a soft sponge sitting nearby, and Jenny's hand reached for it instinctively, pushing it into the bowl and then squeezing the excess water before she used it to dampen Gibbs' forehead and neck. He lay still, motionless, and the bleeping and hissing noises from the machines linked to his body remained the only sounds in the dimly-lit room.
She knew her actions were futile at this moment, the only things helping him so far were the drugs the doctors had been administering, and now they could only wait and hope he would wake up soon. In the meantime, two days had passed by with no change.
The sense of déjà-vu was hard to miss in the entire situation, and it prompted a bitter laugh from Jenny, a nervous sound, almost hysterical, that scared her more than anything else did. Her own fear scared her, the horror at the realisation that she had become weak somewhere along the way, the dread that possessed her at the idea of being alone.
The possibility of losing him, after all they had been through… it terrified her.
It was hard to hold back her tears this time, hard to tell herself that she had to remain rational when the weight of her responsibilities and fears crushed her and drove all the air out of her lungs like a kick in the stomach. Like a hand wrapped around her throat, making it difficult for her to breathe.
Her shaky hand found his, and she held on tight, the touch becoming an anchor, as real as the noises from the machines in the room. Everything she knew and could account for right at that moment.
Her eyes fell to the hand in hers, and upon finding it free of cuts or wounds, she laced her fingers through his, drawing some more strength from the contact, keeping her mind focused on what was at the forefront of her mind.
As if on their own accord, her lips started moving, forming the words of a silent prayer, and God, she hadn't prayed in so long. It felt strange and oddly comforting to know that she still knew how to talk to God in the middle of the night. She just hoped He would still know how to listen.
Eyes closed, hot tears falling down her face, Jenny Shepard lay down and plastered her body to Gibbs' side, their fingers still laced together. She checked his face for signs of discomfort - any sign at all would be welcome by now - and laid her head on his shoulder when she didn't see any.
The prayer in her head went on and on.
Five years later…
"Have you brushed your teeth?"
"Yes, mommy. Daddy, can you read me a story now?"
Jenny smiled as Gibbs got up from the couch and picked up their daughter, holding her tightly in his arms.
Avery giggled and blew a kiss to Jenny as her father carried her upstairs, "Nighty night, mommy!"
"Goodnight, baby." The grin on Jenny's face just couldn't get any bigger as she watched them disappear up her stairs and she counted her blessings.
In their line of work, it wasn't easy to forget just how blessed they were to go home safe every night, to have such a beautiful daughter who at five years old already understood the importance of what they did - for the most part.
However, with all the misery they had seen, with the atrocity they witnessed every day, it was hard to remember that there was a God, and that He was good.
Then she remembered that cold night, lying in a hospital bed next to Jethro, talking to God. And she looked at her family, and she knew that God was there somewhere, and that He loved them.
In a way they just couldn't understand, perhaps, but she had her husband and her daughter, they were all healthy, and that was enough for her to be thankful every day.