Abby was called in the next day or rather she called herself in, choosing to go to work rather than sit at home worrying. She had been texting me updates on things down in NCIS (no case specifics naturally) and how the team was handling things. Which did not sound particularly good. Ziva was an emotional zombie, Tony was put in charge and fairly tense, McGee was…being clingy apparently? And the director practically lived in Gibbs' hospital room.
I myself went to work as my new position as Starbucks manager for the next few days. I continued to do my usual job applications at night – unsure of how to feel about the whole situation. Logically, it didn't make sense and wouldn't really help Gibbs for me to watch him sleep in a coma. Yet it felt weird and somewhat insulting to go about the usual rounds in the coffee shop. It was even worse to see DiNozzo storm in and order eight coffees a day. He came in every day at 12:15 PM precisely and very curtly made his order to me or one of my colleagues. While his general outward appearance radiated the typical NCIS agent aura, his eyes were sharper and harsher than usual. And his usually pristine lips (he had a thing for lip balm) was chapped and chewed on. The most off-putting thing was that way he addressed me. Or rather, the lack thereof. Whenever I came into NCIS, he was quick to drop a pick up line with every breath but in the days of Gibbs' coma, he was serious. The closest thing to happiness I saw on his face when he visited was when I addressed him stiffly as Mr. DiZozzo in a moment of spite.
"Trying to make me feel old, eh?"
I had simply bit back my retort and handed him his coffee.
On my day off, I had no hesitation in my mind as I arrived at the hospital at the very beginning of visiting hours – 11 AM. With all the team working on the case, and the director back in NCIS, according to Abby, I doubted I could get special privilege to see Gibbs any earlier than any other citizen. I was right.
"Your relation to the patient?" An older African-American nurse was scathingly questioning me from behind the counter. "E. Washington" was lasered onto her name tag and a permanent frown seemed glued to her face.
"Friend." I replied as passively as I could muster. She had been overly through on verifying my information and relation to Gibbs – for what reason, I had no idea.
"Are you an NCIS agent?"
And how was any of this relevant?
"No," my face must have betrayed some of my irritation as her eyes flashed briefly. "I work at a coffee shop that he frequently visits– that's how we met. I was here with a girl named Abby a few days ago."
At the name Abby, Nurse Washington seemed to relax a little. "As long as you're not with that rude Shepard character…"
"Skinny white thing with a red hair cut?" The nurse looked as if she was speaking about a bug of some sort.
"She's been every day, fussing and bothering Dr. Gelfand nonstop. The poor man has no room to even do this job. If she's interested in doctors, she ought to try Craigslist."
I blinked rapidly at the insulting comment. I had no positive or negative feelings about the director, really. As I always said, she was nice to me and strict with her agents. It was all I knew and all I hoped to know. But I was surprised by this rather brash and unprofessional comment about a hospital visitor.
"I'm…sorry to hear that?"
The nurse continued to shake her head as she filled out my name tag for the visitation day. I heard her mutter something about "rice" as I left and couldn't help wondering what was becoming of our medical care system.
When I finally reached Gibbs' room, my stomach tightened at the sight of him. I didn't really know why; he looked exactly the same as a few nights ago. Standing next to his left bedside, I looked down at him more carefully. He looked somehow small, with all the tubes around him and the machines (which I'm sure he would hate) wheezing around him. The white sheets gave sharp contrast to his skin, making it look more red and blotchy than usual. His face, however, had less burns that I vaguely remembered seeing on his face the other night. They must have healed. On the other side of the bed, I noted that the chair the director was sleeping in earlier was still seated close to his side.
My hand felt like it had a mind of its own as I reached down to graze his left hand. Still warm. For some reason, I had half the mind that it would be cold. After a while of staring at his left arm blankly, I tucked my hand into his and gave it a light squeeze.
I heard a quick intake of breath behind me and quickly removed my hand before turning.
"My apologies, I didn't think he would have any more visitors." A tall, brown haired doctor - by the look of his coat – was lingering at the doorway. I shook my head.
"I meant to visit earlier but…" But what? I didn't really have an excuse.
The doctor seemed to understand, however. "Dr. Todd Gelfand, by the way." He extended his hand in greeting and I automatically reached for it in response.
"My name's Sophie," I bobbed my head toward Gibbs' bed. "You're his doctor I assume."
Dr. Gelfand smiled in response. "Yes. Are you next of kin or…"
"Oh no," I laughed nervously, feeling embarrassed for some reason. "I'm his coffee girl…turned friend…Long story." I added, seeing his expression.
"How is he doing?" I asked, half curious, half wanting to change the subject. The doctor frowned before answering.
"It's rather hard to say. The coma is stable for the most part. Too stable for my liking, honestly. Everything up in his brain is perfectly fine. His body has no real need for this coma state. I might do another CAT scan today but…" He seemed to trail off before realizing I was still in the room. "It just seems he would prefer to be in a coma."
AN – An update after several months o.o my apologies. To be honest, I'm a full season behind in NCIS and currently obsessed with Doctor Who but after getting a few reviews on this, I realized I haven't updated in a while. So there you go – no intentional Shepard bashing, I just figured the nurse would be angry at her. Reviews are love and hope you had a good holiday!