AN: I am always a little hesitant to post emotional stories. I like writing them, but they are so OOC it's unreal. Also, this is AU because I allowed Kate to live. I am no medical expert so the medical stuff worked for the story, that's why it's there. Enjoy! and remember, reviews feed the writer's soul.
Gibbs stood at the same bedside, holding on to the same bedrail as he had for the past month, the longest month of his life.
It has started as an argument in the basement that had moved to the basement's landing. It ended in a pool of blood on Gibbs' basement floor. Gibbs had not been in the basement since. He had not called to have the railing fixed. He had called to have the blood cleaned up. It hurt his heart to know that it was there. He had even considered selling the house several times. Because, in his dreams, he looked over the broken railing of his basement handing and saw the broken body of Anthony DiNozzo, blood seeping from the back of his head.
Gibbs had tried to enter the basement. He needed the boat-building distraction now, more than ever. But he always had to look over that railing, almost expecting to see Tony lying there unconscious and bleeding. It was more than he could take.
It had taken all his strength to get himself dressed and looking presentable to the outside world. Inside he was dying. Gibbs had considered suicide. It had not been that big a leap to make since he had "killed" the one person in the world he dearly loved. The man he thought of as a son. Even if Tony survived this, the doctors all said that there would be severe brain damage. That he would most likely lose his sight and that there was the distinct possibility of paralysis.
Gibbs had thought about this. He couldn't help it. It was like a mantra running through his mind: Brain Damage, Blindness, Paralysis over and over again. Gibbs had decided/vowed to spend all the time he could with Tony at his bedside. Gibbs sat and held his hand, mostly. He didn't say much. Not because he didn't have anything to say. It was just that he hadn't wanted to upset Tony. Gibbs thought that just the sound of his voice might do that. He had so much to say to Tony, so much to tell him. He could fill a book with it all. But day after day all he could bring himself to do was to be a presence. There were things that needed to be said. Gibbs kept bringing himself back to the scene. Gibbs had raced down the stairs after Tony had hit the floor. He had not picked up Tony's broken body and cradled it in his arms, as much as he had wanted to. Gibbs had ached to hold Tony in his arms. But he also knew the slightest movement of Tony's body could injure him more. Gibbs had consoled himself with kneeling beside Tony, handling his hand and running his fingers through Tony's hair.
Gibbs didn't talk to his team much either, though they visited Tony daily. He knew they each were dealing with Tony's injury in their own way. McGee and Abby were taking it the hardest. But he knew Kate, Ducky and Jenny were having a very rough time also. They all were just waiting for Tony to wake up, waiting for Gibbs to return to normal.
The new Gibbs was confusing. He was brooding. (Well, not so new.) But he was also introspective, which was. It was more than disturbing. He apologized and he cried. More than once they had all seen Gibbs sitting by Tony's bedside with tears in his eyes.
Ducky finally got the story out of Gibbs as to what had happened. Tony and Gibbs had been arguing in the basement. Tony had said something and had started up the stairs. Gibbs caught Tony on the landing and tried to reason with him. There was a brief physical altercation. Tony fell against the railing. It gave way and Tony ended up with a fractured skull, a severe concussion, and 3 crushed vertebrae on Gibbs' basement floor.
Abby and Kate cried when they heard the whole story. Jenny even shed a tear. She was, after all, very fond of Tony. They all hoped against hope he would be able to be an NCIS agent again when he woke up.
Gibbs felt fingers move in his. He was sure it was just a reflex and he waited anxiously for more movement. Tony's fingers twitched again. Gibbs pressed the button for the nurse.
"Agent Gibbs…" Tony's nurse, Amanda Jacobs asked. She could tell by his expression that something had changed. "…what is it?"
"His fingers twitched. I felt his fingers move. It happened twice. The first time I thought it might have been a reflex, but the second time…" Gibbs was ecstatic.
"Agent Gibbs…" Amanda explained. "…it might still be a reflex. The damage to his vertebrae might be causing his body to produce small tremors. They are just random muscle contractions. In and of themselves they mean nothing.
"He's coming back, Amanda." Gibbs said, his voice pleading. "I can't think about the alternative."
Amanda smiled at Gibbs, not feeling nearly as optimistic. She stood and watched Tony, waiting for further movement.
"Tony." Gibbs said, squeezing Tony's hand. "I am so sorry. I should have never argued with you. You were right. I am extremely stubborn." Gibbs paused. He felt tears coming to his eyes. "I don't mean to use harsh tones with you. But what you did scared me. I saw you there, not moving, I thought you were dead. Now that you are waking up, I won't be around much. I think just hearing my voice upsets a little. After I know that you are awake, I will stop visiting. I want you to get better, and I don't want to hinder the process. I am having a really hard time imagining my life without you in it, but I am going to have to get used to it. I love you, Son." Gibbs squeezed Tony's hand again and let go. He stood up to leave before his emotions got the better of him.
"Leave?" Amanda questioned. "He needs you. You are here more than we are." Amanda said, referring to the nursing staff.
Gibbs shook his head. "But when he wakes up, he won't want to see me." Gibbs explained. "Trust me on this. I don't want to upset him. I am not going to do anything to hinder his progress. My staying with him after he wakes up would do that."
"I don't see how…" Amanda started.
"I am the reason he fell. We argued and it happened in my basement. It's my fault. I can live with that, but I can't live with hurting him more."
"Oh, Jethro, I'm sorry." Amanda said, seeing Gibbs tearing up.
"Yeah,…" Gibbs choked up. "…me to."
"Don't give up on your relationship and don't give up on this young man." Amanda said, referring to Tony. "He sounds like a reasonable, gentle, kind-hearted young man, from what you told me. He'll forgive you."
Gibbs looked down at Tony, expectantly. He had stood to leave, but he had not removed his hand from Tony's. Tony squeezed his hand. "Tony?" Gibbs paused. "Tony, if you can understand me, squeezed my hand 3 times." Gibbs requested.
Gibbs got the correct response.
"Can you answer yes or no questions? Squeeze my hand twice for yes and three times for no."
Tony squeezed Gibbs' hand twice.
"He's doing it." Gibbs looked up at Amanda and smiled. "He understands what I'm saying."
Gibbs asked several more questions and got responses.
"Do you know where you are?"
Three squeezes for no.
"Do you know what happened to you?"
Three squeezes for no.
Gibbs paused before asking his next question. He stared at Tony for a moment, the respirator, the heart monitor, the IVs and the morphine pump sending a variety of beeps and other noises into the otherwise silent room. "Do you know who I am?"
Tony squeezed his hand twice.
Gibbs sighed. He was glad Tony was not awake. He didn't want to have to read the level of hurt and betrayal he knew he would see in Tony's eyes. "I'm sorry."
Tony's squeezed Gibbs' hand hard once. Tony's heart rate increased and he grimaced in obvious pain.
"Jethro…" Amanda said, putting her stethoscope to her patient's bare chest. She listened to Tony's heart and breath sounds for a moment. "Don't leave." Amanda said straightening up and putting her stethoscope around her neck. "He needs you here. It's normal for patients just waking up to have pain. We don't want to overmedicate them. A large amount of pain medication can induce or prolong a coma state. This is actually a good thing." Amanda affirmed. "A sure sign he is waking up."
Gibbs took this time to leave the room and call the team to let them know of Tony's apparent good news. The rest of the team arrived within the hour including Director Shepard. They all gathered at the glass partition outside Tony's room.
Abby stood at the window and pressed her face up to the glass. She watched the nurses at work in Tony's room. "I just want Tony back." Abby said, simply.
Kate, McGee, and Ducky all nodded as they watched the nurses' work through the glass partition. They wanted the old Tony back too. But they were a little terrified to see what change might lay ahead for Tony when he woke up.
Abby stared in at Tony through the glass partition. "I thought the nurse said Tony was awake."
"No Abby, Amanda said he was waking up." Gibbs explained. "It could take awhile."
"I miss him so much." Abby lamented.
"Jethro's right." Jenny spoke up. "If we want the old Tony back, it may take a little time. He will come back to us when he's ready."