In Memory Of
Gibbs mourns the loss of a close friend on Memorial Day, remembering the life that he lived and those that gave their lives to protect our country.
By Emiliana Keladry
Setting: After the end of season 8, so there are spoilers if you haven't seen that yet.
Pairings: None, except for Gibbs/Tony father/son relationship :)
Author's note: This just wouldn't leave me, the image of someone standing in rain on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I wanted to give this as a special moment for Gibbs. Hope you enjoy it! Please let me know what you think at the end!
Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs stood in the pouring rain on May 30, 2011; Memorial Day. He didn't blink as the rain dripped into his eyes. His jacket was soaked, along with his pants and shoes. He didn't bother to stand with an umbrella or a hood covering his head. The lights on the Lincoln Memorial blurred in the heavy rain. It was silent, save the pounding of the rain hitting the pavement. No tourists were snapping photos with their families or couples holding hands. It was deserted. Gibbs stared upon the water, uneven from the force of the torrent. He slowly started walking again, not able to stay in the same place for long. He had already visited the Washington Memorial and started the longer walk to the Vietnam Memorial. There were few cars traveling the streets and none stopped to look twice at the man.
Gibbs finally arrived at the Wall. He stood, looking upon the reflection of his own face in the black stone, staring at the names of those that gave their lives for freedom, to protect their country and every man, woman and child. For some, it seemed as if they were given in vain. Many had fought and few returned, only to be shamed and in pain, suffering from what they saw. Mike Franks had served in Vietnam; it defined part of who he had been. He'd seen the blood of young men spilled and couldn't stop it. They all deserved to be remembered. Wet roses, letters with running ink and a single teddy bear had been left against the wall in honor of those lost. Gibbs put out his hand, touching one of the names engraved into the stone. A lone man walked the length of the wall, holding an umbrella over his head. He slowly approached Gibbs and stopped a few feet away, not looking at him at first.
"We won't forget him."
Gibbs didn't speak.
"I'm sorry Boss," Tony spoke over the rain. "I know Mike was a good friend."
Gibbs pulled his dog tags from under his shirt and kissed them before touching them against the wall.
"You'll catch a cold in this weather."
The older man smiled ever so slightly. "I know. So will you Tony."
They stood together for more long moments, not speaking. The image of those names was haunting. Though he had seen it before, it was completely different on this day and at night in the rain. Tony stepped closer to him, shielding him from the rain.
"You did good," Gibbs whispered to the names on the wall. "I'll miss you Mike."
Tony waited a few more minutes until Gibbs nodded and began to walk with Tony to his car. When they arrived at his car, Tony pulled out a blanket and handed it to his boss, helping him wrap it around his cold, wet clothing. He got into the passenger side without speaking. Tony closed his umbrella and got in the driver's side, turning on the heat to warm up his boss. Gibbs was silent as the younger man drove him home. He didn't tell him that he was too old to be standing in the rain or that it was justified. Nothing. Tony helped him into the house and motioned for him to take a shower to get warm. He let the hot water warn his skin as it pounded down on his numbness. Gibbs washed away his emotions, getting control of himself. Tony was waiting downstairs after he got dressed. The older man sat down beside him, taking in the fresh smell of coffee. Tony had brewed some of it while he was upstairs in the shower. Gibbs took the offered mug, smiling when he saw that it was the one that Kelly painted for his birthday.
"How did you know where I would be?" Gibbs asked, taking a sip of the steaming liquid.
"I didn't. I drove around for a while, thought I'd check some of the memorials. I saw you at the Lincoln Memorial, but you kept walking. I took a guess at where you were going from there."
"It's Memorial Day. You shouldn't be alone today."
Gibbs nodded, not saying another word to him. It wasn't needed. They didn't turn on the television or talk to each other for over an hour. It took a good friend to sit in silence, knowing that conversation wasn't needed. Gibbs suddenly smiled, staring off into a memory.
"Mike Franks saved my life once. I was a Probie then and a suspect came out of nowhere, firing rounds wildly. I wasn't prepared and I got shot in the thigh. Mike killed him with one shot and tended to me while the ambulance came, keeping pressure on the wound so I didn't bleed to death. He said that I owed him one after that. I saved his life plenty of times and he saved mine. I don't remember if we ended up even or not."
"Sounds like you and me."
Gibbs laughed. "You're just mad that I've had to save your life too."
"No, I'm not," Tony protested weakly. "Besides, I've saved you too. I know that you'll always have my six, Boss and I'll do the same for you."
"Thank you Tony."
The younger man smiled, turning slightly on the couch so he was facing Gibbs. Gibbs did the same, grinning at the childish behavior from his agent. Tony tossed him a blanket and motioned for him to cover up, seeing the slight tremble in his hands as he spoke. He wasn't sure if it was from the grief or his time in the rain. He didn't want Gibbs to get sick now, though a part of him doubted that he could get sick since he'd never had the flu or a cold. Tony made a mental note to ask Jackson Gibbs about that the next time he spoke to him, to find out if it was true.
"Tell me more about working with Franks. I'm sure he wasn't an easy person to work with."
Gibbs reached across the couch and head-smacked Tony.
"What was that for?" Tony asked.
"Mike used to do that me, said that it taught me to respect my elders and to follow orders. I just like doing it."
"You mean it's not a sign of affection?"
The older man smiled widely. "Ya think?"
"I thought so."
Tony laughed, covering himself with part of the blanket and tucking a pillow behind his back to cushion it. He waited for Gibbs to continue his story. After a minute, Gibbs laughed and obliged him.
"There was this one time that we were pursuing a serial killer that kept leaving taunting notes…"
The younger agent listened as Gibbs talked long into the night, laughing at his appropriate stories and cringing at the tales of death and the lives of the innocent. Tony had never heard his boss talk so much about his past, but it didn't matter. He allowed him to speak, enjoying the light conversation. It was helping him to grieve. Sometimes, when a person is grieving, they don't want to speak or be with others. But what they sometimes need is just someone to listen to them and let them talk through everything, giving them a chance to remember what was lost and think of those happy moments.
"He was a great man, Franks. I'm glad that I got to know him for a little while," Tony commented.
"Yeah, he was. May he rest in peace and there be bourbon in heaven," Gibbs toasted, gently clinking his mug against Tony's.
Tony took a small sip, thinking about everything that had been said. He covered up a yawn with his hand, but Gibbs saw it. He stood up and took Tony's mug into the kitchen.
"Guest bedroom is free if you want."
"Thanks Boss. I just might take you up on that."
Tony walked upstairs and saw that the guest bedroom was clean like always, no matter how many times he used it. Gibbs always washed the sheets and made the bed for him. He waited as Gibbs turned down the blanket, tossing him some sweats to change into. Tony dressed in the bathroom and came back to see Gibbs sitting on the edge of the bed, frowning.
"Something wrong Boss?" Tony inquired.
"Nah… I just wanted to thank you for sitting with me tonight."
Tony crawled into the bed, leaning against the headboard. "You're my hero Gibbs."
Gibbs smiled. "Thanks son."
"Did you ever know that you're my hero?" Tony sang in a high voice, causing Gibbs to laugh and throw a pillow at him.
Tony returned the gesture and laughed. "Sorry Boss."
"Not a problem, Tony. Good night."
"Good night Dad."
In honor of those men and women that have given their lives to protect our county and those that are still serving us, we remember your sacrifice today and thank you. :)