Donald Mallard, Ducky to his friends and co-workers slips into his living room to check up on his patient. Timothy McGee had come to him earlier that night, complaining that he didn't feel well. Knowing that Tim would never come to him with such a mild complaint, he opens his doors to the younger man and can immediately see that he has a fever.
Upon further examination he discovers that Tim has been sick for the past few days, but the younger man hasn't told anyone, least of all his boss, Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Gibbs doesn't tolerate mild complaining and Tim has ignored most of the symptoms until he finds himself nodding off to sleep in the middle of his report. Looking at the clock on the wall, knowing that Gibbs is about to dismiss them anyway, he finishes the report, files it and sends it to Gibbs and the Director's secretary for filing. He looks at Gibbs who nods in absent-minded approval and leaves before Tony and Kate can start, or in this case, finish their daily harassment of him.
He falls asleep on the bus and it isn't until the driver shouts at a passing car that he wakes up and looking around can tell that he's in Ducky's neck of the woods. Not wanting to take the risk of falling asleep again on the bus and missing his own apartment block, he pulls on the cord that will signal the driver that he wants off.
The bus pulls over and Tim slogs his way to Ducky's domain, hoping that the older man won't mind his intrusion. He knocks on the doors and when the older man opens them, asks if he can stay with Ducky for the night. The older man immediately complies and discovers Tim's malady. He shows Tim into the living room and hustles down to his bedroom where he digs out a sheet and blanket as well as an extra pillow. By some odd coincidence, Victoria Mallard has gone upstate for the weekend and taken the Corgis with her to visit a friend of the family. This will allow Ducky to keep a closer eye on Tim without having to worry about tripping over the dogs or his mother who tended to walk in her sleep nine nights out of ten.
To his mild surprise, the younger man sleepily asks if Ducky would tell him about the older man's father, and Ducky starts to shake his head when Tim opens his eyes. Those feverish green eyes soften Ducky's resolve. As feverish as Tim is, he doubts the young man will even remember this night and so, he begins to tell the younger man a tale that he's never told anyone before:
"I remember so much and yet so little about him and our planet and yet I do remember that he was a man of great intelligence and wisdom. He created wonderful projects, each one meant to help the environment. Our government tried again and again to get him to join their little secret societies and time and again he refused. But then one night it happened..."
He was woken by his father urgently shaking his shoulder. Blinking blearily, he watched as the man threw item after item into a satchel, and then handed it to him. Following his father downstairs, he smiled when he saw his mother waiting for them. She too had a sense of urgency around her and again he wondered what was going on. Father ushered them out to the living room and he inhaled as he saw the crowd gathered around the windows and doors. The crowd couldn't see in, at least not yet, but from what he remembered during his brief time at school, when it was time for an execution, all doors and windows would be blasted open. The public could watch at will and apparently there was quite a will. Why he wondered, had his family been slated for such an event? What had they done?
"Nothing, you've done nothing wrong my son. I am the wrongdoer and the only thing I did wrong...was love you and your mother unconditionally. Now, it is time for you to go. Take care of your mother, and remember I love you very, very much."
With that, a switch is turned on, a bright light flashes over them. He can see his father standing by a wall, flipping this control and that knob. He tries to reach out and touch his father, but his mother puts a hand on his shoulder, shaking her head. He can see tears running down her face as she holds her arms out. He goes into them and she holds him close, hugging him to her in a protective embrace as she watches her husband throw the final switch.
"Shhh...we'll be fine. We'll survive and make him proud of us."
Glass starts shattering and the protective wall of energy around them starts pulsing even faster. He feels a bit dizzy as the world starts spinning or rather their transporter does. He can see his father's body start to fall, and then it all fades away as they are sent to their new destination.
Glancing down, Tim's eyes are closed, but Ducky can see that he's still listening and so continues in a somewhat alternate vein.
The little bird chirps and looks around him. His mother is resting beside him, her beak tucked under her wing as she sleeps. The bird chirps again and starts to hop around, wondering where they are and where they will be going next. His mother opens her eyes and she yawns sleepily before tapping his beak with her own. They stretch their wings, and the little bird gives a slight chirp of irritation. He wants to explore their new world and in this form, he can tell they won't have much time to do so.
His mother nods at him, encouraging him to try the shape-shifting he'd been learning before they'd been forced out of their home. He thinks of the one bird of legend, the one that he'd admired for so many years and in a flash of fire and light, he's airborne. His mother chirps approvingly and they soar into the sky looking for that one perfect spot to rebuild their lives.
Tim looks at him in feverish awe, "You're from Phoenix, or that part of the galaxy. Your name is a misnomer."
Ducky runs a cool washcloth over Tim's face, nodding as he does so.
"We flew for days, searching for that perfect landing spot. Mother finally found one."
"The Edinburgh Fire Festival. It could have hidden your arrival and no one would have ever been the wiser."
Ducky smiles at the awed expression in those feverish eyes. "Yes, it was perfect. We landed and were able to observe the young people of the times."
They mingle with the others, twisting and turning as they take on the corporeal forms of this new world. Not very dissimilar to their own, but with one major difference.
"Time passes different. You aged more than you thought you would." Tim sleepily guesses and Ducky smiles at the astuteness of his listener.
"Yes and it gets harder and harder with each successive year to maintain these forms. Mother I daresay will be losing hers within the next five years or so."
There's no immediate response and looking down, Tim's eyes are finally closed. His breathing slows as sleep finally overtakes his feverish form and Ducky tenderly tucks the sheets and blankets around him. Sighing as he stands, he heads back to his bedroom and makes a phone call.
"He's here and he's safe; a bit of a fever, but he'll be okay Jethro. No, I didn't tell our duckling that you called."
The audible click makes the older man smile and he turns down the covers to his bed before he makes one final pass through the living room. Tim's temperature is decreasing slowly, and the older man runs an affectionate hand over his forehead.
"Good night my boy; pleasant dreams."
Going into his room, he turns on his computer to finish making his official flight plans for the next years Edinburgh Fire Festival, hoping that his mother will be able to attend at least one more year before the other side effects living on this world have brought down on them. A mysterious form of dementia, slowly affecting their minds and bodies, destroying the memories they've held so precious to them all this time. He sighs as he walks out on his balcony, his arms wrapped around himself as he looks up in the night sky.
They are too far north to see the Phoenix constellation or even the galaxies within , but he can still visualize the bright stars from those first few months of flight. How he and his mother made it a point every night to look up and remember the lost member of their family and the sacrifice he'd made in order for them both to live. A shooting star makes its trek across the night sky and as it passes he says softly
"Good night Father, I love you."
a/n: Entry and winner on another site for the What Planet are You From Challenge. :)