Guard Duty


By Anna





WARNING: Death Fic


The automatic doors that led to the morgue slid silently open as they usually did.  But at first no one entered the dimly lit space.  Slowly a shadowy figure moved in, allowing the doors to hiss closed.  Arms lay stiffly at the side – unnatural – but the ever-erect posture made identifying the figure easy had anyone else been in the room.  Anyone alive that is.  Reflexively his eyes swept the space before falling on the table near the center.  His mouth opened and then quickly closed.  He hadn’t expected that.  Hadn’t thought that the…he’d expected to need to open drawers to find what he sought.  Not to have it, him out in plain sight.  His fingers clenched then unclenched and he wished like anything that he’d thought to get a cup of coffee.  Just to have something to do with his hands.  He felt his legs moving of their own volition, carrying him towards the figure that lay on the table. 


He stopped next to the table and stared down, a disbelieving hope flaring inside.  He eyed the white pillow – small but fluffy – and the dark blue blanket.  Items he knew had not been there originally, nor even on his subsequent visits earlier in the evening.  Bending over at the waist put him only inches from the pale face. 


“Tony….Tony, can you hear me?”  He whispered, not wanting to disrupt the stillness in the room.  He watched closely for any movement or twitch, blinking several times as his vision grew uncharacteristically cloudy.  Not speaking again, he stared at the face of his senior field agent, expression impassive but thoughts riotous. 


“Here, Jethro,” a cultured voice from behind startled him into straightening up too quickly.  Glancing around, he noticed the coffee cup that Ducky was attempting to press into his hands and shook his head. 


“Oh fine,” The British voice sounded a tad perturbed but the older man put the cup down on a nearby tray before pushing a stool forward.  “At least sit down before you fall down.”


Resigned to obedience, Gibbs sank onto the seat, still staring in the direction of the table.  He waved his fingers haphazardly but knew that he couldn’t voice the thought.  Fortunately he didn’t have to. 


“Abby.  The poor girl insisted that Anthony would be too cold and needed the blanket and pillow for the night.” 


Gibbs nodded.  “He looks…”


“You shouldn’t be here, Jethro.  You should be home.”


“Someone has to make sure everything’s in order up there, Duck.”


“Not you.  Not this time.  Not when you’ve just lost your senior field agent.”


Gibbs rose swiftly, unknowingly knocking the stool back into the gurney behind him.  “I’m fine, Dr. Mallard.”


Gibbs walked a few steps away from the table but turned quickly, moving back to its side. He eyed the motionless figure. The stillness completely opposite from the man he knew – it caused the emotions roiling inside Gibbs to become even more turbulent. “Why aren’t you at home, Duck?”


“Because I didn’t want him to be alone, Jethro.”


Gibbs’ head swung in the medical examiner’s direction.  They eyed each silently for a few minutes.  The air fairly crackled with the unspoken thoughts and feelings that seemed to permeate the entire building.


“I believe I shall go see if Mother has need of anything.” 


Dr. Mallard walked around towards the head of the table and paused there briefly.  If Gibbs hadn’t been staring, he would have missed the light caress given to the brown hair. 


“I’ll…I’ll see you in the morning, Anthony.” 


Then the older man turned away and ambled towards the doors.  The doors whooshed open, but still the older man remained.  “Jethro…”


“Go, Duck.  I’ve got his six.”  He paused until he heard the doors close behind him.  “This time.”


Reaching behind, he pulled at the stool until it was under him and settled in for the remainder of the night.