AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
GENRE: Pre-Slash. Unrequited
SUMMARY: Set at the end of Till Death Do Us Part. As Ducky collapses he sees his life before his eyes.
WORD COUNT: 670
SPOILERS: Till Death Do Us Part
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
The searing pain, pain like nothing he had ever felt before in his life, hit Ducky and he clutched his chest and fell to the ground tasting salt and sand. His cell phone fell from his hand to lie lifelessly beside him.
As he lay there on the sand with the gentle waves brushing his cheek he saw his life flash before his eyes. He had heard people talk of such things as they faced possible and potential death, but he had never been certain whether to believe them or not. The rationale scientist in him tended not to believe them, the irrational romantic in him tended to think they couldn't all be making it up.
Now as he lay crippled by pain, uncertain whether he would live or die, he knew the assertions to be true. He saw himself as a young boy on his first day at Eton; as a teenager on his first day at Edinburgh University; as a young man newly qualified as a doctor; as a slightly older young man treating his first patient; he saw himself on his many travels around the world; he saw himself taking the decision to become a Medical Examiner; he saw himself on the day he arrived in America.
He saw himself being helped from the ground by a young, dashingly handsome Marine with dark blue eyes and a devastating smile; a smile he knew he would never get enough of seeing. Love, a love that had been unrequited, at least in the romantic sense, had begun on that day and decades later he was still in love with, still loved the no longer young, but still dashingly handsome ex-Marine with dark blue eyes and a devastating smile.
His life with Leroy Jethro Gibbs now played out as he lay on the hard, wet sand, no longer certain if he was conscious or unconscious, dead or alive. It was as if he was watching a movie, a movie that stared two men who were close friends, intimate friends, who loved one another deeply, who cared about one another, who would do anything for one another, who would lie for even die for one another.
It had been perfect, except for one thing: Jethro had never loved him as he loved Jethro. Each time he'd stood by Jethro's side and listened to him promising to love his latest wife until death parted them, he'd started to merely count the weeks until the vows were broken and they were parted by divorce rather than death.
Each time that had happened he had allowed himself to hope, to believe even, that this would be the time Jethro would turn to him; the time Jethro would wake up and see Ducky in the way Ducky saw him; the time Jethro would stop just loving Ducky as his closest friend and love him as he had loved Shannon.
But that had never happened. No matter how close they had grown, no matter how many secrets they had kept, no matter how much they had shared, no matter how many times Jethro had said 'never again, Duck', no matter that Jethro had a special Ducky smile, a special Ducky look, a special Ducky tone, no matter that they were closer than most friends were, at the end of the day Jethro never had fallen in love with Ducky. He had never moved from loving him as a friend to loving him as a partner.
And as he laid there the pictures no longer flashing in front of his eyes, no longer cold, no longer in pain, no longer able to see or hear or feel, Ducky finally and irrevocably accepted the inevitable: Jethro never would fall in love with him. He never would see Ducky as anything more than his closest, most intimate friend. And if Ducky lived he knew he had to accept that fact and rebuild his life without the dream he'd had for more years, more decades that he cared to remember.