DON'T LEAVE IT TOO LATE
Gibbs regrets not speaking out before it was too late.
A pre-slash story.
Warning: Major character death.
Written: April 2010. Word count: 500.
Gibbs sat in silence, his head slightly bent. Suddenly be felt someone approach him. "Fuck off, DiNozzo," he growled, not bothering to look up.
He heard faint gasps from the other side of the room, but he didn't care. For one second it felt good; the profanity felt good; telling DiNozzo to get lost felt good. Then the feeling went and the pain hit him again.
"Gibbs, we all -" He lifted his head and stared at Abby, quelling her into silence.
He just sat, expecting now to be left alone. So when a hand touched his shoulder he jumped and his head shot up as a voice said, "Come on, Jethro, I'm taking you home." He stared into Palmer's eyes. He could sense the others waiting for him to react; to explode. But he couldn’t. This was the person who'd worked more closely with Ducky than anyone - including himself. It didn't even bother him that Palmer'd called him 'Jethro' rather than 'Gibbs'. It was only a name and again somehow it kept him connected with Ducky.
Thus, instead of shaking Palmer's hand off or ignoring him, he stood up and let Palmer guide him out of the room. He didn't speak to or even acknowledge the others; he couldn't.
He settled down into the passenger seat of Palmer's car, leaned back and closed his eyes. They drove in silence; Gibbs idly noticed Palmer was a good driver; well he got a lot of practice. He wondered if Palmer would go on driving when he - He stopped that thought quickly.
"I loved him," he found himself saying, without really thinking about it.
"I know," Palmer said quietly. Gibbs opened his eyes and turned to look at Palmer. "It was obvious to anyone. If your agents didn't notice, maybe you should get yourself a new field team."
Gibbs managed a half smile. "Maybe I'd better."
Palmer was silent for a moment, then said quietly, "He knew too; Dr. Mallard," he added.
Again Gibbs turned his head. "Did he?"
Palmer nodded. "Yes."
"But he didn't say anything."
Palmer shrugged. "He was waiting for you to," he said softly.
Gibbs closed his eyes and nodded. "Yeah, guess he was."
They didn't speak again until Palmer stopped the car. Gibbs opened his eyes; they were at his house. He sat for a moment before looking at Palmer and saying, "Thanks, Jimmy." Palmer just nodded. Gibbs paused before opening the door. "If you love someone, Jimmy, tell them. Don't do what I did and leave it too late. Doesn't matter if it's a man or a woman; tell them the truth. Okay?"
Palmer nodded. "Okay," he said. "Do you need anything else?"
Gibbs shook his head. "No, thanks."
Once in his apartment Jimmy thought about Gibbs's final words to him. He'd been right and Jimmy would keep his promise. It'd come out of the blue; it may not even be welcome or reciprocated, but he'd do it. He picked up the phone and dialed a number.
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