An Instance in Time.
January 2010, 00.30
Dr Mallard drove the Morgan into the drive of his home. He had had a very entertaining evening at a close friend of his mothers. Mother had set aside some jewellery and personal effects that, she thought Jean might like. He didn’t see the masked person who crept up behind him and wallop him from behind. Dr Mallard only heard the crack and then the searing pain, before it all went blank………..
The phone rang in the house of Agent Gibbs. He had decided that he was getting too old for the New Year celebrations, what the youngsters had wanted to do. He wanted his own thoughts, and he wanted a drink.
“Yep Gibbs,” he answered, he felt the colour drain from his face as he heard the news,” Yes of course……..which hospital?” he called a cab.
Gibbs sat at the side of the bed. Dr Mallard was wired to every possible machine imaginable, Gibbs wondered if this was what he had been like, after his accident.
The Police Officer, had said robbery, the house had been ransacked, and if it hadn’t been for the fact, that the car had been a gear shift, they would have taken that as well.
Jethro knew it was going to be a long night, but he couldn’t let a friend down at a time like this. The morning light would make things appear better. The snow outside blew in the wind…….again……. it was going to be a long night.
“Agent Gibbs go home, it’s New Years Day, surely you have company, or at least somewhere better than here.”
“I’m on call,” he replied, to the Doctor, “I don’t really do the festive period.”
“Dr Mallard, was he on call?”
“No….. Duks liked Hogmanay off, he was due back 5th. I gather the Director has been informed, and Mr Palmer?” Gibbs now enquired, “And as a matter of interest, how you get my number?”
“Dr Mallard had you down as next of kin.” the Doctor now replied, “ And Mr Palmer we believe is skiing, so no contact.”
Gibbs nodded and left. Gibbs said he would be back later, when he had cleaned up.
Washed and changed, Gibbs returned to the hospital. He had called the Director. Vance had said “Do whatever you feel fit.” Gibbs called Abby.
“Gibbs, Gibbs, oh poor Ducky. What can we do?” she cried looking through the glass partition at Dr Mallard.
“Well for a start I want you to go with Ziva and try and sort the house. The Leos have been through it with a fine toothcomb. They aren’t sure what’s missing, only Duks can determine that, and he is out cold. Leon, says Jackie will help you both.” as he looked out the window, at the falling snow.
The team began to assemble back in the bullpen. Gibbs had only told Abbs and Ziva about Ducky. The boys had been unreachable.
“Happy New Year Gibbs,” Tony offered his hand to Jethro., “And McNewbie, Happy New Year. How have things been, quiet?” as he threw his holdall in the corner, before smiling and facing the centre. “Hey what’s with the sad faces? Someone we know die?”
“How can you be so insensitive,” Abby cried, “Ducky……….he’s”
“Dead?” Tony ventured, now paling.
“No, not quite, but he’s in a coma in the hospital. Been there since the first.” Jethro now answered, beginning to relay the events to the boys.
“Does Jimmy know? “ Tim asked quietly.
“I do now” Jimmy replied as he came down the stairs with the Director. He looked drawn.“I have asked Jordan Hampton to assist until such time as Dr Mallard can resume his duties.” Vance now replied, looking at the team, “But I think you should now continue your duties here.” as he turned and walked back up the stairs to his office.
“Not good then?” Jimmy questioned.
“Jim, I don’t think so, all we can do is visit and talk to Duks.” Gibbs now replied , looking into the young mans eyes.
So this was how the year started. When the team could visit. They did. The girls had cleaned and tidied the house. Gibbs, he had repaired the damage the old house had had inflicted on it. The curtains replaced or cleaned. It was ready for Ducky to return home.
“I’m sorry Agent Gibbs, There seems to be no normal response to Dr Mallard. We have removed a blood clot from his brain, but he seems to have given up on life. Would you know of any reason?” the neurosurgeon now enquired.
“His mother died last year. He was very protective of her. But I wouldn’t see any reason for this non response.”
“So he has no immediate family in the States?” the emphasis on immediate.
“Nope. Dr Mallard works all the hours God would give. He is very protective of us, that would be my team.” Gibbs now replied, looking thoughtful.
“What if I suggest that your team pop in when they can. Talk to him. Give us something to work on and maybe his response.”
Gibbs nodded. They had to help Duks, as he had helped, when he himself, had been unconscious.
“Well Ducky, I don’t know about you, but this haggis thing is pretty revolting. As you know I can eat most things but this is gross,” Tony said looking at Dr Mallard, but shovelling a spoonful into his mouth.
“I don’t know, you could get to like,” Gibbs offered, “I mean if there was nothing else in the field.”
“But it’s offal,” Tim now added, “How can the Scots eat this?”
“Same way as some people can eat pork, and sheep’s eyes and, I believe in some countries animal test………”
“We get the picture Ziva. Only good thing Duks, is this Scotch. I toast Rabbie Burns.” as Gibbs knocked back the whisky.
“Mr Palmer didn’t see you standing there, come away in. Is this the first time you have been to visit the Doctor?” the nurse asked of Jimmy. She had a strange accent, a twang, a lilt, to her voice. Jimmy nodded, “I…I .just thought I’d come in and speak, to him. Tell him how things are.”
“Well, you are very welcome………anytime……..” she replied, and looking at the puzzlement on Jim’s face, “I am from Inverness, in Scotland originally. They thought a friendly voice might bring him round.” as she left the room.
“Well Dr Mallard……….I…….had better sit down I suppose and tell you how things are.” as he pulled up a chair, and began to talk
“I believe tonight is Up Hell Aa, in Shetland. I remember you saying once that, your mother had left you on a bus in Thurso. I couldn’t find anything else about Scotland. I believe it is a fire festival. Viking………where they burn a long boat to ward off the winter spirits. Some say it is to show the way for the spring. To fertilise the land, or in the case of Shetland, the sea. Trouble is with Agent Gibbs getting rid of his boat, we can’t re-enact.”
“How are things?” Agent Gibbs enquired of the Doctor, as they stood looking at the inert body.
“Prognoses not good. Some brain activity, when you guys come in and talk. But then it goes again. Wondered if I could make a suggestion?” he now asked, looking at his notes and then to Gibbs, “Wondered if we could send him home. He’s on a drip granted but the machines are no longer keeping him alive. He is holding his own.”
“Doctor, my team can’t stay………..”
“No…….. wasn’t asking them too,” the Doctor replied, “ Morag here will stay and look after. It’s just that maybe his own room………bed………house, may be better treatment, than here. If not I may have to suggest a home.”
“And as next of kin?………….”
“Yes sorry.” as the Doctor walked away before turning. “Let me know.”
Gibbs stared at the bed, the sheet over Ducky’s body, he knew what to do, or should that what they should do.
Abby had got her printing or painting skills together. She had placed a great big “Welcome Home, Ducky” sign above the door. Ribbons and balloons adorned the place.
“Bit OTT, eh Abbs, “ Tony questioned.
“Not at all, I think Abby is entering into this very well,” Jordan replied, looking to Gibbs for reassurance.
Gibbs nodded, “We all need to help.”
Jordan stood at the bottom of the bed and looked at Dr Mallard, “Sorry Donald for all the hurt, the pain, I may have caused. I never thought it would ever come to this, but sorry really seems to be the hardest word.” as she climbed into the bed beside Ducky.
“Well as you can see Dr Mallard , I’m dressed in my scouting uniform. You know that this is “Thinking Day” for the Scouting movement……….and well…….we are all thinking of you.” as Tim smiled and turned to walk away.
It came in like the proverbial lion, the weather in Washington, late winter snow storms, blackouts and general bedlam. A few bodies had been found and the cases solved. As the weather began to settle, the first of the daffodils in Dr Mallards garden began to bloom.
“Pity they hadn’t been out for St David’s day,” Tony mentioned, getting a dig in the ribs from Ziva.
“This Dr Mallard, is Agent DiNozzo’s new name for me, since I will become a citizen soon,” Ziva retorted, “I have been learning and doing everything by the book. I have been very good.”
“It’s St Patrick’s day soon, but then he’s Irish,” Jimmy had mentioned.
March ended in calm and the spring sunshine warmed the air.
“Oh what a laugh today,” Tony said, sitting at the bedside of Ducky, “I sent Ziva for a left handed screwdriver, from Gibbs basement.”
“She didn’t find one of course, but then Tim, gave her the number of the Zoo, and said a Mr C. Lyon had called with information, regarding the body we found in the bay.” Gibbs now added smiling.
“This was not what I expected of becoming an American. This April Fools day is very confusing.”
Gibbs thought he saw a movement at the side of Ducky’s mouth, a smile, or just a tic.
“Ducky do I look fine, “Abbs asked of the man lying inert on the bed, “I’m dressed in tartan today as it’s Tartan Day in America. They had a big parade in New York, and Sean Connery was there.”
12th April“Wow, Dr Mallard do you know, this volcano in Iceland, called some funny long Icelandic name, Eyjafjallajökull. Well it erupted, and there is this huge gigantic ash cloud over Scotland. Wow, it’s shut air-space down. They say they can’t breathe in Scotland, and there is ash falling in the streets of Edinburgh……….I bet you’re glad you aren’t there.” Jimmy oozed. Morag looked at the index finger of Donald Mallard and saw it rise slightly.
“I think Sonny, you are exaggerating just a little,” as she pointed to the hand.
“Sorry Dr Mallard I think I did get slightly excited.”
“I hope you don’t mind but today is St George’s day. I know you are Scottish and fought the English but thought you might like to know I know these things,” Jimmy said.
Gibbs sat at the bed beside Ducky, “There was election in Britain, Gordon Brown lost and has returned to his home in Scotland, from London. North Queensferry, I believe, and I had to laugh, I never knew this……. but there is a Kingdom in Scotland. It was Abby, she mentioned, the Kingdom of Fife. Of course, Abbs had been digging and found out about the Beltane Fire Festival for the 1st of May. She found out about Druids and things, and how there is this sect, in this Kingdom. You have no idea how she wants to go to Scotland.” he watched he thought he saw the corner of the eye, of Dr Mallard move.
“It was the Edinburgh Marathon today. I watched a little on the web. Edinburgh is such a lovely City, maybe I could visit sometime,” Ziva talked as she watched.
The month moved on. The team visited and talked. Morag said they were doing good. After each visit Ducky seemed more positive. The carers came and washed, and changed. The girls came in and cleaned the house, changed the curtains, and left flowers in the rooms. Jordan stayed sometimes.
The month of June bloomed, in more ways than one. Gibbs had organised the boys into gardeners. They had tidied, argued and generally been helpful. The garden was now a truly wonderful sight. They had moved Donald’s bed to overlook the grounds. Morag sat and told Ducky what the team were doing. She held his hand. She felt him clutch.
“Today Ducky, is the Edinburgh moonwalk. About 1200 women are walking the streets for Breast Cancer Awareness.” Ziva started to say.
“What Ziva means, is they are not walking the streets as in prostitution. They are walking the streets to raise money for Breast Cancer. They will be wearing girly pink. Not that I would ever wear girly pink, but hey do you think it would go down well in DC?” Abby now added.
“Duks,” Jethro enquired of his friend, “It’s been almost six months. We know you can hear us. Well we would like to think you can hear us, and that you know we are here for you. It has been the Highland Show, at some place called Ingliston, near the airport. Abbs has been really into this now and is trying to find out as much as she can about Mid-Lothian, and Edinburgh. In fact Scotland. She found out that Bonnybridge is the UFO hotspot of Scotland. She reckons it’s cool, and is trying to persuade Tim to take her. She says it beats Area 51 any day.” as Gibbs looked down at his friend he thought he saw a tear run down the cheek. Gibbs touched, yes a tear. He turned to walk away.
“You’re all doing fine,” Morag replied, as she plumped up the pillow, “He is listening and he does realise you are all here for him. It is only time. His brain is healing.”
Gibbs nodded, returned and kissed Donald’s forehead.
“Sweet dreams Duks,” as he now turned and walked away.