Just a Little

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

The comfortably stuffed armchair cradled Ducky like an old friend, taking the strain off his back, letting him rest his tired feet. Standing for hours on end and leaning over the autopsy table wasn't as easy as it used to be. He'd never complain, not about still doing a job he loved after thirty years, but he could do without the reminders of his advancing age.

Looking up from the book he held, Ducky glanced over the tops of his reading glasses at the clock on the mantelpiece. Even as he watched, the hands slipped past midnight and into the next day. Perhaps he shouldn't have been up so late, but it had been years since he'd needed more thane five or six hours of sleep. He could afford to enjoy the quiet, his mother bedded down for the night, her dogs curled up around her, just a little longer.

Turning the book over on his knee to hold his place, Ducky reached over to the side table and poured himself a finger of scotch. He saluted the clock with the glass. "To a new day," Ducky said, and sipped at the liquor.

A new day arrived, another day gone. Another day closer to...what?

In a profession like Ducky's, death was never far from one's mind and no matter what anyone told you, you didn't get used to the idea the older you got. Ducky didn't feel sixty-something and he wasn't anywhere near ready to go. The fact that his mother was twenty years older and still spry was no consolation, not with the way her mind wandered. She was absent more often than not, these days.

"You're getting maudlin again, Donald," Ducky murmured to himself, all too aware of how much he sounded like his mother.

He'd stay up until the scotch was gone and then he'd go to bed. Just a little longer in the warm glow of the lamplight. Just a little more time with a good book.

Just another moment...