AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
CHARACTERS: Gibbs, Ducky
SUMMARY: Ducky has had enough and gives Gibbs an ultimatum
CHALLENGE Amnesty 2007 - 'Meeting'
WORD COUNT: 760
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
I woke up this morning and knew. Knew that I had had enough.
I don't know why in particular it was today that it hit me.
Maybe it was the fact that Mother had driven yet another nurse away.
Maybe it was the fact that it was my 65th birthday.
Maybe it was the fact that the weather was cold, damp, dull and thoroughly miserable.
Maybe it was none of those reasons and all of them.
Maybe it was . . .
But whatever it was, why so ever it was that I felt that way. I did. And I knew, in a way I had never known something before, it was not going to go away.
He was waiting for me in Autopsy when I arrived.
I let him help me off with my coat.
I let him wish me, "Happy Birthday, Duck."
I let him lead me off to 'his office' so that he could 'wish you Happy Birthday properly, Ducky.'
I let him do that because it suited my purposes.
I let him start the elevator.
I let him press the emergency stop button.
I let him tug me into his arms.
I let him pull me against him.
I let him murmur, "Happy Birthday, Duck," in a completely different tone to his 'formal one', as he kissed my ear.
I let him lower his head and find my mouth with his own.
I let him kiss me.
I let him promise me a special evening later.
I let him sigh and say he wished we could stay here for longer, but that the kids would be waiting to give me their birthday wishes and presents.
I let him mutter to hell with that, and pull me back again into his arms for another lingering kiss.
I let him.
And I realized as I did, that I felt nothing.
Finally, something seemed to penetrate him because he pulled back and looked down at me and frowned. "Duck?" he made the word a question. A dozen questions.
It was my cue.
"I have had enough, Jethro." My voice was calm, flat, low, steady.
"I have had enough," I repeated. "It is time for you to choose."
"Duck?" Could he really say nothing more than his own private version of my name?
I looked at him. "I do not believe you really need me to elucidate, Jethro. However, just so we are clear, I shall. Your choice is a simple one: women or me. Please let me know your decision by the end of the day."
He just stared at me. "Duck?" he said again. It did appear he was incapable of saying anything other than his own private version of my name.
I could have said more. How I wasn't prepared to be cheated on any longer. How I wasn't prepared to be the person to whom he turned when there was no one else. How I wasn't prepared to play by his rules any longer. Those and a thousand other things.
I did not.
Partly because even knowing what I knew, feeling as I felt, those particular things were not actually true. He never had 'cheated' on me; he always told me about his women. I wasn't the person to whom he turned when there was no one else, I knew that; I always had done so. And the rules were 'our' rules, not his. The other reason I said nothing more was that there was no point.
He is an intelligent man, no matter how hard he tries at times to pretend to be otherwise. He knows how I feel. He knows what he does. He would know all the things I might have considered saying.
And justifying my demand, my ultimatum, was pointless. If I had said more it would have complicated matters. It was far better, far more sensible, far easier, that I kept it simple.
Instead, it was I who pressed the button to start the elevator moving again.
He just stood there, unmoving, unblinking, barely breathing, looking at me as if he had no idea who I was. Maybe he hadn't. What I had said had been completely out of character for me.
As the car shuddered to a halt and I prepared to leave it and be gathered up by the children and their good wishes, I looked at him. "By tonight, Jethro," I reiterated. "Them or me. It really is very simple."
And with those final words, I turned back to the opening doors and walked away from him.