AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard. Leroy Jethro Gibbs/OFC
CHARACTERS: Gibbs, Ducky, Fornell, OFC
SUMMARY: Ducky returns home early from a Medical Examiners' Conference to find a huge shock awaiting him.
CHALLENGE Amnesty 2008 - 'Tarot'
WORD COUNT: 3,809
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Although a tarot card or set does not appear in this story, it was inspired by written around the concepts of the cards 'The Tower' and 'Wheel Of Fortune'.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
Arriving home from the Medical Examiners' Conference which, due to an outbreak of food poisoning had been ended a day early, Ducky was surprised, but not displeased, to see Jethro's car parked outside their Reston home.
He had expected to find the house dark and empty, as he knew when he was away Jethro tended to stay even later than usual at the office. Turning off the Morgan's engine, he grabbed his over-night bags and briefcase from the trunk, closed and locked it and the driver's door and let himself into the house.
It further pleased him to find that, even though Ducky himself was not in the house, Jethro had not reverted to his old habit of leaving the front door unlocked. When Jethro had suggested it was high time they stopped messing around and set up home together, and had expressed a desire to join Ducky in Reston, Ducky had made it quite clear that whilst that would fulfill his dearest wish, Jethro would get into the habit of locking their front door.
For some reason, as he relocked the front door, Ducky didn't call out to his lover. He didn't really know why, he hardly expected Jethro to be asleep, and it wasn't as though Jethro was hugely fond of surprises; however, tonight Ducky thought he would surprise him.
Pausing only to pay a quick visit to the downstairs loo, he left his bags on the floor and automatically headed for the basement. To his surprise it was empty. He had fully expected to find Jethro there working on the boat he had vowed he would not only finish, but he would take Ducky out in. The boat that he had, despite Ducky's gentle objections, named 'The Ducky'.
The sitting room was also empty, which didn’t surprise Ducky; had Jethro been on the ground floor, he surely would have heard Ducky. This meant he was either in the bathroom, but Ducky couldn't hear any water running, or in his study, which Ducky doubted, or more likely in their bedroom. As it was at the very back of the house, the sound of Ducky arriving and going into the house would probably not have infiltrated that far.
Picking up his bags he started to ascend the stairs, humming quietly to himself as the prospect of Jethro being in bed began to appeal to him very much indeed. He had only been away for three days and two nights, but he found he missed the feel of Jethro's arms around him, the warmth of his body next to him, the taste of his kisses, far more than he'd been expecting.
The bedroom door was half closed and Ducky pushed it open and went into the room. He came to an abrupt halt and gasped aloud as his gaze fell on the bed. For a split second he was tempted to hurry back out of the room and just -
"Jethro!" he gasped. "What on earth -" He stopped himself from adding 'do you think you are doing'? Because what Jethro was doing was patently clear.
"Duck! What the - What are you doing home. I wasn't expecting you until tomorrow." Jethro sat upright, untangled himself from the arms of the woman he was in bed with and just stared in horror at Ducky.
"That much is clear."
Jethro leapt from the bed and strode across the room to Ducky. "Duck, it's not what you think," he said.
Ducky looked at him. "Is it not?"
Jethro shook his head. "No."
"So you are not in our house, in our bedroom, in our bed, fucking a woman?" Ducky spoke calmly, flatly, his tone like ice.
For a second he watched Jethro flounder as he glanced from Ducky to the bed and back again. "Well, yeah, but - Duck. It's not what it seems."
Ducky now looked towards the bed into the eyes of the woman who sat up; the covers were pooled around her waist, showing off her firm and she made no move to cover up, her naked breasts. He idly noticed her nipples were taut and the merest hint of perspiration glistened between them.
He looked back at Jethro. "How could you?"
"Duck. I can explain."
"Yes. But not here. Not now."
"Oh, really? When then? When you've fucked her into submission? When you've made her limp with pleasure? When you've -"
"Don't what? Oh, Jethro. I never thought I'd live to see you like this. Have you no respect for me whatsoever?"
"Oh, God, Duck, how can you ask that? I respect you more than anyone else. Ducky, please. Look we can sort this out. I promise you. I -"
"Do not touch me," Ducky took a step backwards away from Jethro and stared down at his naked lover, his gaze flickered lower. Jethro was only partially erect, so clearly they hadn't been 'at it' for very long.
"Please, Duck. Give me a chance to explain." Jethro was begging now; it was a tone Ducky had never heard before.
But it neither touched nor moved him not. "Go on." His tone was the same flat, low, icy.
Again Jethro glanced towards the bed and then back at Ducky. "I can't. Not now. It's not that simple, Ducky."
"Oh, I think it is, Jethro. I think it is very simple. You have broken your promise to me. You have broken the vows we exchanged, although why that should surprise me given as you've broken them four times before, I really don't know. But I truly thought - God, what a fool I was."
Again Jethro put out a hand. "No, Duck. You weren't. And I haven't broken my promise."
Ducky gave a harsh laugh. "Oh, please do not play semantics with me, Jethro Gibbs. I am far more advanced at them than you are. If you think just because you haven't yet actually fucked her," he went on using the term because it felt good. "That means you haven't broken your promise."
"Give me a chance, please."
Suddenly Ducky was overtaken with the level of weariness that he knew meant he was close to collapse. And that he was not going to do in front of Jethro and his mistress. "No." He spoke decisively. "No, Jethro. You have had a lifetime of chances, this is one too many. I am going to go now and book into a hotel for the night. When I come back to my house tomorrow I expect you and every single thing you own to be out of it. I do not want to find a sock, a piece of sawdust, the bourbon you drink, your soup, a scrap of paper with your handwriting on it. Nothing, do you hear me, Jethro. Nothing." He turned to go.
And then it hit him. He turned back. "On second thoughts, don't bother." He saw a flash of hope in the dark gaze and instantly killed it dead. "You have quite spoilt this house for me. You can keep it. It's yours now. I will move out. Just make certain you are not here when I come to collect my personal belongings. Everything else you can keep; I don't want to have to touch anything that you have touched or been near." He saw Jethro die in front of him; he saw every hint of hope or belief fade and he felt nothing. He should; his love affair that has lasted for over three decades that had withstood four marriages and other women, the love he thought would last until the second he died, was over. And he felt nothing. "Goodbye, Jethro," he said, forcing the weariness he felt not to creep into his tone. "I would like to say we'll never meet again, but I am not going to be forced out of NCIS."
Suddenly the woman spoke. "So you're the male lover, eh? I was only half-convinced that he had one. I have to say, Jethro darling, I'm surprised at your tastes. I would have thought if you did have a male lover it would be your hot agent. Although, maybe not. On reflection, I can't see that; no the other one. The innocent faced one - now, yes, that I can see. God, him under your hands . . . But him," now she nodded at Ducky. "What can he give you that -"
"Shut up!" Jethro snarled, striding away from Ducky towards the bed. "You keep your mouth shut! This has nothing to do with you!"
She started to stroke her own breasts with one hand and with the other quite deliberately pushed the covers down revealing she was totally naked and then sank back on the pillows, parted and lifted her legs slightly and began to touch herself in an even more intimate place. "I would have said it had everything to do with me, darling, wouldn't you?" she said, shuddering slightly in clear pleasure as she caressed herself.
Jethro grabbed the sheet and yanked it back up over her, tearing it in his haste to cover her back up. As Ducky turned to walk away, out of the bedroom that held so many memories for him, he noticed Jethro was no longer even partially erect.
TWO WEEKS LATER
"Thought I'd find you with Ducky." Tobias looked hard at his old friend.
Jethro just shrugged and glanced away.
Tobias followed the direction of Jethro's gaze and saw if flicker over Ducky who stood with the rest of the team, one arm around Abby's waist. "What have you done?" he asked.
Jethro looked at him. "What makes you think I've done anything?" His voice was rough.
Now Tobias shrugged. "One: you look like shit; you look as if you haven't slept for days. Two: you've already drunk more of that stuff in half an hour than you normally do in an evening at these things. Three: you're over here and Ducky's over there, and while you keep glancing at him, he is pointedly avoiding you. Four: you haven't even met the 'dress standards' half way. Five -"
"Shut up." Jethro snarled at him.
Tobias shrugged again. "Fine," he said. "If that's what you want. I'll go and find myself some decent company." He turned to walk away, but he couldn't. He sighed and turned back. "Why don't you tell me?" he said more softly. "You never know, I might be able to help." He was shocked, but hid it, to see a hint of tears in Jethro's eyes. Quickly he put a hand on Jethro's arm. "Jethro?" he spoke even more softly. "For God's sake, what is it? Is Ducky ill?"
Jethro dashed his hand over his eyes and gave a harsh bark. "If only he were."
"Jethro!" Tobias was shocked.
But Jethro seemed not to hear him; instead his gaze again settled on Ducky. "Could sort that. Well, at least I could deal with it. But - Oh, Tobias," suddenly he turned back to look at Tobias. If he'd thought Jethro had looked even half 'like shit' before, he'd been wrong. "I have fucked up so badly," he said quietly. "So very badly."
Without giving Jethro time to object, Tobias firmly took his arm and led him from the room. He found an empty office several doors away and guided Jethro inside, pushed him into a chair, sat down next to him and said, "Tell me."
Jethro looked away from him and then sighed, never had Tobias heard such an anguished noise, before looking back at Tobias. "Duck came home two weeks ago and found me in our bed with a woman," he said.
"What?" The word was out before Tobias could stop it.
"You heard. Duck came home two weeks ago and -"
"Yes, I heard. What in God's name were you thinking of, Jethro? I thought - Hell, I stood by your side when you made promises. And yeah, I know you've broken them before. But I thought with Ducky, you wouldn't. What the fuck were you thinking, Jethro? Or weren't you? Do you need sex that much that with Ducky away for a few days you had to -"
"Shut up, okay and let me explain. Ducky wouldn't let me."
"And that surprises you?"
"No. No, it doesn't. You wanted me to talk to you. You want to try to 'fix it', well shut the fuck up and listen to me."
Tobias had seen the infamous Gibbs glare many times, even on occasions directed at him, but on those occasions he knew it was just for show; this time it was for real. "Go on then," he said. "Explain."
Jethro sighed and dragged his hand over his head. "She was a case."
"Well, not a case as such. She had information. Vital, important, we're talking 9/11 important, Tobias, information. She promised to give it to us if I . . . If I slept with her. Somehow she found out I was - that I slept with men as well as women and that excited her. Christ, I thought she was going to -"
"Men?" Tobias found himself asking. "I thought Ducky was the only man?"
"He is. He was. Don't be so pedantic, Fornell. Do you want to hear this, or not?"
"Sure. Just wanted to get my facts straight. Do go on. She liked the idea you swung both ways, it excited her. So . . .?"
"If what she said she knew was true and from what Abby and McGee dug up, it could well have been. I couldn't say no. Duck was away at the conference. He wasn't due home until the next day. It was easy: I'd take her back to Reston - she insisted on it being in the home I shared with my male lover and in our bed - screw her, give her the pleasure she wanted, she'd tell us what she knew, and Ducky would be none the wiser. I'd have time to change the bed, wash the sheets, everything. He'd never have known. But he came home early."
"Why didn't you call him and tell him?"
"Fornell! How can you suggest that? How the hell do you make that kind of call? What would I have said. 'Hey, Duck, miss you. Just called to let you know I'm going to be sleeping with a woman in our bed tonight. But don't worry, it doesn't mean anything, it's just to do with work'? That do?"
"Well, it might have been better than what happened? You say he caught you? Were you actually . . . ?" Tobias trailed off.
Jethro gave another harsh laugh. "Not exactly, no. Christ, I wasn't even certain I was going to be able to fuck her. It was . . . That is it wasn't. I was . . . Why the fuck am I telling you this?"
"Because I wouldn't listen." Ducky's quiet voice came out of the shadows.
Jethro stood up. "Duck?" he breathed the name. "Ducky, is that you? Are you . . . Oh, God, I'm going mad now. That's what two weeks without sleep does for you. I'm going mad. Tobias, tell me, Ducky's not -"
"Yes, Jethro, I am." Ducky moved away from the wall he'd been resting against and slowly made his way towards Jethro. "I am here, Jethro. You are not going mad. I am here. And I am . . . Oh, Jethro, my dear, dear Jethro, I don't know how to begin to apologize."
Jethro moved towards him. Ducky was distressed to see he was half staggering and shaking as he reached for and took Ducky's hand. "You apologize?" he breathed, stumbling over the words.
Ducky nodded. "Yes, Jethro. Me. I acted so foolishly. I jumped to conclusions."
"Pretty natural ones."
Ducky shook his head. "No, dearest," he took one hand away from holding Jethro's and lifted it towards Jethro's face, stopping short of touching him. "I told you that you had no respect for me, well clearly I have very little for you. I should have known that you would never, could never, break your word to me. You tried to explain to me, I didn't listen. I didn't want to listen. I - Oh, Jethro, can you forgive me for treating you so appallingly? For not giving you a chance to explain? If there any chance at all you can?"
Jethro caught the hand Ducky had raised and held it. "Duck. You walked in and saw me in our bed with a woman; it's not you who needs to apologize. It's me. I was about to fuck a woman in our bed, in our bedroom, in our home."
"Yes, but you had a good reason for it. And I refused to let you explain. I treated you so badly. I -"
Jethro put his fingers on Ducky's lips and silenced him. "Ducky. Anyone, anyone, Duck, anyone would have done the same. I'm sure Tobias would have, wouldn't you, Tobias? Tobias?"
But their friend had somehow mysteriously vanished. "How did he . . . ?" Jethro shook his head and then a thought occurred to him. "Did you and Tobias . . . ? Was this . . . ?"
Ducky lowered his gaze for a moment and shook his head slowly. "No, Jethro. I wish I could say he had. But no. I saw you leave the party with him and something told me to follow you. You looked so - But, no. It wasn't. I am afraid I truly believe in what I saw. I . . . Was the information the young lady held really of such high importance?"
Jethro nodded. "Yeah, Duck. It was. And I have broken about a dozen orders telling Tobias and you, although in your case unwittingly, what I did. But to hell with those. That doesn't matter."
"And did she . . . Did she keep to her side of the bargain?"
Jethro nodded again. "Yeah, she did. Not that she had to."
"Put it this way, Duck. I'd had a difficult enough job getting even partially aroused before, but once you'd walked away I . . . Well, I couldn't. No matter what I tried and what she tried, I couldn't. I didn't even want to touch her, but -"
"You had to." Ducky's tone was quite but matter-of-fact. "It's all right."
Jethro shook his head. "It isn’t, Duck. But -"
"You had no choice."
"No. No. I didn't. Well, I did, of course I did. But . . ."
"If you sleeping with a woman in our bed prevented another 9/11, my dear, I would willingly - Well, let us just say I understand."
"Do you?" Jethro was dubious.
Ducky nodded. "Yes." His voice was very quiet, but his gaze never left Jethro's. Jethro read the steady, calm blue gaze and it confirmed Ducky's words. "So why did she keep to her side of bargain if you were unable to . . . " Ducky trailed off.
"Said we'd provided her with enough entertainment, she felt it was worth it."
"I see. And was the information correct?"
Jethro nodded. "Yeah. It was. Thanks to her we - Oh, God, Ducky. How can I . . . ? How can we . . . ? Can we?"
He watched Ducky close his eyes for a moment before opening them. "If you can forgive me, and please, Jethro, don't just automatically say you can or there's nothing to forgive. There is. I should have trusted in you. I should have trusted in us. I didn't. I'm not sure whom that has shocked more, you or myself. But that is by the by for the moment. As I said if you can forgive me, then I can and have forgiven you. Indeed there was nothing for me to forgive."
"Tobias was right, I should have called you."
Ducky shrugged. "Maybe, yes. But as you said to Tobias, how do you make that call. Had I been there, then -"
"That would have been different. But it shouldn’t have been, should it?"
Ducky shook his head. "No."
"So we're okay? You're coming home with me?" Jethro couldn't quite believe it.
"If you wish me to do so, then, yes. But I do have one condition and like the locking of our front door it in non-negotiable."
"I've already told Vance I won't do it again. He can get someone else. DiNozzo could do it, even McGee."
"Oh, my dear Jethro. Not Timothy. Oh, no. Not Timothy. You cannot ask that young man to - No. No, Jethro. He is not like you or Ziva or even Anthony. He -"
"Let's forget McGee for now, okay?"
"Yes, of course. However, that is not my condition."
Jethro blinked. "It isn't?"
Ducky shook his head. "No. Jethro as much as I hate the idea of you - Of you sleeping with a woman, if by doing so you prevented devastation on the scale of 9/11, then I would never ask you not to do so."
"Well if it's not that, what is it?"
"Simply this: we get rid of the bed and all the bed linen. We buy a new one and replace the sheets and everything and then if the occasion does arise again we will set up the spare room as if it were," Ducky broke off and swallowed. "As if it was our bedroom and you . . . And you take her there. Do I have your word?"
Jethro took Ducky's hands. "It won't arise again, Duck. I swear to you. It won't. But that aside, yeah, we'll buy a new bed and everything. Hell, I'll redecorate the room if you want." Ducky smiled softly. "I'll do anything, Duck. Anything. Just come home with me and make it a home again."
Jethro nodded. "Sure. Name it."
"Then kiss me."
Ducky nodded. "Yes."
"Now?" Jethro moved a little closer to Ducky and began to gather him into his arms.
Ducky sighed as he came to rest in Jethro's loose embrace. "Yes," he murmured. "Now. Right now."
"But anyone could come in."
"I know," Ducky said, slipping his arms around Jethro's neck and pulling his head down. "Oh, yes. I know."
Outside the door, Tobias sighed and shifted his position on the wall, trying to make himself more comfortable. He wasn't sure how long he'd have to stand there, but be it five minutes or five hours, he'd stay until his two closest friends came out of the room in order to go home. He only had one small problem, but he'd done worst in his time, it if really became necessary there was a very useful vase on the table next to him.