AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUMMARY: It began because Jethro felt so sorry for his oldest, closet friend. But then he realized that wasn't how it should be.
CHALLENGE Amnesty 2008 - 'Anywhere Else'
WORD COUNT: 6,305
AUTHOR'S NOTE: For birggitt
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
It had been Vance's 'idea': a team building event, where they could really get to know one another and bond, outside of their working environment.
Gibbs had tried telling him that his team was already 'built' and given that they'd been together for years, and in one case decades, they were pretty much already 'bonded'. But Vance hadn't listened. Instead he had simply reminded Gibbs that he was the Director, not Gibbs, and as such 'Team Gibbs' was going to 'build' and 'bond'.
He'd arranged everything; the location, the events, even the hotel rooms - down to who was going to share with who! The only thing Gibbs had agreed with was the sharing; it was how he'd have organized it. In fact had it been any different, he would simply have changed it.
He and Ducky were sharing one room; Abby and Ziva another; leaving McGee, Palmer and DiNozzo to share the third room. He felt a tad sorry for Palmer and hoped that McGee's presence would prevent the ultra-obnoxious DiNozzo from rearing its head.
At least the accommodation was good, damn good - each person got a double bed of his or her own and the bathrooms were luxurious. And even more importantly, in Gibbs's opinion, the coffee was even better than his own blend and it was in plentiful supply. Hot, strong and black; just as he liked it.
It was the final night of the four day 'event' and Gibbs wasn't certain the team had 'bonded' or 'built' anymore than it already had been. It seemed to him that Vance had spent a lot of money achieving . . . well, nothing really.
Leaving the kids to whatever it was they planned to do, he and Ducky had retired to their room by ten o'clock where they sat enjoying a shared drink in peace; content to be in one another's company, as they always were.
Gibbs looked at his oldest and closed friend. Ducky looked tired and paler than usual. He knew some of the events had been more physical than was good for Ducky. However, his stubborn Ducky had refused his quiet suggestion that he sit them out.
"You okay, Duck?" he asked, putting his hand on Ducky's arm as they sat side by side on the small couch in their room.
"Yes, my dear. I'm fine. Just a little weary, that is all. And I confess, but please promise you will not mention it to our Director or to the children, that I really should have listened to you. My leg is troubling me more than a little."
Gibbs shook his head and frowned, before slipping his arm around Ducky's shoulders and tugging him into a half embrace. "Oh, Duck," he said. "What am I going to do with you?" Then he had an idea. "Tell you what, how about I run you a warm bath?" The bathroom had both a walk in shower as well as a deep tub. "Could even throw in some of that fancy bath stuff. Would you like that?"
Ducky turned his head where it rested on Gibbs's arm. "Oh, no, my dear. There is no need to go to any trouble. I'll be fine. I'll just - Jethro, where are you going?"
Gibbs hadn't been close friends with Ducky for over thirty years without knowing when 'no' really meant 'yes'. If he'd need any confirmation that Ducky really did mean 'yes', he got it when Ducky made no further objection. "You get undressed," Gibbs called, above the noise of running water. "I'll give you a call when it's full.
However, a couple of minutes later Ducky, wearing only his robe, limped into the room. "Not quite ready yet, Duck."
Ducky gave him a half smile. "I need to use the loo," he said, moving towards the said fixture and without any hint of embarrassment or hesitation began to relieve himself. The level of intimacy that existed between them was considerable, and neither man had any problem about being naked or peeing in front of the other.
Ducky finished his task at the same time as Gibbs deemed the bath was full enough. "Here," Gibbs said, holding out his hand, "give me your robe. And you get in and relax. I'll fetch your drink." He took the robe and then, without appearing to do so and without making a fuss, held out his other hand to assist Ducky getting into the tub. Once more Ducky's complete compliance, added to just how much weight Gibbs found himself taking, told Gibbs clearly just how much his friend was hurting.
Once Ducky was settled down in the pleasantly warm, and smelling of Jasmine, water, Jethro left the room, dumped Ducky's robe on his bed, snagged both glasses, topped them up and took them back into the bathroom. "Thought you'd like some company," he said, when Ducky raised an eyebrow slightly at the sight of two glasses.
"Oh, there's no - Actually, Jethro, I would like that," Ducky smiled as he settled back in the full tub.
Taking a minute to relieve himself, Gibbs then sat on the closed toilet lid and he and Ducky chatted away as they always did when alone together.
By the time Ducky had finished his drink, he was also ready to get out of the tub. Once again without making it clear he was doing so, Gibbs offered his friend a hand; once again Ducky accepted the assistance.
Leaving Ducky to dry himself and brush his teeth, Gibbs went back into their room, dug Ducky's pajamas out, turned down his bed, shrugged out of his own clothes and was back in the bathroom and heading for the shower before Ducky was fully dry.
Gibbs didn't know how long he'd been asleep, but given that his mouth didn't taste at all stale, he guessed it couldn't have been all that long, when the sounds of moans and soft cries coming from Ducky's bed woke him up. For a moment he lay and just listened, wondering if maybe his friend was pleasuring himself. Not that he thought it likely, but even so. The few seconds were long enough for him to realize the cries and moans were not of pleasure, but instead of fear and anguish.
Without giving the matter any thought he threw back the bed clothes and crossed the distance between the two beds, sat down on Ducky's and gentle touched his friend's shoulder. "Duck? Duck, it's okay. I'm here," he murmured, as at first the cries increased. Now he slipped his hand under Ducky's shoulders and gathered him up into his embrace. "Hush, hush, Duck. Come on, Duck, wake up. I'm here," he said again.
"Jethro?" The faint word, spoken in a half tearful, half trembling voice reached his ears. "You're here?"
Gibbs began to stroke Ducky's hair as he rocked him a little. "Sure am, Duck."
"You're alive? But I - Oh, thank God for that. It was just a nightmare. Oh, Jethro, hold me, please."
"Hush, Duck. Hush. It's okay. I am holding you. There, see. I'm here. I'm alive. You were dreaming. It'll be all right." And then Gibbs realized just hold cold Ducky was. "Christ, Duck," he said, feeling Ducky begin to shiver in his arms. "You're freezing. Come on, move over a bit."
"No, Jethro. No. Please. I can't - I . . ."
But Gibbs gently ran rough-shod over Ducky's objections, and urged Ducky to move over a bit so that he could slide into the bed with Ducky, pull him into a proper embrace and begin to warm him up with his own body heat. "It's all right," he murmured, putting his lips on Ducky's hair. "Ssh, it's all right. There, come on, let me hold you. See, that's better, isn't it?" He pulled Ducky even nearer to him.
"Oh, Jethro," Ducky finally murmured, when after a few minutes his shaking began to reduce and he felt a little warmer. "I -"
"Yeah, I know, Duck. I know. It's all right." Part of Gibbs felt like a heel because he knew, he'd always known, what Ducky's true feelings were for him. And although it wasn't the first time, by far, they'd shared a bed or embraced, never had the two things happened simultaneously. Suddenly he found himself saying, "You know, Duck, I wouldn't mind if you touched me."
He felt Ducky pull back a little. "Jethro?" The hope as well as confusion was so clear in Ducky's voice it made Gibbs curse his crassness. But now he'd said it, he couldn't retract it.
"If you wanted to," he said softly. "Just touching, you know. I wouldn't mind. Really, I wouldn't." God, you really are a bastard, Jethro Gibbs, he told himself.
"Wouldn't you?" Ducky's voice was barely steady.
Gibbs swallowed hard and shook his head. "No, I wouldn't. Do you want to?"
Ducky sighed softly. "You know the answer to that, Jethro," he said.
"Yeah, I do. Sorry. I shouldn't have - Aah." He bit down on his lip as a hand he knew so well, a hand he'd held, a hand that had touched his face, his arm, just about every part of his body, albeit mostly through clothing, now touched him in an intimate manner. Without consciously meaning to, he parted his legs a little and pushed up into the touch - he was already hardening, far, far faster than he normally did, and Ducky's grip was still through his shorts. Oh, God, what have I done?
Seconds later, tentatively, and yet with surety that told Gibbs he knew what he was doing, Ducky worked his hand inside Gibbs's shorts, encircled his heated, naked erection and began to stroke him. Began to stroke him with as near to perfection as anyone had ever achieved, began to stroke him in a sure, steady way, his grip solid, warm, smooth, firm, his action slick, steady, just as Gibbs liked it.
It was good. It was more than just good. Much more than just good. Ducky's touch told Gibbs clearly that he was used to handling a man, even if it were just himself. And from what half-vague comments Ducky had passed, Gibbs had always got the feeling it had been quite some time since Ducky had touched any man but himself.
Gibbs was getting closer and closer, normally he'd warn his partner, but that meant openly admitting he was in bed with his best friend. In bed with the man who not only loved him, but was in love with him. In bed with the man who had wanted him for over thirty years. In bed with the man he cared about more than life itself. In bed the man he loved as a dear, dear friend. In bed with the man who completed him. And he couldn't. He could let Ducky stoke him, but he couldn't let himself acknowledge it was Ducky.
And then . . .
As he climaxed he had to bite down hard on his lip to stop himself from calling out Ducky's name, from calling it aloud. Instead he just mouthed it silently it to himself as he experienced one of the most shattering climaxes he'd ever had in his life.
Breathing heavily and urging his heart rate to slow down, Gibbs lay in the darkness, his groin damp, Ducky's hand not quite touching him, but not yet completely moved away. What did he say? What did he do? What the hell happened now?
And then he knew what he had to do; he had to. He couldn't not. Ignoring the small voice that said 'what's it going to do to your friendship'? he let his hand move down Ducky's body to cup his groin. He wasn't surprised to feel that Ducky was erect and damp.
Ducky gasped. "Jethro, I -"
Gibbs swiftly pulled Ducky's head firmly against his shoulder, effectively silencing. "Hush," he murmured. "I'm not that much of a bastard," he said, only half believing himself. The other half told him that what he was about to do made him even more of a bastard.
It didn't take more than a few strokes, Ducky was that close - in fact Gibbs wondered if he'd needed to touch Ducky at all. He suspected Ducky touching him and him climaxing in Ducky's hand had pushed his friend close to the edge. As he experienced the sticky wetness of a man other than himself, he again forced his mind away from what this might do to them. Unlike Gibbs himself, Ducky did cry his name aloud as he climaxed. It was soft, but nonetheless Gibbs heard it quite clearly.
And then because he didn't know what else to do, telling himself there wasn't anything else he could do, he wrapped both arms around Ducky, pulled him even nearer, urged Ducky to put his head on his shoulder, put his lips on Ducky head and kissed him twice. He then whispered into the darkness, "Go to sleep, Duck. That's it, go to sleep."
When he awoke in the morning Gibbs found that Ducky was still in his arms, not snuggled as closely as he had been, but still very much there. "Oh, Duck," he whispered, looking down at his sleeping friend. "What have I done?"
He lay there staring at the ceiling for a few minutes trying to work out what the first thing he'd say to Ducky would be, before his bladder suggested that getting up would be a good idea. Sliding out of bed carefully, determined not to wake Ducky, he went into the bathroom and gratefully dealt with the needs of his bladder before turning the shower on and standing beneath the flowing water.
He was halfway out of the shower and reaching for a towel when there was a gentle tap on the open bathroom door. He groaned to himself; things had already changed - they didn't bother with knocking. "Hey," he said.
"Would it be all right if I used the loo?" Ducky asked.
Gibbs looked at him. "Since when did you have to ask?"
Ducky glanced away from him, nodded what could have been an apology and hurried across the room. Drying himself, more slowly than he normally did, Gibbs didn't particularly watch Ducky, even though from the relative position of the toilet and where he stood, Ducky was in his direct eye line, but nor did he avoid watching him. He was determined of one thing: he wasn't about to finish drying himself until Ducky had finished reliving himself and had stripped and got into the shower. The tap on the door and the question as to whether he minded Ducky's presence told him things had shifted slightly - what the fuck did you expect? - and he couldn't let them change any further.
Whether Ducky noticed how tardy he was being Gibbs didn't know, but as Ducky reached to flush the toilet, Gibbs in turn turned the shower back on. The gesture was a pointed one; Ducky could do nothing but remove his pajamas and get under the hot water.
It reassured Gibbs to see that after a fraction of a fraction of a fraction's hesitation, that actually might have been in Gibbs's mind rather than in Ducky's actions, his old friend did indeed remove his clothing and get into the shower.
Gibbs spent another minute drying his already dry body while studying Ducky before leaving the bathroom to go and start dressing. He already felt a bit better; he felt partly reassured that maybe, possibly, if he continued to behave the same, that things would be the same. He stopped the voice in his head before it even formed the first letter of the first word.
He was further reassured as, after he'd finished showering and had dried himself, Ducky walked back into the bedroom completely naked, his pajamas in one hand, a towel in the other as he rubbed his hair with it. Gibbs found his eyes straying lower than they normally did as he watched Ducky, and saw that, as he'd been, Ducky was slightly erect following his cleansing and drying. He continued to watch Ducky as he dressed, smoothed his hair down and finally dug out his razor and shaved before throwing it across to Gibbs himself, whose own razor had died on him the previous day.
They chatted from time to time, as they normally did, both apparently as at ease as they always had been - well Ducky might have been, Gibbs wasn't. His mind was whirring as he ran Ducky's razor over his chin and cheeks. What was Ducky thinking? Was he waiting for Gibbs to say something? And if so, what? Was he waiting for Gibbs to acknowledge what they'd done the previous night? Was he waiting for Gibbs to tell him 'it was just last night, Duck'? Was he waiting for Gibbs to suggest it happened again? Or what?
For once his oldest, dearest friend was a closed book to him; even the normally open and utterly revealing pale blue gaze gave nothing away. All Gibbs saw there was the same steady affection, love, tenderness and caring as he always saw.
Finally shaved, he tossed the razor back to Ducky, suddenly aware that in some ways using the same razor as Ducky had used only moments before him, was more intimate than what they'd done the previous evening.
Once their bags were packed, Gibbs had already piled Ducky's with his own, and they'd donned their jackets, Gibbs paused. "Duck."
"We're okay, aren't we?"
Ducky looked at him and smiled. "Of course we are, Jethro. Of course we are."
"You sure, because . . . Ah, come here, Duck." And in two strides Gibbs had closed the gap between them and gathered Ducky into his arms, feeling Ducky's own arms go around him, as they held on another in the way they'd done many times before. It was the reassurance he needed that Ducky's words had been honest and truthful ones. "Love you, Duck," he murmured, knowing Ducky would know what he meant.
"I know, Jethro. Just as you know I love you."
"Yeah, I do. Duck. I do."
They hugged for a little longer, before breaking away. Gibbs brushed Ducky's hair back from his forehead and smiled down at his dear friend. "Come on then, let's go and see if the kids have hangovers."
They found them gathered around a table having breakfast, sitting in what was clearly some kind of tense silence. Gibbs sighed to himself and shot a look at DiNozzo wondering what his senior agent had done this time.
Palmer never once looked up. Instead he drank his tea and ate his toast and said nothing, well apart from when Ducky spoke to him directly.
Leaving Ducky to sit down, Gibbs went to the counter grabbed tea for Ducky, coffee for himself and enough toast for both of them. Then in effect ignoring the kids, he turned his attention to Ducky and started to talk about an old case, one they'd worked on even before Abby had joined the team.
After a quick visit back to their room to brush their teeth and double check they had everything, Gibbs swung the four bags up into his hands and, ignoring Ducky's protests, led the way to his car. To his surprise he found Palmer and McGee waiting by it and from the looks Abby and Ziva were casting their way he got the feeling they'd like to be there too.
He glanced across at DiNozzo, who pointedly ignored him as he opened the driver's door, got in, slammed it and revved the engine before Abby and Ziva, both who got into the back of the car, were seated.
Gibbs watched at the car pulled away tires shrieking, before shaking his head and glancing at McGee and Palmer; neither would meet his gaze. Deciding that if they were going to be silent, he wasn't going to ask - not yet anyway. Instead he opened the trunk, dumped Ducky and his bags inside, went around the car to open the door for Ducky and once his three passengers were settled, pulled away, for once driving more slowly than DiNozzo.
He didn’t know if he was relieved or irritated that he and Ducky weren't going to be driving back alone - in the end he decided it was 50:50. At least with McGee and Palmer he couldn't even be partly tempted to raise the issue of what had happened the night before, not that he would have done but . . .
However, he valued his time alone with Ducky. Ducky's presence always made him feel content and at peace. He liked the way they could talk or not, he just liked being with Ducky; he always had done so.
He glanced at his old friend sitting next to him; as so often happened, Ducky chose that moment to look at him and offered him a gentle smile. In the back he could hear McGee and Palmer chatting, but it was too quiet for him to pick up more than the odd word here or there.
"You okay, Duck?"
"Yes, thank you, Jethro."
"Yes. However, I fear that if you do not pay a little more attention to the road, that situation might be in danger of changing." Ducky's tone was light and soft and his eyes twinkled as he looked at Gibbs.
Gibbs flashed Ducky a half-smile. "Point taken, Duck," he said, turning his attention back to the road and pushing the speed up just a little.
As he drove he found he had to consciously stop his mind from returning to what had happened in Ducky's bed the previous evening. He didn't know if it was just what they'd done together coupled with his fear, despite Ducky's assurance, that things would change between Ducky and himself, but he found himself more inhibited than he'd ever been before by the presence of the two younger men in the back. He got the distinct impression that they were trying hard not to be noticed by Ducky and himself in the front, which in some ways it was worse.
After a few more moments of travelling in silence, Ducky turned to him and started to talk about one of the very first cases they had worked on together. Thus for the next hour or so they reminisced, and fell seamlessly into their double-hander where they would finish on another's sentences.
Gibbs noticed a sign for a rest stop and was just about to ask Ducky if he needed to stop or wanted a cup of tea when Palmer spoke. "Um, Agent Gibbs, I wondered if we could . . . Only if you don't mind, of course. That is I'd really . . . I know you probably want to get back as soon as . . . But I would very much . . . Um . . . The thing is, you see -"
Ducky turned in his seat. "Do you need to go to the bathroom, Jimmy?"
Gibbs glanced in the rearview mirror and saw a very faint hint of color touch Palmer's cheeks. "Yes, Dr. Mallard, as a matter of fact, I do. But -"
"I assure you that Jethro would far rather stop, even if he was in a great rush to return home, than face the consequences of not stopping. Is that not true, my dear?" And before Gibbs could speak, he added, "And do not even think about it." He said the words so softly they could not possibly have reached the ears of McGee or Palmer.
Gibbs glanced at Ducky and smiled. "Never crossed my mind, Duck," he murmured, and had to hide a laugh at the look of incredulity that crossed Ducky's face. "In answer to your question, Duck, yes, I would. In fact," again he glanced at Ducky, "I was going to ask you if you fancied a cup of tea."
Ducky beamed at him. "Well now, that would be extremely pleasant."
"Not sure about that, Duck. These places don't do the best tea or coffee, but it'll be wet."
They finally arrived back at the Navy Yard forty minutes after DiNozzo, Ziva and Abby had gotten back, where they found, to Gibbs's surprise, there were no outstanding cases waiting for them.
DiNozzo seemed subdued, he certainly wasn't catching up on his daily visit to his porn websites, and Ziva was completely ignoring her coworker. McGee had apparently come up with some convoluted reason for having to go and visit Abby's lab, and Ducky and Palmer had gone straight to Autopsy.
Ignoring DiNozzo, Gibbs sat at his desk and switched on his computer; he disregarded the icon flashing in the corner telling him that he had new unread emails, and instead began to catch up on some of the non-urgent paperwork he'd been putting off for far too long.
After about twenty minutes DiNozzo stood up. "I'm just -" But he mumbled the last words so much that Gibbs didn't catch them. He thought DiNozzo had said 'Autopsy' but decided he must have misheard.
Gibbs grabbed his phone. "Yeah, Duck . . . . . . What . . . . . . ? Nah, I didn't . . . . . . They're doing what . . . . . . ? Yeah, me too. Reckon I'd better tell Vance his team building event did 'build' and 'bond' . . . . . . I never thought the day'd come when DiNozzo could surprise me. Do you know what he did to Palmer . . . . . .? Guess you're right . . . . . . Well, I'll be . . . Hey, Duck. Look it's quiet, how about I buy you dinner tonight . . . . . . ? Yeah, course I am . . . . . Yes, Ducky." And with a smile he replaced the receiver.
Gibbs glanced across the squad room to see DiNozzo slide into his seat. He watched him swallow and glance up at Ziva and then McGee. who had finally finished whatever it was he and Abby had been doing and had returned to his desk. They both continued to ignore him.
"Um," DiNozzo said, slightly louder than was necessary. "Palmer and I are going bowling tonight. I wondered if you two wanted to come too."
Ziva's head shot up. "You and Jimmy are going bowling?" Her tone was one of utter astonishment.
At almost the same time, McGee said, "Our Palmer? The one who works in Autopsy with Ducky?"
DiNozzo sighed. "Yes, that Palmer. Well? Do you want to come or not? Abby too. Oh, and," he hastily glanced at Gibbs, "If you and Ducky want to - No, of course you don't. Sorry, boss." He looked away from Gibbs and back at the other two. "Well?" he asked again, after another few seconds of silence.
Gibbs watched as McGee and Ziva glanced at one another for a moment before looking back at DiNozzo.
It was Ziva who spoke, clearly for both of them. "Yes, thank you, Tony. That would be very . . . Will it not, Tim?"
"Yeah. I'll call Abby. Oh, if that's okay with you, boss?"
Gibbs stood up. "I need coffee," was all he said, before striding out of the squad room.
"Night then, Duck. See you in the morning."
"Goodnight, Jethro. And thank you for dinner, it was very enjoyable."
"My pleasure." Gibbs touched Ducky's shoulder, letting the touch linger for a moment or two. Ducky looked up at him, his steady gaze full of affection as it normally was. He smiled gently, before putting his hat back on, turning and making his way to where the Morgan stood.
Gibbs watched him go, waiting until Ducky was not only in his car but had driven off, before he got back into the sedan, turned on the engine, pushed her into drive and made his way back to his own house.
He ran the sander over his boat, making sure the wood was completely smooth, but his mind wasn't on what he was doing. His mind was on something, or rather someone else. His mind returned to what had happened the night before.
Against his will his mind slipped back to Ducky's hand on him, stroking him, caressing him, bringing him to one of the most amazing climaxes he'd ever experienced. And his mind moved on to him touching Ducky, to him putting his hand on Ducky, to him -
Damn it! He was getting aroused and he shouldn't be. He shouldn't be getting turned on by the thought of Ducky touching him, of him touching Ducky. Of -
But it had been good. Now, finally in his place, in the basement where he spent the vast amount of his non-working time, he allowed himself to admit just how good it had been. Just how good Ducky's hand had been, just how good Ducky had felt under his own touch. Just how much he -
But no. It was wrong. It shouldn't have happened - It shouldn't have happened like that.
"What the . . ." He spoke the words aloud as suddenly he realized with startling clarity that it wasn't that it shouldn't have happened, but that it shouldn't have happened like it had. It shouldn't have happened in a nameless, featureless, bland, distant hotel room, in the dark, like two ashamed teenagers fumbling under covers while still clothed, with no connection other than hands on erections, and nothing but a swift climax each. It shouldn't have happened without intimacy.
Except the intimacy hadn't been completely lacking, not really. Because he and Ducky's intimacy was given; it was just part of their everyday lives, part of the way they were. But there still should have been more. He should have kissed Ducky, he should have put his mouth on Ducky's. But that would have turned it from what it was, him finally unable to bear Ducky's sadness that their relationship wasn't more than it was, into something else. Something he didn't want.
And he didn't. He didn't want to kiss Ducky; he didn't want to - And then he realized he was standing in his basement stroking himself, getting harder under his own hand as he thought about Ducky, thought about kissing Ducky, thought about caressing Ducky; thought about Ducky kissing him, thought about it being Ducky's hand being where his was stroking him, and not through clothing. Thought about his hands on Ducky's naked body, thought about undressing Ducky, thought about seeing Ducky completely naked, not, however, seeing him with the eyes of an old friend, but with the eyes of a lover.
That was how it should be.
That was how it should have been.
That was -
He glanced at his watch. It was a little before 11:30 p.m., if he left his house now, he could be at Ducky's Reston home in forty minutes.
Without giving himself time to think or change his mind, he swiftly adjusted himself, took the stairs from the basement two at a time and headed out in the darkness.
When he pulled up outside Ducky's home he saw, to his relief, lights still showing in the hall and one of the downstairs rooms. He recognized it as the room that used to be Ducky's mom's, and assumed Ducky was finally doing what he'd put off for several months: starting to sort it out.
He rang the doorbell and waited. After a moment the outside light went on and he heard sounds of a security chain being put on before the door was opened to the full extent possible with the chain in place. "It's me, Duck," he said quietly, before Ducky could speak.
Ducky hastily pushed the door until it was almost closed so that he could take the chain off, before opening it again. He stared up at Jethro, surprise and a hint of concern clear on his face. "Is something the matter, Jethro? Is there a case?"
Jethro shook his head. "No. I just . . . Can I come in, Duck?"
Ducky shook himself. "Oh, I'm sorry. Please forgive me, I was just so . . . Do come in." He moved back to allow Jethro to do that thing.
"Thanks." Once inside, Jethro shut the door behind him, letting the lock fall into place. He turned to face Ducky who was still looking at him with a mixture of curiosity and concern.
"I know you said you would see me in the morning. And I know that as it is ten minutes past midnight, it is technically 'the morning', but . . . Jethro, is something wrong?" Ducky put his hand on Jethro's arm.
Jethro caught it and held it; he saw the surprise deepen in Ducky's steady gaze. "About last night, Duck."
Ducky glanced away from him and tried, without success, to pull his hand from Jethro's grip. "Oh, dear. I had hoped that . . . Well, as we didn't . . . I thought that things were . . . After all, you asked me yourself if we were 'okay' and I assured you we were. I suppose it was too much for me to hope that you would . . . But I didn't start it, Jethro. I never would have done so - you have to believe that. You were the one who said . . . Look, Jethro, if you are worrying whether me . . . Whether what you . . . Whether what we did makes you gay, I assure you it doesn't. And if you're afraid I will now . . . Well, I assure you I won't. I never should have acted on your words. I should have known . . . I'm sorry, Jethro. I don't know what you me to say or do."
Jethro ignored Ducky's disjointed speech and instead repeated calmly, "About last night, Duck. It shouldn't have -"
"Happened. Yes, I know. Haven't I just said that?" Now Ducky did look up at him. His tone was sharp and his gaze cooler than it normally was.
Jethro answered the sharpness with softness as he put the hand that wasn't still holding Ducky's onto his face, cupping his cheek gently. "Was going to say shouldn't have happened in the way it did."
Ducky's mouth fell open a little; he blinked and a frown creased his brow. "I don't . . . Jethro?"
Gently, slowly, taking care not to in anyway spook Ducky, Jethro began to tug Ducky nearer to him. "It shouldn't have happened like that, Duck. Not in the way it did. It shouldn't be like that."
Ducky leaned back a little. "Then how -"
"Should it be?"
Ducky gave a minute nod.
"Like this." And with those words, Jethro slid his hand around Ducky's neck, while pulling a little harder on the hand he held drawing Ducky nearer to him, until he let go and instead put his hand on Ducky's shoulder, letting it move down until he embraced Ducky.
He then bent his head and put his lips to Ducky's. "Like this," he repeated, a moment or two later, lifting his head to see Ducky's reaction. "Just like this." He kissed Ducky again. "This, Duck," he said, once more taking his mouth away from the soft, warm lips that still hadn't kissed him back, "is how it should be." This time he put both arms around Ducky, pulled him even nearer to him and went on kissing him until finally Ducky did begin to kiss him back.
"And now," Jethro said, after several long minutes of gentle kisses that finally began to become less gentle and more passionate, "we're going to go to your bed. And I'm going to show you some more of how it should have been. In a bed we know, in a room we known, in a house we know, with the light on, both naked. I am going to show you just how much I want you. Just how much I need you. Just how much I love you. Oh, yes, Duck, I'm going to show you how it should have been. And I'm going to show you how it will be from now on. And then in the morning . . ."
. . . In the morning Jethro Gibbs did something he had never in his life done: he called in sick.
Half an hour later still reeling from the shock of his boss calling in sick, McGee managed to express sympathy and a hope that Ducky would feel better soon. He also reassured him that of course he'd tell the Director and Jimmy.
It was probably a good thing that he was still reeling from the shock of Gibbs calling in sick, otherwise it might have occurred to him to wonder why Ducky had omitted one name from the 'I would be obliged, Timothy, if you would tell . . .' And that name was the first name McGee would have expected Ducky to have mentioned.
Also, had McGee taken the time to check, he might have been more than a tad surprised to find that the two calls, the two calls that had been some thirty minutes apart, had both come from the same number. The number that was listed as Ducky's home number.
He might have been even more surprised to learn that the two men who had made the calls were at that moment discovering just how good Ducky's hot water supply was.