AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard. Abigail Sciuto/Timothy McGee (mentioned)
CHARACTERS: Gibbs, Ducky
SUMMARY: Gibbs and Ducky are shopping for christening gifts for Abby and Tim's twin boys.
CHALLENGE Amnesty 2008 - 'Compromise'
WORD COUNT: 2,016
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
"Ducky!" In exasperation, Jethro watched as Ducky picked up the same two silver napkins rings that he'd been examining for the last hour. "It's getting late, Duck. Store's going to close soon, just choose one."
Ducky turned and looked at him. "But, Jethro, it is not that simple. One cannot just 'choose one', as one would choose a shirt."
"Because it is such a special gift for a very special occasion."
"Just a christening, Duck."
"Jethro!" Ducky stared up at him, eyes wide with displeasure and showing the steel Jethro knew lurked behind the mild mannered man.
"Sorry, didn't mean it like that. I guess I'm just still surprised Abbs and Tim are doing it."
"They did marry in Church."
"Yeah. Know that. I was there, remember." Now he saw a faint tinge of hurt flash across Ducky's face. He softened his tone. "Sorry, Duck," he said for the second time in as many minutes. He hated shopping and he really didn't see the point of this gift - not that he'd tell Ducky that. He doubted Abby and Tim used real napkins, so why bother giving napkin rings? Especially to two six month old boys? He put his hand on Ducky's shoulder.
"Look, Duck," he said gently, turning Ducky a little so he could look at him. "If we're going to get them engraved you have to choose one now - there won't be time otherwise. And remember we've visited all the other jewelers in DC. It's got to be one of these."
"Which do you like? After all, they are coming from both of us."
"Er, that one." Jethro pointed to the one in Ducky's left hand.
"Yeah, it's, um . . . Oval, rather than round. Different. Abbs'd like different."
"Well, yes, I do agree with that point. That is one reason why it caught my eye. However, this one," Ducky held up the one he hand in his right hand, "has a more intricate and fine design. One that is more suitable, one might say, for a boy than -"
Jethro shrugged. "Get that one then."
"But I thought you preferred the other one?"
"Duck . . . Look, Duck," Jethro put a hand on each of Ducky's shoulders. "Try not to get upset, but it really doesn't matter to me. I know, I know, I shouldn't say that. I know we're going to be Godfathers and honoree Grandfathers, but . . . Hell, Duck. You know me. You've known me for more than three decades, lived with me for more than three years; you know I'm not a silver napkin ring type of guy. Are you sure they're the right gift anyway? Shouldn't we be getting the twins something more . . ." He trailed off.
Ducky sighed a little. "We have other gifts for them, Jethro. I told you, I showed you. But for a christening it is traditional for the Godparents to give their Godchild something special, something that . . ." He trailed off and sighed again, more loudly this time. "No, you are correct, my dear. It is I who is incorrect. I am just being a foolish, elderly man. I am letting my traditions and my generation and my lifestyle show. You are quite correct. We'll forget all about the napkin rings and -"
"No, Duck. We won't." Jethro slid his hands from Ducky's shoulders and instead held his arms loosely. "And less of the elderly or foolish, okay. You're the one who's right. Abbs and Tim'll love the trouble you've gone to. They'll understand the gesture and our boys will too; well once they grow up a bit."
"Do you really think so?" Now Ducky smiled.
"Don't just think, Duck. I know so."
"Oh, good. That is reassuring. However, it doesn't resolve the problem of which one to buy." Ducky again turned in Jethro's loose part embrace and began to look at the rings again.
Suddenly Jethro had a stab of inspiration. "I know," he said, catching Ducky's arm. "We'll buy one of them for Tommy and the other for Benny." He'd known from the day the McGees had named their twin boys - Thomas Jethro and Benjamin Donald - that within a very short time the only person to call them 'Thomas' and 'Benjamin', at least on a regular basis, would be their grandpa Ducky. He vaguely wondered if Abby and Tim had deliberately named their boys so that Ducky would be able to use the longer version, as he knew his lover loved to do with names. He knew it still irked Ducky more than a little that he couldn't lengthen Palmer's name; 'Jimmy' was his given name. In fact more than once he'd pondered as to whether that had been the reason Ducky had, in what was a very un-Duckyish way, called his young assistant 'Mr. Palmer' rather than 'Jimmy' for a considerable number of years.
"Oh, no, Jethro. We cannot do that." Ducky sounded as though Jethro had suggested they make love in the middle of the store.
Ducky shook his head. "No. We can't. It simply isn't . . . Well, we wouldn't want Abigail or Timothy and later Benjamin or Thomas," Jethro hid a smile, "comparing them, and maybe wondering why we had chosen one for one and the other for the other, now would we?"
Jethro stared down at Ducky and saw that his lover was being completely serious. "Right. Guess we wouldn't. My mistake." He shrugged his coat more comfortable onto his shoulders, glanced at his watch and prepared himself for another longish wait.
Ducky turned away from him again and still frowning began his fifth, sixth, ninth, twentieth - Jethro had lost count - minute examination of the rings. Jethro took the opportunity to lean against the wall and close his eyes for a moment.
"Ooh!" Ducky suddenly exclaimed.
Instantly, Jethro's eyes were open and he was scanning the store for any sign of mishap, while at the same time grabbing Ducky's hand and holding it. "You okay, Ducky?" he said, concern heavy in his voice.
Ducky smiled up at him, his eyes twinkling with the kind of devotion and love they always showed Jethro, no matter where they were. "I am perfectly 'okay' Jethro. In fact I am far more than just 'okay' I am . . . Well, I was going to say 'perfectly happy', but . . ." He trailed off and let his gaze flicker up and down Jethro.
"Duck." Jethro glanced around them.
"I apologize, my dear," Ducky said, sounding not in the slightest apologetic. "It is just that I have the solution, the ideal solution to our dilemma. I don't know why I didn't think of it earlier. After all I am British, and we Brits are renowned for our willingness, I might even say eagerness, to compromise." He looked joyously happy, as if he had just been given a gift and he continued to beam up at Jethro.
Jethro couldn't help but smile back at Ducky; his happiness was contagious, not to mention if it solved the problem and meant they could get home and have dinner and a drink and . . . Well, Jethro was more than happy. He waited. He waited a little longer and then a little longer, but other than continuing to smile up at him Ducky said nothing.
"Er, Duck," he said, after a whole minute of silence had gone by. "You going to tell me what this 'ideal solution' this 'compromise' is?"
"Oh, yes, of course. Do forgive me, Jethro. I was just so . . . Yes, yes. It is easy. We buy both of them." He beamed at Jethro again.
Jethro swallowed and pushed away the image of Ducky explaining something to his late mother, and a minute later having to explain it again as she'd completely forgotten what he'd said. "Er, Duck," he said carefully. "Um. I did kind of suggest that a while ago and you said we couldn't. Did you, um . . ." he trailed off.
Ducky chuckled softly and patted Jethro's hand. "Ah, Jethro my dear, so not worry, I am not going senile. I do indeed remember your suggestion. However, that is not what I meant."
"It's not?" Now Jethro was more confused than ever.
Ducky shook his head. "No. You meant for us to buy the two and give one to Thomas and the other to Benjamin, did you not?"
"Um, well, yeah."
"And I said we couldn't because we didn't want either Abigail or Timothy or later the boys to -"
"Yeah. Remember that. So what are you suggesting?"
"That we buy both of them for each of them. It's the perfect solution."
Ducky nodded. "But of course. After all just because we are a couple, that does not mean that dear Benjamin and Thomas should lose out. Had Abigail and Timothy chosen Godparents who were not also partners then they would give the boys a present each. Therefore, that is what we shall do. Yes. Oh, dear, Jethro. What must you think of me? I told you I was getting a little foolish and elderly, I really should have thought of that from the beginning. Do please, forgive me, dearest. I have kept you here for . . . Oh, dear, well over an hour. You should have said something."
Jethro forced himself not to say, 'I did' and instead asked, "Aren't two napkin rings going to be a bit odd, Duck? I mean two?" He still couldn't quite understand the concept of one silver napkin ring, but two . . .
"Oh, no, Jethro. Quite the opposite. As I said they are somewhat of the traditional gift, well for my background and generation they are. I myself was gifted with three, and between you and I, I don't think Mother ever quiet forgave Uncle Claude for not making it four. His gift was really very inappropriate and frivolous, not the kind of gift one gives to one's Godchild. Not at all."
"What was it?" But Jethro was speaking to an empty space, because after squeezing his hand once more, Ducky had turned and hurried away to find the store clerk.
Half an hour later, Jethro finally held open the passenger door of the sedan and offered Ducky his hand as he climbed inside.
Ten minutes of that had been taken up with Ducky pacing up and down the store why the poor clerk emptied every box they had in order to find a second oval napkin ring.
The other twenty while Ducky explained at least five times what names were to go on which rings and how they engraver needed to be certain that 'Thomas Jethro' and 'Benjamin Donald' appeared once on both styles, and while he argued with himself as to whether they would be 'Godfather Ducky' and 'Godfather Jethro' or 'Grandpa Ducky' and 'Grandpa Jethro'. And then beginning to argue with himself as to whether they should put that at all, or if they should just use the twins names or initials.
As Ducky settled himself into the seat and Jethro shut the door before circling the car to get to the driver's door he thought they'd settled on 'Grandpa' but to be honest, he'd lost track after the first five minutes. He just hoped and prayed the engraver hadn't!
If it had been anyone else he would have walked out of the jeweler's store after the first few minutes. Of course, if it had been anyone else he wouldn't have even gone to the first jeweler's store, let alone the sixth. But it wasn't anyone else; it was Ducky. Ducky his lover. Ducky his oldest friend. Ducky his closet friend. Ducky his Ducky. The man he loved. The man he was willing to make concessions for.
"Reckon compromise isn't just a British thing, Duck," he murmured, as he opened his door, climbed in and slammed it shut again, turned on the engine and drove off, back to their Reston home.