Here's a little story for you.
TITLE: Tears That Heal.
AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUB-GENRE: Established relationship. Hurt/comfort
SUMMARY: Set during Kill Ari. Gibbs awakes to find that Ducky is not by his side.
SPOILERS: Twilight and Kill Ari
PROMPT: 10_hurt_comfort 08 - Tears
WORD COUNT: 1,552
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
Jethro woke up suddenly; something wasn't right.
The warm, soft, reassuring body that had been entwined with his own when he'd fallen asleep, was missing. And given how cold the bed was, Ducky hadn't merely gone to the bathroom.
"Duck?" He sat up and reached for the light.
"Don’t, please." Ducky's voice, low, flat, very un-Ducky-like, filtered across the room.
Jethro obeyed the plea, and instead slid out of bed and moved quietly across to the window where his lover stood. "Duck?" he said again, keeping his voice low. He reached out and touched Ducky's shoulder, surprised that his lover hadn't turned around. "What's up?"
Ducky was silent. The only hint that he'd even heard the question came from the almost imperceptible raising of one shoulder.
Jethro's gut began to churn." Are you sick? In pain? Shall a call a doctor?" As always when something was wrong with his lover, Jethro began to over-react; to almost panic. His fear that someone or something would harm Ducky, or worse take him away from him, was something he tried to keep hidden, tried to keep in proportion. But he knew he couldn't lose Ducky; the fear that he would, tended to make him become irrational.
When the men were in public it was why he resorted to snapping and calling him 'Dr. Mallard'; if he didn't, then he'd quite possibly cross every line. The team knew about their relationship, in a know-but-don't-know --way, but even so. Thus, at times when he was worried, he tended to button his emotions up even more tightly; except he knew people saw through it, at least to an extent, hence Abby's 'he's only angry because he's worried about you', comment.
But when they were alone, Jethro didn't have any image to keep up, didn't need to worry what people might think, didn't have to stop himself from hugging or kissing or touching or caressing Ducky. "Duck," he repeated, now holding both of Ducky's shoulders tightly, and pulling his lover against him. "Please. Talk to me."
Ducky didn't prevent Jethro from moving him, but he made no attempt to assist. "It's nothing, my dear," he said, his voice still low and flat. "Please, go to bed. I will be fine. I'm not ill, you don't need to worry."
Which of course pushed Jethro's worry up even higher. "Ducky, look at me." He used his extra height, fewer years and training to turn his lover around. However, Ducky lowered his head at first, keeping his face shielded from Jethro's eyes.
Then he sighed and lifted his head. Jethro gasped at the sight of the tears flowing silently and steadily from the beautiful blue eyes. "Ducky, my love," he said, gathering Ducky into his arms and holding him tightly. It was an endearment he rarely used, he had so many ways of saying Ducky's name, so many variations of showing his love, anything additional was not often needed. And it wasn't because Ducky was a man, that had never come into it, Jethro simply had never been a man to use sweet nothings, they didn't come naturally to him. But sometimes a name, no matter how intimately and fondly it was said, wasn't enough. Now was one of those times.
As the liquid began to seep through his undershirt, and Ducky moved his arms to complete the embrace, Jethro began to slowly rock his lover.
Ducky made no attempt to quell his tears, nor did he make any noise, he simply stood there in Jethro's embrace, letting the tears fall.
After a moment of two he spoke. "I'm sorry, my dearest. I am being foolish. After all it is not the first one I've performed; it is not even the first one I've performed on one of our own. But Caitlin was . . ." he broke off, and his shoulders began to shake.
Jethro tugged him even closer and held him even more firmly. "Oh, my love, my love," he murmured, brushing Ducky's head with his lips, before resting his cheek against it. He felt furious with himself and guilty as hell. There he'd been, so wrapped up in his own pain, his own anger, his own hurt, and that of the kids, so wrapped up in his bitterness and distress than Jenn Shepard had come back, that he hadn't stopped to think how Ducky must have been feeling.
And Ducky had even told him. Admittedly not in so many words, but he had told him. He’d done so with the shared whiskey, which Jethro hadn't even bothered to drink. And in the comment he'd made about how, to men like Jethro and himself, women would never be equal until they were equal in death. He’d told him in the way he had tried to comfort Jethro, just as he always tried to comfort everyone. And yet it had been Ducky who was the one who had to cut Kate up. And what the hell for? Her cause of death was obvious. A bullet through the head, she hadn't needed to be cut into; but the law insisted. And it was Ducky; Ducky who cared a great deal for Kate; Ducky who treated her like a lady; Ducky who wanted to protect her; Ducky who'd had to do it.
Of course he hadn't had to do it; he could have left it to someone else, but that would not even have crossed Ducky's mind; it would have been unthinkable. At least Ducky doing the autopsy allowed him to show respect to Kate, to find his own way of saying goodbye.
And Jethro, so wrapped up in himself and his hatred and pain, had missed all the signs. "Oh, Ducky," he whispered, as the tears continued to soak through to his chest. "Oh, Ducky, Ducky, oh, my Ducky. It'll be all right," he murmured. "I'll get the bastard for you. I promise."
And he would; and suddenly it became not about his revenge, his need to make Ari pay, but about helping to heal Ducky; the man they'd all forgotten about in their own grief. Because he was the man who was always so strong, so caring, so understanding, so calm, so loving, always there for all of them in his unobtrusive way. Not one of them had thought, not one of them had considered, how Ducky must have felt. It was understandable that the kids didn’t notice; but incomprehensible that he hadn’t. He should have seen; he should have known.
"I'm sorry, Duck," he murmured. "I'm so sorry, my love." He felt the tears burn the back of his eyes, but he forced them away. This wasn't about him and his grief; this was about Ducky and his pain.
Finally he felt the steady flow begin to slow down and eventually cease. Ducky was now learning heavily against him, letting Jethro take virtually his entire weight; in fact for a moment Jethro wondered if his lover had fallen asleep. But then Ducky moved his head slightly, nuzzling closer into Jethro's shoulder and sighing. Under his nose the sweet smell of pine trees drifted up from Ducky's heavy, silky hair. Again Jethro kissed Ducky's head, moving his nose under the thick strands.
It was getting cold in the room, and he was getting a little stiff from taking so much weight and keeping so still; but he didn't care. If Ducky wasn't ready to move, then nor was he; he'd stay were he was until his lover was ready. He dreaded to think, however, how stiff Ducky would be when he did move, how much more than usual his leg would hurt, how badly he would limp, but Jethro would be there to help.
It was another five minutes before Ducky did lift his head and tilt it back, moving within Jethro's fierce embrace. Jethro loosened it just enough, allowing his lover to pull away a little. By the moonlight he could see Ducky's face and eyes. His cheeks still glistened with moisture, as did his eyes that were now reddened, but a level of peace seemed to have settled over him. He offered Jethro a half smile, sad, pained, but nonetheless genuine.
"Thank you, dearest," he said solemnly and softly.
Jethro didn't know what to say; whatever words he found would be woefully inadequate or sound flippant. So instead he lowered his own head and lightly kissed Ducky, tasting salt as well as the more familiar tastes of the forest and Formaldehyde. "Love you, Duck," he murmured, after several moments of gentle, healing kisses.
"I know you do, my dear. And I love you too. Now, please, take me back to bed and make love to me." Ducky still spoke softly, still spoke solemnly, and his tone and the steady, still slightly damp look, told Jethro far more than the simple words had done.
There would be no more sleep that night, for either of them. The tears that Ducky had shed had begun to heal him, now it was up to Jethro to ensure the healing continued.
Carefully maneuvering them both so that he still had his arm around Ducky and was still supporting him, Jethro began to lead his badly limping lover back to the bed. He hoped that the morning would not race in too quickly.