TITLE: Like Mother Like Son
AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship
SUMMARY: A sequel to A Mother Always Knows. Ducky, Jethro and Mrs. Mallard have enjoyed their picnic, and are now relaxing. Vanessa Mallard isn't, as her son and Jethro believe, asleep. Instead, she is watching them embrace and remembering her early life and her one and only love.
PROMPT: 30_memories 26 - Yellow Tulip (Hopeless Love)
WORD COUNT: 1,240.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
It was quiet in the dell; secluded, secure, cool, but not cold, peaceful, tranquil, the place where love should be expressed and desires embraced.
Vanessa opened her eyes and, from behind her sunglasses, glanced towards where her son and his beloved Jethro were sitting. It warmed her to see that they were openly showing their deep affection for one another. Jethro had his back against a tree and one arm around Donald, who had his head on Jethro's shoulder and was snuggled against him. They were talking quietly, their voices too low to carry to her, but the tone told her they were not discussing work.
From time to time Donald would lift his head, or Jethro would shift a little, and they would kiss. The contact was brief, chaste, little more than a brushing of lips, but the love they felt for one another shimmered around them.
Vanessa sighed softly and silently. She knew about love; she knew all about love; especially the hopeless kind. The kind that came with its own problems; the kind that lasted for a lifetime and beyond.
Earlier, when teasing her son, she had said to Jethro that Donald was very like his father in his sometimes reserved nature, and that was true, to an extent. However, he was far more like her in the way he fell in love.
She let her mind wander back to her first and only true love. To the man who had been Donald's father, at least biologically; he just wasn't the man who had brought her son up. She wondered if she should tell Donald, before she died. Or maybe she should tell dear Jethro.
His name, her lover, had been Albert, and he was the most loving, wonderful, caring, devoted man in the world. They had fallen in love almost at first sight and everything had perfect, well almost everything. There had only been one small problem: Albert had been married to someone else. In those days, one did not divorce, at least not without casting shame on the family. Of course one apparently didn't have affairs either, but . . .
Albert and Vanessa's love had been beyond a simple 'affair'. They had been in love, hopelessly, devotedly, wonderfully in love. However, Vanessa had never fooled herself; had never let herself believe that Albert would, indeed could, leave his wife and family for her. At least in her waking moments she had not allowed herself to believe that; but in her dreams . . . Well they were completely different.
They had always been careful, so very careful; no one had known about them, about their love, their happiness at being together, their sadness at not being together. So when the day came when an ashen Albert had arrived on her doorstep, with a bouquet of yellow tulips in his arms (even to his day she was certain he had not known what they signified), to tell her that his father had somehow found out and had given Albert an ultimatum, Vanessa had been devastated.
But Vanessa had always been a strong women, even then. It was she who had forced the tears away, she who had pulled her beloved into her arms, kissed him, taken him to her bed for the final time, and she who had gently but firmly told him that their relationship had to end.
And she had done all those things without telling him the news she had been given only that morning. She had let him go, indeed had sent him away, without telling him that she was carrying his child.
An unmarried mother carried more stigma in those days than a divorcee, or someone involved in an affair. Vanessa had another suitor, a man whom she knew loved her, a good man, solid, reliable, upstanding, staid, reserved; not the kind of man that could ever hope to claim the full-of-life Vanessa.
She had not lied to him; whatever else she might have been, she would not lie, not even to save her reputation. He had offered to marry her, and she had accepted. Even as she had done so, she had known that the day would come when they would part. She cared about him, in her own way, but she did not, could not, love him.
However, over the years he had always been good to her, and more importantly to her dear Donald. It is true that they always disagreed over money; he never could understand her desire to constantly spend it, but it was her money after all. He had loved Donald, and that was all she had ever asked for. Never once had he treated him as if he wasn't his own son, and for that Vanessa had been, indeed still was, eternally grateful.
She had never once stopped loving Albert. Indeed, had his father not found out about their affair and threatened his son, indeed shipped him and his family off to New Zealand, she knew that she would have spent her life being his mistress. That she would have been willing to put up with him being with another person, when she wanted him to be with her.
Of all the attributes that Donald could have inherited from her, she had always hated the fact that he had apparently inherited the devoted to only one person and hopeless love genes. Her son had only ever loved one person in his life, the man in whose arms he now rested. Her son had lived through four marriages and several affairs, never once telling Jethro to choose him over the woman, never threatening to leave him; simply accepting what Jethro was able to give him.
She had feared, until very recently, that the love would, like her own, be a hopeless one. That no matter how much Jethro loved Donald, and she knew that he did love her dear son and had always loved him, that he would not be able to commit to him. That Donald would get older and older and ultimately be alone, just waiting for the day when Jethro might choose him.
But something had happened, she wasn't certain what. Maybe she did know and had just forgotten; she did that a lot these days. The time she spent in present day reality was becoming more and more fleeting, sometimes so fleeting that she was no longer aware that it was reality. But whatever it was, whether she knew or not, it didn’t matter. The one thing she did know was that Jethro had chosen her son; Donald's love and devotion was not going to be hopeless. Her son had his true love, and she had her wish: for him to be happy.
As she glanced again at the way dear Jethro held her beloved Donald in his arms, saw how their lips found one another's in perfect symmetry, she sighed with pleasure. Would anything be gained by telling Donald? She did not know. Maybe she should tell Jethro, let him decide. He was always so -
As tears that filled her eyes, she pulled her gaze away from her son and his lover, both clearly so content just to be in one another’s arms. Instead, she let her mind once more return to the final afternoon that she and Albert had lain in one another's arms. That was better. Her memories, her past, was so much better than reality.