kalliekat (kalliekat) wrote in ncis_gibbsducky,

Yuletide Gift Exchange story for ashley_pitt

TITLE:The Case of the Missing M.E. and Team Leader (with apologies to Perry Mason).
AUTHOR: Kalliekat
WRITTEN FOR: ashley_pitt Hi Ashley, i'm very inexperienced at all this, I hope this is okay, and i think i managed in some form or other to put all the requests in....
b>PAIRING:</b> Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
CHARACTERS: JL.J. Gibbs, Dr Mallard, and the children and Director.
GENRE: Slash
SUB-GENRE: established relationship (add anything else you might want to add - if you go to my story you'll get an idea of what I put)
SUMMARY: see the title
WARNINGS: death of (very)minor character
RATING: hints of slash
DISCLAIMER: I do not own the NCIS characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: be gentle with me please!oh and happy happy Christmas to everyone.

“Okay, okay, I’m coming” Gibbs’ voice was husky with sleep.
The what appeared to be incessant hammering on his front door had wakened Jethro, only a couple of hours after he had fallen into bed. It was Saturday, and he knew he didn’t have anything specific organised for today, so when he realised it was after 4a.m. he had stretched, yawned, patted his boat goodnight and climbed the stairs from the basement, walked through the lounge to the stairs to the bedrooms and, once upstairs , proceeded to wash the sawdust from round his neck and brush it out of his hair before using the bathroom and settling into bed. The “Kelly” was almost finished. She was beautiful, and he had relaxed with a feeling of wellbeing, and fallen almost instantly into a deep sleep.

He grabbed a bathrobe and headed downstairs to the front door. Opening it, he was taken aback to see two army personnel standing almost to attention on the step. Both were clean shaven, well groomed and dressed in what appeared to be freshly pressed uniforms. The collar on one shirt bore a small gold cross – a Chaplain though Gibbs automatically.
Clearing his throat, the chaplain spoke. “Leroy Jethro Gibbs?”
Gibbs nodded
.”The secretary of the army has requested me to inform you of the death of your partner Lt Col Hollis Mann, of the Army CID. She died from gunshot wounds received during a combat operation in Maryland on November 16th.” (two days ago thought Gibbs in an automatic response to what he was hearing). “The Secretary extends his deepest sympathy to you and your family in your tragic loss” finished the Chaplain.

Gibbs looked uncomprehendingly at him – “I’m sorry Chaplain, I didn’t catch your name.” “Father Mathieson,” he replied, “and this is Lt. John Cooper.”

“Please come in” said Jethro, “I’m sorry, I was asleep, and … did you say my Partner?”
“Yes sir” replied Father Mathieson, “you are listed as Lt Col Mann’s next of kin”.

Jethro breathed deeply, “typical of Hollis” he thought, “don’t tell just do.” Not he thought wryly that he would have let her name him as next of kin OR as partner had he known it a possibility.

Still in an apparent daze he put on the coffee machine and made drinks for the chaplain, Lt., and himself. The Lieutenant looked uncomfortable as if not sure what to do next.
“Thank-you gentlemen” said Jethro.”However, Lt Col Mann was not my partner, nor was I her next of kin. I am sure she must have had some relative somewhere, and though we were friends, I could not be called her partner.”

The Chaplain and Lt. looked at each other, and Lt. Cooper cleared his throat. “Thank-you for the coffee sir, we will report your response to the Army CID and we apologise for any grief or …”.he stuttered and ran out of words…. “We may have caused.”

Jethro reassured them both he was fine, and as they left said “Hollis was a fine soldier. I held her in high regard as a fellow investigator, on the occasions we worked together, but we were not as close as she has assumed.”

Jethro closed the door and sank onto the couch in the living room. He felt deeply saddened that he did not feel more at hearing Hollis had been killed, but after she had played Kelly’s tape and seen his grief which he had been unable to hide even after all these years, it had changed how he had felt about her. She had intruded into something intensely private, and she had known then that she had, by her actions, quickly stopped in its tracks any personal relationship they might have had.
Although he did not feel particularly upset, he did have a sense of guilt that Hollis had died without someone of significance in her life. And added to that was the feeling of subterfuge he felt that he had held back from her about the one person in his day to day life who he did love deeply and who kept the meaning of his life in context. Jethro sighed. He needed to get dressed and make a phone call.

“Come in Duck” said Jethro as he opened the front door once again.
Peaceful Saturday huh!
“What is it Jethro?” asked Ducky. “You look concerned.!”
Ducky crossed the lounge and sat in one of the overstuffed but very comfy armchairs. He wasn’t unduly surprised by Jethro’s summons; he was used to his erratic ways at times.
Jethro sighed, and walked to stand behind Ducky. Leaning forward a little and lightly brushing his hands across his beloved’s shoulders, he told Ducky of his early morning visitors.
“Oh my dear,” said Ducky, with concern, “how typical of Hollis to do that.”
“No Duck” said Jethro, “it’s sad that she had no-one else to put in that place. Perhaps in another time and place…….”
“Jethro” said Ducky firmly, “you cannot take the blame for her death on to yourself.” Jethro laughed mirthlessly “I’m not Ducky, it’s just….. Well sad.”
But for all his protestations, Ducky could see that Jethro was more affected by the death of Hollis Mann than he was saying. He knew Jethro well enough to know that as always Jethro suffered pangs of guilt about having had any sort of relationship which hurt him. Despite three fruitless and quickly ended marriages, during all of which Ducky had stood by and waited, knowing that eventually Jethro would return, Ducky knew that Jethro’s head could be turned by an attractive woman, especially one with intelligence and a similarly quick mind to Jethro himself. And Hollis Mann had been that type of woman.
Ducky could see that Jethro was tired, even though his beloved often
worked for hours without a break, and had enough stamina for several agents, when it was a weekend off duty, Jethro tended to relax and recharge his batteries.
“Since you are up my dear, and I am here, perhaps we should go out for brunch” suggested ducky.
“Sorry Ducky” said Jethro,” don’t really feel up to it today”. He pinched the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger, “still feeling sleepy I guess. Can we take a rain-check?”.
“Of course Jethro” replied Ducky softly, and stood preparatory to leaving.
Before he could take more than one step, Jethro had rounded the chair and taken Ducky in his arms.
” You do know I love you Duck,” he said with something akin to desperation in his voice?
“Jethro of course I do” replied Ducky, he returned the hug fiercely, then gently brushed his lips over Jethro’s before moving away.
“I will see you on Monday my dear, and you owe me brunch”! Ducky Mallard smiled gently at his lover before quietly closing the front door behind him.

Jethro walked into the kitchen and refilled the coffee pot, he needed to think, for all his tough exterior, and stern demeanour, he had a softness to him that few people ever saw. Shannon had seen it, and of course Ducky.
Filling his mug, he walked back to the lounge and sat at the table. He let his mind wander, flitting over the various times he had been with Hollis. It was true they had worked well together, they had similar minds and were both used to giving orders and being obeyed. They both had their military training. It was also true he had felt fleetingly attracted to her, and it was obvious that she had returned the feeling. They had enjoyed a short sharp fling, though he knew that Hollis had wanted more, but Jethro had felt, as he always did, that he had betrayed the memory of Shannon, and of course, Ducky. However, his feelings for his beloved Ducky were different. In some way Jethro had always separated how he felt about the medical examiner. He knew Ducky was gay, and had other relationships long ago in his past before he and Jethro had ever met. Ducky was the only man Jethro had ever felt this way about, the only man he had ever loved so deeply both as a friend and lover. Somehow, the sex of the person was unimportant; it was the personality that mattered. And in Ducky, Jethro had found the perfect yin to his yang. Being with Ducky had never made him feel that he was betraying Shannon, and he thought if Shannon had known, she would have been pleased for him. And Kelly would have adored Ducky, he was the perfect surrogate grandfather and he showed time and again with the children.
Sighing, Jethro felt that not only had had betrayed Shannon and Ducky with Hollis, he had betrayed Hollis by refuting her statement that he was her next of kin. Given a little more time and not catching him so unawares, he might have answered the Chaplain and Lt. differently. At least, he thought he could find out when her funeral was, and attend. Not something he relished. And not something he wanted to tell Ducky or the children about either. He felt guilty enough.

The next week at work was quiet – no new cases, and this in turn made it more difficult for Jethro. With time to think he became more and more sharp and snappish with his team. They spent the week with their noses buried in cold cases hardly daring to speak in case it brought down the wrath of Gibbs on to them.
When Thursday morning came and with it no Gibbs, they drew a collective breath of relief and sat up looking at each other and quietly chatting.
Ziva opined that Gibbs had toothache and was at the dentists, that was what had made him so grumpy.
McGee thought it more likely that Gibbs had run out of his favourite coffee and it was lack of caffeine that was causing the problem.
Tony kept quiet. He had noticed that Gibbs had made several quiet phone calls, out, not coming in, and figured something was going on that Gibbs didn’t want the team to know about, but wasn’t sure what. He decided to pay Abby a visit and headed to the elevator.
Abby was in her den, with the music playing fit to crack the glass in the windows.” Hey Abbs,” shouted Tony and tapped her on the shoulder. She span round and grinned at him. As she turned down the music she flung her arms around his neck, “Tony Tony Tony. Where have you been all week????”
“Abs, you so don’t want to know” he replied. “Gibbs has been in one of the worst snitches I’ve ever seen him in; we’ve been doing cold cases from morning till night and saying nothing!”
“And?” questioned Abby “you are here now because?????”
“He’s not in today”replied Tony with a grin.
Abby however looked puzzled,” but Gibbs doesn’t not come in Tony, you know that” she expostulated. And gave him a quick slap to the back of the head.
“Hey what’s that for?”
“You’re not thinking straight Tony, Gibbs doesn’t just not come in” said Abby.
She called up autopsy on her screen, “Ducky” she asked, Mr Palmer’s head popped into view, “oh um Abby hi, um Dr Mallard’s not here at the moment, can I help?” “Where is he” asked Abby
“I don’t know” said Mr Palmer, “he came in as usual, looked at his copy of the Washington post, said oh no, put his coat back on and left”.
“Curiouser and curiouser” muttered Abby
“ok, thanks bye” she called and switched off the link.

“Duckman and Bossman missing humph.”
“What?” asked Tony?
“Well something must be going on. Tony, we need a copy of the Washington Post. That’s what Ducky was looking at when he disappeared. Go find one, shoo” said Abby, flapping her hands at Tony and already starting to bounce at the thought of solving the puzzle of the missing ME and Team leader. .

Just then the door to the lab slid open. Director Shepard walked in, both Abby and Tony looked at her
“oh uh good morning Director” said Tony,
“must go Abby thanks for the results” and he went to slide past, but Jenny stopped him.
“Have you seen Gibbs this morning Agent DiNozzo” she asked?
“Um no, Director” replied Tony
. “Have you seen the Washington Post today?” she asked
“No” replied Abby and Tony simaltaniously,”but we’re looking for one” added Abby. Jenny passed them the paper, folded open at the obituary page. There was a picture of Hollis Mann and a short obit telling of her career, and her subsequent death at the hands of a gunman during an operation the previous week.
Abby was the first to speak
“we didn’t know” she said “shouldn’t we have known? Does Bossman know?”
Her eyes filled with tears, she was the softest hearted of the children, but she had also known Jethro longer than the rest of the team, and she knew about his soft underbelly better than anyone
“I don’t know” said Jenny, “I suspect he does because he’s not here”
“Yes” nodded Abby, “and Col Mann’s funeral services are today”.
She looked again at the paper.
”No wonder he’s been off this week” muttered Tony.
“What?” He asked as both Abby and the Director glared at him.
“What???? How would we know???? “

Abby was muttering under her breath.
“I should be there, he’s always there for me, I should be there for him”. She was walking round the lab faster and faster, switching off machines, and then stopped short in front of Jen, said quite simply
“I have to go.”
“Of course” said the Director. Tony went back to the rest of the team. He told them what he knew.
“Yes” said Ziva, “the director already showed us the newspaper. What should we do?”
“ the services are in two hours” said Tony. “Maybe we should go, and support Gibbs, after all we did know Col Mann,” he added doubtfully.
“Yes” said Ziva “I think we should go. He is our boss, and we owe him our support.”
Tim was happy to go along with the majority, especially when he knew Abby would be going.

The children all piled out of the car at Arlington cemetery. They had discovered the whereabouts of the funeral service. As they approached the graveside, they could see that apart from colleagues from the Army CID, all in full dress uniform, there were few other people there. There was an Army Chaplain who was going to deliver the service, and a couple in civvies, the woman had a look of Hollis Mann about her, and the man had his arm around her shoulders. And there were Jethro and Ducky. Jethro in his best Marine uniform, looking every inch the Gunny he was, and Ducky standing beside him.
“Well” said Tony, “we’ve found the missing duo”.
Abby looked askance at Tony
.” It’s serious Tony” she said. “Whatever happened, Gibbs is feeling guilty about something”.
“How do you know that Abby?” asked Tim
“I just do” she replied firmly
.” Call it women’s intention” said Ziva and glared at the men daring them to answer her back.
“intuition” corrected Abby absently.
The five of them (Palmer had been collected en route out of the building) walked slowly to the graveside and stood respectfully back from those already there. The service was short, the U.S.. Flag folded and presented to the woman in civilian dress. Shots rang out across the cemetery, honouring one of their own, a bugler played Taps, and Jethro saluted. Ducky smiled when he turned and saw the children all there, and whispered something to Jethro. He also turned and a brief expression of surprise, pride and almost delight crossed his face then was gone.
“Nothing to do at the office” he asked sternly.
” Jethro” chided Ducky gently,” they are here to support you.”
Abby wanted to throw herself into Gibbs’ arms but held back because of the uniform. So she took his hand instead
“You should have told us Bossman” she said.
“Why?” asked Gibbs
“Because we all knew Col Mann, and because well, because” she said .”We’re a team, we’re family! “
“ Team,” said Jethro wryly “I’d like you to meet Hollis’s cousin, Mariana, she and her husband live in California, they were contacted by the Army and flew out for the funeral.”
“Ma’am” he said to Mariana, “Hollis was a fine soldier, and a good investigator. She died doing a job she loved and in the service of her country.”
“Thank-you” said Mariana. She dabbed her eyes with a small lace handkerchief “We were close as children, but our lives took us down different paths and even the once a year Christmas card stopped. I am grateful to have been here, Thank-you for getting in touch with me”
“ Not a problem ma’am” replied Gibbs.

As Mariana and her husband left the graveside, the children all crowded round Gibbs and Ducky.
“That what you’ve been doing this week boss?” asked Tony “Finding Col Mann’s relatives?”
“ Yep” replied Jethro, “everyone should have someone they belong to at their funeral.” he added. And slowly, as a group, they turned and left the cemetery. Once inside the cars, Ducky leaned across and gently stroked Jethro’s cheek.
“You can let it go now, Jethro” he said
. Jethro sighed and leaned into Ducky’s touch. And Ducky knew it would be alright.

“okay, okay, I’m coming” Gibbs’ voice was husky with sleep .
The what appeared to be incessant hammering on his front door had wakened Jethro, only a couple of hours after he had fallen into bed. It was Saturday, and he knew he didn’t have anything specific organised for today, so when he realised it was after 4a.m. he had stretched, yawned, patted his boat goodnight and climbed the stairs from the basement, walked through the lounge to the stairs to the bedrooms and, once upstairs, proceeded to wash the sawdust from round his neck and brush it out of his hair before using the bathroom and settling into bed. The “Kelly” was almost finished. She was beautiful, and he had relaxed with a feeling of wellbeing, and fallen almost instantly into a deep sleep.
It gave him a sense of deja-vue, surely this had happened last week….
He opened the door and there stood Ducky, with a broad smile on his face.
“Come on Jethro rise and shine”
“ What Ducky.. is there a problem?”
“ No,” replied Ducky, “ but we are going out. So come on.”

Ducky sat with a large mug of coffee whilst Jethro got himself ready. Casual Ducky had said, but warm.

Jethro got into Ducky’s Morgan and they departed. When they arrived at the lakeside, it was already full of sail boats.
Jethro looked at Ducky. “And this is in aid of what exactly Duck?” he asked

“It’s been a hard week Jethro” said Ducky softly. “I know you well enough to know you have blamed yourself and felt you had betrayed Shannon with Hollis, and betrayed me also, and then felt you had betrayed Hollis because you weren’t what she wanted you to be, but you have done no such thing. You did take on the task of being her next of kin, you found her actual family and got them to her funeral. You told them things about Hollis to make them proud of her, and you are here with me now. I know you love me Jethro, I also know you have the capacity to love women. and…” “Shush” said Jethro putting his finger over Ducky’s lips.
“Ducky, you are my world. I love you more than anyone I have ever loved. You and I we fit together to make a whole. I was lucky to have met Shannon when I did and to have had the opportunity to have Kelly in my life. But you have been a constant for so many years, and this week has given me time to think and to wonder just what I’m doing. Ducky, it’s only you, I love you.”
“Dearest” murmured Ducky but it wasn’t the most comfortable snuggle in the front of the Morgan. Instead, Ducky got out of the car,
“Come on Jethro” he said.
They stood together watching the sailboats on the lake in front of them, their arms entwined around each others backs, Jethro dropped a soft kiss on to Ducky’s head, and smiled. He had faced his demons. It promised to be a good weekend.

3450 words
Tags: !creator: kalliekat, challenge 24, fiction, yuletide gift exchange 2007

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