AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUB-GENRE: Established relationship
SUMMARY: Ducky and Jethro define their lives. Another short offering.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
Ducky defines my life. Well I have known him for the best part of thirty years. And 'the best part' is what he is.
He's there for me. Sometimes when I'm not even aware I need him to be.
He never makes demands. Although he should.
He loves me for what I am. For who I am. Something that no one else, not even Mom, has ever done.
Somehow he takes away the brutality, the bitterness, the evil, the hate, the darkness, the self-centeredness of the world, and leave only good things in its place. I'm not deluding myself, the bad things are still there, but Ducky makes them manageable and bearable.
He can calm me down with a simple 'my dear Jethro'. And he knows exactly how to make me feel better.
He doesn't hide his feelings for me. He never had. I'm not sure he could if he tried. From the moment I looked down into blue eyes that reminded me of the perfect sea, I knew that he loved me. He looks at me in a certain way, in a way that he looks at no one else. His affection, fondness, caring and love have always been there for everyone to see.
I've treated him very badly over the years. And very unfairly. Anyone else would have walked away from me. But not Ducky. He stayed. He put up with the crap. He always stood by me, and that included literally at all four of my marriages.
And he was there for me when all four fell apart. He patched me up when three of them turned violent on me. He understood my guilt at my grief over Shannon and Kelly's deaths. Understood it far better than I did. Shannon and I had already agreed we'd divorce, amicably for everyone's sake. Then they were killed. And I grieved. And I felt I didn't deserve to grieve. But Ducky understood and explained it to me, or tried to.
A lot of what I've learned over the years, I've learned from Ducky and his stories. I could retell all of them, probably backwards.
I've loved him for years, pretty much from the first. Yet I've been so cruel to him.
I’ve known there’d never be anyone as good, loyal, honest, anyone who loved me as he did, for over half my life. Yet it still took me over twenty years to finally admit it. To give in and stop playing the game. To stop hiding. To show Ducky, as well as tell him, how much I loved him.
I'd have happily stood up on my desk and made an announcement for the whole office to hear. I didn't; but I would have done.
But everyone knows, I've made it obvious. Made it clear without making it clear - Ducky's convoluted words, not mine.
I now have a home. Not just a place to live.
My relationship with Jethro has defined my life and myself for almost thirty years, as if it had not been for Jethro, I would not have remained in America.
Before I met the young, intense, cocky Marine, I had spent several years traveling around the world, meeting and learning about new cultures, collecting a vast array of stories to share. I had no real ties; my parents had never been the smothering kind, and thus did not expect me to remain by their sides. They encouraged my wanderlust. I had no wife, and never would have. And I believed my chances of finding the right man, given the era into which I was born and spent my young life, to be remote. America had merely been another country to visit, another place from which I could gain knowledge.
All that changed when I looked up into a pair of dark blue eyes. I have always been a little of the romantic; I believe in love at first sight and that there is one special person for every one. With one glance at the handsome face, I suspected I had found that person. Several hours later, following dinner and an intense conversation, I knew that I had. However, I believed my love was destined to be unrequited.
Jethro has a certain smile, a look, an aura; I truly believe he could sell ice cream to the Innuits. Thus despite my better judgment, indeed my protestations, I allowed him to persuade me to take him into my bed. The rest, as the cliché goes, is history.
Apart from a handful of holidays when I returned to England to see my parents, and three slightly longer absences, one when my father died, another when I returned to England to bring my mother to America and the third - which was in fact the first - when I left Jethro for his own good, I have been in America ever since. And it is where I shall remain; where I shall end my days.
It wasn't easy for me being in effect 'the other woman' for so many years, but when you are in love, when you love as deeply as I love Jethro, you do things that hurt. Things of which you are not proud. Things that are wrong. Things that you cannot help doing.
One thing kept me 'sane', allowed me to do the things I did, helped me excuse my behavior. It was the fact that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that not only did Jethro love me and was in love with me, but that one day he would give up the redheaded women and be all mine.
Longevity and patience are sometimes rewarded, and I got my prize six years ago, when Diane followed the lead of her predecessors and attacked Jethro with a baseball bat, and Jennifer Shepard sent him a 'Dear John' letter. The double betrayal was one too many, and he vowed there and then that that was it.
At the time I did not allow myself to believe him. It wasn't because I thought he was lying to me, he has never done that, but merely that I know how people behave when they have been hurt. And I had allowed myself to hope three times before that, and each time I had been disappointed, hurt even. Yet Jethro, strange as it may sound, had been hurt more.
However that time it was true, and Jethro became mine and mine alone.
For a few years he made sure he was seen with redheads from time to time, in order to keep people from knowing. But then, when my mother died, that pretence ended too. Jethro took me to live with him, and whilst he didn't exactly make an announcement to the team about our relationship, he still made it blatantly clear.
He hasn't touched his boat in over eighteen months.