AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUB-GENRE: First Time
SUMMARY: Set the same evening as Bête Noire. Ducky goes to see Jethro. However Jethro's reaction to his friend turning up, is not the one either man expected.
WARNING: This story has some dark overtones, especially at the beginning.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
“Go away, Duck.”
“No, Jethro,” Ducky said calmly, walking into the basement of Jethro’s house and ignoring the revolver that was pointed his way.
“Go away.” This time the name wasn’t added, and the tone was colder than Jethro had ever before used with Ducky.
“No, Jethro,” Ducky repeated, and moved further into the room, crossing to where his long-time friend sat. The revolver still pointed in his direction.
Jethro closed his eyes and let the gun slip downwards. “What if I said ‘please?’”
Ducky shook his head, and once more repeated his refusal. He reached out and took the gun from Jethro’s fingers, slipping the safety on and replacing it in its usual place.
“I really think you should go, Ducky,” Jethro said, his tone no longer cold, but simply flat. “It’d be better for you,” he added, opening his eyes.
Ducky didn’t like the look the lingered in the dark navy gaze. For the first time ever in their twenty-seven year friendship, he felt slightly unnerved by the ex-Marine.
“Talk to me, Jethro,” Ducky said, not really expecting the man to obey him. But somehow he needed to reach his friend; he knew only too well about bottling things up.
The next second Jethro’s uninjured arm shot out, grabbed Ducky and yanked him towards the now standing man. Ducky couldn’t help gasping aloud as fiery pain shot through his long-ago injured leg. He staggered and grabbed Jethro in order to remain on his feet. The arm was wrapped around him and long fingers tangled into his hair, tugging his head back, until he felt his neck muscles protest.
“I don’t need to talk,” Jethro growled. “I need something else, and as you’re here -“
The next second Ducky found his mouth claimed in a brutal, tearing kiss. The like of which he had never experienced, or ever dreamed of experiencing - especially not when it came from the man whom he had loved for over twenty years.
Jethro’s mouth showed no hint of gentleness or caring. There was only pure, unadulterated brutality as it covered and possessed Ducky’s own. Held by an embrace he had no hope of breaking, not even with two good arms, Ducky simply tried to weather the storm. He was certain that Jethro’s sense of being would eventually click in.
“Well it’s what you’ve always wanted, isn’t it?” Jethro snarled, finally breaking the punishing kiss to drag air into his lungs. “I’ve seen the way you look at me, touch me. You’ve wanted me since the day we met. Well, be careful what you wish for, Dr. Mallard.” Once again he smothered Ducky’s mouth with his own.
As a heavy, questing tongue banged against his lips, Ducky automatically parted them, letting Jethro inside. His head was throbbing from the tight grip that Jethro had on his hair, and he was struggling for oxygen himself as his nose was pressed against Jethro's face. Still he made no move to prevent the assault. Seconds later he felt blood flow into his mouth, as Jethro’s teeth closed down over his lip; he couldn’t prevent a gasp from escaping.
The next moment he was turned around, and Jethro, using his the six inches extra height difference, his twelve fewer years, and all his training and skill, had Ducky pressed against the workbench. He held him in place with his bad arm, while his good moved to downwards, and gripped the material of Ducky’s trousers. He began to thrust his lower body against his friend’s.
If he’d had any intentions of attempting to break the hold, he had left it too late; of that Ducky was now certain. Jethro seemed beyond his reach, beyond human contact, even beyond humanity. And yet still Ducky refused to believe that his friend would stoop to what was clearly on his mind.
The next second his faith in his oldest, dearest friend, proved to be accurate, as with a harsh sob Jethro broke the hold and staggered away from Ducky, finally coming to rest against his boat. The only sounds in the suddenly claustrophobic room were harsh, tearless sobs and desperate breathing.
Ducky gripped the workbench against which he’d been pressed, and held on, dragging air into his lungs and trying to fight the urge to black out. His own breathing was heavy and his pulse raced; he shook his head in an attempt to clear the fuzziness. The taste of blood tingled in his mouth and he swallowed around it. Shooting pains were racing through his long-ago damaged leg, as it protested against the abuse it had received.
Jethro's back was turned against him as he held onto his boat just as a man would hold onto a life raft. As Ducky watched his friend the image from four years ago of Jethro holding onto the doorframe in Autopsy, blood, from the wound on his head, running down the side of his face and spattering over his jacket and shirt, flashed into his mind. Then he hadn't hesitated, he'd moved across the room faster than he'd moved in years, and had had Jethro in his arms and on a table before he even thought about who had caused the injury.
Now, despite his deeply ingrained instincts, those of friend and doctor, to go to Jethro and try to comfort him, Ducky hesitated. He hated to admit it to himself, was in fact disgusted by his thoughts, but for a fleeting second, Jethro had frightened him. And he had physically hurt him, something that Ducky would have hitherto have bet his life on his oldest and dearest friend never doing.
However, over twenty-five years of friendship, together with the love he had for Jethro, and his concern as a doctor won out, and he moved slowly across the room, keeping a watchful eye on the now still man. Each step was like being jabbed with a hot poker, as his leg screamed at him. Biting down on every inch of willpower he had, Ducky stopped himself from gasping aloud, and continued to move.
He stopped an arm's length from Jethro and slowly reached out his hand, letting it hover over Jethro's arm, before finally touching the rigid limb. "Jethro?" he said softly. There was no response. "Jethro?" Still his friend did not reply.
Another painful step or two brought him close enough to slip his arm around the stiff back. As he did so, the stiffness fled and Jethro began to shake. "Ah, Jethro," Ducky whispered, now turning Jethro around and pulling him into a full embrace. "Don't, my dear," he added, as the shaking became worse.
Fearful of adding to the pain the Jethro must be feeling from the bullet wound in his shoulder, Ducky kept the embrace a loose one. Jethro had bowed his head and bent his shoulders, making himself almost Ducky's own height. "Jethro," Ducky said again. "Look at me. Please, my dear."
Finally Jethro raised his head and Ducky saw the utter self-disgust and loathing in the dark blue eyes. Jethro's face was also damp, but whether from tears or perspiration, Ducky wasn't certain. He did know that his friend, despite his harsh exterior, wasn't afraid of tears, and had shed them in Ducky's presence before now. However, he wasn't certain that Jethro would judge himself worthy of such cleansing - not on this occasion.
Jethro was simply watching him. The look told Ducky that his friend wasn't sure why Ducky was there - or rather still there. "Duck?" The voice was flat, the affection and emotion it usually contained when Jethro spoke Ducky's name was absent. Instead uncertainty hovered there.
"It's all right, Jethro," Ducky said softly, and reached up to smooth the front of Jethro's hair.
Jethro blinked. "How can it be, Duck?" he finally managed. "How can it ever be all right again? I nearly raped you. How can you stand here and tell me it's all right, after that?"
Ducky sighed softly. "It wouldn't have been rape, Jethro," he said firmly.
"You were quite correct in what you said. I have always wanted it, wanted you," he clarified. "I love you," he said.
"I love you too," Jethro replied automatically. And Ducky knew it was true. He'd known it for years, even if it was the first time that Jethro had ever actually said the words. However, Jethro's love for him wasn't the same as Ducky's for Jethro.
"I know," he said softly. "But not in the same way as I love you."
Jethro shook his head. "That doesn't change the fact that I was going to -" This time he couldn't say the word. "Christ, Duck, what does that make me?"
Ducky considered the question. "I have no doubt, Jethro, that had anyone else have had the nerve to come here tonight, that the worst they would have received was a verbal tongue lashing. You're too contained to let your barriers down with anyone other than me."
"Is that meant to make me feel better?"
"Duck, you are my closest friend and I was seconds away from raping you." Ducky watched his friend force himself to speak the word.
"And I tell you again it wouldn't have been rape."
"You like it rough do you?" Jethro's tone was heavy with disbelief, mingled with the same self-loathing that had been on his face.
Ducky shook his head. "Actually, my dear, no. But that is neither here nor there. Rape is only rape when the victim is unwilling. Maybe it wasn't quite the way I would have liked us to have ma- had sex, but I wouldn't have been unwilling."
"Coerced sex is always rape," Jethro said firmly. And then he asked, his tone betraying the fact that he couldn't believe he was asking it, "Do you really want me that badly that you'd stand for being abused?"
Ducky didn't respond immediately. He wasn’t certain what to say for the best. The obvious answer was 'no'. Ducky did love Jethro and had done for over two decades, but he wasn't a masochist. Except he occasionally wondered whether there was a hint of that in him. After all he stayed around Jethro, watched him marry and divorce; watched him date one redhead after another, and never stopped loving him.
Many times over the years he'd told himself to leave America, but he hadn't done so. He couldn't bring himself to leave his friend, not because he ever thought that Jethro would love him as he loved Jethro, but because Jethro was as much a part of his life as his mother was.
Aware that Jethro was waiting for an answer; Ducky gave the only possible one. "No," he said. "But I love you enough to give you what you need. Besides, my dear, being logical for a moment, had you truly wished to have sex with me, I could not have stopped you. You are younger, stronger and taller than me, as well as trained in ways that I will never be. Fighting you would only have made things worse. Anyway, I truly believe that you wouldn't have hurt me. You're too honorable a man, Jethro. You are not a rapist. You are not capable of that kind of horror."
"I'm capable of killing," Jethro said softly.
"Only when you have to." Ducky's tone was firm. His leg was beginning to feel dead, and he moved slightly in an attempt to bring some life back to it. This time, however, the bolt of searing pain was too much to prevent him from gasping aloud, and clutching Jethro in an attempt to stay on his feet. Everything went dark, and his ears began to ring, his head pounded and he fought the almost overwhelming desire to be sick.
When he became aware of his surroundings again, he found himself propped on the stool Jethro kept in his basement, with Jethro's good arm held wrapped tightly around him. The grip Jethro had on him was fierce, and Ducky was held firmly against his friend's body.
"Duck. Duck. Duck." The words floated into his head, Jethro's voice heavy with concern and desperation. "Duck. For God's sake talk to me. Damn, this arm." The next second he felt the grip change slightly and then heard Jethro yelp in pain.
"Jethro," he managed and reached up to touch his friend.
"Ducky? Thank God." He felt the relief flow through the body against which he rested and heard it in his friend's voice. "What happened?"
Again Ducky paused, but there was no way out. "It is just my leg," he said.
"Your leg? What happened? Did that bastard . . .? Oh, shit. It was me, wasn't it? Yanking you around like I did. Oh, Duck. Can it get any worse?"
"Yes," Ducky said firmly. "You could walk away from me, from our friendship."
"And I'd do that because?"
"You know how I feel about you."
"Ah, Ducky. If I were going to do that, I'd have done it years ago."
"No, my dear. Then you only suspected. Now you know."
"I'm not sure there's that much of a distinction. But I'm not going anywhere, well not unless you -"
"Don't be silly, Jethro. Now do you think we could move somewhere a little more comfortable, please?"
"You sure you're up to walking, Duck? Because with this arm I don't think I could carry you."
"I can manage, my dear. If you are willing to help me."
They were seated side by side on Jethro's sofa, a glass of his better whiskey in their hands. Ducky decided not to waste his breath lecturing Jethro about mixing painkillers and alcohol, as his friend always ignored him. Nor did he think it a good time to tell Jethro that the chances of him being able to drive home were remote. He could always call a cab - something that he wouldn't have considered doing less than an hour ago.
"What are we going to do, Duck?" Jethro asked after several minutes of somewhat tense silence.
"That's really up to you, Jethro."
"I'm the one who nearly raped you, Ducky. I think it's more up to you."
Ducky sighed and put his glass down on the coffee table, the clink of the glass hitting the wood was loud in the room. He turned to Jethro and said firmly, "If you continue to think that, Jethro, then what we are going to do is end our friendship. It can't last if you keep feeling that way. I will say this one more time, and if you still do not accept it then you can call for a taxi to take me home. Tomorrow I shall see Director Morrow and tender my resignation." For a moment he felt almost vindictively pleased to see Jethro's face pale under the words.
"Go on," Jethro said softly, his dark eyes flickering away under Ducky's stare.
"Firstly, it would not have been rape. But secondly and far more importantly, you would not have done it. No, Jethro, hear me out," he said swiftly, as Jethro opened his mouth to speak. "You do not have it in you, Jethro, to carry through such a violation. I know you too well. I sometimes think I know you better than you know yourself. I've known you for over twenty-five years, and a more honorable man I have yet to meet. I'd trust you with my life, Jethro. I know what you are, I know what you are capable of, and rape is not one of the things. You stopped, Jethro. I didn’t stop you. It was you. You stopped you. Something stopped you. Something within you prevented it. Believe that, Jethro, or we have no future. Our friendship cannot survive you thinking like that. You cannot survive thinking that way. It will eat away at you far too much. Please, my dear."
Jethro was silent for a long time.
When he spoke, it was like someone just discovering how to form words. "For a moment I did want to, Duck. I wanted something to make that bastard go away and stop taunting me. I think that even for a brief second I didn't see you any longer. I saw . . . Nothing. I saw nothing, Ducky. Then you were there and I realized what I was about to do. And . . ."
"You stopped," Ducky said quietly.
"I wanted to kill him. I should have killed him. I tried to. I wanted to kill him not just because he's a terrorist and I'm meant to stop people like him, but for what he'd done to my people, my team. To Gerald and Kate, but mostly to you. He dared to threaten you. To hold you hostage. He dared to hurt you. But I'm not longer sure it's just about friendship."
"For some time now, I don't even know how long, my feelings for and about you have become blurred. I no longer know if my sympathy for you not having what you really want is just that, sympathy out of friendship, out of a desire not to hurt you, or something else."
"I like being with you, Ducky. I like to hold you, I like touching you. I like to see you smile at me. Hell, I even like your damned stories. I love you as a friend and have done for . . . Well, I can't actually remember a time when I didn't love you. But is it more than that? Or am I just allowing you to project your feelings for me onto me?"
"I can't answer that, Jethro. And I'm not certain that now is the time for you to be trying to do so."
Jethro appeared not to hear him. "There was a brief moment, so fleeting that I can hardly remember it, but it's seared so deeply on my memory that I'll go to my grave remembering it."
Ducky hid a shiver and looked away. As foolish as it was, as much as he knew the risks his dearest friend faced every day, he never could handle hearing Jethro talk about his own death. "Jethro," he said again, simply to stop the flow.
Again Jethro appeared not to hear him. "A brief second, Duck, when I enjoyed kissing you. Oh, not the brutality of it, but the fact that it was you that I was kissing. I wanted to kiss you, Duck."
Ducky forced himself not to react. "And now?" he asked, keeping his voice under control.
"And now I want to kiss you again. But I don't know if I want to because I'm attracted to you like that. Or if I want to because as much as I hate to admit it, I need some kind of physical release and you're here." Jethro's tone was flat, and again his own self-disgust came through.
Ducky didn't quite know what to say, but he had to say something before Jethro sank even further into himself. "Kissing is remarkably intimate, my dear," he said carefully. "Far more so than fucking someone." He deliberately used the base term, aiming to shock Jethro.
His attempt worked, as the dark blue eyes widened in clear surprise at Ducky's choice of words. Then Jethro looked faintly amused. "I don’t know, Duck. Making love has always seemed pretty intimate to me."
"I didn't say making love, Jethro."
Jethro gave a half smile. "So you're saying that if I want to kiss you rather than just," he waved his hand.
Ducky hid his own amusement. He knew the language Marines used; he'd heard Jethro use every term he himself knew and then some over the years they'd known one another, thus he was faintly amused that his friend was suddenly being so reticent. "Fuck me?" he said quietly.
Jethro frowned; he looked genuinely annoyed. Yet to Ducky's relief, behind he irritation was the fond, affectionate look that was always present on Jethro's face when he looked at Ducky, no matter whether he was aggravated or not. "Take you to bed," Jethro said firmly, "that I must be attracted to you? That I must want you rather than just want to use you?"
Ducky considered the question. "Yes," he said finally. "I believe so."
"But you're not certain?"
"Jethro my dear, as close as our friendship is, as occasionally telepathic as we seem to be in matters pertaining to death and where one or the other of us is, I am not you. I can only be certain about myself."
"You were certain about me earlier when you said I wouldn't have raped you."
"Yes," Ducky said firmly. "Jethro, would you like me to give you a lecture on -"
"No, thanks, Duck," Jethro said, holding up his hand and cutting into Ducky's words.
"I didn't say about what the lecture would be," Ducky said, hiding another smile.
"Would you go to bed with me now if I asked you to?" Ducky opened his mouth, Jethro held up his hand and continued to speak. "Knowing that I don't know for certain why I'm asking you?"
Ducky hesitated. If he said 'yes,' it hardly showed him in a good light, nor did he know what it would do to their friendship. If he said 'no,' he wasn't entirely certain what that would do to Jethro, or to their friendship. It was a dilemma, and one he couldn't solve by resorting to a long, rambling story. "Why don't you just kiss me again and see if you enjoy it." He held his breath and waited.
Jethro studied him, appearing as though he were attempting to read Ducky's mind. "If I kiss you and enjoy it, Duck, what's it going to do to our friendship? If I kiss you and hate it, what's it going to do to our friendship?" He inadvertently voiced Ducky's thoughts.
"Whatever we allow it to do, Jethro," Ducky said firmly. "Jethro, I love you. Not just as a friend, but as a lover does. I want you. I've done both for over two decades. The feeling isn't going to go away, but I've lived with it for nearly half my life, I can go on doing so. Whatever happens it won't change the way I feel about you."
"What about our friendship? Will that be changed?"
"I think that maybe it has already been changed, my dear. Knowledge tends to do that."
"I've never wanted to hurt you. I never would - not intentionally. At least -"
"Hush." Ignoring the sharp pain in his leg, Ducky took the decision out of Jethro's hands. Moving along the sofa, he reached up, cupped Jethro's head and pulled it towards his own. His lips found those of his friend's with remarkable, almost frightening ease.
He heard Jethro gasp slightly and then fall silent as he wrapped his good arm around Ducky and began to meet the kiss. It was nothing like the unadulterated brutality of earlier; instead it was the most tender kiss Ducky had ever experienced. The only similarity with the earlier assault was that it was Jethro who was kissing him.
"Oh, dear God," Jethro whispered, breaking away long enough to gulp some air, before once more covering Ducky's mouth and deepening the kiss. This time the tongue that sought entrance to Ducky's mouth asked permission, and was gentle in its demand. Shaking fingers began to caress the back of Ducky's neck, moving under Ducky's heavy hair to stroke and tease, Ducky shivered as the touch became more certain. "Duck?" Jethro breathed, once more breaking the kiss, but not his caressing. Now his hand moved over Ducky's face, outlining it as though he'd never seen it before.
"Yes, my dear," Ducky murmured, held transfixed by the clear desire and affection in the now almost totally ebony eyes.
"It is more than as a friend," Jethro sounded stunned. "I love you, Duck. I love you," he repeated.
"I love you, Jethro my dear," Ducky said softly, now daring to begin to caress Jethro's face. The weather-tanned skin was warm under his touch, and as he swept his finger along Jethro's cheekbone, Jethro shivered and again moved closer and initiated another kiss. He pressed against Ducky, getting so close that it seemed as though he wanted to become one with Ducky.
Suddenly Jethro gave a yelp and moved back. "Damn," he cursed, and gripped his injured arm. "This sofa's not built for this, at least not when neither party is uninjured."
"Your bed is much bigger," Ducky said softly. He didn't miss the barely perceptible shiver that coursed through Jethro's body, nor how the almost fully dilated pupils flared even more. "Why don't we move to there?"
"It isn't just because I want someone," Jethro said, once more touching Ducky's face.
"I know," Ducky said softly.
"I want you."
"I don't care if all I do is kiss you and hold you, that would be enough."
"Oh, I think we could manage a little more than that," Ducky said with a smile. He was rewarded by Jethro gulping. Ducky pushed himself to his feet, staggered to keep his balance and found himself back in Jethro's arms, or arm to be exact.
"With your leg and my arm, I think kissing might have to be it," Jethro said dryly, after they broke apart from another kiss. "I think we should save anything else for another time."
Jethro frowned. "Did you think this was going to be a one-off, Duck? I told you it's you I want. Don't you believe me?"
Ducky smiled gently. "Yes, dearest. But you cannot expect me to go from yearning and knowing I can never have, to apparently having without any qualms."
"There's no 'apparently.' You have me, Duck. But then in some ways you always have had. I just didn't realize it. Be warned though, I'm not the easiest person to love or live with."
"Jethro, I have done the former for over two decades, the latter too in many ways. I don’t think you are going to surprise me."
To Ducky's surprise he felt himself tugged back into the one armed embrace he was getting used to and his ear was kissed. Then a warm voice whispered, "Oh, I hope that's not true, Duck."
Pausing long enough to allow Ducky to lock the front door, after all as Ducky reasoned he didn't think either of them wanted DiNozzo walking into Jethro's bedroom unannounced, they made their way slowly up the stairs to Jethro's bedroom.
After several aborted attempts and several bursts of the kind of giggles neither man would have wanted anyone other than his friend to hear, they were both undressed. At that point, Jethro declared a trip to the bathroom was in order and dragged Ducky along with him.
Ducky brushed his teeth using a spare toothbrush he'd insisted that Jethro dig out - he had been more than prepared to launch into a lecture on the subject of sharing toothbrushes - while Jethro dealt with other needs. Ducky was amazed at how normal it suddenly all seemed; it was as if he and Jethro had been lovers for years, decades even, rather than a few minutes.
Swapping places, after obligingly putting toothpaste on Jethro's toothbrush, with his friend, Ducky mused that maybe they had been lovers for all this time. After all what did being lovers mean? Sex was only a minute part of it. Love was what mattered and all that went with the word, and Jethro and Ducky had loved one another for a long, long time.
"Haven't you finished, Duck?" Jethro's affectionate exasperated tone cut into Ducky's thoughts, and he turned his head to cast a mock glare in Jethro's direction.
"Jethro, I am not used to being watched," he said, hiding his amusement as the dark eyes widened in Jethro's 'who me' innocent look.
A minute or two later found them in Jethro's bed.
After some careful arranging to avoid causing additional pain to Ducky's leg and Jethro's arm, their mouths tenderly caressed one another's, their hands wandered at will, learning what in many respects they already knew.
Jethro had been correct when he'd said that anything beyond kissing, holding and a little caressing would have to wait. But both men were more than happy with what they shared and gave, and what they knew was to come.