AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUB-GENRE: First Time
SUMMARY: Ducky surprises Jethro in more ways than one.
WORD COUNT: 3,253
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for Challenge #45 'Say that again'.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
"Say that again?" Jethro paused with his fork half-way to his mouth and just stared at Ducky, who sat on the other side of the table placidly eating.
Ducky blinked and looked at him. "I said, I have decided it's time for me to retire."
Jethro put his fork down on the plate and reached across the table to grab Ducky's hand. "You okay, Duck?" he asked. "You're not ill are you?" He felt violently sick at the prospect of his oldest friend being ill. The thought of Ducky not being in his life, chilled him beyond any level of coldness he had ever known.
But Ducky smiled at him and turned his hand over to squeeze Jethro's. "No, Jethro. I'm perfectly healthy, really I am."
"Ah, my dear. I know you constantly tell me I am not old and indeed I am not. I am well aware of that. But I have to confess that at sixty-eight I am finding the long hours and all the time spent on my feet, not to mention the middle of the night call outs, are taking their toll on me. I found myself nodding off at my desk the other day."
"It's been really busy lately," Jethro said, picking his fork back up and continuing to eat. Now he knew Ducky wasn't ill, he felt a lot better. They hadn't seen a great deal of one another over the last few weeks, and Ducky probably just needed his spirits raising a bit. The idea that Ducky was even thinking of retiring, let alone going to do it was preposterous; it just wasn't something he was prepared to seriously think about.
Ducky sighed gently. "Ah, Jethro," he said, his tone somewhat resigned. "It is not just recently though, is it? It's always busy and getting more so."
Jethro shrugged. He couldn’t really argue with that one. "Well, yeah, I guess. But . . . Look, Duck, how about I talk to Vance about getting you another assistant, for when Palmer's at Med School. That'd help, wouldn't it?"
"It might solve one small problem, yes, but in turn it would create more. It took me quite some time to train Jimmy in my ways, I really do not wish to start all over again. However, that aside, it would not stop the middle of the night call-outs, nor the long hours, nor being on my feet for more hours than are good for me, would it? No, Jethro. I have made up my mind. I am going to retire. The decision is final."
"But, Duck -" However, under Ducky's steady gaze, Jethro stopped speaking. He didn't really need to look into Ducky's eyes to know his friend was serious. His tone, the one Ducky rarely used, had already told him that. He put his fork back down on the plate and wiped his mouth with his napkin; suddenly he'd lost his appetite, even for Ducky's extremely good home-made fish pie. "Sorry," he muttered.
Ducky, however, shook his head and patted Jethro's hand with his own. "No, it is I who should be offering you an apology. I should have chosen a better, a more appropriate, time to tell you."
Jethro decided not to tell his friend that any time would have had the same effect on him. The idea of NCIS without Ducky, just didn't bear thinking about. The prospect of not seeing Ducky every day was one he didn't want to think about. As he watched Ducky eat the final few mouthfuls of his own helping of the succulent meal, Jethro made a silent and solemn vow that he'd reduce the hours he put in, so that he could visit Ducky often. He'd let McGee and DiNozzo do more, take on more responsibility. They were both first rate agents, both had proved they were capable of working without him hovering over them every second of the day. They could both lead their own teams, given the right team.
Yeah, that's what he'd do; he'd leave work at a reasonable hour every day, unless something was really pressing, something that only he could deal with, and then either visit Ducky or invite him over to his house or they could go out to dinner or something. And when he wasn't spending time with Ducky, he could spend more time working on his boat.
Ducky was right. Jethro himself was fifty-six; there were times he had to admit he found the middle of the night call outs and the twenty-eight hour days tiring. It would be good to have some time for just for him. So Ducky retiring wasn't going to be a problem; they'd still see one another several times a week. And their time together wouldn't be so rushed; he wouldn't be snapping 'Duck' when Ducky rambled, or hovering demanding to know what Ducky had found. Their relationship would be even better.
He was suddenly aware that Ducky had finished his meal and was staring at him with a somewhat quizzical and amused look in his eyes. "Huh?" Jethro said, sure Ducky must have asked him something while he'd been making his silent plans. "Sorry, did you say something?"
To his surprise, Ducky shook his head. "No, Jethro. I was just . . . Well, watching you. You're smiling and I wondered why. What particular red-head is on your mind at the moment?" Although Ducky's tone was light and teasing, there was a small hint of resigned almost boredom in it.
"Hell, none. No, I was thinking about you."
"About me?" Jethro wasn't sure, but he thought Ducky looked rather pleased to learn he'd been the one on Jethro's mind.
"Yeah, and about you retiring and what that'll mean to us, to our friendship. And how I reckon I ought to maybe not spend so many hours at the office myself. We could have dinner together more often. If you wanted to," he added hastily, as a look he couldn't decipher crossed Ducky's face. "I mean unless you've got plans."
Ducky looked at him. His gaze was steady and unblinking, but also impossible to read. He seemed to be considering his reply.
Finally, he leaned back a little in his chair and moistened his lips. "That to a great extent, my dear Jethro, is up to you," he said. As with his eyes, his voice gave nothing away.
Jethro blinked. "Me?"
"Mmm." Jethro waited. After a moment or two, Ducky spoke again. "You see, I believe it is about time, in fact it is considerably past time, that we stopped."
Jethro felt as though he'd been hit with a combination of the frying pan Marie had wielded, the seven iron Diane had hit him with and the baseball bat Stephanie had turned on him. In addition, he felt as though freezing cold water and lumps of ice had been thrown over him. He opened his mouth and shut it again. He tried again. "Stopped?" he managed.
Ducky nodded. "Yes." Still neither his tone nor his eyes gave anything away.
Jethro swallowed hard and forced himself to speak. Hell, he was a decorated Marine; he faced possible death every time he left the office; he lived with danger every single day. He could speak to his oldest friend, couldn't he? "Stopped what exactly, Duck?" He tried to keep his voice matter-of-fact, but knew he'd failed.
Ducky put his head slightly on one side and studied him intently. "You really don't know?" he asked, his voice now soft and affectionate.
Jethro shook his head. "No. Guess you'd better tell me."
"Very well. I think it is time we stopped dancing around one another."
Jethro blinked. "Huh?"
"To put it bluntly, Jethro, it is about time you stopped flirting with me and did something about the feelings you have for me instead. However, as it seems you are not going to do that thing, I will take it upon myself to be the one to propose a change in our relationship."
"Propose?" Jethro realized his voice had gotten slightly higher than it normally did.
To his surprise, Ducky flushed slightly, chuckled and covered Jethro's hand with his. "Don't worry, I didn't mean it in those terms. Although . . ." he trailed off and gazed at Jethro with the kind of sultry look that made Jethro swallow hard and shift on the chair. As Ducky began to trace his finger over the back of Jethro's hand, Jethro bit the inside of his mouth and shifted in his seat again.
"Well, what do you think?" Ducky asked, his tone now as sensual as his look.
"Think?" Jethro couldn't think. How could Ducky believe he was capable of such a thing as thought when it was taking him all his time to stay sitting down and still?
"Mmm, about us changing our relationship somewhat? About us fulfilling the wants and desires we have for one another? Do you wish to do that thing?"
"Wants?" Jethro managed, parting his legs a little more in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort he was feeling.
Ducky nodded and now turned Jethro's hand over and began to stroke his palm instead. "Yes, wants. Because you do want me, do you not? I mean I know you have the ability to flirt with pretty much every person you meet, man or woman, and sometimes inanimate objects - "
"I don't!" Jethro objected.
But Ducky went on as if Jethro hadn't spoken. "However, the way you flirt with me, the attention you pay me, the way you look at me, the way you constantly invade my personal space, the way you touch me, even the way you snap at me, is quite, quite different from the way you flirt with other people. Is it not?"
"I . . ." Jethro trailed off and gazed at Ducky.
Ducky stared back at him and smiled as his finger continued to caress Jethro's hand. "We aren't getting any younger, Jethro. We've been playing this game now for . . . Oh, I'm not entirely certain there was ever a time when we did not play it - even if it wasn't always a conscious one. Well, I decided, once I made my final resolution to retire, that it was most definitely time we made it conscious. I am not going to waste time asking you if you want me," Ducky smiled.
Ducky chuckled softly and shook his head. "Oh, no. There's no need, is there?" However, Ducky didn't give Jethro a chance to reply before he went on. "If you objected to my words or indeed to my caressing your hand you wouldn't still be sitting here. And if you were merely doing so out of friendship, you would not be shifting in your seat quite so much." Now Ducky stopped stroking Jethro's hand and under Jethro's gaze, he lifted it and tugged it gently towards him, kissed and licked Jethro's palm for a moment two, before quite deliberately taking Jethro's forefinger into his mouth.
This time Jethro hissed and jumped in his chair as his discomfort intensified even more. "Duck!" he managed, feeling sweat break out on his forehead and upper lip.
Ducky paused and let Jethro's finger slip from his mouth. "My dear?" His tone and look were both completely innocent. Jethro vowed to himself that if Ducky actually batted his eye-lashes at him, he'd . . . With a growl, he stood up, pushed the chair back so hard it fell over, strode around the table, tugged Ducky to his feet, put his arms around him, pulled him towards him, lowered his head and plundered Ducky's mouth with his own.
For a second or two or three the kiss was almost brutal as the desire he'd kept hidden, mostly sub-consciously, for more years than he cared to remember, made its presence felt and he ground his painfully hard erection against Ducky, while tangling his hand in Ducky's heavy hair. The near brutality wasn't merely one-sided though as Ducky's pressed his own lips with considerable force against Jethro's before parting them beneath Jethro's and actively encouraging Jethro inside. At the same time, Jethro felt evidence that he hadn't been the only one who'd become highly aroused.
But seconds were all the near brutality lasted for, as the initial almost desperate, painful, un-acted on for far too long need and want for one another calmed to allow a feeling of more contentment and love than Jethro could ever remember feeling flood through him. He'd never kissed Ducky before, but he knew him; he knew his scent, his taste, he'd held him in his arms often enough to know how well, how perfectly, he fitted, to know how Ducky liked to be held. He knew him in the most intimate way it was possible to know someone without actually having shared a sexual experience with them. He knew Ducky more intimately than he'd known virtually every one of the women who had passed through his bed and life. In that one kiss, that showed no signs of ending, in the way he was holding Ducky and being held by Ducky, in the way their matching arousals were pressed against one another's bodies, Jethro realized that true intimacy had little, if anything, to do with sex.
Finally, unable to ignore the lights that were flashing behind his eyes and the giddiness he was feeling any longer, Jethro with great reluctance broke the kiss, but he didn’t let Ducky go. He was never going to let Ducky go.
After several seconds of taking gulps of air, Ducky spoke. "I'll take that as a 'yes' then, shall I?"
Jethro nodded. "Oh, yeah," he managed, before he put his mouth back onto Ducky's. He wasn't completely sure quite what he was saying 'yes' to, but as long as it involved more of Ducky's kisses and more of Ducky's embraces and more of Ducky's caressing - and not just of his hand - he didn't care.
SEVERAL HOURS LATER
"And that," Ducky said, as he lifted his head from where it had come to rest on Jethro's shoulder and began to run his fingers lightly over Jethro's chest as they shared the peace and pure joy of their drawn out lovemaking, which had included two climaxes for each of them, is another reason why I feel my retirement is imperative."
"Oh, yeah?" Jethro managed, sure that he'd somehow lost something of what Ducky had said, being somewhat caught up in the way Ducky's hair flopped over his forehead and the smoothness of his body and the look of utter devotion that was on Ducky's face and shone from his eyes.
Ducky leaned down and lightly kissed Jethro's nose then brushed his lips over Jethro's. "Yes," he said, his voice low. "You see, my dear, I'm going to need my energies for other things, am I not?" He began to trace Jethro's lips with his finger.
Jethro felt his mouth fall open, as it did, Ducky's finger slipped inside and he automatically began to run his tongue over it. He was fast beginning to realize that his oldest, closest friend could still, after all these years, surprise him; he liked it.
After a short time of licking and sucking Ducky's fingers and enjoying the way Ducky's eyes darkened even more, Jethro gently tugged the wet digit from his mouth and kissed it. "I love you, Duck," he said, because he knew that even though Ducky knew it, had known it for years, even though he'd shown Ducky how honest his words were, that his friend - that his lover - was the kind of man who also liked to hear the words.
He was correct; the radiant look that lit up Ducky's face confirmed that. "I love you too, my dear Jethro. So very much."
"Good." He tugged Ducky back down and rearranged him in his arms, tugging the covers around them. "So," he said, after a few moments of pleasant silence had gone by. "About this retirement."
"Yes?" Ducky said, his tone very slightly guarded.
"When you planning on telling Vance?"
"Well now that I have made the final decision, I see no reason on delaying informing our director," Ducky paused. "Why?" Jethro caught the hastily covered up hint of expectation and hope in Ducky's voice that he'd been hoping to hear.
"Well," he said, now moving onto his side and away from Ducky just a little so that he could see his lover's face. "Reckon I'll come with you. Be easier and more efficient for Vance to process two lots of paperwork at the same time, rather than a few days apart, don't you think?"
"Two?" Ducky asked, his voice soft, his tone enquiring. "Jethro, are you . . . ?" he trailed off.
"It's as you said, Duck. Getting called out in the middle of the night is no fun. The days seem to get longer, until you realize all you're doing is working, grabbing something to eat and sleeping, and sometimes not even that. It does get exhausting and there are far better things to expend energy on, aren't there? That is if," he said hastily, when Ducky didn't answer instantly, "you'd want me to retire with you. You'd want me under your feet all day. You'd want -" Ducky's mouth on his both silenced him and answered his question.
FOUR WEEKS LATER
"No regrets, Duck?" Jethro asked, as they left the Navy Yard as employees of NCIS for the last time.
Ducky gazed up at him and shook his head. "Oh, no, my dear," he said. "None whatsoever. The children will visit us, we can also drop in and see them from time to time, and the days are now free for us to do with them as we wish. Jethro!" he said in mock surprise, as Jethro raised his eyebrows and looked down at him. "That wasn't what I meant."
"Wasn't it?" Jethro said, taking advantage of the emptiness and relative darkness of the underground car park to put his lips on Ducky's ear and kiss it.
"No. Well, at least . . ." Ducky trailed off. "There are other things I wish to do," he said.
"Yeah, me too." Now Jethro held Ducky in a loose embrace.
Ducky looked up at him. "Oh, yes?"
"Yeah. And the first thing I want to do is make this, make us, official, and the second is a trip. Wherever you want to go, for as long as you want, just as long as Britain and where you grew up fits in somewhere. Then when we come back here, I'm going to start a new boat and finish it and then we'll be able to sail whenever we want."
Ducky blinked and looked extremely pleased. "You've given this some thought then?" he said.
Jethro nodded. "Sure have."
"And do I take it that you are proposing to me?"
Jethro nodded again. "Sure am."
"In that case, I accept. And now, I think we had better go home before someone decides it's time to leave for the day. You no longer have your nice shiny badge or indeed your gun with which to threaten them."
Jethro laughed, glanced around him, saw that there wasn't anyone in sight, so brushed his lips over Ducky's before putting his arm around him and guiding him to the car. He covered the distance from the Nay Yard to their Reston home in record time.