Nikki (nakeisha) wrote in ncis_gibbsducky,
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Fiction. Coming Home (Part Two)



WASHINGTON, THE NEXT MORNING

"Hey, Duck."

"Jethro!" Ducky turned around sharply and stared at Gibbs. The surprise was clear in the wide blue eyes, and for a fleeting second Gibbs swore he saw something else there too. He thought he read fear, or at least shock. But then it fled and the eyes softened, as they always did when Ducky looked at him. Except . . .

With three strides Gibbs was across the room and had enfolded Ducky in his arms. "Ah, Duck," he murmured. "Missed you." Did he imagine it? Or did Ducky not return the embrace quite as speedily as he normally did?

"I missed you too, Jethro. How are you? How is Mexico?"

Where was the 'my dear'? Gibbs would have bet his life that those two words would have formed part of Ducky's greeting. His ‘Ducky-sense’, that had served him well throughout the years, was beginning to tingle.

"Mexico’s fine, Duck. Changed a bit since you and me went there that time. Remember that?"

"Of course I do, Jethro. It was -"

Jethro broke the embrace, and in one swift move, whirled the shorter man around, yanked his arm up behind his back, put his other arm around his throat and snarled, "Who the fuck are you? And where's Dr. Mallard?"

From behind him he heard DiNozzo exclaim, “Boss.”

And Fornell’s quieter, “Hold on, DiNozzo.”

“Jethro, what are you doing? Have you lost your memory again? I’m Ducky. Please let me go, Jethro, you’re hurting my arm.”

“I’ll do more than hurt your arm,” Gibbs growled. He spun the man around kept one hand on his throat. The other was on his shoulder, pushing down, biting into the skin. “Fine. If you’re Ducky then answer these questions: Who’s Thomas and how did he die? When and where did we first meet? When was Kelly’s birthday? What’s your mother’s maiden name? What’s your favorite book? And why, why haven’t you called me ‘my dear’?”

“Jethro, there are other people here. I -“

“That’s never stopped my Ducky.” Gibbs moved one hand up into Ducky’s hair and gripped it. “Now tell me or - what the . . . ” Gibbs trailed off as the hair came off in his hand.

From behind him he heard two sharp intakes of breath.

He ignored them.

With fury rising inside him, almost beyond the level he’d be able to contain it, he took another step towards the figure that was now cowering in front of him.

It held out its hands. “Okay, okay. Enough. I’ll tell you. Just don’t hurt me. Okay? Please.”

“Where is Dr. Mallard?” Gibbs spoke quietly, with such coldness that he felt it blaze against the heat of his anger.

“He’s fine. I promise. He’s fine.”

“He had better be. Because if you have so much as hurt a hair on his head, I swear that if they ever find your body, no one will recognize it. And those who do see it will have nightmares for months.”

He saw the man standing in front of him visibly pale under the now-all-too-obvious makeup, and he began to shake. “Please. I swear he is fine. I never intended to hurt him. I never wanted to hurt anyone. Hell, I even put my arm in a sling to avoid doing autopsies. Please. You have to believe me.”

“I don’t have to believe anything. Tell me two things, where is Dr. Mallard and what the fuck are you up to?”

“And who are you?” DiNozzo threw in.

The man glanced at DiNozzo. “I’m Sam Williams an editor on the Washington Times. I’m old for the job; they only want youth these days. There are going to be cutbacks and I thought I’d be axed. I just needed a big scoop, so big they wouldn’t dare let me go. And what could be bigger than all the juicy details of NCIS cases? A friend of mine works here, and no, I'm not going to tell you who that is. He told me that I looked a lot like Dr. Mallard. He'd tell me things about him, nothing confidential, just about his habits. He reckoned that with a bit of practice, a wig and stuff, I could pass for him. The more I listened, the more I liked the idea. I had dreams of going, when I did go, that is, out with a bang. Winning prizes for my articles. But there was one stumbling block: you. I knew that with you around, they’d be no way I could do it. Reckoned I could fool the rest of them, but not you. You and Dr. Mallard are far too close. So when my friend told me that you’d resigned, I saw my chance. I just needed a wig in the right style, and a bit of makeup, some contacts to hide my eyes. And that was it. Part of me never really thought it would work, but even if I only got inside the building, then it was something. But then it became clear that they did believe me, all I did was to tell rambling stories and stuff like that. Any out-of-character behavior was put down to Ducky missing you. And so . . . But then Dr. Mallard’s assistant got suspicious; I could see that. I'd screwed up once or twice, so he was 'persuaded' to take a few days off. Don’t worry; he’s not hurt either. In fact, he's with Dr. Mallard.”

Gibbs had had enough. "And where is that?"

"The Station Hotel. I promise, Agent Gibbs, no one has hurt him. They wouldn't."

"DiNozzo. With me."

"On your six, boss."

Finally letting go of Williams, who fell back against a table, still shaking and wide-eyed, and now muttering to himself, Gibbs turned and strode towards the door.

He paused for a second. "Tobias."

"Oh, don't you worry, Jethro, Mr. Williams here and me are going to have a nice long chat."

Gibbs nodded and, with DiNozzo running to keep up with him, left the room and the building.

~~~~~~~


“Give me your back-up gun, DiNozzo.”

“Haven’t you got yours, boss?”

Gibbs stared at DiNozzo. “DiNozzo,” he said in his ‘I’m talking to a child here’ tone. “I just came into the country, remember? You were there. They have these things called weapons checks now, remember? And, gee, as I no longer have a nice, shiny badge, they wouldn’t have let me bring a gun. Now give me your back-up gun.”

He leaned against the door and listened. He could hear Ducky’s voice, low, continuous, his story-telling-mode voice. He glanced at DiNozzo and signaled ‘on three’.

DiNozzo kicked the door down.

Gibbs went in, gun held in a two-handed grip. He didn’t like the gun. It didn’t fit right in his hands. But it was a gun. What he saw made him momentarily come to a halt.

Ducky was sitting in what looked like a comfortable armchair, a very comfortable armchair. A table by his side held a teapot, cups, saucers, a jug, a sugar bowl, plates and biscuits, as well as a bottle of Ducky’s favorite whiskey. Sitting on the other side of the table, eyes fixed on Ducky, was Jimmy Palmer.

At another table slumped two men, only just coming awake. They blinked at one another and Gibbs and DiNozzo and just stared, their mouths open.

Ducky looked up too.

There was no surprise on his face, or in his steady gaze.

Instead there in the pale blue eyes, the eyes that Gibbs had been looking down into for nearly thirty years, he saw it. Or rather he saw it and acknowledged it. He saw it and didn’t try to hide from it.

He saw the love, as clear as the perfect ocean.

The love, not just the fraternal kind, but the love that had allowed Ducky to enter into the charade with him, the charade that said ‘we’ve only known one another for just over a decade', although Gibbs had nearly messed that up with his 'Illya Kuryakin' remark. The charade that allowed Ducky never to acknowledge, not only knowing about, but also loving, both Shannon and Kelly.

The love that had allowed Ducky to be Gibbs’s best man all four times.

The love that had allowed him to hold Gibbs, to support him, to care for him when all four marriages ended. The love that allowed him to do so without ever once saying ‘I told you so’. 

The love that had never said ‘I love you. I’m in love with you’, but that had never stopped saying it.

The love that he, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, had hidden from; run from; knew about; dreamed about; wanted, but had never dared to acknowledge.

In that split second before Ducky spoke, Gibbs knew what he’d known from the day he’d met Ducky.

“My dear Jethro, what kept you?” Ducky said softly.

Gibbs didn’t actually remember crossing the room, tugging Ducky to his feet and wrapping him in his fierce embrace. One minute he was by the door, the next Ducky was in his arms. And as he held his oldest, dearest, most beloved friend, as he let his face rest on the top of Ducky’s head, as he brushed Ducky’s heavy, silky hair with his hand, as he inhaled the scent he’d know even if he were blindfolded, he wondered how he could ever, ever, even for a fraction of a fraction of a second have thought that the imposter, whom he’d held in a similar embrace less than an hour ago, could have been Ducky.

There was, and only ever could be, one Donald ‘Ducky’ Mallard, and he was right where he should be: in Gibbs’s arms.

“You okay, Duck?” he asked after another moment or two.

“Yes, thank you, my dear. These gentlemen and I were having a lovely time. I was telling them about my various exploits around the world. They seemed to particularly enjoy the story about Uncle Monty, didn't they, Jimmy.”

"Yes, Dr. Mallard," Palmer said, as he smiled at Gibbs over Ducky's head.

How Gibbs stopped himself from kissing Ducky there and then, and to hell with DiNozzo, Palmer and the ‘gentlemen’, he’d never know.

Finally he pushed Ducky away from him just a little, and stared deeply into his eyes. "Are you sure you're okay, Duck? They didn't hurt you in any way?"

"No, my dear. In fact quite the opposite. They have remarkable concerned about my health and well-being. At one point one of them suggested that maybe I might have a sore throat, as my voice sounded a little husky, and recommended that I should rest it. Wasn't that nice of him?"

Gibbs chuckled. "Come on, Duck. Let's get you home. DiNozzo, I'll take your car. You can call McGee and get him to come and pick you, Palmer, and the 'gentlemen' up."

"Sure, boss."

Gibbs changed his grip to just having one arm around Ducky's shoulders, and was pleased to feel Ducky's arm come up around his back. It felt so right, so perfect.

He started to move slowly.

"Wait a moment, Jethro." Ducky came to a halt.

"Duck?"

"I quite forgot for a moment. How dreadful of me. How remiss. It was seeing you again, my dear. Not that I ever doubted for a moment that you would come. I just wasn't certain quite when that would be. I didn't know how long it would take Anthony and the others to figure it out."

"Yeah, Ducky. I'm really sorry about that. I feel dreadful. I should have noticed. I -"

"Oh, don't worry, Anthony. Really. It isn't your fault. You see it's all to do with -"

"Duck."

"Yes, my dear?"

"Let's save the explanations for now. You can tell us all about it when we've got the whole team together. That way you'll only have to tell us once." Gibbs smiled, and pondered how many times he'd hear it before they got the team together.

"Certainly, Jethro. Shall we go then?"

"Duck?"

"Mmm?"

"You said you'd forgotten something."

"Oh, dear. And I've done it again. Oh, Jethro, what must you think of me? You don't think I'm -"

"Ducky!"

"I'm sorry." He turned towards DiNozzo. "It's Mother I should have asked about. Is she -"

"Your mom's fine, Ducky. I saw her yesterday. She's fine. I left her and Mrs. Patterson about to enjoy a g- er, cup of tea. She thought you'd gone off to see Gibbs. The man who impersonated you told her you'd gone away for a few days. So she's not worried about you." He didn't add that at one point she's asked who Donald was.

"Oh, good. I am sure that the ladies enjoyed their 'tea'." He threw a pointed look at Gibbs, who decided that his 'innocent who me', look was the best one. "In that case, my dear, you may take me home."

Gibbs started to move again. Home was indeed where he was going to take Ducky; just not to Ducky's home.

"Oh, Ducky."

Gibbs sighed. "DiNozzo."

"Sorry, boss. It's just that you might need a bit of help when you go home, that's all." Ducky looked puzzled. Gibbs glared. "Well you see, your mom remembered me, which I thought was a good thing. It's just that she remembered me as . . ." DiNozzo trailed off for a moment, glanced at Ducky, then at Gibbs and swallowed. Then to Gibbs surprise, he flushed slightly. "As a furniture moving gigolo. I was there for half-an-hour before she'd let me stop. Sorry," he added, as Gibbs rolled his eyes.

"DiNozzo!"

"It's all right, my dear. There's no harm done." Ducky patted Gibbs's arm.

"I can come over later and help you move it back, if you like, boss. Or not," he added, as Gibbs just stared at him.

~~~~~~~


"Okay, Duck. Let's go home."

They drove in silence for several minutes. Not a strained silence, which was the type that Gibbs was, if he were honest, had partly been expecting. Instead it was their usual peaceful, at ease silence.

Reaching a junction, he signaled.

"Jethro?"

"Duck?"

"Where are we going?"

"Home."

"But this isn't the way to my home."

"No. But it's the way to mine."

"Stop the car, Jethro."

"Duck. I -"

"Stop the car."

Pulling over to the side of the road, Gibbs did as he'd been ordered. He turned off the engine and sat for a moment with his hands on the wheel, mentally composing what to say. "Duck."

"No, Jethro. Listen to me, please."

"Sure, Duck." Gibbs turned to look at Ducky. The blue eyes regarded him with a steady, unblinking stare.

"Tell me one thing."

"Anything."

"Are you back? Back for good, I mean?"

Gibbs took one hand off the steering wheel and touched Ducky's shoulder. "Yeah. Yeah, I am, Duck." His voice was low.

"In that case, my dear, you may drive me to your home. Well, what are you waiting for?" Ducky added after a moment or two when Gibbs just sat there, unmoving.

"Nothing. Right." He switched the engine on, pushed the car into drive, and pulled out onto the road.

~~~~~~~


Inside his house, the house he swore he'd never see again, but hadn't had the courage to sell, it felt cool. And to his surprise the air was clean. The musty-unlived-in-for-months feel and odor wasn't present. But surely . . . ?

"Unlived in houses need regular airing, so I used to come over here once a week. I told myself that when you came back, you'd . . . But that was foolish of me, wasn't it? You weren't coming back. I know that now."

"I'm sorry, Duck." Jethro pulled Ducky back into his arms. "I . . . " He broke off. There was nothing he could say. Nothing at all.

"It's all right, Jethro. I do understand. Really I do. I was just being foolish. And I knew that I was really. But -"

"Duck."

"No, dearest. It's all right. Really it is."

"Is it?"

"Yes. Because you're back now. That's all that matters. Jethro," Ducky pulled out of the embrace slightly, tipped his head back and looked up at Jethro. In the relative darkness of the hall, his pupils had dilated, mostly hiding the light blue; as Jethro watched, the lightness became darker. He saw a myriad of emotions in the gaze: pain, acceptance, hurt, affection, concern, hope, belief, and as always unconditional love.

"Yeah, Duck," he murmured, memorized by the stare.

"You really are back, are you not? You have come back now. To stay."

"I told you in the car I had, Duck."

"I know. But I couldn't really see your eyes then. You looked down slightly when you said yes. Look at me, Jethro. Look at me and tell me you've come back, for good."

Jethro stared deeply into the enchanting gaze. He lowered his head very slightly and raised his hand to brush a strand of hair off Ducky's cheek. "I haven't just come back, Duck. I've come home. To you. And I'll prove it." He lowered his head even more, and in one simple movement that belied the fact that he'd never done it before, he found Ducky's lips with his own and kissed him.

Several minutes later during which, apart from pauses to breathe, the two men did nothing other than kiss one another, Jethro found himself more aroused than he could ever remember being from simply kissing. He lifted his head. "So, Duck, you want to talk some more, or should we take this to the bedroom?"

Ducky looked up at him and smiled gently. There was no blue in his eyes now, just dark, soft ebony. His face showed nothing other than pure contentedness, devotion, love and affection, and it was open to Jethro in a way he'd never seen before.

He hadn't realized that Ducky had, despite his revealing eyes and openness, always been slightly hidden from him, behind a barricade that allowed Ducky to go on loving him day in and day out while watching him give to others what he couldn't - wouldn't - give to Ducky.

The smile changed slightly. "Well, my dear Jethro, I do have to confess that my throat is beginning to feel a little sore."

~~~~~~~


Dawn found them still awake, still in one another's arms, still touching, kissing, connecting. Jethro was tired, but in a good way; in a very good way. And what was more, he was finally content, utterly and completely content, beyond any level that he'd ever believed possible.

Their hours-long lovemaking had been gentle, almost chaste. There had been no hectic race to climax, no need to touch merely to arouse, no need to worry about whether his partner was happy, no worries about performance, or whether the words 'I love you' were expected. Nothing but . . . There wasn't really a word for it. And yet there were more words than Jethro knew. 'Rightness' seemed to be the nearest he could find, and even that fell woefully short.

Every touch and kiss, every caress and endearment, every look and smile were engraved on his memory. And what was even better was that they'd do it all again that night, and every night from then onwards. Not necessarily the sex, that was only a miniscule part of what they'd shared; sex wasn't even what they'd enjoyed, because sex wasn't enough. They made love. And not just as a physical element.

"I love you, Duck," Jethro murmured, kissing Ducky's nose.

"I love you too, my dearest Jethro." Ducky blinked up at him. And Jethro fell in love all over again.

~~~~~~~


"Gibbs!" The human dynamo that went by the name Abby, pounded across the office and hurled herself into Gibbs's arms. "Gibbs. Gibbs. Gibbs. Gibbs. Gibbs," she murmured, as she buried her face in his shoulder and clung on to him. Through his shirt he could feel moisture. Abby never cried; only once before had she shed tears, but she was crying now.

Across the room stood DiNozzo, McGee, Palmer, Ziva and Fornell. Not really certain what his friend was doing there, but not really caring, Gibbs just grinned.

By his side, where Gibbs had ever intention of him remaining, stood Ducky. Closer than even they used to stand; now he was actually touching Gibbs, albeit only infinitesimally. 

"Hey, Abbs," he murmured, after another minute went by. As she lifted her head, he kissed her cheek, trying not to pull a face as a mixture of mascara, eyeliner, and whatever other make-up Abby wore found its way onto his lips.

"Gibbs," she said again. Then suddenly, appearing to notice Ducky for the first time, squealed, "Ducky. My Duckman. Come here, Ducky." She yanked herself out of Gibbs's arms and threw herself into Ducky's.

"Careful, Abbs," Gibbs said, steadying his lover as he staggered slightly under the onslaught.

"Sorry. Sorry, Ducky. Oh, Ducky. Are you all right?" She pulled back and held Ducky at arms length, peering down at him from between even blacker-rimmed eyes than usual. "Did they hurt you? Because if they did . . . " The look on her face became fierce. Gibbs decided that staying on the good side of Abby was the safest thing to do.

"No, Abigail my dear, they didn't. I'm fine. Really I am. In many ways it was rather like a holiday." He smiled fondly and patted Abby's back.

She let herself be petted for a moment or two. Then she pulled away and the look on her face changed from sheer joy to clear guilt. "Oh, Ducky," she murmured again. "I am so sorry. We're so sorry. So very sorry. Will you ever be able to forgive us?" Before Ducky could speak, she glanced over her shoulder and glared at the group. "Well," she ordered, in her best Leroy Jethro Gibbs tone. "Don't just stand there!"

As one the group moved forward. And the next few minutes were taken up with handshakes, slaps and pats on the back, smiles and incoherent words.

During it Jethro noticed that Ziva had held back slightly, watching rather than really participating. He wasn't really surprised, Ziva didn’t go in for hugs, and after she'd witnessed first DiNozzo, then McGee and finally Jimmy hugged, albeit quite briefly, by Ducky, she seemed to slip back even further.

"Ziva."

"Gibbs."

"How are you?"

"I'm fine thank you. How are you?"

"Ziva, he's just -"

"Abbs," Gibbs said gently. And although Abby frowned at him, she subsided into silence.

A second later she gasped and again turned to Ducky. "We are so very sorry, Ducky. How could we have . . . I mean that man he was nothing like you. Nothing. And we all. . . . Call yourselves investigators." She glared at DiNozzo, McGee and Ziva. "If it hadn't been for Jimmy . . ." She beamed at the young man and he turned red.

"Hey, Duck." He touched his lover's arm.

"Yes, my dear?" Ducky gazed up at him. And with that one look, Jethro knew that their relationship was now public knowledge. Not that he'd planned on keeping it a secret. Assuming that Jenny would allow him to return, he'd be filing a change of address immediately. Ducky and he had decided that it was unfair to expect Mrs. Mallard to leave her home at her age, so Jethro, minus boat (for now at least) would move into Ducky's Reston home.

"Why don't you explain to them what you told me on the way in?"

"Certainly dear. Well you see, my dears . . ." He moved towards the empty desk, settled down in the chair and let the team gather around him.

Jethro watched for a moment, then gestured to Tobias with his head. As the two men moved away slightly, he heard Ducky explaining his complex theory as to why the team hadn’t realized they had an imposter in their midst. He hoped that they followed it, because he'd heard it twice, and he still wasn't certain that he did.

Ducky talked about the mind and the way it processed, and thus saw and heard what it expected to see and hear, and as such why they hadn't realized that Ducky wasn't Ducky. But that Jethro would have known, because of their history. Because Jethro was the only person who really paid attention to Ducky. Not that he was saying the others didn't, but their focus was different. They went down to Autopsy expecting to see Ducky performing, or having performed, or about to perform an autopsy. Whereas Jethro, although he too did all those things, also went to see Ducky as his friend Ducky, not Ducky as Dr. Mallard.

Jethro shook himself. That made three times and it was getting harder to understand by the minute. However, from the wide-eyed look on Abby's still rather black face, he thought that she at least understood part of what Ducky was saying.

"What else did that bastard have to say for himself, Tobias?"

"Not a great deal really, Jethro. He mainly kept repeating that he'd never intended to hurt Ducky, or anyone. That it was all just a stunt. He wouldn't tell me who his friend who works here was. But I expect you could get it out of him. I think you turning up like you did took at least ten years off his life."

"What did he intend doing when his so called 'stunt' was over? Just expect Ducky to placidly walk back in here as though nothing had happened? Expect him to say nothing? Or did he intend to . . . Tell me he didn't intend to hurt Ducky, Tobias. Because if he did. Then I'll -"

"Its all right, Jethro. No, he didn't intend to hurt Ducky. Ducky returning to work with the story of how he'd been abducted and impersonated was going to be the icing on the cake. He wanted Ducky to tell, to tell as many people as would listen. Then he, Williams, could publish the whole story. How easy it was to infiltrate a Federal Agency. Even thought he'd get a book deal out of it."

"Bastard. He'll never work again. I'll make sure of that. What about the gorillas who were watching, Ducky? What were they getting out of it?"

"Not enough, from what they told us later."

"Huh?"

"Let's just say that Ducky knows an awful lot of stories."

"Yeah, he does." Jethro's gaze wandered back and settled on his lover. The partly glazed look that had appeared on DiNozzo and McGee's faces told him a great deal. Abby and Palmer looked engrossed, Ziva, however, appeared as though she'd again retreated into a shell. "What are you doing here anyway, Tobias?"

"As you left last time without saying goodbye, thought I'd come along and say it this time. I needn't have bothered though, need I?" Now Tobias glanced at Ducky.

Jethro shook his head. "That obvious?"

"Pretty much. Are you coming back here as well?"

"That'll depend on the Director. I think Jenn might well be glad to have gotten rid of me."

"That's probably true. But what she thinks doesn't actually matter." Tobias leaned nonchalantly against the filing cabinet.

"Tobias. What's going on? What's happened?"

"It seems that our bosses bosses, weren't overly happy with Ms. Shepard letting the Agency's best agent just walk out without any attempt to stop him. Add that to a bit of digging, and the long and the short of it is, Director Jennifer Shepard is no longer Director Jennifer Shepard. She's plain Ms. Jennifer Shepard again. And not a Federal Agency in the country will touch her; not even as a canteen assistant.

Jethro just stared. "You haven't suddenly developed some sick sense of humor have you, Fornell?"

"Humor? Me? Not a chance, Special Agent Gibbs."

"Then who . . ."

"You know him."

For a moment Jethro just stared. Then his eyes widened and he said, a mixture of horror of panic in his voice, "Not you?"

To his relief Tobias just chuckled. "There's more chance of me remarrying our ex-wife than me, or you, ever becoming Directors. No. But you do know him."

"Hello, Jethro."

Jethro turned around. "Dir - er. Sir?"

"It is Director Morrow again, Special Agent Gibbs."

For a moment Jethro didn't quite know what to say. If Tom Morrow was back here, then it implied that he'd, in effect, been demoted.

To his surprise his boss smiled. "It's all right, Jethro. It was my choice. I found I missed the place. And the team. Talking of which . . . "

Gibbs nodded and whistled sharply once. As one all head swiveled in his direction. "DiNozzo."

"Yes, boss?"

"Clear your crap out of my desk."

"Right away, boss."

"McGee."

"Yes, boss?"

"Clear his crap off my computer."

"On it, boss." McGee started to hurry towards Gibbs's desk, colliding with DiNozzo as he did so.

"Watch where you're going, Probie."

"Yes, boss. Er. Tony."

Gibbs had never seen the two young men look so happy.

"Palmer."

"Yes, Agent Gibbs, sir?"

Gibbs rolled his eyes. "Take Dr. Mallard for a cup of tea, and then sort out any cr - mess in Autopsy."

"Yes, Agent Gibbs, sir. Dr. Mallard?" He held out his hand to help Ducky to his feet.

"I trust you didn't give that man any of my Earl Grey tea, Mr. Palmer?"

"Well, I did think he was you, Dr. Mallard."

"Never mind, Jimmy. You can always pop out and buy me some more."

"Oh, course, Dr. Mallard."

"It's Ducky, Jimmy. Ducky, remember?"

"Yes, Dr. Mallard. Of course."

Ducky put his arm around Palmer's back, and limping slightly more than usual began to walk towards the elevators.

Then he stopped, turned, looked at Jethro and said simply, "Jethro."

"Duck."

"I'll see you later, my dear."

Gibbs just smiled.

"Abby," he said, a moment later when he realized he was standing with a soppy grin on his face, watching Ducky arguing gently with Palmer about which button to press.

"Yes, Special Agent Gibbs, sir!" She beamed her pussycat grin.

He rolled his eyes. "Go and . . . " He came to a halt. He didn't know what to tell Abby to go and do.

"Buy a Caff-Pow. Yes, sir." And with that, Abby bounced out of the room.

Gibbs watched her go, shaking his head slightly.

Now only Ziva remained at the empty desk. There was a strange look on her face. He looked at her for a moment and then turned to his boss. Lowering his voice he said, "With Jenn gone, what about her?"

"That's up to you, Jethro."

"Me?"

"Yes. Jennifer Shepard may have been less than completely honest when she brought Ms. David to work here." Gibbs frowned. "There was no agreement between her and Mossad. No liaison role. However, Ms. David has in effect been working for this agency for a year now, as part of your team. Her future rests with you."

"Does she want to stay? I thought she'd have left with Jenn."

"I don't know the details, Jethro, but suffice to say that any friendship that existed between the ladies, is no more."

He could get rid of her.

As he'd always wanted to do.

He'd never wanted her.

She'd been forced on him.

She wasn't a team player.

It would solve everything.

And yet . . .

And yet he owed her.

Twice over.

He looked at her again. He expected to see her basically reminding him of the favor he owed her; letting him know she was calling it in.

Instead he saw . . .

Uncertainty.

He held her gaze until he was sure of one thing: she wasn't calling in her favor now. Nor would she ever do so. That's not what team members did.

"Agent David."

"Agent Gibbs."

"Don't just stand there. Start bringing me up to date with what's been happening."

A very faint smile, shy almost, touched her lips and her eyes softened. "Yes, boss," she said, and moved towards him.
Tags: !creator: nakeisha, fiction
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