AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship. Angst. Episode Related.
SUMMARY: Set after Masquerade. Gibbs does something he's done many times before, but this time things are different.
WORD COUNT: 3,161
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for Challenge #49 'Episode Related'. The episode is Masquerade.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
Gibbs closed the front door behind her, leaned against it and closed his eyes. He felt vaguely sick and his shoulder throbbed, sending shooting pains down his arm.
It was all his own fault of course, the nausea and the pain; he deserved both. No one had made him do what he'd done. But she'd been there when he'd gotten home and he read people, he read them well. Everything about her, the way she looked, her body language, the increased smell of her perfume, the tone in her voice, even the way she insisted on calling 'Mr. Gibbs' had told him one thing: she wanted him, and she'd made the fact abundantly clear. And he'd wanted something from her: to find out what the hell she and Colonel Bell were up to.
It wasn't as though it'd been the first time he'd slept with someone to get information, he'd done it more than once over the years. Not that he'd actually gotten any information from her - it would take more than one lot of sex to melt her, to make her malleable - but at least he'd made a start. At least he hoped he had; given every time she'd addressed him, she had still called him 'Mr. Gibbs', he suddenly wasn't so sure. But then he hadn't called her anything - it wasn't as if, once they'd got over the initial conversation, they'd talked a great deal.
However, even though he'd done it before and it had been no big deal, this time it had been hard, God had it been hard. And not just because he didn't find her attractive in any way - not physically and certainly not personality-wise - but because of other things. Or to be exact, one other thing; one other person. "Ah, shit," he cursed softly. "Ah, Duck."
He pushed himself away from the door, grabbed a chair and wedged it against the door, he would put a proper lock on the next day, but there was something more important he had to do that night. Then he headed back upstairs and into his bedroom; as he walked in the evidence of what they'd done hit his nose and he hurried over to the window and opened it. As the cold winter's air streamed in, he hoped it would take away the stale odor of sex and her perfume. Once he'd done that he stripped the bed completely and remade it - which didn't help his shoulder. In fact he gave up trying to get the duvet into the cover, he'd just use another sheet, it hurt his shoulder too much and was virtually impossible anyway. Then he went back downstairs, threw the bed linen into the washing machine and headed back upstairs.
In the bathroom he switched the shower on, pushed the temperature up until he could see the steam, stripped, threw all his clothes into the linen basket and got under the very hot water. He washed himself thoroughly, spending more time than he normally did, scrubbing every inch of his skin until it was pink. He stayed under the water until it began to run cold, before getting out and drying himself.
Naked he returned to the bedroom, closed the window and got dressed, he pushed his gun into the belt of his trousers and his ID and badge into the pocket. He was about to head back down the stairs when he remembered. Cursing silently, he grabbed the bedroom trashcan where he'd dumped the condom, took it downstairs, went outside and emptied the contents into the garbage can. Then pausing only long enough in the kitchen to swill the trashcan out and leave it standing on the draining board, he headed for the hall, pulled on his overcoat, grabbed his car keys and let himself out of the house.
He shut the door behind him, wishing for the first time in more years than he could remember that he could lock it. He'd meant what he'd said to her; the next time she tried to let herself in, she'd fail. He knew he would have to see her again, have to sleep with her again, but it was going to be on his terms. He was not going to find any more surprises waiting for him when he got home.
As he got into his car, wishing that he really didn't have to go out again that night, but knowing he had to, he sighed. It wasn't as simple as just putting lock on his door to keep her out; keeping her out of just walking into his home whenever she wanted to, was going to be the easy part. It was going to get a hell of a lot more complicated than that, and not just for him.
When he pulled up outside Reston House he glanced to see if there were any signs of the downstairs lights being on. He breathed a sigh of relief to see evidence that Ducky hadn't yet gone to bed; given the lateness of the hour it wouldn't have surprised Gibbs if he'd found the place in darkness, or at least with only the upstairs lights on. He knew that quite often Ducky would take his book and a glass of whiskey to bed with him and read in comfort.
He got out of the car, wincing as his shoulder reminded him he really shouldn't be driving and that he should have, as Ducky had told him, taken a few days off. And if he couldn't have brought himself to do, he should have at the very least accepted Ducky's invitation to stay with him and let him drive him back and forth to work until his shoulder had healed. And he certainly should have stayed behind his desk and let the team do all the grunt work. But that wasn't what he was. Even though Ducky had told him that the more he tried to do, the more he pushed himself, the longer it would take for his shoulder to heal, he'd still been a stubborn bastard. He straightened up and stared at the house; maybe he should just go back home and give Ducky one more night of peace. But he couldn't do that.
So moving more slowly than he normally did, he went up the steps and, rather than use his own key, rang the doorbell and waited. After a moment or two the porch light came on and he heard the door being unlocked, unbolted and opened - at least as far as the security chain would allow it to open. The fact that the chain was on, told him that Ducky had been about to go upstairs for the evening. He felt even worse, but it couldn't be helped.
"Jethro!" Ducky exclaimed. "What on earth are you doing here at this hour?" But even as Ducky spoke, he was pushing the door closed a little and Gibbs heard the chain being taken off. Seconds later the door opened fully and the light from the hall streamed out into night.
"Are you all right, my dear?" Ducky asked, reaching for Gibbs's good arm and ushering him into his home.
Was he? Hardly, but that wasn't what Ducky was asking. "Yeah, Duck," he said. "Shoulder's hurting a bit, make that a lot, but other than that, I'm okay."
"Then what brings you to my home at this time of night?" Ducky frowned as he gazed up at Gibbs. Then the frown turned to a smile and he moved a little nearer to Gibbs. "Not that I'm complaining," he said, taking another step nearer. "Jethro?" The hurt and confusion in his voice was clear, as Gibbs took a step back to avoid Ducky kissing him. "Jethro, what is the matter? Do you not wish me to kiss you?"
Gibbs cursed himself and then took Ducky's hand. "Yeah, Duck. I do. It's just that I need to tell you something first."
"Need?" Ducky put more emphasis on the word than Gibbs himself had.
Gibbs met Ducky's gaze. "Yeah."
For a moment or two Ducky just stared up at Gibbs. Then he shrugged, slipped his arm through Gibbs's, gripping Gibbs's forearm tightly to avoid Gibbs pulling away and began to walk towards the sitting room. "In that case I suggest we make ourselves more comfortable and have a drink. For some reason I get the impression it might be needed."
Gibbs avoided agreeing with Ducky and instead let himself be led into the sitting room. Once there, Ducky slipped his arm from Gibbs's and crossed to the fire, removed the guard and poked the still burning embers, stirring them back into life, before adding a little more wood. After a few moments the wood caught and the flames began to flare up higher and more heat radiated from the glow.
Once he had the fire burning again to his apparent satisfaction, Ducky went to the drinks cabinet and poured two friendly-sized glasses of scotch and returned to where Gibbs still stood. However, rather than hand one glass to Gibbs, Ducky put both on the coffee table, and without asking permission, tugged Gibbs's overcoat off, tossed it over a chair and looked pointedly at the couch until Gibbs sat down. Only then did Ducky hand him a glass, before sitting down next to him and picking up his own glass of scotch.
"Now," Ducky said, after they'd both taken swallows. "What is it you need to tell me?"
Gibbs put his drink back on the coffee table and again took Ducky's hand. Staring straight at Ducky, knowing he had to make and maintain eye contact, he said, his tone both low and grim, "Remember the promise I made you six months ago, Duck?"
For a moment Ducky didn't speak. Then he nodded. "Yes, of course I do, my dear. How on earth could I forget you -"
"Promising you that there'd be no one else but you?"
Ducky nodded. Then he closed his eyes, let his head droop slightly and sighed. After a second or two he looked back up; the pain on his face was so clear, Gibbs felt it cut through him. When Ducky spoke, however, his voice was quite steady. "I take it you have broken your vow?"
Ducky frowned. "Kind of? What is 'kind of'?"
Gibbs sighed. "When I got home tonight that blasted woman was there, inside. She goes on at me about search warrants, but she -"
"Jethro!" Ducky's voice was stern.
"She was there, Duck. Waiting for me. Waiting, apparently, to give me another telling off. But, what she really wanted was - She made it obvious what she wanted, Duck, and I -"
"Felt compelled to give it to her?" Ducky's voice was now like ice, and he tried to take his hand from Gibbs's grasp.
Gibbs, however, held onto Ducky's hand. "Duck. I -"
"Did you or did you not take her to bed?"
"Yeah, I did. But it's not what you think."
"Is it not?" The disbelief in Ducky's tone was clear; Gibbs couldn't blame him.
Gibbs shook his head. "No. Duck, I told you, she knows Colonel Bell. And I found out she only takes pro bono cases she knows I'm likely to get involved in. She pushes and pushes me and questions my every move. She's up to something, Duck, and I -"
"Want to find out what that something is?" Ducky's voice was softer now, and the ice was definitely thawing.
Gibbs nodded. "Yeah. It's no coincidence, Duck, of that I'm certain. She keeps making sure she's going to come up against me professionally for a reason. And it's not just to give me a hard time over my methods and irritate me by calling me 'Mr. Gibbs' all the time. She got Bell off, and I want to know what's going on. I have to."
"So you are playing her?" Ducky spoke softly; the hurt and anger he'd displayed earlier had vanished, but there was still a slight edge to his tone that Gibbs wished wasn’t there. He knew , at least he thought he knew, he hoped, that Ducky understood; but equally he knew Ducky didn't like it. He didn't like it himself!
Gibbs nodded. "Yeah. Yeah, I am. And I'll go on playing her until I find out what the hell she's up to. She and Bell. I have to, Duck," he added more softly.
"Might that not be somewhat dangerous? Could it not be that her apparent 'attraction' for you is also part of her game."
"Gee, thanks, Duck," Gibbs said.
Ducky smiled and a faint chuckle escaped from him. "That didn't come out quite in the way I'd intended it."
"Hmm, or maybe on the other hand . . . Seriously, Jethro. You will be careful, will you not?"
"Aren't I always?" Ducky just looked pointedly at Gibbs's shoulder. "Ah, yeah. Guess I've slowed down a bit over the years." Ducky smiled again. "You do understand why I had to sleep with her, don't you, Duck?"
Ducky sighed and nodded. "Yes, my dear, of course I do. I can't say I like it, but I understand. And it's not as if it's the first time you've had to do it now, is it?"
Gibbs shook his head. "But it's different this time."
Ducky put his head on one side. "And why might that be?"
"Because of you."
"Me?" Ducky's eyes widened.
"Yeah, Duck. You. Because I made promise to you and now I've broken it. And I have to go on breaking it. The next few months aren't going to be good, Duck. In fact they're going to be damn bad and complicated. You see . . ." He trailed off.
"Oh," Ducky said, and glanced down at their still joined hands. "You will not be able to see me." It wasn't a question.
Nonetheless, Gibbs answered it. "She knew about my three ex-wives."
"But not about Shannon and Kelly?"
"Didn't mention them. So I'm guessing not. But I don't want to take any chances. And not just because I want her to think I like her, but because I don't want to put you in any danger." Wishing he had two hands, he let go of Ducky's hand that he held and instead cupped Ducky's face. "I love you, Duck. You do know that, don't you?"
Ducky put his hand over Gibbs's and held it firmly. "I do, Jethro, yes."
"Good. And we'll still see each other every day, it's just we won't be able to . . . You know."
Ducky nodded. "Yes, I know. Oh, Jethro. I just wish there were some other way."
"Yeah, me too. It wasn't easy, Duck. I don’t even like her."
"You don't?" Ducky sounded rather pleased.
Gibbs shook his head. "Nah. Don't find her in the least bit attractive either. In fact I wondered if I'd be able to . . . You know. In the end I had to . . ." He trailed off, but gazed at Ducky, until he saw Ducky's face soften.
"Oh," Ducky said quietly.
"Yeah. Told you it was complicated."
"How long will you have to continue with the subterfuge?"
Gibbs shrugged. "As long as it takes until I find out what she and Bell are up to. I don't want to rush her too much and make her suspicious. Going to have to take my lead from her."
"I see. I understand. As you say, we will still see one another at the office." Ducky picked up his glass and to Gibbs's surprise drained it.
Taking his lead from Ducky, Gibbs took his hand from where it was still caressing Ducky's face and drained his own glass. Then he stood up and went to reach for his coat.
"Where do you think are you going?" Ducky asked, catching Gibbs's arm.
Gibbs blinked in surprise. "Er, home."
"Duck, I -"
"Do you really think I am going to let you drive home after the size scotch I gave you?"
Gibbs shrugged. "Well, if you put it that way. Thanks. Take it the spare room's made up."
Ducky's eyes widened. "And why, pray, would you be interested in whether the spare room is made up or not?"
"Um, because I'd rather not sleep on the couch."
Ducky shook his head. "There is only one place you are sleeping," he said, taking Gibbs's arm. "Where you usually sleep."
Gibbs blinked again. "Er, Duck. I've just come from -"
"Fucking Ms. Hart? That is what you did, is it not, Jethro."
Gibbs closed his mouth with an audible sound. It wasn't a term Ducky used often, in fact make that not at all. So for him to use it now not only surprised him, it shocked him. And then it hit him. The only time he'd ever heard Ducky use it before had been when Ducky had been talking to him about the less pleasant side of gay sex. "Oh," he said, as realization dawned on him. Of course for Ducky the term meant plain and simple sex without any emotion involved; sex that was as course as the term. "Yeah, Duck," he said softly, now cupping Ducky's face again. "Yeah," he said again, lowering his head a little and brushing his lips over Ducky's. "Yeah, that's what I did."
Ducky sighed with obvious relief. "And I assume you have showered since then?"
"God, yes. Spent even longer in it than DiNozzo did after we got back from processing the dirty bomb crime scene. Changed the bed too and put the whole lot in the washing machine."
Ducky smiled now. "In that case, my dear, why on earth would you want to be anywhere other than in my bed. Especially," Ducky added quickly, "as it is going to be the last opportunity for me to be in your arm, well arm, for the foreseeable future." He moved closer to Gibbs, put his head back and offered Gibbs his lips to kiss.
Gibbs accepted the offer and as his mouth met Ducky's, the last few hours were forgotten as his world righted itself. Somewhat clumsily, given the sling he still wore, he managed to gather Ducky nearer to him, holding him possessively in a one-armed embrace as he let his lover's mouth, scent, body and presence leach away the guilt that had settled so heavily on his shoulders from the moment he'd walked into his home and found her sitting there waiting for him.
"It'll be all right, Duck," he said, when, after several minutes of simply kissing, he lifted his head.
"I know that, my dear," Ducky said quietly. "I know that."
"Now, let us go up to bed." And with that, Ducky took Gibbs's hand and led him across the room, out into the hall and towards the stairs.