PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship
SUMMARY: Gibbs finds himself frustrated when faced with a cold case and an even colder ex.
RATING: NC17 (Overall)
WARNINGS: Brief moment of homophobia but balanced out with large amounts of fluff.
WORD COUNT: 3976
As the weeks quickly passed, new cases came and went, and much to Gibbs' relief, the Christmas tree was finally thrown out. Whilst he could say having a proper tree was nice for a change, walking barefoot onto a stray pine needle was not appreciated and much swearing ensued.
The decorations were then returned to the loft and he felt himself well up slightly again as he carefully returned Kelly's angel to its box for the following Christmas.
But as always, just as one case was wrapped up, another was opened. This time though, it was a cold case Director Vance decided to dump on them.
Looking at the open file before him on his desk, Gibbs growled to himself. There was barely anything to go on and the new evidence brought to light didn't exactly help move things along.
He looked at his watch and noticed it was almost time for him to meet Ducky for their lunch break. A part of him hoped talking with Ducky might give him some ideas or clues as to where to go with the case.
Stepping outside into the fresh air, the winter chill had now warmed up a bit and the sun was shining brightly.
"Well hello there, Jethro."
Turning around at the sound of the voice, he stared at the woman before him. Her shoulder length blonde hair shining in the sunlight and two cups of coffee in her gloved hands. Wrapped up in a thick brown winter jacket, she approached him and kissed his cheek.
"Hollis." was all he could say.
Just when he thought his day could get any worse.
"What are you doing here?"
"I was in the area and since I still have permission to visit NCIS every now and then, I thought I'd come see you. I did try to stop by your house, but you surprised me and had your front door locked."
She handed over his coffee and motioned for them to sit down on the nearest bench.
"You look surprised to see me."
"Well yeah, you moved to Hawaii. How's things?"
"Okay. I mean, Hawaii isn't all it's cracked up to be and I've failed to find myself a good man," she let out what sounded like a sigh of disappointment, "but aside from that..."
Gibbs was now praying she wasn't here for what he thinks she is.
"None of them were you, Jethro."
There it was. That smile and fluttering the eyelashes look. He had spent years with Jenny Shepard giving him the same come hither look every time she was around him. The last thing he needed was this now.
As Hollis rested her hand on his knee, he quickly brushed it away again and she put on a hurt expression.
"Look, I know I hurt you when I left, but I thought maybe-"
"You didn't hurt me. You went off on your way and I went mine; it was a mutual decision."
She felt rather angry at this. She definitely was hoping that she'd be able to rekindle things with him.
'One step at a time, Hol.' she reminded herself, 'He's difficult.'
"So what about you, Jethro? How's life been treating you?"
Sipping on her coffee, she now noticed that Gibbs hadn't touched his. In the past when she handed him one, he would immediately start drinking like he hadn't drunk a drop of liquid all day.
"Not bad. I'm engaged now."
"Oh." her jealousy started to bubble inside her, "So who's the lucky woman. Forth time lucky, I hope."
"Yeah...one lucky ducky." he said, hoping she got the gist of what he was saying.
"Ah, she's the duck in your pond, huh? Does she honk at you often for your stubbornness?"
She didn't want to show how this made her feel, so thought maybe joking around would reveal cracks that she could maybe pick at.
Gibbs meanwhile was struggling to explain, but knew that he should just come out with it and she'll hopefully back off.
"No, no, we're pretty good. He knows me better than anyone."
"HE? Whoa, whoa, whoa! He? A lucky du-" it was then that things clicked into place, and she sat dumbfounded for a moment before letting out a laugh, "You and doctor Mallard? Come off it, Jethro. That's funny though, you almost had me there."
"I'm serious, Holl, we are."
Her face creased into a dark scowl, feeling instantly disgusted at what she heard.
"You're engaged to that boring, speccy eyed-"
"Hey! Don't you dare say such things about him." he said in as low a voice as possible so not to distract any more unwanted attention,
"You and I are long over, so get over it."
And with that, he stood leaving his coffee untouched on the bench and walked away from her, ignoring as she called his name. Quickly though, she was able to catch up to him, stopping him in his tracks despite his best efforts to walk around her.
"You are not gay, Jethro. Whatever this is, you're clearly not thinking straight."
Gently resting his hands on her shoulders, he turned them around.
"Like I said, he knows me better than anyone. If I wasn't meant to be with him, he would have told me."
"Like hell he would. I'm not surprised that he's gay because I've seen the way he is around you. You believe that if you weren't gay, he would give up the chance to be with you?"
"Yes. He did when I first approached him about my feelings. I had to go through a lot to prove I meant it."
"Maybe, but at least I'm happy."
This time when he walked away, she let him go, shaking with barely contained rage as she watched the two men approach each other and embrace.
"Jethro, is everything okay?"
"Yeah. It's just her."
Ducky glanced over his shoulder briefly in the direction Gibbs nodded his head at and saw her glaring at him with invisible daggers.
"Ah. She's decided to show her face again?"
"Yep, and she was not happy with the news about us."
Ducky tried and failed to hide a small smile.
"Well, now that's a shame."
"Don't worry, she won't be getting a wedding invitation."
"Good. Now, my dear, let's get some lunch."
Gibbs knew she was watching, but wouldn't look over at her or make a big scene in front of her. Instead he just hooked his arm though Ducky's and they left.
Sitting at Gibbs' usual cafe, he fiddled with his fork. Any hunger he may have felt back at his desk was gone as his gut went into overdrive. Losing focus, the fork fell from his hands back into the table, the napkin cushioning the clang the utensil would have made.
Reaching for it again, he was stopped by a hand on his own.
"My dear, you look so frustrated and I'm getting the feeling it's not just the return of Ms Mann that's causing it."
Turning his hand over, they linked fingers, and he let out a sigh of irritation.
"Why do I get cold cases, Duck? I swear Vance does it to annoy me."
Taking a bite of his sandwich, Ducky thought for a moment.
"I think, my dear, despite your hatred of such cases, your team has one of the best track records for solving them."
"Doesn't mean I want more of them. Some are so old the evidence was badly handled, and you know how Abby feels about that."
"I do indeed. Can you not talk to the Director about it?"
"There's no point, Duck, he won't listen. It's work that often has to be done eventually."
"But when you get it done and you help a family finally get closure; doesn't that make it all worth it in the end?"
After a period of merely being silent as Ducky ate and Gibbs sipped on his coffee, the two of them met each other's eye every now and then. Seeing Ducky smile alone made him feel a bit better.
"I really should see about getting back soon."
Ducky checked his watch and nodded.
"Yes, it would seem our time is almost up. Just give me a moment and we can return together."
Returning to the navy yard, they entered the lift, kissing briefly whilst they were its only occupants. No doubt travelling just one floor would change that.
"Right, Duck, I'll see you at home tonight then."
"Yes. I do wish we could just come and go in the one car."
"I know, but if I work late, I won't want you stuck sitting around waiting for me to finish. It's not fair on you."
As he went to kiss him again, the lift pinged and as expected, someone else entered. Gibbs couldn't help but notice she hesitated for a brief second before stepping in. Looking at Ducky, he saw that he'd noticed too, and they smiled in amusement.
Gibbs returned to his desk and opened up the cold case file again. Ducky was right. It didn't matter whether the case was old or new, seeing those who committed the offenses being punished and families getting long overdue closure made the job worth it.
The autopsy doors swished open and Ducky didn't turn around at first, continuing to fill in the form in front of him.
"Back so soon, Jethro?" he simply said.
Dread filled him to the core as he turned around to face the owner of the female voice and got to his feet, making sure to stand so that an autopsy table was between them.
"Ms Mann. It's been a long time."
"It has." she briefly looked at his hands, the engagement ring shining under the autopsy light like it was taunting her, "So, why are you marrying a straight man?"
Hollis decided there was no point in beating about the bush since they both knew why she was there.
"Because I love him, he loves me, and it was he who made the proposal."
"Did you ever think that maybe he's getting...desperate?"
Ducky paused a moment then shrugged.
"It never once crossed my mind and you saying it has no effect."
She let out a small growl, hands resting on the cold metal table as she leaned closer to his face.
"Look, Doctor, I don't believe that this is what Jethro wants."
"Look, Ms Mann, I don't believe you know what Jethro wants." he spat back, struggling to keep his temper in check.
"This is stupid! It's all absolute rubbish! He will come to his senses before he sets foot down the aisle with you!"
"You don't not know him well enough to make any assumptions."
Jimmy heard the raised voices from the back room but didn't dare take a look. On hearing Hollis' voice, he immediately reached for his phone. Thankfully his brief stint as medical examiner whilst Ducky recovered from his heart attack meant he had Gibbs' cell number.
As it rang, Gibbs squinted at the name, surprised but then concerned.
"Agent Gibbs, sorry for disturbing you but Hollis Mann is here in autopsy arguing with Doctor Mallard."
"I'm on my way. Try and stop them if things get physical."
Hanging up, Gibbs took the stairs as quick as possible, almost tripping twice in his haste.
Hollis' voice grew louder as her anger increased, her hand reaching across the table and grabbing Ducky by the bowtie, pulling him forward until the table started digging into him.
"Did you tell me about Shannon and Kelly to deliberately put me off of him so you could get your hands on him?"
Now angry and attempting to release himself, he too was yelling.
"I would never do such a thing! I told you about them because you said he was shutting you out about something! You said that you didn't want to be another one of Jethro's mistakes!"
"So instead you're going to be a mistake, even though you know what you're getting into? Maybe it's you who's the desperate one!"
"Get over it! He didn't want you, and it was more than a year until he started courting me. I've known him long enough to know what makes him tick."
Taking a steady breath, Jimmy stepped out.
"What is going on, doctor?"
He put on an innocent wide eyed expression and stared between them. Only then did Hollis release Ducky from her grip, his bowtie badly askew.
Ducky was the first to recover, speaking once again in a calm voice.
"It's fine, Mr Palmer." he turned back to Hollis, "Miss Mann was just leaving."
"I am not."
The autopsy doors swished open again, and Jimmy almost let out a sigh of relief to see Gibbs storm in.
"What are you doing down here?"
"I was just congratulating Doctor Mallard." she lied.
Gibbs' eyes averted to Ducky for a brief moment to make sure he was okay before guiding her into the elevator.
With them out of sight, Ducky returned to his chair and sat down with a thud, letting out a deep breath.
"Doctor Mallard, are you okay?"
"Yes, I'm fine." he replied, undoing his bowtie completely along with the top two buttons of his shirt, "Jimmy, did you by any chance call agent Gibbs down here?"
"I'm sorry Doctor, I just...I've never liked her and I was worried."
Ducky smiled and reached up to pat him on the shoulder.
"It's fine. In fact I'm glad you did."
"She didn't hurt you, did she?"
His hands raised to reach out and check Ducky's neck for damage, but he was stopped.
"No, I'm fine. Really I am, thanks to you."
"Well can I make you some tea then?"
"That would be wonderful, dear boy, thank you."
Gibbs stood nearest the button panel. He couldn't let her corner him in the lift for fear that she might use its lack of security cameras as an advantage and possibly claim he attacked her or something. It sounded slightly daft in his head at first, but he knew all too well that 'hell hath no fury like a woman scorned'.
As she tried to reach for the power switch, he made sure to stand between her and it whilst praying for the doors to open again on the ground floor.
When they did, he even walked her out of the building to her car. As she reached for the driver's side door, she stopped and turned to face him.
"So this is it then, Jethro? This is really how you plan to spend the rest of your life? With a man?"
"That is what I've decided."
"You're mad, you know. Stark raving bonkers!"
"Yes, I'm loco en el coco, but I'm very happy that way. I'm sorry you don't approve, but I really do love him."
"I could have given you happiness. I still can."
"And I would only give you misery. You know my past and my attempts to replace Shannon...This is me not replacing her this time."
"Fine. Whatever, you stupid...QUEER! Well when you do come to your senses, I'll be gone!"
Gibbs shrugged and stood back as she climbed into her car and slammed the door. She drove away without another word and he hoped she was serious about staying away.
Having seen that she'd left the car park, he immediately returned to autopsy where Ducky was sat sipping on a cup of herbal tea to help steady his nerves.
Gibbs had noticed Ducky's tie before and now seeing said tie and the buttons that were undone, immediately he was brushing the collar aside to check for any marks on Ducky's neck.
"Duck, you are okay aren't you?"
"I'm fine, Jethro, really I am."
Taking Gibbs' hand in his own, he gave it a reassuring squeeze. Smiling in relief, Gibbs looked over at Jimmy.
"Good job, Palmer."
"Thank you, agent Gibbs, sir."
"I'll see you later on then, Duck, but if you want we could go home together just in case she-"
"Jethro, I very much doubt she'll do anything."
"I just don't want..."
"I know, but it's okay."
Ducky squeezed his hand again before they dropped touch and instead their lips joined briefly.
"I'll try and get home at a reasonable time, okay?"
"You've got to do what you've got to do, my dear."
The rest of the day seemed to pass by in a flash, and every time Gibbs looked at a clock, another hour had seemed to disappear.
His team were all working hard following up leads wherever possible, but trying to find people when they had made a habit of moving house several times was not a fun chase for them and wasted a lot of time.
Eventually, Gibbs told his team to leave. Tim and Ziva did with a sense of exhausted relief, but Tony remained at his desk. It was getting late, and Gibbs still had more statements, enquiries and logs to read through. Hating himself for putting his work first, he rang Ducky.
"Hey Duck, I didn't disturb you, did I?"
"No, I'm just reading up on something."
"So everything's okay?"
"Of course. Lord, Jethro, you are getting so concerned these days."
"Can't help it," his voice dropped lower, "I love you too much."
Despite trying to be quiet, Tony still heard Gibbs' words and just managed to stop himself from looking up.
"Jethro, am I to assume this is you informing me that you'll be staying on late?"
How did Ducky know?
"Yeah, I am...I'm sorry."
"As I said before, you've got to do what you've got to do. I understand, really I do."
Rubbing his hand over his face, he sighed. Sometimes a Ducky willing to accept disappointment was actually an upset Ducky.
"I'm not going to make a habit of doing this to you, I promise."
"There's no need to promise that to me."
"Yes there is." his voice rose slightly and this time Tony did look up briefly, "Sorry Duck. I'll be quiet when I get in."
"I wouldn't mind. Just knowing you're home safe is good enough."
Gibbs smiled. Whatever force had brought them together, he couldn't be thankful enough.
"I love you, Duck. I'm sorry I can't be there with you."
"I love you too."
Some half hour later, a receptionist from front desk appeared, carrying a freshly delivered pizza in her hands. Tony's nose immediately caught the smell and he stared at the pizza longingly as it passed him.
"Agent Gibbs, this was delivered here for you from a certain loving partner of yours."
She smiled and placed the pizza down on the corner of his desk.
Gibbs stared at it in surprise.
Checking the receipt attached, it was definitely Ducky who ordered it. Opening the box slightly he took a long sniff at it. It smelt good.
In the opposite corner, Tony continued to stare at it, completely ignoring the Louisa's ass as she passed him again. Normally he would have enjoyed taking a good look as she walked to the lift, but his stomach growled and hunger got the better of him.
Gibbs shook his head and smiled in disbelief, reaching for his phone again.
"Hello again, my dear. Is the pizza to your liking?"
"Oh Duck, you are an angel, you know that?"
"You succeed every time."
"I would have sent out for coffee too but your usual place doesn't deliver."
"Duck, you didn't even have to do this for me. I thought you didn't approve of me eating this junk?"
"I may not approve, but it doesn't mean I can really stop you. Besides, I imagine you're hungry since you didn't have any lunch today, and of course I'm sure we could come up with some way to get rid of those naughty calories again."
"I'm sure we can." his eyes looked up at Tony briefly, "Thanks honey. I'll make it up to you."
"I look forward to it." Ducky let out a yawn, "Now, my dear, I must get to bed."
"Okay then. Sweet dreams."
Smiling to himself, he opened up the pizza box, it's aroma bursting out around him. Taking a slice, he bit off a large chunk and chewed contently. In no time, he'd finished the first slice and reached for another. Only then did he feel he'd tortured Tony enough.
"C'mon." Gibbs said, smirking as Tony almost tripped over the leg of his desk in his haste to get a slice.
"Thank Ducky, not me."
Tony smiled and tucked into a slice with a happy hum. What he wouldn't give to have someone send pizza to him when he was working late.
As he devoured it, he remembered back to that day he first heard the rumour about Gibbs and Ducky. It had seemed so impossible at the time and yet now it was like it was meant to be.
Attending their party on Christmas day helped him see a new side to his boss, and yet very little had really changed when they were at work. There was no denying that his boss had slightly mellowed thanks to how happy he was, but he could still be a hard ass when push came to shove.
Now from scuttlebutt rumour to an approaching marriage, things had seemed to pass by far too quickly.
"I was just thinking...Not six months ago we found out about you and Ducky, and now you're getting married to him."
"Well we have been together over a year."
"That long? And none of us actually noticed for about eight months."
Gibbs shrugged and grabbed his third piece as Tony grabbed his second.
"So are you going to have a stag party then?"
"Too old for that. Never was my thing anyway."
"And Abby is going to be a bridesmaid?...In fact who out of the two of you will be the bride?"
The split second he finished, he knew he'd screwed up, and the head slap that followed was expected.
Tony stayed silent for a while, focusing only on eating his food and relieved that he wasn't told to go back to his own desk, but soon
his need to ask questions continued to get the better of him.
"So where you going on your honeymoon?"
"DiNozzo." Gibbs sighed in frustration.
"I just wanted to know because McGee was thinking maybe as a wedding present we could just pay into a fund for your honeymoon, that's all.
Tony sat silently waiting, wondering if Gibbs had even thought that far ahead.
"I thought of taking Duck back to Scotland. Back to his home city for a week or two."
" Good...I'm glad. Ducky would like that."
Another brief moment of silence and Gibbs knew Tony was going to burst into questions any moment. Despite that, he tried not to look over at him and encourage him.
"So, Fornell is gonna be the best man, huh?"
"I guess it makes sense what with Ducky not being able to play both roles." in his mind he berated himself. What a load of rubbish he was spouting.
"Well I also came up with your responsibility."
"What's that, boss?"
"Well you know how to play guitar, right? I was wondering if you could do music. Just for when Ducky and I come up the aisle and
"Really? What songs?"
"I dunno. That's down to you to find good ones. Talk to Abby about it."
"Thank you , boss. It would be an honour."
"Now will you stop asking me questions?"
He could sense that Gibbs' patience with him was wearing thin, so silently he took another slice of pizza and moved back to his desk.
"Sorry about...what I said about being a bride."
"Just work, DiNozzo."