TITLE: Letting Go Of The Past
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship
SUMMARY: Gibbs makes a trip up to Arlington cemetery for his yearly tradition
RATING: NC17 (Overall)
WORD COUNT: 4171
NOTES: Picture of the wedding rings Gibbs chose
As it reached 1 a.m., Gibbs stared blankly at the papers on his desk. So far he'd managed to find a fair amount of useful info and accounts that needed looking into, but it was stuff that Tim and his computer knowledge was going to have to take over on.
There was even a new suspect to interview, but that too would have to wait until later on in the morning.
"DiNozzo, in the morning I want you and Ziva to go to this address and interview a Linda Blessed."
"Will do. Boss, you know, you can go home? I'll keep on working."
"No, it's not fair on you."
"I've got no one to go home to, but you have." he nodded his head in the direction of the lift "Go on."
Gibbs allowed himself to show the gratitude in his eyes as he collected up his things. Folders were put in the bottom of his desk drawer, a stack of papers for McGee to go through left over on his desk, and handed the address to Tony before patting him on the back.
Making it home in record time on the quiet streets, he did his usual routine of checking all doors and windows were locked, stopped by the bathroom for a few minutes, then stripped down and climbed into bed to gently spoon up against the back of the older man.
Ducky stirred slightly and grumbled something before promptly dozing back to sleep. Gibbs smiled and nuzzled gently against the back of Ducky's neck. This was so much better than falling asleep at his desk.
As soon as Ziva arrived in the office a little after 8am, Tony stood in preparation to leave.
"C'mon, we gotta go. Gibbs left us an address we need to go to."
"I've only just sat down, Tony, so give me a minute." she took in the bags under his eyes, "Have you been here all night?"
"Yeah. Gibbs stayed till around one, then went home."
He reached for the pizza box and ate the last slice before throwing the box into the bin. It was weird to think that before, the idea of cold pizza from the night before would disgust Tony, but having worked with Gibbs for so long he didn't think twice about it anymore.
Ziva shook her head.
"I cannot believe you two stayed so late and stuffed your faces on pizza."
"Ah, but you don't know the best bit."
"Ducky ordered it for Gibbs and had it sent to him here at the office."
"Wow, I thought he always hated Gibbs eating that kind of stuff."
"Yeah, but seems he let him off. I heard Gibbs called Ducky 'honey'."
"Gibbs did that?" Tim asked, suddenly appearing out of nowhere, "That is sweet, and very...un-Gibbs like."
Tony jumped slightly at the sound of Tim's voice.
"Geez! McGee, where did you come from?"
"I've been here about half an hour, but when I got in you were snoring your head off."
Tony looked over at Tim's desk where indeed his bag was, and files already sat open.
"But a minute a go you weren't..."
"I had to hit the head. It must be said though, Gibbs has mellowed slightly as a result of being with Ducky."
"Yeah, only slightly. I cannot believe that the hard-ass we have for a boss can actually be sweet."
"Which is why he left you here?" Ziva asked.
"I told him he could leave. I could tell by his expressions when on the phone that Ducky was disappointed that he was staying here late, but he obviously understood since he sent the pizza."
"Don't suppose," Tim said with amusement, "whilst you were both stuffing on Pizza you asked him about wedding presents, did you?"
"Actually, I did, and he's planning on taking Ducky on holiday to Scotland."
"Well that sounds good. So let's all put money in for that and I'll look up a hotel for them to stay in. Then all I'll have to do is confirm it with Gibbs and hopefully we'll have it all sorted out in plenty of time."
" We'll deal with that soon enough. For now, we have a case to get over and done with. Ziva, lets ride!"
"Ride to where exactly?"
Tony handed over the piece of paper with the address on.
"I'm driving though because I want us to get there in one piece."
"I didn't actually hit that truck, Tony."
"Oh nooo, missing it by mere inches was fine."
Tim laughed to himself as he heard them continue to squabble as they entered the lift.
Having heard enough of Ducky's stories, he knew where to focus his hotel search at least, but balancing the case and planning their
honeymoon wasn't going to be easy. How Abby was handling everything he didn't know, but had a feeling a lot of Caf-pow had been consumed over the past few months.
When Gibbs woke again, he was now alone in the bed. Putting his hand where Ducky had been; it still felt slightly warm to the touch which obviously meant Ducky hadn't long got up either. Stretching as he got to his feet, he went for a shower and could already smell breakfast cooking downstairs.
Fresh and dressed, he was happy to hear Ducky humming to himself. Stepping into the kitchen, Ducky heard his footfalls and turned to greet him, currently in pyjamas and dressing gown.
"Good morning, my dear."
Wrapping his arms around the smaller man's waist, he leaned down to kiss him deeply. After a long moment of neither parting away, Ducky was the one to eventually do so.
"Hang on a moment." he said, turning over the mushrooms in the pan.
Seeing they were cooked perfectly, he moved the pan to the back ring, turned the front one off and turned his attention back to his fiancé.
"Now," he said with a smile, "where were we?
Cupping Ducky's ass, he pulled him up to continue kissing his lips until his tongue slipped past them. They stayed like that for several more moments, lost in their own bubble until the need for oxygen overtook their senses.
Gibbs gazed down into Ducky's eyes and smiled.
"You are so beautiful." he whispered, and took delight out of watching Ducky's eyes soften and cheeks blush at the words.
Before they could get distracted into kissing again, his stomach growled and he looked at the mushrooms and scrambled eggs on the cooker.
"Healthy breakfast this morning, Duck? Is this to make up for the pizza last night?"
"I didn't eat all of it, you know, DiNozzo had some too. He sends his thanks, and I" he kissed Ducky's neck again, just briefly, "am so grateful to you for it."
Ducky rested his head against Gibbs' chest, listening to the heartbeat beneath.
"I must admit I did wonder whether I would wake up this morning and find that you had not returned home at all."
"I wouldn't do that to you, Duck."
It hurt Gibbs when Ducky said nothing, keeping his face hidden snug against his chest. After all, he knew all too well that he needed to learn when to put work first and when not to. Tony was right, he did have something to come home to now, and he'd be a complete idiot to ruin it.
"I know, Duck, I don't believe myself either, but I'm going to try. For you, I really am going to try."
The squeeze he received calmed him slightly, and he stroked the top of Ducky's head, enjoying the feeling of silky hair glide through his fingers.
"When you've finished, my dear, would you like poached egg with mushrooms and Sautéed tomatoes?"
"I would love it."
When Gibbs made it back to the bullpen an hour later, the team were not at their desks when he arrived.
Sitting down in his seat, he decided to enjoy the silence. The only sounds at that moment was Fred on the far side cubicle typing away on his computer, but it wasn't overly distracting. Peace however didn't last for long as the sound of heavy heeled shoes came clomping in his direction.
" Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs!" Abby cried, a large smile on her face.
"Abs, what's wrong?"
"Oh, nothing. Everything is right! I just want you to know that I've got the perfect venue for the wedding party booked that's only ten minutes drive from the registry office, I know a good DJ who's up for providing music of your choosing, and Tony, Ziva and McGee are gonna help me decorate it."
"Thanks Abs. You know we appreciate all the work you've done for us whilst balancing case work. It can't be easy."
"No, but it's been fun. McGee heard from Tony about your honeymoon plans and wants to talk to you about hotels and stuff."
"Actually I was thinking of renting a place; just a small cottage or something. I haven't told Ducky yet, but the sale on my old house is closing next week and like I expected, I am going to get a good payout from it as there's three people bidding on it."
"Isn't it sad seeing that place go?"
"Of course it is, but it was just filled with echoes of the past. My relationship with Ducky wouldn't survive if I kept going back to that place to wallow in my old demons."
Abby felt joy flood within her at the words. She'd seen Gibbs struggle with his problems over the years she'd known him. To be looked upon as a surrogate daughter meant the world to her, but watching him always struggle to let go of Shannon and Kelly was something she could do nothing about. Yet somehow, Ducky had managed to help him.
"Gibbs, do you tell Ducky all that? You know, about how much he's helped you?"
"Gibbs, you've got to tell him. We can all see how much of a difference he's had on you."
"And he can probably see it as well."
"Doesn't mean you don't have to verbally tell him."
"I will, Abs, okay?"
Part of Gibbs was relieved that Tony decided to ring at that moment, stopping the conversation in its tracks for the moment. The determined look on her face however told him she wasn't quite ready to drop the subject yet.
"Yeah, it's Gibbs."
"Boss, we caught up with Ms Blessed, and I think this case just blew wide open."
"Good job, DiNozzo."
Ducky was right, despite his hatred of cold cases, they were very proficient at solving them.
From there the case wound up surprisingly quickly, and before anything else could happen, Gibbs put in for a few days leave, assigning Tony to take lead if anything happened whilst he was gone.
As they shared washing up duties (one removing clean items from the dishwasher and the other added new items to it), Gibbs cleared his throat.
He should have talked to Ducky sooner, but as usual everything else got in the way, and he was yet again reminded of things that were going to have to change to make this work.
"Duck, I've got to take a short trip. I'll only be gone for a day or two."
Ducky's mouth twitched into a small, knowing smile, but Gibbs didn't see it.
"Very well, my dear. When will you be leaving?"
"Tomorrow morning. You don't mind, do you?"
"Of course not." Now Ducky did smile properly, "You're not chained to me, Jethro. You have your own things to do."
Gibbs breathed a mental sigh of relief and returned the smile.
After spending half hour sat together on the sofa sipping on Ducky's good scotch, they then headed straight for the bedroom.
That night they gently made love as the rumblings of a thunderstorm passed overhead. There was no penetration; Just hard erection against hard erection. Slowly they thrust against one another, both whispering words of love and affection between light gasps and moans.
They took their time, savouring it for as long as possible until with a wordless cry, Ducky was the first to reach fulfillment. Watching his fiancé's face made Gibbs thrust faster, chasing his own competition until finally it happened.
Slowly he slipped out of the embrace and lay on his back on his side of the bed, and taking a moment for their breathing to return to normal, they looked at each other, both smiling. A rumble of thunder above the house made them jump, but they quickly laughed it off.
Gibbs reached for the packet of wet wipes he now made sure were forever present in his bedside drawer and wiped them both down.
Already in a post-coital haze, Ducky's eyelids began to droop, so Gibbs wasted no time in pulling the duvet over the both of them and pulled the man back into his arms. As slumber took him, he wished that morning wouldn't come around so soon.
As he put on his coat, Gibbs actually felt like he didn't want to leave. It was silly really, he thought to himself, but it showed how different the relationship was when he used to see it as a great opportunity to get away from whichever nagging wife he was with at the time.
Reaching for his overnight bag, Ducky met him at the front door.
"Duck, I'm leaving now."
"Take all the time you need and return back to me safely."
"I will." he pulled Ducky into a gentle kiss, "I love you."
"And I you."
Ducky watched in the doorway as Gibbs' car left the driveway and down the road before he returned inside. He knew where his fiancé was going.
Today was the 28th of February, and the anniversary of Shannon and Kelly's deaths.
Despite never telling anyone his reason for taking personal time off the same few days every year, his team had long ago worked it out.
It was snowing as he arrived in Arlington, and like every year, he checked into the same hotel nearest the cemetery, dropped off his bag in his room then left again.
Walking through the rows of tombstones, he finally came to a stop in front of the one he sought. For a moment he looked around to see if anyone was nearby, but other visitors were well out of earshot. Carefully he knelt down on the cold ground, placed the bouquet of lilies on the grave, and gently laid his hand upon it.
Every year without fail, he visited their grave, almost like he was begging them for forgiveness for his mistaken attempts to replace what he had lost. This time though, he felt like he didn't need to apologize.
"I know it's not what either of you probably expected of me but..." he whispered, his voice cracking just slightly, "I'm happy again. Truly happy."
Trying to keep his breath steady, he smiled.
"Ah Kelly, your angel looked great on the top of our Christmas tree. Everyone saw it and really liked it. Ducky said it'll be back out again next Christmas. I wish you two could have had the chance to meet him."
He continued to stay a while longer until the wet ground beneath his knees started to make him uncomfortable. Standing, his left knee ached slightly, but as always, he ignored it.
"I hope you'll be there for the wedding." he said with another smile before turning and walking away.
Leaving the steps of the main entrance, something familiar caught his eye. A coat he had recognized from recently, and like a bad dream, Hollis Mann once again stood before him. How dare she follow him here.
It took all his strength to rein in his anger, but it didn't stop him from hissing when he spoke.
"What do you want?"
"I just...I came to apologize."
"I don't wanna hear it."
Like before, he tried to walk away from her, but thanks to his aching knee, he didn't get far fast enough. She instead managed to stop him in a slightly secluded place on the corner of the main building, which make him panic just slightly.
"How did you even find me here?"
"Because you came here when we were together, remember? You didn't tell me why you were coming here, alone, and it was only when I read about Shannon and Kelly did I realize."
"And you decided to stalk me, is that it?"
Gibbs clenched his fists inside his coat pockets.
"No, really Jethro, I just saw it as a good opportunity to apologize."
"How can you change your tune so fast? You assault Ducky and call me a queer and now suddenly you're apologizing?"
Somehow she was keeping her voice calm and kind, and Gibbs could already sense she was again trying to win favor with him.
"I just...I was shocked at the time. You turning to marry a man all of a sudden. How could someone like him," her hand brushed against his cheek, "turn your head from all the available women in this world."
Gibbs jerked his head away like he'd been burnt.
"Stop it." he hissed again.
"Maybe we could, just this one last time." she said, suddenly sounding desperate, "No one need know. Just one last night together, and then I'll return to Hawaii and you can marry your good doctor."
His voice firm as he tried to move around her. Even though they couldn't be seen all that well, the place was bustling with people and he didn't want anyone to think he was assaulting her if he pushed her hard.
"No? Did these breasts" she pushed her bust against him so he was stuck between her and the wall behind him and whispered, "not pleasure you? Did my mouth around your cock not feel good?"
Her hand was about to slip through the front of the jacket to reach his crotch, but his reflexes were still quick and he grabbed her by the wrist with just enough strength to hold it but not leave any marks or cut off circulation. He still didn't trust her not crying wolf if the chance arose.
"It did, but it's not required of you anymore."
"You mean he sucks better than I do?" she shook her arm free from his grip, voice raising, "Does his ass really feel all that good to be in? Or do you have him fuck you? Is that what you were looking for all this time?"
"It's not just about sex."
"It seemed it always was with us."
"Because it was all I could do to stop you from pressuring me about making changes."
She gawped at him.
"You sold your house and now you're getting married. How is it any different?"
"Because I was the one who made the decisions. Ducky didn't pressure me into any of it. He's known me for so much longer than you have, and there are things you still don't know about me; things that would make how you feel about me change, but Ducky took those things in his stride and has done so much for me. After Shannon, he's the closest I've ever come to finding another soul mate. I'm sorry that that person wasn't you, but that's the way it goes."
Hollis let out a sigh of defeat and thankfully stepped away. She knew it was pointless now, and eventually she'd have to try and get over him all over again.
"Very well, Jethro. I...You'll be glad to hear that I'm going back to Hawaii in two days time. I won't be bothering you or your precious Ducky again."
And with that, she turned and walked away without looking back, leaving a rather stunned but relieved Gibbs leaning against the wall of the building behind him.
'Was that it?' he wondered to himself, but then silently prayed it was.
For a long while he battled with deciding whether he should tell Ducky or not about his most recent, and hopefully last, encounter with Hollis Mann. However when he called home that evening, Ducky could sense something was wrong and called him out on it.
The words flowed easily and he gave many assurances and heartfelt promises that he was indeed alone in his hotel room. When Ducky said the words 'I believe you' he sighed out loud in relief. It sounded genuine and was what he needed to hear.
Having said their goodnights, Gibbs showered and climbed into his large and empty double bed, whilst pondering on maybe he should bring Ducky along to see their graves next year. His thoughts however gradually slowed down, and he drifted off to sleep.
The next day he spent just walking around the local area, looking in book stores for anything Ducky may like and eventually came back with three books for him, and one for himself. Much to his relief, Hollis did not appear to show her face again, or if she did take her time watching him then she was very good at hiding.
As the weather turned colder and the snow started falling again, he picked up a meal to go and returned to his hotel room where he got comfortable against the headboard of the bed and started to read his book.
The ringing of his phone made him jerk awake and he squinted in the now darkness whilst wondering when he had fallen asleep.
"Hello Jethro, did I disturb you?"
"No, it's okay." he yawned and moved to get off the bed, "I found a book store not far from the hotel, found a book, and ended up falling asleep in my room reading, that's all. Is everything okay there?"
"Yes, my dear, everything is fine. I just wanted to know roughly what time you'd be home tomorrow so that I can have dinner ready in time. I was thinking roasted duck breast in a stir fry. Does that suit your taste buds?"
"You're the chef, Duck. I'll probably be back maybe around five?"
Gibbs yawned again, unable to hold it, and Ducky took it as a sign to go.
"Well, my dear, that's fine. I look forward to seeing you again. For now though, sleep tight."
"I will. Night Duck."
"Goodnight. I love you."
"Love you too, honey."
Hanging up, he found himself once again smiling. That night he had a peaceful sleep, and dreamt of having Ducky back in his arms.
On the way back home, Gibbs stopped at the jewelers that he had seen the perfect rings in the front display few weeks before.
Looking in the window, he saw them again. They were silver with thin gold outer rings accompanied by a small diamond. It was nothing too flashy, but was still elegant enough, and he knew it would be what Ducky would like.
Without a moment's hesitation, he paid for them and returned to the car. As he was about to start it, his mobile rang.
"Yeah, who's this?"
"I'm Miss Foray from the Willow Real Estate calling about your house."
"Yes, after much fighting over it, the final price stands at Eight-hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars. I hope you are happy with this price?"
"I-I-yes, I am. Thank you."
"No problem. When can we meet and work on the final signing of papers and transfer of money?"
"Tomorrow will do if you have any space free."
"Tomorrow at eleven a.m.?"
"That'll be fine."
"Great, I look forward to seeing you then."
"Yes, thank you. Bye."
Closing his phone, he took a few minutes to process it all. That was it. The house he shared with Shannon and Kelly was now going to be someone else's family home. The final price was never going to be that much of a massive deal to him, but now his mind was whirling with new ideas.
What if he bought Ducky a cottage back in Scotland for them to go on vacation to? Would that be what he'd want?
Shaking his head, he cleared his mind of it for now and turned the key in the ignition.
He felt his heart soar as he parked up back at home, where Ducky was already standing in the doorway to greet him. Grabbing his stuff, he dropped them down just inside the door way and swiftly closed the door.
"Welcome home, Jethro."
Ducky let out a gasp as he was almost knocked off his feet as Gibbs pulled him close and kissed him repeatedly.
"I love you, Duck, with all my heart and soul." he said, his voice almost a whisper. "I love you. I love you so, so much."
"Oh Jethro. My dear, words could not express how much I love you in return."
"You know, if I hadn't proposed to you already, I would be doing it now."
"You can do so again if you so wish. I certainly wouldn't say no."