AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship.
SUMMARY: Set after Hiatus. This the the final part of the trilogy that began with Hope, and is the sequel to How? Where is Jethro so desperate to get to?
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
"Can't you go any faster?"
"I am sorry, sir. It is the weather. The snow. The month before Christmas."
"I know. I know. But I could walk quicker than you're driving."
"Not a good idea, sir. Sir will get very wet. And cold."
Cold. Most certainly cold.
That was what six months in the sun did. Why did Washington have to choose to have its worst winter in living memory just now? Now when he needed to be where he was going fifteen minutes ago?
Jethro cursed DiNozzo for the fiftieth time. If only he'd told Jethro sooner. If only he'd -
If only you'd never left.
He frowned and pushed the thought from his mind.
But it came back. Sneaking in quietly, creeping up on him.
Fuck it. Maybe if he'd been here, he could have . . .
Could have what?
He wasn't God. No matter what DiNozzo sometimes seemed to think.
No, he was just human. Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Human. And like all humans, he wasn't infallible.
"Come on, come on."
"Sir, I am going as -"
"I know. It's not your fault. It's the weather. The snow. The month before Christmas."
He didn't believe it was possible.
Where had six months gone?
And why had he let them go by?
Why hadn't he . . . ?
But it was too late now.
He had to face that.
He had to pay the price.
Damn the weather.
"We are here, sir."
Jethro looked up. They were. Flinging a wad of bills into the astonished cabby's hand, he ignored the outpouring of Spanish? Italian? Portuguese? Who knew? Who cared? Not him.
He climbed out into the swirling snow, grabbing onto the car for a moment in order to keep his balance. It was even colder than he'd thought. God, he needed his overcoat.
But finding a black suit had been hard enough.
Finding an overcoat had been impossible.
Anyway he was Jethro Gibbs. He wouldn't feel the cold. He never felt the heat, not really. So he wouldn't feel the cold. It was simply a matter of mind over . . . He rubbed his hands together and started to walk as quickly as he could while remaining on his feet.
He rounded a corner.
Damn he was too late.
They'd all gone.
All moved away.
No doubt on their way to a warm room and an even warmer drink.
The snow began to fall more heavily, faster, it settled on the ground around him. He’d better leave.
And then . . .
They hadn't all gone.
Standing there, head bowed, hair being whipped by the wind, hat in hand, overcoat pulled tightly around him stood . . . Jethro swallowed hard, and with four strides was by his side.
"Duck," he murmured, tugging Ducky into his arms, not caring that he was crushing the hat Ducky still held. Not caring that his face became wet as he buried it in Ducky's hair. Not caring that suddenly people appeared. Not caring about anything, but the man he held.
Ducky snuggled into the embrace, pressing against Jethro and warming him. "Jethro," he finally murmured. "What are you doing here?"
"Holding you," was suddenly all Jethro could manage.
Ducky sighed softly.
"I couldn’t let you go through this alone, Duck. I would have, should have, been here sooner, but DiNozzo didn’t let me know until it was nearly too late, and it is snowing. What did you say?"
"I told Anthony not to let you know, dearest."
Jethro pushed Ducky back a little. "Duck? Why?"
"Because I knew that you would return."
"And you didn't want me to feel that you'd dragged me back." It wasn't a question.
"Ah, my dear. How well you know me."
"Yeah, well. I should after all these years. But don't feel like that, Duck. I'd already decided I was coming back."
Ducky tilted his head back and blinked up at Jethro through snow-splattered glasses. "My dear?"
"It's true, Duck. I was."
"Why, Jethro? Why now?" Ducky looked puzzled and so full of hope, that Jethro came closer to kissing him in public than he'd ever done before. He was also beginning to shiver.
Jethro, who had stopped feeling cold the second he'd pulled the somewhat damp and cold Ducky into his arms, tugged Ducky back against him, pressing his body nearer, hoping he could offer some additional warmth from his own body.
Lowering his head, he brushed a heavy strand of Ducky's hair back with his nose and whispered, "The time was right, Duck. The time was right."
Then moving back just far enough to take the wet hat from Ducky's hand he popped it on Ducky's head. That was better. That was how it should be. That was his Ducky. Then he wrapped his arm around Ducky's shoulders, waited for Ducky to slip his own arm around his back, and began to move slowly and carefully through the deep snow he no longer even noticed.
Later that night in Jethro's bed, Ducky in his arms, exactly as he should be, Jethro said softly, "I love you, Duck."
"I love you too, my dearest Jethro." And Ducky looked into Jethro's eyes, blinking sleepily.
Well Jethro had made sure his lover was warm, content and exhausted.
He settled back, rearranging Ducky until he knew he was comfortable, and kissed him until Ducky's eyes were closed for longer than they were open.
Then just before he knew Ducky was about to slip into sleep, Jethro whispered, "I told you I'd be back, Duck."
The pale eyes, now so heavy Ducky could barely open them, looked up at him. "Yes, dearest, you did."
And then Ducky was asleep.