I've really enjoyed this 'round robin' and am still stunned by the way it took off. Thanks to all of you who wrote 'chapters' for it, and also the readers whose wonderful comments helped to keep the momentum going. I'm chuffed and indeed very touched that my little story spawned such interest.
periwinkle27 has suggested that maybe we should arrange some official round robins, and again there has been interest in doing just this. So I'll pull together some thoughts and ideas and share them with you in a day or so.
TITLE: Something In The Air
AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship
SUMMARY: Jethro and Ducky start to realise that maybe it isn't just Jimmy Palmer who has noticed the true nature of their relationship.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
I do not know whether there is something in the air, but I fear that my summation about the children having not discovered the true nature of the relationship I have with Jethro, was inaccurate. Or at least as far as some of the children go; others I am still not so certain about.
Jimmy and I arrived a little late for this Interdepartmental Team Meeting that Jennifer decided for some unbeknown reason to organize. I believe her intention was to encourage the different departments to mix with one another, to interact with people they might not otherwise have any contact with. She is of course quite within her rights as Director of NCIS to do such a thing, but personally I fail to see the point of it. It seems to me that people in general are holding far too many meetings these days; I believe that on occasions there are meetings to decide whether to hold a meeting. I remember - Oh, but I afraid I am slipping a little off tangent.
Mr. Palmer was slightly late in arriving at the office today; well, strictly speaking he arrived at the correct time, his usual time. However, Jennifer's memo had stated that we should all be in attendance slightly earlier than the normal working day began. Mr. Palmer insists that I failed to pass this information on to him, but I am certain that is not the case.
Not that us arriving late mattered, as Jennifer had been held up on an important matter, or that is what Cynthia told us all. People were not particularly happy. I do wonder whether our new Director realizes how often she antagonizes the very people with whom she should be trying to work. But Ms. Shepard never really was a team player, nor did she understand people. I am still surprised by her appointment. I sometimes wonder - But no, that is an unworthy thought, and once again I am wandering from the subject in hand.
Jimmy and I arrived and moved to sit with the rest of our specific team, in the two empty seats next to Abigail. Jennifer's belief that people would mingle was a foolish one, as I could have told her. All the mail room staff were sitting together; as were the administrative staff; the janitorial staff; the technicians; even the agents were gathered together in their own teams. Just as I was about to take my seat, Timothy jumped to his feet and ushered me to where he had been sitting, assuring me that I would be more comfortable. Before I could explain to him that all the chairs were identical, he had gone. It seemed churlish to object, not that ,if I am completely honest, I wished to do so, so I sat down - next to my dear Jethro.
He looked at me and smiled his 'Ducky' smile, and his eyes softened in the way they only do when he is around me, and they said things to me that he could not voice in public. As I settled down and attempted to get comfortable in the hard upright chair, I brushed against his arm, and simultaneously my olfactory sense went into overdrive. Suddenly I was uncertain about the wisdom of sitting next to Jethro.
Oh, dear, that makes it sound as though we are sex-crazed teenagers, unable to control our urges and desires, and we are not. Not at all. It is just that I had not seen Jethro for four days; he had been attending a conference, along with Tobias, for senior Federal agents. I am certain I do not need to tell you his reaction when Jennifer informed him that his attendance was mandatory.
If I did not know better I would venture to suggest that maybe our dear Director is attempting to keep Jethro and myself apart. However, that would imply that she is aware of, or at least suspects, the true nature of our relationship. And I would believe that to be highly unlikely. I know that she is not fond of me, I know that she feels that I attempt to come between her and Jethro, not that there is any 'her and Jethro', and in my opinion it is about time that she accepted the fact. I know that she also believes that I keep him from her, and maybe to an extent I do. But for everyone's sake it is far better that I do so.
So sitting down next to my dear Jethro and having his particular scent infiltrate my senses without being able to connect with him, was somewhat difficult. Jethro might not use cologne, but he has used the same somewhat old fashioned shaving cream from the first time I met him, some. . . Oh, I must not mention that, it is a greater secret than even Shannon and Kelly were. Add to that the scent of sawdust that always seems to surround him, no matter how long it has been since he worked on his boat, together with his very being, and I find myself wishing to touch him, however briefly and innocently. Maybe I could just shift slightly and accidentally brush against him. Ah, that is better.
I wonder why Timothy thought I would be more comfortable next to Jethro? Could it be that he, like Jimmy, has picked up on something? Something of which Jethro and I are not aware we are giving off? Certainly of all the members of Jethro's field team, I believe that he is the most observant of human behavior. Rather like Mr. Palmer, Timothy often appears to be somewhat less able than he is; he too can lull people into thinking that he is slower and not as astute than he is. Yes, if any of the children have noticed, Timothy would indeed be my first guess.
I do hope that Jimmy did not feel abandoned when Timothy insisted on my moving seats. He is now sitting next to Abigail, which should make him happy, whilst Timothy is on her other side. Abby keeps glancing my way and smiling her pleased pussycat smile. However, whenever I catch her eye, she glances away and begins to talk to one or the other of her two admirers.
Now that I think about it, Abby has been behaving a little different around Jethro and myself for a while now. She has taken to inviting us to go out to dinner with her Timothy, and her treatment of us is . . . But, no, Abigail cannot be aware; cannot even suspect. If she did, she would bounce, of that I am certain. Or maybe, if I really think about it, I am not quite as certain as I thought I was. Dear Abby is very astute, very intuitive, she understands people well, and cares a great about Jethro and myself. She would know that Jethro would not like her to bounce and make it obvious that she knows something. And she does often behave as Jethro would like her to. She sees my beloved as a surrogate father. Mmm, now would that make me her surrogate mother?
Officer David is sitting next to Anthony; as usual she has withdrawn into herself, and is not participating in the general chatter that is going on around her. She is distancing herself, as indeed she always does. She is giving off the aura of not caring, of not being involved, or one of the team. For all of my abilities in understanding people and their psychology, I find Ms. David extremely difficult to predict, or to read.
Can she really be as cold, uncaring and harsh as she appears? I would hope not, however, given her upbringing and her duties with Mossad, she might well be. She will not have noticed that there is anything beyond friendship between Jethro and myself; or rather if the thought has crossed her mind, she would have dismissed it. It would not fit with the 'Leroy Jethro Gibbs' and 'Dr. Donald Mallard' whom she has studied, on whom she has dossiers - ones that even she does not realize are not entirely complete.
Anthony also seems to be lost in his own world; his attention is entirely on whatever he has on the hand held device he is surreptitiously examining. He keeps casting side looks at Jethro, no doubt expecting him to take it away from him. However, Jethro either hasn't noticed - something that would astound me - or he has decided to let Anthony play for the time being.
Of all of the children, logic says that it should have been Anthony who has worked out our relationship, assuming of course that any of them have. After all, next to Abigail he has worked with us both for the longest period of time; he has seen us together, he interacts with us. And he was the one whom Jethro smacked extremely hard, too hard in my opinion, when he 'dared' to try to hurry me along.
However, as good an agent as Anthony is, and he is in many ways a good agent, Jethro would not have kept him around if he wasn't, he does not notice things in the way that maybe he should. Also, I suspect that the idea of homosexuality troubles him slightly, maybe even frightens him; Anthony is often nervous of things he does not and cannot understand. I am not in any way implying that he is homophobic, despite the way he carried on when he kissed the man who was a woman, Jethro wouldn't have him on his team if he were; my dearest does not tolerate any kind of discrimination. It is just that Anthony is not able to fully process anything he does not, cannot, will not understand.
I also had the feeling just the other day that it wasn't just the children who might know about the relationship. Jethro had come to see me in Autopsy, just before he went away to the conference. There is a little area that cannot be seen by the surveillance cameras, so he was able to say goodbye to me in more ways than merely words. As I was in his arms, I had the distinct feeling that - But that is a foolish thought. I may talk to my corpses, but as yet one has not answered me back. And yet . . .
People are getting very restless, the atmosphere is becoming heavy with their displeasure, and yet around us I am getting very different kinds of vibes from certain team members. Maybe - ah, Jennifer has now arrived.
I shall talk to Jethro tonight and ask him if he has noticed anything.
Maybe it's something in the air, but I'm beginning to think I was wrong that only Palmer had figured out the real relationship I have with Ducky.
I've got no evidence as such to go on, but my gut tells me that more than one of the team have figured it out. Or are close to doing so.
Why else would McGee leap to his feet and all but drag Ducky to sit next to me at this pathetic, stupid whasit meeting that Jenn organized? And where the hell is she anyway? God, I need another coffee.
McGee's idea that the chair next to me was more comfortable was a bit lame; all the damned chairs are the same. Duck'll find them all too hard for him.
I wish I could have had five minutes to go down to Autopsy and see Ducky before coming here. I could have told Palmer to go on ahead, and take advantage of that bit of Autopsy that the cameras can't see. It's been four days since I had Ducky in my arms, and that's too long. How I ever coped when I was away at sea, I'll never know. Guess I love him more now than I did then.
For four days I've been stuck in some damned senior Federal agents conference. The only thing that made it bearable was Tobias. Now he does know about Duck and me; claimed he knew even before he walked in on us kissing one night. Ducky's always telling me to lock my front door more often than I do.
Hell, I'm bored, and being this close to Ducky isn't really helping. His scent is teasing me, tantalizing me in a way it rarely does outside our homes. I want to kiss him, hold him, touch him. Ah, that's better. I've got my last wish anyway. He's moved slightly, and is brushing against me, like he did when he sat down.
McGee keeps glancing our way. What does expect me to do? Grab Ducky and kiss him? Now that's an idea. Maybe I should wait until Madam Director turns up, it might stop her from trying to get me to restart the biggest mistake of my life.
Now she doesn't know. I'm sure of that. She's not fond of Ducky, never has been. Oh, she's a reasonable actress, but I can tell. She doesn’t like our friendship, doesn't like how he 'protects' me from her.
Yeah, McGee's figured it out. Oh, well, can't do much. He's clearly not bothered by it, but then I never thought he would be.
Christ, now Abbs is looking at us and smiling that damned smile of hers that always gets her her own way. Now she's looked away again. She knows. That's what all those dinners out have been about, she wanted to get us outside of the office, watch us together. She's safe too; she adores Ducky, and treats me like a second father.
David is doing her usual trick of not getting involved with anyone around her. Amazed she isn't with Jenn doing whatever it is our Director is doing. David gives me mixed signals, and that irritates the hell out of me.
One minute I reckon she's the cold, detached, uncaring bitch she comes over as being, the next . . . The next I think she does have a vulnerable side. She's got skills, I'll give her that. I'd trust my back to her, well I did. But I don't like how callous she is about killing. Duck tells me it's just her Mossad training, but if she is going to stay around, she's got to start to learn our ways. She analyzes everything. And she'll have done that with Duck and me. Analyzed it and dismissed it. Why wouldn't she?
DiNozzo won't have noticed. For his skills, and he does have them, I'd hardly have kept him around for over three years if he didn't, he doesn't tend to notice stuff he doesn’t believe in or understand. I swear I could kiss Ducky in front of him, and he'd still find a way of ignoring it, pretending it never happened. In his eyes I couldn't possibly be gay or bi or whatever the hell he'd want to label me. So I'm not. No matter what he saw me do.
He keeps glancing at me too, but his look is nothing like Abbs or McGee's. I guess I should stop him from playing with his dammed gizmo, but quite frankly I can't be bothered.
You know, I reckon Ducky's getting to me in more ways than one. I could have sworn the other day when I went to say goodbye to him, when I took advantage of Palmer not being there, that . . . Nah, that's just stupid. Duck talks to his corpses, but none of them have answered him back yet. What the hell am I thinking? Maybe there is something odd being pumped into the air.
Maybe it's just withdrawal symptoms. From both Ducky and coffee.
God, people are getting pissed off. You can feel it; the air's heavy with irritation and mutterings. When I first got here the atmosphere was relaxed, people were happy to have an hour or so off work. All they had to do was sit and listen to the Director, but now they've had enough. Jenn'll never learn. She doesn't know how to handle people, never has.
That's it. I've had enough. I'm going to get another coffee. And then maybe - ah, shit, Jenn's finally got here.
I'll talk to Ducky tonight and ask him if he's noticed anything.
But as he looked into the ebony and sapphire eyes that were soft with love and rich with passion, Jethro forgot what he was about to say. Instead he moved nearer to Ducky and kissed him again.
It was twenty minutes later before Jethro settled back down, tugged Ducky into a loose embrace, and sighed with pleasure . He felt relaxed, content, at peace, happy, and the atmosphere echoed those feelings, warming him, making him feel secure in himself and in the love he and Ducky shared.
"Yes, dearest?" Ducky repeated, his voice low and gentle.
"Huh? Oh, yeah. Duck, I don't want to worry you or anything, but I was wondering if you reckoned any of the team were -"
"Behaving as though they knew the true nature of our relationship? Yes, dearest. I had. However, I had not realized that you had done so. It began with Mr. Palmer, but now I believe that -"
"Abbs and McGee know too."
Ducky smiled. "Yes, dearest."
"What about David?"
"I doubt it my dear. She will have considered the matter and dismissed it. Anthony, on the other hand -"
"Wouldn't notice it if I seduced you on one of the Autopsy tables in front of him."
"Hmm, maybe we should put that to the test one day."
Jethro chuckled. "Yeah, maybe we should. Madam Director?"
"Oh, no. If Jennifer had any idea at all, I believe that she -"
But Jethro had had enough. So he silenced his beloved in the best way possible.
Once again they slipped into their gentle lovemaking, the kind they carried out whether they were actually making love or not, the kind that was, if Jethro were honest, clear for all to notice. Silence, punctuated only by gentle murmurs and soft noises, filled the air and joined the loving, peaceful, caring atmosphere that was the foundation of their entire relationship.
No, Sharpie, I still haven't started them ::sigh::; this took longer than anticipated. So you'd better go on wielding that bullwhip of yours.