maubast is the blame for planting the seed for part of this story; causticquery for helping to germinate it, and toomuchfandom for asking 'Why not?' (In other words, I disclaim all responsibility *g* )
Ingredients: Take an established relationship, add a few ounces of angst, a dollop of smut, and a smidgen of extremely mild, what some people might call, kink, and you get . . .
TITLE: The Little Things
AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship. Angst. Mild possible kink. R-rated.
SUMMARY: Sometimes it's the little things that touch us most of all.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
Thanks to maubast for giving this a beta check over for me.
Jethro was worried about Ducky.
His lover hadn't been himself for a few months, and nothing that Jethro did or said seemed able to lift Ducky's spirits for more than a very brief period.
And it was more than just a case of ‘lifting Ducky’s spirits’. The physical side of their lovemaking had virtually vanished. Ducky was still happy to kiss and be kissed, to cuddle, to hug and be hugged, but beyond that he seemed to have little or no interest - at least in his own pleasure. He seemed content to make love to Jethro, to bring him to loving climaxes, but when Jethro wanted to return the gratification, Ducky demurred, saying he was tired, or there was no need.
It was only after it had happened for the third time that Jethro really noticed the pattern. And as for him, and he knew the same was true for Ducky, the greatest enjoyment he got was from pleasing his lover, sex lost most of its interest.
It wasn’t as though their physical lovemaking had ever been a priority, nor had it been of huge importance to them. Both enjoyed it, more than enjoyed it, but as both said on many occasions, ‘when had they ever needed to actually physically make love in order to make love’. They made love whenever they were together, alone or in company, in so many different ways. And that still, in the most part at least, existed. But if Jethro was brutally honest, even that had altered, even that seemed less tangible.
Thus the lack of climaxes or even the lessening in the sexual level of their intimacy didn’t bother Jethro, but what was behind Ducky’s lack of interest did. It bothered him considerably.
It had begun with several long, grueling and tiring cases - even Jethro had found them so. Then just as the cases had all been wrapped up, and the team was taking much needed deep breaths and looking forward to a few days of less pressure, Mrs. Mallard had died. And if that hadn’t been bad enough, days after the funeral, Ducky had been hit by a serious bout of the influenza that had swept through the entire team, affecting everyone with the exception of Jethro himself.
Maybe it had just been the combination of overwork, together with Mrs. Mallard's death, that had lowered Ducky's resistance so much that he had succumbed so severely to the influenza. It had been so serious that at one point Jethro had thought he would be visiting Ducky in hospital - or worse. Not that he allowed himself to consider the 'or worse'.
Or maybe it was, as Ducky had started to say more and more often, that he was getting older. He was, after all sixty-four, although usually he looked several years younger, and apart from his limp that had grown more pronounced over the years, he had never showed his age, nor had it ever been an issue - until now. And for Jethro it still wasn't an issue, nor would it ever be. But suddenly it appeared to be thus for Ducky. More than once he'd hinted that maybe Jethro should find himself someone else, someone younger. Jethro, torn between exasperation and concern, had resorted to what he did best, showing Ducky how ridiculous that statement was. Showing him how much he loved him, wanted him, needed him - but he still wasn’t certain he’d succeeded. Not really succeeded.
He'd moved into the Mallard house upon the death of Mrs. Mallard, not caring what the team might think or say. As it turned out the move was greeted by a distinct lack of concern or even surprise. Being with Ducky every evening, every night, made Jethro happier than he'd ever been. Holding his lover, kissing him, sharing a bed with him, made all the wrongs right, but most of all it was just being with Ducky, knowing that if he turned around, Ducky would be there.
Ducky had lost weight over the past few months, and he looked far paler than he normally did. Together with these obvious to anyone changes, there were ones that maybe only Jethro would have noticed. Ducky's hair seemed flatter, and his eyes had lost their shimmer, his step was slower, and even his stories came less frequently, and with far less enthusiasm.
Jethro had suggested an extended holiday, a cruise maybe and a trip to the UK, but to his surprise Ducky had declined. He’d bought Ducky a ring, which when he gave it to his beloved, had sparked Ducky’s interest and seemed to make him happy. Once Jethro had slipped it on to Ducky's finger, Ducky never took it off; he wore with obvious pleasure and contentment, but even that joy had seemed to fade. Jethro had bought Ducky several other presents, expensive ones, good whiskey, silk bowties, top quality CDs, a new fountain pen, and a new heavy overcoat. However, although they had all been received with genuine pleasure and Ducky’s own special way of thanking him, again they didn’t seem to be able to really touch or move Ducky.
Almost out of options, deeply worried, and uncertain what to do next, Jethro saw a poster for a Mozart concert, one that would feature Ducky's favorite composition. He almost dismissed it; after all, why would a concert move Ducky, when the promise of an extended holiday failed to? Not to mention the fact that the concert wasn’t by a recognized professional orchestra, but by an amateur one. And then he decided, what the hell? Why not? Maybe it was time to try something different; the large gestures hadn't worked, maybe something smaller would. He wasn't overly confident that it would, but he had to do something, because he feared that Ducky was slipping away. Not from him as such, just . . . slipping away.
"Jethro?" The question was evident in Ducky's tone as he stood on the doorstep looking up at Jethro. His key was still in his hand which was stretched towards the lock, but Jethro had been listening for the Morgan and upon hearing her, had hastened to open the door.
The moonlight cast a shadow over his beloved's face, taking away some of the pallor of Ducky's skin, and making the dark blond hair that hung beneath Ducky's hat shimmer. He loved Ducky in moonlight; forget that, he loved Ducky in any light - or no light.
"Hey, Duck." Jethro grabbed Ducky's briefcase from him and ushered his lover inside. Once the front door was firmly closed, he gathered Ducky into his arms, plucked his hat from his head, and found Ducky's mouth with is own.
"That was very pleasant, my dear," Ducky said softly, when Jethro released him. "But was it a 'hello' or 'goodbye' kiss?" Jethro frowned. "Well, dearest, you are somewhat overdressed for an evening at home. Not that I would complain if you were staying in; as you know I have always particularly liked seeing you in a suit or your uniform." Ducky brushed his fingertips lightly over Jethro's arm, and a very faint hint of the old-Ducky sparkle flashed into the pale blue eyes. His tone also had an edge of flirtation to it; both of these things gave Jethro hope. But then the sparkle vanished, and Ducky's tone returned to its recent normal state. "Are you going out, Jethro?"
"Yes and no." Jethro kissed the frown that appeared between Ducky's eyes away. "We're going out," he explained.
"We are?" Again Ducky seemed mildly interested.
"Mmm. Got us tickets to see that Mozart concert. The one that’s being performed by the amateur orchestra," he added swiftly, ensuring that Ducky knew what he was letting himself in for.
Now the brightness in Ducky's eyes, in his entire face, was not fleeting. "My dearest." A genuine smile, the first that Jethro had seen for too long, appeared on Ducky's lips.
Jethro had to kiss him again and then again. Ducky moved against him, pressing closer, letting his fingers wander over the nape of Jethro's neck. When he pulled out of the kiss, his cheeks were faintly flushed and his lips swollen. For a fleeting second Jethro considered forgetting the tickets and suggesting they went to bed instead; but he didn't. There wouldn’t be any point, not if it followed the same pattern as other recent times. "You want to go and get showered and changed, Duck?" he said instead.
Ducky smiled, tugged Jethro's head down for one more kiss, then again brushing his fingers over Jethro's sleeve, turned and moved towards the stairs.
The sky was ink-black, few stars shone, but a full moon still blazed, lighting up the steps from the house to the car. Nonetheless, Jethro switched on the outside light, unwilling to risk Ducky tripping.
He held the passenger door open for Ducky, and didn't miss the smile that crossed Ducky's lips as his lover slid carefully into the car. Waiting until Ducky was settled, Jethro closed the door and moved around the car to the driver's side.
They had time to enjoy a brief, but unrushed supper before the concert began, and as he watched Ducky eat the savory pasta and drink the very pleasant red wine, Jethro saw more flashes of the old Ducky. His Ducky.
Ducky kept looking at him from beneath his heavy lashes, and glancing away, a very faint smile on his lips, and intermittently he would reach across the table and let his fingers flirt with Jethro's hand and wrist, or again touch the dark grey sleeve of Jethro's suit. Yes, Jethro recalled, Ducky always did love it when he ‘dressed up’.
They sat sipping a fairly mediocre wine during the interval, just sitting in the kind of comfortable silence that only friends of such long standing could enjoy. Ducky seemed more relaxed and at peace than he had been for months. During the first half of the concert, once the lights had gone down, he had shifted slightly in his seat until his arm was firmly pressed up against Jethro’s, and from time-to-time his fingers had joined in with the music, playing a gentle tune on Jethro’s arm and wrist.
"Are you enjoying yourself, my dear?"
"Sure, Duck. Why, aren't you?"
"Oh, yes, dearest. It is just . . . "
"Just what, Duck?"
"I could think of something that I believe, no, I know, I would enjoy more."
Jethro looked at Ducky and swallowed hard. Ducky's pupils had begun to dilate, and the blue that remained had become slightly darker; Ducky was also smiling softly. The look on Ducky's face was one that Jethro knew well; very well. It was one he hadn’t seen for far too long.
He swallowed again and leaned nearer, lowering his voice. "Are you saying what I think you're saying, Duck?"
"Yes, my dear. But if you're enjoying yourself . . ."
Jethro paused for a second. Damnit. Whatever he said now would be wrong. If he assured Ducky that he was enjoying himself, Ducky would insist that they stayed. If he told him that he wasn't really, then Ducky would feel guilty about Jethro being there in the first place. He thought quickly, "As you said, Duck, there's something I could think of that I'd enjoy more."
Ducky's smile increased; indeed, he positive beamed. Jethro breathed a silent sigh of relief.
"Turn right here, Jethro." Ducky spoke quietly, but with authority, as they came up to an all-but hidden turning.
"That's not the way home, Duck."
"I know, dearest. But I do not believe I can wait until we get home."
Jethro glanced quickly at Ducky, but with the now more subdued moonlight, he couldn't quite see his lover's face. However, Ducky had instructed, so he obeyed. He turned the wheel and drove down the uneven track towards the heavy trees, pulling under them as far as he could.
"You need the head, Duck?" he asked, bringing the car to a stop and turning off the engine. He released his seat belt and opened the glove compartment, reaching in to pull out the torch he always kept there. The moon had slipped behind the clouds, and with the trees being so close together what little light there was would find it difficult to penetrate the heavy branches. Again he wasn't going to risk anything that might result in Ducky being injured.
Ducky put his hand over Jethro's, stopping him from withdrawing the torch. "Oh, no, dearest. Something far more and far less basic than that."
Before Jethro could speak, Ducky released his own seatbelt and leaned towards him; he put one hand behind his head, tugged determinedly and found Jethro's mouth with his own.
After several moments, Ducky broke away, kissed Jethro briefly one more time, licked his lips, lowered his eyelashes, and then settled back into his seat, sighing contentedly. "That's better. Now I believe I am able to wait until we get home."
Jethro blinked and shifted in his seat. He wasn't sure he could!
"Well, my dear, what are you waiting for?" Ducky's tone was heavy with false innocence, and the kind of gentle humor that had been missing from his voice for what had become endless months. Ducky's hand was on Jethro's knee, his fingers brushing over it, sending sensations shooting through Jethro's body.
Again he glanced at Ducky. As he did the moon popped back out from behind the cloud, making Ducky's face clear to see and to read. Jethro smiled, moved nearer to Ducky and kissed him. As he did, he let his hand travel down the front of Ducky's body, until his fingers began to lightly brush Ducky's arousal.
As Ducky made a noise in his throat, Jethro took his lips from Ducky's and said softly, "You sure you want to go home, Duck? Sure you can wait?" He feathered his fingertips again; he knew just how much Ducky liked being touched this way.
The area was quiet, the track to the trees so rough that people didn't venture there, that is if they even knew about it. There was only one way in and out, the way they had come. If anyone did decide to risk their suspension, there would be plenty of warning. They were as safe as they could be.
Ducky made another gentle noise and shifted slightly under Jethro's touch. Jethro kissed his ear. "You know, Duck, I've always wanted to make love to you by moonlight."
"We can leave the curtains open, dearest," but Ducky's objection sounded false to Jethro's ears. And yet, with the way Ducky had been recently, Jethro wanted to be sure. He listened to the words rather than the voice.
Stilling his hand, but not moving it from Ducky's growing arousal, he moved back slightly and looked carefully at Ducky. Again the moon obliged, lighting up Ducky's face, showing Jethro how the pale blue had turned to sapphire, and how enlarged Ducky's pupils were. Ducky wanted this; Ducky needed this. And had it been six months ago, Jethro would have returned to making love to Ducky, kissing and touching away any objections. But it wasn't six months ago.
"You want this, Duck?" He made it a question.
Ducky nodded. "Yes, dearest, but -"
"Then give me one reason why not." Jethro stilled his breath and didn't blink. Every part of him willed Ducky not to say 'I'm too old to make love in a car'.
For a long moment Ducky was silent. Then he looked at Jethro, the love and devotion as clear to read as anything Ducky might vocalize. "I . . . "
Jethro forced himself not to outwardly react. Silently he willed, Please, Duck, don’t.
"I cannot think of any reason, my dearest." Ducky spoke simply, and tilted his head slightly as he silently sought another kiss. Jethro obliged, simultaneously returning to lightly and slowly stroking his lover.
Under his knowing touch, Ducky moved again, not pulling away, not pushing up, just shifting in clear pleasure. For almost thirty years they'd made love to one another, and Jethro knew Ducky's body as well as he knew his own, better he thought sometimes, just as Ducky knew his. Ducky was close, very close to completion, but Jethro knew how to keep him on the edge just long enough to increase Ducky's pleasure; he knew exactly what Ducky liked.
His own arousal was pressing against his thigh, but it no longer mattered to him. Nothing mattered but making Ducky happy, and he knew he was doing that. His lips caressed Ducky's face and lips and his other hand stroked Ducky's head; Ducky was settled in his seat, accepting everything Jethro gave him, letting his lover pleasure him. Apart from returning Jethro's kiss, the only contact he made was the light but determined grip he still had on Jethro's knee.
Judging the exact state of Ducky's arousal, Jethro moved his fingers slightly and reached for the zip to Ducky's trousers. A firm hand stopped him, and Ducky softly whispered, "Please, Jethro."
Ceasing to tug the zip down, Jethro returned to caressing his now extremely aroused lover through the material of Ducky's trousers and shorts. Again Ducky made a noise in his throat, this time one of near desperation; Jethro soothed him, he was certain that Ducky's mind had inconveniently taken over.
Still stroking Ducky in the way he knew would bring him to climax within moments, he kissed his nose once more, before moving his lips to Ducky's ear. "Don’t fight it, my love," he breathed. "It's all right. I'm here, Duck. Relax. That's it." He repeated the words, his voice becoming nothing more than a low hum, until the moment was right.
Raising his voice from a murmur to a soft whisper, he breathed. "Come for me, Duck. Come for me now."
Apart from a soft sigh of Jethro's name, Ducky's climax was silent, gentle and long-lasting. As always, Jethro felt it spread throughout Ducky's entire body. He tasted it in his kiss, experienced it in his own arousal, even though he avoided his own completion, and sensed it through the shuddering body next to his own.
Although he no longer stroked Ducky, he kept his hand on Ducky, just as Ducky liked, cupping him softly, holding him with just the right amount of pressure. Even through two layers of cloth, Jethro could feel the dampness spread to his hand, but still he didn't move.
The moonlight flooded through the window, brighter now than before, lighting up Ducky's face, showing the smiles rather than the sadness, making the dark blond hair look lighter as it spread out around Ducky's head like a halo.
And Jethro just watched, watched and waited, until Ducky's eyes, which were still more ebony than blue, opened and smiled at him. Ducky blinked and smiled even more, again inviting the kiss, which Jethro willingly delivered.
After a few moments of chaste, unarousing, and loving kisses, Jethro, whose back was beginning to scream its objection to the position he'd been in for longer than it thought good for him, moved his lips to Ducky's ear. "And now, my love, I'm going to take you home and . . . " he lowered his voice even more, and told Ducky just what he was going to do to him. Under his touch, his lips, Ducky murmured his pleasure.
With one more kiss, Jethro moved slowly back to his own side of the car, gently taking his hand away from Ducky, hovering for a second should Ducky indicate he wasn't ready for Jethro to move. No such indication came, but Ducky's eyes had already told him that. He dug into his pocket, pulled out his handkerchief and quickly wiped his hand, before pushing the white linen into his jacket pocket.
"Thank you, my dearest," Ducky said softly and solemnly, and Jethro knew he was thanking him for far more than what had just happened. Still smiling, Ducky readjusted the position of the hand that still rested on Jethro's knee; Jethro had no doubt it would remain there until they got home.
"I love you, Duck," he said in answer.
"I love you too, Jethro my dearest," Ducky said quietly. And as Jethro watched, Ducky's heavy eyelashes fluttered closed. That was fine, he would let Ducky doze until they got home and then he would . . .
He pulled away from the trees and drove slowly up the ragged track, guided as much by the moonlight as by his headlights. His Ducky was back with him, of that he was sure. And it hadn’t taken expensive rings, long holidays, or anything that most people would consider ‘special’.
All it had taken was for Jethro to dress up in a suit, a concert by enthusiastic amateurs, and a little slightly out of the ordinary lovemaking - the combination was clearly a heady combination for his lover.
"Yeah, Duck," he said softly, as he pulled onto the main road, "it is the little things that matter."