AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship
SUMMARY: Set the same evening as A Weak Link. Jethro considers what might have been.
PROMPT: philosophy_20 Parallel
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
“Oh, hey, Duck. Sorry, I couldn’t sleep. Didn’t mean to wake you.”
“You didn’t, my dear.” Ducky slipped his arm around Jethro, who welcomed the embrace; he completed the circle by putting his own arms around his lover and pulling him against him.
They stood in silence for a moment.
Then Ducky said softly, “He wasn’t you.”
“I know. But maybe, he could have been. There were parallels between us.”
“If he’d had someone like you. Someone to love him enough.”
“And you don’t think he did?”
Jethro shrugged. “I don’t know, Duck. I just know . . .”
Ducky moved away and tilted his head back. “My dear?”
Jethro shook his head. “Doesn’t matter, Duck. Tell you one day.”
Pale blue eyes, unhidden by the glasses that usually partly, at least, shielded them from sharing Ducky’s every emotion, studied him unblinkingly.
For a moment Jethro felt like the bastard he always said he was. Ducky wouldn’t press, wouldn’t ask for an explanation; wouldn’t make any demands. He never did. Sometimes, just sometimes, Jethro wished he would. Maybe if he had, then . . .
He moved one hand, cupped Ducky’s face, and looked down into the loving gaze. “I love you, Duck,” he said, his tone urgent, forceful almost. He gripped Ducky’s face.
For a moment the pale gaze widened and surprise overlaid the affection. Then it had gone, and once more Ducky’s eyes became soft with caring. He touched Jethro’s hand, then moved his own hand to stroke Jethro’s face. “I know you do, my dearest Jethro. I’ve always known.”
“Have you?” Suddenly it was vital to Jethro that he knew.
Again puzzlement flickered into Ducky’s eyes, and a faint frown creased his forehead. “Of course I have, my dear. And I love you too.”
Jethro now brought his other hand up and cupped the other side of Ducky’s face. “I know,” he said, his tone earnest. “I know, Duck. I’ve always known. I knew even before you told me. And I know something else.” He stopped speaking, knowing that if he did go on, that was it. There was no looking back. There couldn’t be.
“Jethro?” Ducky’s frown deepened, and now he touched Jethro’s forehead. “Are you all right, my dear?”
“Yeah, Duck. Yeah, I am. Rick Johnson took his life because he couldn’t face who he was. And that’s partly our fault.”
“Ours?” The frown deepened, and Ducky blinked.
“But he made a choice. A conscious decision. And it’s time I did too.”
“Jethro, I really -“
“Shut up, Duck.” Jethro brushed his hand over Ducky’s head to soften the sharp order. Ducky leaned into the caress. “I’ve had enough, Duck.”
“Jethro?” Now Ducky sounded wary.
Jethro hastened to reassure him. “Of playing games. Of pretending I’m someone else.”
“Jethro, I really -“
“No. I love you, Ducky. I love you. More than I’ve ever loved anyone. More than I’ll ever love anyone. And it’s time I stopped trying to lie to myself.”
“Jethro, I really -“
This time, rather than snap at Ducky or talk over him, Jethro kissed his lover. For a moment he felt Ducky try to fight the kiss and the embrace. But Jethro knew his Ducky, he knew his lover so well, he knew exactly how to kiss Ducky in order to keep him silent and still - it was something he’d perfected over the years.
Finally the kiss ended, and Ducky looked exactly how Jethro expected him to. “Enough’s enough, Duck. No more games. No more pretence. No more women. I love you, Duck. And I don’t care who knows.”
“Jethro, surely -“
“It’s not as simple as that? I know. I know it isn’t. At least not for the outside world. But for us, it is. For us it is. Johnson made his choice. I’m making mine. You.”
“I am loved enough, Duck. And I love enough. Now come on, let’s go back to bed and I’ll show you. I’m better with actions than words.”
“Jethro . . .” Ducky trailed off. He looked up at Jethro, and for the first time his eyes showed something more than love, they showed relief and pure contentment. He seemed to be searching for something to say. Then he smiled; it lit up his face and took another five years off him. “I love you, Jethro.” It was simplicity itself.
Jethro took his lover back to bed, and proceeded to show him how much he knew he was loved, and how much he loved.
It was enough.
Finally, it was enough.