TITLE: Well Schooled
AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship
SUMMARY: Ducky wishes to take Gibbs to a school reunion, but Gibbs is somewhat reluctant.
PROMPT: fanfic100. School
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
"Jethro, why not?"
"It's not my kind of thing, Duck. You know that.
"You can't say that. You don't know what 'kind of thing' it's going to be."
"Duck. It's at Eton. That says it all."
"I see." Ducky's voice was low. But Jethro knew his lover was hurting. Worse, he knew that he'd hurt him.
"Ah, Duck." He moved to take Ducky into his arms.
Ducky let him, but for once didn't return the embrace. "Actually, Jethro," he said, after a moment or two, "I don't 'see'. Why do you not explain it to me?"
Probably because I can't explain it to myself. "Come and sit down. It's been a long day." Jethro slipped his arm around Ducky's shoulders, and began to move towards their sofa. "Please, Duck," he said, when Ducky didn't move.
Ducky sighed. He then, to Jethro's relief, put his own arm around Jethro's back and together they moved.
Jethro waited until Ducky had settled, before grabbing a bottle of Tamdhu and two glasses. He poured two generous measures and handed one over to his lover. Then he joined Ducky on the sofa, sitting down next to him, well within his personal space, but with just enough distance to be able to turn and look at him. "Duck," he said, and came to a halt.
Ducky's pale blue eyes just appraised him.
He sighed, sipped his drink and tried again. "Duck, it's Eton. It's . . . Oh, I don't know. It's . . . Come on, Duck. I may have gone to public school too, but it means the opposite to what it means in Britain. And Eton. Well, it's . . ."
"Jethro, why do you keep repeating the name? It is only a school, my dear. There is nothing magical about it."
"It's hardly 'only a school', Duck. Even I know that you have to be damned intelligent, and rich, to get in there. Royalty has gone there, heck for all I know you rubbed shoulders with one of them. Your schooling was so far removed from mine, that apart from us both going to school, there's nothing much else in common."
Ducky simply sat and looked at him.
"Well, aren't you going to say something?"
"I am still waiting for you to explain the problem, my dear."
"Ducky! I've told you."
"No, Jethro, you haven't. Unless you are trying to tell me that the child of, what my generation and upbringing would call, 'working class parents', does not believe that people who come from other classes are good enough to mix with."
"What? Duck, I'm saying the exact opposite. How could you think that?"
"I don’t, dear. I merely wished to force you to say what you meant. I'm sorry," Ducky touched Jethro's leg. "Please forgive me?"
For a fleeting second Jethro was furious with his lover, outraged that he'd do such a thing to him. No, you're not, you're angry with yourself for being a coward. And he was. "Nothing to forgive, Duck," he said, his voice gruff, but sincere. He covered Ducky's hand with his own, interlacing their fingers. "It's me, Duck. Not you. Not your school. It's me. I'm not good enough. I'd let you down."
Ducky sighed and shook his head. "Oh, Jethro, Jethro," he said. "What am I going to do with you? Leroy Jethro Gibbs, in case you have conveniently forgotten, you were a Marine. A fine Marine. You could have become an officer, had you chosen to do so."
Ducky ignored him. "You mixed with a variety of people, from all backgrounds, education, training, class, during your time in the service. And you've done so since. You may not particularly enjoy playing politics, but if you have to do so, you can do it. You are perfectly capable of talking to anyone, and holding a good conversation, if you put your mind to it. You know you are."
"I just don't want to let you down, Duck."
Ducky rolled his eyes and then glared at Jethro. Finally he said softly, "You could never do that, dearest." He then moved nearer to Jethro and kissed him; the touch was brief, loving and reassuring. "So," he said, settling back against Jethro's arm, "is that settled then? You are going to accompany me?"
"Sure turning up with your gay lover in tow is appropriate for Eton, Duck"?
Ducky just looked at him. "Jethro, it is, as you keep reminding me, Eton. Besides, if they expect me to give a lecture for the 'honor of the school', they will have to accept that I intend to bring someone with me. And if that someone happens to be another man and they do not like it, then that, my dear, is their problem." Ducky spoke firmly and decisively.
Jethro knew he was beaten. He was going to England; he was going to Eton. All that remained now was to find out if his grey or black suit would suffice, or whether he had to dig out his dinner jacket. Then he had an idea. "Hey, Duck," he put his arm around Ducky's shoulders. "I've had an idea."
"Is it's a way of avoiding accompanying me, then you can forget about it."
Jethro shook his head. "No, it's not that, Duck. Promise. I was wondering if you wanted to make it a proper holiday?"
Ducky moved slightly out of the embrace and looked at Jethro, eyes wide. "My dear?"
"Well, we always promised that when your mom . . ."
"Died," Ducky said softly, but firmly.
Jethro reached across and took Ducky's hand. "Yeah. Well, that we'd finally take a proper holiday together. And you always promised that you'd show me Britain, where you grew up, went to school, university. Hell, you even promised, or it might have been threatened, to take me to a cricket match. What about it?"
"Why not? We're going over there anyway, so why not make it worthwhile? The kids can cope. We'll ask Dr. Bretton to come in and cover for you; Palmer gets on with him."
"Do you think Jennifer will agree to it?" Ducky sounded doubtful, but his eyes were sparkling. He suddenly looked ten years younger than he usually looked, and he never did look his actual age.
"If she doesn't, she knows what she can do."
"Jethro!" Ducky's voice told Jethro his lover was trying to be stern, but he failed.
"I just meant that she could shake our hands and wish us a happy retirement," Jethro said and grinned. "Is that a yes, then?"
Ducky smiled. "Oh, yes, dearest," he said softly, and moved close enough for Jethro to kiss him.