Set a year after A Small Gesture.
Gibbs realizes something and has an idea.
An established relationship story.
Written: September 2009. Word count: 1,000.
Returning from the nearby farm with eggs, milk and freshly baked bread, Gibbs suddenly realized it was the evening before the day that would make his and Fornell's second anniversary. It was also the eve of the day that would mark two years since he buried Ducky. He sighed; sometimes he wished the two events weren't linked, and yet part of him was glad they were, part of him felt it was only right that they were.
As he walked along the quiet lane, he also suddenly realized that this was the first time he'd actively thought of Ducky in two days. He stopped and frowned, not sure whether to feel guilty or not. "Know you wouldn't want me to, Duck," he said quietly. "But you've got to know I still miss you." And he did and he knew part of him always would. Nonetheless, the pain of his loss lessened all the time and that, he knew, was mainly down to Fornell.
At the thought of his lover and their upcoming second anniversary, he smiled and deliberately pushed the sad thoughts away and once again began to walk towards their home. A year ago he'd realized he was content, happy even. Tonight, as the sun began to sink below the horizon he realized something he hadn't consciously been aware of: he loved Fornell. Not in the way he'd loved Ducky, but he loved him. In fact he was glad the love was different, because the two men were different; loving Fornell in the way he'd loved Ducky would be like cheating both of them.
As the sun slipped further down beyond the horizon and the last sounds of birdsong faded away, Gibbs found himself completely at peace. At first when they'd decided to make their visit to this quiet area of France a permanent move, he hadn't been certain they were doing the right thing. Used to the bustle of the city and street-lights and people, he wasn't sure either of them would adjust to the quietness - not that nature was quiet - and the much slower pace of life.
Now he couldn't imagine going back to the city, going back to being suffocated by people, going back to eating cold pizza and Chinese for cartons. Now most of their food was homegrown, even if not by them, and came from the nearby farms, and he'd turned into a half decent cook. "God, you've become domesticated, Jethro Gibbs," he said aloud.
"And the problem with that is?" The quiet, almost lazy voice came out of the semi-darkness.
"Hell, Tobias! I nearly dropped the eggs." He glared down at his lover. And then asked, "Something the matter?"
Fornell shook his head. "No. Just that you'd . . ." The rest of Fornell's words were said so quietly, Gibbs wasn't sure he'd heard them correctly. He thought Fornell has said something about him being gone a long time, but he couldn't be sure.
Nonetheless, he teased his lover a little. "You going soft on me, Tobias?" He regretted the words the moment he'd said them. And before Fornell could reply, he put his arm around Fornell's shoulders, using his extra height and strength and pulled Fornell nearer to him. "Sorry," he said softly.
For a second or two, Fornell held himself stiffly, then he sighed and leaned against Gibbs. It wasn't just the twilight or the empty lane that made Gibbs feel at home with embracing Fornell in the open; the locals all knew that they were more than friends and given the number of invitations the two men received and the gifts of vegetables and homemade cakes they were given, no one cared.
"Guess it was foolish," Fornell finally said, as with Gibbs's arm still around his shoulders and Fornell's around Gibbs's back, they began to walk back to their home.
Gibbs shook his head, "Nah," he said, meaning it. "Not at all. If you tell anyone I'll shoot you, but I rather like it."
Fornell gave a half-bitten off noise that could have been laugher or an exclamation of surprise. "So what kept you?" he asked.
"Can see why you had to stop to do that," Fornell quipped.
Gibbs squeezed Fornell's shoulder rather than comment. "Thinking about tomorrow," he said quietly. "But not," he added as he felt the faintest hint of tension appear in the shoulders his arm rested on. "In the way you might think."
"I don't mind, Jethro." Fornell stopped walking and turned towards Gibbs. "It's only natural. You loved Ducky for a hell of a long time. You don't just - What did you say?" Fornell stared up at Gibbs; Gibbs could only just make out his lover's face now in the rapidly closing in darkness.
"Said I'd got someone else to love now," he murmured and waited, almost wishing he hadn't chosen that time to tell Fornell. Not that he'd chosen the time exactly; it had just seemed to come out when Fornell had said what he'd said.
"Oh," was all Fornell seemed able to manage for a moment. "I . . . Jethro, I . . . I don't -"
Jethro shook his head, now angry with himself. "It's all right, Tobias. I don't expect you to -"
"It's not that," Fornell said, abruptly cutting Gibbs off and now taking Gibbs's hand. "I do. Have done for some time. I just never thought, never dared to hope that you'd . . ."
Gibbs linked his fingers with Fornell, as he balanced the eggs, bread and milk in his other arm. "Yeah, well, guess it surprised me too. Never thought I'd get this lucky three times in my life." He heard Fornell's bitten off gasp of quiet surprise, but this time ignored it. "Anyway, as I said I was thinking. Two years, we should do something."
"You got something in mind?"
Gibbs nodded, suddenly realizing he had. "Yeah," he said. "A trip. Not," he hastened to add, "like before. Let's go and see a bit of the world. Together. You and me. Just us," he added softly.
LINKS TO ALL THE STORIES IN THIS SERIES:
Don't Want To Be Alone
A Trip Down Memory Lane
At The End Of The Tunnel
A Small Gesture
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