LOVE IN A STRANGE PLACE
Gibbs never expected to find true love again.
A first time story.
Written: March 2012. Word count: 1,135.
Whenever Gibbs thinks about true love, he thinks about two people: Shannon and Ducky, one romantic love; the other loving friendship. If he's being honest with himself, he realizes that fact that he's known true love twice in his life makes him very lucky.
What doesn't make him lucky is both of the people he's truly loved are now dead. The first has been dead for twenty-three years; the second for three. And still not a day goes by when he doesn't think about and miss them both.
Shannon and Ducky had been tied together in another way too. He'd joined NCIS after Shannon's death; he'd resigned from NCIS after Ducky's death. Well, he only had another six months to go before he had to retire and he didn't want to face going to work every day and not seeing Ducky. So he'd pulled in his back-dated leave and had taken early retirement.
Although, he had to admit, it hadn't just been Ducky's death that had made him retire early, that had been the main reason, but there had been a secondary one. When Vance had refused to give Ducky's job to Palmer, Gibbs had been so disgusted with the agency and the changes that had come in, he'd decided it wasn’t a place he wanted to be any longer. If they could treat a loyal employee of ten years standing as they did, it was high time he got out. So he did.
For the last three years he's been keeping busy; he's redecorated the house, inside and out, spent time with his dad or Fornell, made countless toys and furniture and has finally started on another boat.
It was starting another boat that started other things too.
"Damn it," he cursed, dropping the chisel onto the floor, pulling out his handkerchief and trying to staunch the blood flow. However, in seconds the handkerchief was soaked with blood. Gibbs had never liked hospitals, but he wasn't a fool. When a second handkerchief was blood sodden in seconds too, he knew like them or not, he had to get his hand properly seen to.
By the time he arrived at the hospital the blood was dripping down his hand and his clothing was strained. The emergency room nurse took one look at him and prioritized him, promising the doctor would be with him within a few minutes.
The curtain around the cubical was pulled open and the doctor came in, reading what Gibbs assumed was his chart. "Right, I see you've - Special Agent Gibbs?"
Gibbs stared. "Palmer?"
For a moment or two they both stared in silence at one another, before the faint splash of blood hitting the floor caught Palmer's attention. He hurried over to Gibbs, took his hand, unwrapped the dressings and examined the deep wound. "It'll need stitches," he declared.
Gibbs couldn't resist it. "You think, Palmer?" he drawled. He regretted it a second later when Palmer flushed and began to stammer. "And it's not Special Agent Gibbs any longer, Palmer," Gibbs said, cutting into Palmer's stammering. "It's just Gibbs or," he paused, "Jethro. I retired, three years ago. I didn't expect to see you here."
Palmer shrugged as he started to work on Gibbs's hand. Gibbs wasn't certain if it was normally something a doctor did, but decided not to ask. "I decided I needed a change," he said, after a short silence.
Gibbs just nodded. He could understand that. Palmer had been devastated, even though he'd tried to hide it, when Vance had told him the agency would be bringing in a more experienced Medical Examiner to replace Ducky after his death.
They exchanged a few comments as Palmer worked, mostly about what had happened to the rest of the team and the weather. It was only when Palmer started to tell one of Ducky's stories, stopping quickly, blushing and offering a stammering apology, that Gibbs realized he didn't just want to thank Palmer, walk out and go back home.
He waved the apology away. "Ducky'd like to have known you cared enough to listen to his stories," he said. Palmer flashed him a smile and tied of the final stitch. "Look, Palmer, Jimmy," he corrected. "I don't know what time you finish here, but I wondered if you'd like to grab a beer or a coffee or something?"
Palmer beamed. "I'd like that, Sp- Jethro. In fact, I was due to finish an hour ago. You're my last patient. So if you don't mind waiting while I grab a quick shower and change, then we could even get dinner, maybe?"
Gibbs smiled. "Yeah, Jimmy. Dinner sounds good. Although, I'd better go home first and change." He looked down at his blood spattered clothing.
And that was how it began.
A, what was in Gibbs's mind, one-off dinner with an ex-coworker, turned into meeting up once every two weeks and then once a week plus a couple of phone calls in-between. Then once a week turned into twice and into three time and then Gibbs invited Jimmy to his home and his bed.
Sixth months later he was making room in the closets and kitchen and rearranging tables in preparation of Jimmy moving in with him.
He still wasn't entirely certain how it had happened. He still woke up every morning and almost had to stop himself from pinching himself to make sure it was real. He still worried that he was too old for Jimmy - despite Jimmy telling him and proving to him he wasn't! And Jimmy certainly knew how to prove it. He still occasionally thought he was being unfair to Jimmy, but Jimmy was happy, that was clear for all to see and he'd dragged Gibbs along to a couple of hospital parties and introduced him as his partner as the love shone out of his eyes.
He was still bemused to realize he'd found his third true love in a hospital emergency room of all places. But then he'd found his first at a railway station; his second in an alleyway when he'd gone to Ducky's aid, so was a hospital emergency room really all that strange?
He was also still stunned by his dad's reaction to the news. Jackson Gibbs hadn't said anything when, during his annual Christmas visit, Gibbs had introduced Jimmy to him as 'my partner'. But he had taken Jimmy into the kitchen and given him Gibbs's mom's secret recipe for stuffing. Fighting the tears he didn't want to shed in front of the two other men, Gibbs had muttered about 'getting something from the store' and hurried out before his dad and his partner could remind him the store wasn't open.
Yeah, what had he, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, done to deserve true love three times in his life time?
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