A sequel to Realization.
Five weeks have gone by since Gibbs realized that he was in love with Ducky. However, he still hasn't managed to find a way to tell his old friend how he feels. Finally, tired of putting things off any longer he tries what he considers to be a radical approach.
A first time story.
Written: May 2006. Word count: 4,821.
Five weeks had gone by and Jethro was no longer 'at peace'.
He still hadn't spoken to Ducky.
Of course he'd spoken to Ducky. He just hadn't spoken to Ducky.
He didn't really know how to. For the first time in his life, he was out of his depth.
It wasn't the thought of a sexual relationship with Ducky. That would be the easy part.
Sex always had been easy. Besides it wasn't as though Ducky had anything that Jethro hadn't seen before.
He'd also touched Ducky once before, when his friend had been very ill and had needed someone's help. The someone had been Jethro, and it had all seemed so very natural. And if he could touch Ducky to help him relieve himself, he sure as hell could touch him to pleasure him.
So it wasn't sex that was stopping him from speaking. It was how he got to the sex bit. And to be honest what kind of sex, once they got to that bit, the sex would be.
He'd known Ducky for more than half his life, and had also known for all that time that his dearest friend was gay. Yet despite not having any problems with gay men or women, Jethro didn't really know anything about the gay culture.
How did they start relationships? Did they kiss? Did they do things that heterosexual couples did? Or was it all about sex?
He and Ducky had never actually talked about Ducky's love or sex life, well why would they? So Jethro didn't know what to expect. If he knew Ducky as well as he believed he knew him, then he'd be stunned if for Ducky it was only about sex, but he couldn't be sure.
And the one thing that annoyed Jethro Gibbs more than anything, more than even DiNozzo, was not being sure.
And it wasn't as if he could walk into a bookstore and buy a gay book. Well he could, but he suspected they would be all about sex. Not about dating. Did gay men even date?
If Ducky had been a woman, it would be simple. Jethro would have taken him out to dinner, flattered him, and basically seduced him. But firstly, Ducky wasn't a woman, and Jethro didn't want him to be. And secondly, Ducky knew Jethro so well anyway, that he'd already know everything Jethro might have to say. And the kind of flattery that all men have been known to use with a woman, the white lies, so to speak, would hardly work with Ducky. Ducky knew Jethro too well for them to do so.
On the other hand, he couldn't envisage walking up to Ducky and saying 'Hey, Duck, I want to go to bed with you'. Or worse still 'Hey, Duck, I want to fuck you'. Because he wasn't even sure he did want to have that kind of sex with Ducky. Or rather he wasn't certain that Ducky went in for that kind of sex. And if Ducky did have that kind of sex, then Jethro couldn't see his friend referring to it in good old Anglo-Saxon terms.
It was a minefield. What should be so straightforward and pleasant, was potentially more dangerous than one of his most deadly cases. But why should that be? Simple: because if he screwed this up, and his track-record with relationships or potential relationships wouldn't be one that anyone would place a bet on, then he wasn't just messing up the prospect of a night of sex, he was messing up the best and dearest friendship he had ever had.
Maybe he should just forget the whole thing. Maybe he should tell himself that he didn't feel what he felt. Maybe it would be better. Safer. Kinder.
And it probably was, at least on the 'safer' front. But he couldn't forget it. He did feel what he felt. He did love Ducky in that way, was in love with him. And that feeling was not going to suddenly magically vanish overnight. It'd been there for five weeks now, and all it had done was to get stronger.
He knew his frustration at not knowing what to do was showing, at least to Ducky, because he'd caught his friend looking at him with a puzzled, even concerned, look on his face. And knowing Ducky as he did, he wouldn't wait that much longer before he asked Jethro what was wrong, and then what?
Jethro couldn't lie to Ducky. He never had done. He wasn't about to start now.
But how did he tell him the truth?
He had to do something.
If for no other reason than he was becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of a warm body in his arms and bed. Or rather the lack of a specific warm body. His own right hand was no substitute for someone else's hand. Not even when fantasizing, as he'd taken to doing, that the 'someone else' was Ducky, and that he was actually there with Jethro, touching him. And - Jethro pushed that thought from his mind.
To hell with it.
The norm or not, he was going to take Ducky out to dinner.
Several phone calls later, a pleased and somewhat apprehensive Jethro tossed the last of his eighth, or it might have been ninth, cup of coffee down his throat, strode out of the office and headed for Autopsy.
"Ah, Jethro my dear, you are just in time."
The stunned look on Palmer's face amused Jethro, as it always did when Ducky addressed him without turning round to see who had actually entered Autopsy.
"For what, Duck?" He crossed over to Ducky and leaned over his shoulder to peer at the body along with Ducky and Palmer. As always he invaded Ducky's personal space; as always Ducky said nothing.
Jethro stood and listened to Ducky prattle on for several minutes. He'd grown attuned to Ducky over the years, so in effect could switch off from hearing the actual words, until Ducky said something important, at which point Jethro's attention would focus on the words. Besides, if he ever did miss anything, he knew enough ways of getting Ducky to tell him again without actually having to ask his friend. Except he strongly suspected that Ducky always knew, on the rare occasions when hiss 'Ducky's about to tell me something important' button failed to click in.
Suddenly he was aware that Ducky had stopped speaking. Damn. He'd turned slightly and was now standing with his head tipped back, looking up at Jethro, his eyes soft and full of the love they always showed, a faint smile was on his lips.
Palmer was also watching him. The look in his eyes was expectant, but then Palmer often seemed to wear an expectant look, when he wasn't blushing or looking surprised or even afraid, around him.
"Thanks, Duck," he said. The pale blue eyes twinkled.
"That's quite all right, Jethro. Now, Mr. Palmer, perhaps you would be kind enough to fetch me my tea. It must be about that time."
"Yes, Dr. Mallard." Palmer turned and headed for the door. Then he stopped, turned around and looked at Jethro and then back at Ducky. "Er, do you think, Doctor, that . . ."
Ducky smiled. "It's all right, Jimmy. Jethro's rules about not eating or drinking in Autopsy don't apply to me, do they, Agent Gibbs?" He looked back up at Jethro, again his eyes shone with affection and humor.
Jethro tried to hide a smile. "I seem to remember that you once told me that it was your Autopsy, Dr. Mallard."
"Mmm, so I did."
"Quite forcefully, if I recall." Out of the corner of his eye, Jethro could see Palmer glancing from one to the other of them.
Ducky beamed. "Run along then, Mr. Palmer."
Palmer paused for another second, then turned to obey his boss.
As the door was about to close, Ducky called, "Jimmy?"
"You may also take you tea break now."
"Before I bring you your tea, Doctor?"
"Yes, Jimmy. That will be fine. But do not make my tea until you've finished your own. Earl Grey does not need to stand and stew for twenty minutes. And don't forget to warm the pot this time."
"Yes, Doctor. Of course not, Doctor. No, Doctor." Palmer stumbled over the words, then stumbling over his own feet, once again left the room.
Jethro watched him go, before turning his attention back to Ducky. "Isn't he allowed to have his tea with you, Duck?"
"Jethro! I'm surprised at you." Jethro widened his eyes. "The idea of Mr. Palmer and a cup of tea or coffee in the vicinity of a body . . . Oh, dear me. The thought makes me shudder." But Ducky's eyes, as always, betrayed him. And Jethro read easily that Ducky was, to the most extent at least, teasing. He knew exactly how fond Ducky was of Palmer, how much he respected him, and how pleased he was that the young man had come to work with him.
"I assume that you agree, Jethro, that the big toe was a remarkably curious place in which to find a bullet hole, was it not?"
Jethro blinked and shook his head, before glancing down at the feet of the victim. Or rather at the place where the feet, had there been any, would have been. He looked back at Ducky who was now making no attempt to hide his smile and chuckle.
"I'm sorry, my dear," he said, touching Jethro's arm. Then the mirth fled and the grip became tighter. "Jethro, nothing is the matter, is it? It is unlike you to -"
"No, Duck. I just had something else on my mind." Touching Ducky's arm, Jethro hastened to reassure his friend.
Ducky sighed. "What is her name, this time?"
"What makes you think it's a woman?"
"Well, if you are not concerned about something work related, and from what you have said, you aren't, then for you to be this distracted, it usually involves the fairer sex."
Jethro nearly laughed. If you only knew, Duck. If you only knew. "It's not a woman, Duck. Scouts' Honor. And don't give me that look. It isn't."
"Then what exactly is on your mind, my dear?"
How to tell you I'm in love with you, and how to get you in my bed. "Actually, I was thinking, Duck. We haven't been out properly for ages, just you and me. So I wondered if you wanted to have dinner with me tonight. At a restaurant."
Ducky blinked and looked faintly surprised. The look however was fleeting, and the surprise fled to be replaced with pleasure. "That would be lovely, Jethro. But I shall need to see if Mrs. -"
"Already done. She'll be happy to stay with your mother." Seeing the pale blue eyes widen, he hurried on. "I thought I'd better check with her before I booked a table. It seemed silly otherwise. So I - Sorry, Duck, do you mind? I know I should have asked your first, but . . ."
Ducky smiled and touched Jethro's arm. "No, my dear. I do not mind. In fact I am rather flattered. Jethro, is there -"
Jethro's cell phone began to burble. "Hang on, Duck. Gibbs . . . Yeah, be up in five." He closed the phone. "I'll pick you up about seven, Duck. " He turned and moved towards the door.
Ducky called after him. "But, Jethro, you live in the opposite direction. Why don't I just meet you at the restaurant?"
"Seems silly to take two cars. I'll pick you up. I want to." And before Ducky could say anything else, Jethro waved his hand and left. He could tell Ducky later, if everything went well, that not only had he asked Mrs. Patterson to 'Mrs. Mallard sit' for the evening, but she had also agreed to spend the night at the Mallard house.
"Jethro dear. Come in. How are you?"
"Good evening, Mrs. Mallard. I'm very well, thank you, ma'am. How are you?" Jethro went into Ducky's house and let his head be pulled down so that Mrs. Mallard could kiss his cheek. As always the scent of Chanel No. 5 wrapped itself around him.
"I'm very well, dear. Now why don't you come and pour Helen and me a drink before you take Donald away. He'll be down in a moment."
Jethro smiled and let himself be led into the sitting room; he managed to avoid tripping over the bouncing, yapping Corgis. Ducky's mother wasn't often lucid these days, but when she was she was still a force to be reckoned with.
"Here we are. Look, Helen, it's dear Jethro. He's going to make us a drink. The usual, dear?"
"Good evening, Mrs. Patterson," Jethro nodded at the other, somewhat younger woman. "Thanks for agreeing to come over."
"That's quite all right, Jethro. As I told you, my grandson is having one of his parties. I'm quite happy to have a genuine reason to escape."
"Drinks, Jethro!" Had he not already known that Ducky had grown up with servants, Vanessa Mallard's tone would have left Jethro in no doubt about the fact.
"Mother, Jethro is not a servant." Ducky came into the room, his limp seemed somewhat more pronounced, but then it often did later in the day.
"Hey, Duck. Don't worry. I don't mind." Jethro smiled at Ducky, stopped himself from letting his eyes linger on his friend, and moved to the drinks' cabinet.
"Good evening, Jethro. It is good of you to say so, but Mother really does need to realize that -"
"I am in the room, Donald. If you wish to talk about me, kindly do not do so in my hearing. I do not know what has got into the youth of today, Helen. Donald used to be such a lovely child, quiet, well mannered, deferential. I blame his father."
Ducky looked at Jethro, closed his eyes for a moment, shook his head and sighed.
Jethro paused from mixing large gin and tonics and touched Ducky's arm. He let the touch linger for a second or two, then turned back to the drinks before Mrs. Mallard again had a chance to order him to do so.
"Here we are, ladies," he said, taking the drinks across to them.
"Thank you, Jethro." Helen Patterson smiled. "Now don't worry about us, you two have a lovely evening. We'll be fine, won't we, Vanessa?"
"Yes, do run along and play, boys. Now, Helen, I must tell you about that hussy my ex-husband has taken up with."
Jethro saw a look of sadness flash over Ducky's face, as his mother once again retreated into the past. Ducky's father had been dead for over a decade. Again he touched Ducky's arm. As used to his mother as he was, he knew that her illness was still painful to his friend. "Come on, Duck," he said softly, slipping his arm around Ducky's shoulders.
"Yes, go along, Donald. Don't worry; we'll be fine. And don't worry about hurrying home. I have arranged with Jethro that I'll stay here tonight. My grandson is holding another one of his parties." Mrs. Patterson said quietly, as Mrs. Mallard continued to talk.
"Thank you," Ducky said, sounding faintly surprised as he smiled at his mother's friend. "Goodnight, Mother," he called.
"What?" Mrs. Mallard looked up. "Oh, goodnight, Donald. Be a good boy." She frowned and stared at Jethro. "Who are you? And why have you got your arm around my son?"
Ducky opened his mouth, but Mrs. Patterson shook her head. In turn she turned to Mrs. Mallard. "That's Jethro Gibbs, dear. Donald's friend. You remember him. Such a nice boy."
"Is he? From a good family, I trust. Oh, very well. Now don't get into trouble, Donald. And don't you try to get him into trouble, young man." She glared at Jethro.
"No, ma'am," Jethro said, not knowing what else to say. Nodding to Mrs. Patterson, he led Ducky out of the room.
Once in the hallway, he took his arm from around Ducky's shoulders and moved to the hat stand to pick up Ducky's overcoat and hat. Before he did, however, he paused and turned around. "You still want to go out, Duck? If you'd rather stay here. I'll quite -"
"No, my dear. As harsh as it may sound I will be grateful to spend an evening away from Mother. And I couldn't wish to spend it in better company." Ducky's eyes were heavy with their usual affection as he looked at Jethro, but the look was also tinged with a hint of sadness.
Jethro picked up Ducky's hat and coat and brought them back to Ducky. Rather than let Ducky take them, he held the coat while Ducky put it on and then popped Ducky's hat on his head, letting his fingers linger for a second on the heavy, silky, soft, freshly washed hair.
Reluctantly he pulled his hand back, but as he did his fingertips caught Ducky's cheek. The touch of the warm skin made him tingle, and it was all he could do to stop himself from pulling Ducky into his arms and kissing him.
For a moment his mind skipped beyond dinner and moved to his house afterwards. He was -
The sound of Ducky softly clearing his throat brought him out of his reverie. He looked down into gentle eyes that contained a hint of puzzlement. "Are you all right, my dear?" Ducky asked quietly.
"Fine, Duck. Shall we go?" Jethro strode to the front door, pulled it open and let Ducky precede him.
"Well, this is very pleasant, my dear. Thank you," Ducky said, settling into his chair that Jethro held for him. He looked up at Jethro and smiled softly. Once more the blue eyes held a hint of mild curiosity.
The table was in a quiet, secluded corner, and a small vase of flowers stood on it. However, Jethro had noticed, as they made their way to their table, that all of the tables held such an arrangement.
He found himself watching Ducky, listening intently to him, asking him if he was comfortable, happy with menu, the temperature, the table. He barely noticed what was on the menu himself; instead he simply ordered the same as Ducky.
Ducky continued to look at him with faint surprise and bemusement, as well as with the usual affection and caring he always showed for Jethro.
The evening continued.
In many ways it was the same as every other evening the two old friends had spent together.
In other ways it was completely different.
The meal was excellent, the wine extremely palatable, or at least Ducky said it was. Jethro was somewhat distracted by the way the light shone on Ducky's hair, and how his pupils had dilated, and his plans for later, and quite how he moved from here to there. Quite what he said to Ducky, or did to him. He still wasn't certain just what Ducky did or liked when it came to the non-fraternal kind of love.
And suddenly, despite the fact that he had always known that Ducky loved him and was in love with him, he wasn't certain that it necessarily equated to Ducky wanting a relationship with him. Maybe it was all a ghastly mistake. Maybe he should just forget everything, stop behaving like an idiot and just enjoy an evening out with his old friend.
Yes, that's what he'd do.
"More wine, Duck?" he said, holding out the bottle.
Ducky didn't reply. He simply looked at him and said softly, "If I didn't know better, dearest, I would say that you were trying to seduce me."
Pure instinct and training were all that kept the bottle in Jethro's hand, at least for long enough for him to place it, with great care, back on the table. He was speechless. Words ran through his head. Formed in his brain. But he couldn't say any of them.
Ducky continued to talk, his tone low, conversational almost. "But I could have told you that there was no need."
Jethro felt as though he'd just been hit with something hard and heavy. "Oh." Was all he could manage, as he swallowed hard and drained his glass.
Then Ducky leaned forward, reached across the table and covered Jethro's hand with his own. "Yes, dear. Because all you had to do was to ask and I would have gone into your arms, into your bed willingly. There was no need for you to waste time and effort on something for which the result should have been obvious."
Jethro swallowed again and shifted slightly. The words 'arms', and in particular 'bed', had had a profound affect on part of his body - he was glad he was sitting down. He just stared into Ducky's eyes, they were now even softer and full of more love than they usually were. Plus now they contained something else, something that hitherto Ducky had, apart from fleeting glimpses, kept firmly hidden: desire.
"Oh." He managed again, cursing himself for suddenly turning into a gibbering idiot - albeit a silent one.
Ducky continued to sit there, watching him, holding his hand. And now Ducky was definitely holding it; in fact he wasn't just holding it, he was gently stroking it with one finger, the touch was warm and caring. He leaned forward even more and murmured, so softly that Jethro had to strain to hear him, "In fact, dearest, why do we not leave dessert and you can take me home to your bed?"
That word again. Jethro's discomfort increased. He swallowed again. He was torn between conflicting emotions. One was embarrassment, he was fifty-one for heaven's sake, not a teenager; he shouldn't be as aroused as he was by a simple comment. He also had to fight the urge to kiss Ducky; holding hands in a public place was one thing, kissing was quite something else. Again he dragged his mind away from the thought of kissing Ducky, because that just added to his arousal. And he was happy, happier than he could recall being, more, he was content. But he was also still somewhat concerned as to what happened next.
Suddenly he remembered that Ducky was waiting for an answer. "Er," he managed. "Do you think we could just sit here for a moment or two, Duck, and talk about DiNozzo or something?"
Ducky blinked and then a faint smile touched his lips. He looked sublimely pleased with himself. Again, Jethro had to drag his gaze away. Ducky patted his hand, then gently took his own away. "So, my dear, how many times did you slap poor Anthony today?"
"You did say that you wished to talk about Tony." Again Ducky smiled.
Finally Jethro relaxed and smiled himself. "Ah, Duck," he said softly. "Here," he filled Ducky's glass again. "Might as well finish it." In that one moment, the desperate urgency had gone, and peace had settled over him once more. It would be all right.
After what seemed to Jethro like several hours, they finally got back to his house.
He had been far more aware of Ducky during the drive that he normally was. More aware that Ducky was looking at him, more aware of the hidden - or not so hidden - nuances in this voice, more aware each time Ducky touched his arm or hand, more aware of his scent, his whole being. Several times he had to remind himself that he was fifty-one, not eighteen! And he still wasn't entirely certain what would happen once they got back to his house. And if he hated anything, really hated it, it was not knowing.
The first thing that happened was that Ducky locked the front door. And bolted it.
Jethro just stood and watched, hands in his overcoat pockets. The team tended to be of the opinion that he and Ducky were telepathic at times, when it came to one another that was, now Jethro wished that were true.
When Ducky had finished securing the house, he came and stood in front of Jethro, moving closer and closer, far closer than even they normally stood, invading Jethro's personal space and senses in a way he'd never before done.
Ducky was still wearing his hat and coat, and the former hid his eyes from Jethro. Just as he'd done the time they'd shocked the team by resorting to 'Agent Gibbs' and 'Dr. Mallard', Jethro bent the brim back. But unlike that time when, despite his words and the fact he must have appeared angry to the team, his overwhelming emotion had been concern for Ducky, now all he could think was, I want to kiss you.
"Then why don't you?" Ducky's voice was soft and sensual, and his eyes were full of deep, unconditional love.
Jethro blinked. Had he spoken aloud?
"It's in your eyes, dearest. Don't forget how well I know you. If you wish to kiss me, then do so."
Jethro swallowed and looked down into the steady, blue-black gaze. "Do you want me to, Duck?" His voice was hoarse.
Ducky blinked and surprise appeared in his eyes. "Of course I do, my dear Jethro." He studied Jethro for a moment or two, then slipped his arms around his neck, tugging Jethro even nearer to him, but still holding him slightly away so that he could look at him. "Why don't you just say whatever it is you wish to say? Whatever it is you wish to ask me? Does suddenly realizing that you want to take me to bed change so much between us?"
Jethro put his arms around Ducky. "No, Duck. In many ways it changes nothing."
"Good. Well go on then."
Jethro swallowed again; he felt like ten kinds of fool. But he cared for, loved, Ducky far too much to mess it up. "What do you like, Duck?" he said softly, quickly.
Ducky smiled. "Ah, my dear. I believe that I like what anyone who doesn't enjoy pain or other sexual kinks, likes. I like to be kissed, to be held, to be touched, caressed, cherished. I like it gentle, Jethro. But most of all I like to make love and be made love to. I do not enjoy just sex."
"Thank God for that," Jethro murmured, relief surging through his body with the same heady level as the knowledge that he loved Ducky, was in love with him, wanted him, had powered through his body five weeks ago. Now he did what he wanted to do, what he had wanted to do for five weeks. He lowered his head and kissed Ducky.
Ducky's mouth was warm and soft, so new and yet so familiar. As Jethro kissed him, his lips parted, inviting Jethro inside them. It wasn't an invitation he needed twice. He held Ducky carefully, caressing his back with one hand, while the other went where it had longed to go, into Ducky's hair. He had always been fascinated by the long, for a man, locks, how heavy and silky and soft it was.
In his turn Ducky's fingers were caressing the nape of Jethro's neck, how had his friend known it was one of his most erogenous zones? His arousal was back as before, and in turn he could feel that Ducky was equally as turned on, as he pressed against Jethro, moving impossibly closer and swaying very gently.
Desperate for air, Jethro with great reluctance broke the kiss. He looked down at Ducky, who just gazed up at him through ebony eyes. All the love he'd always shown was clear, but it had increased in depth and intensity, and the desire was as clear as Ducky's physical arousal.
"I also like something else, my dear," Duck murmured softly, taking one hand from around Jethro's neck and letting his fingers trail down his cheek.
"Yeah, Duck. What's that?"
"I like to make love in a bed. I find it a far more suitable place. So why don't you take me to yours?" Now he looked up at Jethro from beneath his lashes, the look so provocative, so full of affection that Jethro had to kiss him again and again and again.
It was twenty minutes later before they found their way into his bedroom. And another twenty before they managed to get into bed.
Quite some time later, Ducky who was still snuggled in Jethro's arms, his fingers still brushing gently over Jethro's skin, said softly and with curiosity in his tone, "Just what kind of thing did you think I liked, dearest?"
Jethro simply kissed him again. And began to show Ducky all over again what he now knew his lover liked.
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