Ashleigh Anpilova


Set immediately after Ex-File.

Furious with Ducky, Gibbs goes over to his lover's house. He's determined to see Ducky, to demand to know why he did what he did. To end their relationship

An established relationship story.

Written: October 2007. Word count: 1,854.




Look at me:

I'm in a place

I never thought I'd be.

I don't have the strength

To fight anymore,

Or a reason not to leave.

So tell me why I keep holding on

To something I just cannot see.


It was late in the evening as he stood outside Ducky's home.


Hollis had stormed out of his basement over an hour ago; he assumed she'd gone home. He didn't really care. She's been angry with him. Not that there was anything new there.


In fact, she'd been furious when she'd seen his face and realized that he'd lied to her about 'having put Shannon and Kelly behind him'.


Of course he hadn't.


He never would.


Never could.


Not really.


And part, an extremely large part, of that was because he still felt so guilty for the fact that they, his girls, hadn't been enough for him.


And he had been livid with her for daring to interfere with his possessions and put the tape on. She'd had no right, no damned right to do that. She was already behaving like a wife; like the worst kind of wife.


He had left his car a little way from the imposing Reston house and had walked the rest of the way.


Why he wasn't sure.


After all he was there for one reason and one reason only.


Wasn't he?


He was there to do what he should have done years, decades ago: end it. End what never should have been started.


End the romantic and sexual relationship he had with Ducky.


There was no reason not to do so. But then there never had been. And yet he'd always held on. Even when he knew that there could be no 'happy ever after', at least not in the traditional sense, with Ducky. He'd held on.


But not now.


Not tonight.


He had come there to end the relationship and that is what he would do.


What makes you stay when your world falls apart?

What makes you try one more time when it's not in your heart?

At the end of your rope, when you can't find any hope,

You still look at him and say,

"I just can't walk away."

Tell me what makes you stay.


He stood in the darkness, letting it gather him up, shroud him, cover him, wrap itself around him, protect him, hide him. He stood there and looked at the house. Few lights shone. One in Mrs. Mallard's bedroom, that one was very faint; the hall light, and two upstairs: Ducky's bedroom and sitting room.


He stood in the darkness and looked at the house.


He wanted to ring the bell.


He wanted to see Ducky.


He wanted to demand why the hell he'd done what he'd done. Why he'd told Hollis about Shannon and Kelly. And he knew it had to have been Ducky. It couldn't have been anyone else. And most of all, why he'd broken his promise.


Except, he hadn't. Not really.


At least maybe not.


After all, Shannon was, if not common knowledge, then at least known about by the kids, Tobias, Jenny. Maybe Ducky had felt that his promise was no longer valid.


He wanted to ring the bell.


He wanted to see Ducky.


He wanted to ask 'how dare you'?


But suddenly he knew if he did, he'd say too much. Far too much. Far, far too much. Far, far, far too much.


He wouldn't listen to what Ducky had to say. Wouldn't let him explain.


If there was anything Ducky could say. If there was any explanation.


And then it, they, would be over.


Either he'd say so much, so many harsh things to Ducky, that his lover would have no choice but to tell him to go.


Or he'd tell Ducky it was over.


He'd tell Ducky it was over.


Which is why he'd come here, hadn't he?


He'd come here to do that very thing.


To let go.


There was no point holding on any longer.


He didn't want to.


He hadn't wanted to.


So he'd come here to tell Ducky.


But now . . .


I'm not afraid of living alone,

I was alone before he came.

And I've been in love

Many times before,

But this time's not the same.

I've always been the first to say goodbye...

Now it's the last thing I can do.


What makes you stay when your world falls apart?

What makes you try one more time when it's not in your heart?

At the end of your rope, when you can't find any hope,

You still look at him and say,

"I just can't walk away,

Tell me what makes you stay."


Now he knew.


He knew.


He knew that despite the fact he'd gone there to do that very thing, that he couldn't.


He couldn't face that.


He could, and did, face many things daily death for one.


But losing Ducky wasn't one of them.


But why did he feel that way?


Why did he keep clinging to Ducky, yet date and marry women?


Did he keep Ducky around so that he always had someone by his side? So that every time he told the woman to go, or drove her to lash out, so that he could find a reason to say 'goodbye', he knew he wouldn't be alone?


It was no good.


He couldn't do it.


He couldn't be the one to say 'goodbye'. He couldn't walk away from Ducky.


He should walk away. He knew that.


What Ducky had done had shaken him, shaken his belief in his lover. Shocked him beyond his understanding. Had made him angry, at least once the surprise had lessened. Had made him beyond angry.


And it had hurt him. And he didn't like being hurt. And that made him even more livid, more bitter. No one should be able to hurt him like that. He's always made certain that no one could. That no one could touch him in that way.


But Ducky had. And he did not like it. In fact it made him actually hate Ducky.


Surely with the level of resentment he felt for Ducky at that moment, they had no future?


He didn't want them to have.


But he did.


He didn't know why.


He couldn't explain it.


But he couldn't let go.


What they had, what they'd always had, he was no longer certain he understood.


He wasn't certain he ever had understood.


When it goes this deep,

Feels this strong,

I can't convince myself

This love is wrong.


What they had was wrong. So very wrong. So very, very wrong. So very, very, very wrong.


He'd been unfaithful to all four of his wives.


He'd been unfaithful to every woman he'd taken into his bed.


He'd been unfaithful to all of them.


He'd been unfaithful to all of them with one person, the same person: Ducky.


That alone made what they had wrong. And that was without going into the multitude of other reasons for it being wrong.


It was wrong.


It was so wrong. So very wrong. So very, very, wrong. So very, very, very wrong.


But it was the rightest wrong he had ever known.


And given what he'd done, how he'd behaved, surely it meant that he loved Ducky beyond any meaning of 'right' and 'wrong'?


Was love wrong? Could it be? Could true love ever be wrong?


He assumed Ducky had a reason for doing what he did. He hoped so.


But try as he might, he couldn't work out what it had been.


Had Ducky been trying to help his relationship with Hollis? Had he felt that there might be a chance if she knew the truth? Did Ducky want him to marry her?


And if so, where did that leave them? Him and Ducky?


Or had she trapped Ducky? Used her interrogation techniques? Had she said something and Ducky had reacted? God knows Ducky never could control his eyes. Had he simply been caught off guard? And yet, he'd kept secrets before. One, the most damning, for over three decades. Was Hollis really that good at interrogating people?


Or had Ducky finally been driven far enough? Had Hollis Mann been the final straw?


Able to forgive four marriages, Jenny Shepard and countless other women, had Ducky reached his quota of forgiveness? Had he acted out of spite? Deliberately told Hollis because he knew she'd be angry, feel betrayed?


He didn't want to think that, because that meant Ducky was a different man from the man he thought he knew. The man he did know. The man he'd always known.


The man he loved.


Admittedly he didn't particularly like Ducky at that moment. But he still loved him.


He always would.


But suddenly he wasn't sure, wasn't certain, if love was enough.


But then what else was there?


If love wasn't enough, what was?


And as he stood there in the darkness, looking at Ducky's house he knew.


It chilled him to his core. It scared him in a way he had never been scared.


He knew that no matter what, he and Ducky would never, could never, be over.


Even if he rang the bell now and told Ducky that was it over. It wouldn't be.


Even if he rang the bell now and Ducky told him it was over. It wouldn't be.


Even if Ducky returned to England and he never saw him again, they'd still never be over.


They couldn't be.


The ties that bound them together were too tight. They cut too deeply. They were unbreakable.


Even after what Ducky had done, even though he knew that it would shadow their relationship, maybe forever, but at least for a time, he couldn't walk away.


He closed his eyes and fought to ignore the intense shiver that began to move through him as the truth hit him.


Something made him open his eyes and he glanced again at the house.


His gaze was drawn to one of the two upstairs windows Ducky's bedroom. The light was brighter now. And he could make out a dark shape.


And he knew.


He knew that Ducky was standing there.


Looking out.


Looking down.


He wasn't sure in the near total darkness if Ducky could see him. He doubted it. He was dressed in dark clothes, there were no street lamps, the lights that still shone on the ground floor of Ducky's home weren't bright enough to reach him.


At least he didn't think they were.


But that didn't matter.


Because he knew that even if Ducky couldn't see him, he'd know. Ducky would know that he was there. He always did.


Closing his eyes briefly for a moment, he turned the collar of his coat up, pushed his hands deeply into his pockets, turned and began to walk back to his car.


Tomorrow would come soon enough.


At the end of your rope,

When you can't find any hope,

You still look at him and say,

"I just can't walk away...

Tell me what makes you stay.

Tell me what makes you... stay."



To Err Is Human is the sequel to this story.

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