Ashleigh Anpilova


Jethro remembers the previous Christmas.

An established relationship story.

Written: November 2009. Word count: 3,161.





As he maneuvered the tree, turning it this way and that, until Ducky declared it was 'perfect', and helped Ducky put up the other decorations that would festoon Reston House for most of December and into January, Jethro let his thoughts go back to the previous Christmas.




After showering and dressing in old clothes, Jethro made himself a pot of strong coffee, drank one mug while standing in the kitchen, poured a second and took it with him down to the basement.


There he stood and looked around at the empty space; the far too empty space. It was definitely time he began another boat, if for no other reason that it would give him something to do and help him to get through the day.


He hadn't enjoyed Christmas since 1990, but this one was even worse than Christmas 1991. It was worse because for the first time in eighteen years, he hadn't been expecting to spend it alone.


After the great Thanksgiving when, because he'd realized just how much it had meant to Ducky, he'd donned suit, dress shirt and tie and headed for Ducky's to spend the day with the family, Jethro had decided that when Ducky inviting him to join him for Christmas, as he'd done every year, this time he'd accept.


Except the expected, the anticipated, the wanted invitation hadn't arrived. Given that Ducky had for some unknown reason waited until two days before Thanksgiving to invite everyone for dinner, Jethro hadn't been particularly bothered by the fact that the first week of December arrived and went without an invitation; or the second. By the third, he was a little more concerned, but still not overly so. It was only when Ducky had bid him goodnight on Christmas Eve, wished him a Happy Christmas, handed him a single gift and had vanished into the night that Jethro had realized there wasn't going to be an invitation.


More upset than he was prepared to admit, even to himself, he'd driven home and without even bothering to change clothes, had torn the paper of the gift and proceeded to work his way down a third of the bottle of extremely fine whiskey. Once he'd got as far as picking up the phone to call Ducky to invite himself, Ducky wouldn't mind. The second time he even pressed Ducky's number on speed dial, but hung up before it began to ring. He couldn't call Ducky.


Ducky clearly had a reason for not inviting him. Maybe he wanted to be alone; maybe he didn't want to spend Christmas with Jethro; maybe he'd invited that Hampton woman over - that thought had caused Jethro to pour himself another very large drink and down it in two gulps. Then he'd told himself he was being foolish; it was none of those things. Ducky had simply felt he had to spend Christmas with his mom in her home.


Except he didn't believe that. As Ducky had told him, his mother barely recognized him any longer and certainly had no idea what a particular day was. No, he either had the Hampton woman over or . . . Or . . . Or he just didn't want to spend the day with Jethro. As he'd poured himself another smaller drink, Jethro hadn't been able to decide, and still couldn't, whether he'd rather Ducky was with her or hadn't wanted to be with Jethro.


Finally, he'd pushed the bottle away from him and had gone upstairs to bed; there had seemed nothing else to do. His dreams had not been good ones.


There was now just under half the bottle of whiskey left and Jethro was tempted to go back upstairs and pour himself a glass. There was nothing to say he couldn't start drinking in the morning; it was Christmas after all.


He was about to do that very thing, when he heard the sound of the front door opening. Grabbing the gun he kept in the basement, he headed for the stairs to deal with the intruder; after all, no one he might want to see, be happy to see, would choose Christmas Day to pay him a visit.


He reached the top of the stairs and nearly dropped the gun in surprise as he saw who was standing in the hall. "Duck!"


"Are, there you are, Jethro. Well don't just stand there staring at me as if you've seen a ghost, do come and help me."


Jethro blinked. "Huh?" he said, suddenly taking in the fact that Ducky was carrying a box of what looked like half his kitchen.


"Now, Jethro."


Shoving the gun into the waistband of his jeans, Jethro hurried across and took the large box from Ducky; it was heavier than it looked.


"Thank you. Take it through to the kitchen and then come back and help me with the rest of the things." And before Jethro could say anything, Ducky turned on his heel and hurried back out through the front door.


Tempted to pinch himself, except that would mean dropping the box, Jethro decided that obeying Ducky would be the best thing.


Six trips and some time later, his kitchen resembled an actual kitchen, rather like the one he vaguely remembered from all those years ago, except even more so. A smallish, already decorated tree stood in his living room, there was holly, ivy and mistletoe tacked up and pushed behind the odd picture, a pile of presents lay beneath the small tree, and Ducky's hat and coat were tossed over his banister. A red and white table cloth covered his table along with matching napkins; place mats, coasters, silverware, glasses and china and a table decoration were waiting for someone to set the table. A CD of Christmas music was playing softly, and Ducky has singing to himself in the kitchen.


Jethro stared around his suddenly transformed home, a feeling of bemusement and a degree of shock still radiated through him. Before going off to the kitchen to do something with the food he'd brought with him, Ducky had given him one further instruction: to go and change into something smart. As he looked around the room again and recalled the four boxes that had gone into the kitchen, Jethro wondered just how Ducky had got everything into the Morgan.


"Jethro, you haven't changed yet!"


Jethro jumped slightly; he'd been so caught up in wondering quite how everything had fitted into the relatively small car, he hadn't heard Ducky come into the room. "Just about to go, Duck," he said, heading for the door. Not for one moment did he consider refusing.


"Good. Then when you return you can open the wine and pour me a glass of dry sherry."


"Er, don't think I've got any sherry, Duck, dry or otherwise."


Ducky rolled his eyes. "I didn't expect you to have any, my dear. There is a bottle in the fridge. I brought it with me. Now hurry up, oh, and you can also set the table when you return. You do know how to set a table properly, do you not?" Ducky moved nearer to Jethro, tilted his head back and gazed up at him.


Vague recollections of dinners out with Ducky when Ducky was paying, and Marine Corps dinners came to mind. "Yeah," he said, sounding more confident than he actually was. "Course I do."


Ducky smiled at him. "Good," he said, now turning on his heel and went back to the kitchen.


Half an hour later, now clad in a suit, dress shirt and tie, the wine uncorked, the table set, Ducky's sherry and a small whiskey for himself poured, Jethro leaned against one of the work surfaces in the kitchen and watched Ducky as he enjoyed the scents that emanated from the hob and oven. "You had this planned all along?" he asked, after a moment or two.


Ducky, about to open the oven door, paused and glanced at Jethro. "Yes," he said simply, before bending over and continuing. He pulled out a tray of roast potatoes and swirled them around, before putting them back.


"Mind if I ask why?"


Ducky put the oven gloves back on the counter before picking up his glass of sherry and moving towards Jethro. Jethro groaned silently at the look in Ducky's twinkling eyes. Sometimes he cursed his friend's extremely good education and how literal he could be when he put his mind to it. He was about to clarify his question, when Ducky glanced away from him for a moment.


"Duck?" He touched Ducky's arm.


Ducky looked back at him and shrugged a little. "I did not wish to give you the opportunity of refusing to spend Christmas with me," he said, his voice even.


"You mean like I've done every other year?" Jethro squeezed Ducky's shoulder and then slid his hand around to cup the back of Ducky's neck. "Let you into a secret, I wasn't going to refuse."


Ducky's eyes widened as he gazed up at Jethro. "You were not?"


Jethro shook his head. "No."


Ducky looked horrified. "Oh, my dear Jethro, all this time you've been waiting -"


"For you to invite me? Yep."


"And I didn't. Oh, Jethro, what must you think of me? Please, forgive me, I -"


Jethro moved his hand and put his finger on Ducky's lips. "Nothing to forgive, Duck. You're here; I'm here; we're spending Christmas together as we both wanted. Does it matter where we spend it? Although," he added, a tad wickedly, "reckon it might have been easier for you in your own home, your own kitchen."


Ducky laughed. "Well," he said, for a moment taking Jethro's hand and holding it. "I have no one but myself to blame for that, do I?"


"Guess you don't. So you want me to do anything else?"


Ducky shook his head. "No, thank you. Everything is on schedule. We'll be able to sit down to the first course in about three-quarters of an hour."


"Sounds good to me."


"I thought it might," Ducky said, and smiled at Jethro.



Two hours later they sat on Jethro's couch drinking coffee and brandy. It never ceased to amaze Jethro that for a man who rarely drank coffee, Ducky made it superbly. It was true, it wasn't quite a strong as Jethro tended to like it, but the blend was superior to the one he usually used, Ducky having bought it specially.


"That really was a great meal, Duck," he said.


"Thank you, my dear. I'm pleased to hear you enjoyed it." Ducky smiled at him. "What would you like to do now?"




"Mmm. We could watch TV; I'm sure there's some movie or other on we might both enjoy. Or I took the liberty of bringing Scrabble and a couple of other board games that can be played by two people with me. Or, if you felt like a little exercise - I did also bring a homemade Christmas cake as well as a few other edible things - we could go for a walk."


"Walk sounds like a good idea. I'll get my coat."


It was cold out. Snow had fallen overnight, softening the entire neighborhood. No one else was about, not kids on new bikes or people walking dogs; it was as if the whole world save Ducky and himself had vanished. The ground was slightly slippery in places and Jethro kept an eye on Ducky, at one point even offering him his arm when they reached a particularly slippery area. The last thing he wanted was to risk Ducky injuring himself, maybe even breaking something. They chatted on and off as they walked, not needing to fill every second of silence with words, just at peace and content to be with one another.


After about thirty-five minutes of not very brisk walking, they were once again in Jethro's house. Jethro pulled off his own coat before helping Ducky off with his and taking his hat. "God, it's cold," he said, rubbing his hands together.


"Yes," Ducky replied. "It is certainly colder than when I arrived. However, I think I have just the way to warm us up."


There was something in Ducky's tone that caused Jethro to look hard at his friend. He couldn't place the 'something' nor could he pinpoint the look that was in Ducky's eyes. "Can you now?" he said, frowning a little as he studied his friend.


"Mmm, yes, actually I can." Still Ducky's tone and look were unfathomable and now he took a step towards Jethro. Then another. Then another. Jethro just watched him. He didn't feel uneasy; he just wasn't sure what was going through Ducky's mind.


The next second he found out, as Ducky put his hands on Jethro's cheeks and with a gentle move, tugged Jethro's head down a little and put his lips to Jethro's. Stunned for a second or two, maybe three, Jethro did nothing except let Ducky kiss him. Then his mind registered that Ducky was kissing him, that Ducky was kissing him extremely well. And not only that, but the kiss was doing things to his body and mind that he approved of.


Just as he was about to kiss Ducky back, Ducky took his mouth from Jethro's and moved back a little and looked at him. His gaze was steady, slightly hesitant, questioning, and with a hint of uncertainty. "Jethro?" One word asked so many questions.


Jethro licked his lips, saw a flash of desire race through Ducky's eyes, then pulled Ducky into his arms and held him, guiding him nearer and nearer until he felt Ducky's body against his own, letting it answer at least one of Ducky's questions.


He felt and heard Ducky's sigh of contentment as he moved his head back just far enough to allow him to once again claim Jethro's mouth with his own. This time the kiss wasn't brief; this time it didn't stop after a second or two; this time it wasn't just Ducky kissing Jethro; this time Jethro kissed Ducky back and went on kissing him until he had to stop in order to regain some oxygen.


"Do you feel warmer now?" Ducky asked, his voice low and sensual; his look blazed with desire. Seeing the way Ducky was looking at him, was enough to increase Jethro's arousal.


"A bit."


"Only a bit? Well, now, I do have another suggestion for how we can get warmer. Of course it would necessitate removing our clothes, which some people might say would decrease the level of warmth. But it is well known that one of the best ways to keep warm is to make bodily contact with another person, and it is so much more effective when one is . . . Naked."


"That so?"


"Oh, yes," Ducky said brightly, as he moved his lower body just a little against Jethro's.


Jethro moaned with pleasure and pulled Ducky closer. "So, Dr. Mallard, if I get this right, you're suggesting we go upstairs, take our clothes off, get into bed and press our bodies against one another?"


"Well now, Agent Gibbs, I do not recall mentioning going upstairs or getting into bed, but -"


"It's what you meant," Jethro said interrupting Ducky.


"Yes. Yes, as a matter of fact it is," Ducky said, his voice light. Then he pulled back just a little and looked up at Jethro; the intensity in his gaze increased and was matched in his voice as he spoke. "Let us go to bed, Jethro, and make love."


Jethro smiled. "Thought you'd never ask." He lowered his head and once again put his mouth on Ducky's. Then pausing only long enough to rig up a make-shift barrier for the door - now that he had a good reason to do so he would put a proper lock on it later - he took Ducky's hand and led him up to his bedroom.


It was several hours later before they ventured into the bathroom where they shared a long hot shower and made love all over again. Once they were dry, Jethro loaned Ducky a robe while he dressed quickly before running down stairs to grab the overnight bag he hadn't noticed Ducky had brought with him. Then as Ducky set about putting together a light supper, Jethro went down to the basement, found a lock and two bolts and affixed them to the front door.



Six months later Jethro moved into Reston House.




A gentle, clearly false cough, tugged Jethro from the past. "Huh?" he said, looking at Ducky who was smiling at him with his fond just-for-Jethro smile.


His lover put down the piece of holly he'd been holding and walked towards Jethro. "I merely said your name," Ducky said, stopping in front of Jethro. "For the third time," he added, slipping his arms around Jethro's neck. "Is something on your mind, dearest?"


Jethro put his own arms around Ducky and tugged him a little nearer to him. "No. I was just remembering last Christmas," he said, bending his head to kiss Ducky's nose.


Ducky smiled. "Were you now?"


"Yeah. Best gift I ever had," Jethro said, now putting his mouth on Ducky's and kissing him. "You," he added, when they broke the kiss.


Ducky smiled. "I rather think that is my line," he said. "I thought I was meant to be the sentimental one, not you."


Jethro laughed. "You got a problem with me being sentimental, Duck?"


Ducky shook his head. "Oh, no, my dear. Not at all; quite the opposite in fact. It was a good Christmas, was it not?"


"One of the best. Make that the best for a hell of a long time. And this year," he said, tugging Ducky a little nearer to him and beginning to move his body just a little as it pressed against Ducky, "we get to do it all again. Except this year it'll be even better."


Ducky tipped his head back so that he could look at Jethro and raised an eyebrow. "How did you come to that conclusion?"


"Well, for one thing, you don't have to take half your kitchen for a drive and for another -"


But Ducky was clearly tired of talking as he put his mouth on Jethro's and kissed him and went on kissing him, stopping only long enough to lead Jethro from their living room to their bedroom.


A few hours later, pleasantly sated and in full agreement with Ducky's idea they got up and had a late supper, Jethro realized he couldn't recall what else he'd been about to say as to why this year would be even better than last. But it didn't matter because he had everything he wanted; everything he ever could want: he had Ducky.


And on Christmas Day, he had a very special gift to give to his lover.



Will You? is the sequel to this story.


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