FATHERS KNOW

 

By

 

Ashleigh Anpilova

 

A sequel to Family Matters.

It's Christmas Day and Gibbs and Jackson have gone to Reston House to join Ducky for lunch.

An established relationship story.

Written: December 2009. Word count: 2,556.

 

 

At 1:00 p.m. exactly, Jethro rang the doorbell of Reston House. It had been quite some time since he'd rung rather than just using his key, and it felt wrong. Out of the corner of his eyes he saw his dad watching him.

 

As they waited for Ducky to answer the door, something came to Jethro. "By the way, Dad, don't expect Ducky to call you 'Jack'; it'll be 'Jackson'. Duck's often formal with names."

 

His dad chuckled. "I noticed that, son, when he dropped by your house the other day."

 

"You okay, Dad?"

 

"Yes, Leroy, I'm fine." He touched Jethro's arm.

 

The door opened and a somewhat red-faced Ducky appeared, his hair flopping over his forehead. "Oh, do please forgive me for keeping you standing on the doorstep," he said, glancing swiftly at Jethro. "But I was involved in a very intricate moment with the goose and couldn't leave it."

 

"Don't worry, Duck. It's not that cold," Jethro quipped.

 

"Come in, come in, both of you." And Ducky moved away from the door and shepherded the Gibbses inside. "Jackson," he said, taking Jackson's hand with both of his and squeezing it. It is such a pleasure to see you again. Thank you for agreeing to join me for Christmas luncheon."

 

"It's nice to see you again too, Ducky," Jackson said, shaking Ducky's hand. "Leroy tells me you're a very good cook."

 

Ducky beamed. "Well, I do enjoy cooking, especially when I have people to cook for." After a further moment or two, he let go of Jackson's hand and moved to Jethro. "And it's lovely to see you too, my dear Jethro. I'm so glad you decided to join me after all." He put a hand on each of Jethro's arms and squeezed them, while gazing up at Jethro.

 

Jethro caught Ducky's arms with his hands, thus completely the almost embrace. "You know me, Duck, not going to turn down a decent home cooked meal." He smiled down at his lover and for a brief moment, the world condensed to just Ducky and him. Holding Ducky by the arms was wrong though; it wasn't how it should be. But it was how it had to be for now. As he, with reluctance, let go of Ducky and without thinking about it brushed Ducky's hair from his forehead, he again saw his dad watching him.

 

"Jethro, perhaps you would be so kind as to take your father's coat, please. Then take him through to the sitting room and pour him a drink. I really should be getting back to the kitchen."

 

"Is there anything I can do to help, Ducky?" Jackson asked. "I'm better than Leroy in the kitchen."

 

"That wouldn't be difficult," Jethro said, obeying Ducky and taking his dad's coat and hanging it up.

 

"It's very kind of you to offer, Jackson. However, everything is under control at the moment. I did quite a lot of the preparation yesterday evening. Duly helped by a glass or two of dry sherry." Ducky and Jackson both laughed.

 

"Come on then, Dad. It's this way." Jethro led his dad into Ducky's living room, and poured him and himself a whiskey.

 

"Cheers, Dad," he touched the heavy crystal glass to his dad's.

 

"Merry Christmas, son." And Jackson sipped his drink. "Mmm, Ducky has better taste in whiskey than you do," he said.

 

Jethro laughed. "Yeah, he does. In most things actually."

 

They sat together in the tastefully and well decorated room, watching the lights on the Christmas tree twinkle and listening to the sounds of the fire crackling.

 

"Are you sure one of us shouldn't go and help Ducky?" Jackson asked, after a few minutes had gone by.

 

Jethro shook his head. "If he wants help, he'll ask. Besides, he knows what I'm like in the kitchen."

 

"But I'm sure even you could manage to baste a goose or peel a potato."

 

"Gee, thanks, Dad," Jethro said, with a smile. "Like the 'even you'. So nice to know you have such faith in me."

 

His dad laughed. "You're good at many things, son," he said, taking another swallow of his whiskey. "Maybe you could open the wine or set the table, or something."

 

Jethro looked hard at his dad. "You trying to get rid of me, Dad. Fed up of my company?"

 

His dad shook his head. "Of course not, Leroy. It just doesn't seen right that's all. The two of us sitting here drinking and Ducky doing all the work."

 

Jethro sighed. "Okay, Dad, if it matters that much to you, I'll go and offer to help." He drained his glass and stood up. "Oh, bathroom's two doors down on the left," he said, and then turned to go.

 

"Hey, Duck," he called striding into the kitchen. "Dad sent me to ask if there was anything I could do to help." He stood just inside the doorway and watched his lover as he bent to put a roasting tin back into the oven. "God I want you," he said softly.

 

Ducky shut the oven door and stood upright. "Jethro," he chided gently, but his eyes blazed in a way that told Jethro his own wish was not restricted to just himself.

 

"Come here," Jethro ordered softly.

 

"Jethro, I really donít -"

 

"Come. Here." Jethro opened his arms and took a step backwards until he was pressed against the door. "Now," he added.

 

Just for a second he thought Ducky might refuse. But then his lover, put down the spoon and oven gloves he'd been holding and walked across the room and into Jethro's arms. Never once did his gaze leave Jethro's face.

 

As he wrapped his arms around his lover and pulled him tightly against him, feeling Ducky's arms go around him, Jethro sighed with pleasure and relief as his world righted itself. He put his lips to Ducky's ear. "Missed you, Duck," he murmured, enjoying the way Ducky shivered slightly as his breath brushed over Ducky's ear.

 

"I've missed you too, my dear," Ducky said, his tone oddly formal. "Very much," he added.

 

"It's been good to see Dad," Jethro said. "But I'll be glad when he goes home."

 

Ducky moved back a little and gazed up at Jethro. "Have you told him that?"

 

Jethro frowned. "What? That I'll be glad when he goes home. I'm not that much of a bastard, Duck."

 

Ducky rolled his eyes. "No. I meant have you told him you are happy that he's here?"

 

Jethro shrugged. "Not as such, no."

 

"You mean not at all."

 

"Duck, I don't . . . You know."

 

"Yes, beloved, I know. Now kiss me and then do return to your father."

 

Jethro took great pleasure in carrying out the first instruction, but he took care not to let the kiss go on for too long or get too intimate. Thus, far sooner than he wanted to do so, he took his mouth from Ducky's, lightly kissed his nose, before again brushing his hair back from his forehead and sighing.

 

Ducky let his own arms drop from around Jethro, cupped Jethro's face for a moment, before turning away and hurrying to the big kitchen table that stood in the center of the room. "Here," he said, holding out a corkscrew. There's a bottle of white wine in the fridge, you may open that."

 

"Does it need opening now?"

 

Ducky shook his head. "No. However, I do not wish you to have to lie to your father when you return."

 

Jethro shook his head in bemusement, but moved to the fridge to do as Ducky instructed. "Sometime wonder about you, Duck," he said, expertly opening the bottle, re-corking it and putting the bottle back into the fridge.

 

Ducky beamed. "It is reassuring to know that I am on your mind from time to time," he said, grabbing the oven gloves and going back to the stove.

 

"More than time to time," Jethro said, turning on his heel and leaving the room. If he saw Ducky bending over again, he wasn't sure he'd be able to leave the kitchen.

 

TWO HOURS LATER

 

"That really was an excellent meal, Ducky," Jackson said, as they settled back down in front of the fire.

 

"Thank you, Jackson. I am really pleased you enjoyed yourself.

 

Jackson glanced at his son. "Your mom would have agreed with me," he said quietly.

 

Jethro nodded. "Yeah. I know. It was good, Duck. Always is."

 

Ducky beamed. "Thank you, Jethro. Now we have coffee, Jethro, perhaps you could do the honors, and you might also fetch the brandy and after dinner mints. And then we can get comfortable and -"

 

"You and Dad can exchange stories," Jethro said, coming back with the brandy bottle and mints. He returned a moment later with three glasses and as Ducky launched into a story about a Duke, he poured coffee and brandy for three.

 

SIX HOURS LATER

 

Lunch had, sometime later, been followed by a light supper of savory dishes and cheese and still Ducky and Jackson talked. As he listened to the two men who were the most important people in the world to him, Jethro realized how lucky he was to be loved by both of them. He was mellow, relaxed, at peace, happy, contented and full. The only blight was that he wouldn't be sharing Ducky's bed that night, but that he and his dad would return to his house and he'd be in an empty, lonely bed.

 

"Another glass of whiskey, my dear," Ducky said, touching his arm.

 

"Like to, Duck, but I've still got to drive home."

 

"Well," Ducky said, glancing from father to son. "As you are aware this house has several bedrooms. I could easily put you both up for the night. The main guest room is always ready and I'm sure Jethro you wouldn't mind giving me a hand to make up one of the other rooms."

 

"Or," Jackson said, before Jethro could speak. "You two could stop pretending, I could go and sleep in Ducky's spare room and you two could do what you normally do and share Ducky's bed."

 

Jethro had to admire Ducky's restraint as he calmly but very carefully put the bottle of whiskey back down on the table, especially as he was looking at Jethro, his eyes wide, his look aghast.

 

"Dad?"

 

"What? Come on, Jethro, you aren't going to sit there and tell me I'm wrong, are you? You aren't going to lie to your father?"

 

Jethro glanced at Ducky, who was still watching him. His dad's tone was completely conversational and relaxed; it was even tinged with a touch of humor. "I . . . . No, Dad," he said softly. "I'm not, we're not, going to lie to you, are we, Duck?"

 

Ducky glanced away from him and looked at Jackson. "Mr. Gibbs, Jackson, I . . ." He trailed off.

 

Despite the situation, Jethro found himself amused that his highly garrulous lover was suddenly lost for words. He looked at Jackson. "How did you know, Dad?" he asked softly.

 

"Ah, son, it was obvious from the moment I saw you two together. In fact I had a vague suspicion from the moment Ducky turned up and began to talk about you."

 

Ducky's eyes widened. "You did?"

 

"Yes. It's in your face, Ducky. There's something different in your look when you mention my son."

 

"There is?" Ducky sounded horrified.

 

"Yeah, Duck, "Jethro said quietly. "Hate to tell you, but Dad's right."

 

"I usually am," Jackson said placidly.

 

Jethro laughed and reached out to put his hand on Ducky's. "Game's up, Duck," he said softly.

 

But Ducky didn't respond and his hand under Jethro's was tense. "Does it not trouble you at all, Jackson?"

 

Jackson blinked. "Trouble me that my son's truly happy again? Why would it, Ducky?"

 

"But I'm . . . We're both . . ." Again, Ducky seemed lot for words.

 

"Reckon Dad knows that, Duck," Jethro said, now squeezing Ducky's hand. "Why didn't you say anything, Dad?" he looked at his dad.

 

"Probably, son, for the same reason as you didnít. It's not an easy conversation to begin, is it? I just thought I'd bide my time today and watch you two, I wanted to be quite certain, and then see if an appropriate opportunity presented itself. It did. Now, I think you mentioned another drink, Ducky?" And Jackson held out his glass.

 

It was Jethro himself who picked up the bottle and poured another drink for his dad, Ducky and himself. He put the bottle back down and raised his glass. "Merry Christmas, Dad," he said. "I'm glad you came."

 

The look on his dad's face, made Jethro swallow extremely hard. "Merry Christmas to you too, son. It's been good to see you." Father and son touched glasses. He then turned to Ducky. "Merry Christmas, Ducky. Look after my boy, won't you?"

 

Ducky smiled. "I certainly will, Jackson. And a very Merry Christmas to you. I do hope a year won't go by before we see you again."

 

"If my son ever takes any vacation, get him to bring you to Stillwater, Ducky. I think you'll like the place."

 

"I'll do that, Dad," Jethro said, and he meant it. "It won't be another year," he said softly.

 

"Good. Now, would you mind, Ducky, if I took my drink up to bed with me? And perhaps I could borrow a book."

 

"You okay, Dad?"

 

Jackson nodded his head. "I'm fine, Jethro. I just feel like reading."

 

"I'll show you to the room," Ducky said, about to stand up.

 

But Jethro beat him to it. "I'll show him, Duck. Dad," he held out his hand to help his dad to his feet.

 

"Very well, my dear. You know where the towels are and the new toothbrushes. And in the bottom drawer of my chest of drawers you'll find an unopened pack of pajamas, I'm sure they'll fit you, Jackson. And -"

 

"Duck. It's okay. I know where everything is," Jethro said softly, squeezing Ducky's shoulder.

 

"Goodnight, Ducky." Jackson held out his hand to Ducky.

 

Ducky took it, again between both of his. "Goodnight, Jackson," he said. "I do hope you sleep well."

 

"I'm sure I will." And leaving Jethro to take his drink, Jackson crossed the room and went out into the hall.

 

HALF AN HOUR LATER

 

His dad settled, towels, toothbrush, a face cloth, a book, a glass of water and the pajamas found, the main bathroom shown, Jethro said goodnight to his dad, closed the door of Ducky's spare room behind him and jogged back down the stairs and into the living room.

 

Without giving his lover a chance to speak, he strode to Ducky's side, snagged the glass from his hand, pulled Ducky to his feet and enfolded him in his arms. "Love you, Duck," he murmured, as he just held Ducky. Then he moved back just far enough to allow him to lower his head and kiss Ducky. This time the kiss was not brief; this time they didn't have to hide the fact they'd been kissing. This time the kiss went on and on and on, as did the second and the third and the fourth and the fifth.

 

It was at least an hour later before they finally shut Ducky's bedroom door behind them.

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