The second story in my 'Director Gibbs' series.
A few months after Gibbs accepted the job of Director of NCIS invitations to a President dinner are issued - a dinner to which partners are also invited. Gibbs is determined he will take Ducky with him.
An established relationship story.
Written: January 2009. Word count: 1,583.
If there was one thing that Leroy Jethro Gibbs knew he was not good at it was office and inter-agency politics. Ducky had once told him he could be good at them, if he put his mind to it, if he tried, but Gibbs had never seen the point of them. He was what he was and he wasn't going to pretend to be something or something else just to keep the peace and 'fit in'.
So when, after five months in the role of Director of NCIS, he received an invitation to a dinner at the White House, hosted by the President, for Agency directors, an invitation that clearly stated 'and partner', he was determined that Ducky would accompany him.
Ducky took some persuading, countering every one of Gibbs's reasons for him going with half a dozen reasons of his own for him not to attend. But finally in the end, as he tended to do if Gibbs was really determined, Ducky had given in and permitted Gibbs to reply in the affirmative for himself and his partner.
RESTON HOUSE FOUR WEEKS LATER
Ducky walked across their bedroom took the ends of the bowtie Jethro had spent five minutes tying, pulled them and then re-tied the tie in a fifth of the time it had taken Jethro who knew, even without looking in the mirror, it would be tied far better than he'd tied it himself. Not only that, but Ducky did so while appearing to look at Jethro rather than at the bowtie.
"Jethro, I really do think it would be -"
"Duck. We agreed." Jethro frowned down at Ducky.
"Yes, my dear, I know. But -"
"You ashamed to be seen with me, Duck?"
"Jethro! How could you possibly say that or even think it?" Ducky sounded hurt.
Wincing to himself, Jethro put his arms around his lover and held him in a loose embrace. "Sorry, Duck. Didn't mean it the way it sounded. It's just . . . Look, Ducky, my fellow directors know we live together, and I'm sure as hell that the President's Aide or whoever has told him and the First Lady, so I don't see what the problem is. I'm not ashamed of the fact I live with another man, and I'm not going to hide you."
"I was merely thinking it might be better for you politically, when it comes to your dealings with your fellow directors if you don't, shall we say, flaunt the fact that you have a male lover. Knowing you have one is one thing, actually being seen with him at a formal dinner, is something else."
"Ducky, you know I don't give a damn about inter-agency politics. I don't have any time for them."
"You may not. But whether you like it or not, they do exist. You have made a very good start to your directorship -"
"Gee, thanks, Duck." But Jethro's tone didn't match his words and he smiled down at Ducky as he spoke.
Ducky chuckled softly. "I am afraid that did come out a little, shall we say, presumptuous, condescending even. I do apologize."
"No need. Between you, me and the room, I'm glad to hear you say it."
"Are you?" Ducky looked a little stunned by Jethro's words.
"Yeah. I am."
"Did you really doubt it?"
Jethro shrugged. "Come on, Duck, I'm the cock-sure bastard who sometimes can't see what's in front of him. Yeah, I reckoned I was doing okay, but . . ." He shrugged again. "But hearing it from you, well, put it this way, I know you wouldn't lie to me."
"No. I would not. I would keep quiet before doing that. And if forced then . . . No matter how much I would hate hurting you, I would not lie to you. I never have done, and I do not intend to start now."
"Yeah. I know that. So you were saying, before I interrupted you."
"Yes, I was. You have made a good start to your directorship. Indeed I think some of your opposite numbers were rather taken aback at just how easily you slipped into the role, and how you have made it clear that whilst in terms of experience you are a junior director, you are not going to be run rough-shod over."
"Like to see them try."
"Me too." Ducky positive beamed.
"Why, Dr. Mallard, I am surprised at you."
Ducky laughed for a moment. "But seriously, Jethro. I still think that turning up to the White House with me, in effect, on your arm will . . . Well, possibly jeopardize things between you and the others. Maybe if it were a lesser gathering, then . . . Look, Jethro, why don't I stay at home, you can make an excuse, say I'm sick or we have a case or . . . Well whatever you want. And I will accompany you at some other time. I really do feel it would be judicious for you, for your position, for the future of working with the other directors, if you were less obvious."
"Good. Duck, if I don't take you tonight, it'll look as if I am ashamed. Ashamed of you. Ashamed of what we have. Ashamed of the fact I live with another man. Ashamed of myself. Get it?"
Ducky glanced away. "Well, yes, I suppose that is possibly true. But would that really matter? Since when have either of us, especially you, bothered what other people might think of us?"
Jethro couldn't deny that. "Well that's true. But it's not just that, Duck. You say you'll come another time, but it won't happen. If I don't take you with me tonight, I can't suddenly produce you another time, if it's something less 'big'. That'd be even worse." He spoke softly and kept his gaze firmly affixed on Ducky.
Ducky looked back at him. "I confess I had not thought of it in quite those terms. I suppose you are correct, it would look, well, somewhat strange. Very well. If you are quite, quite certain, I would be honored to accompany you, Jethro. I assure you I have only ever been thinking of you and what it might do -"
Jethro silenced him in his favorite way.
When he finally took his mouth from Ducky's and lifted his head, he was pleased to see that Ducky looked more at peace than he had done since the invitation had been issued. "In that case, Dr. Mallard," he said, grabbing Ducky's best overcoat from the bed and holding it so that Ducky could slip it on. "Shall we go?"
"Why, yes, Director Gibbs. I do believe that would be a good idea."
THE WHITE HOUSE
"Director Leroy Jethro Gibbs, NCIS, and Dr. Donald Mallard."
Jethro hoped that the sudden silence of the room was due to natural causes and not because of the announcement. But whatever the reason, it was too late to do anything about it. Not that he wanted to.
At that moment the President and his First Lady appeared. "Director Gibbs. Welcome to the White House." The President held out his hand.
Jethro took it. "Thank you, Mr. President. Mrs. Bush," he turned to the First Lady and took her hand. "May I introduce my partner, Dr. Mallard?"
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Dr. Mallard." The President took Ducky's hand.
"Thank you. I assure you the pleasure is all mine, Mr. President." Ducky smiled and then turned to the First Lady. "Mrs. Bush."
After a minute or two of the kind of small talk which Ducky excelled at and Jethro hated, the President nodded, took his wife's arm and went to greet more of their guests.
Jethro snagged two glasses of red wine from a circling waiter and handed one to Ducky. "See, no problem," he said.
Ducky just raised an eyebrow. "The evening is still young."
Jethro was about to reply when he saw his opposite number at the FBI making his way towards them.
The FBI director stood in silence for a moment looking from Jethro to Ducky. Then he said, his tone flat, "Fornell was right."
Jethro raised about eyebrow. "About what?"
"You know, Jethro, I don't know if you are the cock-sure bastard Fornell calls you, or just a na´ve one. Which ever it is, you've certainly proved to the rest of us that Tom was right in his choice of successor. And you proved something else as well."
"You can play inter-agency politics. The rest of us really are going to have to watch our step around you, aren't we?"
"I don't know what you mean," Jethro said, sipping his drink, his gaze never leaving the face of his opposite number.
Charlie laughed. "Oh, yes. We certainly shall. We'll talk more later." And with a nod to Jethro and another to Ducky he left them and rejoined the lady he'd been with - Jethro assumed it was his wife.
Knowing that etiquette demanded he began to circulate, Jethro looked down at Ducky, smiled and said quietly, "Anything to say, Doctor?"
Ducky's face was a picture. For the first time in their years together, he genuinely appeared lost for words. "Actually, Director," he managed, "I do not believe I have. No."
Jethro laughed quietly, winked at his lover, before turning and moving away to begin the tedious, but necessary task, of mingling.
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