A MOTHER ALWAYS KNOWS
The first part of the Mrs. Mallard Series.
Jethro and Ducky's usual Sunday lunch plans are foiled by Mrs. Mallard's nurse, who insists on her right to a day off. However, not to be done out of spending Sunday with his lover, Jethro takes lunch to Ducky.
An established relationship story.
Written: August 2006. Word count: 2,879.
"Get your hands off me!" The strident voice of Vanessa Mallard carried through the open window.
Jethro, about to remove a basket from the trunk of his car, abandoned both and raced, pulling his Sig out, towards Ducky's Reston home. The special agent overtook the concerned friend and lover, as his entry to the house was just as it would be at any scene, where there was the threat of an unknown assailant.
"I told you to let me go!" Once again the upper class vowels spat out the clear order.
Willing Mrs. Mallard not to antagonize her attacker any further, Jethro put a two-handed grip on his gun, counted to two, and entered the sitting room, in proper special agent fashion. "Freeze!" he ordered, and blinked at the sight in front of him.
Nurse Megan whatever-her-name-was screamed, raised her hands, and stared open-mouthed at him.
"Oh, Jethro, thank heavens you're here." Mrs. Mallard said calmly. "I really do need your help. Oh, do shut up, your stupid girl," she snapped at her nurse.
"Er, ma'am?" Jethro asked, feeling a tad foolish. He re-holstered his gun and moved towards Mrs. Mallard. "You can put your hands down now, Nurse," he said, as he passed the girl who was breathing nosily. "I'm not going to shoot you."
"Oh, Special Agent Gibbs, you gave me such a shock. Such a shock. Oh, dear. Oh, dear."
Jethro ignored her. "Now, Mrs. Mallard, ma'am," he said, crouching down by her chair. "What is it I can do for you?"
"You can tell this . . . This girl to keep her hands off me."
"I was only trying to -"
"Tell her that at the age of ninety-eight, I am quite able to decide for myself when I wish to go to the bathroom. And I am able to take myself. I do not need some child instructing me. Well, Jethro, tell her!"
Jethro patted her hand and stood up; he looked at the nurse who was still pale and was watching them. "Well?" He wondered whether the nurse had any justification for her actions. Ducky hadn't said that his mother was having problems, but then maybe he wouldn't; he might consider it a little too delicate. However, given the amount of time Jethro spent at the Mallard house, then he was sure that Ducky would have mentioned it, or he'd have noticed it himself.
"I'm going out, sir. And I thought -"
"You didn't think at all. You never do."
"Now come along, Mrs. Mallard, don't let's be silly now." She began to move towards the older woman.
Jethro stepped between them and caught her hand; he groaned silently as she flushed. She'd been flirting with him in a way that had become more and more brazen from the moment he'd met her. "You get going, Nurse -"
"Oh, do call me Megan, sir."
Jethro gritted his teeth and forced a fake smile. "Megan," he began to walk towards the door with her. "I'm sure that Dr. Mallard and I can take care of his mother's needs."
"Yes, but, sir. She really should go to the bathroom before I leave."
Jethro blinked and glanced over his shoulder. Mrs. Mallard was no longer paying any attention, instead she was petting one of her Corgis and talking to it like it was her child. "Why? Is she having problems?"
"Oh, no, sir. But prevention is better than cure, my mam always used to say. Catch these things before they happen. Much better all round."
Not for the first time Jethro wondered what had possessed Ducky to employ this particular nurse. But as Ducky had said to him, even with the salary he was offering, the job had no set hours, given that Ducky himself could be called into work at any time of the day or night; not to mention that Reston wasn't the center of excitement. And as fond as he was of her, Jethro had to admit that Mrs. Mallard wasn't the easiest person to live with, or look after. In fact Megan whatever-her-name was, was in fact the fourth nurse in nine months.
"She'll be fine," Jethro said and smiled. Megan blushed again. "Now you go along and -"
"Jethro. I'm sorry, my dear, I didn't hear you arrive."
Jethro let go of Megan's arm and turned around. "Hey, Duck," he smiled, his genuine just-for-Ducky smile.
"Oh, you're still here, Megan. I thought you'd left a little while ago. Is everything all right with Mother?"
Before Megan could say anything, Jethro cut in. "She's fine, Duck." Obviously Ducky hadn't heard the slight altercation between his mother and her nurse; or maybe he no longer paid any attention to such things.
"Good. Well do run along, Megan. You don't want to miss your lunch date, do you, dear?"
"Oh, Dr. Mallard, it's not a date, sir. I don't have a young man at the moment. I'm just meeting a girl friend of mine, who's over from Ireland for two weeks. That's really why I had to insist on having today off, sir. It was the only time she could meet me. Otherwise, I would have -
"Yes, yes, Megan. I remember you explaining it to me. Forgive me, dear. My choice of words was rather old-fashioned. You see in my day, a date didn't necessarily mean a -"
"Yes, dear?" Ducky turned to look at Jethro and smiled, it lit up his whole face.
Jethro was absurdly pleased to hear that the 'dear' when addressed to him, wasn't remotely similar to the 'dear' Ducky had used when speaking to Megan. Determined not to use the nurse's forename again, it seemed to give her too many ideas, he merely nodded in her direction and said, "Lunch."
"Oh, yes, of course. Forgive me, Megan dear. You run along now and meet your friend. Have a lovely time. And we'll see you later."
"Thank you, Dr. Mallard. And I am sorry, sir."
"There's no need to apologize, Megan. Really. Jethro and I always -"
"Donald? Is that you?"
"Well come here, I need you to fetch something for me. And where is Jethro?"
"Coming, Mother." He nodded again towards Megan, and then, limping as he always did, moved towards the sitting room. "Perhaps you'd be kind enough to show Megan out, Jethro my dear," he said, as he vanished.
"He's such a gentleman. Sometimes he treats me like a guest rather than his employee. Well, now, I'd best be getting off to meet my girl friend." She stressed the gender of her friend and smiled at him. "Goodbye, for now, Special Agent Gibbs," she said, looking up at Jethro from under her lashes.
He nodded at her and gave her a distracted half-smile. Then to encourage her on her way, he moved to the door and opened it for her. That won him another sultry look, and yet another blush. He sighed as she went out, before shutting the door firmly, and also bolting it.
Then he remembered that he had to go back outside. He was about to leave it for the moment, when he recalled leaving the trunk of the car open, when he'd raced to the 'rescue' of Mrs. Mallard. "Back in a minute," he called loudly enough for Ducky and his mother to hear him.
A minute later he was back inside. After putting the basket on the hall table, he didn't trust the four-legged members of the Mallard household, he made his way back into Mrs. Mallard's sitting room.
"There you are, Jethro. Finally. Now that that hussy has gone, you can come over here and say hello to me properly." She put her head back, lifting her cheek and offering it to Jethro to kiss.
"Mother. You really shouldn't call Megan that," Ducky said, his tone a mixture of resignation and mild irritation.
She ignored her son, and pulled Jethro's sleeve, tugging him down.
He bent over her and obliged. "Hello, Mrs. Mallard, ma'am," he said, kissing the soft, lined cheek and squeezing her hand. Her pale eyes were so similar to Ducky's, and yet at the same time completely different. The scent of Chanel No. 5 wrapped itself around him, as it always did; the old lady had expensive tastes in everything.
He squeezed her hand again and moved from her, across the room to where Ducky stood. After all, he hadn't really said hello to his lover. "Hey, Duck," he touched Ducky's shoulder, and let his eyes say more than the two words.
"Jethro." Ducky's eyes spoke volumes.
"Well, aren't you going to kiss Donald?"
The startlement in Ducky's eyes was clear as they met Jethro's own, what he knew would be, equally stunned gaze, before they swiveled to look at his mother. Jethro also turned to look at Mrs. Mallard.
From the armchair came a heavy sigh. "Don't look like that, Donald. I do know about you two. I have always known. I am your Mother. What do you think I am, blind? Well?" she went on, without waiting for an answer.
Her gaze bore into Jethro. With a mental shrug, he decided to obey the clear instruction. He bent his head slightly and brushed his lips over Ducky's cheek.
Another equally loud sigh greeted him. "Can't you do better than that?"
"Mother!" Ducky sounded almost distressed.
Taking Ducky's arm in what he hoped was a soothing way, Jethro turned. "Don't let's embarrass Du - Donald any further, Mrs. Mallard," he said, and smiled.
She sighed for a third time. "Well, yes, he is very like his father in that respect."
She ignored her son. "Yes, quite prudish my ex-husband was at times. Not like me at all. I remember -"
"Mrs. Mallard." This time Jethro cut into her words. He left Ducky and crossed back to the old woman. Taking her hand he said, "Why don't I make you a nice gin and tonic?" Maybe it would distract her; it usually did.
She beamed at him. "Why, Jethro. I thought you'd never offer. Well run along then. And take Donald with you. Then maybe you can say hello to him properly, without 'embarrassing' him."
Jethro glanced at Ducky, who just closed his eyes. Feeling sympathy for his lover, but also to his chagrin a faint amusement, Jethro patted Mrs. Mallard's hand again, and left the room to make her the promised gin and tonic, taking, as she'd instructed, Ducky with him.
He closed the door of the main sitting room, snagged Ducky's arm and pulled him into his embrace. Ducky slipped his arms around Jethro's neck, tipped back his head and invited Jethro to kiss him.
For several moments, there was silence.
"Now that's what I call a 'hello'," Jethro said, when they finally broke the kiss. Ducky settled against him, moving further into the embrace.
"I'm sorry about, Mother, dear," he said, as he rested his head on Jethro's shoulder. "I do hope she didn't embarrass you too much. I never for a moment imagined that she . . ."
"Knew I was sleeping with her son? Don't worry, Duck. Didn't embarrass me at all."
Ducky moved away a little and looked up at Jethro. "It didn't?"
"Nah, why should it? I love you and I don't give a damn who knows. I think it embarrassed you, though."
Ducky smiled. "It did a little, I must confess. Not for myself, but for you. I -"
"Told you, I'm not bothered. So you can stop worrying. Now, I'd better make her that drink. Although on second thoughts . . ." Once again he lowered his head and kissed Ducky.
Damn Nurse Megan and her girl friend. Sundays, work permitting, were sacrosanct to him and Ducky. It was the one time they could spend several uninterrupted hours in one another's company; doing just what they wanted to. Whether that was spent in bed, or just talking, or him working on his boat, while Ducky kept him company, or going out somewhere quiet, or any combination or permutation, it didn't matter - it was their day.
When the kisses ended for a second time, Ducky sighed softly. "I really don't know what I'm going to do about Mother, Jethro. She hates Megan, probably more than the other three, but she has to have someone. As willing and able as Helen Patterson is, it is no longer fair to expect her to stay with Mother all the time I am not here. And it certainly isn't fair to expect her to come over in the middle of the night."
"Ah, Duck." Jethro brushed Ducky's head, enjoying as always the silky, thickness of the no longer white blond hair.
"Oh, ignore me, dear. It isn't your problem. You had better make Mother that drink. Let's not spoil today talking about it."
Jethro kissed Ducky's forehead, squeezed his shoulder, and then moved away to mix a gin and tonic. "If it's your problem, Duck, it's mine."
Duck sighed and moved across the room to stand near to Jethro. "Thank you, dearest. That is very kind of you to say," he smiled, and let his eyes show Jethro how touched he was by Jethro's words.
Busying himself with mixing the drink, Jethro asked, "Tell me does she need a nurse?"
Ducky sighed again. "I can no longer leave her alone. She really isn't safe. She has to have someone here. No, I really think there is only one option. I am going to have to seriously consider retiring. I do not wish to but -"
Jethro cut into the speech. For the moment he ignored what Ducky was saying. "That's not what I meant, Duck. I meant does she need an actual nurse nurse? Or would anyone competent do?"
"Oh, I see. No, she does not require a medically trained nurse. She merely needs someone who is capable of keeping an eye on her, of giving her her medication at the proper time, and someone who would put up with her. Why?"
"Just wondered. I might know someone, or know of someone. Look, Duck. Leave it with me, okay? But one thing," he put down the tumbler, that contained half gin and half tonic, and closed the small gap between Ducky and himself. "Promise me you won't talk about retiring. You can't retire, Duck. You can't. She'd drive you mad. Besides -" He came to an abrupt halt, and silently cursed. He hadn't meant to make it about him.
But Ducky chuckled again, slipped his arms around Jethro's neck and pulled his head down to kiss him. "Very well, dearest. You are quite correct. As much as I love Mother, being with her twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, would indeed drive me mad. And that isn't mentioning how difficult not being in the same building as you would be." Ducky lowered his voice and moved further into Jethro's arms.
Then he moved back. "Jethro?"
"Not that I'm objecting or anything, but what exactly are you doing here?"
"Well, as you couldn't join me for lunch today, I have brought lunch to you."
"You have?" Ducky's eyes brightened, and the years that had crept up on him during their conversation fell away.
"Yeah. It's in a basket in the hall. I thought we could go out for a picnic lunch. If you think your mom would like that."
"Mother would like that very much. But are you certain, dearest?"
"That you wish to spend your one day off with my mother?"
"What I want, is to spend my one day off with my lover. If that means I have to spend it with his mother too, then that's what I'll do. Now, let's take this through, then when she's drank it, we'll go out. I know this very quiet, secluded place, just perfect for an intimate picnic lunch. And you know what a large G&T and a couple of glasses of wine does to your mom, don't you?"
Ducky smiled and chuckled again. "Mmm, it does tend to make her rather sleepy."
"Exactly. Besides, now we know that she knows, if she does see me kissing you, she isn't going to mind, is she?"
"Jethro Gibbs, sometimes I think you are a very wicked man."
Jethro laughed. "Yeah. But you love me anyway."
The laugher faded and Ducky looked serious. "Oh, yes, my dearest Jethro, I most certainly do."
"That's all right then." Jethro kissed him again and again and -
"Donald! Jethro! Where have you got to with my drink?"
Pausing long enough to kiss Jethro once more, Ducky called, "Coming, Mother." He moved away from Jethro's arms; the look on his face and his body language told Jethro of his reluctance.
Jethro picked the drink up, and opened the door for Ducky.
"Oh, do I look as though I've been kissing you, my dear?"
Jethro looked down at Ducky; his lips were red, his cheeks slightly flushed, his eyes bright, his pupils still dilated, and his hair was mussed. "Yep," he said, and smiled. "That should make your mother very happy." He slipped his free arm around Ducky's shoulder, and as one they moved back towards Mrs. Mallard's sitting room.
LINKS TO ALL THE STORIES IN THE MRS. MALLARD SERIES
A Mother Always Knows
Like Mother Like Son
The Right Thing To Do
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