A QUIET NIGHT IN
Jethro knows how to make Ducky happy.
An established relationship story.
Written: July 2009. Word count: 1,640.
Let's have a quiet night in
Together by the fireside
We can dance in the candlelight
Jethro closed the door of Reston House behind him, leaned against it and sighed with relief.
It had been six days (and nights) since he'd been inside Ducky's home - or indeed his own! At one point he'd had the feeling he'd never see either again; that he'd be stuck at the Navy Yard until he retired. Stuck with McGee, DiNozzo and Ziva bickering, Abby alternating between bouncing and being dispirited, Palmer getting under his feet more than usual, and Ducky . . . And Ducky not being Ducky.
Oh, his lover had fooled everyone - except Jethro himself. On the face of it Ducky had been very much Ducky; gently chiding the kids for not eating or sleeping; providing a safe haven when Jethro needed to escape from the case and the kids for five minutes; being the one who would listen calmly and offer some advice; telling Jethro himself off for not eating or sleeping; telling Jethro off for drinking too much coffee; giving his long-winded answers; being everyone's favorite uncle; being the Ducky they all knew and loved. Even Abby who knew him well and Palmer who worked with him more closely than anyone else had been fooled. But Jethro hadn't been. Ducky had been far from his usual self, and Jethro had known why.
Two days before the case to end all cases had erupted, Ducky had made the agonizing decision to put his mother into a home. It didn't matter that it was the best home in Virginia, or that it was among the top five such homes in the entire USA, or that the care was second to none. None of that mattered - not to Ducky. Of course it did on one level, but on every other level, it didn't matter at all.
It didn't matter because Ducky had felt he'd let his mother down; he had blamed himself for not loving her enough to give up work and be her full time caregiver. Yet at the same time he had known that the reason he wasn't prepared to do that was because of how much he loved her. Her lucid moments were getting fewer and fewer, and the gap between them appearing was getting greater and greater, and while Ducky wasn't old, there was no way at the age of sixty-six he could have cared for the ninety-nine year old woman by himself.
And of course Ducky knew that; he had even admitted it to Jethro. But of course it hadn't stopped him feeling guilty and thoroughly disliking himself. And with the longevity and intensity of the case, Ducky hadn't been able to visit his mother - something else he had felt guilty about.
And in turn Jethro had felt bad because he couldn't spend enough time with Ducky; he couldn't devote himself to making Ducky feel better - or at least just being with him - because of the damn case. The timing had not been good at all; in fact he doubted the timing could have been worse. However, finally the case had broken and once it had, everything had fallen into place at remarkable speed. It seemed almost that one minute they hadn't got a single lead, the next he had the guilty man in interrogation, extracting a confession.
Once he'd been sure the case was wound up, Jethro had suggested Ducky and he go out to dinner. However, Ducky had refused, saying he wanted a quiet night in, alone with Jethro, without having to share him with anyone else - not even waiters. Jethro had been more than happy to agree. It wasn't that he really wanted to go out, he just hadn't wanted Ducky to have to cook, and he knew what his lover's opinion was of carry-outs - especially as the team had been all but living on them for six days.
Finally, they had agreed to have a meal delivered. Their favorite restaurant had recently contacted preferential customers to let them know about a new service they were trialing: restaurant food cooked to order and delivered to the customers' home. Or if the customer preferred, the chef would prepare a meal and deliver that ready for cooking/reheating. Jethro and Ducky had opted for the restaurant's luxury potato-topped fish pie, which would only need reheating and popping under the grill to brown the top, and a salad. Somewhat fortuitously, Jethro had got home at the same time as the delivery boy had arrived.
Jethro had also tried to persuade Ducky that his mother would be fine if Ducky let one more day pass before he visited her. The home had reported she was in an extremely non-lucid phase and didn't recognize anyone. Jethro had seen that Ducky had wanted to agree, that he really didn't have the emotional strength left to visit her and face her not knowing him - or, if she did suddenly become lucid, or begging him to take her home again. However, guilt had won out and Ducky had left the office a couple of hours before Jethro, in order to visit his mother. The lack of the Morgan outside told Jethro that his lover was not yet home - something that both pleased him and displeased him.
It pleased him because he had a plan, and short of sending Ducky to have a shower or go and shut himself in his study or something like that, it wasn't going to work had Ducky already been at home. It displeased him because it meant Ducky was expanding even more energy than was good for him. But as Ducky wasn't there, he hastened to carry out his plan, pausing only to put the fish pie into the oven on a lowish temperature and the salad into the fridge.
Fifteen minutes later he heard the door being unlocked and he strode out into the hall to greet Ducky. One look at his lover's body language told him the visit had not been a good one. "Ah, Duck," he said, gathering Ducky into his arms and holding him. "Guess she didn't recognize you?"
Ducky sighed softly and rested against Jethro. "No, she didn't. I wasn't expecting her to, but - Oh, Jethro, let us not talk about it now. Let's just -"
"That what you had in mind?" Jethro asked, when they broke the kiss.
Ducky smiled up at him. "Something like that, yes."
"Good. Come on, drink, food and then . . ." Jethro trailed off and just smiled. Then he snagged Ducky's hand and led him into the sitting room.
"Why, Jethro!" Ducky exclaimed, stopping just inside the door and looking around the room, which was lit with nothing more than soft wall lights and candelabras, as well as the glow from the fire Jethro had lit. Adding to the romantic ambience was the gentle sounds of one of Ducky's favorite Mozart CDs playing in the background. Ducky turned to Jethro, stood up on his toes and kissed Jethro's lips. "Thank you, my dear," he said quietly. "You have an uncanny way of knowing just what the doctor would have ordered."
Jethro smiled at his lover. "Just happen to have the good fortune of knowing the doctor," he said, putting his lips to Ducky's for a somewhat longer kiss.
He then settled Ducky down with a sherry and vanished off to the kitchen to turn up the gas, light the grill, divide the salad into two bowls and get plates (which he duly warmed), cutlery and trays out, before opening a bottle of red wine - the fish pie was rich enough that red wine wouldn't over-power it. He didn't cook much, but even he couldn't mess this meal up.
Once the pie was golden-topped and bubbling, he put a good helping on each plate, put the rest of it back into the still warm oven and took the trays through to the sitting room. Another reason for choosing the dish had been that it meant they didn't have to sit at the dining table to eat it. Instead they sat in front of the fire enjoying an excellent meal that Ducky hadn't had to cook.
An hour later, the superb fish pie and salad eaten, the bottle of wine drunk, a glass of fine scotch in front of each of them, they sat in just the fire and candlelight, side by side, thighs and arms touching, simply enjoying one another's company. And then Jethro stood up. He moved to the stereo and quickly reset the CD to the beginning before returning to stand by Ducky's side.
Ducky looked up at him. "Jethro?"
Jethro held out his hand. "Dance with me, Duck," he said.
Ducky blinked. "Jethro?" He seemed surprised, but Jethro could also see how happy he looked.
"Come on. I know you like to dance. Come and dance with me."
After a second or two of continuing to looking both surprised and happy, Ducky let Jethro help him to his feet and take him into his arms and together they began to move to the gentle sounds of Mozart. Ducky fitted so perfectly in his arms; Jethro sometimes felt he'd been made just for him. It was Jethro himself who led; Ducky was more than content to let Jethro guide him around the room, even though it was Ducky who was the better dancer.
They danced together, never once stumbling or missing a step for about quarter of an hour, completely in synch, not speaking, just moving together perfectly, before Jethro put his lips to Ducky's ear and whispered something.
Ducky moved back in the embrace a little, gazed up at Jethro and nodded. "That is definitely what the doctor ordered," he said and smiled.
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