A SOFT TOUCH
Gibbs admits that when it comes to Ducky, he's a soft touch.
An established relationship story.
Written: May 2007. Word count: 1,600.
No one, no one, has ever been able to manipulate me, and bring out my soft touch (the one I didn't even know I had) the way that Ducky can.
In the past whenever anyone has tried to manipulate me, and all three of my ex-wives tried, I would just dig my heels in and snarl at them.
But I've never done that with Ducky. Never. Never would either. He's subtle about it; so subtle it took me a while to realize what he was doing. But when I worked it out, did I get mad? Did I growl at him? Did I get angry with him and tell him to stop? Damn it, no, I didn't.
The thing is with Duck, his manipulation isn't something bad. Oh, I know that some people would say that any manipulation of another person is wrong, but with Ducky it isn't. I can't really explain it; he could, but I don't have his ability to do so. I just know that I don't mind. And I know that part of it is because, in my own way, I manipulate him too. Maybe everyone in a long-term relationship does; who knows? Who cares? I don't. I only care about what Duck and I have. What works for us, works for us. That's all that matters.
Anyway, he's done it again. And this time I was adamant that I wasn't going to let him. Because I'm as much to blame for him manipulating me as he is for doing it. I let him. I can stand there thinking 'you're doing it again, Duck. You're manipulating me', and . . . I go on standing there. Smiling at him. Letting him. I'm sure a shrink would have a field day with me at times. Hah, make that all the time!
So back to his latest.
When I woke up this morning, the bed beside me was empty, and there was no sounds coming from the bathroom. Okay, so I admit I was a bit concerned, which is another thing that's weird. He's a grown man, for heaven's sake, he's perfectly capable of taking care of himself. I know that, but I can't help myself. If something's even slightly wrong or amiss or out of character with him, I get all protective and worried. Told you the shrink'd have a field day.
I thought maybe he'd be in the kitchen, making tea or something; so I went downstairs. It was then I heard him talking to what I assumed was someone. His words and the tone of his voice surprised me a bit; thought he only used that kind of tone with me. Yeah, I get jealous too, so what?
I followed the sound of the voice and found, to my surprise, him sitting on one of the kitchen chairs talking to, and petting, a kitten.
He looked up at me when I came in and smiled. "Look, my dear," he said. "It's a kitten."
"Can see that, Ducky. Whose is it?"
"I have no idea. The poor little thing was huddled by the back door. She's clearly hungry and cold, and a little too young really to be away from her mother. Isn't she pretty, Jethro? And her fur is so soft. Do feel it."
And I did. Because he asked me to.
It was purring, and it nuzzled into my hand when I stroked it.
"Oh, look, she likes you." Ducky sounded so pleased. And it was then it happened. He looked up at me and smiled in 'that' way.
"No," I said to him, my tone firm and forceful. "No, Ducky."
Oh, he has an innocent tone, does my Duck. And can look guileless as well. No one can do it better than him. But I knew his game.
"No, Ducky. We cannot keep her."
"Why not?" He swiftly abandoned innocence for hurt and confusion.
"It wouldn't be fair. We're out at work all day." I tried hard not to look at him.
"Oh, but, Jethro, she's so small. And cats are quite capable of taking care of themselves. Besides, dearest, do not forget that strictly speaking I no am no longer out at work all day. I now only work part time, so I would be here for part of the day. Plus, we could fit a cat-flap in the door, so that she could get in and out."
"Oh, great. And have half the neighborhood cats in here. No, thanks, Ducky."
"No, we wouldn't have that problem. We could fit the kind that has a sensor; thus it would only open for her."
He'd clearly thought this through.
"No." I said again. "I don't really like cats, Duck." I couldn't go on not looking at him. So I crouched down next to him, ruffled his hair and tried to sound firm but caring.
He looked at me, and I forced myself not to look away.
After a minute or two, he sighed. "Very well, my dear," he said. "You are quite correct, of course. It wouldn't be fair on her. But, Jethro, I am not just going to abandon her."
"Course we won't, Duck. Look, I'll take her to that cat place myself. You know how popular kittens are; she'll be snapped up in no time. Have a lovely new home."
And that's what I did.
At least that's what I intended to do.
Except . . .
Except all the way to the place I kept seeing his eyes; hearing his voice; seeing how dejected he'd looked when I'd said no.
And she didn't help either! She was on the seat next to me in a cardboard box, snuggled up on one of his old sweaters. And she behaved perfectly. Didn't cry. Didn't throw-up. Didn't pee. Didn't move, until we were almost there. Then she stretched up, scrambled out of the box, put one tiny paw out and gently touched my leg. And if that wasn't bad enough, she then nuzzled against me. Damn it. Damn her.
But I still could have done it. Still could have left her at the place. If it had been just her.
But it wasn't.
Ducky wanted to keep her. And really what was he asking? He was right; I knew that. Cats are independent things; she'd be okay at home alone. Not like a dog. And as he said, nowadays he was only meant to work part time. Not that he always did, at least a couple of times a week he'd find a perfectly rational and logical reason for still being in the building - even if he wasn't in Autopsy - hours after he should have gone home. Maybe if we kept her, he'd have a reason to go home when he should. And it wasn't as if I worked the hours I used to do. Finally realized, when Duck and I moved in together, there's more to life than just work.
And I didn't dislike cats; I'd just said it. A spur of the moment thing. And this one was rather appealing. Thick, soft silver grey fur; huge sorrowful but intelligent eyes, I know, I know, all small animals are like that; a pretty little nose; a delicate tongue, and ears that were far too big for her. She couldn't be much trouble, could she? I'd insist on having her spayed of course. One cat is one thing.
And as soon as I'd thought that, I knew I'd made the decision.
Damn Ducky. He'd done it again. And really he hadn't 'done' anything. I'd done it to myself. I'd let myself be swayed by memories of his eyes, his voice, and how dejected he'd looked. I had let myself, yet again, be manipulated.
When I got back to the office it was pouring with rain. Couldn't let her get wet now, could I? So I tucked her inside my coat and she cuddled against me. If I wasn't lost before, I was then. Damn her, she was good too. Only weeks old and she was able to manipulate me. What hope did I have for the future?
Met Abbs as I was about to take her down to Autopsy. "What's that, Gibbs?" she demanded.
"I can see that. What are you doing with a kitten?"
"It's for Ducky," I said, because it was.
"Ooh, Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs," she cried, flinging her arms around me and hugging me. "That's so sweet. He'll love it. Can I come and visit it?" she bounced.
"It's a she, Abbs, and of course you can."
I left her still bouncing and smiling and went into Autopsy.
"Jethro, my dear." Ducky beamed at me as he came towards me. And with a sinking feeling I knew. I knew that he'd known. That he was expecting me to do just what I had done.
I was lost.
And you know what? I didn't care.
"Leave you to give her a name," I said, as I handed her over to him. Immediately I missed the way she'd cuddled against me; missed her warmth.
He beamed. "Thank you, dearest," he said, with genuine pleasure. And he kissed me. Only a brief kiss, on the cheek, well everyone knows about us. But it made my day. But then making him happy, having him look at me as he did, having him kiss me, having him show me how much he loves me, always makes my day.
Ah, well, if someone has to be able to bring out the soft side of me, guess I'm glad that it's my Ducky.
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