A SPORTING CHANCE
Sport has featured throughout Ducky and Jethro's lives.
An established relationship story.
Written: October 2007. Word count: 1,636.
Throughout my life sport has played a part, in some way or other.
I played cricket at Eton and Edinburgh, and I was also a runner. My small stature helped, in particular, with the latter.
‘Sport' also featured in my very first meeting with Jethro. Albeit it was not my sport; nor was it what I would term as sport. I was being assaulted by a gang of men for whom 'sport' meant attacking anyone who dared to be different, when a young, handsome man appeared, and came to my rescue.
After he had dispatched my attackers, with the ease and skill that told me clearly he was involved with the military, he turned his attention towards me. And in that instant, I knew I was smitten; I knew something else as well: I could easily, quite easily, all too easily, fall in love with him. I could fall in love with the young, handsome, cock-sure Marine named Leroy Jethro Gibbs.
However, my young handsome Marine was not like me; he was not gay. That much was obvious, and it has always been against my principles to sleep with a man who is not gay. However, what was also obvious was that he was attracted to me, and unlike myself, he did not attempt to hide it.
In fact, not only did he not attempt to hide his attraction for me, he tried to seduce me; he tried to get me to take him into my bed. And he was incredibly hard to resist. I tried, I really did. Just as I tried to resist the smile; the way his eyes undressed me; the way he looked at me as if I were the only person in the room; the way his hand would linger on mine for just a fraction of a second too long. I swear I tried, I really did.
In the end, my resistance waning, I made him an offer: I would give us a chance, a sporting chance one might say, to see if what we felt was merely a fleeting, purely physical attraction or something more. I told him that I would leave America and I would stay away for a year. If upon my return he still desired me, I would willingly, and without further objection, take him into my arms and into my bed. I was certain, although I did not tell him, that I would still desire him. I was equally certain that for him it would be different; I believed that when I returned to America, he would no longer desire me.
He accepted my offer with a simple shrug and a 'Sure, Duck. If that's the way you want to play the game.'
It wasn't. But I told myself it was the way I had to play it. For both our sakes.
I was as good as my word. I left America immediately and resumed my travels around the world. At one point I even attempted to explain the finer points of cricket to men who had never seen a white man before, let alone a cricket bat. And never once did a day go by when my thoughts did not turn, for at least a moment or two, to the man I had left behind; the man with whom I was in love. The man I loved; the man I knew I would always love.
Then, on the three hundredth and sixty-sixth day, I returned.
He was waiting for me at the airport.
And as I looked up at him and he looked down at me, I knew I had lost. I had lost the game, the set and the match. He had won. He had won without doing anything other than to play by my rules. He had beaten me.
He had arranged for two weeks leave from the Marines and he spent it in my arms, in my bed. During those two weeks I taught him another kind of activity, and I must say he was a fast learner, a very fast learner.
If I had harbored any thoughts that it just might be a one-time deal, that his stubborn nature had forced him to wait for me, he quickly dispelled them. He made it very clear to me that he was in this for life.
However, clearly, given the nature of his choice of career, we could not hope for an immediate happy ever after. I could not, did not, would not, expect him to give up the Marines for me. Thus we entered into a new game, where the rules were both complex and yet so very simple.
It was our game. It was played by our rules. It worked for us. That was all that mattered.
Golf became my sporting enjoyment during the next few decades.
For Jethro it was, from time to time, baseball. A sport I have never fully understood.
During this time, I saw sport in other forms too: the sport of killing; of teasing; of hatred; of being a good sport and turning the other cheek; of love.
And still my beloved and I played our game by our rules.
And then the day came when I gave him an ultimatum: NCIS or me.
He had been shot, in the same shoulder into which Ari put a bullet, and the wound was not a clean one. Yes, he could have recovered; he could have gone though the necessary hoops to get himself declared fit for duty again.
But I had had enough. Whilst he worked for NCIS, I not only had to face losing him to a woman, but also to a bullet. The former I could handle, after all I had enough practice at doing so over the decades of our lives together. The latter, however, I could not.
So I told him.
In his hospital room.
Him in the bed. In pain, but refusing medication.
Me standing. Prepared to walk away when he told me 'no'.
That was six months ago.
And I did walk away.
But I did not do so alone. I walked away with Jethro by my side.
We decided to retire to Britain; I wanted to show him my homeland, wanted to show him what I had enjoyed as a boy and a young man. And he was more than amenable.
He is still handsome, still more than a little cock-sure. He is still not 'gay', by the terms that define me; I am the only man with whom he has ever slept, the only man in whom he has ever shown any romantic or sexual interest. But most importantly he is still in love with me, still loves me, just as I am still in love and still love him.
Today he is even more handsome than ever, as today he is dressed in his dark grey suit. I do love him dressed up, even if I do find it harder than I usually do to concentrate on anything or anyone other than him. He seems a little bemused, a little uncertain, maybe even a little out-of-his-depth, not that he would ever admit to such a thing.
He did say he wished to see a cricket match, a proper cricket match, did he not? And what better place to enjoy a cricket match than from the peace of the MCC members' area at Lords? My father, himself a member for many years, first gave me membership when I graduated from Edinburgh, and I have always kept up that membership. Maybe I had failed to mention that small fact to Jethro, he certainly claims I never told him. And of course, I firmly believe one has to wear the proper attire for the occasion; suits, or at the very least a jacket, tie and smart trousers are the expected form of dress when one attends Lords. Hence the reason he is dressed in his suit, with a white shirt and a dark blue tie; I myself am similarly attired.
Cricket, whilst for me a fascinating and enjoyable sport, is also, I find, a rather peaceful one, as it does not require intense concentration for every second it is being played. Instead it is a very pleasant way to while away several hours, especially when those hours are spent in the company of the person who means more to you than anyone else.
We did something else when we reached England: we married. I do take intense pleasure at seeing a gold band encircle the third finger of my beloved's left hand, the gold band that matches the one on my own finger.
If the other members were to notice that maybe, just maybe, our attention seems to be rather more on one another than on the match being played on the perfectly rolled green pitch, no one would be crass enough to say so. I almost believe that I could kiss Jethro and no one would make any comment; however, I am not quite prepared to put that to the test. There will be plenty of time for kisses later, when we return to the house we have rented for the duration of our stay in this part of England.
Looking back over our decades together, our lives together, our love together, I realize now that what I thought was the 'sporting chance' I gave us to walk away from one another, was nothing more than a preliminary move in our game of life. There was no chance, sporting or otherwise, none at all. Not from the very moment we met.
In most things in life, most sports, most games, most activities, most ventures, most everything, there is, there can only be, one winner.
Once again Jethro and I have broken the rules: we have both won.
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