BECAUSE I LOVE YOU
Gibbs reassesses his life and priorities.
An established relationship story.
Written: October 2005. Word count: 2,092.
Jethro Gibbs stared down at the woman he'd been about to have sex with, and was suddenly hit by a feeling of revulsion. Not for the woman - for himself. What the hell was he doing? He pushed back the bed covers and slid out of the bed.
"Jethro?" Green eyes, barely visible beneath the red fringe blinked up at him; the puzzlement was clear to see. "What's wrong?"
"I can't do this," Jethro said. "I'm sorry." He moved away from the bed and began to grab his clothes.
"Hey, if you've forgotten to bring anything, I've got plenty. In the bathroom." She pushed the sheet back and arched her back, tossing her hair back and fluttering her eyelashes seductively.
Jethro glanced at her and felt - nothing. As he pulled on his trousers and shirt, realization hit him so hard it nearly knocked him over: he'd felt nothing when sleeping with a woman for longer than he cared to remember. "I'm sorry," he repeated. And then added one of the worst lines ever to be spoken in a relationship, "It's not you. It's me." Before she could say anything else, he grabbed his jacket and fled the suddenly stifling room. As he raced down the stairs, he heard her call his name, together with several other words - none of them pleasant. He agreed with all of them.
Relieved to be outside in the evening air, he stood by his car for several moments, breathing deeply and thinking. For twenty-seven years he'd played the game, he'd abided by the ‘rules' of society, by their expectations of him. He had allowed those expectations and rules to influence him, but he would not do it any longer.
Hastily he climbed into the car, turned the engine on, pushed the car into drive, and sped off into the night. The hour was late enough for him to be able to drive on autopilot, and as he drove he continued to think.
What did he have to show for it?
Except for an empty house. An empty bed. An empty heart. A job he was no longer certain he wanted to do, but went on doing it because there was nothing else. He went on doing it because it was expected of him. He was fifty-three, he deserved more. He wanted more. He needed more.
He'd been a good Marine; he'd never disgraced the uniform. He'd been careful, too careful maybe. He had been, and was, a damn good NCIS Special Agent. Ultimately, even if it took time, there was no one he couldn't break. But what did it all mean? What did he have? A team who respected him, but feared him?
DiNozzo, who would leap through hoops to get a word of praise from his boss. Who had reached stagnation stage as far as his NCIS abilities went - and knew it.
McGee, who couldn't understand his boss's almost pathological fear of technology. Who was a damn fine agent, but who Jethro sometimes felt should never have been taken away from his computers.
Abby, who seemed to like him, but then Abby seemed to like everyone. Who sometimes, in Jethro's darkness, seemed to look at him as though she blamed him for Kate's death.
Jimmy Palmer, who still looked like a deer caught in the headlights of a car whenever Jethro spoke to him. Who still called him ‘sir.'
Ducky who had loved him for twenty-seven years. Who had put up with all the crap Jethro and society's expectations had thrown at him, and still come back for more.
Ducky, who, it was fair to say, had been responsible for Jethro remaining in the Marines. Who had refused to let him be dishonorably discharged.
Ducky who had kept every one of Jethro's secrets over the years.
Ducky who knew the truth, who knew first-hand what a bastard Leroy Jethro Gibbs could be, and still went on loving him.
Ducky who had stood by Jethro's side three times and heard him take vows both men knew he wouldn't, couldn't keep.
Ducky who had nearly died because Jethro had only put one agent in his home.
Ducky who knew all of Jethro's nightmares.
Ducky who was the only constant in Jethro's inconstant world. The only one on whom he could truly rely. The only person he trusted without any conditions. The only person who loved him unconditionally. The only person who had ever bothered to stay around long enough to learn how to care about Jethro, and also to teach Jethro how to care in return.
Ducky who would turn sixty-five next month and retire from NCIS.
Ducky who would no longer be there every day, thus negating the reason that Jethro kept going back.
Ducky whose mother had died a year ago, and who now lived alone in his big house; even the Corgis had been rehomed.
Ducky who . . .
Ducky who should have given up on Jethro years ago - but hadn't.
Jethro switched off the headlights as he rounded the corner heading to Ducky's home. The last thing he wanted to do was to wake up Ducky's neighbors - they caused his friend enough headaches anyway.
He stopped the car, turned the engine off, and glanced at Ducky's house. It was completely dark; there wasn't even a light on in Ducky's bedroom. Jethro glanced at his watch; it was hardly surprising, it was 2:30 a.m. Ducky had probably been asleep for at least a couple of hours, more probably, given that Jethro had called him at 10:00 p.m. to say that he was still working and would see Ducky at the office the next day. And he had intended going straight home. But then out of the blue, he'd received a telephone call from a woman whom he bedded from time to time; she'd invited him round to her place, and he'd gone.
He climbed out of the car and debated what to do. He had a key; he knew the combination of the complicated, hideously expensive alarm system that Jethro himself had insisted McGee install, and had stood over the young man while he did so, following Ducky's kidnapping. Even though Ducky had argued that his mother would never cope with it, Jethro had bullied his dearest friend until Ducky had given in. Jethro himself might not bother locking doors, but he wasn't going to have anything else happening to Ducky.
And yet, despite having a key and knowing the alarm code, Jethro was oddly reluctant to enter. Which left two options: call Ducky from his cell phone, or ring the doorbell. Neither really appealed, as Ducky's reaction to either would be one of concern and expectation of being called into work. Or rather, as Jethro knew, a fear that the news would be about Jethro himself being injured - or worse.
He should go home. He could see Ducky tomorrow. It could wait. It had waited twenty-seven years, what would a few more hours matter? But it would. Jethro knew that. If he went home now without seeing Ducky, without speaking to him, the words would once more remain unsaid. Once again society and her expectations, demands, rules, and influences would interfere, and before Jethro knew what had happened, he'd be making a farewell speech at Ducky's retirement party, and handing him some pointless gift, that Ducky didn't need or want, but would treasure for the rest of his life.
"Jethro my dear, why don't you come in rather than stand outside? It's freezing." Jethro whirled around and saw Ducky standing framed in the doorway, a heavy silk royal blue robe over pale blue pajamas.
"Is it?" Jethro said, suddenly noticing that Ducky's words were correct. Then, "Duck? What are you doing there?"
Ducky sighed. "It is my house, Jethro."
"Yes, I know. But -"
"Do come in, Jethro. The heating went off hours ago and I'm letting what little is left of it out. Come along," he said, in his ‘talking-to-an-errant-schoolboy' tone, the one he occasionally adopted with Jimmy Palmer. The one that even Jethro obeyed - just as he did this time.
Once inside the heavy door, Jethro shut and locked it firmly, before moving to turn the alarm on. He stopped, hand outstretched. He was presuming too much. He turned back around and glanced at Ducky, who was watching him, a serene look on his face.
After another moment or two, Ducky said, "Well, are you going to stand there for the rest of the night, Jethro? Or are you coming up to bed?" Without waiting for an answer, he turned on his heel and limping slightly, as he had done for as long as Jethro had known him, moved to the stairs.
"Wait!" Jethro called, abandoning the alarm and catching Ducky's arm. "There's something I want to say. "
Ducky tipped his head back and stared up at Jethro. "Can't it wait until the morning?"
"It is morning," Jethro said, looking down into the pale eyes that always revealed all of Ducky's feelings for him, no matter where or with whom the two men were.
"Jethro," Ducky said, his tone slightly exasperated, but still the blue eyes shone with love.
Jethro tugged Ducky into his arms and lowered his head. Ducky obligingly tilted his own head slightly, and Jethro found his lover's mouth. A short while later he broke the kiss, but kept Ducky in his arms. Now he really knew why nothing else had ever seemed right.
Ducky moved back a little, again tipping his head back and stared up at Jethro. "My dear, as pleasant as that was, I think it would be even more enjoyable in bed. And if you woke me up to make love to me, let us go and do that. I'm far too old to even consider those kind of activities anywhere other than a nice warm bed."
"Oh, I don't know," Jethro teased gently. "It was only last week that we -"
Ducky pulled his head back down and kissed him again. "The sofa," he said, releasing Jethro's mouth, "is also a suitable place for a man of my years."
"Duck, stop it," Jethro said, more sharply than he'd intended. "You're not old."
Ducky smiled, and Jethro saw that his lover had been, mostly at least, teasing him. "Maybe not, my dearest. But I am cold. Now come to bed."
"No, wait. Duck, please. This is important." Jethro stopped Ducky again.
Ducky frowned. "Jethro?"
Jethro looked at the face he knew better than his own. The one he'd loved for twenty-seven years, the one he wanted to see every day for the rest of their lives - and beyond. "Come and live with me, Duck," he said simply.
Ducky blinked. "Jethro? Are you feeling all right?"
"I'm fine, Duck. Fine. For the first time in my life I'm more than fine. Come and live with me," Jethro repeated.
"Because I love you. And I'm tired of not being with you. I'm tired of conforming to what society expects from me. I'm tired of playing games. I'm tired of being influenced. I'm fifty-three, Duck. It's time that the only person who influenced me, was me. And I want you. I love you, Duck. I've loved you for twenty-seven years. I'm not suddenly going to wake up one morning and stop loving you. I need you, my love. Come and live with me," Jethro said again, suddenly exhausted by his outpouring of unusual for him emotion. And then in a moment of inspiration he added, "Please." He'd tell Ducky about his plans to retire early, at the same time as Ducky did, tomorrow.
"Ah, Jethro my dearest," Ducky said, his voice rich with emotion. "I do love you so. Of course I'll come and live with you." Again he pulled Jethro's head down and kissed him. Then taking Jethro's hand, he led him upstairs and into his bedroom.
The first fingers of winter sunlight found them still awake, but content and at peace. Both men had spent sleepless nights on many occasion, and this was a far more enjoyable and stress free way than their usual ones.
"So, Duck," Jethro said, letting his fingers trail over his lover's pale body. "How did you know I was outside?"
"Jethro my dear, you should know by now that I always know where you are," Ducky said, and once more captured Jethro's mouth with his own.
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