BEYOND THE SEA
Set some time in the future.
It's time for Captain Leroy Jethro Gibbs to retire. But what is waiting for him beyond his life at sea?
An AU first time story.
Written: May 2009. Word count: 1,000.
Hello is such a simple word. But from the right person, it can mean everything.
Captain Leroy Jethro Gibbs adjusted his cap an infinitesimal amount, straightened his already straight ribbons, smoothed down his completely smooth jacket, took one final glance in the mirror, turned, left the room and headed for the conference suite and his own retirement party.
It was his fiftieth birthday and that meant compulsory retirement. That was the way the Navy operated, and although he'd known that from even before he'd joined, he'd still felt a degree of surprise when the order 'return to shore' had come.
He'd never given any consideration to what he'd do once he'd retired; it'd never seemed worth contemplating. He'd never married, preferring to keep his ship as his 'wife' and the sea as his 'mistress'; although sometimes he'd felt it was the other way around. He had no biological family, being an only child of elderly parents who'd died within two months of one another after his promotion to Captain. And now he would have no family at all, because they'd be returning to sea. He had few friends, never having found the intricacies in social interaction something he wished to waste time on.
His one close friend, Retired Captain Tobias Fornell, was waiting for him outside the doors to the largest of the conference rooms.
They shook hands and said more with their eyes than verbally.
"Are you ready?"
Was he? But it didn't matter if he was or not. "Sure."
SOME HOURS LATER
"What are your plans now, Jethro?" The formalities were over, the retirement gift had been given, his 'family' having wished him a long and happy retirement had wandered off, leaving him and Fornell alone.
Gibbs shrugged. "I haven't got any," he replied, suddenly aware that wasn't strictly true. He did have plans; well one plan.
Fornell nodded. "You know where I am if you want company."
Gibbs smiled. "Yeah, I do. Thanks, Tobias."
There friendship was that close. They didn't need flowery words and definite invitations.
SEVERAL DAYS LATER
Gibbs entered the softly lit room and stopped abruptly. What was he doing here? He must be mad. After all it'd been more than ten years ago, the chances of the man being there were beyond remote. Nonetheless he'd gone there.
He could still remember the night as if it were yesterday. He'd always preferred the company of men to women when it came to sex, as it was far less complicated. And as there were no Naval laws prohibiting liaisons between the same sex, he'd never had to hide his sexuality. He'd never looked for a relationship, just for company and a few hours of physical pleasure, and this club was the best. Expensive, but the patrons were well vetted.
The night he'd gone there looking for company and sex, two men had caught his eye. One had been around Gibbs's own age and height with dark brown hair and eyes; the other had been older and shorter with dark blond hair and light blue eyes. Gibbs had chosen the former, because something about the latter had tripped his gut telling him he was not a man for one-night stands.
But he'd never forgotten the man he didn't bed. And that was why he was here now. Hoping to see him; looking to see if he was still attracted to him. He told himself again he was being a fool. It had been more than ten years; anything could happen in that time. The man could have died; could now be in a serious relationship; anything. He should go home and stop being a fool.
And even if the man was there would Gibbs still find him attractive? Would the other man find him attractive? He remembered the way their eyes had met and held one another's all those years ago. There had certainly been a mutual, intense attraction. But it had been more than ten years ago.
He was being foolish. He'd go home. No, he'd go and see Fornell, have a drink or two. Yes, that's what he'd do. He'd stop this stupidity, he'd stop thinking about a man he'd only exchanged looks with all those years ago. He would finally stop thinking about the man who had haunted his thoughts and dreams, even against his will. He'd go. He'd go now. He'd -
"Good evening. I wondered if we would ever meet again. Of course 'meet' is not exactly the correct term as we did not strictly meet. We merely - Oh, forgive me, I do have an unfortunate tendency to ramble. Do allow me to introduce myself. I am Doctor Donald Mallard, but everyone calls me Ducky."
Automatically taking the proffered hand, Gibbs looked down into the same light blue eyes that had captivated him all those years ago. His mouth suddenly felt dry and his skin began to tingle with anticipation. Suddenly remembering his manners, he said, "Retired Captain Leroy Jethro Gibbs, but no one calls me Leroy."
"I am very pleased to meet you, Jethro."
"Pleased to meet you too, Ducky. It's been -"
"Thirteen years, eight months and twenty-one days," Ducky said calmly.
"You been keeping count?"
Ducky nodded. "Oh, yes," he said, his tone solemn.
Jethro swallowed hard at the look Ducky was giving him. "Drink?"
Ducky smiled. "Oh, I think dinner, don't you? And then . . ." He trailed off, but his look and tone gave Jethro no doubt as to what 'and then' meant. "After all," Ducky continued, "it has been thirteen years, eight months and twenty-one days. That is more than enough time. Shall we go?"
TEN YEARS LATER
Jethro went into the bedroom. There waiting for him, in the bed they'd shared since that first night, was his husband. Ducky was gazing at him with the same open adoration he'd always shown.
Just for a moment Jethro stood and stared at he man he loved so very much, before crossing to the bed, getting in, gathering Ducky into his arms and kissing him. Yes, he thought as Ducky began to lightly caress him, there was life beyond the sea.
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