Set after Last Man Standing.
Gibbs and Ducky talk.
An established relationship story.
Written: September 2008. Word count: 500.
AUTOPSY - 23RD SEPTEMBER 2008
"Why, Jethro, isn't it wonderful? Two down, one to go. It is such good news. You must be very happy. I know Abigail and I both are." Ducky smiled up at Jethro.
"Yeah." Jethro didn't meet Ducky's gaze.
Ducky's 'Jethro-sensor' went into overdrive. "Jethro?"
"Sorry, Duck. Got to go. I have to -" And without another word, Jethro turned on his heel and strode out of Autopsy.
Ducky watched him go and shook his head. "Oh, Jethro," he murmured softly.
RESTON HOUSE - LATER THAT NIGHT
"Why don't you tell me?"
"Tell you what?" As he'd done earlier, Jethro didn't meet Ducky's gaze.
Ducky spoke firmly, his tone just a little hard. "Do not play games with me, Jethro. I know you too well. Tell me why you are not happier. You have your field team back; well two of them."
Now Jethro did look at him. "I'm very happy to have McGee and Ziva back, Duck."
The look in the dark gaze told Ducky as much as Jethro's words did. "Ah."
For a second Jethro glanced away. Then he looked back at Ducky. When he spoke his voice was low and flat; his tone so easy for Ducky to read. "I can't forgive him, Duck. It's irrational. It's stupid. It doesn't say a hell of a lot for me. I know all that. But I can't."
Ducky put his hand on Jethro's arm. He knew what the admission had cost his friend and how much he loathed himself at that moment. "Oh, Jethro," he said softly, echoing his own words from earlier in the day.
"He lied to me, Duck."
"He lied to all of us, my dear." Ducky kept his tone soft and reasonable.
Jethro shook his head once and continued to look directly into Ducky's' eyes. "I know. I know he did, Duck. I know he was only following Jenn's orders. And I know I told him I'd have done the same."
"Which you wouldn't have." It was a statement, not a question. Ducky knew Jethro would not have lied to Mike Franks.
"Which I wouldn't have. And DiNozzo knows that. He said as much."
"Jethro, you have forgiven Timothy, have you not, for not telling you about the work he was doing?" Ducky thought Jethro had done so, but now he wanted to be certain, as well as maybe try to make Jethro think again. Not that it would work, he knew that. The anguish in the dark stare and the self-loathing in Jethro's tone, along with the steely determination and Jethro's character told Ducky that. However, he felt he owed it to Anthony to at the very least try.
Jethro's stare was unblinking and intense and he put his hand on Ducky's shoulder; his grip was tight, harsh even. His voice however was low. "That was different. McGee wasn't part of the team then. DiNozzo was. I don't want him back, Duck." The last five words were a mere whisper; a steely, determined, cold whisper.
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