CHARLIE'S GRADUATION

 

By

 

Ashleigh Anpilova

 

Charlie Patterson is about to graduate and his grandmother asks a favor of Gibbs and Ducky.

An established relationship story.

Written: February 2013. Word count: 4,700.

 

 

McGee and DiNozzo were about to go into the Navy Yard when they were stopped by a lady. "Excuse me, do you work here?"

 

"Yes, ma'am," McGee said glancing at DiNozzo.

 

"Do you happen to know Special Agent Gibbs or Dr. Mallard?"

 

"Yes, ma'am," DiNozzo said. "Gibbs is our boss."

 

"Oh," the lady said and smiled. "You must be Agents McGee and DiNozzo. I'm Helen Patterson, Donald's mother's friend."

 

"Oh, yes, I've heard Ducky mention you, Mrs. Patterson," McGee said. "I'm Timothy McGee and this is Tony DiNozzo. Can we be of any assistance?" Then he added swiftly, "Has something happened to Mrs. Mallard?"

 

"Oh, no, Vanessa is quite well. Actually, I was hoping to see Jethro or Donald or even both of them. Would it be possible, do you think?"

 

"Well, Ducky's still out to lunch, but Gibbs'll be in the squad room. If you'd like to come with us, Mrs. Patterson, we'll escort you up."

 

"Are you quite certain I won't be disturbing anyone?"

 

DiNozzo smiled and gallantly offered Mrs. Patterson his arm, "No, ma'am," he said, "not at all. We've had nothing more than paperwork to do all morning.

 

After going through security and being given a visitor's badge, Mrs. Patterson was escorted up to the squad room by DiNozzo and McGee. When they got out of the elevator Dorneget stopped McGee and asked him something technical so DiNozzo took Mrs. Patterson across to Gibbs.

 

"Hey, boss," he called. "You've got a visitor."

 

Gibbs looked up and saw Helen and stood up quickly. "Helen?" he said, hurrying across to her. "Is something the matter? Has something happened to Mrs. Mallard?" he was already pulling his cell phone from his pocket when Helen put her hand on his arm.


"No, Jethro, as I told Agents McGee and DiNozzo, Vanessa is quite well. It's you and Donald I wanted to see; it's about Charlie - and no, he's quite well too. It's just - Oh, dear, this all sounded so perfect in my head, but now . . . Look, Jethro, I really am sorry to have bothered you - I shouldn't have come here. I'll go."

 

"It's no bother, Helen," Gibbs said firmly. "DiNozzo, get Mrs. Patterson a chair and a cup of tea."

 

"On it, boss," DiNozzo called as he dragged his own chair from behind his desk and pushed it over to Gibbs's. "There you go, Mrs. Patterson. And one cup of tea coming up," he smiled at Helen and hurried off across the squad room where he somehow collided with McGee before racing off.

 

Gibbs offered Helen his arm. "Now come and sit down, Helen, and tell me what we can do to help you."

 

"Well, if you are quite certain, Jethro - I really do not want to interrupt you." Helen let Gibbs lead her across to his desk.

 

"I'm sure, Helen, and you're only interrupting paperwork - and there's a limit to the number of times even I can make DiNozzo redo his reports." He smiled, took her coat from her, waited until she sat down before going behind his desk and sitting down.

 

She smiled. "You know, even if your boys hadn't told me who was who, I would have known, given what you and Donald have told us about them."

 

Gibbs laughed. "Yeah, you couldn't mix them up. Now, do tell me what Duck and I can do for you, Helen. Hang on, McGee, see if Ducky's back from lunch."

 

"Er, he isn't, boss." Gibbs raised an eyebrow inviting McGee to explain how he knew without calling Autopsy.

 

"He took Abby and Ziva out to lunch," DiNozzo said arriving back. "Here you are, Mrs. Patterson," he said, holding out the plastic cup towards Helen. "I guessed you didn't take sugar."

 

"DiNozzo!"

 

"Yes, boss?"

"Couldn't you have found an actual cup?"

 

DiNozzo widened his eyes. "Er," he said.

 

But Helen took the plastic cup. "This will be fine, Jethro, really," she said. "Thank you, Agent DiNozzo," and she smiled at him.

 

Gibbs merely glared at DiNozzo. "Sorry, boss," he muttered as he hurried over to his desk, pausing to grab the chair from the spare desk.

 

Gibbs turned to Helen and waited for her to speak; she took a sip of tea and swallowed. "As I said it's about Charlie," she paused and Gibbs waited. "You and Donald are still intending to attend his graduation, are you not?" she asked.

 

Gibbs nodded. "Sure am."

 

"Oh, good. Because as I am sure I do not need to tell you neither his mother nor his father have the time to come and see their only child graduate summa cum laude - oh do forgive me, Jethro, I really shouldn't let my bitterness come out. It is just - Oh, it doesn't matter. Where was I?"

 

"Charlie's graduation," Gibbs said, more determined than ever that nothing short of the murder of the SecNav (and maybe not even that) would prevent him from being at Charlie Patterson's graduation.

 

"Ah, yes. Oh, dear, now I'm going to sound rather presumptuous," again she paused; again she took a small sip of tea.

 

"Just say it, Helen, I find that the easiest way."

 

"Very well," she took a deep breath. "Please forgive me for being so bold; however, I am assuming that you and Donald intend to give Charlie a graduation gift?"

 

"Nothing to forgive, Helen. Of course we are." In fact they'd discussed it, not for the first time, the evening before and had still not managed to think of anything suitable to buy for hm. "Is there something specific he'd like?"

 

"Actually, yes, Jethro, there is. You see there has been a tradition in our family that when the eldest son graduates from university their graduation gift is a pocket watch - which I know is not at all fashionable these days, but the tradition does go back to the time of pocket watches. And the gift comes from the young man's father." She fell silent.

 

Gibbs stared at her and tried to mentally compose something that wouldn't insult her son too much. He finally settled for simplicity. "And Charlie's dad for forgot the tradition?"

 

She sighed and nodded. "Yes, yes, Jethro, he did. Oh, he sent a gift. He sent a very, very, very expensive gift - partly to make up for him not attending Charlie's graduation and partly because he believes that it is what any young, rich lawyer would want."

 

"May I ask what it is?"

 

"A car and not just any car, oh, not that wouldn't do for my son. It's a - oh, dear, I have quite forgotten the name of it, but I believe it's the one James Bond drove."

 

"An Aston Martin DB5?" Gibbs glared at DiNozzo.

 

Helen however turned around and smile. "Thank you, Agent DiNozzo. Yes, that's the name Charlie told me."

 

"An Aston Martin DB5?" DiNozzo said again, his eyes were wide and his mouth partly open. "Boss, that's . . . An Aston Martin DB5, I wish my dad would buy me one."

 

"I'm quite sure Charlie would happily let you have it, Agent DiNozzo," Helen said.

 

"No, DiNozzo!"

 

"But, boss - Shutting up now, boss."

 

Helen turned back to Gibbs. "I was being quite serious, Jethro. Charlie doesn't want the car - what would he want with such a flash car?"

 

Gibbs nodded. 'Flash' was the last thing Charlie Patterson was. "Thought they were difficult to hold of," he said, "it being James Bond's car and all that."

 

Helen sighed. "Andrew wouldn't let something as simple as that stop him. His contacts and his resources match his wealth, Jethro. And once he's made up his mind . . ." She shrugged. "Anyway, he had it delivered to Charlie's college, which of course embarrassed him. But also for a moment excited him as he allowed himself to hope that his father had put the pocket watch inside the car for him to find."

 

"But he hadn't?"

 

Helen shook her head. "No, Charlie even missed a class trying to find it. He called me later that day and tried hard not to let his disappointment show, not to let me hear how hurt he had been. But I know Charlie, Jethro, I should given I raised him. So I called Andrew and for once I didn't care what the time was nor was I going to let his assistant tell me he would call me back. I asked him why he hadn't bought Charlie a pocket watch. He told me he'd forgotten and then said the car was a better gift anyway. But Charlie doesn't want the car, Jethro, he wants the watch. So I was wondering if -"

 

"Ducky and I would buy him a pocket watch?"

 

Helen nodded. "Yes, after all you are both more like fathers to him than his own father is."

 

"We'd be happy to, Helen. I'll tell Ducky when he gets back from lunch and -"

 

"You'll tell me what, my dear? Oh, hello, Helen, to what do we owe the pleasure of your company? Mother -"

 

"Is quite well, Donald," Helen said quickly, taking the hand Ducky had held out to her. "And I'm quite sure Jethro can tell you why I was here. I really should be going."

 

Gibbs stood up. "Unless you want a real cup of tea with Ducky, then you can tell him yourself."

 

Helen flushed a little and looked at the still almost full cup of tea that stood on Gibbs's desk. "Well," she said.

 

Ducky followed her gaze and frowned at the plastic cup. "Oh, dear me, Helen, whoever gave you that?" And then without waiting for a reply, he picked her coat up, put it over one arm and held out his other arm to her. "We shall be in Autopsy," he said, "having an actual cup of tea in a proper tea cup. Now, do come along, Helen, and tell me all about what brought you to NCIS today."

 

Gibbs smiled as he watched Ducky lead Helen away; he knew full well that his lover would be as angry as he was when he discovered what Andrew Patterson had done. He'd never met the man, but from what Charlie and Helen had said he wondered how on earth he could be related in any way to Helen and Charlie.

 

Suddenly he had an idea. "McGee!" He strode over to McGee's desk.

 

"Yes, boss?" McGee looked up

 

"Need you to do something for me." McGee's fingers were poised over the keyboard. "Need you to find me as much as you can on an Andrew Patterson, he's American but lives and works in Japan and has done for," he paused for a moment as he tried to remember what age Charlie had been when his parents had all but abandoned him to be raised by his grandparents. "About twenty years," he said. "Get me as much as you can on him, but it must include contact details."

 

"On it, boss." McGee was already typing.

 

Gibbs leaned over his desk. "Oh, and, Tim," he lowered his voice even more - not that he needed to as DiNozzo had gone over to Ziva's desk once she'd returned with Ducky and was waxing lyrical over the Aston Martin DB5.

 

"Yes, boss?"

 

"It's -"

 

McGee cut him off with a quick nod. "Understood, boss," he said quietly.

 

LATER THAT NIGHT

 

"I do not believe the man; I simply do not believe that any father could behave like that." Ducky was pacing around the sitting room and Gibbs was watching him.

 

"Yeah, got that, Duck. In fact got it the first seven times."

 

Ducky turned and glared at him for a moment before chuckling softly. "I am sorry, my dear," he said. "It's just that I am so angry with that . . . With that man. And please note, I did not say 'gentleman' for that he is not. To treat - Oh, again, I must offer my apologies."

 

"Nothing to be sorry for, Duck. I agree with you. Come here." Gibbs held his hand out and Ducky came towards him and took his hand. Gibbs tugged gently on it and Ducky sat down next to him and smiled. Gibbs turned to face Ducky and put his arms around him and kissed him. Ducky sighed softly and put his arms around Gibbs and kissed him back.

 

Several minutes went by before Gibbs finally took is mouth from Ducky's and leaned back against the back of the couch gently pulling Ducky with him. He kept his arm around Ducky and Ducky rested his head on Gibbs's shoulder. "Can I leave choosing a watch to you, Duck?" Gibbs asked, "You know about these things."

 

Ducky sat up and stared at Gibbs. "Jethro, as much as I love you, I assure you there are some things I really would not trust you to buy - a pocket watch is one of those things."

 

"Gee, thanks, Duck."

 

They both laughed. "It needs to be chosen with care. It isn't just a case of going into the first jewelers and buying the first one you see."

 

"Right." Gibbs nodded.

 

Ducky narrowed his eyes a little. "A pocket watch is an individual thing; it has to fit its owner. I need to find one which will fit Charlie's personality and will suit him."

 

"Course you do, Duck."

 

Ducky put his head on one side and stared at Gibbs. "You are not by any chance making fun of me, are you, Jethro?"

 

Gibbs gave Ducky his 'innocent' look. "Would I do that, Duck?"

 

"As a matter of fact, my dear, you would."

 

Once again they both laughed. "Ah, Duck," Gibbs said.

 

"Yes, my dear?" Ducky's head was once more resting on Gibbs's shoulder.

 

"Nothing really, just 'ah, Duck'. You ready to go to bed."

 

Ducky sat up; his eyes were twinkling. "I most certainly am, my dear."

 

Gibbs took his arm from around Ducky's shoulders, stood up and offered Ducky his hand to help him up. Ducky took it and once he was also on his feet, Gibbs tugged him into his arms. "Tired, Duck?" he murmured, his lips finding Ducky's ear.

 

"Not in the slightest, Jethro," Ducky murmured, pushing himself against Gibbs a little. "Why are you?"

 

Gibbs moved back to look down at Ducky who was gazing up at him in a very provocative manner. "Nah," he said, stealing a quick kiss. "And if I was, I'm sure you could find a way to change that."

 

Ducky beamed. "Oh, yes, dearest, I most certainly could."

 

TWO WEEKS LATER

 

"Hey, Charlie, is that your dad with your grandma?"

 

Charlie turned around quickly. He hated the fact his heart had begun to beat just a little more quickly when he'd heard Ray's question; just as he hated the fact that he dared to hope it was his dad. He didn't know why he was reacting as he was; he didn't want to see his dad, did he? Why should he want to see him? After all neither his dad nor his mom cared about him - they'd proven that time and time again, most recently with the stupid car his dad had sent when all he had wanted was a pocket watch.

 

His eyes came to rest on his grandma who was standing with Gibbs and Ducky and he sighed silently. Just for a fleeting second he seriously considered telling Ray and his other friends that Gibbs was his dad and Ducky his grandma's friend - but as soon as the thought came into his mind, he dismissed it. He wouldn't be disloyal to the two men who actually cared about him. He shook his head, "No, that's Jethro Gibbs, Special Agent Jethro Gibbs - he works for NCIS. The other man is Dr. Donald Mallard, but everyone calls him 'Ducky'; he also works for NCIS; he's their Medical Examiner. They are good friends of grandma and me."

 

Ray stared at him. "How did you come to meet an NCIS Special Agent and Medical Examiner?"

 

"Grandma is close friends of Ducky's mother, she has been for years. I first met Jethro and Ducky about ten years ago."

 

"Are they a couple?"

 

Again Charlie hesitated for a second, but then decided to tell the truth, after all Gibbs and Ducky lived together and everyone at NCIS knew about them, as did his grandma. He nodded. "Yes, they've been together for - I don't know how long exactly, but a long time."

 

"Cool," was all Ray said.

 

At that moment his grandma, who had her arm through Gibbs's, along with Ducky came over to him. "Hello, Charlie," she said and kissed his cheek.

 

"Hello Grandma," he smiled at her. "Hello Agent Gibbs; hello, Dr. Mallard," he turned to each of them.

 

"Charles." Ducky said firmly.

 

"Sorry - old habits," Charlie said. "Hello, Jethro; hello, Ducky. Is that better?"

 

Ducky smiled. "Much," he said and glanced at Ray who still stood by Charlie's side.

 

Charlie hastened to introduce them. After handshakes all round and Ray asking Gibbs a few questions about NCIS's legal department and receiving a promise that any time he wanted to see around to give Gibbs a call, Ray's parents arrived and Ray hurried off to join them.

 

Again Charlie felt a momentary twinge of pain as all around him his friends' parents stood with their son or daughter, waiting for the instruction to take their seats. His parents had never attended anything, had never been there to see and help celebrate his achievements. Before his grandpa had died it had been his grandparents who had been the once to cheer him on at sports' days and smile and clap at school plays and other things. And later when his grandpa had died it had been his grandma, Gibbs and Ducky who had been there. Not once had his parents appeared - and most of the time they'd never even called.

 

He shook himself mentally and once more told himself he didn't care; he didn't need his parents; he didn't even want to see them. He had his grandma and he had Gibbs and Ducky. It was his parents' loss, not his - and maybe, just maybe, if he told himself that enough times he'd believe it.

 

"We have to go and take our seat in a moment," Ducky said, pulling Charlie out of his reverie, "but before we go in, I'd like you to have this, Charlie. It's from Jethro and me." He held out a carefully wrapped box.

 

Charlie took it. "Thank you, Ducky," he said. "Thank you, Jethro." They two men both smiled at him.

 

"Well, aren't you going to open it?" his grandma said.

 

"Yes, Grandma," Charlie said and did that thing. As he took the lid off the box, he couldn't prevent a soft gasp from escaping him. "Oh," he managed, as he swallowed hard around the large lump that was forming in his throat and blinked frantically in an attempt not to let the tears that were welling up in his eyes from falling. "Oh," he managed again, carefully lifting the watch and chain out of the box and staring at it. "It's . . . It's . . ." he swallowed again. "Perfect," he finally managed, dashing the back of his hand over his cheek to wipe away a tear that had fallen.

 

"Thank you, Ducky," he grabbed Ducky's hand and squeezed it before handing the watch and box to his grandma and putting his arms around Ducky and hugging him. "Thank you, Jethro," he said, turning from Ducky to Jethro. Again he offered his hand before hesitating for a second, as he tried to work out if Gibbs was the hugging type. Before he could decide whether to shake his hand again or hug him, Gibbs had put his arms around Charlie and Charlie hugged him back. "Thank you, both of you," he said again when Gibbs let him go. This time he pulled his handkerchief out and blew his nose, no longer bothered that they would see he was crying.

 

"You are very welcome, Charles," Ducky said formally. "Happy Graduation Day, my boy."

 

"Happy Graduation, Charlie," Gibbs added.

 

Charlie beamed at both of them and then looked at his grandma. He didn't need his intelligence to know exactly who had suggested this particular gift to Gibbs and Ducky. "I love you, Grandma," he said, putting his arms around her and hugging her as well.

 

"I love you too, Charlie," she murmured softly.

 

SOME TIME LATER

 

They were getting ready to leave for the restaurant where they had reservations when a voice from behind them said softly and hesitantly, "Hello, Charles."

 

Charlie heard his grandma gasp as she turned around. "Andrew," she said her tone one of surprise, shock even.

 

"Hello, Mother," Charlie's dad said. He took a step towards his mother, his head slightly inclined as if he'd been about to kiss her cheek, but then he stopped and half held his hand out, but pulled that back quickly.

 

Charlie stared at his father and tried to work out which of the conflicting emotions that were racing through him was the strongest. "Dad," he said finally, his tone crisp and cold. "What are you doing here?"

 

His dad glanced away from him, looking at Gibbs and Ducky who both stood still and silent, before looking back at Charlie. "I came for your graduation," he said.

 

"Guess there's a first time for everything." Charlie said the words before he thought about them and even though he'd meant them, he regretted saying them the instant they'd left his mouth.

 

"Charles!" Charlie felt his cheeks grow a little warm at the hardness in Ducky's tone.

 

"Sorry," he muttered, looking at Ducky, not at his dad. Then he remembered his manners. "Jethro, Ducky, this is Andrew Patterson, my dad. Dad, Jethro Gibbs and Dr. Donald Mallard; they are friends of mine and grandma's."

 

His dad turned to Ducky and held out his hand. "It's good to meet you, Dr. Mallard," he said.

 

Ducky took the hand and shook it. "And you, Mr. Patterson," he said, but his tone belied his words.

 

To Charlie's surprise his dad and Gibbs merely nodded at one another, and Gibbs kept his hands firmly in his pockets.

 

They all stood in silence for what seemed like an eternity before Charlie's grandma broke the silence. "Well," she said in a clearly forced bright tone. "It is something of a surprise to see you, Andrew. Are you well?"

 

He nodded briefly. "Yes, Mother. And you?"

 

"I can't complain."

 

"You never did," her son said softly. He glanced at Charlie again and then back at his mother.

 

"And Margaret? Is she not with you?"

 

Charlie's dad closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them Charlie saw a flash of pain as well as resignation in the look. "No, Mother, and she hasn't been 'with me' for quite some time."

 

"Andrew?"

 

"We're divorced, Mother. We divorced eight years ago. I have a new wife now, her name is Janet and," he paused then said in a rush, "and she'd really like to meet you and Charlie."

 

"Divorced?"

 

"Yes, Mother. I'm sorry I didn't tell you. Charlie," he turned to Charlie. "I'm so sorry, son. I'm so very, very sorry. I . . ." He fell silent. Charlie stared at his dad as once more conflicting emotions raced through him. He got the feeling that the apology wasn't just for a failure to tell his son and mother he was divorced.

 

"Why, didn't you tell us, Andrew?"

 

He shrugged. "It's a long story."

 

"Well, it'll have to wait," Charlie said. "We're," he gestured to his grandma, Gibbs and Ducky, "going out to dinner."

 

"I understand," his dad said. "Maybe I could come and see you tomorrow?"

 

The other three looked at Charlie and he knew it was in his hands. He curled his nails into his palms and said, hoping he didnít sound as reluctant as he felt, "Why don't you come with us?"

 

His dad shook his head. "No," he said firmly. "No, thank you, Charlie, all of you," he glanced at his mother, Gibbs and Ducky, "but no. It wouldn't be right. I have no place . . . I have no right to be at your celebration. Thatís for people who have always been there for you - and that hasn't been me. It's never been me," he said softly.

 

Charlie swallowed hard. "Dad, I -"

 

"No, Charlie. I'll come and see you and your grandma tomorrow, if that is all right?" he glanced at Charlie's grandma who nodded and gave him a small smile. Then he turned back to Charlie, put his hand into his pocket and pulled out a box and held it out. "I hope you'll accept this, Charlie," he said.

 

Charlie just stared at it. "What is it this time, Dad? Keys to an airplane?"

 

"Charles."

 

But his dad turned to Ducky and shook his head. "No, Dr. Mallard," he said, "donít admonish him. I deserved it. He's right, I've never given him a gift he's wanted; it's always been about what I think a boy, a young man, an about to me lawyer of his age and background should have. It's always been about status and about me, not about Charlie." He turned back to Charlie. "Please, Charlie, just open it; if you don't like it, I'll take it back."

 

Slowly Charlie took the box. He hesitated before opening it; suddenly he was afraid it might be another pocket watch and then what would he do? He swallowed hard and took the lid off and stared down at the elegant, expensive but not embarrassingly so, simple, silver pen. "Dad?" he smiled a genuine smile as he took it out of the box. "It's lovely," he said, meaning it. "Thank you."

 

His dad shrugged. "I know everyone, even lawyers use computers these days, but I'm sure there's still a place for the pen - you can't sign wills and deeds with a computer, can you?"

 

Charlie smiled again. "No, you can't. Thank you, Dad."

 

"Do you really like it? It's not too -"

 

"I do, Dad, I really like it."

 

"Good. Well, gentleman," he turned to Gibbs and Ducky, "it's been a pleasure to meet you. I hope we'll meet again." Gibbs and Ducky just both nodded at Charlie's dad, although Charlie got the impression Ducky would have spoken. However, his dad turned away from them to look at his mother. "Mother," he said, "I'll see you tomorrow."

 

She put her hand on her son's arm. "I shall look forward to that, Andrew," she said softly and then moved a little nearer and kissed his cheek.

 

With one more nod, his dad turned and walked off.

 

LATER THAT NIGHT

 

"It was you, was it not, Jethro?" Ducky demanded as soon as Gibbs shut and locked their front door.

 

"What was me, Duck?" Gibbs took his coat off and helped Ducky off with his before he hung them and Ducky's hat up.

 

"Donít use that innocent tone with me, Jethro Gibbs, I know you too well. It was you who contacted Charlie's father, was it not?"

 

Gibbs shrugged. "Might have made a quick call, just to say hello."

 

"Hmph. And I presume it was Timothy who helped you find Mr. Andrew Patterson, was it not?"

 

"Yeah, McGee did his thing. Why, you angry with me, Duck?"

 

Ducky sighed and put his arm through Gibbs's. "No, my dear, of course I am not - quite the opposite in fact. I just hope . . ."

 

Gibbs turned Ducky around and put his arms around him. "Well, it isn't going to mend itself overnight," he said, "that's for sure. But I reckon they're moving in the right direction, don't you?"

 

Ducky smiled and moved nearer to Gibbs. "Yes, Jethro," he said quietly. "I do believe they are. Now, why do we not also 'move in the right direction'?" and he glanced pointedly at the stairs.

 

Gibbs laughed, bent his head to kiss Ducky, before offering Ducky his arm and leading him towards the stairs.

 

 

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