CHRISTMAS TIME A TIME FOR THE PERFECT GIFT
It's coming up to Christmas and Jethro wants to give Ducky the perfect gift. But he needs to know if it's what Ducky really wants.
An established relationship story.
Written: November 2008. Word count: 2,034.
When you love someone, it's something. When someone loves you, it's another thing. When you love the person who loves you back, it's everything.
Of course a normal person would just come out and ask the question. But I guess it could be said that a 'normal' person, whatever the hell that is, who's been married four times, widowed once, divorced three times and has screwed a fair few other women, wouldn't have ever fallen in love with another man.
But I did. More than thirty years ago. Yeah, I know that means I cheated on them all. I'm not proud of it, but what I can I do? I can't go back in time and change things, can I? Would I if I could? You know what? I honestly don't know. I don't know because as Duck is so very fond of saying 'all our experiences in life make us who we are today', or something like that. He no doubt puts it better than I can.
So here we are at the end of November, Thanksgiving is over and it'll be Christmas before we know it. And this year I want to give Ducky the perfect gift; this year I want to give him what I'm sure he wants. Except, I'm not one hundred percent sure, that's why I can't just give it to him.
Okay, it's like this: I want to ask Ducky to move in with me or me with him - don't mind which. His mom passed away a few months ago and Reston house is too big and lonely for him on his own. Not that he's been on his own really since she died. I've either been there or he's been with me, but that's not the same as actually living together. Openly living together.
So why don't I just ask him? Well, you see if I do, I know he'll say 'yes', because it's me asking him. But I want to be sure, I have to be sure, I need to be sure, that it is what he really, truly, deep down in the darkest and most secret places of his mind and heart, wants.
Why might I think it isn't? Well, take my track record. Three divorces. A marriage that on the face of it was perfect, if you put to one side the small fact that I was also sleeping with my best friend, but a marriage that took place when I was away from home more than I was at home. Oh, and also the fact that I never stay the night when I sleep with a woman. I do with Duck, of course, but even so.
I'm not that sure I'm actually meant to live with someone full time, day in day out, night in night out. And given that Ducky and I work together, it means I'd be seeing a hell of a lot more of him than I did any of my wives or girl friends. Okay so he's not a field agent so we're not together every minute of the day, but he's always around. Would it be too much? Given the last few months, I'd say no. But I have to be sure.
I'm sure, but I need to know that Duck is sure; sure it really is what he wants. After all, he's never lived with anyone, you can't count his mom, so maybe he doesn't really want that level of commitment. Maybe it'd be better me just swearing to give up women and commit to him and him alone. Which, in truth, is what I've done, all be it without the swearing bit, for more than a year now. Maybe we don't need the same front door, the same address. But I want it. And I'm as near to being certain that he does as I can be without being totally certain.
So I have to find a way of getting him to tell me, and that's where the problem lies because Duck will never come out and tell me. Not just like that; he just wouldn't. He doesn't ask me for much, doesn't ask anyone for much, and he'd never ask me for that. So where does that leave me? Trying to devise some kind of devious plan to get him to tell me he wants me in his home or he wants to be in my house, which with Ducky in it would become a home, for the rest of our lives.
Well, as it so happens I do have an idea. Not sure if it'll work, but I can't think of anything else and it's not like I can ask Abbs to come up with something, is it? And as much as Ducky talks, he's hardly likely to come out in the middle of one of his stories to Palmer and tell him he wants to share a home with me. So I'm left with 'The Plan'.
God when he looks at me like that it makes me feel utterly unworthy. "Christmas."
"I want to give you something special this year. Something you really want."
He smiles at me and takes my hand, lifting it to his lips and kissing it. "Ah, Jethro. Whatever you give me is always special. The gift itself is not what matters, it is the thought and the person who is giving it that makes it special." See I knew he'd say that, well not those words exactly, even after thirty odd years my mind doesn’t work in quite the same way as Ducky's does.
"Yeah, but this year is different, Duck."
He cocks an eyebrow and looks at me. "It is?"
I nod. "Yes." I say it firmly. "It is. So what I want you to do is to write down for me the one thing you really, really want above all others. The thing that if a genie turned up tomorrow and granted you one wish, you would wish for. But it has to be a wish a non-genie can give," I add hastily, aware that if I don't he'll come up with something self-sacrificing. "It has to be something I can give you. Anything at all, Duck. Just as long as it is the thing. Something you want above all others. Will you do that?"
He smiles, his loving, tender, special 'Jethro' smile. "Ah, my dear. There is no need to go to such lengths, truly whatsoever you give me will be -"
"No!" His eyes widen in surprise at my tone. "Sorry," I say, instantly contrite - yeah, I do apologize to Ducky. "Didn't mean to snap. I just want you to agree. Please, Duck. For me." Okay, so that was a bit below the belt; emotional blackmail isn't exactly something I think highly of. But . . . Needs must. So.
He puts his head on one side a little and scrutinizes me. He's puzzled; I can see that, he's trying to work out what is going on. I make sure I keep my face neutral and unreadable. "Very well," he says slowly, after a moment or two. "If that is what you want, my dear. I will oblige you."
I take his face between my hands and look into the steady, loving gaze. "But it has to be the gift, Duck. Do I have your word? Because if you just come up with something second best, then there's no point. I want it to be the gift. Do you promise me?"
He smiles and turns his face into one of my hands. "Ah, Jethro," he murmurs. "It is not like you to play games. But yes, I promise. I will indeed write down the gift, the one thing I want above all others."
"Good." That agreed, I gather him into my arms and kiss him.
So he's given it to me. A piece of paper, well an envelope. Inside I assume there's a piece of paper. He handed it to me as he came to say goodnight. He's playing bridge with that ME friend of his, so I'll work on my boat until he comes home.
That was half an hour ago and I'm still sitting here looking at the envelope. Suddenly I'm not sure I want to open it, because suddenly I'm not as certain as I was, as I thought I was, that what I want to be inside will be. It's not that I don't think for a moment he'd break his promise, but just that he'd find a way around it. I realize now I didn't say he had to be selfish, he couldn't think of me, he just had to ask for what he really wanted.
I can't sit here much longer just staring at the blasted thing. I have to open it. Maybe it'd be best if I went home and opened it rather than open it here. The kids have all gone, it's been a quiet few days and we're on top of everything, so I'm alone. But taking it home might still be better. Except now I have the damn thing in my hands, I know I'm not going to do that. Because I know that's only delaying the inevitable. What's written on the paper isn't suddenly going to change if I take it home with me.
Okay, I'm going to open it. I'm going to slit the envelope, take the paper out and read it. That's what I'll do.
I do the first bit and take a deep breath and pull out the piece of paper. The folded piece of paper, which matches the envelope perfectly - I wouldn't expect anything else from Ducky. I can't even see the writing through the paper, it's too heavy. Cream, thick, expensive, nice. Utterly Ducky.
Just unfold it for heavens sake. Do it now.
Now look at it.
Look at it now.
This is it. This is when I discover if . . .
I blink to clear my eyes and look down. And begin to read the handwriting I know so well.
My dearest Jethro,
You asked me what my dearest wish would be; what the perfect Christmas gift would be. You asked me what I would ask you for if I could have anything at all. Well the answer to that, my dear, is so very simple. It is what I have wanted for almost as long as I have known you.
Guess I couldn't have expected Ducky to be brief and straight to the point, could I? That'd be far too simple.
The ideal Christmas gift you could give to me, the one thing for which I wish, and have always wished, is for you and I to openly share a home, be it your home or my own, for the rest of our lives; for us to be together with no one else to come between us.
With my deepest love forever,
I let out the breath I only become aware I was holding when my eyes start to blur slightly and re-read the words. No, they haven't changed. They are still the same. Duck does want to live with me.
I was right after all.
I know I'm smiling, I know I probably look as soppy as I feel, I know I look nothing like the 'normal' Leroy Jethro Gibbs, but you know what? I don't care.
I wouldn't even care if the kids were here and saw me. Why should I care? Why should I care when I have confirmation that the man I love beyond reason, the man who is, and has been for a hell of a long time, the most important person in my life, has just given me his greatest wish to fulfill? Has just given me my greatest wish.
Guess all that's left is for us to decide whether it'll be Reston house or the place I live in. The more I think about it, the more Reston house sounds good. In fact the more I think about it, the more Reston house sounds perfect.
I gather my coat and briefcase and put the letter into my pocket, turn off my desk light and go to the elevators. I just hope the bridge game is not a long one tonight.
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