Ashleigh Anpilova


It's the day before Valentine's Day, and Gibbs has decided that this year, he needs to do something different.

An established relationship story.

Written: February 2006. Word count: 4,087.#




"I hope the mailroom remembers to employ some extra staff tomorrow." DiNozzo leaned back in his chair and grinned.


"Why, Tony?"


"Because, Ziva, it's Valentine's Day."




"So. I alone will get so many card and presents, they'll need extra staff."


"I don't understand it."


"Understand what, Ziva?"


"This obsession with commercialization. People spending money on flowers and sickly soft toys and perfume and cards. What is the point?"


"Yes, go on, Tony, what is the point? You should know. You've spent at least four months salary at the florist. What do you do, take your black book in and tell them to work their way through from A to Z?"


DiNozzo glared at McGee. "Just because I have women to send flowers to, Probie."


"But, Tony, it kind of loses it's meaning if you're sending them to everyone you know."


"Women expect it."


"Well I do not."


"You might not expect, Ziva, but you'll get. Won't she, McGee?"


McGee glanced at Ziva. "I hate to admit it, Ziva, but Tony's right. You'll certainly get your share."


"Don't worry, McGee, I'm sure someone will send you something. Hey, even the Autopsy Gremlin got a card last year. Some people have the weirdest of tastes."


"You really shouldn't keep calling him that, Tony. One of these days Dr. Mallard will hear you."


"So what? He won't do anything. Ducky's too nice."


"But I'm not," growled Gibbs, tired of the banter.


It was same every year; several days before Valentine's Day the office personnel degenerated into High School children, and spent their time trying to outdo one another in the bragging stakes. He had no doubt that DiNozzo would receive far more cards and gifts than anyone else, in fact if he didn't, Gibbs's doubted they'd ever hear the last of it, and DiNozzo would sulk for days.


"Sorry, boss," DiNozzo said, and grinned. Gibbs just stared until his agent bent his head and returned to his report.


Gibbs let his mind wander for a moment. Ziva would, whether she wanted them or not, get her share of gifts. The young Mossad agent might be lacking in social skills and an attractive personality, but when had that stopped men from wasting time, energy and money on what they could never have? Or women to come to that.


DiNozzo was correct. Everyone in the building would get at least one card. In fact Gibbs sometimes wondered whether the mailroom had a stock of cards, and if they didn't find at least one in everyone's post, they put one in anyway.


He would definitely get two. He always did.


One would be funny and cheerful and come from Abby. She seemed to regard it as part of her job to send all 'her' NCIS men a card, utterly non-romantic, just as a dear friend. Except there would be one he suspected that would have a true meaning; he wondered whether she'd send it to the office or to McGee's home.


His other card, the one he'd been receiving for twenty-seven years would be from Ducky. It would be simple, plain, elegant, a very non-Valentine card. The card would be white, with a single picture on the front; there would be no words except 'Forever' written in Ducky's elegant, non-Doctor hand. It was part of Ducky's ritual. Just as taking Ducky out for a meal, lunch if Gibbs was married, dinner if not, was part of Gibbs's. They never did anything else, they never even openly acknowledged or spoke about the day, but it had a deeper meaning than either was prepared to admit.


Other than the meal, Gibbs didn't give Ducky anything. It wasn't that he didn't want to or didn't see the need; it was more a case of not knowing what or how to go about it. Somehow after the first few years, it seemed odd to start doing something. And yet this year he wanted to. He needed to. This year was different.


Gibbs couldn't exactly say why or how it was different, but it was. Maybe it was the death, six months ago, of Ducky's mother; the death that meant the two old friends could spend far more time together than they had been able to while she was alive. Maybe it was them both being older. Things look different when you're fifty-two and sixty-four, than when you are forty and fifty-two.


Gibbs didn't know what it was. To be honest he didn't really care. All he knew was that he had to do something - he just didn't know what. Yes, he could walk into a flower shop and buy flowers, he could buy a card, hell, he could even buy a stuffed toy!


But what would it mean?


What would it signify?


And why now?


If he did something it had to say something. Something more than 'I love you', because Ducky knew that; Gibbs told him and showed him often enough. Was there more than love? Some people might say no; Gibbs knew differently.


An idea came to him. But he needed help. Damn it, why didn't he pay more attention to what Abby and McGee tried to tell him about computers and the web and searching? What was it that they used called? Goggle? Giggle? No. He could be here all day. He needed help and he had to trust someone.


He glanced up. DiNozzo clearly wasn't working, but for once Gibbs left him to whatever website he was surfboarding. Ziva was frowning at her computer screen and tapping her pen on the desk. McGee's fingers, as always, flew over his keyboard.


"McGee," Gibbs called softly. McGee glanced up. Gibbs's beckoned him over with a movement of his head.


McGee arrived without tripping over something or knocking anything over. "Yes, boss?"


Gibbs glanced again at the other two field member of his team. DiNozzo was now grinning at the screen and laughing silently to himself; Gibbs ignored him. Ziva had given up frowning at the computer and was now writing. "I need some help, McGee," he said.


"Yes, boss?"


"I need to find out the meaning of flowers," Gibbs said quietly. "Can you show me how to do a searchy thing on whatever that browser whatsit is you use? Gaggle?"


"Google, boss. Of course. It's easy. Any particular flower?" McGee leaned across Gibbs, his fingers poised over the keyboard. Not for the first time Gibbs was pleased that he'd taken the chance and promoted McGee to a field agent. Had it been DiNozzo or anyone else, they'd have been probing as to why he wanted to know about flowers; to McGee it was as if he'd asked him to track down a used car, or find a suspect's home address. Gibbs had asked, therefore Gibbs got.


"No. Just something general." He moved back slightly to allow McGee easier access. With a couple of keystrokes a page appeared. Gibbs read Google sitting in colored letters on a white page. Seconds later the page was filled with a more words. He blinked. "A whole page full."


"Er, actually, boss, that's only page one. There are," again McGee's fingers moved rapidly. "Another twenty-eight. In fact, there are a lot more, but many of those are merely repeated or very similar results."


Gibbs swallowed and reached for his coffee. He took a long gulp of the dark, bitter liquid. "Do I have to look through them all?"


McGee shook his head. "Just try the first two or three. Just click on this part of it. If they don't tell you what you need to know, maybe you could be a little more specific. The more detailed and exact the term you search for, the fewer hits you'll get. Of course if you're too exact, then . . . " He trailed off. "Don't worry. You don't need to know any of that."


"Thanks, McGee," Gibbs said. He wondered as he often did, whether he and McGee were speaking the same language.


"Is there anything else, boss?"


Gibbs shook his head.


McGee hovered for another second or two, then returned to his desk.


Gibbs did as his computer expert had suggested and clicked on the first line. Another page opened. He blinked at the list, flowers he'd never even heard of appeared. At least he seemed to be on the right track, but he still couldn't find what he needed.


He tried another page.


Then another.


He was beginning to think he'd be there all day and night, and decided that maybe this was not a good idea - especially when the information on one page seemed to contradict what another page said. And some of the flowers were so obscure, that even if they said what he wanted them to say, he doubted whether he'd be able to find them.


About to give up and go and fetch another coffee, something caught his eye.


He looked again. Then opened another page; it said the same. Then a third; that said the same too. And it wasn't obscure. In fact maybe it was too common; it wasn't special or different. Except what he wanted, the mix he wanted, was.


Halfway there.


Now he needed to do another search, by himself. He dredged up a memory of a poem from his English Literature class, the kind that made the boys groan and the girls sigh with pleasure. He couldn't remember the title, but the first few words came to mind. He hoped they'd do and wouldn't bring up another million pages for him to work his way through. McGee had said something about exact searches, but at that point Gibbs had blanked out, as he often did when McGee and Abby went into techno-babble.


He typed in the four words he remembered.


The first suggestion was useless, unless he was looking for a movie to rent and he left that to DiNozzo.


The second suggestion seemed better. He opened it and read the words. It was still as sickly as he remembered, but the first line was all that mattered. It would do. He made a note of the title and the poet.


He was just about to close everything down, when he saw the same line attributed to another poet. Opening that one up, he read the poem. It was almost as sickly as the previous one, but the first line was still the same. Muttering under his breath, he scribbled the name and poet down too.


This was getting farcical, why didn't he just come out and say what he wanted to? He wasn't a teenager for heaven's sake; the cloak and dagger stuff was hardly necessary. Plus didn't he spend enough of his working life dealing with puzzles? And yet . . .


Gibbs stood up, pulled on his overcoat and strode towards the elevators.


"Going out, boss?" DiNozzo called.


Gibbs stopped, swiveled around and crossed back to DiNozzo's desk. "What did you just say, DiNozzo?"


DiNozzo blinked, edged his chair back slightly, while appearing not to, and said, "Er, going out?"


Gibbs waited.


DiNozzo flashed a glance around Gibbs towards Ziva and McGee. Gibbs didn't need to be looking at them to know that both would have stopped working. He continued to stare at DiNozzo.


Finally his agent managed, "Er, boss?"


"Exactly." Gibbs turned back around and walked off.


"What?" DiNozzo said, his voice heavy with confusion.


Behind him he heard McGee say, "What Gibbs means is, Tony, that he is your boss. He asks you what you're doing, where you're going, not the over way round."


Gibbs hid a smile.




By the time DiNozzo had arrived at the office, his desk was partly covered with a mass of white and pink envelopes and five bouquets of flowers. He rubbed his hands, sat down, pulled out a notebook and started to go through the pile.


"Are you doing what I think you're doing, Tony?"


"That depends what you think I'm doing, McGee."


"You are. You're ticking names off as you open the cards!"


"Of course I am."


"But why?" asked Ziva, who had also just arrived. She was eyeing the smaller pile of cards on her desk and the two bouquets of red roses as though they might leap off the desk and strangle her, or blow up if she touched them.


"I have to make sure that no one is missing." DiNozzo continued to work his way through the pile.


Ziva gave her desk a wide berth, before finally sitting down and pulling out a card from one of the bouquets. "There's no name!" she said, turning the white card over and over.


"That's kind of the point, Ziva. It's meant to be anonymous."


"But you're . . ." Ziva spluttered, opening a card and dropping it in horror. "Who would send that to me?"


McGee wandered over and picked it up. "It's only teddy bears, Ziva. Not a death threat." He handed her back the card.


"McGee, do I look like a girl who likes teddy bears? And they're holding red hearts. It's . . . It's . . . You didn't send it did you, McGee?"


"No. I didn't." McGee's voice was indignant.


From where he sat watching the pantomime unfold, Gibbs could see the tips of McGee's ears grow pink. He might not have sent the teddy bear card, but it was almost certain that he'd sent a card. DiNozzo too no doubt.


Gibbs sighed. In front of him were four envelopes. Two he'd been expecting and they were welcomed. One he'd been expecting, but wondered why she'd bothered. The other one puzzled him.


He opened what was clearly Abby's and smiled. It was very fitting, as always.


Jenn's he spared no more than a cursory glance at. Again he wondered why she'd bothered; why she'd felt the need to keep up the pretence.


He turned his attention briefly to the one he couldn't place. After a few seconds, he gave up even trying and pushed it to one side.


Then he opened Ducky's and with great care pulled the card out. As always it was a plain white card with the single picture in the middle. This year Ducky had chosen a sunset over the sea. Gibbs found himself relieved that it hadn't been a flower; otherwise he'd have started seeking hidden meaning. And also as always there was one word inside.


Now all he could do was wait. He avoided the temptation to go down to Autopsy or even leave his desk in search of coffee, turning his attention to what was going on around him. He vaguely wondered just how much DiNozzo had spent this year. If the number of cards indicated the number of presents he sent, then it didn't bear thinking about.



"Good morning, Mr. Palmer," Ducky called, as he walked into Autopsy. "I do apologize for being a little late this morning. I was . . . Oh," he came to a halt and looked at his desk. "Jimmy?"


"They were there when I got here, Doctor. It looks as though you have a secret admirer."


"It's probably just Abigail," Ducky said.


"Oh, no, Doctor. That one's from Abby." Jimmy pointed to a second envelope. Ducky glanced at him. Jimmy blushed. "I recognized the writing. I got one too." Then he added softly, in a tone that made Ducky feel sorry for him, "I think we all did. All the team, apart from Ziva that is."


Ignoring his desk for a moment, Ducky moved over to Jimmy. "Ah, Jimmy," he said softly, and patted his arm. "Abby does like you."


"But not in that way. Not like she likes McGee. It's all right, Doctor. I know. I'm just being silly. But at least I got a card. In fact," suddenly his face lit up. "I got three."


"Three?" Ducky exclaimed, and then winced, hoping that Jimmy hadn't noticed the surprise in his tone. He immediately felt guilty. Jimmy was a lovely young man, bright, willing, cheerful, albeit a little too exuberant sometimes. He'd make someone feel like the most special person in the world, and he'd be loyal and devoted. But he was hardly a DiNozzo, or even a McGee. "That's lovely, Jimmy," he said, genuinely happy for the young man. Who knows maybe one of them was genuine; after all he couldn't begin to guess who had sent them.


"Do you have any idea who your other one's from, Doctor? Or the gift?"


Ducky shook his head. "No, Jimmy. I don't." And he genuinely had no idea at all who had left a single red and single white rose together on his desk, and a simple plain white envelope with his name printed on it.


Leaving Jimmy to his own devices, Ducky took off his hat and coat, all the time thinking about the flowers. Why a red and white rose? The red was obvious; after all the office would be awash with them. But the white as well. His mother had always loved flowers and had spent hours telling the young Donald about their meanings. He wished now that he'd paid more attention to what she was saying, and less to reading his father's textbooks on dissecting bodies. He was certain they had a particular meaning.




"Yes, Doctor." Jimmy beamed.


"Is it possible to do a web search on this computer?"


"Yes. Shall I show you how?"


"Yes, please."


Jimmy came over to Ducky's desk and in a moment had a page with the word Google, entwined with red roses on it. "That's the best one to use. What do you want to search for, Doctor?"


"Flowers and their meanings."


"Oh, right. You want to see if these mean anything? I can tell you that."


"You can?" Ducky was surprised.


"Mmm, my grandma was very fond of flowers. She could never have them in the house because she was asthmatic, but she had books and books and books all about them. I spent a lot of time at her house when I was young; we were company for one another. She liked to talk about the flowers and I listened."


Ducky suddenly realized that for all Jimmy's prattling and openness, this was one of the first things he had actually learned about the young man. He had a sudden vision of a very unhappy childhood, the only highlights being time spent with his grandmother.


"Red of course means love, passion," Jimmy blushed slightly. Ducky made a promise to himself to listen to his assistant more and get to know him better. "Romance. The perfect Valentine's Day flower. White is purity and innocence. But together they mean something else. I just can't quite remember. If I . . . There." He moved back from the computer and let Ducky read what was on the screen. "Oh, Doctor. It's more than a secret admirer you've got. Those two together stand for 'Unity'. And look here," he opened a second page. "They also means 'Togetherness' and 'I love only you.' Doctor, you must have some idea who sent them to you. Doctor. Doctor Mallard?"


"I'm sorry. What did you say?" Ducky shook himself.


"I was saying that surely you must have some idea. It's got to be someone who you know well. It's -"


"Jimmy, go and see Abby. Thank her for the card." Ducky smiled and patted Jimmy's arm.


"But it's meant to be anonymous."


"She knows that you'll have guessed. Go and say thank you. She'd like that. Take her a Caf-Pow too, she'd also like that."


"Really?" Ducky smiled and nodded.


After one more glance at the flowers, Jimmy hurried out of Autopsy.


Ducky picked up the plain white envelope, paused for a moment, then pulled out the paper knife Jethro had given him for one of his birthdays and slit the paper. Inside was a piece of folded white card, with nothing on the front. Still Ducky held it for a long moment before slowly opening it.


Inside in the middle of the card, breaking up the starkness, in a handwriting he knew as well as his own, were four words: 'Come live with me.' And then at the bottom in small printed letters, were two names: CHRISTOPHER MARLOW. JOHN DONNE.


"Ah, Jethro," Ducky murmured. He hadn't needed to read the first name. The words had come rushing back to him from his studies at Eton and his dipping into poetry books throughout the years. Ducky had a mind that held on to pointless information, and the entire first verse came rushing back to him.


Come live with me and be my love,

And we will all the pleasures prove

That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,

Woods or steepy mountain yields.


If he remembered correctly the poem, very much of its period, degenerated even further from there on.


The name Donne also touched a memory in his mind, and he concentrated for a few minutes. But it was no good. All he could remember was that there was a poem written by John Donne that had the same opening line as the one by Marlow. But no doubt it too would be much of its period, and very un-Jethro-like.


Despite his emotion and the feelings that were threatening to overwhelm him, the analytical part of Ducky's mind, the part that always had to know who, why, where, when and what, took over. He had to find the other poem, but he didn't want to lose the information on the flowers. He knew there was a way to keep on page and open another, but he couldn't' recall how to do it.


Finally he resorted to what he did know and understand: a pen and paper, and copied down the meaning of the red and white rose.


A few minute later he had found Donne's poem. It wasn't quite as  flowery as Marlow's, but he

could still understand why Jethro had wanted to use little more than the first four words.


Come live with me, and be my love,

And we will some new pleasures prove

Of golden sands, and crystal brooks,

With silken lines, and silver hooks.


Besides no other words were needed. They, along with the two roses, said everything. But still Ducky hesitated. He was still uncertain that he had read the message correctly. He looked again at the words he'd copied from the website.


Once more he read the words:






And 'I love only you'.


The meaning was clear, there could be no ambiguity. And Jethro wouldn't toy with him; wouldn't play games; wouldn't lie. He never had, not once during their twenty-seven years, he was hardly about to start now.


With one more careful look at his notebook and Donne's poem, Ducky tore the sheet out of the book, folded it carefully and tucked it into his jacket pocket. He then closed the website down and opened his email.


One click was all it took to bring up Jethro's name.


He paused for a moment, uncertain whether to use it, aware from talks with Abby that anything he said could be read by more than just Jethro.


In the end he typed one single word and pressed ‘Send'.



Gibbs's email pinged.


He glanced at the 'From' and hesitated.


He was suddenly uncertain as to whether he wished to know. His courage was well known. He faced possible death every day, and yet this took him beyond that. Knowing that he couldn't sit there all day staring at the screen, he clicked ‘Open'.


One word.


Three letters greeted him.


He smiled, as a sense of relief flooded through him.


Not hearing the giggles and comments around him, he settled back in his chair, holding the simple card that Ducky had given him, looking at the one word written in black ink on the center of the white card. A word that finally, after far too many years, he could give back to Ducky. "Ah, Duck," he murmured, so softly that no one else would have heard him. He swallowed hard and glanced again at the single word on the screen.


It hadn't changed.


There were still three letters.


Swallowing again, he pushed the card back into its envelope and tucked it away in his locked drawer, along with his gun. Later he put it with the other twenty-seven, in a far more suitable place.


But for now - coffee.


And then maybe a trip to Autopsy would be in order.



Christopher Marlow's poem is widely known as Come Live With Me And Be My Love, but actually entitled: The Passionate Shepherd to His Love.


Come live with me and be my love,

And we will all the pleasures prove

That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,

Woods or steepy mountain yields.


And we will sit upon the rocks,

Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,

By shallow rivers to whose falls

Melodious birds sing madrigals.


And I will make thee beds of roses

And a thousand fragrant posies,

A cap of flowers, and a kirtle

Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;


A gown made of the finest wool

Which from our pretty lambs we pull;

Fair lined slippers for the cold,

With buckles of th purest gold;


A belt of straw and ivy buds,

With coral clasps and amber studs:

And if these pleasures may thee move,

Come live with me and be my love.


The shepherds' swains shall dance and sing

For thy delight each May morning:

If these delights thy mind may move,

Then live with me and be my love.


John Donne's poem is called The Bait.


Come live with me, and be my love,

And we will some new pleasures prove

Of golden sands, and crystal brooks,

With silken lines, and silver hooks.


There will the river whispering run

Warm'd by thy eyes, more than the sun;

And there the 'enamour'd fish will stay,

Begging themselves they may betray.


When thou wilt swim in that live bath,

Each fish, which every channel hath,

Will amorously to thee swim,

Gladder to catch thee, than thou him.


If thou, to be so seen, be'st loth,

By sun or moon, thou dark'nest both,

And if myself have leave to see,

I need not their light having thee.


Let others freeze with angling reeds,

And cut their legs with shells and weeds,

Or treacherously poor fish beset,

With strangling snare, or windowy net.


Let coarse bold hands from slimy nest

The bedded fish in banks out-wrest;

Or curious traitors, sleeve-silk flies,

Bewitch poor fishes' wand'ring eyes.


For thee, thou need'st no such deceit,

For thou thyself art thine own bait:

That fish, that is not catch'd thereby,

Alas, is wiser far than I.

Meaning of Roses

Meaning of Rose Colours

Flowers Meaning

Meanings of Flowers


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