Ashleigh Anpilova


Gibbs had many chances to tell Ducky how he felt about him. But it was some time before he did.

A first time story.

Written: June 2008. Word count: 1,422.





Gibbs looked across the room to where Ducky stood still, silent, clearly thinking.


He looked as if he'd aged at least half a dozen years in a few minutes. He seemed to have shrunk, appearing several inches shorter than his five foot six inch height. His hair, usually heavy, silky and bright, seemed dull.


His suffering was clear to see; he was upset, deeply upset. Gibbs had never seen him quite like that before, and he didn't really know how to help him.


Tell him. The words sounded so clearly in his mind, it was only his many years of training that stopped him from looking around to see who had spoken them.


I can't. He answered his own mind.


Why not? The strange conversation continued.


It's not the right time. He began to realize what someone suffering from schizophrenia might feel like.


Will it ever be? The tone was sarcastic.


Shut up! He snarled the words, effectively ending the conversation.


To make certain it was over, he slammed the file he was holding down on the desk, strode across the room and touched Ducky's shoulder. "Come on, Duck, I'll buy you a cup of tea." With one hand on Ducky's back, he gently propelled him across the room.




Gibbs sat in the dimly lit hospital room staring at the bed where Ducky was dozing.


Clearly his old friend was not finding peace in sleep, as he kept waking up, jerking awake with a soft gasp, sitting forward and searching the room with his eyes. It was only when his gaze settled on Gibbs that his breathing became normal and he slumped back against the pillows, where he'd sit still and silent until his eyelids began to close again.


The third time it had happened, Gibbs had simply picked up Ducky's hand and held it, stroking it gently until his friend slipped back into sleep. At least after that Ducky's wakings, while still as troubled, settled more quickly as he felt the security of Gibbs's hand holding his.


Tell him.


I can't.


Why not?


It's not the right time


Will it ever be?


Shut up! He snarled the words, effectively ending the conversation.


To make certain it was over, he sat forward and brushed the hair off Ducky's forehead.




"Hush, go back to sleep, Duck. I'm here, I'm not going anywhere." This time Ducky didn't wake again until sunlight began to stream into the room.




Gibbs sat in the passenger seat of Ducky's Morgan, his mind a whirl.


Out of the corner of his eye he could see Ducky glancing at him. He could tell Ducky wanted to talk to him, wanted to say something, wanted to ask him questions. He could tell, despite Ducky desperately trying to hide it, how much his not knowing his oldest friend when he'd first regained consciousness had hurt Ducky. He knew, but he couldn't do anything. He was in too much pain himself.


He was leaving DC; he was leaving NCIS; he was leaving the kids; he was leaving his past; he was leaving his memories. He was leaving Ducky. He was leaving Ducky and


Tell him.


I can't.


Why not?


It's not the right time


Will it ever be?


Shut up! He snarled the words, effectively ending the conversation.


To make certain it was over, he shifted in his seat.


"Are you all right, Jethro? Is there something you need?"


Gibbs glanced at Ducky and just shook his head, before turning his head away and staring out of the window. He didn't even bother to clarify which question he'd answered partly because he didn't know.




Gibbs looked up to see who had put the replacement cup of coffee on his desk.


Not that he needed to look up, he knew who it was. They might have been at odds with one another since his return from Mexico, but he was still as acutely aware as ever as to where Ducky was.


Ducky looked uncomfortable, ill at ease, uncertain even as he looked at Gibbs and began to speak. As he did Ducky looked at him, really looked at him, making deliberate eye contact for almost the first time since Gibbs had returned. Gibbs realized that Ducky had aged since he'd been gone and come back, and it was only now that some of that weariness was beginning to shed itself.


Tell him.


I can't.


Why not?


It's not the right time


Will it ever be?


Shut up! He snarled the words, effectively ending the conversation.


To make certain it was over, he stood up, strode around the desk and offered Ducky his hand.


"Welcome home," Ducky said, gripping Gibbs's hand tightly.


Gibbs pulled him nearer to him, putting his arms around him, feeling Ducky's arms go around him, as they stood in the middle of the squad room and embraced. "Thanks," he said, his lips brushing Ducky's ear.




Gibbs stood in Ducky's sitting room, not even entirely certain how he'd gotten there.


The only thing he was certain about was that this was the right place for him to be. The only place for him to be. The only place he would be. The only place he wanted to be.


Ducky was watching him in silence. Other than a greeting and the simple offer of a drink, Ducky hadn't spoken. He'd just waited, hearing Gibbs out as he ranted about Director Vance, and made all kinds of vows and promises and threats he doubted he'd be able to keep.


Ducky looked troubled and Gibbs didn't blame him. You didn't have to be a genius to know what was going to come next: Vance would demand that Ducky retired. And then no doubt he'd find a way to get rid of Abby and Palmer, and that would leave Gibbs alone.


Tell him.


I ca He stopped the thought from finishing.


Why couldn't he?


Hadn't he now known for almost four years - and the rest - how he felt about Ducky? What he wanted from Ducky? Hadn't that feeling not changed during those years? Well, yes, it had it had grown stronger, more intense. Didn't he know that he was ready to spend the rest of his life with Ducky? The rest of his life making Ducky happy? The rest of his life being faithful to Ducky?


Yes. He did.


Then why the hell was he waiting?


Is the time right? He asked his mind.


If it's not then I don't know when it will be. Just tell him! The order was clear. He smiled to himself.


"Duck," he said, putting his glass down and capturing both of Ducky's hands.


"Jethro?" Ducky looked up at him.


"I love you. I love you, Duck. I love you," he said for a third time, just in case Ducky hadn't heard either of the previous times.


Ducky smiled and sighed, the sound one of sheer contentment. "Ah, Jethro my dear," he said, snuggling into Gibbs's embrace. "I love you too."


And it was as simple as that.


The time had finally been right.


The time was right.


And it was right for something else as well.


"Duck," he said, as he continued to hold Ducky in his arms, marveling at how well Ducky fitted, how right it was, how many decades he felt he'd been doing this which he had, albeit in a previous purely platonic way.


"My dear?"


"I'm going to retire. Not quit, retire. It's time, Duck. I'm not playing his games. I'm not playing any one's games anymore."


Ducky pulled out of the embrace a little and looked up at Jethro, his eyes twinkling. "I am a little saddened to hear you say that, Jethro?"


"What, about me retiring?"


"Oh, no. I am happy to hear that, as I plan to do the same thing. I intend to 'jump before I am pushed' as they say."


"What then?"


"I'm a little saddened that you do not wish to play any kinds of games."


"Dr. Mallard!" Gibbs began to laugh, as he pulled Ducky back into his arms, holding him close, but not so closely that he couldn't bring his head down and finally put his mouth on Ducky's.


When they finally broke away a little, he said, just because he had all those years to catch up on, "I love you, Duck."



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