IN THE CARDS
Ducky challenges Jethro to a game of cribbage as both men claim to have been unbeaten in their younger days. The stakes are somewhat different from usual, and the outcome a surprise for both of them.
A first time story.
Written: October 2008. Word count: 3,931.
Jethro and Ducky sat in Ducky's sitting room enjoying a post-dinner glass of scotch and talking about nothing in particular. At least Ducky was talking; Jethro was offering the odd 'hmm' or 'yeah' or 'really'? but he got the feeling none of his interspersions were actually essential to his old friend's story.
It was a Saturday evening and he'd been with Ducky since mid-afternoon when he'd gone round to Ducky's house to help him with some DIY. That had led to an excellent dinner, the offer of a bed for the night and thus a very friendly post-dinner drink.
As he listened to Ducky talking about his Edinburgh days he found himself wondering if now that Mrs. Mallard had died whether Ducky would stay in his rambling, large Reston home. He hoped he would; he enjoyed visiting the peaceful, comfortable house.
Suddenly something Ducky said wormed its way more deeply into his mind. "Did you say crib?"
Ducky smiled and his eyes twinkled as he looked at Jethro. "Ah, so you were listening?" he said with a gentle chuckle. "Yes, as a matter of fact I did."
"As in the game?" Jethro was sure it was that, but he thought it safer to clarify.
"You used to play?"
"Oh, yes. In fact I shall be somewhat immodest and say I used to play well. In fact, continuing to be immodest, I used to play very well indeed. When I left Medical School, I was the undefeated cribbage champion. No one could beat me. Why do you ask?"
Jethro shrugged. "Just that I played too. In the Marines."
"I thought poker was more your style?"
"Played that as well, but crib was my game. Haven't met anyone I couldn't beat."
Now the look in Ducky's eyes became speculative and he sat forward slightly. "Have you not?" he said.
"Nope. Never been beaten." Jethro settled further back into the comfortable firm softness of Ducky's sofa.
"Really? Nor have I." Ducky tilted his head to one side a little as he continued to appraise Jethro. "Do you think you could beat me?"
Jethro gave a short almost derisive laugh and then hastily apologized. "Sorry, Duck," he said, put his hand on Ducky's arm and squeezing it. "Didn't mean that to sound quite so . . ."
"Insulting?" But Ducky's eyes showed amused affection rather than any hint of annoyance.
"That'll do, yeah." Jethro squeezed Ducky's arm again and then took his hand away.
"I take it then you believe you could beat me?"
This time Jethro didn't laugh. "Reckon I could, yeah. In fact," he said, as Ducky continued to stare at him, "I'm sure I could."
"Really?" Ducky sounded even more amused.
"And what makes you quite so certain?" Ducky took another sip of his drink, as his steady gaze never once left Jethro's face.
Jethro shrugged and hastened to choose his words with care. "Well, Duck, there's a huge difference between Marine-style cribbage and Medical School-style cribbage."
"Is there now?"
"Bound to be. I was pretty cut-throat in my play."
"And you think I was not?"
Jethro gave a half-shrug and this time floundered slightly as he searched for a reply. Finally he settled on, "You're a gentleman, Duck."
This time Ducky's laughter went on for somewhat longer. "Maybe not all of the time," he finally said.
"So you reckon you could beat me, do you?"
"Oh, no," Ducky said solemnly. "I know I could."
Jethro shut his mouth, which had fallen open at Ducky's blazon comment. "That a challenge, Dr. Mallard?" he finally said.
"Why, yes, Agent Gibbs, I believe it might well be."
Jethro looked at his friend, studying him intently. Could Ducky be serious? Could he really believe he could beat him? "Okay. Let's play. What about the stakes? I take it being the cut-throat player you are, you want to play for something?"
"Oh, I think that would make it more exciting, do you not?"
"Sure. How much per point, then?"
Now Ducky fell silent for a moment and again Jethro watched as he was studied. "How about rather than play per point, we have an overall stake - winner takes all, type of thing?"
Jethro shrugged. "Sure. What do you suggest?"
"Well if you beat me in shall we say the best of five games?"
Jethro nodded. "Sure."
"If you beat me," Ducky repeated, "I will buy you a case of that bourbon of which you are so very fond; another case of the scotch we are currently drinking, of which you are also extremely fond, even if you do occasionally pretend not to be, and I will take you out to dinner at a restaurant of your choice. How does that sound?"
"As though I'd better start making room for twenty-four bottles," Jethro said.
Ducky chuckled and his eyes gleamed. "Do not count your bottles before they appear," he said.
"And you? What do you get if you win?"
Ducky was silent and for a moment he glanced away. When he looked back up, Jethro saw the faintest hint of what might be hesitation in Ducky's gaze. Then under his own stare, it faded and he saw resolution. He waited. "If I beat you, you will spend the night in my bed."
Jethro blinked and shook his head. He couldn't have heard Ducky correctly. "What?"
"You will spend the night in my bed letting me make love to you." Ducky spoke slowly, clearly and without changing his tone."
"Duck! What the . . . " Jethro trailed off, before repeating, "Duck?"
"You don't need to worry; you will not have to do anything to me. I won't expect you to kiss me or touch me, although if you wished to you could always fuck me."
"Ducky!" Jethro sat forward and glared at Ducky.
To his surprise Ducky chuckled softly. "What, Jethro? It's a perfectly good word. One I have heard you use on more than one occasion."
"Yeah, but not for -" Jethro stopped speaking and just shook his head. "Is that how you think of it?" He'd blurted the words out without consciously meaning to.
Ducky looked at him and shook his head. "No. Not usually. However, this would not be a usual occasion, would it?"
Jethro didn't say anything; he simply continued to glare at Ducky.
After a moment or two, Ducky just shrugged. "Very well, since the term seems to trouble you so much, although I can't see why." It wasn't the term that troubled Jethro, it was hearing Ducky say the word; it just didn't sound right. "How about 'penetrate' me? Is that better?" He paused for a second and then when Jethro didn't reply went on. "As I was saying, I would not expect you to do anything, other than allow me to give you pleasure. And rest assured Jethro, you would find it pleasurable. I am a good lover, you would not regret it."
Jethro stared at him. He'd always known that Ducky was attracted to him, loved him, wanted him, and not just because Ducky had made a point of telling him thus. Apparently he'd believed it was only fair, if they were to become friends, that Jethro was aware of his true feelings. But Jethro had known them even before Ducky had told him. And it didn't bother him, maybe that was odd. Maybe most men would have run a mile to discover they were the object of their closest friend's desire, but it had never troubled him.
However, since that time, some thirty-odd years ago, they had never spoken of it. They had never acknowledged it. So Ducky's suggestion was more than a little out of the blue. "Duck," he managed, suddenly aware that saying his friend's name was pretty much the only thing he'd managed to say for several minutes.
"What, Jethro? What is it that troubles you so? After all you are utterly convinced you will beat me, are you not?"
Jethro nodded. "Yeah," he said slowly.
"Well then. You have nothing to worry about. You will win; thus you will not need to spend the night in my bed."
"It's not that," Jethro said.
Ducky blinked. "Is it not? Well, what is it then?"
Jethro ran his hand over his head, emptied his glass in one swallow, glanced away, shrugged and then looked back at Ducky who sat watching him. "It's just . . . What's in it for you, Duck?"
Ducky frowned. "I'm not sure I follow you."
Jethro sighed; he was somewhat exasperated. He wasn't the best conversationalist in the world, especially when it came to personal subjects - not even with Ducky. "If I don't have to do anything except lay there and let you," he waved his hand in a vague gesture.
"Pleasure you?" Ducky said calmly.
Jethro frowned. "Yeah. Well, what do you get out of it? It's hardly equal, Ducky?"
Ducky was silent again and simply continued to look at him. Then he shrugged and said, his voice low, his tone unreadable even by the man who knew him so well, "I get what I have wanted since the moment I met you. I get the reality rather than just my . . ." He paused and for a moment Jethro thought he wouldn't go on. Then Ducky said, his voice more resolute, "Fantasy." And then hastily he said, "I am sorry, Jethro, I should not have said that. In fact I should not have said anything. I am making you uncomfortable."
Jethro again put his hand on Ducky's arm and closed his fingers around it. "You're not, Duck," he said quietly and honestly. "Least not in the way you think." Ducky simply watched him, saying nothing.
For a moment they sat in silence. Then Jethro said, "Okay. Why not? After all, I'm going to beat you any way, so . . ."
Ducky smiled and seemed to relax. "You really are a cocky bastard at times, Jethro," he said.
"Yep," Jethro said. "Sure am. So you want to play now?"
Ducky nodded. "I think so. Why don't you pour us another drink whilst I go and fetch the cards and cribbage set?"
"Sure," Jethro said, coming to his feet and, without, at least he hoped it was without, making it too obvious, offered Ducky a hand up. He'd noticed how much more prominent Ducky's limp was becoming, how he seemed to find it a little more difficult at times to stand up after he'd crouched down by a body or even sat in a chair.
After two hours of hard fought, ruthless play, Jethro watched as Ducky pegged out in the fifth and final game.
"Mine, I think," Ducky said softly, as he pushed the final peg into place and looked at Jethro.
Jethro swallowed hard and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand as he met Ducky's stare. "Congratulations," he managed, swallowing again.
Ducky smiled a little. "Thank you," he said formally.
Jethro swallowed for a third time. "Well, I . . . Um . . . You want to go to bed now?" Now Ducky did look away and Jethro heard him sigh. "Duck?" he said, touching Ducky's hand.
Ducky looked at him and sighed more deeply. "Ah, Jethro," he said, turning his hand over beneath Jethro's and briefly entwining his fingers with Jethro's. "Did you really believe I could take a man to bed who has no interest in being in bed with me? Especially when that man is the person I love so very much? Especially when the person is you?"
Jethro blinked. "Then why suggest it?"
The look in Ducky's eyes became one of self-depreciation. "Because, my dear Jethro, for a foolish moment or two, I really believed I could. I truly believed, or at least I let myself believe, that it would it enough. That touching you, kissing you, giving you pleasure, even though you would do nothing to me, would be enough. But of course it wouldn't be. I know that now. I always did. It was a mad moment of wild fantasy and hope, that is all. Please forgive me, Jethro. Can you forgive me?" he asked, his look becoming troubled.
"Nothing to forgive, Ducky," Jethro said, as he slipped his arm around Ducky and briefly pulled him into an embrace. "I didn't . . ." He trailed off.
"Know I wanted you quite that badly?"
"Ducky, I . . . " But he what? "Ah, Duck." Now he made it a two-armed embrace and rested his head against Ducky's, feeling the silkiness of his hair beneath his cheek.
Ducky sighed as he rested against Jethro for a moment. Then he sat up straight, breaking the embrace and said, "Don't worry, Jethro. You can take me out to dinner as my 'prize'."
Jethro looked at him. "That's not enough," he said.
"I assure you, my dear, it would be perfectly acceptable. An evening in your company is more than enough for me."
Jethro shook his head. "Nah. Stakes were higher than that."
Ducky frowned. "Well then, what do you have in mind? What would you like to give me or do for me?"
"This," Jethro said, as he swiftly pulled Ducky back into his arms and put his mouth onto Ducky's.
"Jeth-" But Jethro silenced his old friend and went on silencing him.
For several minutes any time they broke away long enough to gasp in some air and Ducky tried to speak, Jethro just covered his mouth again, kissing him into silent submission. And as he kissed Ducky, as he felt Ducky begin to kiss him back and Ducky's mouth finally part for him, he began to move his hands over Ducky's back, stroking and caressing, letting his fingers roam around Ducky's neck, letting them slip up into the heavy, sweet smelling silkiness.
And as he went on kissing and stroking, gradually, slowly so not as to alarm Ducky, he guided Ducky back against the cushions, lowering him and using his weight and height to encourage Ducky to recline even more. And once he had Ducky in that position he moved one hand from beneath Ducky's back and started to stroke Ducky's chest, slipping lower and lower, until his fingers found Ducky's clear arousal.
"Jethro," Ducky managed to gasp, as Jethro began to caress Ducky through two layers of clothing. "Oh, Jethro," he gasped again. "I -"
Once more Jethro silenced him, deepening the kiss, making it and his caresses even more intimate. And as he did he thought; he didn't want to go any further here on Ducky's sofa. He wanted them unclothed in Ducky's bed, he wanted to feel Ducky's naked skin as he stroked him, made love to him and brought him to climax. He wanted to feel Ducky climax in his hand; he wanted to put his lips on Ducky's smooth skin. He wanted to see Ducky naked, see him with the eyes of a lover, not just as a friend. He wanted to taste Ducky's skin, he wanted to taste his scent, he wanted to . . .
He wasn't sure there were words even in his mind for what he wanted to do to Ducky; what he wanted Ducky to eventually, once he'd loved Ducky into complete and utter satiation, do to him. But he knew that if he stopped now and suggested they went to bed, Ducky would freeze, Ducky would say no. So he had to keep Ducky at this level of contentment, this level of arousal, this level of passion, and still get them to bed.
It would take some doing, but he was sure he could do it. Under his hand he could feel how damp Ducky was getting, even through the two layers of clothing. That not only pleased him, it made him feel more than a tad smug - Ducky really did want him. But it also warned him to gentle and calm his caresses a little; he didn't intend things to be over too quickly. And not just for Ducky, for himself as well. The more he kissed and caressed Ducky, the more intimate his touches and kisses became, the more aroused he also was becoming.
Bit by bit, hardly giving Ducky time to catch his breath, let alone speak, he guided Duck back to sitting upright before, using his extra strength, he managed to get them both to their feet. Slowly, he had all the time in the world for this, still kissing and gently caressing Ducky's back, shoulders, neck and head, he began to propel them towards the sitting room door, out into the hall and then to the bottom of the stairs.
"Jethro," Ducky managed, but once more Jethro silenced him.
He lost count of how long it took him to get Ducky upstairs and into his bedroom, but he reckoned it must have been at least fifteen minutes. He was in effect on the last lap now as he began to strip Ducky, still not giving him time to think, to speak, to do anything but enjoy the attention Jethro was lavishing on him. Not that Ducky seemed, any longer to even be trying to speak or stop Jethro, he finally seemed to have accepted the position he was in. And seemed content just to kiss Jethro back and press his body against his. More than once as Ducky pressed against him, Jethro had to mentally clamp down on his own need for completion.
He ignored Ducky's faint sounds of protest and he tossed Ducky's clothing onto the floor, gently tangling one hand in Ducky's head to keep him where he wanted him as he continued to strip him.
It was only when Jethro tugged down his trousers and shorts and put his hand on Ducky's firm arousal, closing his fingers around the damp, naked heat that Ducky gasped again and with a speed that surprised Jethro clamped his own hand over Jethro's, effectively stilling it as Ducky breathed heavily and fought against his body's desire for fulfilment. Jethro knew just how he felt, as touching Ducky's naked erection had pushed him perilously close to the edge
Jethro held him tightly with his other arm, pressing Ducky against him, kissing his ear, his head, his cheek and murmuring words he didn't even form. Finally he felt the stranglehold grip Ducky had on his hand loosen somewhat and Ducky's body relax slightly. He took the opportunity to once again turn his attention to Ducky's mouth, before lowering Ducky down onto the bed, following him down and with kisses and caresses took Ducky back to the sated state of barely being aware as he struggled to undress himself while not standing back up.
Finally completely naked himself, he began to gentle the kisses, to take them down a level, to allow Ducky a modicum of awareness as he turned his attention once more to Ducky's body. He'd never been with a man before, he'd never touched one, at least not naked, but he was used to his own body, he had touched himself and despite obvious differences between them he had no qualms about being able to give Ducky pleasure.
After more loving than he could remember bestowing on any one person in any one lovemaking session before he finally brought Ducky to the edge and allowed him to tumble over. As Ducky climaxed he half cried, half sobbed Jethro's name; Jethro felt the warm, sticky liquid flow over his fingers and felt Ducky climax with his entire body, his entire being. "Oh, Jethro, Jethro, Jethro," was all Ducky seemed capable of managing, as to Jethro's surprise a second flood of liquid flowed into his hand.
As the climax left Ducky's body, Ducky sank back onto the bed, eyes closed, face flushed, perspiration dampening his upper lip, forehead and hair. Jethro watched him, pleased with himself, pleased with the joy he'd given Ducky; Ducky: his friend; Ducky: his lover; Ducky: his Ducky.
After a few minutes Ducky opened his eyes. "Jethro?" he murmured, making it a very faint question.
"Hey, Duck," Jethro said, kissing Ducky's nose.
"But why? Why did you -"
Once again Jethro silenced him.
"Now," he said, several minutes later as he held Ducky in his arms, "I seem to remember something about you making love to me. About you giving me pleasure."
Although he still looked a little surprised, a little uncertain, a little flummoxed, Ducky smiled. "I did, did I not?" he said. And proceeded to do that very thing.
Ducky was right. He was good. Jethro had thought himself a skilled and knowledgeable lover, but Ducky . . . He surpassed anything Jethro had known before. Maybe it was just that he was another man and so knew the male body, maybe it was partly to do with being a surgeon and knowing the human body so well had something to do with. But whatever it was, he took Jethro to heights Jethro hadn't even dreamed off, let alone experienced. His mouth and hands moved over Jethro's body in ways that had Jethro crying out - and he was not a vocal lover - until finally after what seemed like hours had gone by Ducky brought Jethro to a shattering climax.
"I love you, Duck," Jethro whispered, when he finally felt able to form words coherently again. "I love you," he repeated, just in case Ducky hadn't heard.
If he'd thought Ducky had looked happy, contented and at peace before, he realized now he'd only seen a part of it. "Do you?" Ducky asked softly. "Do you really?"
Jethro fought the knot in his throat as he heard the sudden need for reassurance. "Yeah, Duck. I do. I don't have pretty words to tell you how much. I don't have words at all, not like you. But I love you."
Ducky's smiled deepened. "Ah, my dear, dear, beloved Jethro," he said. "I love you too. So very, very much."
"That's good," Jethro said, as once more he swallowed around the lump in his throat.
"Yes, it is, very," Ducky said, as he slipped his hand inside Jethro's. He then tugged Jethro's head nearer to him, kissed him lightly and under Jethro's gaze slipped into a light sleep.
As he watched Ducky sleep, Jethro wondered if he'd ever tell Ducky the truth. After a few minutes contemplation he decided that maybe their tenth anniversary might be the time to confess that he had deliberately lost the final game.
He'd done so because he was sure that after two hours of playing cards Ducky would change his mind about taking him to bed. He knew Ducky well enough to know that, as he said, he wouldn't take someone to bed who didn't want to be there - especially when that someone was Jethro. Jethro had further been sure that with a little careful and gentle manipulation he could get Ducky to agree that he, Jethro, should suggest what should be Ducky's 'reward' for winning. And if he had been wrong, if he had read his dearest friend incorrectly and Ducky had taken him to bed well . . . Either way it would have turned out the right way. It was a win-win situation.
Yeah, their tenth anniversary should be a good time - or maybe their twentieth.
With those thoughts on his mind, together with just what they could do when they both woke up again, Jethro closed his eyes and, with Ducky held protectively, possessively in his arms, also slipped into sleep.
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