INTERROGATION ROOM NUMBER ONE
Set the same evening as The Meat Puzzle.
Ducky returns to NCIS to find Jethro.
An established relationship story.
Written: August 2005. Word count: 2,396.
It was midnight, but still the lights burned in the NCIS offices.
"Ducky? What are you doing here?" Kate exclaimed, rising to her feet and moving towards Ducky.
"I do work here, Caitlin," Ducky replied, and smiled. He hoped his attempt at being lighthearted and the smile came over better than he felt it had.
Kate smiled back. "Sorry," she said. "I just thought that you'd be at home, tucked up in bed. You have had quite a shock, Ducky."
"Yes, that's what the very pleasant young paramedics said, Caitlin. But I assured them that as a doctor, I probably do know better than they do. But thank you for your concern, my dear. I do appreciate it."
Kate moved towards him. "Ducky. I haven't had a chance to tell you how . . . Well, that is . . . I shouldn't have . . ."
Ducky patted her arm. "You did your job, Caitlin. Please put the incident from your mind. It wasn't your fault."
"Gibbs thinks it was his," Tony said softly.
Ducky glanced at him. "Yes, I know, Tony. That is why I am here. Now where is Jethro?" He hadn't seen his friend since Jethro had led the rescue party and saved Ducky's life. Following the almost desperate, fierce embrace that Jethro had given him after the meant-to-be-dead-man had cut his own throat, that went on far longer than Ducky had thought advisable, Jethro had handed Ducky over to the hastily called paramedics, and had vanished. Ducky knew why; it hadn't surprised him at all. But now it was time to find his oldest friend.
The two agents exchanged glances. "He went back to the interrogation room, Ducky, something about forgetting his pen. Mind you that was about half an hour ago. Shall I fetch him for you?" Tony asked, standing up.
Ducky shook his head. "No, thank you, Tony. I'll go and find him." He smiled again, this time including McGee in the look, patted Kate's arm once more, and limped out of the room.
He made his way slowly down to the interrogation rooms and stood for a moment watching Jethro. "Oh, my dear Jethro," he murmured. "What am I going to do with you?" He watched the statue like figure for another few minutes, before moving slowly towards the door.
"Jethro?" he said softly, as he entered the room.
Jethro's head, which had been bowed over the table, shot up and he glanced around. "Duck?" he managed. "What are you doing here? Why aren't you at home?"
Ducky considered his various responses. In the end he said simply, "I need a lift, Jethro."
Jethro stood up swiftly; he seemed for a split second to almost lose his balance. Although the stagger was so imperceptible, that even Ducky, attuned as he was to every movement, facial expression, tone of voice, or aspect of body language that Jethro made, could not have sworn under oath that he had seen it. "Why didn't you just ask someone to drive you? Just a minute I'll get -"
"No, my dear," Ducky said, moving forward and forestalling Jethro, who had his cell phone in his hand. "I do not want Caitlin or Tony or Timothy to drive me home. I want you to do so, Jethro." He spoke softly, and moved even nearer, tipping his head back until he could meet the dark gaze which, as he expected, skittered away from him. He sighed silently.
"Sorry, Duck. I can't do that." Jethro began to move.
Ducky caught his arm and held it, his fingers closing around the taut limb. He was under no illusion that Jethro could shake him off without exerting any effort; but he also knew that he wouldn't. The dark gaze flicked down to where Ducky's hand rested, then looked swiftly at Ducky, and once more danced away. "Why not, Jethro?" Ducky said quietly.
"I have a report to write. Killers to interview. I -"
"Jethro Gibbs, since when have you started lying to me?"
Jethro looked startled. Then he had the good grace to look faintly embarrassed. "Sorry, Duck," he said, brushing his hand across the top of Ducky's head, as he had done several hours earlier. "Oh, Duck," he said, his tone suddenly heavy with weariness, as he sank down onto the table. "What if . . ."
"But you did, my dear."
"Yes, but I might not have done. Four minutes, isn't that what you once told me, Duck? Four minutes to drain a body of blood. What if we'd left here a minute or two later? Or ran into more red lights, or -"
Mentally crossing his fingers and hoping that none of the team had followed him down, but not really caring if they had, Ducky moved between Jethro's parted legs, brought both his hands up to cup Jethro's face, and kissed him. The move effectively and efficiently silenced his lover.
For a split second Jethro froze under the kiss. But seconds later, his arms were around Ducky and holding him in a fierce embrace, as Jethro returned the kiss with interest. He tugged Ducky closer and closer to him, until it was only the hold that Jethro had on him that prevented Ducky from losing his balance and falling.
When they finally broke away, after Jethro had himself initiated a second deep and bruising kiss and embrace, Ducky's neck was throbbing, as sometime during the second kiss, Jethro had placed a death grip on the back of his neck. After a few moments of tense silence, Jethro began to speak. "It was my fault, Duck." He linked his hands behind Ducky's back and again tugged Ducky nearer to him.
Resting against his taller lover now, who shifted to accommodate him, Ducky said mildly, "And why do you say that, my dear?" He knew that no matter what he might do or say, Jethro would have to go through his guilt trip. The fact that Jethro had made it so clear to his agents that he felt responsible for Ducky's capture, made Ducky ponder just what else he'd made clear. Once more the desperate embrace witnessed by all three of them came into his mind.
"Because I should have put two agents with you. Two people to protect - you and your mother - two agents. Or I should have stayed myself. I wanted to, Duck, God, I wanted to. But -"
"I know you did, my dear. But it was hardly your place or your job. Your role was finding the bastards responsible for the multiple murders, not playing hairdresser to the Corgis. Besides, my dear, you would also have gone out after Mother, would you not?"
"Well, yes, probably. But I've have taken you with me. Damnit, Duck, I trusted your life to . . ." he broke off. "It's not Kate's fault," he said softly, unlinking one of the hands that were holding Ducky behind his back, and running it over his face.
"Nor is it yours," Ducky said firmly.
"I should have been there."
"Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, listen to me for a moment." Ducky's tone was determined. The look of surprise in the dark gaze amused him, but he forced that away. "You did what you had to do. You were doing your job. You were using your expertise to try to track down the killers. You do not assign tasks on the basis of whether you happen to be sleeping with one of the people involved. You assign them by rank and by proficiency. You could not have ‘been there' with me. If you had have insisted on taking the job of ‘nursemaid' yourself, do you not think that the team might have wondered why?"
"They know we're close friends. Besides it's not their place to question why I do things."
"Nonetheless, they would have done so. And can you honestly tell me this is just about friendship?"
Jethro shrugged. "No, Duck, I can't. But nor is it just to do with us sleeping together. It's to do with love. Which is why field agents should never get involved with one another."
"I'm not a field agent, Jethro."
"No, but this makes twice, Duck. Twice in less than a year when your life has been in danger and I've had to stand by and . . ." He tightened his grip on Ducky, once more pulling him closer into a fierce embrace and holding him.
"From what I gather, Jethro my dear, you didn't do much ‘standing by' either time. And Ari had no intention of hurting me - not physically at least. He merely took a perverse pleasure in playing mind games with me."
"But I didn't know that. Do you know how hard it is to be the one left waiting, worrying, wondering, imagining? The one having to try to act as you're just part of the team, just an old friend?"
"Yes, my dearest Jethro. I do," Ducky said firmly, moving back slightly. He looked deeply into the dark, troubled gaze.
"I guess you do," Jethro said after a moment or two. "Sorry, Duck. That wasn't the brightest thing I've ever said, was it? How do you cope?"
Ducky looked at his lover and old friend. This was a side of Jethro Gibbs that even he rarely saw. A side that Tony, Kate, McGee, Abby, would swear didn't exist - they'd probably even place large bets on the fact. Sometimes Jethro worked far too hard at keeping up his reputation of being a bastard. "I have had twenty-five years, my dear, to get used to it. And it isn't exactly the same for me." As always where Jethro was involved, Ducky found himself being scrupulously fair, even if on the odd occasion he wished he didn't have to be.
And then because he was tired, he did hurt, he had used up a lot of energy being afraid, worried, and pondering just what his death would do to Jethro, and how he would take his revenge - because Ducky knew his lover would have done just that - a question came to his mind that he had to ask. "Are you trying to tell me that you want to . . ." But any courage he'd had fled. He couldn't voice the question. He lowered his gaze away from the one that could always read him as clearly as a child's picture book.
Twenty-five years of friendship and love had built up a kind of telepathy, that only that amount of time and closeness could. "Never, Duck," Jethro said firmly, forcing Ducky's head back up until he was once again looking into the deep blue gaze that stared back at him. The love and affection was so clear it was almost palpable. "Never. I love you too much to give you up."
"Good," said Ducky softly. As a word it wasn't sufficient to convey his feelings, but none would have been. However, he knew that Jethro would see and read all that he felt, all that he meant. "Now, my dear, please take me home. I fear that I shall be unable to remain on my feet for more than a few minutes. And I do not wish to add to your worries by collapsing on you."
Jethro looked at him, cupped his face between his hands and kissed him lightly. "Sure, Duck," he said. "Let's get you home and safely tucked up in bed." Jethro stood up, wrapped his arm around Ducky's shoulders and drew him towards him. As always, Ducky felt filled with a kind of security by the way he fitted so perfectly under his lover's arm. As he had done often in the past, he slipped his own arm around Jethro's back.
"Yes, my dear," Ducky said, and smiled to himself. Having Jethro put him to bed appealed to him very much at the moment, especially as it would almost certainly involve Jethro joining him in the bed. A loving embrace went a long way to healing all kinds of ills and injuries. However, just to ensure that he did know his lover's intentions, Ducky added, "And maybe in the morning, my dear, you can help me move all the furniture back that Mother made poor Tony move."
"They'll be no ‘helping,' Dr. Mallard, or at least not from you. If I need any help, I'll call DiNozzo. Now come on. Let's go home. It's way past my bedtime."
As one they moved slowly towards the door. Even if they did run into anyone, Ducky mused, no one would think anything of it; more than one person, on more than one occasion, had seen them in this kind of embrace.
The three agents standing in the viewing room outside Interrogation Room Number One stared at one another in total silence. Earlier, concerned for both Ducky and Gibbs, they had decided to check that all was well with their co-workers, and had followed Ducky downstairs.
Finally, DiNozzo reached for the tape that until that moment no one had realized had been left running. "Here," he said, thrusting the object into McGee's hand.
"Purge it. Erase it. Do whatever you have to do, Tim, but destroy every bit of evidence following Gibbs's interrogation."
"What if I can't?" McGee took the tape. He didn't fail to notice that Tony had used his given name - for the first time ever.
"Then destroy the tape. We'll tell Gibbs the equipment failed. Talk techie to him, Probie, you're good at that."
"Understood, Tony." McGee stared down at the tape he held. It shouldn't be that difficult to erase the last quarter of an hour and not leave any traces. Or at least to transfer the interview to another tape, and erase what happened afterwards.
"And this stays between us, right? Understood, Kate? Tim? If I find out . . ."
"You won't, Tony," Kate said, her tone firm.
"Got you," McGee added.
They exchanged looks again. For the first time ever, outside of serious field work, Gibbs's team were thinking and acting as one.
"Let's go home," Tony added.
As one the three agents turned and left.
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