Set in 1989.
Gibbs sets out on a frantic dash through the summer traffic.
An established relationship story.
Written: May 2006. Word count: 1,670.
"Come on, come on. Move." Jethro Gibbs hit the steering wheel in frustration as he tried to will the cars in front of him to go faster.
But they couldn't.
The sun beat down on the road and other vehicles, making everything shimmer in an almost ethereal, dreamlike way. He only wished it was all a dream.
The summer holidays had just begun, and it seemed as if ever parent in the entire state had decided that today was the day to go out to the beach, for a picnic, to visit Aunt Mabel, or just to sightsee - whatever. Jethro glanced up at the sky and willed it to start to rain.
It dared to ignore him.
He hated being on the roads in summer, and avoided it as much as possible. If he did have to be out, he made sure it was at some unearthly hour, when the rest of the population was asleep.
Only one person could have gotten him out of the house at this time of day: Ducky.
For once thinking about his lover did not make Jethro happy; in fact it made his snarl and curse. But his negativity was from sheer frustration and overwhelming fear.
Ducky was leaving him.
Ducky had left him.
Ducky was on his way back to England - or would be shortly.
Ducky had said so.
In a letter.
A letter that Shannon had handed him, while Kelly had bounced around him showing off the new doll that Uncle Ducky had given her, begging her daddy to take her and 'Melia for a walk.
Ducky had said goodbye to Shannon and Kelly. Said goodbye in person. He'd kissed them. Hugged them. Held them. Told them how much he'd miss them.
Jethro had got a letter.
It wasn't good enough. But nothing would be. He was damned if he was going to let Ducky walk out of his life.
So with a quick kiss for both his girls, Jethro had grabbed his car keys, tore out of the house and driven off into the summer traffic, in a desperate attempt to reach the airport before Ducky's plane took him away from him.
"Move, damn you," he shouted at a small white Beetle.
To his amazement it did. It pulled over just far enough to allow him to pull out around it and race off; speed limits be damned.
He arrived at the airport with minutes to spare. Praying that the flight had been delayed, he abandoned the car in an illegal place, he'd sort out parking tickets later, and pounded into the terminal.
A quick scan of the departure board told him that one of his prayers had been answered.
Now all he had to do was to find Ducky. But in a terminal of this size, with this many flights coming and going, even half an hour's delay might not be long enough. He glanced around him.
And saw him.
Standing, his hat in one hand, a book in the other, a small bag by his feet, staring straight at him was Ducky. Even from this distance Jethro could see the shock and pain on the face of the man he loved.
For a fleeting second the look was enough to make him freeze. However, he hadn't driven through the summer traffic for nothing, wasn't now having his eardrums abused by wails and screams as bored children raced around, and tired parents made pathetic attempts to stop them.
He strode towards Ducky, moving closer and closer until he was touching him. Deliberately, quite deliberately, he used the six-inch height difference he had on Ducky and loomed over him. Never had he done that before. Never. He was always careful not to. But now he did.
He could sense Ducky's surprise at the unusual move. And then, as Ducky tipped his head back and looked up at him, Jethro saw the astonishment in the blue gaze. "Jethro?" So many questions were asked with that one word. However, he made no attempt to move away.
Ignoring everyone around him, Jethro gripped Ducky's upper arms and held him firmly. "Why?"
Ducky sighed softly. "I told you why, my dear." His voice was as low as the sigh.
"No, Duck. You told me nothing. You just left me a garbled letter."
"I assure you, Jethro, the letter was not garbled. I spent a considerable time composing it."
Jethro wasn't certain whether Ducky sounded amused or irritated. But it didn't matter. "Whatever. You left me a letter, Duck. A letter. A fucking letter."
"Jethro." Ducky admonished gently.
Jethro ignored him. "Shannon and Kelly get kisses, hugs, goodbyes. What do I get?"
Ducky sighed again. "It seemed the best way, dearest."
"The best way?"
"Yes. Saying goodbye to Shannon and Kelly, whom you know I love in my own way, was hard enough. However, I was not certain that I could say goodbye if I saw you, kissed you, hugged you. And I have to say goodbye, Jethro."
"Jethro. Don't make this any harder than it already is. Please, my dear. If you love me -"
"Don't try that crap, Ducky. That's beneath you." Jethro growled down at his lover. Around them he was aware that one or two people were finally beginning to look at them. But he didn't care. So what? They didn't know him. He didn't know them.
"I'm sorry," Ducky murmured. "You are correct."
For a moment neither of them said anything.
Then Ducky spoke again. "Jethro my dear, I love you. I will always love you. But I have to leave you. I have to."
Ducky sighed again. "You always were a stubborn man. Jethro, you have a beautiful wife and a lovely daughter who make you happy. They love you and you love them."
"I love you too." Jethro spoke quietly but firmly.
Ducky's eyes softened; Jethro hadn't even realized that they had at some point hardened. "I know, my dear. And that is why you must let me go. Jethro, you can have a normal life now. The kind most men have. You have a wife and daughter and that should be enough."
"But it isn't," Jethro said. Again his voice was soft, but now it was filled with pain and self-hatred. "Damnit, Duck. It isn't."
"But with me gone, it could be. Maybe -"
"No, Duck. No. It won't be."
"You don't know that, Jethro."
"Maybe. Maybe not. But I do know one thing. If you get on that plane Dr. Mallard and walk out of my life, I'll be on the next flight. I'll come after you and bring you back. Now can you do that to Shannon and Kelly? To the woman and child you say you love?"
Ducky gasped. His shock was clear. When he spoke his voice was cold and heavy with pain and anger. "That's blackmail, Gibbs."
Jethro swallowed. "Yeah, Duck. I guess it is." He met Ducky's cool tone with his own.
Again the two men stood in silence.
Ducky with his head lowered, his hair falling over his face, hiding it and his eyes from Jethro and from the world.
Jethro his mouth dry, his palms wet, his pulse racing. What was he doing? What the hell had he just said? That you love Ducky more than Shannon and Kelly.
He ignored the voice. It was wrong anyway. He didn't love Ducky more, he loved him the same. He -
Ducky looked up and tears shimmered in the beautiful blue gaze. As Jethro watched, peace seemed to descend over the face that had only moments before been strained with pain, anger and turmoil.
When Ducky spoke his voice was again soft, loving, and heavy with the affection it always showed towards Jethro. "You are quite correct, dearest. I cannot do that to Shannon and Kelly." For a moment sadness appeared again.
Jethro opened his mouth to speak.
Ducky shook his head. "And what is more, my dear, I cannot do it to you. I cannot, will not, put you in such a position. I do not think I truly realized how much -"
"I love you?" Jethro heard the pain in his own voice. "Ah, Duck," he murmured. He finally let the grip he had on Ducky's arms loosen and pulled Ducky into his own arms. Over the head that came to rest against his shoulder, over the hair that always became lighter in the summer, he glared at the handful of people still watching what he was now aware had turned into a sideshow.
One by one they glanced away.
"Duck, I . . . " He trailed off. He wasn't even certain what he was about to say.
Ducky moved back a little, again tipped his head back and looked up at Jethro. Serenity now settled over him. "And what is more, my dear Jethro, is I cannot do it to myself. I am not strong enough to walk away from you. I know that now. I cannot leave you. I should. Everything inside me, everything I am, tells me that I should get on that plane, but I can't." He spoke simply, his voice matter-of-fact. He even sounded peaceful. Sounded as though he had just discovered something about himself. Something that should trouble him, but didn't.
Jethro pulled him back against him. He lowered his head, drinking in the scent he knew so well, letting his face brush against the warm, silky hair. He murmured softly, "You are strong, Duck. You're the strongest person I know."
All Ducky said was, "Take me home, Jethro."
Inside Ducky's house, shut off from the beating, glaring sun, it was cool and fresh.
Ducky rested in a sleeping Jethro's arms, sated from their lovemaking, but now more at peace than he had been at any time since 1982.
No, he wasn't strong enough to leave Jethro.
He wondered whether he would ever be strong enough to do so.
Somehow he doubted it.
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