Ashleigh Anpilova


It's New Year's Eve. Gibbs should be at a party with his co-workers. Instead he is at NCIS HQ reviewing his life and his feelings for his oldest friend. It looks as though it is going to be a very lonely New Year's Eve, but then Ducky turns up, looking for Gibbs.

A first time story.

Written: December 2005. Word count: 6,754.




It was New Year's Eve 2005, and Jethro Gibbs had a headache.


He wouldn't mind so much if he deserved to have a headache, but he hadn't had a drink all day. Nor had he drank any more coffee than he normally did. So in his opinion he did not deserve to be suffering.


It was 10:00 p.m. and he was sitting all alone in his dimly lit NCIS office, trying to ignore the sounds of celebrations that filtered in from the streets outside. He could, should in fact, be at a party with his co-workers. However quite frankly the idea of spending an evening avoiding the person he spent most of his working days avoiding, as well as watching DiNozzo getting drunk, and no doubt behaving even more adolescently than he normally did, did not appeal to him.


He didn't feel like celebrating the beginning of a new year, because if it was anything like the one he'd just lived through, it would be better avoided.


He'd lost one of the best agents he'd ever had - unnecessarily. The bastard who'd killed her should have been dead long before he'd had the chance to shoot her; Jethro shouldn't have wasted his chance to put him on Ducky's Autopsy table. He pushed aside the little voice that said that Kate herself had also had the opportunity to kill Ari, and had failed to take it.


Her replacement, a Mossad officer no less, had been foisted on him and he could do nothing about it. And it didn't matter that Ziva had saved his life, had proved herself to be more than competent with the less savory skills, gave DiNozzo as good as she got, and better; he didn't trust her - not as she should trust one of his team. And that bothered him. It bothered him a lot.


What also bothered him was that his secret, hitherto known only to one other person besides Jethro himself, was now known by the very same Mossad officer. Jethro knew the way Mossad operated, and if Ziva believed that revealing his secret would be of benefit - whether or not it actually would be - then Ziva would not hesitate to reveal it. Not that the secret was anything dreadful. After all when you'd been known to have been married three times, what did one more time matter? And at least that one hadn't ended in divorce. Except it would have done, the same little voice that had 'reminded' him of Kate's failure, said to him. And he couldn't deny it. Had Shannon and Kelly not been killed in a pointless car crash, Shannon and he would have divorced - after all he'd married her for the worst possible reason: she'd been pregnant. So although not a day went by when he didn't think of his wife and daughter and miss them, he knew that most of it was through guilt. Shannon shouldn't have been driving that day, he should have been. But like always, he chose his work over his wife. No wonder the other three had all finally left him, even if they had resorted to physical violence first.


And another one of his worst mistakes was now back and haunting him on a daily basis. Jenn Shepard - 'Madam Director' as he'd named her - was making his life a living hell. Reminding him of a time when he'd let lust get the better of him, and he'd put sex before the job. How the hell they'd avoided getting someone killed, he'd never know. And now she used their past relationship to get her own way. Every time he challenged one of her stupid decisions, she threw at him that he was only doing so because of their disastrous affair.


Almost losing his beloved Abby, who was in many ways his surrogate daughter, had been another dreadful thing. When he thought of what Chip could have done to her, had tried to do her, his blood ran cold. Chip's attempt at framing DiNozzo had been bad enough, but at least Jethro had some control over that, along with Tobias, but Abby had been alone with the maniac and his knife.


But all these things paled into insignificance as he thought about the worst thing that had happened that year. He had been minutes, maybe even seconds, away from losing the dearest, most precious thing in his life: Ducky. His oldest and closest friend, whom he'd loved for longer than he could remember, certainly before he loved Shannon, the person whose death he had nearly caused. Except Ducky told him he was being melodramatic, and that it hadn't been his fault. But it had been. Jethro knew all about Mrs. Mallard and her dementia, he never should have trusted the Mallards safety to just one agent. It was strange, but Ducky was the only person over whom Jethro did occasionally behave 'melodramatically.'


"Ah, Duck," Jethro said softly, and rubbed his temples. Thinking about Ducky was for once not making him feel better. Normally if he wanted to regain his sanity, or remember that something good did exist in the world, or that there was something worth getting up for, thinking about his oldest friend cheered him up, but not tonight.


A new year was meant to be the time for change, or starting something new, for taking chances even. Well, Jethro could do all of those things with one person; but he had no idea how to go about it.


How do you suddenly say to someone you'd known for over twenty-five years, 'Oh, by the way, I've been wrong all these years, I do want to go to bed with you. I do love you in that way?' Simple: you don't.


"You had your chance, Jethro," he said, because suddenly the sound of his own voice was better than the sound of no one. Even the revelers seemed to have moved away. And he had had. And, like so many other things connected with matters of the heart, he'd blown it.


From the day they'd met he'd known that Ducky was gay, and it had never bothered him. Maybe it should have done given what the Marines thought of homosexuals, but to Jethro people were people, free to love whom so ever they wished. As long as they didn't force themselves on the unwilling - and that applied as much to heterosexuals as to homosexuals - Jethro didn't mind.


Jethro had also known from the beginning that Ducky was attracted to him - Ducky had told him so. Had even approached him in a somewhat cumbersome, roundabout way, and Jethro had told him clearly that he liked Ducky a lot, and his preferences didn't bother him, but that he wasn't interested, and never could be, in Ducky in that way. Jethro had been young then, cocky even, and the idea that this very striking man should lust after him rather pleased him - it did his ego good.


"God, I was a cruel bastard, Duck," he murmured. Not that he'd ever led Ducky on, he hadn't. He'd always made it clear to his friend that he wasn't attracted. But he still remembered that his behavior around Ducky for the first few months of their association was less than honorable.


It hadn't taken him long, fortunately, to realize what a bastard he was being and their friendship started to bloom, or as much as it could when one party was away at sea for months at a time. Ducky had stood by his side for all four of his marriages, and had been there for him when all four had ended, one way or another. He'd held Jethro as he'd cried bitterly over the deaths of Shannon and Kelly, letting him drink far too much and then taking care of the result of the over-indulgence.


Jethro had also realized that he loved Ducky dearly, even if it wasn't in the way his best friend wanted him to love him. There never had been anything that Ducky could ask him to do that Jethro wouldn't, because just about the only thing that Jethro wouldn't do, not even for his dearest, most beloved friend, Jethro knew Ducky would never ask for.


No, it had been Jethro himself, still hurting after his third wife had walked out on him, and feeling as if no one truly loved him, who had begged his friend to take him to bed. Ducky had argued and held out, but Jethro had persisted and pleaded, using all the power he already had over his friend to get his own way. "If you really loved me, you'd do it. God, I can't believe I threw that one at you, Duck." Too wound up now to sit still any longer, Jethro got up from his desk and began to pace around the room.


It had been a disaster - as Ducky no doubt had always known it would be. Jethro, he was still ashamed to admit, had frozen and had fled his own bed for the sanctuary of his basement. It was a testament to Ducky's love for him, and for the strength of their friendship that after a few awkward - on Jethro's side - exchanges for a couple of days, that they went on as though nothing had changed.


And now Jethro was certain that what he felt for Ducky was no longer just a close friendship kind of love, but the love of a lover. He wasn't entirely certain when touching Ducky had started to make his pulse rate increase, when hugging him felt so right, so natural, when he found himself watching his friend in the way he'd hitherto only watched women. When he found himself dreaming and fantasizing about Ducky's hands and lips on his body and mouth, and his own on Ducky's. All he knew was, it wasn't something recent. It had been growing and fermenting; probably, Jethro finally admitted to himself, since the moment they had met.


"Oh, shit," he cursed, and sat down heavily at his desk.


"I'm not entirely certain that is an appropriate sentiment to express tonight, Jethro my dear."


Jethro came to his feet. "Duck? What are you doing here?" He glanced across the darkened office to see his oldest friend making his way towards him. Ducky was limping slightly as he had done for as long as Jethro had known him; although these days it was more pronounced than it had been over two decades ago.


"I could ask you the same thing," Ducky said, smiling as he moved closer and closer still, infiltrating Jethro's personal space, as he so often did. As Ducky tipped back his head in order to meet Jethro's gaze, the hat he habitually wore began to tumble off.


Acting on instinct, Jethro reached out and caught it. It brought him even closer to Ducky, and his senses went into overdrive. From the light vanilla and forest scent emanating from his friend, Jethro presumed that Ducky had showered and shaved very recently. The scent, one he'd known for as long as he'd been friends with Ducky, tonight seemed to reach out and wrap itself around him, enticing him, teasing him, tempting him. He put the hat back onto Ducky's head and his hand brushed the heavy, silky hair, making his fingers itch to wrap themselves around the strands and pull Ducky even closer towards him. As he fought the urge, Ducky raised his own hand to take the hat and his fingers brushed Jethro's. Jethro felt the electricity race through him, and he bit back a gasp and took a step backwards, moving away from the temptation. God what was he doing?


"Jethro?" Surprise was evident in Ducky's voice, the voice that was affecting Jethro more than it normally did. It sounded to his ears like an invitation, yet he knew it was the same tone as Ducky always used when speaking to him.


Jethro said the first thing that came into his head. "I thought I was going to sneeze. Maybe I'm getting a cold." Stupid, Jethro, really stupid. You're the man who's never had a cold in his life.


The steady pale blue gaze regarded him with the open love and affection it always showed. However, tonight there seemed an added . . .


Jethro didn't really know what the added was, if indeed there was anything. He was probably just projecting his desires onto Ducky, seeing things that weren't there. If he was honest, there was absolutely nothing different in the way Ducky was looking at him, or speaking to him, than the way he'd done since they met.  "So what are you doing here, Duck?" he asked, casually sitting on the edge of his desk and looking at Ducky.


"Looking for you," Ducky replied.


"Why? Do you need my help? Is everything okay, Duck? Has something happened to your mother?"


Ducky smiled. "No, my dear. Everything is fine. Mother is quite happily ensconced in the sitting room along with her group of ladies and the Corgis. She sends her love, by the way. I left them, the ladies that is, with the cocktail shaker, an open drink's cabinet and various nibbles that Mother insisted they would enjoy."


"Oh, then why were you looking for me?"


Ducky sighed. "Jethro. New Year's Eve is a time that should be spent with people about whom you care. And as much as I do care for Abby, Timothy, Jimmy and Tony, they are not you." The words were said with simple honesty. Again something within Jethro began to stir. However, he told himself that again it wasn't anything Ducky hadn't said or implied before.


"How did you know where to find me? Or did you go to the party first?"


Ducky looked at him unblinkingly. "No, Jethro. I didn't. I phoned your house first, and when there wasn't an answer, I came here. Now do I have to go down to Autopsy and get the bottle of whisky I keep there and bring it back here, or are we going to go to your home and drink some of that excellent Macallan that Tobias gave you for Christmas?"


Jethro stared at Ducky. For a moment he was tempted to suggest the former, he wasn't certain that having Ducky alone in his home tonight was a good thing. But it would look stupid if he did so. After all there weren't any open cases to justify him being at the office. "Well I guess the Macallan does need opening," he said.


"Good," said Ducky firmly.


Jethro grabbed his Sig from his drawer, ignored the slightly bemused look that Ducky cast his way, tugged his overcoat on and switched off his desk lamp, thus plunging the room into darkness. "Damn," he muttered. "Hang on, Duck. I'll just -" He came to an abrupt halt, as Ducky brushed against him, sending the electric volt that had raced through him when he'd touched Ducky's hand earlier, shooting straight through his body again, this time centering on one area. Get a grip, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, he ordered himself sternly. You're fifty-two, for Christ's sake, not fifteen.


However, the sensation increased tenfold, as Ducky slipped his arm through Jethro's, murmuring, "It's quite all right, my dear. There is enough light filtering in from outside. Come along," and exerting a little pressure, Ducky moved slowly away from the desk, leaving Jethro with no real alternative but to accompany him.


As they paused to wait for the elevator, Jethro slipped his hands into his overcoat pocket and pulled it around him as he often did. "Where's your car?" he asked, as the elevator arrived.


"At home," Ducky said, as the doors opened.


Jethro waved him inside first. "Then how did you get here?" he pressed the down button. Suddenly the small metal cage felt even smaller.


"Taxi." Ducky was once more close enough to have to tilt his head back, but again it was nothing out of the ordinary. It was only Jethro's senses that seemed to be on overdrive.


"You got a cab on New Year's Eve?" Jethro was astounded. "What did you do, book it six months ago?"


Ducky chuckled. "No, my dear. This evening as a matter of fact."


Jethro's incredulity tripled. "What did you do, offer the driver a free Autopsy while he was still alive?"


"Jethro," Ducky used his pseudo-hurt tone. "I just happen to know the right people," he explained.


"You should introduce me to some of them," Jethro said, as the elevator came to a stop and pinged. The doors swished opened. "So is this person going to come and pick you up later?" He began to button his coat up and turn up the collar; the cold air was already permeating the building.


"That seemed a little unfair, Jethro. The young man has been driving all day. I thought that you wouldn't mind if I spent the night at your home." Ducky spoke in a matter of fact way.


Jethro felt anything but matter of fact. Sitting there drinking with Ducky and keeping his hands and thoughts to himself was one thing, spending the night alone in the same house was something completely different. But what could he say? If he said 'no', Ducky would be hurt and wonder what he'd done to upset Jethro. And hurting Ducky was the last thing Jethro wished to do. "Course I don't, Duck," he said, opening the door and sucking in air as icy fingers touched his skin. "God it's cold," he rubbed his hands. "But what about your mother? Will she be all right?"


"Mrs. Patterson is spending the night at my house," Ducky turned his own collar up. "Her grandson is having a party at her house and she'd rather be - oh, Jethro."


Jethro grabbed Ducky as he slipped on the smooth pavement and held onto him tightly. His pulse rate increased, however this time it wasn't through desire, but simply through concern that Ducky might have fallen and hurt himself. "Put your arm around me," he said firmly, putting his own around Ducky's shoulders and holding him securely.


Ducky did so, and they made it to Jethro's car without any further mishaps. As he solicitously held the door open for Ducky and helped him into the car, Jethro was hit by the sudden realization that of all the people he'd held in his arms during his life, none of them had ever felt as right as Ducky did. And no one had ever held him as Ducky did. "Ah, Duck," he said softly, as he went around the car to the driver's side.



They settled down side-by-side, not touching but well within what most people regarded as their personal space, on Jethro's sofa. They both held a heavy cut whiskey glass, Ducky's own Christmas present to Jethro, half filled with Macallan in their hands, and the bottle stood on the coffee table in front of them. Jethro had even dug out a CD, he seemed to recall it had been free on some magazine or other he'd been given, of classical Christmas music. Not entirely his taste, but Ducky would like it - and Jethro drew the line at opera, not that he had any. Except to his sudden partial horror and partial bemusement, he knew that if he did have something and Ducky asked for it, he'd put it on. He groaned silently and closed his eyes.


When he opened them again, pale blue eyes twinkled at him, and Ducky had his head tilted slightly to one side. He raised his glass towards Jethro and smiled, his soft, loving smile, the one he reserved solely for Jethro. "To friendship," he said softly.


Jethro swallowed hard, and touched his glass to Ducky's; the clink sounded mournful. "To friendship," he repeated. He took a sip. And then another one. Tobias was right; it was good. "Duck," he said suddenly.


"Yes, my dear?" The steady, affectionate gaze met his.


Jethro opened his mouth and said, "What am I going to do about Ziva and DiNozzo?"


Ducky blinked, and a very faint smile twitched his lips, he looked mildly amused. "Oh, it isn't Tony and Ziva, about whom you need to be concerned, my dear," he said, sipping his own drink.


Jethro, however, went on as though Ducky hadn't spoken. "Romance between agents, Duck. It's never a good thing. And I should know. I - What did you say?"


"That you needn't be concerned about Tony and Ziva," Ducky repeated.


Jethro shook his head. "No, that's not quite what you said. You stressed DiNozzo's name. What are you trying to tell me, Duck?"


"Nothing, Jethro. Just that you need not worry about them. They aren't going to fall in love; they aren't even going to have a serious relationship. They may sleep together from time to time, but that is all it will ever be. You do not need to worry," he repeated.


Jethro frowned. For once Ducky was holding out on him, or rather not telling him everything. Or maybe it was just Jethro again, too acutely aware of the man sitting next to him, too wrapped up in his desire to take the glass from Ducky's hand, move even nearer and . . . He shook himself, drained his glass and tipped some more of the amber liquid into it. "I never loved her," he said, more for something to say than anything else.


"I know."


"Now I'm not even sure I ever liked her. Oh, Duck. What am I going to do about her?"


This time Ducky didn't answer immediately. Instead he sipped his drink in silence and glanced at Jethro over the rim. "Do you trust me?" he finally asked softly.


"Only with my life, Duck," Jethro said, confused as to why his oldest friend would ask such an obvious question.


Ducky nodded and smiled fleetingly. "In that case, call her bluff."




"Call her bluff. The next time she flutters her eyelashes at her, ask her out to dinner. Make it blatantly clear what you have planned for dessert."


Jethro opened his mouth. "Ducky. I'm trying to push her away, not encourage her!"


"You won't, my dear. She'll say no. She'll back off after that. She doesn't really want you. She never did. She just wants to keep a hold over you. She wants to keep you off balance so that you won't really notice just how far out of her depth she is in her job. At least, I hope it's just her being out of depth." Ducky's voice had become lower and more serious.


Jethro blinked and frowned, confused as hell now. "Duck?" Then suddenly something Ducky had said hit him. "What do you mean she never really wanted me?"


"Ah, I'm sorry, Jethro. I didn't mean to say that. Just ignore me."


"Ducky," Jethro growled.


Ducky blinked in surprise, it was unheard of for Jethro to use that term outside of work. However, Jethro steeled himself and held the astonished, slightly hurt gaze. After a second or two Ducky said softly, "Jennifer Shepard has always been an ambitious woman, as well as an attractive one." He fell silent. Jethro just stared at him.


Finally Ducky reached across the gap that seemed to have become even smaller, and closed his hand around Jethro's arm; once more a sparking sensation raced up Jethro's arm and dispersed itself throughout his body. "I'm sorry, my dear. I didn't mean to . . ." Ducky trailed off and looked at Jethro with perplexity. He seemed to be searching for a word. "Upset you," he finally added, but from the frown that crossed the dark blond covered forehead, he wasn't overly happy with the term.


Jethro covered Ducky's hand with his own, again fighting his urges. He shouldn't touch Ducky, but not doing so would seem strange. "Don't be sorry, Duck. And I'm not upset. If anything, I'm relieved to be honest. My pride might be a bit battered, but it was six years ago. I think I can stand it." He smiled, and without thought reached across and brushed away a strand of Ducky's fringe that had tumbled onto his glasses. This time he could have sworn that he heard Ducky make a soft noise.


He let his hand fall away and moved back. He had to get off of the sofa now, before he ruined their friendship and kissed Ducky. He started to stand up. "What about something to eat? You hungry, Duck?"


"Jethro." Ducky caught his arm and held it firmly.


Jethro froze. He could shake the grip off easily, he was after all twelve years younger than his friend, six inches taller, and Marine trained. But he wouldn't do that. He couldn't. It would hurt Ducky too much, and he didn't mean physically. Although given how tightly Ducky now held him, it might be physically as well. "Yeah, Duck?" he said after a second or two of heavy, tense silence.


"Look at me," Ducky whispered. It was a clear order. As clear as Jethro had ever heard his friend deliver.


His mouth now dry, he steeled himself to look round. He was afraid now that his face would give everything away to the man who could read him like no other. He looked into the suddenly mid-blue eyes, that were actually more ebony than blue, as Ducky's pupils had enlarged. Well it was darkish in Jethro's sitting room.


"Why don't we just stop pretending and go to bed now." Ducky's tone was even softer than usual, and yet casual; he might have been telling Jethro what the time was.


"What?" Jethro spluttered in stunned amazement.


Now Ducky looked amused, and smiled at Jethro in his fond, loving way. He reached across and touched Jethro's cheek. This time the noise that escaped from Jethro was clearly heard to both men. "I said," he spoke quietly. "Why don't we -"


"Yes, I heard what you said, Duck." Jethro cut him off. He didn't think he could bear to hear the word 'bed' from that mouth again. "I just didn't understand."


"Oh, Jethro Gibbs, really. Please stop playing games with me, with yourself. You understand perfectly. You want to take me to bed, and I want to come. What could be simpler? Now, are you coming with me or not?" He stood up, and pulled Jethro up with him.


Still too surprised to resist, Jethro stumbled to his feet. Once there though he caught his friend, who had begun to turn towards the door, by the arm and pulled him back around. Ducky moved perfectly willingly, tipped his head back, raised an eyebrow and waited, blinking slowly and smiling his ever-present-in-Jethro's-company soft smile.


Jethro opened his mouth, closed it again, and reopened it; he was suddenly aware that he was doing a very good impersonation of McGee. He forced himself to speak. But only one word came out. "How?" he spluttered.


Ducky moved nearer, lifted his arms and slid them around Jethro's neck. "Did I know?" Jethro nodded, letting his own arms slip, of their own volition - he'd swear that under oath - around Ducky. "Oh, Jethro," he murmured, tipping his head back even further and offering his mouth in clear invitation.


It was an invitation Jethro simply couldn't resist. He was after all, no matter what his agents must sometimes think, only human. Kissing Ducky opened up a whole new world for Jethro; it suddenly brightened and touched him in ways he had never believed possible. It moved him far more than anything had ever done, soothed him, captured him and made him finally feel complete. He had never even realized that he'd been missing these things until he found his lips on those of his oldest friend. Ducky was demanding nothing from him, was letting Jethro set the depth and intimacy of the kiss, and yet despite the lack of demands, Ducky was taking far more from Jethro than he had ever given any woman, even during the heights of lovemaking.


As his tongue flicked over Ducky's lips and they parted for him, inviting him inside to the warm, moist cavern that he began to learn, Jethro realized that if he took this beyond a kiss, then there was no turning back. He would be making and taking a commitment that went far beyond the four he had already made. And yet as the kiss began to quieten and slow, and Jethro reluctantly let Ducky's lips leave his in order to breathe, he realized it was already too late. As soon as he'd kissed Ducky, he'd made his decision.


"Duck?" he said, as Ducky settled into his embrace, his head resting against Jethro's shoulder.


"Mmm?" came the satisfied response.


Jethro chuckled, and gently encouraged Ducky to look at him. What remained of the blue irises, which was very little, was now a deep sapphire blue, but the eyes that gazed at him with total devotion and dedication were mainly fat ebonies. Jethro couldn't help himself, he lowered his head and kissed Ducky's nose and cheeks, the connection little more than a mere brush of his lips.


Again Ducky snuggled against him. "Are you going to take me to bed, my dear? Or do you really wish to make love on the sofa?"


Jethro felt a warm shiver go through him at the words 'make love,' and his body began to tingle in anticipation. However, his soon-to-be lover . . . No, Jethro suddenly realized, that was wrong. Ducky was already his lover, and had been in all ways but one for more years than Jethro could remember. Ducky had on more than one occasion likened Jethro to a terrier, telling him that he was tenacious in the way he never let anything go. And Jethro still had to know. Without letting Ducky out of his embrace, he buried his nose in the thick hair, kissed Ducky's ear and whispered, "How did you know, Duck?"


Ducky sighed softly and moved backwards in the embrace so that he could look up at Jethro. "You told me," he said simply.


"Excuse me?"


Ducky smiled. "Oh, not in so many words. But it was there in the way you looked at me, the way you touched me, the way your voice changed when you spoke to me, the way you demanded my attention at all times. To anyone else, none of those things would have seemed any different from the way you usually are around me. But to me it was as clear as if you'd spoken the words."


"Why didn't you say anything?"


"Because the final choice still had to come from you, and for the right reasons. You've felt guilty ever since the night I was foolish enough to let you persuade me into your bed. Don't look like that, Jethro Gibbs, you have. I know you too well. I am just forever thankful that the foolishness didn't put a strain on our friendship."


"I'd never had let it have done that. Ah, Duck. I'm sorry for hurting you so. I'm -"


"Hush." Ducky tugged Jethro's head back down and kissed him again. When once more they remembered that breathing was an essential part of remaining alive, Ducky tipped his head back again and spoke softly, the tone, although low, was firm. "It is the past, dearest. Let it be. What happened, happened. We cannot change that. Now please, take me to bed, Jethro. I have waited far too many years for you to realize what -"


"I knew from the moment I met you." Jethro finished, comprehension hitting him harder than a flying bullet.


Ducky inclined his head slightly and then smiled again. "Come, dearest," he said, moving out of the embrace far enough to be able to capture Jethro's hand, and start to lead him towards the door. "We can talk all you wish to later; now I wish for us to communicate in another way."



Reaching Jethro's bedroom, took longer than might have been expected, as both found they had to stop on almost every other stair to share another kiss.


Once inside the room, Jethro moved determinedly towards the bed, tugging Ducky along with him. He reached to put on the bedside lamp, but Ducky caught his hand. "Maybe you should leave it off," he said softly.


Jethro pulled his hand back and turned to Ducky, frowning as he looked down at him. A gentle glow from the landing light filtered into the room, but it wasn't enough for Jethro's liking. "Why?" he asked, softly.


Ducky glanced away, not that Jethro could see his eyes anyway, there wasn't enough light for that. "Because I am not a beautiful, nubile, female redhead. I am an elderly man, whose body is not as trim as it once was."


Jethro was momentarily speechless. Then ignoring Ducky's request, he reached and turned the light on anyway, before gathering Ducky back into his embrace. "Ducky," he said firmly. "I've seen you naked many times, recently too."


"Yes, my dear. But then you weren't looking at me with the eyes of a lover."


"Do you think looks matter to me?" Jethro didn't know whether to be hurt, irritated or puzzled.


"You can't deny that all of your wives and other lovers have been beautiful."


And it was true. "Ducky. Ducky. Ducky. What am I going to do with you? I love you. And have done for over two decades. You've always been beautiful to me. And you always will be. Trust me, Duck. Please."


Ducky made a small sound in his throat, and then nodded against Jethro's shoulder. "Very well," he murmured softly.


"Good." Jethro nuzzled his ear. "Now, will you let me undress you?"


Ducky nodded, before lifting his head and once more offering his mouth to Jethro.


Despite the fact that Jethro wanted Ducky, wanted him very much, and wanted to show him how much he loved and treasured him, there was no urgency in the way he undressed his lover. He took his time, revealing Ducky little by little, kissing and caressing each part of his body as he removed the coverings, until he had Ducky trembling, and all but whimpering with obvious arousal and desire.


When he had Ducky completely naked, he took a step back and held him at arm's length, letting his eyes travel up and down the body he already knew well, drinking in the sight in the way he now knew he'd wanted to do for far too long. He saw his lover. The man with whom he'd fallen in love many, many, many years ago. The person who had been the one constant in his life; the one truly worthy thing Jethro had ever even partly owned. Because own Ducky he did, just as Ducky owned him. The depth of their connection and commitment should have scared Jethro, as it penetrated his life and soul, but why start worrying now about something that simply was. It was far too late for that. The time had long passed for those kinds of concerns.


He saw his friend. His lover. His other half. No Ducky wasn't the slim young man he'd first met, who had appeared almost fragile in some ways. But he was, to Jethro's eyes, as he'd said still beautiful, far more so than the women who had passed through his life, because Ducky's beauty was more than skin deep. Ducky wasn't about appearances; Ducky was about solidity and truth and honesty.


"Look at me, Duck," he whispered.


Ducky glanced up and met Jethro's gaze. From the slight change on Ducky's face, the barely perceptible relaxing, it was clear to Jethro that his own eyes, which he normally kept firmly shrouded and under his control, were revealing his feelings and thoughts. Ducky smiled and everything was more than all right with the world.


"I love you, Duck," Jethro said softly, pulling Ducky against him. He didn't miss the way Ducky shivered as his unclothed body brushed against Jethro's still fully clothed one. Jethro was going to enjoy learning about what Ducky enjoyed. He bent to kiss Ducky again, but his friend stopped him.


"I love you too, Jethro my dearest," he said simply.


This time he didn't prevent Jethro from kissing him.


When they broke apart again, Jethro realized to his chagrin that Ducky was shivering slightly, and this time it wasn't from arousal. The room was very cold. Jethro suddenly remembered that he'd turned the heating off before leaving for the office, believing that he would be spending the night there working. He pulled back the bedcovers and urged Ducky under them, stripped his own clothes off quickly, and slid into bed to join his lover.


Jethro had never made love to a man before; nor had he been made love to by one, but it clearly didn't matter. His hands caressed Ducky, and Ducky's moved over his body, stroking and touching in a way that spoke of years of knowledge of Jethro. Confident in his own abilities to love and please Ducky, Jethro gently used his extra strength and height to encourage Ducky to relinquish for the moment his own touching, and let Jethro take charge of pleasuring him.


It all seemed so natural to Jethro as his caresses and kisses became more intimate, it seemed like something he'd been doing for his entire life. He sensed Ducky's climax seconds before he felt it, and heard Ducky softly gasp his name. Ducky's whole body shuddered with the intensity of it, and Jethro gathered him into a gentle, loving, yet firm embrace, kissing and murmuring to him until Ducky once more seemed aware.


His own pleasure, when Ducky finally allowed his release, while transcending anything Jethro had hitherto experienced, was secondary, however, to the happiness he knew he'd given Ducky. And his lover was more than merely happy, Jethro knew. He was content. As was Jethro himself.


Rearranging them both, so that they were still in one another's arms, their bodies resting against the other, and able to share restful, peaceful, loving kisses, Jethro looked into Ducky's eyes. What he saw filled him with awe. They always had revealed Ducky's love and affection for him, but now they showed that together with something that went beyond and beneath love, something that Jethro didn't even think had a term. If Ducky continued to look at him in that way, and knowing the man as he did, Jethro suspected he would, their relationship would hardly remain a secret. Not that Jethro intended it to. If Ducky was happy to let the change be known, then Jethro was delighted. Not that there really was a change, so maybe they didn't need to say anything. After all, the only thing they'd added was sex, and that was nothing compared to the intimacy and love they'd already shared.


The sapphire and ebony gaze grew even softer, and Ducky's smile was more gentle than Jethro had ever seen it. He truly was at peace; content in a way that Jethro had never known him to be. "Do I mean that much to you, Duck?" he whispered, stroking his finger over the kiss-reddened lips.


"You always have, Jethro," Ducky said solemnly.


Swallowing hard around the tears that were threatening him, Jethro kissed Ducky until once more they had to stop in order to breathe. Pausing for long enough to take in oxygen, their lips drifted back together.


Seconds later both men jumped as the sound of fireworks exploding and people shouting filled the air. Over the loud noises, the chimes of a clock could be heard, and unsynchronized voices began to count down. They reached one and another cacophony of sounds made Jethro's bedroom, their bedroom now, almost vibrate.


Blocking out the superfluous noises, Jethro pulled Ducky back against him. "Happy New Year, Duck," he said gently, kissing Ducky lightly.


"Happy New Year, Jethro my dear," Ducky replied in his quiet, solemn voice.


And it would indeed be a Happy New Year. It would be the happiest and best that Jethro had ever known. And it wouldn't just be 2006 that would be wonderful; it would be the rest of their lives.


As the external noises began to drift away, Jethro and Ducky returned to the simple and pleasurable task of making love to one another in the most gentle and fulfilling way. 



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