Ducky is due back at NCIS following a Medical Examiners conference. However, a call sends Gibbs racing from the office to go to the aid of his lover. Together they have to face something that could potentially damage their relationship.
An established relationship story.
Written: February 2007. Word count: 3,616.
The call came while Gibbs was in head, so DiNozzo took it upon himself to answer his boss's cell phone. He was surprised to hear Ducky's voice, as they all thought he was on his way back from a Medical Examiner's conference. In fact, as far as DiNozzo could remember from what Gibbs had said, Ducky he was due back any time now. "Hey, Ducky, what's up? Morgan broken down?" he tried to sound sympathetic. "Gibbs'll be back in a minute, want me to -" To his surprise Ducky cut into his words.
Somewhat unlike Ducky, he said very little, but what he did say chilled DiNozzo. He spoke quickly, "Hang on, he's only in the head, I'll . . . Right, I'll tell him. Are you sure you don't want to . . . Ducky? Ducky?" He switched Gibbs's phone off and, ignoring the puzzled looks McGee and Ziva were throwing at him, raced off to the men's room and burst in.
Gibbs looked up and frowned. "You following me again, DiNozzo? Not a good habit to get into, you know, people might -"
"It's Ducky." DiNozzo spoke over Gibbs.
Within seconds, DiNozzo wished he could stop that quickly, Gibbs was in front of him, looming over DiNozzo in the way that only Gibbs could do. "What?" he demanded.
"He just called."
"He needs you to go and fetch him from the hospital." DiNozzo watched as Gibbs's face changed. The dark gaze, always shielded except when Gibbs looked at or spoke to Ducky, became even more securely covered, and all emotion fled. As he watched, DiNozzo saw his boss erect a shield around himself. He wanted to tell him that it wasn't necessary; that they all knew the truth, but now wasn't the time. Maybe there never would be a time.
"I don't know. He didn't say," DiNozzo added hastily, as Gibbs became even more intimidating. "He didn't say much at all, didn't even want me to get you so you could talk to him. He just told me to tell you to fetch him. That he -"
"He told you?"
DiNozzo blinked. "Yeah," he said slowly, as it suddenly dawned on him. "He told me. He didn't ask. He . . . He sounded strange, boss. He didn't even say 'hello' or 'goodbye', in fact he just hung up. Now I know that you do that all the time. But . . . Sorry, boss," he added swiftly, wondering if he was too close to the wall for Gibbs to get a good swipe at his head.
But the expected slap didn't come. "Ducky doesn't," was all Gibbs said, before turning on his heel, pausing briefly to wash his hands and striding out of the room.
An hour and a half later Gibbs stood outside another room. Ducky's hospital room. He was still finding it difficult to fully accept, to completely take in, what Ducky's doctor had told him.
He had been standing there for five minutes already, attempting, and thus far not succeeding, to get a grip on his temper; on his emotions. Only once before in his life had he felt this . . . He couldn't even relate what he felt to something as simple as an emotion.
None of those even began to cover it.
Yes. And then some.
Like killing someone?
That pure desire came close to over-riding all other feelings. Except killing would be too easy. He wanted to . . .
Suddenly in his mind he heard Ducky's soft voice urging him not to think like that. Telling him that revenge did more harm to the person seeking revenge, than to the person they took the revenge out on.
"Not this time, Duck," he managed between clenched teeth. "Not this time. This time I'm going to . . . " Do what? And how? And to who? "Fuck it!"
"Sir?" The voice was low, calm, non-judgmental, and a gentle hand was put on his arm.
For a moment he just stood there, rigid, frozen, desperately trying to get himself back under control.
Then the calm, soothing voice spoke again. "I don't personally know what you are going through, sir, I can't even being to imagine how you must feel. And I'm not going to insult you by saying that I do know, that I do understand, because I can't. No one who hasn't been in the position that you are in can. But I do know one thing, Dr. Mallard needs you now. And the longer you wait before facing him, the harder it will be. The angrier you will become, and all that will happen is that you will project your anger onto Dr. Mallard and that . . . Well, I'm sure you don't need me to tell you what that will do."
Gibbs wanted to yell at the woman speaking to him; to ask her who or what gave her the right to talk to him like that. To tell her that she knew nothing. Nothing about him. Nothing about Ducky. Nothing about them. But he didn't. Because deep inside him he knew what she said was correct. He took a deep breath, let it go, then another, then a third, and then be turned around.
He blinked in surprise as he looked down at her, a long way down at her. She was even shorter than Agent Lee was, and he thought her tiny. And she was young, a kid, nothing more. A trainee or junior nurse, or whatever the hell they were called these days, at best.
Her hand was still on his arm, but as he looked down at her, she let it fall and swiftly took a step back. "I'm sorry," she said quickly. "I shouldn't have . . . I shouldn't even . . . Sister will be . . . I should be . . . Oh, dear. I am sorry, sir," and with that she fled.
For a second Gibbs wanted to call her back, to tell her that it was all right. Hell, to thank her. God knows how much longer he would have stood there, doing just what she'd said, if she hadn't done.
Swallowing hard and making a valiant attempt to force away all the negativity he felt, he took a deep breath and pushed open the door to Ducky's room.
"Hey, Duck," he said softly, as he moved swiftly across the room to the bed where Ducky, looking ten years older than he normally looked, sat staring at the door. The pale blue gaze, always the barometer of Ducky's feelings, was silent, frozen, still. For a fleeting second, Gibbs didn't know the man who reached up and took his hand.
"Take me home, Jethro," was all he said.
"Ducky, I don't know if -"
"Take me home." It was not a request.
An hour later, with the doctor's, reluctant and grudging consent, given Gibbs suspected because Ducky had simply declared that he was leaving the hospital, with or with medical permission, with or without Gibbs, Gibbs helped Duck into his car and prepared to drive his lover home.
SEVERAL DAYS LATER
"Jethro, I wish you to take me to bed and make love to me." Ducky spoke calmly and flatly. He might have been asking Jethro to make him a pot of tea, for all the enthusiasm he put into the request.
Jethro felt his mouth fall open, as his brain processed Ducky's exact words and meaning. He was stunned, shocked even. He stood up and shook his head, "Duck, I . . . We can't do that. You know what the doctor said. He -"
"Yes, Jethro. I know what the doctor said. I know exactly what the doctor said. I know. I know only too well. I know every time I . . . " A harsh sob escaped from Ducky, the first Jethro had heard since he'd walked into Ducky's hospital room.
Without thought as to whether it was the right thing or the wrong thing to do, knowing only that it was the only thing he could do, he gathered his trembling lover into his arms and held him as he murmured words of meaningless comfort.
He wasn't even sure how to comfort Ducky, for the first time ever he was at a loss to know what to do, what to say, to his lover. Ducky had refused professional counseling, refused point blank in fact, which hadn't surprised Jethro. However, he had also refused to talk to Jethro, saying simply that there wasn't any point. Talking about it wasn't going to undo it, wasn't going to change it; he simply kept saying, insisting, that he was fine and that Jethro shouldn't worry.
But Jethro had worried, had done little else but worry. On the face of it Ducky had seemed to have gotten over it, had seemed his old self, but 'on the face of it' was all it was. Now whenever he was in the bathroom, the door was always not only closed, but locked, and he always went up to bed before Jethro, and was in bed, his pajamas buttoned up to his neck, before Jethro joined him.
Jethro had given up counting the number of times he had awoken to find the bed empty and Ducky missing. A handful of times, during the first couple of nights, he'd gone looking for his lover, worried that . . . But Ducky always had a logical, a calm, a meant-to-be reassuring explanation: he couldn't sleep and so, as not to disturb Jethro, he had decided to get up and read; make himself a cup of tea; answer an old friend's letter, and half a dozen explanations.
It wasn't though he was physically avoiding Jethro, not really. In fact in some ways he was more demanding than he had ever been; but sometimes Jethro wondered just who he was holding, just who he was kissing, because he was certain it wasn't Ducky.
He let Ducky sob against him for a few more moments, before gently pushing him away just far enough to be able to see him. Ducky's hair, even longer than he normally wore it, had fallen over his forehead and cheeks, and was damp as Jethro pushed it back.
Before he could find the words to say something, Ducky demanded, "Well, will you?"
Jethro sought desperately for an answer, that wasn't an out and out refusal, and certainly wasn't a compliance. "Why, Ducky? Why do you want me to? It'll hurt you. I'll hurt you."
For a moment the dead look that hadn't left Ducky's eyes from the moment Jethro had walked into his room fled, leaving pure emotion of the kind that sliced into Jethro so deeply, he physically felt it. Then it left, and again there was nothing.
"I know," Ducky said simply, lowering his head and resting it against Jethro's chest. "And that's why I want you to do it. I need the pain, Jethro."
"I don't understand, Duck."
Ducky sighed and moved closer to Jethro, settling and then resting against him. "I've tried everything else, my dear. I've tried to regain control and I can't. And I can't go on like this any longer. I cannot not have control. I need it, dearest. We need it. And this is the only way I can think of now to regain it. To take back what he took. Please, Jethro, please, my dear."
Jethro held Ducky as he processed his words. He wasn't certain he understood what Ducky was saying, but then as the nurse had said to him, he couldn't understand. Not really. Not truly. He couldn't understand what Ducky was going through, what he was feeling. It was impossible for him to do so. He just knew somehow, with an instinct that he also didn't understand, that Ducky spoke, for Ducky, the truth. And he knew something else, something that chilled him, frightened him, terrified him, like nothing else had ever done.
For a second he just tightened his hold, pulling his lover even closer to him, searching desperately for what he knew was impossible. Then he kissed the top of Ducky's head and gently pushed him away again to hold him at arms length. He wasn't certain how he'd do it, or what it would do to him, how he'd cope with what he was going to say; what it would do to him afterwards; to them; to their relationship. He just knew that he had no choice. "Okay, Duck," he said softly, fighting back the rush of nausea that raced into his mouth. "Okay," he repeated.
The dullness raced from the pale gaze, and his Ducky looked at him instead. "Thank you, my dear," he said quietly, reaching up to stroke Jethro's face.
Jethro nodded once. Then forced himself to say, "Want to go to bed now?"
To his surprise, Ducky just shook his head. "No, dearest" he said solemnly. "I don't need to now. I just needed to know that you would do that for me. I just needed to be certain that you still . . . Now kiss me, Jethro."
"Ah, Duck," Jethro murmured, lowering his head and gently kissing Ducky. For the first time in several days, it was Ducky he was kissing.
After several moment of chaste, gentle, loving, healing kisses, Jethro lifted his head. "You want to tell me about it, Duck?"
Ducky sighed. "There really isn't much to tell, dearest. But, yes, I think I would. Why don't we sit down first," and taking Jethro's hand, Ducky led him to the sofa.
"Comfortable?" Jethro asked, as he settled down with one arm around Ducky, who rested against him.
"Yes, thank you, my dear." This time Ducky's sigh was one of pleasure, as he snuggled nearer to Jethro.
Jethro waited, content to sit there, resting his cheek on the top of Ducky's head, drinking in the fresh scent of the herbal shampoo his lover used. He wasn't about to push Ducky, or even 'remind' him of his agreement to talk. The one thing that Jethro knew was that, as with death, everyone handled the aftermath of rape differently, and that no person's way was wrong. What worked for them was right for them.
After another moment or two, Ducky began to talk, his voice low and with little expression. "As I said, there really is little to tell. I was driving back home and came upon a car that appeared to have broken down. Like the fool I am, I stopped and offered my assistance." One of Ducky's hands moved onto Jethro's thigh, seeking Jethro's own hand. Jethro took it and squeezed it, still prepared to simply let his lover talk.
"He seemed nice, friendly, non-threatening. He told me that he had run out of petrol and asked me if I would mind driving him to the nearby house of a friend, who had a spare can. It never occurred to me to ask why his friend didn't drive out himself. I just . . . We left the main road and . . . We came to what he said was his friend's house and he invited me in, offered me a cup of tea. I accepted and . . . It was all over relatively quickly, and then I . . . I think I must just have acted on some inbuilt instinct, as I found myself outside the hospital. I knew I needed hospital treatment; I knew that no matter how much I wanted to just come to you, that for once that wouldn't be enough. Besides I didn't want to . . ." This time Ducky didn't begin to speak again, instead he moved impossibly closer and put his head down on Jethro's shoulder.
Once he was sure he could speak without harsh anger, Jethro said quietly, "How badly did he hurt you, Duck?"
After a moment Ducky said, his voice still low and toneless, "It could have been a lot worse. Had I not been . . . " He shrugged. Then added, his voice even softer, "I am not certain if I'll ever be able to . . ." Again he stopped talking.
Jethro kissed his head. "It doesn't matter, Duck. Nothing matters except you're here, back with me, safe and alive. Anything else is a bonus." And he meant the words; he really did. Whatever Ducky was able to give him would be more than enough for him.
"Are you certain, my dear?" Now Ducky lifted his head and looked directly at Jethro.
"Do I lie to you?"
Ducky smiled, the first genuine smile, one that touched his eyes, for far too long. "No, Jethro, you do not."
That night Ducky didn't go up to bed before Jethro. Nor was the bathroom door either closed or locked.
As Jethro watched his lover go through his normal nighttime routine of washing his hands and face, brushing his teeth and relieving himself, he knew that the worst was over. Realistically he knew that it wasn't completely over, and maybe it never would be, but they had survived bad things before, they could and would survive this. Ducky had begun to heal, had showed Jethro what he needed to do to help with the healing, to help comfort Ducky, and one thing that Jethro was good at was caring for Ducky.
"Are you going to just stand there and watch me, Jethro, or are you going to do what you came to the bathroom yourself to do?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah, guess so." Not even trying to pretend that he hadn't just been standing watching every move Ducky made, Jethro hurried to the sink and began his own bedtime preparations. He wasn't entirely surprised, and was relieved, pleased and encouraged that Ducky waited patiently for him to finish his routine.
Once they were back in their bedroom, Ducky let Jethro help him remove the rest of his clothes, leaving only his shorts in place. Jethro tried not to flinch at the amount of bruises and scratches that covered Ducky's otherwise unscarred skin. They had begun to fade and heal slightly, but even so.
Something must have showed on his face, because Ducky caught his hand and linked his fingers with it. "Don't, my dear," he said simply, moving closer to Jethro, and then even closer, until he was close enough to have to tip his head a considerable way back to look up at him.
He studied Jethro for several minutes. Then he frowned and sighed softly. "Oh, Jethro," he said, his tone chiding. "It wasn't your fault. You know that."
Jethro hadn't been aware that he was even giving the irrational, illogical idea conscious thought, let alone letting is show. But then his lover had known him for over thirty years, it was rare for them to surprise one another, or not know what the other was thinking. "Yeah, Duck," he said, his tone slightly self-deprecating. "I know. It's just . . ." He trailed off and shrugged.
Ducky smiled softly. "Yes, dearest, I know," he said, his tone serious, as he tugged Jethro's head down so that he could kiss him briefly. "However," he added, once he'd broken the kiss, his tone lighter than it had been, "something else might be."
Jethro blinked. "Duck?"
"The longer you keep me standing here, unclothed, the greater the possibility of me getting a chill. And as you are the one preventing me from getting into our nice, warm bed, then it would be your fault." He beamed at Jethro.
"Ah, Duck," Jethro said, and chuckled. He briefly pulled Ducky against him again, before letting him go, taking his hand and leading him to his side of the bed. Once there, he pulled Ducky's pajamas out from under his pillow and offered them to Ducky.
Ducky shook his head. "I don't think I need those tonight, do you?" And with another smile, he let Jethro pull back the covers before carefully climbing in. "Well," he said, once he'd made himself comfortable. "Are you going to stand there all night, or are you going to join me?"
It didn't take Jethro long to remove the rest of his clothes, apart from his own shorts, and get into bed next to his lover. As soon as he was settled, it was Ducky who moved into his arms, Ducky who initiated a kiss, Ducky who spent several minutes caressing Jethro's body, before determinedly taking Jethro's hand and putting it on his own body.
Guided by Ducky, his reactions, his eyes, and how he stroked Jethro, Jethro limited his caresses and kisses to his lover's torso, neck, face and head. It was probably the most chaste lovemaking session they had ever experienced, indeed given that neither man climaxed, many people would not have considered it lovemaking. But Jethro did, and he knew that Ducky did too.
As he finally settled down to sleep, with Ducky in his arms where Jethro knew he'd stay until morning, something hit Jethro. "Thought you always told me you couldn't get a chill simply from getting cold, Duck?"
"Did I, my dear? Did I really?" Ducky said in his ultra-innocent tone. "I must have momentarily forgotten that." And he laughed softly.
"Guess you must have done," Jethro said, also laughing, then he brushed his lips over Ducky's. "Night, Duck."
"Goodnight, my dearest Jethro."
When the sunlight streamed in through the curtains, Jethro found that his prediction had been correct: Ducky was still in his arms.
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