Set immediately after the last scene of Truth Or Consequences.
Ducky has had enough.
An established relationship story.
Written: September 2009. Word count: 1,000.
Ducky sighed as Jethro strode by without even glancing at him. This could not go on; he'd given it three months, enough was enough. Something had to be said.
Undercover of the still resounding applause, as everyone showed Jethro and the boys how proud of them they were, how relieved they were to see them back safely, Ducky made his way to Jethro's desk.
Although Jethro wasn't facing him, his stiff back told Ducky that Jethro knew he was there. Ignoring the clear 'go away', he moved nearer. No one was paying them any attention, the office was still focused on Abby holding Ziva in her arms and on the boys.
"You know, Jethro," Ducky said, his tone conversational. "Given you felt it apposite we made no mention of the change in our relationship, you are making it very obvious there has been a change."
Jethro turned. "What do you mean?" he hissed.
Ducky stared up at Jethro. "You ignore me," he said. He tried to keep the hurt, which had been growing in the months since the glorious night he'd finally got Jethro into his bed, from his voice.
Ducky widened his eyes at the blatant lie. "You barely look at me. When you come to Autopsy you stand as far away from me as you possibly can. At crime scenes you position yourself well away from the body. You ignore me, Jethro."
"I - Duck," Jethro glanced around him and took a step towards Ducky. "It's only because I'm . . . Well, I reckon I'll give us, away."
Ducky shook his head. "Jethro, I assure you that you're far more likely to do that by completely changing how you behave around me, than if you simply continued to behave as you've always done. I've seen the children looking at us. I imagine it's only because they've been focused on Ziva's 'silence' that one of them at least hasn't put two and two together."
Jethro looked stunned. "But I thought -"
"Yes, I know you did. However, you thought incorrectly. I have seen it more than once. A complete change in the way two people interact in public, especially when those people have been, as we were, more than a little tactile and focused on one another, points to the fact they have moved from friendship to more, and are trying to hide it. So unless you are trying to tell me that you no longer -"
"Hell, no! Don't ever think that, Duck." Now Jethro moved even closer and put his hand on Ducky's shoulder making the first deliberate contact outside of their own homes since that perfect night. He also allowed his eyes to show Ducky just how he felt.
Ducky smiled and this time sighed aloud. "Ah, my dear Jethro," he murmured.
Jethro squeezed Ducky's shoulder and then with obvious reluctance removed his hand. "Behaved like a fool, haven't I?"
"Well, maybe a little, yes."
"Why didn't you say anything before?" Jethro sank down into his chair and looked up at Ducky.
The clapping had finally ended and people were returning to their desks. Abby and Ziva had vanished somewhere, and Timothy and Anthony appeared to be deep in conversation.
Ducky shrugged and sat down on the edge of Jethro's desk. He lowered his voice a little more, not enough to draw attention to them should anyone walk by, but just enough so that anyone walking by wouldn't hear him. "Because I kept hoping you'd realize what you were doing and stop. Also," Ducky went on, "I was aware your focus was, well, shall we say not entirely in this country, and I didn't wish to burden you with anything else."
Jethro shook his head. "Ah, Duck. You don't burden me. Sometimes reckon it's the other way round."
Now Ducky shook his head. "Not at all. So are you going to listen to me?"
"Don't I always?"
Ducky chuckled. "Maybe I should have said are you going to pay attention to what I say?"
Now Jethro laughed, and put his hand on Ducky's arm; the contact was brief. "Yeah, I am. It'll be business as usual," he said. "It was hard not looking at you, not touching you, having to stand so far away from you."
"Well, you won't have to any longer. And now I think it is time I paid some attention to Anthony, Timothy and Ziva. They all have cuts and grazes that need looking at." Ducky began to stand up.
"Duck?" Jethro caught his wrist. Ducky sat back down and raised an eyebrow. "About Ziva."
"Yes?" Ducky asked, but he knew what was on Jethro's mind.
"What do you think . . . ? I mean do you think . . . ? What do you think she's been through?"
"Hell," I imagine would be one way to sum it up. "I do not know, Jethro. I imagine the next few weeks are not going to be easy for her or indeed for any of us; Anthony and you, in particular."
"I want the team back together, Duck. I want things back as they were."
Ducky looked at his lover and shook his head. "Ah, Jethro. I am not entirely certain that will ever be possible. Things can never be exactly as they were. Genies cannot be put back into their bottles. Now, my dear, I really should go and look after some live 'patients'. Will I see you at Reston House later?"
"Course you will. Soon as I can get away." There was something in Jethro's eyes that suddenly caught Ducky's attention.
"I could have lost them all, Duck." Jethro's voice was quiet, but harsh.
Now Ducky did stand up. He put his hand on his lover's shoulder and squeezed it. "I know you could have, Jethro," he said. "And I could have lost you. But you didn't and I didn't. We are all together again." And with those final words, he turned and made his way to where the boys still sat. No one paid him any attention.
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