THE HAPPY COUPLE
It's Jethro's fourth wedding day.
An established relationship story.
Written: October 2005. Word count: 1,583.
Leroy Jethro Gibbs awoke with a start. He blinked frantically as his hand reached for the gun he habitually kept on his nightstand. He was wet with perspiration and his pulse was racing. "Damn," he muttered, pulling his hand back from the butt of his gun, and trying to rearrange the twisted bedclothes. "Well it's your own fault," he added, tugging one pillow up against the headboard and settling back against it. "Why couldn't you stick to your ‘never again?'"
"I fear we've been friends for too long, my dear. You'll be talking to the corpses next." Ducky came into the bedroom, a mug in each hand.
Jethro didn't need to be able to smell the dark, bitter aroma to know what they contained. "Hey, Duck," he said, holding out a hand to take one of the mugs. Ducky's presence, as it had done on the three previous occasions, immediately calmed him, and he decided that he could get through the day - probably.
Ducky lowered himself carefully onto the edge of the bed. "You don't have to go through with it, Jethro," he said softly. He took a cautious sip from his own mug, which for some reason Jethro had never figured out would be as strong as Jethro's own. It seemed to be part of Ducky's ritual, just as spending the night at Jethro's home was.
"Yes, I do, Duck. Or rather I want to," Jethro said, as pale blue eyes held his own. "I do," he added forcefully. A slight frown was just visible from beneath the heavy over-long fringe, and Ducky continued to watch him unblinkingly. "Really," he added.
For another moment or two, his oldest friend continued to watch him; then he nodded once and blinked, shattering the moment. "It certainly looks as though it's going to be a beautiful day," Ducky said, his tone conversational.
Jethro smiled and swallowed a mouthful of the excellent coffee. For someone who rarely drank it, Ducky made superb coffee - better even than Jethro himself. "Unlike last time," he said. "God, did it rain. We were soaked just going from the car to the chapel. I don't think I felt fully dry for the rest of the day. Did you?"
Ducky shook his head. "No, my dear," he said. "Nor did D-"
"No!" Jethro said firmly. "Rule, Duck. No names. Not on this day."
Ducky once more stared at him. "Jethro," he said, after a moment or two. "Why are you doing this?"
Jethro shrugged. "I asked. I was accepted. It led here."
Ducky frowned. "That's not what I meant. Why did you ask?"
"Love," Jethro said firmly. "Plus, it will be right this time. I know it will." It has to be, he added silently. "You do believe me, don't you?" he asked, when Ducky said nothing.
Ducky glanced away, and with the hand not holding his mug began to smooth the already uncreased material of his trousers.
"Duck!" Jethro leaned forward and captured the ‘smoothing' hand. "Don't you?"
Ducky looked back up and met Jethro's gaze, holding it for another long, silent moment. Tension filled the air, in a way that was alien to the old friends. Finally Ducky spoke, his voice quiet and without inflection, "I want to, my dear," he said. "I want to very much. I want nothing more than for you to finally be happy."
"But you find it hard given the other three disasters?" Jethro's tone was harsh, but the harshness was directed at himself, not at Ducky. "I've never been much of a husband have I, Duck?"
"It wasn't all your fault, Jethro. It takes two to make and two to break a relationship. And as you've told me, more than once, they all left you; you didn't leave them."
"But I was the common factor all three times. I pretty much drove them away."
"Now you're being too hard on yourself, my dear. They weren't right for you, not doing the job you do. And whatever you may or may not have done, physical violence is never the answer. They were wrong to react like that."
"Maybe," Jethro said, draining his mug and automatically holding out his hand for Ducky's. With a fond, bemused smile, Ducky handed it over.
"There's no ‘maybe', Jethro," he said firmly, pushing himself to his feet and limping slightly towards the door. "They were wrong. Now I'll leave you to get ready."
"Duck?" Ducky turned. "Thank you," Jethro said and smiled.
Ducky just smiled and left the room.
"You don't have to do this, Jethro," Ducky said for the third time as they pulled up, in Ducky's polished-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life Morgan, outside the chapel.
Jethro turned to him and met the steady, affectionate gaze. "I know," he said softly, touching Ducky's arm. "But I want to, Duck. I really do."
Ducky covered Jethro's hand with his own, held the stare, and smiled - the one he reserved solely for Jethro. For a moment he said nothing, then he spoke, his voice soft and caring. "I believe you, Jethro my dear," he said simply. "In which case we had better go in."
"Duck," Jethro said suddenly, grasping the hand Ducky had been about to pull away. Ducky cocked an eyebrow at him. "It won't change anything between us, will it?"
Ducky squeezed Jethro's hand and again smiled. "It never has before, Jethro. I can't imagine this time will be any different. Now, come," he added, his tone firm; the one he rarely used, but the one even Jethro always obeyed.
As they climbed out of the car, Jethro glanced across at the small group standing at the bottom of the steps leading to the tiny chapel. ‘Close friends, colleagues and family,' he'd stipulated; and that is what he'd got. They're the same thing, he thought in a sudden insightful moment, as he studied Abby, McGee, DiNozzo, Jimmy, Gerald, Tobias, and Tom Morrow - no longer Jethro's Director, but he still fitted the stipulation. Close friends, colleagues and family, all rolled into one.
The men all wore smart suits, white shirts, ties, and their shoes, even from across the road, appeared to have been shined by a Marine. Abby was in black, but then Abby was nearly always in black. The dress calf length and lacey, she wore matching gloves and carried her parasol, which she twirled as she talked animatedly to Tobias and McGee. It seemed that whatever friction existed between NCIS and the FBI, had been put on hold today. The same seemed true of any internal wrangling, but they had only ever really been the kind of things that families share. McGee had his arm a little, Jethro thought, possessively around Abby. He wondered when they'd all be meeting again for another wedding - that was if Goths did marry.
"Jethro?" Ducky touched his arm lightly, and keeping a grip on it led Jethro across the road to where the group waited.
"It's good to see you again, sir," Jethro said, offering his hand to Tom Morrow to shake.
"Less of the ‘sir,' Jethro. I am no longer your boss. Tom will do quite nicely." Jethro nodded briefly and turned to Tobias.
"Thanks for coming."
"Hey, why change the habits of a lifetime? Only one thing, Jethro, make this one last. I'm tried of buying new ties." He smiled, softening his old-before-his-time face, and moved away.
Jethro felt a steady presence at his side, and turned to smile down at Ducky. "It's time we went in, Jethro," he said looking up at Jethro, his warm, affectionate gaze watchful. "It's your last chance," he added softly. "I can still -"
"No, Duck. I told you. I want to."
"In that case, come, my dear." With those words, Ducky led Jethro inside the building, bypassed the actual chapel, and led him to a room where a redheaded woman awaited them.
The wedding party sat around a table in the small function room of a local restaurant. There was none of the often-stilted attempts to find topics of common interest; they all knew one another too well.
"So, Fornell, how many of Gibbs's previous weddings have you been to?" DiNozzo asked, leaning slightly towards Tobias.
"Two. I didn't know him when he married the first one."
"And do you think this one will last?"
Tobias glanced at Jethro and returned his attention to his friend's young agent. "Yes, I do."
"Two reasons. Firstly, Jethro is actually looking at the person he's married, rather than at his best man. And secondly, bastard that he is, I know he'd never have made this proposal if he had even a shadow of a doubt."
"I hope you're right, Fornell," DiNozzo said after a moment of two. "I hope you're right." He nodded briefly to Tobias, smiled, and turned his attention to someone Abby was saying.
About an hour later the best man rose to his feet, clinked his spoon against his glass and waited for silence. Everyone turned to face him. "Friends," he said. "At this point I should be launching into some long, rambling tale about Jethro, but quite frankly it's all been said before." Everyone chuckled. "So instead, I'll keep it simple. I give you the happy couple. Jethro and Ducky."
As one the NCIS team, with the exception of Jethro and Ducky, together with Annie Marshall, who had conducted the ceremony, stood up, raised their glasses, and in unison joined Tobias in saying, "Jethro and Ducky."
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