'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
It's Christmas Eve, 2007, and Gibbs finally acts upon the decision he had made months ago. But circumstances seem set to thwart him at every turn.
A first time story.
Written: December 2007. Word count: 5,469.
CHRISTMAS EVE 2007
Jethro picked up the sander, moved across to his boat, ran the tool over one of the wooden ribs once, twice, three times, sighed and threw the sander down.
He stood and just stared at his boat for a moment or two before turning away and wandering back to his workbench. There he poured a generous slug of the high proof bourbon he kept in the basement into his old coffee mug, lifted it to his mouth and took a small sip. The liquid burned the back of his throat as it slid down and with a sigh he slammed the mug back onto the bench. He glowered at, but otherwise ignored, the liquid that sloshed over the edge of his mug.
He then picked up his hammer and nails and walked back to his boat. He looked at her, sighed with frustration, strode back to his workbench and tossed his tools back down.
He had no inclination to work on his boat.
He had no inclination to drink.
He had no inclination to watch some old, cheesy Christmas show on the television.
He had no inclination to do anything.
Well he did.
He had the inclination to do one particular thing. He just wasn't sure if he should do it. Or indeed, if he was ready to do it.
How much longer do you need to decide? It's been over a year since you knew what you wanted.
For a moment he was tempted to ignore the voice in his head, even though he knew it was right.
It had been that long.
It had been thirteen months, less a few days, since he'd held his oldest, dearest friend in his arms. Held him pressed right against the front of his body. Held him, put his lips on his ear, felt his world right itself for the first time in six months, and . . . And . . . And felt aroused. Physically and emotionally aroused.
Emotionally aroused was one thing; that wasn't obvious to anyone but himself.
But physically aroused was something else. He still didn't know why Ducky hadn't felt it; it had been more than a bit obvious. Or maybe he had, but had chosen not to say anything. After all what the hell do you say? Even between friends of such long standing, that kind of thing isn't easy to just drop into conversation.
He still didn't know why he'd gotten turned on; it wasn't the first time, not by a long way, he'd held Ducky in his arms. Held him in his arms in exactly the same way as he'd done all those months ago, and never once before had he even experienced the inkling of a twitch of arousal.
At first he'd thought it was just because he and Ducky had been at odds with one another since he'd returned from Mexico, hadn't been close in the way they usually were. Hell they barely looked at one another during the months between him coming back to DC and them making up, let alone be near to one another.
However, he soon realized that he was just trying to find an excuse for his arousal; deep down he'd known, even as he tried to explain it away, that was not the reason.
So a year had gone by since he realized, since he'd accepted, since he'd admitted to himself, since he had been willing to admit to himself, that he was attracted to Ducky. In itself that wasn't what had bothered, indeed still didn't bother, him; homosexuality never had. Not that he thought that loving Ducky, wanting to go to bed with Ducky, wanting to make love to and with Ducky made him gay, not as such, but it damn well made him bisexual – and he didn't care. To be honest he didn't' care if it did make him gay. 'Gay' and 'bi' were only convenient terms and labels anyway. He'd known, from the early days of their friendship, that Ducky was gay; Ducky had told him so. He'd also realized fairly early on that Ducky was attracted to him, but he'd also known that Ducky would never say or do anything about it. Maybe if he had have done, you wouldn't have wasted more than thirty years.
He cared about Ducky, a lot, a hell of a lot. He cared about him more than he'd cared about anyone, Shannon and Kelly excepted. He loved Ducky and had done for years, more than years – a couple of decades at the very least, and, if he thought about, even longer. He was already as intimate with his old friend as he could be, with the one exception of sex, so that wasn't what had troubled him.
What had troubled him was that he had known, still knew, that if he did make any moves towards Ducky outside of friendship, it was one relationship he could not screw up. And as he had to be high on the world list of people who did screw relationships up, it didn't bode well.
Thus in an effort to try to establish in his own mind whether his attraction had been more than a momentarily physical reaction from such a close embrace - and if he was honest he'd figured that out within days - he'd dated and bedded Hollis Mann.
It had been unfair of him really; he'd known that. Just as he'd known from the very first days in their so-called relationship that she was looking to settle down with him; looking for him to be part of her future; looking to him to give her a normal long-lasting relationship. But unfair or not, he'd kept on seeing her. He hadn't told her to go away when she'd started whining on or making demands of him; instead he'd just carried on being the bastard he so often was. Until finally she'd given up.
He looked around the basement; it had been here that really their relationship had ended. She'd taken a step too far when she'd played Kelly's tape – and she'd realized it. But even then, he hadn't told her it was over, not in so many words. Still it hadn't really surprised him when she'd told him she had decided to retire to the Hawaiian island of Lanai. He hoped she'd found peace, happiness even, and, despite the fact that he hadn't really, if the truth were known, liked her that much, he wished her well. She deserved to be treated better than the way he'd treated her.
So here he was: Christmas Eve 2007, over a year since 'the event', and he was alone. And to add to that fact, everywhere was ultra quiet. It seemed as if all his neighbors had gone out for the evening or even longer. There were no cars or revelers, nothing to make him think there was anyone other than himself in his neighborhood, if not in the world.
"Now you've being fanciful," he muttered. "And you've started talking to yourself. What's going to be next?" He sighed.
And then suddenly he knew what he was going to do. He knew exactly what he was going to do.
Ducky had invited him to Reston for Christmas lunch and he'd readily and happily accepted. Thus it was simple: he'd just arrive a few hours earlier than arranged. He'd turn up and . . . He hadn't really got Ducky a decent Christmas gift, not a special one. Sure he had presents for him, but nothing that really mattered. Except he knew that anything he, in fact anything anyone whom Ducky cared about, gave him, would 'matter' to Ducky.
"That's not the point," he said, frowning again as he realized he'd once again spoken aloud. It did give him a warm feeling though to know that his gift, no matter what, would matter most of all. Well, it was about time he gave Ducky a really special gift; gave him something he'd wanted for more than thirty years. Gave him a gift that would make them both happy.
Decision made, he wiped his hands on his jeans, and ran up the basement stairs; taking them two at a time,
He paused in his bedroom and bathroom only long enough to throw some overnight things into a bag. Ducky had suggested that he spend Christmas Day night at Reston, that way he didn't have to worry about drinking. Then he changed his jeans for a pair of warm trousers, added a sweater and his long overcoat to what he was wearing, tucked his ID and Sig into his pockets, and headed down from his bedroom to the front door. He pulled it open, went out into the freezing night and closed it behind him, pulling it shut, and then actually turning and locking it.
Despite his heavy overcoat and warm trousers and sweater, he shivered; it was cold. It was damned cold, in fact he couldn't remember the last time it was that cold. He turned the collar of his coat up, exhaled visibly and, taking a modicum of care on the icy ground, walked towards his car. He knew he'd have to defrost his windscreen and hoped that it wouldn't take too long. Even outside he couldn't hear any sounds of people celebrating Christmas Eve. Instead he was greeted by an almost eerie silence.
Reaching his car he unlocked it, battled for a moment or two with the back door to actually get it open, before turning on the ignition, blasting air onto the screen, and beginning the process of defrosting his windscreen. His 'hope' had been a futile one as it took him the best part of fifteen minutes to scrape the ice off; even then he only cleared enough to allow him to see through a small gap.
Fingers, toes and nose tingling, he decided the rest could defrost on the way and climbed into the car. After the freezing temperatures outside, the heat blasting out made the inside feel over-hot. He flipped the heater down to a lower setting, turned the key fully in the ignition and prepared to drive away.
Two seconds later he realized the car was pulling to one side and making the kind of jerky feeling that meant one thing: he had a puncture. Closing his eyes for a moment, he muttered some choice curses under his breath, before turning off the ignition and opening the driver's door.
He tugged the torch he always kept in the glove compartment out, flicked it on, and climbed out of the car. After the warmth of the car it felt even colder than it had done mere seconds before. Again turning up the collar of his coat, he trudged around the car to the front offside and crouched down. A quick glance confirmed his suspicion the tire was completely flat. Changing a tire in the dark and cold was not going to be an easy job.
For a brief second or two he seriously contemplated going back into his house and leaving replacing the tire until the following morning, before he went to Ducky's. But that didn't feel right; he had made his decision; he wasn't going to change his mind. Flat tire or not, he was going to go to Ducky's that night.
He popped back to the house long enough to turn on the outside lights, before setting about changing the tire. Even that wasn't as easy as it normally was; whether it was just the freezing temperatures, or the fact that his fingers were starting to feel numb and outside of his control, he didn't know. But it took considerably more effort to unscrew the wheel nuts and prise the tire off than I usually did.
Over three-quarters of an hour later, no longer cold, he slammed the trunk and after another hasty visit to his house to turn off the outside lights, moved back to the driver's door. "Damn it!" he cursed, as he noticed that, once again, the windscreen was iced over.
Why was he doing this? He was beginning to seriously wonder.
Except he knew exactly why he was doing it.
At least it took him slightly less time to defrost the windscreen; fortunately the ice hadn't had time to reform as hard as it had been before.
He was just about to drive away, when his gut began to nudge him. He was about to drive to Ducky's house, in the dark and cold on Christmas Eve, with no spare tire. He didn't believe for one moment that he'd be hit twice, but on the other hand, he'd feel more than a bit foolish if somehow he did get another puncture.
Thus he turned the engine off again, locked the door – it might be quiet and empty at the moment, but there was no point tempting fate – and jogged carefully to his house to grab another spare tire from the couple he, not having a garage, kept down in his basement.
Finally, well over an hour since he'd left his house for the first time, he pushed the car into drive and drove off along the icy roads, heading in the general direction of Ducky's Reston home.
The roads were quiet as he drove, on autopilot, along. Out of deference to Ducky, more than the weather conditions, he did reduce his normal speed somewhat. He wasn't particularly superstitious or prone to worrying about what might happen, but the roads were very slippery, and that last thing he wanted was the possibility that Ducky would get called out to – He cut the thought off before it even had time to germinate.
Instead, he turned his mind to thoughts of Ducky, to thoughts of holding him in his arms in a warm bed and getting to know him on a new level. Except those thoughts began to have a profound effect on a particular part of his anatomy, which made driving very uncomfortable. So reluctantly, he turned his mind away from Ducky's mouth, lips, hands, arms and naked body, and instead concentrated on the less carnal aspects of his dearest friend.
He was about to pull onto the main highway leading to Reston, when red flares and a barrier came into view. "Now what?" he muttered, slowing down and bringing the car to stop by a heavily wrapped up LEO. He wound the window down.
"Sorry, sir," the man said, stamping his feet. "Road's closed. There's been an accident. You'll have to go around."
For a brief moment, Jethro considered just backing up and driving on, via another route. But far too many years firstly as a Marine and then as a Federal Agent clicked in. Sighing to himself, and mentally calling himself a 'fool', he dug under his coat and pulled out his wallet. "Federal Agent," he said, flipping it open. "Can I help?"
The LEO glanced at the badge and ID and shook his head. "No need, sir. No one's hurt. It's just a truck, traveling faster than it should have been doing given the conditions, which skidded and overturned. Driver's fine, surprisingly, but his load's all over the road. It's going to take hours to clear in these conditions."
Jethro nodded, pushed his wallet back under his coat and said, "I'll be on my way then."
"Drive carefully, sir. And Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas," Jethro repeated, pushing the car into reverse and turning it around.
By the time he pulled up outside Ducky's home, having being forced to take the circular route, he glanced at his watch to discover it was well over two hours since he'd left his own home. In fact in less than ten minutes, it'd be Christmas Day.
He looked at the house; it was in virtual darkness, with only a faint light shining on the porch. He stared up at the window he knew to be Ducky's bedroom, trying to see if there was even a hint of a bedside lamp shining. But nothing was visible through the thick curtains. Similarly, the room on the ground floor that he knew to be Mrs. Mallard's was equally dark.
He groaned to himself. That left five options:
One - he could just turn around and drive back home again. But given his luck that evening, he'd either run into another roadblock or have another puncture or both! And he'd end up turning straight back round again and heading back to Reston for lunch.
Two – he could sleep in the car. The disadvantages of that were that it was freezing, even by his standards, but more importantly, Ducky would not be happy with him in the morning. Thinking about his old friend's reaction if he discovered Jethro had spent the night in his car, 'not happy' was one of the greatest understatements Jethro had ever made.
Three – he could ring the doorbell or call Ducky's cell phone. The former wasn't even an option, because he did not want to wake Mrs. Mallard and the Corgis up. At least the nurse, he knew, was away joining her family for Christmas. The latter he really didn't want to do, not if he could avoid it. He knew far too well what it was like being woken from a deep sleep by a shrill phone. In the line of work he and Ducky worked in, you always feared the worse.
Four – he could use his key and hope that Ducky hadn't bolted as well as locked the front door. And also that he hadn't changed the alarm code on the hideously expensive alarm Jethro had made McGee install the weekend after Ducky's abduction by the Hanlans. He doubted if Ducky would have done either; after all there was little point him giving Jethro an key 'just in case', if he was also going to bolt the door or change the alarm code. However, if he had just possibly, maybe, done either, then within less than a minute of Jethro unlocking the door, the alarm was going to blast into action. Which would wake Ducky, his mom, the Corgis and, given how loud the alarm was, and how quiet the night was, Ducky's neighbors – most definitely not the kind of thing you wanted to happen.
Five – he could break in via the back door, which he knew would be locked but not bolted on the grounds that Mrs. Mallard liked to let the Corgis out first thing, often before Ducky was downstairs. Of course he'd have to hope he didn't end up tripping over the said Corgis that sometimes slept in the kitchen rather than in Mrs. Mallard's room, while on his way to turn off the alarm system. Fortunately it wasn't a sensor alarm; Ducky had vetoed that, saying that his mother did like to wander around at night from time to time, so at least he didn't have that concern. However, he knew from previous experience that the four Corgis could seem more like forty at times, when you were trying to get from A to B.
In the end, he decided on the fourth option. As he climbed out of the car and quietly shut the door, he prayed that lady luck, which seemed to have been absent from his side all evening, didn't desert him yet again.
After all the trials and tribulations of getting from his house to Ducky's, it was almost an anti-climax when, twenty seconds after putting his key in the front door and holding his breath as he turned it, he was standing by the alarm, resetting it.
The house itself was silent. With the exception of Jethro himself, neither human nor animal stirred, moved, or even seemed to breathe. In a moment of foolishness, he even began to wonder if maybe Ducky, his mother and the Corgis were out for the evening. But the additional absence of the tick-tocking of the Grandfather clock that stood in the hall, answered that. Ducky always stopped the clock these days before going up to bed, as it had started to interrupt his mother's sleep. Or at least that is what her current nurse had told Ducky, and rather than argue – Mrs. Mallard had already driven away four nurses – Ducky had given in.
As he stood and listened to the silence, Jethro realized it was the first time that he'd been in Ducky's home and not heard the clock ticking away companionably. It sounded very strange indeed, and made the silence even more apparent and absolute.
Also, as he stood in the hall, Jethro suddenly realized that he hadn't thought beyond getting to Ducky's home. Well, at least he had, but in his thoughts Ducky had still been awake, had invited him in for a drink, taking him upstairs to his sitting room, they'd talked and . . . After a reasonable interval, they'd moved to Ducky's bed.
However, Ducky wasn't still up, and given that there seemed to be no hint of light shining from the upstairs rooms, wasn't even awake. So what did Jethro do now?
Did he go up to the guest room and just appear in the morning with some explanation as to what he was doing there? And if he did that, would he end up chickening out and inventing some excuse for his early arrival, such as he wanted to help Ducky with lunch – which Ducky wouldn't believe as Jethro and the kitchen did not have a good relationship. Or did he say that his heating had broken down and he'd wanted to spend the night in a warm house? He doubted Ducky would believe that either; anyway, he didn't lie to Ducky.
Or did he go up to Ducky's room, wake him up and explain why he was there? Doing so would hopefully lead to Ducky inviting him into his bed. And from there . . . Again, Jethro dragged his mind away from thoughts of 'from there' as he still needed to walk upstairs. Obviously his body and mind were on a very short fuse at the moment; he began to feel more like he was fifteen year-old randy kid again, rather than a mature fifty-three year-old man.
Or did he do, what he wanted to do, simply go up to Ducky's room, not wake him up, and get into bed with him? And then what? Just go to sleep? Or . . . Once again, he stopped short of thinking too much about 'or'. But surely someone getting into bed with Ducky would wake him up? Which, admittedly was what Jethro wanted, but even so.
Quickly he ruled out the first option. The idea of sleeping alone after his journey there did not appeal. Instead he decided to delay making his final choice between options two and three until he actually got into Ducky's room.
Quietly, not wanting to disturb the silent house, Jethro slowly made his way up the stairs. He knew Ducky's house almost as well as his own, thus the darkness wasn't a hindrance, and he was able to avoid the stairs that creaked.
He stopped outside Ducky's bedroom door, his hand on the doorknob. Swallowing, he glanced at the spare room door, hesitated and wondered if it really was the most sensible option after all, the fairest one. However, he once again decided against it. Instead he firmly turned the handle and pushed open the door.
Two things greeted him: Ducky's voice coming out of the darkness. "That is quite far enough. I have a gun and I am a very good shot." And a light being snapped on to reveal Ducky sitting up in bed, his glasses on, a gun held in a steady, unwavering grip. A gun that was pointing directly at him.
In the split second before his brain computed who was pointing a gun at him, Jethro's instincts clicked in, and his hand shot to the coat pocket into which he'd pushed his Sig. As his fingers touched the cold, hard metal, he saw Ducky's eyes widen.
"Jethro?" The astonishment was clear in Ducky's voice; an astonishment that was echoed in the wide gaze and still face.
"Hey, Duck," Jethro said, a tad weakly, letting his fingers fall from the butt of his gun, and pulling his hand out of his pocket. "You want to put the gun down?" he asked, after a moment or two during which Ducky simply sat there, the gun still pointing, unwaveringly at him.
"What?" Ducky said, his tone heavy with puzzlement. It seemed as if he'd forgotten he was still holding a gun aimed at his dearest friend.
With five strides, Jethro moved from the doorway to Ducky's bed, and carefully took the gun from Ducky. His finger moved automatically to push the safety catch back on. As flesh touched metal, he discovered it wasn't even off. He frowned, as a quick glance at the barrel revealed that it wasn't even loaded. "Ducky," he said, his tone slightly irritated. "It isn't even loaded."
Ducky blinked up at him. "Of course it isn't loaded, Jethro. I might have let you bully me into allowing you to buy it for me, and promising to keep it by my bed," Jethro cursed as he realized he'd momentarily forgotten that. "But that is as far as I was prepared to go. It was only ever intended to be a deterrent, I would never have shot anyone with it."
"It could still have been a deterrent with bullets in it, Duck."
Ducky sighed. "Oh, Jethro," he said. Then he looked at Jethro, really looked at Jethro, and asked, "Why are you here, Jethro?" Before Jethro could answer, Ducky's face became even paler than it normally was, and he grabbed Jethro's hand. "Is something wrong, my dear. Are you ill? Have you had an accident? Do you need my help?" As he spoke, he threw back the covers and quickly climbed out of bed.
Too quickly, because the next second, his injured leg let him down, and Jethro found himself with Ducky in his arms – which suited him just fine. Supporting Ducky in a way that hopefully wasn't too obvious a want-to-be-lover's embrace, Jethro hastened to reassure his friend. "Nah, I'm fine, Duck. Really. No illness, no accident, nothing. I'm fine," he repeated, as he became distracted by the scent he knew so well, that permeated from Ducky.
Added to the distraction of the scent, was the warmth of Ducky's body, the way his arms held him, the way that he was settled in Jethro's arms. Despite the fact that he'd held Ducky in this kind of front-to-front embrace before, including the time that had led to him being here now, it was the first time that Ducky hadn't been fully dressed. It was the first time where the layers of clothing between them were so few. Ducky's pajamas were not as protective as cotton shorts and woolen trousers. Not at all. Against his leg, Jethro could clearly feel Ducky; could feel his softness. A softness that he could have sworn was beginning to harden ever so slightly.
Carefully, without making it obvious, he rearranged Ducky, tugging him a little closer to him, making his embrace more secure. And as he did, he moved his lower body a little, pressing forward just enough, just enough so that Ducky would be able to feel his own growing arousal; an arousal he felt sure he had no control over. It took him all his time not to just thrust against Ducky, while lowering his head and kissing Ducky.
Nonetheless, he moved forward just a little more and heard Ducky gasp. "Jethro?" he managed, once again confusion, puzzlement and surprise were evident in his tone. And for a moment he tried, not very successfully and, if Jethro was honest, not with much effort, to move away from Jethro's body.
But Jethro wasn't going to have that – not at all. Instead, he pulled Ducky even nearer, moving his own thigh so that it pressed against Ducky's now obvious arousal. This time Ducky moaned, his pleasure clear, and rather than try to pull away, he pushed himself briefly against Jethro's thigh – now there was no softness.
However, after a moment or two during which Jethro had to clamp down on the racing desire to stop fighting and let his body take over, Ducky moved back again. This time Jethro allowed the partial retreat. Instinct told him that a swift climax like this, no matter how badly he wanted it, was not going to solve anything – well not anything important.
He let Ducky move back just far enough so that he could look up at him. For a moment Jethro wished he hadn't allowed the distance, because the pale blue gaze didn't just show passion and desire. Instead uncertainty, puzzlement, hesitation and to Jethro's horror, even a modicum of fear, lurked there.
He hadn't ever thought out how he was going to tell Ducky how he felt, what moves he was going to make. In truth he hadn't thought beyond his realization that he was in love with and wanted, his oldest, dearest friend, and not just for a one-night stand, but also for the rest of his life and beyond. But the troubled gaze, most of all the fear, solved that. In one unthought-out, unplanned move, he brought his head down and, with an ease that surprisingly only partly surprised him, put his mouth to Ducky's and kissed him.
Just for a moment, Ducky froze under Jethro's lips. But then as Jethro didn't pull away, he felt Ducky's entire body, well almost his entire body, relax and soften, simultaneously, Ducky's lips parted for him.
The kiss went on and on and on; it went on for longer than any kiss Jethro could remember experiencing.
Part of him, a minute part of him, was stunned at how old it felt, how known, as if they'd been kissing for years, decades, since the day they'd met. How easy it was, how natural, how right, how perfect, how . . .
But most of him wasn't surprised at the ease; why shouldn't it be easy? He knew how to kiss, and clearly Ducky did too! And he knew Ducky, he knew Ducky so well, so very well; he knew Ducky so very intimately, kissing him was going to be unproblematic. It wasn't the unknown, it couldn't be. They'd known one another for over thirty years; a kiss really changed very little – and it also changed everything. It changed Jethro's entire world, his life, his outlook, his present and most of all it changed his future. It gave him hope, belief, understanding, reality – it gave him love.
He felt Ducky move back a little and again he allowed it. "Duck?"
Ducky's eyes were no longer pale blue; they were ebony ringed with a hint of sapphire. As he gazed down at him, Jethro hoped he didn't look as smug as he felt. Ducky licked his lips, which caused Jethro's arousal to harden even more.
For a moment or two, Ducky simply continued to gaze up at Jethro. Then he swallowed and said, his voice more than a little husky, "If your kiss meant even a tiny part of what it implied, take me to bed, dearest, now. Before I . . ." To Jethro's amusement, especially given what they'd been doing and how aroused they both were, Ducky's cheeks flushed.
Jethro smiled, put his lips to Ducky's ear, filing away the fact that Ducky shuddered at the contact, and whispered, "It meant much more than a tiny part, Duck. Much, much, much more. I love you, Duck. And I intend to spend the rest of my life showing you just how much I –" He was silenced by Ducky moaning, pushing himself forward again, and climaxing against him.
As he shifted his stance and tightened his grip to accommodate the extra weight Ducky forced onto him, Jethro realized the truth behind the adage he'd heard but never really believed: 'a climax is more with the mind than with the body'.
He held a shuddering Ducky for several minutes, continuing to lightly stroke his back, neck and hair, letting his fingers flirt with Ducky's soft buttocks, kissing his ear, his hair, his cheek, his neck, all the time soothing his lover.
He held him and went on holding him, until finally he felt the readjustment of Ducky's weight. Then, and only then, did he turn his attention to the pleasurable task of removing the two items of Ducky's clothing, encouraging him to get into bed, before stripping himself hastily and joining Ducky under the still slightly warm sheets.
Once there he began to make love to and with Ducky all over again.
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