Gibbs interrogates Ducky, and extracts a confession.
A first time story.
Abby/McGee as a couple are mentioned in this story.
Written: October 2005. Word count: 1,740.
Jethro urged the sander over his boat while Ducky sat and watched and sipped a drink. Fortunately, it was not the rotgut that Jethro usually drank; his friend had thoughtfully provided something far more palatable - as he always did when Ducky joined him.
Since Ducky's mother had passed away, Jethro had taken to inviting his oldest friend over to his house more and more. Sometimes Ducky wondered why he went so often, as it inevitably involved him sitting perched on a stool watching his friend caress and make love to his boat. But he always went; his big house was lonely now, far too quiet, and much too large. As silly as it may seem, and he told himself often enough that it was, Ducky missed his mother. He even missed the yapping Corgis, who now had a new home with Mrs. Patterson.
He was more then content to spend time with his dearest friend, even if Jethro sometimes seemed not to notice that Ducky was there. And yet he did know, Ducky knew that, because whenever he moved, or even thought about moving, Jethro's attention always turned his way and he would ask Ducky if he was all right, or wanted another drink, or simply just smile or say something utterly unrelated.
No, there were many worse places to be.
"Hey, Duck, you want to play a game?" Jethro's voice broke into his musings.
Ducky blinked and tilted his head to one side. "A game, Jethro?" He couldn't prevent the surprise from making itself heard in his voice.
"What kind of game did you have in mind? If you'd mentioned it earlier I could have brought something over. I believe I still have Scrabble and -"
"Not that kind of game. They all take too much effort. This one's much simpler. It's called Twenty Questions."
"Yeah. I ask you twenty questions and you have to answer them - honestly - using either ‘yes' or ‘no.' Nothing else."
"What if I can't, Jethro?"
"Yes, my dear. Some things cannot be answered with a simple ‘yes' or ‘no.' Not everything is so black and white, Jethro. You see -"
Jethro held one hand up and stared at Ducky, his affectionate, indulgent, exasperated look, the one he cast Ducky's way many times each day, on his face. "Okay, Duck. Okay. But for the purposes of this, pretend that things are simple."
Ducky decided not to comment that anything involving Jethro was rarely simple. "Very well," he said, and smiled.
"Good. First question then: do you like tea?"
"Do you like your job?"
"Do you like to travel?"
"Jethro!" Ducky said, more than a little perplexed at the questions his friend was asking him.
"What?" Jethro blinked innocently, always something to be wary of, at Ducky.
"I don't understand. Why are you asking me questions to which you already know the answers?"
"Humor me, Duck." And Jethro smiled the smile that always got him his own way, at least where Ducky was concerned.
Ducky sighed to himself. One day, Jethro my dear, he told himself. One day, it won't work. But he knew it always would. It had done for twenty-five years, neither he nor Jethro were likely to change now. Besides, he got his own way too, far more often than people might think. "Very well. Yes."
"Have you ever been in love?"
The sudden change in the type of question momentarily jolted him and, this time Ducky took longer to answer. "Yes."
"Do you think I should stop slapping DiNozzo around the head?"
Ducky chuckled softly. "No."
"Did you sleep with Dr. Whatshername?"
"Jethro!" The question was most unlike Jethro; it was more like a DiNozzo-type question. It was the kind of inquiry that Jethro had never before made, never even hinted at, during their long friendship. In fact, Ducky realized, in all the years they'd been friends, Jethro had never once before shown any interest in Ducky's love life.
"What? Come on, Duck. You can tell me, I'm your oldest friend after all, aren't I?" Again, Jethro used ‘the' smile. Only this time, he added his soft, wide-eyed look to the mix. Ducky was completely beaten.
Nonetheless, he procrastinated slightly. "That makes seven."
"No buts, Jethro." This time Ducky used his firm tone, the one with which even Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs never argued.
"Okay. Seven. Well?"
Ducky met the dark gaze. "No and yes."
"Have you ever slept with a woman?" Jethro asked the question in the same casual way as he had asked whether Ducky liked tea. However, the look in the dark blue gaze was intense.
Ducky opened his mouth and shut it again. He closed his eyes. "No," he said softly. He waited. He was suddenly drained of energy, and his pulse rate had increased dramatically.
"Do you like boats?"
Ducky blinked and shook his head. The change of subject surprised him beyond his belief that anything Jethro did could surprise him anymore. "Er, yes. Although I -"
"Aa. Aa. Aa. Only yes or no. You can't qualify it." Jethro looked stern as he stared at Ducky, but as always the deep affection in his eyes and on his face was clear to see. "Number ten. If you could change careers, would you?"
Relieved to be back to non-controversial questions, Ducky answered, although yet again he knew he had no need. "No."
"Did you think I'd marry her when you introduced us?"
"No." And he hadn't; he truly hadn't. Somewhat foolishly, he'd believed Jethro when, after his second failed marriage, he'd declared ‘never again.' And even to this day, somewhat illogically, Ducky had never quite forgiven himself for introducing them. He still sometimes, in his dreams, saw Jethro leaning against the doorframe in Autopsy, blood pouring from the wound she had caused when she'd hit him with the baseball bat. Only in Ducky's dreams, the injury was far worse. The blood wouldn't stop flowing, and Jethro had died under Ducky's hands. He shook his head, dragging himself away from the nightmares.
Jethro must have read something in Ducky's face, because he said gently, "Do you think McGee will become a better agent than DiNozzo?"
Again Ducky paused and looked at Jethro, who was watching him, his look intent. "Yes," he said softly, and saw the answering barely perceptible nod.
For a moment Jethro said nothing, instead he picked his sander back up and rubbed it up and down the boat a few more times. Finally he said, addressing the boat rather than Ducky, "Do you love me?"
"Yes." Ducky answered without hesitation. He did - it was no secret. It was yet another question to which Jethro already knew the answer. And he knew that his friend loved him. Twenty-five years of the kind of close friendship they had shared tended to result in love.
Jethro nodded once and confirmed Ducky's knowledge with a gentle, affectionate smile. "Do you think you'll ever leave America?" he asked, after another moment or two.
"Do you think Abby and McGee should set up home together?"
Ducky smiled. "Yes."
Jethro paused, and Ducky could see his friend quickly counting back in his head. He watched as a faint frown passed over the handsome, weather-tanned features. "Do you like chocolates?" Jethro finally asked. It was another unnecessary question, and as such had clearly been put in simply to use up the sixteenth question.
"Yes," Ducky said and waited. He held the dark blue gaze for a long moment.
"Have you ever slept with a man?"
Again Ducky closed his eyes. He could stop the game now and say nothing. He could even get up and leave. But doing so would be as clear as him answering the question. He lowered his head slightly. "Yes," he said softly.
The scent of sawdust, whiskey, old-fashioned soap, and ‘Leroy Jethro Gibbs' infiltrated his nostrils. He opened his eyes. Standing in front of him, invading every inch of his personal space, close enough to touch, but not actually touching, was Jethro. Ducky tilted back his head a considerable way, letting his hair tumble over his shoulders, and met the dark blue gaze.
Jethro spoke softly, his tone even more gentle than it had been. "Are you in love with someone at the moment?"
Mesmerized by the dark gaze, held prisoner by it, Ducky answered. "Yes."
Jethro reeled him in. "Are you in love with me?"
"Do you want me to kiss you?"
Jethro sighed, the sound one of pure relief. "Thank God for that. Do you know how long I've been waiting for you to tell me that?"
Before Ducky could say anything, not that there was anything he could think of to say, the surprise was too great, he found himself tugged to his feet, and pulled into a tender embrace. Jethro's long arms wrapped themselves around him, holding him securely. Before Ducky could think about returning the embrace, or think about anything at all, Jethro lowered his head, tilting it to the right as he did, and claimed Ducky's lips with his own.
Several very-pleasantly-passed hours later, Ducky stretched languidly within Jethro's arms. All his dreams had come true at last. All the gifts he had received over his sixty-three years faded into insignificance as he finally had the one he had always wanted.
"Hey, Duck," Jethro said, pulling Ducky back more tightly into his arms and kissing him again. "Didn't you tell me that you were finding your home too big and empty?"
Ducky blinked and looked at Jethro who was watching him intently. "Er, yes," he said.
"Thought so. I've got a solution. You move in with me."
"I love you, Duck. I've wasted far too many years. I don't want to waste another minute. Come and live with me. Please."
"Ah, Jethro," Ducky managed, his voice slightly unsteady. This time he initiated the kiss.
"Was that a yes?" Jethro asked after several moments.
"Yes, my dear," Ducky said, at peace, as well as truly content for the first time in his life. "It's a yes."
"Good," Jethro said, kissing Ducky's nose and rearranging him in his arms, until they were both lying comfortably. "Now go to sleep, Duck. We'll sort out all the details tomorrow." With one more now chaste kiss, Jethro closed his eyes and, under Ducky's watchful gaze, slipped into sleep.
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