Ducky is under oath.
An established relationship story.
Written: January 2008. Word count: 1,285.
"Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?"
After the general opening questions to ascertain name, address, age and profession, the Defense Attorney began the pertinent part of the questioning.
"Dr. Mallard, will you please tell the Court exactly for how long have you known the accused?"
"Thirty-five years, two months and sixteen days."
A soft gasp went around the area of the Courtroom where the NCIS team sat; they were huddled closely together. Sitting next to them, where he had been from the day the trial had begun, Tobias Fornell's face registered no surprise.
"Thank you. And what is the exact nature of the relationship you have with the accused?"
For a fraction of second, Ducky paused and glanced at Jethro who, along with his Lawyer, sat at the same table as the Defense Attorney. Ducky smiled what he hoped was a reassuring, comforting smile. "As well as being close friends and colleagues, we are also lovers. We have been thus for almost as long as we have known one another, " he said, turning his full attention back to the Defense Attorney.
This time the team remained silent. As did Tobias.
However, the gasp that went around the rest of Courtroom was not soft.
The Defense Attorney waited until it had subsided. "Can you please tell the Court where the accused was on the night in question?"
"Yes. He was with me. He was in my home. Firstly in my sitting room where we shared a drink and talked. Latterly in my bed. Would you like me to tell you in detail what we were doing?"
The Defense Attorney looked momentarily amused, but he quickly covered it up. "Thank you, Dr. Mallard. That will not be necessary. Is there anyone else who is able to give corroboration to your evidence?"
Ducky raised his eyebrow. "To the second part, no. However, my mother and her closest friend, Mrs. Helen Patterson, were at my house when Jethro, forgive me, when Mr. Gibbs arrived."
The Defense Attorney addressed the judge. "Mrs. Mallard sadly passed away two months ago, your Honor. I shall, however, be calling Mrs. Patterson to corroborate part of Dr. Mallard's evidence."
After that, it was pretty much a formality.
Ducky was unshakable. He stuck to his story even throughout the most brutal, intrusive, intimidating, harsh, deeming, bigoted and personal cross-examination by the Prosecuting Attorney.
Throughout everything the man threw at him, he remained calm, polite and placid. He answered each question quietly but firmly.
Never once did he show what he was really feeling as the questioning became more and more derogatory. What he felt didn't matter; wasn't of importance. His priority was Jethro.
Never once did he waver from what he had said.
Never once did he hesitate or stumble or backtrack or allow the Prosecuting Attorney to confuse him.
Never once did he glance at his lover.
Never once did his gaze leave the Prosecuting Attorney.
More than once, he saw out of the corner of his eye, the Defense Attorney move as if to rise and object. Each time Ducky shook his head very slightly, indicating he should not do so. There was no need. He was willing to take whatever the Prosecuting Attorney chose to throw at him.
He could see that the Prosecuting Attorney was losing the case for the State. The jury might not necessarily approve of homosexuality, but it appeared they disapproved even more strongly of what the man, some thirty years Ducky's junior, was doing to Ducky. Ducky, a man who was a fine, upright, citizen. And a doctor. A man who was employed by the State. A man who was known to be caring, compassionate, gentle, understanding, a loyal friend and colleague. An elderly man who had limped his way to the witness box.
Finally, the judge stepped in and forbade the Prosecuting Attorney from continuing his line of questioning. A line of questioning that had long since ceased to have any real bearing on the case they were in Court to try.
Helen Patterson confirmed Ducky's evidence that she had been at Ducky's home when Jethro had arrived, and that she had not heard him leave. She told the Court how it had, in fact, been her who had let Jethro into the house, Ducky being upstairs in his study taking a phone call at the time. She told the Court how Jethro had spent some twenty minutes with Mrs. Mallard and herself, talking to them and pouring them a drink, before he had gone upstairs to join Ducky.
She told that Court that while she had not seen Jethro again, she was certain that no one had left the house. She was confident she would have heard them do so; but even assuming she had not heard, Matilda, one of the late Mrs. Mallard's Corgis, would have done so. Matilda had adopted a new form of guarding the house: she would let anyone in, but no one out – not even if she knew them. Matilda would have heard had anyone opened the front door. And she, along with the other three Corgis, had not moved until Helen herself had got ready to leave.
She told the Court that when she had gone out into the hall to go home, Jethro's coat had still been flung over the banisters. She told the Court how it had been an exceptionally cold night.
The Prosecuting Attorney seemed unwilling to risk alienating the jury by a harsh cross-examination of another elderly person, this time a lady. A lady with an impeccable background, who was well known in the Church and in the community in general. A lady who for many years had given up a considerable amount of her own time to help entertain and look after a senile old lady. A lady whose husband had been, and whose grandson was himself, a member of the bar. Thus after one or two pointless questions he sat back down.
He seemed to know it was over.
He seemed resigned to the fact that he had lost.
The case had always been a shaky one.
There was no forensic evidence.
There were no witnesses.
There was nothing in fact to link Leroy Jethro Gibbs to the murder of the man he believed he had killed twenty years ago.
There was nothing. Other than the fact that he had known that the man had, two decades ago, murdered his wife and daughter.
In the overwhelming light of evidence from the defense, the jury took very little time to pass a unanimous verdict of 'Not Guilty'.
It was then, for the first time since he'd glanced his way at the beginning of his evidence, that Ducky turned his gaze on Jethro. It was then he saw his lover smile for the first time in so many, long and lonely and painful months.
Later that night, as he lay in Ducky's arms, in what was now their bed, Jethro said quietly, "Is there anything you wouldn't do for me, Duck?"
Ducky looked into the dark, tired, pain touched eyes. He frowned at the sight of the dark circles that encircled the dark circles that had surrounded his lover's eyes for many years. He stroked Jethro's face, shook his head slightly over the pallor and the new scar just over the eye. Cursed to himself as his fingers felt and counted, far too easily, Jethro's ribs, and encountered more badly stitched, poorly healed scars.
He then leaned forward a little and kissed Jethro's already kiss swollen lips. "No," he said softly. "No, my dearest Jethro. There is not."
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