UNTIL IT'S GONE
Set immediately after Red Cell.
Gibbs gets an unpleasant shock as a result of his fight.
An established relationship story.
Written: November 2006. Word count: 7,657.
Gibbs leaned back into the seat and closed his eyes as he fought the waves of nausea that kept rushing through his body.
He was not going to be sick.
He was not going to suffer the indignity of throwing up in front of DiNozzo and Kate.
His head was thumping and throbbing; in fact his entire body hurt. Maybe he was getting too old for this. He had to admit the comment the Gunnery Sergeant had made about his age had rankled, and had added to his determination that only one of them was going to actually walk out of the room.
DiNozzo rounded a corner far too fast, and once again Gibbs had to use his iron will to stop the contents of his stomach - God knows how many cups of coffee - from spilling out all over the car.
Repeating the mantra: 'I will not be sick. I will not be sick. I will not be sick', Gibbs rested his head further back against headrest, and tried to shut out the noise of DiNozzo and Kate bickering. He told himself that at least they weren't mentioning Spring Break.
The combined scent of DiNozzo's cologne and Kate's perfume was doing nothing to improve the nausea, so he wound down the window; except the petrol and other pollution fumes didn't help either. Maybe he should just swallow his pride and ask DiNozzo to pull over so that he could throw up.
But he couldn't, despite hearing Ducky murmuring about him being stubborn. So he again clamped his teeth together and tried to think of something pleasant. Which meant his mind automatically turned to Ducky; his dearest, oldest, closest and most beloved friend and lover.
He could go and see Ducky when he got back. He'd better. Because if he didn't, Ducky would be angry. Ducky would probably give him a lecture anyway, he usually did after he had patched him up and reassured himself that all was well. Maybe if he could persuade Ducky to send Palmer away, he might get a Ducky-hug too, and to hell with the cameras. Ducky would only be doing what any good doctor might do.
The thought of Ducky kept Gibbs's mind and stomach occupied for the rest of the journey, or at least somewhat. His head was still pounding - in fact the pain was getting worse.
The car came to a shuddering stop.
Gibbs opened his eyes.
He closed them again and shook his head. That was a mistake.
And opened them again.
But it was the same.
He couldn't see.
He was blind.
He shut his eyes again. At least that way he could pretend that the darkness was of his own choosing.
For a moment he just sat there, forcing himself to remain calm; forcing his body language to give nothing away. Again he clamped down on the nearly overwhelming urge, an urge that had become more desperate, to throw up. His pulse rate had increased, and he felt sweat break out over his forehead and upper lip; and he knew that, despite his best efforts, he was breathing faster than normal.
He forced his lips together more tightly and fought the battle both with his stomach and his breathing.
He won both battles.
He wasn't certain how long he'd sat there unmoving, petrified, fighting his internal battles. It felt like hours, but given that neither Kate nor DiNozzo had commented, he guessed it couldn't be that long. However, he couldn't sit there much longer; they would start to think something was wrong soon.
He opened his eyes again, but any hope he may have allowed to creep into his being was dashed, as blackness still greeted him. He turned his efforts towards making his voice sound as normal as possible, not that what he was going to say would be normal. "Go and get Ducky."
"Was there something I said that wasn't clear, DiNozzo?" Gibbs snapped.
"No, boss. Yes, boss. Right away, boss."
But it was Kate who DiNozzo sent; Gibbs's nose told him so. Her perfume faded, and he was left with DiNozzo's cloying cologne. To his surprise and relief, DiNozzo didn't attempt to talk to him, didn't attempt to tell him things or ask him questions. They just both stayed silent, and Gibbs again fought his urge to be sick.
Then a presence, together with the scent he'd know anywhere, pine trees and Formaldehyde, infiltrated his being. To his annoyance he had to stop himself from desperately calling Ducky's name, and from trying to clutch onto him. He felt a huge weight lift from him; Ducky would know what to do. Ducky always knew what to do. Ducky would fix it; he always did. He ignored the nagging voice that tried to tell him that there were some things that even Ducky couldn't fix.
He listened to his lover gently shooing Kate and DiNozzo away. He was almost amused at how firm and determined Ducky could be at times, while still remaining polite and courteous.
Then a cool, gentle hand touched his burning forehead, and another took his hand, as practiced fingers found his pulse.
Gibbs swallowed again. "Wouldn't get too close, Duck. I think I'm going to throw up."
But Ducky ignored him; instead he lightly stroked Gibbs's head. "Hush, Jethro," he said softly. "It will be all right."
Which was what Gibbs had wanted to hear. But now that he heard the words, now that the voice he loved said them, he felt absurdly let down and angry. "No, it won't, Ducky," he rasped. "I'm blind." Then to his horror and shame, he felt tears slip from his tightly closed eyelids. He tried to get his emotions under control. Telling a six-year-old not to be afraid of tears and that Marines did cry, was one thing, crying in Ducky's presence was another, but crying in Ducky's' presence where anyone could walk by was something entirely different.
He bit the inside of his mouth, and forced his emotions back under control; telling himself that he would not cry, just as earlier he'd told himself he was not going to be sick. A soft linen cloth, clearly Ducky's handkerchief, was wiped gently over his cheeks. "It's all right, Jethro," Ducky said softly. "Now, why don't we get you inside and down to Autopsy, so that I can have a proper look at you? And you can tell me what happened to you."
"You don't need to look at me, Duck. I can't see. What's there to look at?" Hating himself for snapping at Ducky, but doing it anyway, Gibbs tried to pull away from the hand that was once again on his forehead, as well as the one that still held his own.
Ducky sighed. Expecting more soothing words or sympathy, Gibbs braced himself to snap again. However, Ducky's words and tone surprised him. "Fine. If that is how you wish to behave, there is nothing I can do for you. Just tell me this, Gibbs, why did you drag me all the way up here if you are not going to listen to me?" The hand left his head and Ducky began to tug his hand out of Gibbs's grip.
"Duck." Gibbs held onto Ducky's hand, using every ounce of his extra strength to stop his lover from walking away. Damnit, but Ducky knew him so well. He always knew what tone to adopt with him, and it was always the right one - just like now. "Sorry," he muttered, when Ducky's fingers re-entwined themselves with his own.
"Ah, Jethro," Ducky said softly. "Come along, my dear, let me help you. I really can't examine you whilst you're in the car. That's it," he added, as Gibbs climbed clumsily, guided by Ducky, out of the car.
Being on his feet, while not being able to see, was an unnerving experience, and he found his sense of awareness was missing; he also felt dizzy.
"Jethro?" Ducky sounded concerned. "You're not going to pass out are you?" A strong grip held his torso and Gibbs found himself pressed back against the car.
He shook his head, regretted it again, once more ordered the coffee to stay where it was and managed, "No, Duck. Don't think so. I just feel disorientated."
"Close your eyes."
"Close your eyes."
"But - "
"Just do it, Jethro. Trust me."
He always had. He did as Ducky said. To his surprise the dizziness and disorientation began to fade, and the nausea returned to a bearable level.
"Is that better?"
"Yeah, but why?"
"Because with your eyes closed the mind does not expect to see anything, therefore, the darkness is quite normal. However, when you have your eyes open, your brain expects to see, and as it doesn't, the normal processes are confused. Hence the disorientation."
"Now, let's see if we can safely navigate our way to Autopsy. I assume that you would rather I didn't call one of the children and ask for assistance."
Gibbs gave a half-grunt, half-laugh. "You know me too well, Duck."
"Never that, my dear. Put your arm around my shoulders, Jethro, that's it. Now, let me get my arm around you. Does that feel comfortable?"
"Always does, Duck."
"Good. Now, keep your eyes closed for a moment and take a step forward, that's it. Slowly, Jethro, there's no rush. Good. Now you are going to have to trust me implicitly. I won't let you trip over or fall. You are likely to feel very strange, certainly at first, but I need you to in effect hand over control to me. Can you do that, my dear?"
If he couldn't trust Ducky, there was no one he could trust. "Reckon so, Duck."
"Good. Just walk forward slowly; I'll guide you. If you do begin to feel dizzy again, tell me and we'll stop. I won't let you fall, Jethro," he repeated. "It will feel strange, but I'm here. And I'm not going to let go of you."
It appeared to take forever, and it seemed to Gibbs that he was having to learn to walk again. He knew that the grip he had on Ducky's shoulder was getting tighter and tighter, and he knew that he was learning on his friend more than he should be doing; letting Ducky take more of his weight than was good for his lover, but he couldn't help it.
Throughout the trip Ducky kept up a soft, reassuring, encouraging liturgy, part of which Gibbs couldn't make out, but the tone was the important thing.
By the time the doors to Autopsy swished open, Gibbs's undershirt felt as though it was glued to his body, and he could feel the sweat on his forehead. "Palmer?" he managed.
"I sent him to see Abby, and told him not to come back until I called him."
"Not sure Abbs'll thank you for that."
Ducky chuckled softly. "Just a few more steps, my dear. There. Now take your arm from around my shoulders and take my hands. It's all right, Jethro. Good. Take a step backwards and another, there." With Ducky guiding him, and persuading him to let go of one of his hands, Gibbs managed to get himself up onto one of the autopsy tables. He felt exhausted.
He sat on the table, gripping the edge tightly, absurdly afraid that if he let go he'd fall off. "Duck."
"I'm here, Jethro." Ducky gently tugged one of Gibbs's hands away from the table and held it. "Now I'm going to clean you up, and then I'm taking you to the ER."
Ducky sighed. "Jethro, you have to go. You know that."
And he did. Of course he did. Head injuries should always be checked over, and this was more than the usual kind he'd suffered. But he could be stubborn, and he didn't want anyone else, even doctors seeing him. "You've never made me go before," he said, aware that he was sounding like a petulant child. He bit his lip.
"No, dear. I haven't. Against my better judgment I have always allowed you to persuade me that you are fine, and that you do not need a CT scan or a MRI. And given that you were always happy to come home with me and let me watch over you for the night, then I have been prepared to let you have your own way. But this is different, Jethro. You cannot see. It is not simply a case of me stitching you up, cleaning your wounds and taking you home with me. Now I am confident that this blindness is temporary, there have been many similar cases. However, I want to be certain that there is not any serious damage, and for that, you have to go to the ER."
Ducky rarely adopted a firm tone with him, but Gibbs knew his friend could be a formidable opponent when he put his mind to it, as a certain French cop once found out. However, this time, it was clear that Ducky was not going to give any quarter.
Gibbs knew that whatever he said, even if he yelled at Ducky, which he didn't intend to do, Ducky would not give in. "All right, Duck," he said, his tone ungracious. "You win. But you'll take me, won't you? You'll stay with me?" Again he clutched Ducky's hand, as he would a life raft; again he was disgusted with himself at how pathetic and needy he sounded.
Ducky squeezed his hand, and gently touched his cheek. "Of course, my dear Jethro," he said, his voice full of affection and reassurance. "Where else would I be but at your side? Now, I'm going to clean your head and see if it needs suturing, and then we'll go to the hospital." Slowly he eased his hand from Gibbs's grasp.
"If I didn't feel like throwing up all the time, it might help. Can't you give me one of those whatsits?"
"Anti-emetics. No, dear. I'd rather not. Nausea and sickness is another symptom of head injuries, and another way of gauging how severe they are. If I prevent you from vomiting, it might hide something."
Gibbs felt Ducky move away from him and again had to fight the panic that arose in him. Telling himself he was being stupid, didn't help. He knew he was behaving somewhat irrationally, but he didn't seem capable of stopping it. Instead he returned to clutching the edge of the table.
Ducky returned and began his careful but thorough examination of Gibbs's head and face, before he began cleaning it. "I think I shall suture the wound on your forehead, it is the deepest, and I don't want to run the risk of it getting dirty. The rest of the damage does seem to be superficial, I'm glad to say. Now this might sting a little."
"Used to it, Duck."
"Why don't you tell me exactly how this happened, Jethro?"
Knowing that one way or another, he would end up telling Ducky everything, Gibbs obeyed.
He wasn't surprised when Ducky sighed. "Oh, Jethro."
"I knew I could take him, Duck. I just didn't realize it would be quite so difficult. And with what that bastard did; he deserved it."
"I know, dear. I know. I'm not going to change you now. And despite everything, I wouldn't want to. But, Jethro, it would be nice if occasionally you took a little more care of yourself. Now lift your shirt up, and your undershirt."
"I'm fine, Duck."
"Jethro." Again Gibbs obeyed, as Ducky used his 'fierce' tone. Ducky hissed as Gibbs revealed his torso.
"That bad, eh?"
"I've seen worse. Does your chest hurt at all?"
"I'll be as careful as I can, but I am going to examine you." Ducky began to move his hands carefully over Gibbs's body.
"Ouch. You might at least have warmed your hands, Duck."
"I'm sorry. Be honest, Jethro. Is anywhere particularly tender?"
Gibbs shook his head. "No. Really, Duck. Nothing's broken or badly damaged, I'm sure. It's sore, but it's bruise kind of sore, nothing else."
"Hmm. I think I'll ask them to x-ray you anyway; just to put my mind at rest."
Gibbs decided not to argue; it wasn't worth it. He knew he'd lose. Besides, he was enjoying the way Ducky's hands were moving over his body. While he knew it was all purely professional, nonetheless the intimate contact soothed him. He felt himself begin to relax for the first time in what seemed like hours. He knew that Ducky had sensed the change, as rather than move away, as Gibbs had expected, the hands he knew so well continued to stroke his body for a few more minutes.
Finally though Ducky did move away, tugged Gibbs's clothing back down and put one hand on his shoulder. "I'm going to call Director Morrow and inform him of what's happened, you know I have to Jethro, and where I'm going to take you. Then we'll leave."
"I need to go to the head first."
"Come along, I'll give you a hand." Ducky moved to help Gibbs down from the table.
"Duck, I've been going to the head alone for getting on for fifty years, I don't need you to come and hold my hand."
"Fine. Off you go then. I'll call the director." Ducky let go of him.
Gibbs took one step forward and came to a stop as complete disorientation hit him. It was a room he knew well, almost as well as his own home, or Ducky's, but suddenly it was as if he'd never been in it before. "Guess I do need you to come and hold my hand after all, Duck," he said. Then with a desperate attempt to keep his tone light, added, "Or something."
Five minutes later he was washing his hands. "Is that what it's going to be like, Duck, from now on?" Gibbs said bitterly. "I either need you to help me piss or I have to sit down? Is that what I've got to look forward to? Can't go anywhere on my own? Can't do anything by myself? Is that it, Ducky? Because if it is, forget it. I'd rather -" His Sig was firmly taken away from him. Immediately he felt like an idiot. "Sorry," he muttered, through gritted teeth. "But is it? You said you were confident the blindness was temporary, what if it isn't? What if -"
"Then we'll adapt, Jethro." He heard the gun being put down by the washbasins, and Ducky slipped his arms around him. Immediately Gibbs completed the embrace and held on to Ducky tightly. "You'd get disability, dear. As well as your pension. And anyway, you know money is not an issue for me."
"You mean I could live off you?" Gibbs let his arms fall away. "You'd keep me? No, thanks, Duck. Not my style."
"And what if our situations were reversed?" Ducky's voice was quiet, but hard.
Gibbs closed his eyes and reached for his lover, pulling the tense body into his arms, and letting his head come to rest on Ducky's. "Ah, Duck. I'm being a bastard, aren't I? I'm sorry. Why am I behaving so . . . Unlike me?"
"Because you are scared, Jethro."
"And you're not?"
There was silence for a moment. Then Ducky said softly, "Is that what you think?"
"I don't know, Duck. Because I can't tell. The one thing that tells me everything I need to know about your feelings and how you are, I can't see. And you know what, Duck? Do you know what the most frightening thing is?"
"The possibility that I'll never see them again. That I'll never really know how you're feeling. That I'll never see you again. The job, my boat, everything, it doesn't really matter. Not really, but what if -" And he finally gave way to the tears that had been threatening him ever since he'd opened his eyes in the car.
Ducky pulled his head down further, pulled it down onto his shoulder, and wrapped his arms more firmly around Gibbs. "You won't, dearest," he murmured, kissing the top of Jethro's head. "You won't lose me. You'll never lose me. Never," he stroked the back of Gibbs's head and murmured soothing words as Gibbs sobbed.
Crying made his head ache more; it also made the nausea intensify. He should move, but he couldn't. "Promise?" he managed.
"Jethro, we survived all of your marriages and Jennifer Shepard, if none of those, and the other stunning redheads who have occupied you for a short period didn't manage to drive me away, nothing will. Now come along, dear. Try to stop crying. Here."
Gibbs felt soft linen began to wipe his cheeks, as he brought his tears under control. He then let Ducky wipe his face with cold water; as Ducky said, he could avoid the sutures and the grazes.
"Duck," he said, catching Ducky's hand.
"Will you do something for me?"
"As long as it does not necessitate me not taking you to ER, yes, of course."
"Will you kiss me?"
"You have to ask?" And Ducky slid his hands up to cup Gibbs's face, gently pulled his head down and met his lips with his own.
Gibbs's eyes automatically closed, and he put his arms around Ducky, pulling him closer against him. His mouth found Ducky's perfectly, as it always did, and as they kissed, tenderly, chastely, for a moment everything seemed as it always was.
And he knew then that what Ducky said was correct, it would be all right. Whatever happened, it would be all right. Because even if the blindness wasn't temporary, he'd still have Ducky. Anything else he'd cope with, anything else he'd adjust to, anything else he'd live with, because he'd have Ducky by his side. And with Ducky by his side, all would be right with Jethro Gibbs's world.
Ducky drove the team's sedan to the hospital. It wasn't his preferred choice of car, but he knew that Jethro would be more comfortable in it, and be happier to have more legroom, than he would have in Ducky's Morgan.
As he drove he kept glancing to his right, keeping a check on his lover. Jethro sat still, and, apart from the odd response to Ducky's virtually constant liturgy, silent. In one hand he clutched a paper bag, the other was on Ducky's leg. From the grip his friend had on him, Ducky was sure that he would have bruises in several places later on; for a moment he hoped that Jethro's sight recovery wasn't too speedy, as seeing the bruises, which he would know he'd been responsible for, would cause his lover pain and guilt.
Apart from odd moments, Jethro had kept up a constant grip on some part of other of Ducky's anatomy. It was as if he couldn't bear not to make contact with Ducky, as if he feared that should he do so, then Ducky might vanish. Having any kind of physical contact with Jethro always pleased Ducky, but he knew that his lover would hate how dependent and clingy he was currently being.
Ducky didn't mind for himself, being needed was part of what made him tick, and sometimes in his darkest moments he admitted that it usually appeared that Jethro didn't really need him. However, Jethro's current need was beyond anything he'd ever displayed before; almost certainly beyond anything he'd ever believed himself to be possible of.
"When we get to the hospital, you'll stay with me, won't you? All the time, I mean. They'll let you stay with me, won't they? Let you come with me to see the doctor? They will, won't they, Duck?"
Ducky took one hand from the steering wheel and covered the hand that gripped his leg. "Of course I will, dearest." And he would. It might take some tough talking for him to be allowed to accompany Jethro quite everywhere, but Ducky wasn't without a friend or two, friends in senior positions, at the hospital. And when Dr. Donald Mallard was determined, he was determined. If he could stand up Jethro and win, he could stand up to anyone.
"Good," Jethro whispered, making his already crushing grip on Ducky's leg even tighter.
Once in the hospital, they were asked to sit and wait for a moment. Ducky led Jethro to a chair and held his arm as he sat down, before sitting down next to him. The next second Jethro reached for his hand, grabbed it and held on to, as if he were holding on to a life raft.
Across the room sat two middle aged ladies and a man. They looked at the joined hands and Ducky saw the disgust show on their faces. In turn he just met their gaze and held it steadily, letting the steel he was capable of showing, but rarely did, creep up into his stare as he simply looked at them.
After a moment or two, as he had expected, they glanced away. Jethro wasn't the only person capable of making people feel uncomfortable, merely by looking at them. In fact, if Ducky was honest, he was slightly better at it than his lover was, because when he did it, it was a rare event, and his stare chilled; he knew that. He knew that very well indeed.
Ducky steered Jethro into his house and into the sitting room. Pausing long enough to turn on the lights, he led his lover to the sofa and held his hands as he sat down. He'd brought Jethro to his own home, having decided that as well as he knew Ducky's home, his friend would undoubtedly know his own better. Plus, as fond of Ducky's mother as Jethro was, he knew that Jethro would not be up to her at the moment.
Fortunately, Mrs. Patterson had been more than happy to go over to Ducky's home to stay with his mother. Ducky explained that it might be several days, but that had not daunted his mother's closest friend at all. She told him that her grandson, Charlie, was home for a few days, and would be more than willing to run any errands that either Ducky, or she and Ducky's mother needed. Not for the first time Ducky knew how lucky he was to have Helen Patterson not only living so near to his mother and him, but to have her so willing and available to help out with his mother. He'd met Charlie Patterson once or twice and was fond of the boy, and amazingly his mother seemed to be too.
Tom Morrow had been sympathetic, understanding and perfectly amenable to Ducky taking personal leave in order to stay with Jethro. He merely asked that Ducky kept him informed of developments, and also asked Ducky to suggest a temporary ME. The Director was a shrewd man, a good judge of people and cared, although he never showed it in an overt way, about the people in his agency; Ducky also knew that he was particularly fond of Jethro. Thus his agreeableness to Ducky taking leave was not surprising. However, Ducky also suspected that Tom Morrow would have known just what Ducky's response would have been had he tried to object. He knew that Ducky chose to work, that he didn't need to, and losing your ME for a few days was better than losing him quickly and permanently.
As he'd expected, but was nonetheless relieved to hear, the specialist, whom Ducky had insisted on seeing, concurred with his own belief; Jethro's blindness was more likely than not, merely temporary. None of the tests carried out on Jethro's eyes and head had revealed anything that had troubled the doctor unduly, nor had the x-rays shown any breaks or internal damage to his body. He was just scraped and bruised and would be sore for a few days.
After warnings of the kind that ‘this is the kind of thing that does sometimes happen when people do', in the doctor's own words, 'foolish things', and being given a follow-up appointment, plus the understanding that should Jethro suffer any other symptoms or Ducky be worried, then they were to return immediately, Jethro was duly dispatched home into Ducky's tender care.
Ducky still held Jethro's hands, or rather his friend was still clinging, albeit not quite as desperately, on to him. "Would you like a drink, my dear?" he asked.
"Didn't think I was meant to mix alcohol and the pain pills."
"Well as you do not intend taking them, that won't be an issue. Besides, I think a drink might help you relax a little." Ducky had accepted the painkillers the doctor had insisted on giving Jethro, even though he had known it was a waste of a prescription.
"Thanks, Duck. A drink'd be good. Although . . ."
"Know something that'd relax me more."
Ducky smiled to himself. If he read his lover's tone correctly, and he suspected he did, Jethro's 'idea' was going to fit in perfectly with his own planned prescription. "And what might that be, dearest?" Ducky lowered his voice, and began to lightly caress the back of Jethro's hands with his fingers.
"You making love to me," Jethro said quietly. Then before Ducky could say anything, he added, even more quietly, "If you want to, that is."
Ducky sighed softly and, ignoring the fact that kneeling this late in the day, especially as it had been such a trying day, was not what his long-time damaged leg would like, carefully slipped to the floor. He moved between Jethro's parted legs, tugged his hands from out of Jethro's grasp, moving them instead to cup Jethro's face, pulled gently and let his lips meet those of his lover's.
The next second he was pulled into a fierce embrace, held securely and his kiss was returned with interest. He could feel Jethro's near desperation as his mouth sought Ducky's, as his tongue flickered over his lips, as it demanded entrance to Ducky's mouth, and as his fingers entwined themselves in Ducky's hair.
Despite the somewhat fiercer than usual kiss, the near desperate demand, Jethro's kiss was still as loving, tender, affectionate, moving as it always was. The requirement for reassurance and deep need, however, was not; but Ducky accepted the demand for both, and gave Jethro what he could.
In spite of the stabbing pain in his leg, he was determined that he would not be the one to move, to break the kiss; that it would have to be Jethro who ended it. And moments later his lover did just that as he calmed the kiss down, lowered the intensity of his need, and finally let his lips slip from Ducky's. Then, as if it were any other occasion, Ducky felt himself helped up and guided to sit next to Jethro on the sofa; he let himself rest against his lover for a moment. Once again Jethro grabbed his hand and held on to it.
"Actually, my dear," he said, as if they hadn't paused for the long kiss, "me making love to you, is just what the doctor ordered."
"It is?" Jethro said, surprise clear in his voice. "When did I miss that bit?"
Ducky chuckled. "I meant this doctor, dearest. Now, would you like that drink, or shall we take it upstairs with us?"
Jethro sighed and then said, his tone slightly rueful, "Given that the bathroom's upstairs and I need to pee again, I think upstairs might be easier for both of us. Do you reckon we could manage a shower as well, Duck? I feel more than a bit sticky?"
Jethro had a large walk-in shower, easily big enough for two, and availing themselves of it had also been part of Ducky's prescription. "As long as you promise me that showering will be all you'll attempt, my dear, then I think we could easily manage it. Now if you sit here for a few minutes, I'll secure the house and take a bottle and some glasses upstairs, and come back for you. Unless your need to relieve yourself is more pressing than that?"
"No. I can wait a bit. But you don't have to make a special trip for me, Duck. I can manage okay, I'm sure."
"Jethro," Ducky spoke gently, but firmly. "I am sure that you will be able to manage perfectly well. However, as this will be the first time you have attempted stairs since -"
"I became blind." Jethro sounded bitter.
Ducky squeezed his hand. "I was going to say since your injury. I would feel better if, should you need my assistance, I am able to give it easily, something I shall not be able to do if I'm carrying things. Please, dear, be sensible. For me, " he added, feeling slightly guilty.
"All right, Duck. But . . ." Jethro trailed off, and glanced down at his lap.
Jethro shook his head. "Nothing, Duck."
Ducky sat for a moment or two longer; he was certain that his lover wasn't aware of how tight his grip had become. He was also certain of what Jethro was going to say: 'don't be long'. His friend had shown, when Ducky was forced to leave him so that he could be x-rayed, hints of almost panic, if Ducky was not in the same room as him. Again, he knew how much Jethro would be hating his behavior, but clearly as much as he did, his lover was unable to prevent it.
"I'll be as quick as I can be, dearest," he said, softly kissing the side of Jethro's face.
"Good." It was no more than a whisper, but he heard it.
It still took Jethro several minutes before he, with clear reluctance, let go of Ducky's hands and allowed him to stand up.
Jethro let Ducky steer him into the bedroom. He had his arm around Ducky's shoulders and Ducky was holding him around his waist; it felt secure, it felt very secure and comforting. But then holding Ducky like this always did; holding Ducky in any way always did. They fitted together so well, better than any of Jethro's women had seemed to fit.
It felt natural moving like this, even if he still couldn't see, and his disorientation had reduced to an almost alarming level as he continued to follow Ducky's suggestion of keeping his eyes closed. He vaguely remembered reading somewhere that most people who were blind and who were led by someone, tended to do so by gripping the person's elbow, or was it the other way round? But he also recalled that the article had said that each person must do what was right for him or her. Well this was right for him, and if he did end up being blind permanently which, despite the reassurances of both Ducky and the specialist, he tended to think he would, one consolation might be that he'd get to hold on to Ducky in public.
They must have reached the bed because Ducky came to a stop and gently turned him around. "Sit down, Jethro," he said, holding Jethro's arms to steady him.
Jethro obeyed, moving now on instinct, on his ability to go into his bedroom, get undressed and into bed without putting the light on. Of course it was never truly dark in his neighborhood, but even so, it made him feel good to know that he could do something so easily. It partly made up for the fact that he still couldn't relieve himself without Ducky's help. Well he could, but he wasn't prepared to do that - yet.
Showering, once he'd reassured Ducky that he would stand still and not try 'anything', also came naturally to him. Even without his sight, his hands knew where to move; in fact he'd been so buoyant by how simple it had been, he 'forgot' his promise to Ducky, and had let his hands move onto Ducky's body. His mouth had found Ducky's mouth so easily, so very easily.
Ducky had 'allowed' him, because Jethro knew that was exactly what it was, a few moments of kissing and gentle caressing, before pulling away, Jethro could sense it was with reluctance, and reminding Jethro of his promise to him, not to do anything more than shower. He'd softened the blow with a promise of his own; one he'd guaranteed to fulfill once they were in bed.
Jethro felt strong, gentle hands urge him to lie back, as a warm, sensual mouth moved close to his ear. "Keep your eyes closed, my dearest. And just relax and let me make love to you. That's it, Jethro, good." The mouth moved from his ear to his own mouth, and for several long, delicious moments, nothing more was said.
When Ducky finally let him breathe, he discovered that all but one part of him was suddenly relaxed, more than relaxed, in fact he felt boneless. The same strong, gentle hands began to move over his body, touching him, stroking him, caressing him, soothing him, loving him; in many ways it was more like a massage than passion, yet it moved him to heights he hadn't expected to reach.
He tried to reciprocate, reaching out to touch Ducky in turn, but his hands were carefully, but determinedly pulled away. "No, my dear, you can have your turn later; for now I'm going to take care of you. I'm going to love you."
"Duck," he murmured, offering his mouth to Ducky to kiss.
Ducky obliged him, not stilling his own hands, instead continuing the sensual massage, continuing to show Jethro how loved he was, how vital he was, how necessary he was to Ducky.
Despite the fact that when they made love, it was usually with the light on and eyes open, Jethro loved to see Ducky aroused, liked to see his eyes that blazed with all of Ducky's emotions, that told Jethro things that even Ducky, a man who never had had any problems with uttering words of love, couldn't say, Jethro found that everything was almost normal. He'd always believed that he'd know Ducky from his touch and kiss and scent alone, always said that he'd find Ducky even if blindfolded, well now he'd proven himself correct.
"Duck," he found himself pleading. Ducky's touches might be aimed to soothe him rather than excite him, but they were having a duel effect. "I need -"
But Ducky silenced him with a kiss, moving his hand to cover Jethro's almost painful arousal. Holding it gently, calming it, stroking it slowly, pulling him back from the edge. "Not yet, dear," Ducky said, when he released his lips. "I haven't finished with you yet. Trust me," he whispered.
"Always," Jethro avowed. And he meant it. Whatever happened, whoever else betrayed him, let him down, lied to him, cheated on him, tried to destroy him, attempted to kill him, he would never, not for one moment, cease to trust the man he loved more than he loved life. More than he had ever loved anything or anyone; and it wasn't just love or want, he needed Ducky. He rarely, if ever said so, not in so many words, rarely thought it, at least not consciously; but need his lover and friend he did. Suddenly with the most beloved hands and lips showing him how vital, how important, how special he was, he knew that he needed Ducky far more than he needed to see.
"Oh, Duck," he murmured, reaching up, finding Ducky's head and pulling it closer to him so that he could claim Ducky's mouth with his own. He wasn't certain whether his climax took Ducky or himself more by surprise.
However, true to his word, Ducky hadn't finished with him, as it wasn't long before he once again began to stroke, caress, kiss, touch, cherish and love Jethro, until finally beyond any level of relaxation that he'd hitherto experienced, Jethro slipped into sleep.
As he did, his penultimate thought was that while Ducky had spent what seemed like hours pleasuring and loving him, he'd done nothing in return.
This was swiftly followed by his final thought; the one that reminded him, that pleasing and loving him was, for Ducky, far more important than what Jethro did for and to him; Ducky would rather give than receive. And it was the same for Jethro.
"Love you, Duck," he managed with his final fragment of strength.
"I love you too, my dearest Jethro. Now sleep, my beloved." Ducky murmured in response.
A WEEK LATER
"Never thought I'd be so happy to see the place, Duck. In fact I wasn't sure I ever would see it again." Gibbs looked around Autopsy, where he and Ducky stood; taking in the sights he knew well, yet seeing them for the first time.
"I kept telling you that you would, my dear."
"Yeah, I know you did, Duck." And Ducky had told him; several times a day.
He'd been surprised at how quickly he was able to adapt to other ways of doing things, even to being able to walk around with his eyes open and not feel nauseous or disorientated. Although he knew that it was partly because Ducky was with him virtually all of the time.
Gibbs still hated to admit how dependent he'd been on his lover, how uneasy he'd felt if Ducky was out of any form of contact, how much he had needed Ducky, basically how clingy he had been. He was also a little ashamed at how his physical need for Ducky had increased, and how demanding he had been in their lovemaking. Ducky hadn't given any signs of objecting, but it embarrassed Gibbs a little to recall how he'd been. Oddly, that embarrassed him more than some of the less pleasurable intimate things Ducky had done for him.
Just when he'd believed he'd accepted the fact that Ducky and the specialist were wrong, and that he was going to be permanently blind, he'd opened his eyes two days ago, and the room had swum into focus. Once Ducky had gotten over the shock of Gibbs's somewhat violent waking of him, he'd insisted on dragging Gibbs back to the hospital, 'just to be sure'.
The light had been quite painful at first, but both Ducky and the specialist had assured him that it was normal and that it would soon pass, and they were both - once again - correct. He still found himself blinking more than he normally did, but at least his eyes weren't stinging and filling with water all of the time.
He'd been all for going straight back to the office after their trip to the hospital. However, he'd forgotten just how stubborn, forceful and determined his lover could be, when he put his mind to it, and instead Ducky had taken him back home, where they had remained until today.
Looking back though, they'd needed the time together, to allow their relationship to return to co-dependency, rather than Gibbs being completely dependent on Ducky, and Ducky being the depended upon. And making love while once again being able to see Ducky, especially see how his eyes changed, and how they spoke to him, had been wonderful.
Gibbs glanced behind him, checked that he was in the 'right' position and tugged Ducky into his arms and held him. He'd worked out quite some time ago the exact angle of the camera; not that he was overly concerned with people seeing him holding Ducky, but even so.
"Never again, Duck," he murmured, brushing his lips over the top of Ducky's head.
"Will I take my eyes for granted, take seeing you for granted. I always thought the cliché 'you don't know what you have until it's gone' was just that, a . . ."
"Cliché?" Ducky asked from where he rested against Gibbs's shoulder.
Gibbs chuckled. "Yeah. But it's not, is it? I mean it's true. You really don't know. We all take so many things for granted, and yet . . . God, Duck, I was scared." He whispered the last few words, and tightened his grip on Ducky.
"I know you were, my dearest," Ducky said softly. Now, using Gibbs's coat as cover, he slipped his own arms around Gibbs, and returned the embrace. "But there really was no need."
"Yeah, I know, but . . ."
"I know, my dear. Now as much as I hate to say this, I really do think that it is time you let me go, and went to see what the children have been doing."
At that Gibbs groaned. "Yeah, guess I'd better." But he still didn't break the embrace, not completely. Instead he pulled back just far enough to allow him to lower his head a little more and lightly kiss Ducky, and to hell with the cameras; if indeed they could see anything, which he doubted.
Finally, with more reluctance than he ever felt before, he let go of Ducky and turned to go. Then he stopped. "Duck?"
"Do you have to . . . ? I mean would Mrs. Patterson . . . ?"
"If you wish me to come home with you tonight, Jethro, I would be more than willing to do so," Ducky said quietly.
A sense of relief flooded through Gibbs and he smiled. "Catch you later then, Duck," he said, deliberately letting the veil he tended to pull up over his eyes once they were at the office, momentarily fall, thus letting his gaze say more than his words.
"I'm sure you will, my dear," Ducky said, and smiled at him.
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