The third part of the Reconciliation Series.
Alone in their own homes Gibbs and Ducky think about one another, and what is happening between them.
An established relationship story.
Written: October 2006. Word count: 1,917.
Gibbs sat alone in his empty basement. He still hadn't gotten around to unpacking all the boxes he'd packed up; the rest of his house was pretty similar. All he'd unpacked was what he needed on a day-to-day basis to get by.
I haven't had time.
He ignored the second thought.
He took a long swig from the bottle of paint-stripper that Tobias scorned, and winced as it hit the back of his throat. As he did he began to think about Ducky.
For a moment he was irritated by his old friend. Damn Ducky; what the hell was wrong with him? Why was his so pissed? Surely it couldn't be just because Gibbs hadn't gone to his blasted graduation.
‘All my friends were there.' Ducky's voice sounded so clear in his head that Gibbs glanced around the basement, fully expecting to see Ducky standing there.
However, apart from himself, the shell of a boat he'd probably never finish, and boxes, it was empty.
His irritation turned to anger.
He needed Ducky right now. He wanted to be in Ducky's arms, to hold him, to feel his hands move over him, to taste him, to kiss him. To . . . He groaned and glared at the beginnings of an erection. It had been over four months since they'd been together as lovers, and although their relationship had never been defined by the physical, nonetheless Gibbs missed it.
Damn Ducky; he should know that Gibbs would want and need him. They'd always known what the other wanted, needed, was thinking. They had a sixth sense when it came to one another.
It's letting you down at the moment, isn't it?
Again he ignored the voice in his head.
Ducky should be there for him. Not being bitchy and making snide comments and . . . It was so unlike Ducky anyway.
Why the hell was he making Gibbs suffer?
Why was he hurting him?
You hurt him. You went away. You left him.
Did he? Gibbs had assumed that Ducky had understood, just like he'd always done. Admittedly Ducky hadn't said so, not in so many words, but . . .
Anyway, that was over. He was back.
Of course he was. Okay, so it was taking a bit of adjusting, but he was back. He was. Really.
Then why haven't you unpacked?
"I haven't had time." This time Gibbs spoke aloud.
Was that it? Was that why Ducky was so pissed at him? Didn't he believe that Gibbs really was back? Was Ducky afraid that he would just up and leave again? Had he hurt his lover that much by leaving? Hurt him so much that Ducky no longer trusted him?
What was it Ducky had said? Oh, yeah. ‘The fact that you have to ask, Jethro, is more than a little indicative of the whole problem'.
Why couldn't he speak English? Why did he have to be so damned cryptic? Why didn't he just come out and tell Gibbs what was wrong; what Gibbs had done? That way Gibbs could fix it. He could say what Ducky wanted to hear, and . . .
He could say what Ducky wanted to hear.
But Ducky didn't want that. He didn't want Gibbs to ‘tell him what he wanted to hear'. He wanted the truth; he wanted Gibbs to be honest.
I would be. If I knew what the hell was wrong. What I'd done. What he wanted me to be honest about.
You do know.
No, I don't.
Yes, you do.
I don't. "I don't," Gibbs snarled aloud. "I don't."
Maybe if he told himself it enough, he just might believe it.
So what? To hell with Ducky, if he didn't want him, then it was his loss, not Gibbs's.
Gibbs knew what he'd do, he'd drive over to Jenn's, she'd let him fuck her, she'd made that quite clear.
He stood up.
And sat back down again as realization hit him.
Had he really sunk that low? Low enough to think of going and fucking Jenn simply because he couldn't have Ducky? Low enough to think of fucking any woman just because he wanted some kind of physical connection?
Because that's all it would be. Just sex. Fucking. No more. No less. Pure and simple.
Except it wouldn't be pure. And if he were honest, it wouldn't be simple.
Pure and simple was making love to and with Ducky.
"Oh, Duck. What am I going to do? I love you. I love you so damned much it hurts."
And he did.
And deep down, in that place that somehow connected him with his lover in a way that was beyond love, beyond friendship, beyond words, beyond explanation, he knew that Ducky knew that.
In some ways that was even worse.
Go and tell him that you are back to stay.
Gibbs took another swig and another and another and another.
It was Sunday tomorrow. He didn't need to be sober.
Ducky sat alone in his own sitting room, surrounded by books, paintings, photographs, knick-knacks, furniture, and the other usual things that made up a room; a room in which one lived. Never had he known his room to be so empty, so unlived in.
In his hand he held a glass of single malt whiskey. But as he sipped it, he realized that he might as well be drinking the paint-stripper that Jethro kept in his basement.
He had been uncharacteristically short with his mother and her nurse earlier that evening. But even more uncharacteristically, he hadn't cared; he hadn't tried to put things right. He'd simply left them and the Corgis and gone up to his room.
He'd hurt Jethro; he'd hurt him badly. Not once, not twice, but several times. All his comments had been deliberately designed to cut into his old friend and lover. Each barb had been honed to perfection before he'd thrown it at Jethro. And he's taken pleasure in seeing how Jethro had been hurt.
He tried to ignore the thought. But he couldn't.
Of course he hadn't taken pleasure in hurting his beloved. He should have done so; Jethro had certainly hurt him.
But he's done that time and time and time again over the years.
But that was different.
Because then he knew he was hurting me. Knew he'd hurt me. But now . . .
Now, it appeared that Jethro didn't know.
And that chilled Ducky beyond anything he'd ever experienced.
He took another swallow of whiskey in an attempt to warm himself.
Again he began to think about what he was doing to Jethro.
Why he was pushing him, hurting him. His comments weren't merely designed to hurt Jethro; in fact that wasn't why Ducky was throwing them at him. He wasn't like that, at least he didn't believe he was; he wouldn't stoop to what would be a childish act.
Are you certain?
"Yes." He spoke firmly and decisively. He was.
Despite everything Jethro had done to him, Ducky still loved him. At the moment he didn't particularly like him, and worse still he didn't trust him; but he still loved him. He always would. Unlike some people, Ducky couldn't turn his love on and off like a light switch.
The real reason he was attempting to goad Jethro, the real object of his pointed barbs was to shock Jethro. To shake him up. To bring him back.
To bring the real Leroy Jethro Gibbs back. Because at the moment, the man who inhabited the body that called itself 'Leroy Jethro Gibbs', wasn't Leroy Jethro Gibbs. He wasn't anything like him.
And Ducky needed, for everyone's sake, to put that right. He had to. He had to do it before the real Leroy Jethro Gibbs was lost forever.
Shock tactics sometimes worked, Ducky knew that. Now he prayed fervently that his would.
However, at the moment he wasn't holding out too many hopes.
And the longer it went on, the nastier Ducky was becoming. ‘All my friends were there'. God, that made him sound like a five year old. But even that hadn't shaken Jethro, not really. Oh, there had been a minor change in him, a fleeting one; one so minor and so fleeting, that no one other than Ducky would have seen it. But even that comment hadn't really affected Jethro; hadn't done the job it was meant to do.
And Jethro was retreating further into himself. No longer, apart from when he'd stopped Ducky in the corridor earlier in the evening, did he use Ducky's name, nor his own personal intimate version. When he addressed Ducky it was as ‘Doctor' or ‘Dr. Mallard', and he was doing so even in front of the children. Before long, they'd notice - if they hadn't already done so.
And Ducky was as bad; he didn't use Jethro's name. He didn't call his dearest friend ‘Jethro' or ‘Gibbs' or even ‘Special Agent Gibbs'. There was no connection between them, at least nothing that was familiar.
What were they both descending into?
Could anything save them?
Save their relationship?
But even more importantly, to Ducky, could anything save Jethro?
"Why do I love you so much, Jethro?" he asked allowed. The room did not answer. "Oh, Jethro my dear. What am I going to do? I love you. I love you so much it hurts."
And he did.
Maybe he should be the one to back down. Just like you always do. Maybe he should go to Jethro and tell him what was wrong.
That won't help. You know it won't.
"I know," he whispered. He closed his eyes.
Suddenly, with a start, he opened them and looked around the room. He fully expected to see Jethro standing there. "Jethro?" he spoke his friend's name. "What . . . ?"
He put his glass down on the table, pushed himself to his feet and hurried to the door. It seemed as though the link that had always bound them together, the extra sense they had about the other, was, despite everything, still working - at least in some respects. Something was wrong.
"Damn you, Jethro Gibbs," he murmured as he hurried down the stairs, across the hall and out into the night.
As he pushed the Morgan into first gear and drove away from his house, he vowed silently that if Jethro had hurt himself, he'd do more than just hurt him.
"I'm coming, Jethro," he said, pushing the accelerator peddle down further than he normally did. He hoped that the sense they shared was working both ways.
As he drove, he told himself that as a doctor, he would be doing the same for anyone. And that if, when he got to Jethro's house, he discovered that his sixth sense had failed him, and that all was well, that unless Jethro had finally begun to understand what it was he was doing and then began to try to put it right, that he would turn around and drive straight home again.
He almost momentarily lost control of the Morgan when he realized that he meant his vow. It wasn't just a matter of him trying to convince himself.
"Oh, Jethro. Is it already too late? Can we salvage anything? Can I bring you back?"
Do you really want to?
He pressed the accelerator a little harder.
LINKS TO ALL THE STORIES IN THE RECONCILIATION SERIES
Some Hurts May Never Heal
The Truth Can Heal
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