THE ULTIMATE PROOF OF LOVE
Gibbs provides the ultimate proof of his love for Ducky.
An established relationship story.
Written: November 2005. Word count: 2,156.
Gibbs strode into his office, his ever-present cup of coffee in his hand. He was not in a good mood. Yet another lengthy session with 'Madam Director' had left him barely in control of his temper. If that woman used their past relationship one more time, because he had no doubt that was what she was doing, to get her own way, he'd . . . He wasn't exactly certain what he'd do, but it wouldn't be pleasant.
He flung himself into his chair and turned his attention to the reports of his three agents. He opened the first one. "Ziva!" he snapped, barely glancing up as he sent the report spiraling across the room towards her. "If you don't know what the correct phrase or word is, ask someone. Don't guess. I don't want to see anything else like 'the photographs had clearly been felt up.'" Now he did look at her.
"But Tony said . . ." she trailed off under his stare. After flashing her eyes at him for a second or two, she bit her lip, opened the report and bent her head.
Gibbs took a swig of his coffee. He knew that she had asked DiNozzo about that particular phrase, and also knew that DiNozzo had deliberately given her the wrong answer. So maybe he was being too harsh. But it wasn't the first time, and is she hadn't learned by now to double-check everything, it was time that she did.
"Were you always too busy being a jock to learn about punctuation? Or do you just think it doesn't matter? Do it again. And get it right this time. I'm tired of wasting my time reading and re-reading your reports." He tossed the buff folder towards DiNozzo, who caught it with one hand.
"Yes, boss. Sorry, boss."
Gibbs just glared. "McGee!"
"Yes, sir. Boss. Er. . ."
"Good work." McGee started to flush and smile slightly. The other two agents shot daggers at him. "But next time," Gibbs said, once more sending a report flying through the air, "don't forget to sign it."
McGee wasn't as good at catching at DiNozzo was, and Gibbs closed his eyes as the papers scattered over the hapless agent's desk and slid to the floor. He shook his head at the sight of his field agent crawling about on the floor collecting papers.
He rubbed the bridge of his nose and squeezed his eyes shut. Some days he really wondered whether it was all worth it, and those days had increased in number since the reappearance of Jenny Shepard. Romance between field agents really wasn't a good idea, and romance that went wrong . . . Not a day went by when he didn't rue the day he ever got involved with that particular redhead in anything other than a senior/junior agent way.
In fact some days . . .
The ping as the lift arrived percolated into his brain, and something made him look up. A second later he was on his feet and hurrying across the office. "Good God, Duck," he cried, coming to stop in front of his old friend. "What on earth has happened to you?"
Ducky was soaking wet. His hat, or what Gibbs knew to be his hat, was in his left hand, his hair was plastered to his head, the water poured off his overcoat and ran down his face, and his pale-blue shirt was dark with water. Plus Ducky was shivering - violently.
Gibbs slipped his arm around Ducky, tugged him against him, feeling the icy coldness begin to seep through his own clothing, and led his lover to his desk. He could hear Ducky's teeth rattling as well as feel the shudders that wracked his body. Letting Ducky rest against the filing cabinet, Gibbs began to swiftly pull off his friend's overcoat and jacket. He then grabbed his own overcoat from where it lay on the cupboard behind his desk and wrapped it around Ducky's shoulders.
"McGee," he called. "Go and find some towels. Now."
"On it, boss," came a distant voice. Gibbs glanced up briefly to see the young agent already halfway down the office.
Ducky was still shivering violently as Gibbs lowered him into his chair, crouched down in front of him, and took the cold hands between his own and began to rub them. "DiNozzo," he called. "Bring me your coat."
"But boss, it's -"
"I don't give a damn whether it's made of pure gold, bring it over here!"
To give him his due, DiNozzo, despite his protest, must have already been halfway there, because a second later the heavy coat was tucked around Ducky's shoulders.
A black soft cloth was thrust into Gibbs's hand. "Use this," Ziva said. Gibbs glanced at the object. "It's clean," she said. "I always keep a change of clothes in my drawer, even since the time . . ." She smiled pseudo-sweetly at DiNozzo. "Here, let me," she said, as Gibbs failed to take the tee-shirt. She began to rub Ducky's hair with it. Gibbs returned to his job of trying to warm up Ducky's hands.
As he rubbed the chilled hands, Gibbs realized that Ducky needed to get something warm into him as well as around him. Stretching up Gibbs snagged his coffee from the desk, moved to perch on the arm of his chair, slid his arm around Ducky's shoulders and said softly, "Drink this, Duck."
"Jethro, I don't -"
"Drink it!" Gibbs said firmly, using his 'after-all-I-am-your-boss' tone. Ducky lifted his hands to take the cup, but couldn't grip it; his hands must still be too cold. So Gibbs held it for him, tilting it gently and encouraging Ducky to drink until the cup was empty.
As he put the empty cup down on the desk, McGee, stumbling over his own feet, arrived carrying a bundle of towels. Gibbs wasn't particularly surprised to see that his agent had Abby in tow.
"Move," she said to Ziva, grabbing a towel from McGee and pushing Ziva out of the way. "I'll do that." She began to rub Ducky's hair, leaving Ziva standing, now a little apart from the group who had gathered around Ducky, with a damp tee-shirt in her hands.
McGee dropped to his knees and began to rub Ducky's hands and legs with a towel, and finally the fierce shaking began to subside. Ducky sagged sideways resting against Gibbs, who was beginning to realize that as well as finding some dry clothes for Ducky, he'd need to also find some for himself.
He tightened his grip around Ducky's shoulders. "What happened, Duck?" he asked again.
Ducky moved away from him a little, tipped his head back, and the pale blue eyes blinked at him through water-spattered lenses. Gibbs carefully tugged the glasses off Ducky's nose, pulled out his handkerchief and wiped them, before slipping them back into place. As he did this, Ducky was saying, "It's rather a foolish story, Jethro. You see there was this young lady and -"
"Was she hot?"
Gibbs glared at DiNozzo before sighing to himself – it was far too late to change DiNozzo now, irritating as he was. Ducky had fallen silent again, and this time Gibbs decided not to push matters. Ducky had also almost stopped shivering, and seemed far more alert than he had done when he'd first appeared in Gibbs's office.
"Hey, Duck," he brushed one of the half-dry strands of Ducky's hair off his face.
"Yes, my dear?"
Gibbs realized that Ducky hadn't even been aware that he'd called his lover by the term he used most often when they were alone. Wondering just how speedily that nugget of gossip would race its way around the office, he smiled. "Want to go down to Autopsy and find something dry to change into?"
Ducky smiled his gentle, intimate smile, and his eyes softened and became rich with affection in the way they always did when Ducky looked at his lover. "Yes, my dear," he repeated.
Gibbs stood up, tugged Ducky to his feet, once more wrapped his arm around him, smiling to himself as Ducky's own arm came up to encircle his back, and led his lover towards the elevators. "A hot shower would be a good idea too, Duck," he said as they walked.
"Jethro, I think I am quite wet enough already."
Ducky's words made Gibbs smile.
"I've never been so shocked in my life," DiNozzo said, picking up his coat from where Gibbs had tossed it, and wincing at how damp it was.
"By Gibbs proving he has a soft side?" McGee looked puzzled.
"I've always told you he has," Abby said brightly.
"To you and Ducky, maybe. To the rest of us . . . " Tony shrugged. "But, no, that's not what I meant. Try again, Probie."
"By Ducky calling Gibbs 'my dear?'"
"Twice," Ziva added.
"No," DiNozzo said, frowning.
"By the fact that Gibbs put his arm around Dr. Mallard?"
"No, Ziva. He's done that before."
"By the ease with which Gibbs undressed Ducky?"
"He didn't undress him, Probie. He took his overcoat and jacket off. I'm sure even you could have managed that without a user-manual."
"Tony, that was not nice. McGee is very skilled in -"
"Abby. I really think that's more information than DiNozzo needs."
"Yes!" DiNozzo punched the air in glee.
Abby smiled her pussycat smile.
"Am I missing something here?"
"No, Mossad lady," Abby glared at Ziva, who frowned and tossed her hair. Then Abby tossed her own pigtails and turned her back on Ziva to face DiNozzo. "Go on, Tony. Tell us what's shocked you so much."
"Yes, come on, Tony. We've mentioned everything."
"No, all you've done is go on about Ducky calling Gibbs 'my dear,' and Gibbs putting his arm around Ducky. What else do you expect? They're -" He came to an abrupt halt.
"They're what, Tony?"
"Old friends," Abby said firmly, staring first at Tony, and then turning her attention to Ziva. She held the dark eyed stare until Ziva blinked and looked away.
"Gibbs giving Ducky his coffee," DiNozzo said triumphantly.
Silence hung around the little group for a moment. Then Ziva said, "What is so shocking about that, Tony? Gibbs has basic medical training. He knows that one of the best ways to warm someone up in situations like this, is to get something warm inside them."
"Yes. But it was Gibbs's coffee. You know the thing that if any of us dares to touch, to even think about touching, Gibbs goes ballistic? Come on, Probie, tell Ziva here about the time you knocked Gibbs's coffee over. How long was it before he spoke to you again?"
"It was most of the day, Ziva. And even then when he did speak to me, it was only grudgingly."
"Exactly! And there was the time when I took one for the team and threw myself in front of a freezing cold wave, just to help preserve the crime scene. And what did Gibbs do?"
"Laugh," Abby said, and beamed.
"Poor, baby," Abby patted DiNozzo's shoulder. Then bounced on the spot saying, "Well, I'd better get back to my lab before Madam Director finds me here and insists on giving me another assistant. See you later, McGee." She strode off across the office, her lab coat fluttering around her.
From her apparently unobserved position halfway down the stairs, Jenny Shepard pondered on what she had overheard. She could hardly believe the implication DiNozzo had made about Jethro and Ducky. Although if it were true, it would explain why Jethro, despite his fine words, hadn't responded to her what was fast becoming, even to her eyes, overt flirtation.
She wondered for a moment if she could use this against the two men. Then memories of the double act they seamlessly slipped into, as well as the deep affection they had for one another, a fondness that they'd never bothered to hide, came into her mind.
She had crossed them once. Well, she'd crossed Ducky. She dared to argue with him over something. That was when things between her and Jethro had started to go wrong. Rather than support her, not only as her then-lover, but as one of his field team, Jethro had taken Ducky's side. They had closed ranks against her, presenting an impenetrable front that left her embarrassed and angry. And to top it all, she had been wrong.
No, maybe it was time for her to stop chasing Jethro and turn her attentions to someone else on the team. Her eyes came to rest on DiNozzo. Normally she preferred older men, but maybe it was time for her tastes to change. And for once, she'd have the power. She turned on her heel and went back up the stairs, and began to plan.
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