Set after Rule Fifty-One.
Everything is too much for Gibbs. He decides he has to get away for a while and be alone.
An established relationship story.
Written: May 2010. Word count: 1,000.
It was all too much.
The threat to his team.
Being forced to confess to killing Hernadez. The killing that was revenge for Hernadez murdering Shannon and Kelly.
Once again he relives the moment in the heat of Mexico. He takes aim, his sniper's rifle an extension of himself; he fires. He doesn't miss; he never does. Hernadez is dead; he killed him. Strange how, in his world, he killed Hernadez; Hernadez murdered Shannon and Kelly.
The only good thing is he knows he'll never see Bell and Hart again. That's all they'd wanted: to see him discredited; to have him admit, confess, to what they'd somehow found out. They'd gone off together, but not before he thought he'd seen a half-fleeting look of pity, regret, sorrow on Hart's face. But he hadn't really seen it; she didn't have those emotions in her.
But it isn't Hart's look he's thinking of. It's the team.
They all stand in silence looking at him.
The kids close together.
Ducky, his Ducky, slightly apart.
Vance even further apart.
DiNozzo and Abby are looking at him as if they no longer know him; as if they no longer want to know him.
McGee looks surprised, but also as if he understands, or at least doesn't condemn. Gibbs thinks back to McGee's behavior, during the case involving his sister. Maybe he does understand.
Palmer looks shocked, confused, as if his world has been turned upside down. He keeps looking at Ducky, seeking some kind of reassurance.
Ziva's look is cool, placid; there is no question that she condones fully what he did. Her look chills him, even more than that of Abby and DiNozzo.
Ducky's look is steady, full of understanding, affection, love, acceptance; there's very little difference in the way he normally looks at Gibbs. Of all the team, even Ziva had allowed a flash of surprise to race across her face when he'd confessed, only Ducky seems unsurprised. Gibbs has never told him; has never been able to find a way to tell him. But Ducky knows; somehow Ducky knows. He knows and he doesn't condemn. But then Gibbs wonders if there's anything he could do for which Ducky would condemn him.
Vance's look is frozen; unreadable. He stands just looking at Gibbs, saying nothing, offering nothing.
Gibbs thinks back to the aborted polygraph.
"Have you ever committed a felony? Agent Gibbs? Could you answer the question please?"
"Something wrong, Agent Gibbs?"
"What happens if you fail?"
"At NCIS, you lose your security clearance. Usually your job."
"Same at the FBI."
"What happens if you fail?"
"At NCIS, you lose your security clearance. Usually your job.
Again he hears those words and again looks at Vance. But Vance turns and walks away, heading for the kids. After a moment or two, they all turn and walk away.
DiNozzo has his arm around Abby and neither of them look back.
McGee and Ziva pause and glance at him, both nod once.
Palmer glances at him, then at Ducky who indicates he should go.
That just leaves Ducky, who calmly moves towards him. "Let's go home."
"We're going home, Jethro."
And that is that.
They go home.
He doesn't go to NCIS; what is the point? He doubts he has a job anymore.
And then he knows what he has to do.
"Duck," he says softly, taking Ducky's hand. "I've got to get away for a while."
Ducky looks up at him and sighs. "I know."
"I . . . It's all too much, Duck. I can't . . ."
"I know. Where will you go?"
"Hire a boat, sail around for a bit. A week; two. I'll be fine, Duck."
"I know. When?"
"First thing tomorrow. I'm sorry, Duck. I -"
"I know, Jethro. But I have to ask you one thing."
"You will -" Ducky breaks off and swallows hard. Gibbs's sees tears fill the pale blue eyes that tell him so much.
He lowers his head and brushes his lips over Ducky's. "Yeah, Duck," he says gently. "I'll be back. I promise."
"Thank you," Ducky whispers.
"You understand why I have to go, don't you?"
Ducky nods. "Yes. I just wish -"
Gibbs silences him with a kiss. He doesn't want to hear Ducky say he wishes he wouldn't go. He can't hear it. "Come on," he says, lifting his head. He takes Ducky's hand and leads him upstairs, where he spends the night making love to the one person he knows will always be there for him.
THE NEXT DAY
Ducky doesn't ask; he simply takes the bag Jethro's packed and puts it into the Morgan. If Jethro insists on going away, and he does understand, really he does, then he is going to see him off.
He looks at Jethro, daring him to say anything. But he doesn't; at least not what Ducky was expecting. "Thanks, Duck," is what he says, as he brushes Ducky's hair off his forehead.
Ducky stands and watches as Jethro throws his bag into the small boat. It's just the two of them; for a moment he feels as if they are the only two in the world.
He watches in silence as Jethro checks everything thoroughly.
He watches, filing away the sight of the man he loves, just in case . . .
Jethro is ready. He can see that.
He didn't know what to expect. Will Jethro shake his hand? Squeeze his shoulder? Brush his hand over his hair? Hug him briefly?
The embrace goes on for several minutes; the kiss for seconds. Then once more brushing Ducky's hair off his forehead, Jethro jumps into the boat and sets her free from the mooring.
Ducky stands and watches as the boat gets smaller and smaller. Watches as the sea seems to swallow her up. "God's speed, Jethro," he whispers. "Come back to me soon." And with those final words, he turns and walks slowly back to the Morgan and drives back to his house.
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