Ashleigh Anpilova


Set after Ex-File.

After telling Mann to get out, Gibbs goes to see Ducky.

A first time story.

Written: May 2009. Word count: 3,032.




I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.


She turned around and saw his face. The hatred in it made her gasp in shock.


"Get out," he snarled.




"I said, get out! He moved away from the stairs and strode to his workbench and stood, arms folded, staring at her with the same intense dislike in the closed, harsh gaze.


For a moment she watched him. Then she gathered her things and prepared to leave. It was over. Sometimes she wondered if it had ever really begun.


As she reached the bottom of the steps she turned around to look at him one last time. Seeing nothing that offered any kind of comfort or hope, she did want all corned animals do: she fought back. "It wasn't my fault," she spat the words at him. "Blame your precious Ducky. He's the one who told me about them. Maybe you should ask him just why he did." He didn't reply, he just turned around and presented her with his back; stiff, upright, chilling.


After staring at him for a moment or two, she hurried up the stairs and out into the night. That was it; she'd leave DC as soon as possible. To be honest she had always liked the idea of retirement on a Hawaiian island.



Alone again in his basement, he breathed deeply for what seemed like the first time that day. It had been a tough day, three women, all of whom he'd slept with, in the same place at the same time, making catty or snide remarks about one another, while trying to be the focus of his attention. God, why did he get himself into such situations? He needed a drink.


He was about to grab the bourbon bottle when Hollis's final words echoed through his mind. 'Blame your precious Ducky. He's the one who told me about them. Maybe you should ask him just why he did'. The tone of her voice when she'd said 'your precious Ducky' had been harsh, vindictive. Yet another one of his women hadn't cared for Ducky. He occasionally wondered just why that was, given how charming and kind and mellow and caring and gentlemanly Ducky was.


He sighed and turned towards the stairs; now he had a second reason to hate Ms. Mann. Her words meant he had to face what he'd suspected: it had been Ducky who'd told her about Shannon and Kelly. And now he had to know why.


As he reached the top of the basement stairs he paused; it could wait until the next day, couldn't it? But he knew it couldn't. Sighing he went up to his bedroom, grabbed his wallet, ID and Sig, before going back downstairs. There he pulled on his coat and headed out of the house.



"Jethro." Was it his imagination or did Ducky sound slightly wary?


"Hey, Duck." He waited. When Ducky didn't immediately move away from the door to let him go inside he said, "Er, can I come in?"


"Oh, yes. I am sorry, Jethro. I was - Yes, please, do come in." Now there was no question about it; Ducky did sound slightly wary. And the way he was failing to maintain eye contact with Jethro added to his wariness.


Jethro watched as Ducky closed and locked the front door, before pulling off his coat and throwing it over the banisters. Ducky looked tired and was clearly slightly ill at ease; although it was so slight Jethro doubted anyone but he would have noticed it.


"Would you like a drink?" Ducky asked, turning around.


"Sure. That'd be good."


He followed Ducky up the stairs and into his sitting room, where he sat down in his favorite armchair and waited until Ducky put a glass in his hand. "Thanks, Duck." He took a long swallow and let the mellow taste warm him. "Duck -"


"Jethro, there is something I have to say." Ducky had sat down, but was perched on the edge of his chair.


"Go on."


"I know why you have come here tonight. And you have every right to be angry with me. I -"


"Wasn't aware I was angry with you, Duck." Jethro said the words quietly; suddenly aware he spoke the truth.


Ducky blinked. "Are you not? But surely you know -"


"It was you who told Hollis about Shannon and Kelly? Yeah. Figured that out. Plus, she told me."


"That does not surprise me," Ducky said, his tone flat. Although which part of Jethro's comment it referred to wasn't clear. "I do apologize, Jethro. I had no right whatsoever to tell her. I was completely out of line and betrayed your trust. I will quite understand if -"


"Just tell me why, Duck. Why'd you tell her?"


Ducky looked at him. For a moment he was silent. When he did speak his words surprised Jethro. "The truth?"


He blinked and widened his eyes. "You thinking of lying to me?" he asked.


Ducky shrugged and finally sat back in his chair. "I could tell you that she surprised me when she spoke of your three marriages. And that she is a very good investigator, skilled in getting people to talk and as such I found myself with no option but to tell her."


"You could. But you're not going to."


Ducky shook his head. "No. No, I am going to do so. I told her the truth because I wanted to evoke some kind of emotional response in you." He sipped his drink and looked at Jethro across the rim of the glass.


Forcing himself not to give anything away, falling back on his years as an investigator, Jethro said quietly, "Go on."


Ducky sighed. "Jethro, ever since everyone learnt about Shannon and Kelly you have been somewhat more detached and distant, even with me. I had thought that maybe - but that was foolish. And I'm foolish and have been for far too many years. You had no real interest in Lieutenant Colonel Mann; I could see that. Anyone could see that. Nonetheless you bedded her, then you dated her and you let your relationship with her drift along. And it would have gone on drifting along until you turned up here one night and asked me to be your best man again."


"Duck, you want to start making sense?"


"Oh, Jethro. I told Ms. Mann about Shannon and Kelly in an attempt to make you angry."


"Well, guess it worked. I told her to get out of my house about an hour ago."


"I do not mean with her. I mean with me."


"What? Ducky? You wanted to make me angry with you?" Jethro just stared at Ducky.


"Yes." Ducky spoke the single word firmly.


Jethro drained his glass and without waiting for Ducky to offer him another drink, got up, grabbed the bottle from the sideboard and poured another measure into his glass and into Ducky's. "You want to explain that one?" he said, once he'd sat back down.


Ducky glanced away from him, looking down at his lap. "I thought that if I made you angry enough with me that you might," he paused. Then he did look up and meet Jethro's stare. "That you might walk away from me," he finished.


Suddenly certain he'd walked into an alternate reality, Jethro just stared at his oldest friend. "Let me get this straight," he said, after a moment or two of silence. "You want me to walk away from you?"


"Well given I will never walk away from you, yes."


"You want to walk away from me?" Jethro demanded incredulously.


"No, but -"


"Then what the fuck are you talking about?" Then something hit him and he put his drink down on the table, stood up and strode to Ducky's chair and crouched down in front of it. "Duck," he whispered, dread filling him, "are you sick?" He took Ducky's hand and held it.


"What? No. No, Jethro. I am fine. Really. Please get up."


Jethro shook his head. "Not until you start making sense."


Ducky sighed and closed his eyes for a moment before beginning to speak in a weary tone. "Jethro, you know how I feel about you, do you not?" He opened his eyes and looked at Jethro.


Jethro shrugged. "Yeah. So?"


Ducky shook his head. "That really sums it up." His tone was heavy with sadness.




"When I first told you how I felt about you, do you remember what you said?" However, before Jethro could answer Ducky went on. "You told me 'one day, Duck'. You told me that one day you would be mine. Do you remember?"


Jethro nodded. "Yes," he said softly. He had said that and he'd meant it.


"Well, just when is 'one day' going to come? How many more years have I to wait for you? How many more women do I have to watch you date or marry? How many more times have I got to patch you up when something goes wrong? How long do I go on waiting for 'one day'? How long, Jethro?"


"I -"


"I'm sixty-five. I am not getting any younger and nor are you."


"Sixty-five's not old, Duck."


"No. No, it isn't. I know that. But . . . Jethro, I cannot wait any longer. No, wait, that isn't true. I will not wait any longer. If what you said to me all those years ago was the truth -"


"Which is was."


Ducky shrugged. "Well then. I have waited long enough. I deserve better."


"I know you do."




"You deserve much better than me."


"Jethro!" Ducky's tone was heavy with exasperation. "That is not what I meant. Oh, my dear," Ducky put his hand on Jethro's cheek and cupped it. "I love you. I want you. I want to share what is left of my life with you. However, if that is too much, then . . . Then I would settle for one night."


Jethro blinked. "You would?"


"Yes. I never thought the day would come when I'd say that. I always thought that when it happened, it would be for life. But now," he shrugged. "Well, let us say I'd rather have a small amount of something wonderful than not have it at all. But it has to be now, Jethro. It has to be tonight. Because, Jethro, I deserve you. I have waited patiently for you all these years; I have never once repeated what I told you when we first met. I have watched you with all your women, I have lied for you; I have covered up for you. Do you know how difficult it was for me to look Diane in the face and tell her we had been out to dinner the night you were . . . In bed with Jennifer?"

"Duck, I never -"


"No. You didn't. I know that. You never once asked me to lie for you. But nonetheless I did, because I loved you. And I believed that you would never lie to me."


"Which I've never done. You do know that, don't you, Duck?" He squeezed Ducky's hand; it was important, vital, that Ducky know that small fact.


"Yes, my dear. Yes, Jethro. I do know that." Ducky spoke quietly. "Oh, do get up, Jethro.


But Jethro barely heard him. All he was doing was focusing on what Ducky had been saying: that it had to be tonight and that he'd settle for just tonight. If he didn't kiss Ducky, if he didn't go to bed with him tonight, then he'd never get the chance. And he'd known Ducky long enough to know that although it happened rarely, when Ducky really wanted to be firm and unmoving over something, he would be.


How much longer did he want? How much longer did he need? Four marriages; countless other women, for what? He had meant what he'd said; he had always intended to end his days with Ducky, to take the ultimate step in their relationship; to cross the final line; to become even more intimate. He had. He really had. He'd just never expected to be given an ultimatum. He'd always thought he'd be the one who -


"Sorry?" he said, suddenly realizing Ducky had spoken. But Ducky just shook his head and said nothing. "Okay, let's see if I've got this straight. You told Hollis about Shannon and Kelly because you wanted to make me angry enough with you to in effect end our friendship? Because you could never do it and you're tired of waiting for me to stop screwing around with other people and turn to you?"


Ducky nodded. "In essence, yes. That is correct."


"Good. And on top of that, if I am going to 'turn to you' has to be now, tonight, because you're not going to wait any longer?"


Again Ducky nodded. "Yes."


"Okay. But you're now happy for this 'turning to you' to be a one night thing and not forever?"


This time Ducky didn't answer immediately. "I'm not sure 'happy' is quite the word I would have chosen, but fundamentally you are correct," he said finally.


Jethro nodded. "You'd put up with a one night fling, just as you've put up with all the years of waiting for me?"


Ducky sighed. "Yes," he said simply.


"Just how much of a bastard do you think I am?"


"Jethro?" Ducky frowned.


Finally forced to admit that his knees were really starting to protest at how long he'd spent crouched in front of Ducky, Jethro stood up. However, he didn't let go of Ducky's hand, thus he brought Ducky to his feet as well. Once they were both standing, and ignoring the twinges in his knees, he let go of Ducky's hand and tugged him into a loose embrace. "You ever thought that the reason it's been so long is because I had to be certain? Certain it wasn't going to be just a one night thing?"


Ducky glanced away from him. "At one time, yes, I did think that; I did allow myself to think that. But . . ." He trailed off. "I haven't been sure that was the reason for some time now," he said finally, his voice low. "Jethro," he looked back up. "I honestly did not think that I would have to wait this long. But I meant what I said, I won't wait any longer."


"Know you did."


"If you still aren't sure, say so. We can shake hands and you can . . ."


"Watch you walk away from me?"


Ducky shook his head, then shrugged. "I don't know. To be honest I do not know."


Jethro pulled him a little closer. At first he felt Ducky fight the move, but then he heard him sigh quietly and felt Ducky rest his head against his shoulder. In turn he put his cheek on Ducky's head. "I do love you, Duck," he said quietly.


"I know you do, my dear. I have always known."


"And I did mean what I said all those years ago."


He felt Ducky's half nod. "I know."


"You deserve a lot better than me. You know you do."


"Jethro, if your answer is going to be 'no', please just say the word. Do not try to make excuses; do not make a mockery of our friendship, out closeness. Just don't do that. Do anything but that."


Jethro nodded against Ducky's head. "I am sorry, Duck," he said, now putting his lips near Ducky's ear.


He felt Ducky halt the tremble that had begun to shake his body. "I understand," he said, his tone now hoarse.


"Actually, Duck," Jethro said, his mouth on Ducky's ear, this time he heard a very faint half-bitten of moan escape from Ducky and the trembling increased. "I don't think you do," he finished.


"Jethro?" Ducky lifted his head and moved back in the loose embrace, tipping his head back to look up at Jethro. He saw the faintest hint of hope in Ducky's gaze.


"You see, Duck. I'm not apologizing because I'm walking away; I'm apologizing because I'm going to do this." And with that, he lowered his head and put his mouth onto Ducky's and kissed him.


Under his mouth he felt Ducky move his head just a little and then begin to kiss him back. As Ducky's mouth parted for him, as Ducky moved further into the embrace, the main thought that went through Jethro's mind was 'why did I wait so long'?


He wasn't sure how long the kiss lasted, but finally he had to break it because he was beginning to see spots in front of his closed eyes. "Ah, Duck," he murmured, pulling Ducky even closer and enjoying the way Ducky's head again came to rest against his shoulder. He head Ducky sigh with what was clearly pleasure. "One night or forever?" he asked softly, once more putting his lips on Ducky's ear.


"You know the answer to that," Ducky replied softly.


Jethro shrugged slightly. "Maybe. But I'd rather you told me."


Ducky chuckled and moved back a little to once more gaze up at Jethro. "You're teasing me, aren't you?"


Jethro laughed. "Yeah. Reckon I am. Just a bit."


"I want you in my life, in my bed, in my arms for as long as you wish to be there," Ducky said.


Jethro rolled his eyes. "Be careful what you wish for," he murmured, once more lowering his head and kissing Ducky.




Telling himself he really should try to get at least an hour or two of sleep, but not wanting to close his eyes, Jethro gazed at Ducky who had fallen asleep a few minutes before. His lips were still somewhat swollen, but even in sleep they were turned up at the edges in a smile, his face slightly flushed, his forehead damp and his neck rather red in one place.


As he brushed Ducky's hair off his forehead and kissed him gently, something Hollis said came back to his mind again: 'Your precious Ducky'.


"Yeah, Duck," Jethro said, settling down close to Ducky, one arm resting over him. "She got that right."



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