AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship
SUMMARY: Gibbs arrives at Ducky's house to find him looking for something and makes a silent promise.
WORD COUNT: 1,802
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
When Ducky didn't answer the doorbell, Gibbs dug into his pocket and pulled out the key Ducky had given him years ago. He told himself he was being foolish to worry; Ducky was probably involved in an intricate part of cooking dinner for them and as such he couldn't answer the door, and as he knew Gibbs had a key, he'd know Gibbs would let himself in.
However, when he opened the door and didn't catch the scent of cooking on the air, his concern increased. Shutting the door behind him he hastened along the hall. "Duck?" he called, putting one hand into his overcoat pocket and letting it rest on the butt of his gun. He always took his Sig with him when he left home, even if he was just going out to dinner.
The silence of the house, as well as the lack of dinner scents, made him feel ill at ease as he, gun now in hand, hastened from room to room on the first floor, opening each door, flicking on the light, checking the room, before moving on to the next. Finally he'd finished; Ducky was nowhere to be found on the first floor.
After pausing for a moment or two he adjusted the grip he had on his Sig slightly and started up the stairs. "Duck," he called again, "it's me." As he reached the landing, he thought he heard a faint noise coming from the room Ducky had used as a study for many years. Quietly he moved to the door, put his ear against it and listened. He could hear muffled noises from within, but no voices or sounds of distress.
Nonetheless he took care when he opened the door, letting his gaze sweep hastily around the room before coming to rest on Ducky and the array of books which were scattered across the floor, the desk and the chairs. Relief that Ducky was safe raced through him as he pushed the gun back into his pocket. "Duck?"
Ducky looked up; he seemed almost surprised to see Gibbs. His hair was mussed, his bow-tie was crooked and his jacket had dust marks on it. "Jethro, what are you . . . ? Oh, my," Ducky tried to stand up quickly and winced. Gibbs hurried across the room and helped him to his feet. "Oh, my dear, dear Jethro, how could I have forgotten I had invited you to join me for supper tonight? Oh, what must you think of me? It's unforgivable. I was - Oh, dear. Oh, dear. Oh, Jethro. I am so very, very sorry." Ducky looked and sounded aghast, upset, devastated even.
Gibbs shrugged; sure it was unlike Ducky to forget he'd invited someone to dinner, especially when the someone was Gibbs. But he was too relieved that nothing had happened to Ducky to really be troubled by Ducky forgetting. "Nothing to apologize for, Duck, really."
"But I invited you over for a meal and -"
Gibbs put his hands on Ducky's shoulders and held him firmly for a moment before bending his head and kissing Ducky lightly on the lips; he didn't miss the faint sign of pleasure as Ducky kissed him back. Once he felt Ducky relax somewhat, Gibbs tugged him a little nearer, putting his arms around him and deepened the kiss for some moments before gentling it again and lifting his head and moving his hands back to Ducky's shoulders.
"Ducky, it's me, not someone you barely know. Besides you know me, I'd be happy with a bowl of cereal." He chose his words deliberately and hid a smile at the incredulous look that appeared on Ducky's face.
"Leroy Jethro Gibbs! I would hope that even at this short notice I can produce something more substantial than a bowl of cereal!"
Gibbs smiled. "Sure you can, Duck." He straightened Ducky's bow-tie and brushed his hair from his forehead and put one arm around Ducky's shoulders as he found his gaze wandering around the room. "Er, Duck?"
"Thought you'd decided not to sell up after all."
Ducky frowned. "That is correct. Why do you ask?"
"Just wondered why you were sorting through all your books?"
Ducky sighed. "Ah," he said and glanced away from Gibbs for a moment. When he looked back up, Gibbs saw Ducky was looking a little sad - in fact more than a little.
"Duck?" he squeezed Ducky's shoulder. "What's up?"
Ducky sighed again and glanced away from Gibbs. "It's foolish. Let us go and have a drink and I'll see what I can rustle up for supper." And with that, he gently pulled himself from beneath Gibbs's arm and headed towards the door.
Gibbs watched him for a moment, not liking how much he was limping, before following him. He caught up with him and once again put his arm over Ducky's shoulders. "If you've got any steak I could cook that for us, save you -"
"Jethro, I invited you to join me for supper. I do not expect my guests to cook for themselves."
"Didn't think I still counted as a guest," Gibbs quipped, stopping and turning Ducky around to look down at him, his hands once more resting on Ducky's shoulders.
Ducky had obligingly stopped walking and now he looked up at Gibbs; he rolled his eyes but also smiled. Then he firmly took Gibbs's arm and together they went down the stairs. "You know perfectly well what I mean, Jethro," he said.
"Yeah, Duck. Guess I do."
Once they both had a glass of Ducky's malt whiskey and were in the kitchen - Gibbs had insisted on going to the kitchen with Ducky - he said, "You were going to tell me why you were sorting through your books."
Ducky paused in the midst of chopping chicken, mushrooms and onions and looked up. "Was I?" His tone was far too innocent for Gibbs's likening. His gut began to trouble him; something was definitely amiss and he was determined he'd find out what it was.
"Yeah, Ducky, you were."
For a moment Ducky just stared at him, a slight frown creasing his brow. Then he shrugged, turned back to his chopping and said, "I was looking for a particular book, that is all."
"And I do not have it."
Ducky put the knife down, sighed and stared at Gibbs. "And it was a rather special book. My parents gave it to me for my eighteenth birthday." He picked the knife back up and Gibbs waited for him to go on. "It is quite valuable, but that doesn't matter at all. It is the sentimental value that matters. Now that Mother . . ." He again put the knife down, picked his glass up and took a deep swallow.
"What happened to it?"
Ducky shrugged and again glanced away from Gibbs. "I believe Sophie must have taken it. I have looked everywhere. I didn't miss it immediately; it's not something I look at every day. But last night I had a hankering to read it and when I started to look for it, I realized I no longer had it, which is why when you arrived I was sorting through all of my books - believe me, you do not want to see the library. It's of no real importance. I do not need a book to remember Mother or Father."
Ducky's slightly dismissive words belied his tone and Gibbs, who knew his lover sometimes he thought better than Ducky knew himself, knew the dismissive words were hiding a deep pain and disappointment that someone Ducky had cared about could have stolen from him, could have done such a thing. And what made it worse was that Gibbs knew full well that had Sophie for some reason needed the money the book would fetch, had she asked Ducky for it, his lover would have handed it over without question - that was the kind of man Ducky was. But to take advantage of such a caring, loving, honorable man made him -
Gibbs felt the anger begin to build inside him. So not only had this Sophie got Ducky to stop wearing bow-ties and nearly persuaded him to get rid of the Corgis and sell Reston House, she'd stolen a book that mattered to Ducky. If he could get his hands on her he'd - "Sorry, Duck?"
"I said - Oh, it doesn't matter, Jethro. I told you, I was being foolish. It's not a rare book; I can replace it quite easily. I just wish - Would you like to go out to dinner instead?"
Gibbs blinked. "Not really dressed for going out, Duck," he said looking at Ducky, "but if you want to and you reckon I'll be okay, then sure." He got the feeling Ducky wanted to not only drop the subject, but also to get out of his house.
Ducky put down his knife again, swept the ingredients into a bowl, put the lid on them and put it into the fridge. "Good," he said and beamed at Gibbs. "I'll get my hat and coat."
"Duck?" Gibbs caught Ducky's arm as he was about to hurry past him.
"What was the book?"
For a moment he thought Ducky wasn't going to answer. Then he shrugged, patted Gibbs's hand and replied, "Shakespeare's sonnets; a leather-bound first edition. Now, I'll be back in a moment or two. We'll take your car, shall we? I know how much you hate being driven and how much you dislike the Morgan."
"I don't dislike her, Duck, she's just a bit -"
"Small? Slow? British?"
Gibbs grinned and drained his glass. "You said it, Ducky," he quipped. "Not me." He laughed at the outraged look that crossed Ducky's face. As he watched Ducky walk from the kitchen Gibbs made a silent promise: he would find Ms. Sophie whatever-her-name was, find her and make her - at gun point if necessary - give back the book. And if she'd already sold it, well he'd hunt it down and buy it. It didn't matter what it cost in time or in money, Ducky was going to get his book back.
"Jethro?" He heard Ducky call.
"Coming, Duck," he called back, hurrying out of the kitchen and into the hall where Ducky stood his coat on, his hat in his hand, smiling at him. The next second the hat was in Gibbs's hand as he pulled Ducky into his arms and kissed him soundly for several minutes, before breaking away, putting the hat on Ducky's head at a far more rakish angle than Ducky ever wore it, offered Ducky his arm and led him out of Reston House. It was Gibbs himself who shut and locked the door behind them.