AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Jimmy Palmer
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship
SUMMARY: The day has more than one meaning for Gibbs and Jimmy.
WORD COUNT: 2,030
WARNING: Major character death mentioned
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for sexycazzy: A - Anniversary (05/41)
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
A mug of coffee in his hand, Gibbs stood staring out of the window into the yard, looking at the dew glistening on the grass. Just for a second he was tempted to take his shoes and socks off and go outside and walk though it. He smiled to himself and shook his head; it was hardly the day to be doing such a foolish thing - and yet maybe it was.
Above him he could hear the water from the shower and he smiled to himself as an image of his lover, his somewhat younger lover, came into his mind. Jimmy naked, wet, without his glasses, soaping himself, the water pouring over his body, cleansing him - maybe he should get undressed completely and join him. On second thoughts he decided not to; if he got into a shower with a naked Jimmy things would get out of hand and they'd end up being late.
So with a faint sigh of regret he pushed the image of Jimmy from his mind and went back to staring at the dew, except the way it glistened on the grass made him think of droplets of water glistening on Jimmy's naked body.
He shook himself again, took a deep swig of coffee and told himself that at fifty-eight he was far too old to be having such thoughts! Except thinking that made him think back to the previous night, and fifty-eight or not he had out-lasted his thirty-eight year old lover. The memory brought a smile to his face and he once again looked out of the window at the dew covered, sparkling grass.
Memories: the day held a lot of them - good and bad. It was the anniversary of two things and after today the day would be an anniversary of three things. He was glad they'd decided to add the third; it felt right; it was the only day they could have chosen.
He vaguely heard the shower stop running as his mind went back a year to the day that was both one of the worst and one of the best days of his life.
It had started off as a perfectly normal, if somewhat slow, routine day. He'd drunk four cups of coffee before eleven o'clock; he'd head-slapped DiNozzo twice; he'd praised McGee; he'd hid a smile as Ziva made one of her mistakes with American language; he'd taken Abby Caf-Pow!; he'd ignored the flashing 'you have eighty-two unread emails' message on his computer; he'd had a quick conversation with Vance updating him about the latest case; he'd started to do some paperwork.
The only thing he hadn't done was to visit Autopsy; but there had been no need. Ducky and Palmer had finished the autopsy on their latest 'visitor' the day before and with no new case, there was no reason for him to have gone down to Autopsy. If Ducky needed him for anything, he'd no doubt turn up in the squad room or track Gibbs down somewhere else in the building. He'd even reminded himself that he still hadn't asked his oldest friend why he always went looking for him rather than calling him on his cell phone. Still a day couldn't be a normal day if he didn't see Ducky, no matter whether he needed to see him or not, so he'd planned to go down to Autopsy after lunch.
He'd been on his fifth cup of coffee when his desk phone had rung; a quick glance showed him it was Autopsy. "Hey, Duck," he said as he picked it up. "I was about to -"
But it wasn't Ducky. It was Palmer; a Palmer who not only interrupted him but spoke over him. "You have to get down here to Autopsy now, Gibbs."
Already on his feet, the phone dropped onto his desk rather than replaced properly, his gut churning and knowing something was badly wrong, Gibbs raced from the squad room, ignored the elevator and took the stairs three at a time down to Autopsy. He heard the sound of feet behind him and guessed DiNozzo, McGee and Ziva had followed him.
The automatic doors parted for him and he raced into Autopsy coming to a screeching halt at the sight of Ducky lying on the floor and Palmer kneeling next to him, holding Ducky's hand as silent tears streamed down his face.
"Palmer!" Gibbs barked, but he was ignored. Slowly he walked the rest of the way across the, what was to him now, icy cold room. "Jimmy?" he said quietly, putting his hand on Palmer's shoulder.
Beneath his hand he felt Palmer shudder. "He's dead," he whispered. "Dr. Mallard is dead." He looked up at Gibbs, blinking hard as the tears continued to fall. "I tried, Agent Gibbs," he said, his voice shaking. "I tried everything I could. I kept trying and trying even when I knew there was no chance. I tried, I promise you, I tried. I'm sorry," he said finally.
Gibbs squatted down next to him, keeping his hand on Palmer's shoulder. "I know you did, Jimmy," he said, not even trying to keep his voice steady, unconcerned by the fact he too was now crying as he stared at the far too still body of the man who had been his oldest and closest friend. Gently he put his hand on Ducky's forehead and brushed his hair back. "Ah, Duck," he murmured before falling silent.
Over the sounds of Palmer's now longer silent tears he heard soft footsteps and looked up to see the other four members of the team standing on the other side of Ducky's lifeless body. DiNozzo had his arm around a silently crying Ziva and Abby was sobbing in McGee's arms; both DiNozzo and McGee had tears in their eyes and on their cheeks. Quite when Abby had appeared or how she'd known, he didn't know - but it didn't matter. All that mattered was the entire team were there standing guard over Ducky's body; all seven of them together for the final time.
LATER THAT DAY
Gibbs had sent the field team and Abby home early and was about to go home himself when something made him go back down to Autopsy. Although the room was completely dark something made him go inside. He blinked several times and waited for his eyes to adjust to the dark before he made out a shape sitting at Ducky's desk, head bowed and shoulders shaking.
He went across the room, put his arm around Palmer's shoulders and gently but firmly pulled him to his feet. "Come on, Jimmy," he said, "I'll drive you home."
But Palmer shook his head. "I don't want to be alone," he said.
Gibbs sighed to himself. "You won't be, Jimmy," he said, "you can come home with me." And with his arm now around Jimmy's back, he led him across Autopsy; he paused long enough to grab Jimmy's coat before leading him out of the building and to his car.
Even now a year later he would have sworn nothing had been further from his mind than what had happened a short time after they'd got to his home. It had -
The sound of the door opening pulled Gibbs from his memories and he turned away from the window to see Jimmy, his hair still damp from the shower, his tie undone and hanging under his shirt collar. Jimmy smiled, the smile that still made Gibbs melt just a little, and hurried over to Gibbs and took his hand before kissing his cheek.
Gibbs smiled and turned slightly, pulling Jimmy into his arms and putting his mouth on Jimmy's. "Good morning, Jimmy," he said after a few very pleasant minutes had gone by.
"Good morning, Jethro," Jimmy said and smiled in his loving way. "Why is it I love the taste of your coffee when I kiss you, but I never like it when I drink it?"
Gibbs laughed. "One of life's mysteries," he said.
Jimmy gazed at him and then glanced away and said quietly, "I'm sure Dr. Mallard would have been able to explain it. You were thinking of him, weren't you?"
Gibbs nodded. "Yeah, Jimmy, I was. And I'm also sure he would have been able to explain it."
Jimmy sighed and moved nearer to Gibbs who adjusted his stance slightly as he held Jimmy in his arms. "I still miss him," he said softly.
"So do I," Gibbs said. "We all do."
Jimmy was silent for a moment or two before saying softly, "Jethro?"
"You don't think he'd mind, do you? You don't think he'd think it was disrespectful?"
"What? Us getting married today on the anniversary of his death? Or us . . ." He fell silent for a moment as he considered his words.
"Breaking Rule 12 on the day of his death?" Jimmy asked.
Gibbs laughed softly. "Strictly speaking we didn't, as we didn't date." And they hadn't. They'd gone from co-workers to making out on Gibbs's couch without anything in-between.
He'd given Jimmy a large glass of bourbon and made him drink half of it, patting him on the back as Jimmy had choked on the first mouthful - maybe he should have given him the better stuff, the stuff he'd kept for Ducky and Fornell's visits - before sitting down next to him on the couch. They'd talked a bit, mainly about Ducky to begin with and NCIS and the rest of the team, until Jimmy had told him something he hadn't even told Ducky: his marriage to Breena hadn't even survived six months.
Then they'd sat in silence, just drinking, both alone with their thoughts before Gibbs had looked at Jimmy and realized he was crying silently again. He'd taken the empty glass from Jimmy's hand and put it on the table, put his arm around Jimmy and then -
Even a year to the day later he couldn't really remember exactly what had happened, how he'd gone from seeing Jimmy as Ducky's assistant, as a member of his team, as a co-worker, as a gentle, kind, slightly stammering, klutzy young man to someone he desperately wanted to kiss.
As he'd sat looking at Jimmy who'd stopped crying and was looking back at him, Gibbs had made himself think, had asked himself if it was just out of comfort - for both of them - or if it was more than that. Had it just been about comfort he wouldn't have kissed Jimmy, wouldn't have pulled him into his arms and began to move his hands over his body. He would not have done that to Jimmy, but as he gazed into Jimmy's eyes and looked down at his slightly parted mouth, he realized it was far more than just comfort.
It may have taken the death of his best friend and Jimmy's mentor to bring them together, but together was what they should be. So he'd kissed Jimmy and after jumping so much he nearly knocked them both off the couch, Jimmy had kissed him back and before Gibbs knew it they were both shirtless and Jimmy was lying in his arms as hands moved over one another, the touches and kisses growing more and more intense and intimate until the inevitable happened.
The next day he'd asked Jimmy to move in with him and six months later he'd asked Jimmy to marry him. It had seemed logical, natural even to hold the ceremony on a year to the day of Ducky's death and their coming together. Something good had come out of something bad, and as the two things would forever be tied together, it seemed right and proper that their wedding anniversary would also be on that day.
"No," he said softly as he belatedly realized he hadn't answered Jimmy's question. "No, Ducky wouldn't mind nor would he think it disrespectful - in fact he would think the opposite."
Jimmy smiled. "I'm glad we agreed on today," he said, "it's right; it's the right day."
"Yeah, Jimmy, it is." And Gibbs once more put his mouth on Jimmy's and kissed him deeply.