AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship
SUMMARY: After retiring from NCIS, Gibbs and Ducky move to Scotland to live. One day they receive an invitation, but Ducky isn't certain Gibbs will want to fulfill the preferred dress code.
WORD COUNT: 3,485
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for timetiger: K - Kilt
ADDITIONAL AUTHOR'S NOTE: Deciding what 'language' (i.e. British or US English) to write this story in was a little hard as it couldn't 'conform' to both 'rules' when it comes to fanfic: the story should be written in the language of the show and the story should be written in the language where it is set. It's about a US show but it's set in Britain, thus I had to break one of them. As all my other NCIS stories are written in American English, I decided to go with that. However, when it came to the word 'whisky' I have stuck with the British spelling as they are drinking scotch, not Irish or American whiskey.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
Ducky hummed to himself as he poured a cup of tea and settled down by the fire with the local newspaper. It was a cold day; nonetheless Jethro had insisted, as he always did, on going for a walk. On a fine day, even a somewhat chilly one, Ducky would often go with him. However, his long-time damaged leg had given him a lot of trouble upon waking, showering and dressing and Jethro had insisted he stay in the warm, by the fire. Ducky hadn't actually argued.
Now, as he was about to open the paper, he thought not for the first time how wonderful it was to be home again; in the UK, in the place he had spent much of his childhood. He had never expected to once again live in Scotland, not really. Oh, he had made foolish promises that he would return home, once he retired from NCIS. However, he had never expected to fulfill his dreams, because doing so would mean he would have to leave Jethro behind, and he would never do that. Not having finally, three years ago, achieved his true desire when Jethro had decided no one else was going to make him as happy as Ducky could - something Ducky could have told him for as long as they had known one another - and in true Jethro style decided if they were going to do this, they were going to do it properly.
Even some three years later, Ducky still couldn't decide who had been the most surprised to learn Jethro and he were to marry: the children, Director Vance, Tobias or indeed Ducky himself. However, marry they did, in a fairly small ceremony with a minimal of fuss - well the minimal dear Abigail would let them get away with - and they had bought a new home in DC. Jethro had finally decided it was time he let go of the home he had shared with Shannon and Kelly; let go in effect of his girls.
They had been happy; they had been very happy. Then in quick succession several things had happened to upset their happiness - not with one another, just with life in general. Jethro's father had passed away; Tobias had been shot dead by a drug-ridden sniper, and Vance had told Gibbs he was sorry but the agency could not permit a field agent to work for them beyond the age of fifty-seven.
It had been the loss of his career which finally seemed to motivate Jethro, and he declared to Ducky he was tired of living in America and hadn't Ducky always promised to show him Britain? Even at that point Ducky hadn't quite realized, hadn't been prepared to hope, that Jethro meant to move permanently to Britain. However, he should have known his Jethro didn't do things by halves.
Which was why they were now living on the outskirts of Nairn; the seaside town was a good compromise when it came to location and facilities and it suited them both well. It was close enough to the beauty of the Highlands, as well as having sandy beaches, riverside walks, views of the Moray Firth, two fine golf courses, museums, excellent restaurants and a harbor. Nairn was also an excellent base for exploring the Highlands from castles to National Parks to various railways, cathedrals and of course whisky trails. It really was, for them, an ideal place to live, and in the nine months they had lived there they had explored quite a lot. It had the added advantage of the fact that although Ducky had visited the Highlands a few times during his time in Scotland, it wasn't an area he knew well. Thus, they could both enjoy exploring and discovering things for the first time together.
He really was so very glad, even though he did still miss the children, that they had made the move from America to Scotland. It was a slower pace of life, a better standard of living, even Jethro seemed relaxed - which Ducky had to admit was something of a rarity. And it wasn't as though they were never in touch with the children, at least one of them skyped or emailed on a weekly basis - Jimmy tended to email him each day with a snap-shot of the daily happenings and his life as NCIS's Medical Examiner.
He was about to finally turn his attention to the local news when the phone rang. Sighing softly, he pushed himself to his feet and went to answer it. Why was it that whenever he left it on the charger rather than take it to where he was sitting did it ring? Whereas if he took it with him, it never rang.
The caller was a very old friend of his; Alasdair Allaway. They had been at both Eton and Edinburgh university together, and while Alasdair had, just as Ducky had done, served for a brief period in the army, other than that he had never left the home of his birth. More than happy to spend time chatting to his old friend and catching up, Ducky took the phone back to his chair, sat down and poured himself another cup of tea.
By the time the two old friends had finished talking and had caught up with the other man's main news, the pot was empty and the fire was dying down. As he said goodbye to Alasdair and thanked him again for the splendid invitation he had issued, which had been Alasdair's reason for calling, Ducky smiled to himself. It really would be lovely to see Alasdair again after all these years. They had kept in touch to an extent during Ducky's years away from Britain, Christmas cards, the odd letter in-between, later on the odd email, that kind of thing. But rather like the friendship Jethro and Tobias had shared, Alasdair and he hadn't needed to be in constant contact with one another to maintain a close friendship.
"Oh, dear," he murmured, as he saw quite how far the fire had burned down. He hastened from the chair and knelt down and began to pull logs from the pile.
However, a hand on his shoulder and a voice he never tired of hearing stopped him. "Here, let me do that, Duck." The next moment Jethro held out his hand and tugged Ducky to his feet. Ducky turned and smiled up at Jethro. His cheeks were flushed, his grey hair almost shimmered in places and the collar of the thick overcoat he had donned before venturing out was turned up.
"Thank you, my dear," Ducky said, reaching up to brush his lips over Jethro's cheek.
"Not like you to let the fire burn down, Duck. Fall asleep did you?" Jethro, tugged off his overcoat, threw it over the chair and squatted down to refuel the fire.
"No, of course I didn't, Jethro. It's just that an old friend of mine, a very old friend, actually, we met at Eton - Alasdair Allaway is his name, I may have mentioned him."
"Yeah, guess you might have." Working efficiently, Jethro put logs onto the fire and poked it, encouraging the dying embers to catch the new wood.
"Well he rang and we started talking and - Well, the time just sped by and before I realized it, I'm afraid the fire had burned down quite considerably."
"No harm done." Jethro continued to poke the fire until the fire caught the new logs, at which point he stood back up. "Did you have a nice talk?"
"Oh, very nice, thank you, Jethro. Indeed the main reason he called was to -" Suddenly Ducky came to an abrupt halt, uncertain as to whether to tell Jethro at that moment why Alasdair had called. However, having begun to explain, he knew he would have to finish - one of the downsides of having a retired Federal Agent as your husband was that he never let you get away with subterfuge.
Jethro merely raised an eyebrow and said, "The main reason he called was to . . . What, Duck?"
"To invite us to a Burns's Night supper." Ducky smiled at Jethro.
"Yes, dear. As in you and me." Ducky stared up at Jethro, but he gave nothing away. "Would you like to go?"
Jethro shrugged. "When exactly is Burns's Night?"
"The 25th of January - that's ten days time."
Jethro shrugged again. "Sure, Duck. If you'd like to go, why not?"
Ducky hesitated for a moment. "It will be traditional Scottish food, including haggis, which will be served with neeps and tatties - swede and potatoes," he explained.
Jethro just looked at him. "Sounds fine to me, Duck."
Again, Ducky hesitated for a moment. "Do you know what haggis is, Jethro?"
Jethro grinned. "Do I want to know, Duck?"
Ducky laughed lightly. "Probably not, my dear. Although I imagine you have eaten far worse things in your time."
Jethro stared at him. "'Worse'? Maybe I should know what it is."
Ducky shook his head. "No, trust me, it is better you don't actually know until you have tried it. Assuming you like it and I believe you will, then I will be quite happy to tell you what is in it." He smiled at Jethro.
Jethro gave him a rueful look. "Never had any reason not to trust you, Duck," he said, putting his arm around Ducky's shoulders and hugging him. "Can't see why I'd start now."
"Oh, good. Now shall I see about lunch?"
"Sounds good to me. Drink?"
"Yes, please. A wee dram will help keep the chill at bay. Talking of which, I can assure you there will be plenty of whisky served at the supper."
"In that case I'll definitely go. Anything else I should know about the evening?"
Ducky hesitated for no more than a second or two before shaking his head and saying in what he realized was a far too bright tone. "No, nothing."
Jethro narrowed his eyes. "Duck?" But Ducky just smiled at him and after a minute, Jethro turned and went to pour them both a glass of whisky.
Ducky in turn went through into the kitchen and began to prepare lunch. He didn't quite know why he had delayed telling Jethro that the usual dress code at the particular Burns's Night supper to which they had been invited was traditional Scottish dress: kilts. Despite it being the custom, Alasdair had assured Ducky that over the years it had been relaxed, and now some men didn't dress in traditional dress, they wore suits, even if they were in the minority. Ducky honestly couldn't see Jethro agreeing to wear a kilt, but he wanted to enjoy the image of him in a kilt for a little longer until Jethro scuppered the picture by refusing point blank to even consider it.
LATER THAT EVENING
Ducky and Jethro sat in the sitting room; the television was on and turned down low, but neither of them were really watching it. It was some property show or other which Ducky found he enjoyed - it fulfilled the inquisitive part of him, being able to look at other people's homes, however it didn't really require his full attention. Plus, if he missed something he really wanted to see, he could always find it on-line or indeed as a repeat on one of the many FreeSat channels. He noticed there seemed to be a considerable greater amount of repeats these days; he guessed they had to fill the vast array of channels with something.
"Yes, my dear?"
"Is there any particular dress code for this Burns's Night thingy?"
Ducky froze with his glass of whisky partly on its way to his mouth. "Why would you assume that?" He winced internally; all he had done by answering as he had done was to raise Jethro's suspicions.
Jethro raised an eyebrow. "Because there usually are at these things. You can't tell me it'd be okay to go dressed like this, can you?"
Ducky chuckled as he looked at Jethro's causal thick polo-neck jumper and casual warm trousers. "Well, no. That really wouldn't be appropriate."
"Thought not. So what's the code? Ordinary suit do or is a tux required?"
Ducky swallowed and moistened his mouth with some whisky. "Well . . ."
"Duck." Jethro grabbed the remote control and turned the sound off.
"You can indeed wear an ordinary suit," he said quickly. "I assure you several other gentlemen will be dressed that way."
Ducky sighed. "Well, the usual dress at these dinners is," he took another sip of whisky. "Traditional Scottish dress."
Jethro frowned. "Traditional Scottish dress? You mean that kilt thing?"
Ducky nodded. "Yes."
"And all the other stuff that goes with it? What do they call that thing that dangles around the waist?"
Jethro stared at him, grabbed his glass of whisky and emptied it. "I'm not wearing that," he said.
Even though Ducky had known this would be the case, he still felt a flash of disappointment race through him. "I was quite certain you wouldn't wish to do so," he said, and gave Jethro a faint smile. "And I reiterate it will be perfectly all right for you not to do so. Although it is only recently that the wearing of an ordinary suit has been permitted; a few years ago it was a kilt and everything that goes with it or nothing."
Jethro raised both eyebrows. "Nothing? That must have led to some interesting or embarrassing evenings." He grinned.
Ducky rolled his eyes and laughed softly. "You know what I mean, Jethro."
"Yeah, Duck. I do." Jethro put his hand on Ducky's knee, squeezed it and left it there. It felt warm and comforting. "So you going to go for the kilt thing?"
"Oh, yes, of course I am. I'm surprised you need to ask."
Jethro smiled. "Didn't really. You got one?"
Ducky shook his head. "Alas no, not any more, and even if I did have one, I doubt it would still fit me after all these years. It has been quite some time, three decades at least, since I last had an occasion to wear a kilt. It was at the wedding of another old university friend of mine. Ah, that was a wonderful day; I can still remember it as clearly as if it was yesterday. He married a Scottish lass and thus all - all, Jethro - of the male guests, be they young boys, teenagers, young men, middle aged men or those in later life, wore kilts. The array of tartans and the display of the clans they represented was - Oh, dear, I'm sorry, I'm rambling. You have no interest in hearing about a wedding from more than three decades ago."
Jethro shrugged. "Always happy to listen to you, Duck."
Ducky laughed. "Are you now?"
"You didn't always feel that way. I remember more than once you would, during a case, interrupt my story telling."
Jethro smiled. "Guilty as changed, Duck. Never let the kids get away with doing it though."
"No, you did not. It was quite all right for you to interrupt me, but not the children. I do miss them, you know, Jethro."
"Yeah, so do I. But not enough to regret moving here. Do you?"
Ducky shook his head. "No. No, I really do not. I am so grateful you decided you wished not only to visit my home land, but also to make your home here with me."
"Love you, Duck." It was something Jethro rarely said, and when he did say it it was at what, some might call, strange times. He was far more about showing Ducky rather than telling him.
"I love you too, Jethro my dear. Now how would you feel about an early night?"
"Tired are you, Duck?" Jethro was already on his feet and offering Ducky his hand to help him stand up.
"Oh, no, Jethro. I am certainly not tired."
TEN DAYS LATER
"Well?" Ducky said, as he pulled on his jacket and arranged it carefully on his shoulders, smoothing it down so that it sat correctly over on hips. "How do I look?" Even as Jethro appraised him, Ducky made some minute alterations to his outfit.
He checked, even though he had no need to, that the kilt sat in the perfect place, just below his rib cage, rather than on his trouser waist and he adjusted his sporran slightly. He bent down and checked the flashes of his garters were perfectly aligned and level as they showed over his socks. "Well?" he said again.
"Just waiting for you to stop fiddling and stand still so I can get the full picture," Jethro said.
"Oh," Ducky felt his cheeks grow a little warm. However, he spent a second or two checking his waistcoat was correctly buttoned and his bow tie was 'just so' before he let his hands come to rest by his sides and smiled at Jethro. He found he had remembered, almost as if he had worn the full Scottish outfit only yesterday, how to put the kilt on and how easy it actually was, even if it would seem daunting to someone who had never worn one before, to deal with the vast amount of material of which they were made. He had chosen to wear his maternal grandfather's tartan and he knew it suited him.
The only things that weren't particularly comfortable were the heavy shoes. He had forgotten quite how heavy they were and his feet still hadn't quite got used to not spending a vast amount of time in the light-weight and comfortable shoes he performed autopsies in. Even his usual day-to-day footwear had been far lighter-weight than these traditional shoes. They not only felt heavy and somewhat uncomfortable, they also made his legs ache just a little. Still it was a small price to pay, he decided, and not to wear them would feel quite, quite wrong; none of his other shoes would look right with the kilt (and thus wouldn't feel right) and the rest of the traditional dress. No, he would put up with the small amount of discomfort; anyway once they reached the hall in which the supper would be held, they would be sitting down.
"You look great, Duck." Jethro came towards him and put his arms around him. "Really suits you - especially the kilt. Brings out the color in your eyes."
"Jethro, really," Ducky flushed slightly but also smiled; he was very pleased by Jethro's response.
"So how far have you taken tradition?" Jethro asked, still holding Ducky in a loose embrace.
"I'm not sure what you mean?"
"You know the whole Scotsmen don't wear anything under their kilts thing. You stuck with tradition that much, Duck?"
Ducky chuckled. "Actually, Jethro, I haven't. I decided that was one step too far. I feel I am old enough to rebel when it comes to discomfort and the risk of catching a chill."
"Shame," Jethro said and leered at Ducky who rolled his eyes. "Nah, reckon you're sensible, Duck."
"Are you actually going to finish getting dressed? The taxi will be here in," Ducky pulled his fob watch from his waistcoat pocket (it had been his grandfather's and he relished the opportunity to actually be able to wear it), "twenty minutes."
Although he had put on his boxer shorts and shirt, for some reason rather than continue to dress, Jethro had watched Ducky get ready.
"Yeah. Just about to. Tell you what, Duck, why don't you go and pour us both a 'wee dram'," Jethro adopted a pretty fair Scottish accent. "Might as well start the evening off right. I'll be down in a few minutes."
"Very well, my dear." Ducky picked up his overcoat from the bed and left the bedroom to go and pour the whisky for them.
TEN MINUTES LATER
Ducky turned around as the door to the sitting room opened. "Here you - Jethro!" he exclaimed, staring wide-eyes and open mouthed at Jethro who stood in the doorway attired in full Scottish dress. "But . . . But . . . Jethro," he whispered, abandoning the glasses of whisky and hurrying across the room.
Jethro shrugged. "Thought I could at least try it. Went to the shop you got your outfit from the other day and tried it on. Actually felt okay, so I decided 'why not'? When in Rome, you know. So do I look okay?"
"Oh, Jethro." To Ducky's faint embarrassment he felt tears prick the back of his eyes. He blinked them away, smiled and said, "You look wonderful. You really do." He reached up on his toes and kissed Jethro. "Thank you," he said.
"My pleasure, Duck. Now about that whisky . . ."