AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUB-GENRE: First Time
SUMMARY: Set during and after the case where Gibbs and Ducky flee France in a sailboat. Gibbs enjoys being alone on the water with Ducky. When they get home he wonders quite why he had gone as far as he had done to keep Ducky from being arrested.
WORD COUNT: 3,000
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for sparky955: U - Undulate (12/26)
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
"Not sure this is the greatest idea we've ever had, Duck." Gibbs said, as he skillfully steered the sailboat across the lightly rippling water. "Mind you," he continued, grinning at Ducky. "Not sure you pushing that French cop off the cliff was the best idea you've ever had."
"There was a lake below," Ducky said, with dignity.
Gibbs laughed. "Yeah. But sixty feet below. Still can't quite believe you did that and I was there."
Ducky sighed and let his hand dangle over the side of the boat into the water. "He deserved it. The imbecile messed up my crime scene." He frowned and took his hand out of the water.
"Keep meaning to talk to you about that, Duck." Gibbs fell silent as Ducky stared at him. Ducky did tend to regard the scenes of crime as 'his' until he had done his initial examination and given permission for the team to start their work. "Still," he said, making a slight adjustment to the tiller in order to compensate for the sudden gust of wind. "Not like you to turn violent. He could have been hurt, Duck."
Ducky sighed. "Yes, I am aware of that, Jethro. As you said, it was not the best idea I have ever had. Oh, I don't know, Jethro. He just . . ."
"Pissed you off?"
Ducky smiled. "Something like that. I do confess, however, I didn't quite expect events to take the dramatic turn they took."
"You mean a warrant being issued for your arrest?"
"And us making a run for it?"
Ducky nodded. "Yes. You know, Jethro, as grateful as I am for you 'going on the run' with me and I really am grateful, truly I am. I am fairly certain had you not done so, that I would now be under arrest and quite possibly in some French jail somewhere, being fed bread and water."
Gibbs laughed. "Reckon they treat prisoners a bit better than that, Duck. And it wasn't as if the man was hurt."
"But he could have been. He could have been, Jethro. It really was a very foolish and highly dangerous thing I did. I should have known better - being a doctor I should have known better. I did know better and yet I still . . ."
"Allowed your emotions to get the better of you?"
"Yes. Yes, I suppose I did."
Gibbs shrugged and stared out across the relatively calm water. "Reckon we all do that at times, Duck."
"I'm not altogether certain you do."
Gibbs glanced at him and gave a harsh laugh. "Reckon three ex-wives might disagree with you, Duck."
Ducky stared at him and then said softly, "Maybe that was a case of too few rather than too many emotions, Jethro."
Gibbs shot him a look, but he could hardly disagree. "Ah, maybe you're right, Duck. You usually are."
Ducky laughed. "Anyway, as I was saying, before I went off at a tangent."
"You going off at a tangent? Surly not?"
They both laughed. "Well, yes, it is a rare occurrence, is it not? Anyway as I was saying, I am grateful that you did assist me, but you really should not have done so. You have put yourself, quite possibly your career, at risk because of me. I do know what Director Morrow will have to say."
Gibbs shrugged. "You're my friend, Duck. Hell you're my closest friend. Was hardly going to stand by and watch you get arrested was I? Nor was I going to let you go off alone. Anyway," he added, once more gazing out across the still lightly rippling water. "It's been kind of fun."
"Fun?" Ducky stared at him.
"Yeah. Trying to keep a step or two ahead of the law. Made a change."
Ducky chuckled. "I've often thought that those trained in law enforcement actually make the best criminals."
"Well, you're taught so much. You know all of the tricks, for want of a better term. You know how to evade the law makers, because you can put yourself into the exact position those law makers will be in."
Gibbs shrugged. "Not all of the tricks, Duck. Otherwise we'd have all the bad guys behind bars. But yeah, you have a point."
"I usually do. I must admit it is rather pleasant out here on the water, is it not?"
Gibbs nodded. "Yeah, it's a good day for sailing. Water's pretty calm, there's not too much wind - it's really nice."
"It would be even better if we weren't 'on the run'. I do hope Jennifer won't also get into trouble for 'borrowing' shall we say this boat."
"Jenn can take care of herself."
"I do confess she was rather resourceful, was she not? It's rare I've seen such resourcefulness in an agent quite as young as she is."
"With a bit of luck she's putting that resourcefulness to use." Gibbs tweaked the tiller again.
"In what way?" Ducky raised an eyebrow.
"Getting the warrant cancelled and the charges dropped."
"That would be rather good, I must say. I'm not certain how she will achieve that, however."
"If she can't, she's not the agent I reckoned she was."
"That's a trifle harsh, Jethro. She is still very young and -"
"She's in the job; she wanted to be pushed; she's got a chance now to show she can handle the heat."
Ducky sighed softly and changed the subject. "She really is a very fine, boat, is she not?"
Gibbs smiled and nodded. "Yeah, she is. She really is. Be a shame to give her back. It's good to be back on the water again. I miss it."
Ducky was silent for a moment and then said quietly, "Do you ever regret leaving the Marines?" It was a subject he and Gibbs had never discussed; a topic which, even they, had never been raised. Gibbs guessed Ducky was only asking now because he was in fact a captive audience and couldn't walk away.
He shrugged. "Ever? Yeah, guess I do. Often? No. Like what I do now. Reckon I do more good now than I did as a Marine."
"I always loved the sea as a child," Ducky said suddenly. "Well, any kind of water, a lake, the lochs of Scotland, rivers even. There is something so peaceful and yet also so potentially destructive and dangerous about water."
"Yeah," Gibbs said. "She can be a cruel mistress. You'll never get the best of her, you'll never handle her; you just have to learn how to co-exist with her; how to work with her inside her rules."
Ducky put his head on one side and looked at Gibbs. "That's rather poetic, Jethro," he said.
Gibbs laughed. "Guess it is. True though."
"What exactly are our plans?"
Gibbs shrugged. "Not exactly sure, Duck. I mean we're out here, away from the French coast, technically on our way to England. Two fugitives on the run."
Ducky laughed. "One fugitive."
"I'm pretty sure by now they've dug up charges for me as well. If only 'assisting a wanted man'."
"Director Morrow really isn't going to be happy." Ducky spoke softly, and a slightly troubled look passed over his face.
Gibbs shrugged. "Tom Morrow's a good man. The best. He'll understand."
"Will he?" Ducky sounded more than a little dubious.
"Well, maybe 'understand' is going a bit far. But he won't make a big thing about it."
"Jethro, I pushed a French policeman off a cliff. I could have killed him. I do believe it might warrant a 'big thing' being made about it."
Gibbs shrugged. "But you didn't kill him, Duck. I reckon the only thing that even hurts is his pride. Plus, he did mess up the crime scene and messed it up badly. So badly I wondered if -"
"It was actually done deliberately, and in fact he was in some way involved?" Ducky spoke quietly.
Gibbs nodded. "Crossed my mind, yeah."
"Mine too. And maybe it may have crossed the mind of one or more of his superiors."
"Maybe. What would happen if we did go all the way to England?"
"I imagine I would have to do an awful lot of fast and persuasive talking. Why? Do you actually wish to go all the way across the channel? All the way to England?"
Gibbs shrugged. "Never been. You always said I should go one day."
"Yes, but I didn't quite mean this way. As much as it pains me to say it, I do believe we might be in more trouble if we did actually go as far as England; if we did try to land that is."
"Guess you're right. Guess we'd just better sail around for a bit then."
"Well," Ducky said lightly. "It's not as though the company is bad, is it?"
Gibbs laughed. "No, it isn't. And we've already agreed the boat's not bad either."
Despite the potential gravity of the situation and what they might find when they returned to France, and what Director Morrow might actually have to say when they finally returned home, they settled down to simply enjoy being together without the actual pressures of work or a case hanging over their heads. After all, there was nothing they could do out there in the middle of the English Channel.
It was a lovely day, warm but with enough breeze to keep the boat steady, but not so much that Gibbs had to spend all his time adjusting the tiller. The sea sparkled and rippled and splashed against the boat, and Gibbs felt more at peace than he had done for quite some time.
Watching Ducky, seeing him smile and actually relax for the first time since he'd heard the news that there was a warrant out for his arrest, made Gibbs happy. He realized it had been quite some time since he had spent any real time with Ducky outside of the office. Usually they managed to have dinner together every couple of weeks or so, but hadn't done so for several months.
"When we get home we'll go out to dinner," Gibbs said.
Ducky smiled. "That would be lovely, Jethro - assuming that is we actually get home and are not arrested and held in France."
"Nah," Gibbs said with a confidence he wasn't altogether certain he felt. "Jenn'll sort it out. And if she can't, I can't see Director Morrow just abandoning us."
Just for a moment the smile on Ducky's face became a little frozen. Then he said, his tone slightly flat, "Let us hope not."
"He won't," Gibbs said, and he smiled at Ducky.
They once again fell into a companionable silence; despite Ducky being garrulous quite a lot of the time, they had never needed to fill every second with idle talk. As he let the boat drift along, correcting her course from time to time to keep her steady, Gibbs realized quite how enjoyable it was to be alone on the water with Ducky, and quite how much he had missed their dinners together. He really must ensure he kept his promise to go out to dinner with Ducky once they returned home. And he really mustn't let another few months go by before they did it again.
Ducky was important to him; when it came down to it Ducky was the most important person in Gibbs's life. He was Gibbs's constant in an ever changing world.
TWO WEEKS LATER
As he finished the paperwork on the case that had taken them to France, Gibbs found his mind going back to France, back to the day Ducky had pushed the French cop off a cliff and back to hearing that there was an arrest warrant with Ducky's name on it. He remembered how he had felt when he'd learned that, and how his instant reaction was to grab Ducky (albeit not literally) and go on the run with him.
He had been quite determined not to let the authorities arrest Ducky; he was not going to risk them throwing Ducky into jail. Thinking back, it had been quite foolish to do such a thing, he should have called Tom Morrow straight away and let him sort it out. Gibbs knew he would have done. However, it still might have resulted in Ducky being arrested, albeit it temporarily, and put behind bars, and Gibbs had been quite determined he wasn't going to allow that.
And it had, as he'd told Ducky when they had been on the sailboat on the channel, quite exciting in a way. They had kept a couple of steps ahead of those after them, and those couple of steps had become more when they'd escaped onto the water. Gibbs smiled as he remembered the hours they had spent together. Even with the arrest warrant hanging over their heads it had been a pleasant afternoon, and it had been lovely to be back on the water for an extended period of time.
As he signed his name at the bottom of the report, he allowed himself to ask himself why he had been quite as determined as he had been to keep Ducky from being arrested. Why he had been prepared to risk possible arrest himself and a very unhappy Tom Morrow when he learned what his Senior Field Agent and Medical Examiner had done. Had it been just because Ducky was his closet friend? Or was it possible there was something more to it than just that? For a moment he actually wasn't certain he wanted to know the answer, thus he didn't think about it for any longer.
TWO NIGHTS LATER
Gibbs knotted his tie and grabbed his suit jacket. He and Ducky were going out to dinner, and as it had been several months since they'd last gone out, Gibbs had decided they'd go somewhere where he actually did have to wear a suit and tie rather than just a smarter version of the clothes he went to work in.
A FEW HOURS LATER
The cab pulled up outside Reston House and Ducky turned to Gibbs. "Would you like to come in for a night-cap, Jethro?"
"Sure, Duck, that'd be nice."
Ducky smiled, took his wallet out and paid the driver, while Gibbs got out and went around the cab to open Ducky's door. "Why, thank you, Jethro," Ducky said, and smiled.
Gibbs was a little surprised to see there weren't any lights shining inside the house. "Your mom already gone to bed?" he asked, as Ducky opened the door.
"Oh, no. She and some of her lady friends have gone away for a few days - an 'exciting expedition' is how Mother described it. I confess I didn't ask too many questions. I decided I would worry less about her if I didn't know exactly what she was planning on doing."
Gibbs who knew what Mrs. Mallard could be like honestly didn't blame Ducky. "Sounds sensible to me, Duck."
Ducky laughed lightly. "Of course I will be told the full details - all of them - upon her return, and I am quite certain I will be very happy I didn't know of her plans before she went. Do come through to the sitting room."
"Thanks, Duck." Gibbs followed Ducky into the room and looked around him. It was large, but he'd always enjoyed spending time there. Despite being expensively furnished and with furniture that actually matched, he'd always felt it was a comfortable room - or maybe it was just the company.
Ducky headed for the drink's table. "Bourbon or whisky?" he asked.
Gibbs hesitated; normally he drank bourbon and the stronger the better, but Ducky had often suggested he try something he called decent. "Whisky'd be good, thanks, Duck. Make a change."
Ducky raised an eyebrow. "Well, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, and I thought you couldn't surprise me any longer." He smiled at Gibbs as his eyes twinkled; they held one another's gazes for a moment or two before Ducky turned around and began to look at the various bottles of whisky. Gibbs assumed he was trying to decide which particular whisky to give him.
Gibbs stood and watched him and felt his mouth become dry. The question he had asked himself a couple of nights ago, the one he hadn't been certain if he wanted to know the answer to, came racing back to him.
It was instantly followed by an answer.
He swallowed hard, wiped his palms on his trousers and moistened his mouth. For a moment he just stood frozen to the spot as he went on staring at Ducky who now had a bottle of whisky in his hand and was about to undo the top.
A few strides were all it took for Gibbs to close the gap between him and Ducky; he snagged the bottle from Ducky's hand, put it down and put his arms around Ducky. For a moment Ducky looked surprised, but then he smiled up at Gibbs and slipped his own arms around Gibbs's waist, thus completing the embrace.
Again Gibbs hesitated for a moment; this really was it. He could just stand there and hug Ducky, it wouldn't be the first time and Ducky wouldn't think anything of it; wouldn't think if was strange. Or he could . . .
"Still reckon I can't surprise you, Duck?" he said softly, as he lifted his head and took his mouth from Ducky's.
The look of stunned surprise that was on Ducky's face, a surprise Gibbs had felt when he had begun to kiss Ducky, gave him his answer. "Um, I do believe you are still quite capable of surprising me, my dear. And surprising me so very well." And with those words, Ducky smiled and tilted his head back just a little more. The invitation was quite clear and Gibbs accepted it as he once more lowered his head and put his mouth back on Ducky's.