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Alphabet Meme. Gibbs/Palmer. (NCIS)

TITLE: What Matters Is Us
AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
FANDOM: NCIS
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Jimmy Palmer
GENRE: Slash
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship
SUMMARY: Jimmy and Gibbs have been a couple for a few years. Jimmy believes nothing will change. However, Gibbs, apparently, has other ideas.
RATING: PG-13
WORD COUNT: 2,750
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for sexycazzy: T - Trouble in paradise
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.



Jimmy hummed to himself as he pushed the cart around the hypermarket. It was his turn to cook and he planned on making a special meal for Jethro and himself. He didn't know if Jethro would remember, in fact he was sure he wouldn't, he didn't tend to remember such things, but it was the anniversary of the day Jethro and he moved into a home together.

For a year or so before that they had been . . . Well, Jimmy even to this day wasn't exactly sure what they had been. They had spent a fair amount of time in bed together; they'd had dinner out from time to time; they had spent time during the weekends together. However, Jimmy hadn't known exactly what they were. Had they been dating? It hadn't seemed like any dating Jimmy had ever known; not that he had a vast deal of experience. Had they been they lovers? Technically, given they slept together, Jimmy guessed they had been, but he wasn't sure Jethro would want to use the term. Had they been partners? Now there Jimmy was sure of the answer: no. He had cared about Jethro; he had cared deeply about him, he had even dared to believe he was in love with him - not that he would ever say - but they weren't partners.

But Jethro . . . He'd had no idea if Jethro even really liked him. And then the day had come when Jethro had turned up at his apartment early one morning, told him to dress in warm, casual clothing and had taken him out on a boat. And not just any boat, but the last boat Jethro had made. That was when Jimmy had known that he meant more to Jethro than just someone to go to bed with. And Jethro had confirmed it later that night when he had suggested they look for a home together.

Three years later they were still together, still living in their home, still blissfully happy - well Jimmy was and Jethro certainly seemed perfect content. Everything was as perfect as it could be and Jimmy was looking forward to three more years with Jethro and then three more and then . . . He truly believed he had found the man he would live with and love until the day one of them died. Not that, even though his world revolved around death and dead bodies, he thought about Jethro's death much. Death was for work; life was for home.

In the end he decided to cook beef stroganoff and rice; it was fairly simple and straight-forward, not that labor intensive and special without being fancy - Jethro didn't really care for fancy. Plus, it involved few dishes and cooking utensils, thus there would be very little to put in the dishwasher. He also grabbed a bottle of decent red wine, paid for everything and loaded it into his car.

As he pulled up outside their house he was surprised but not disappointed to see that Jethro was already home. He smiled as he grabbed the bag of groceries and headed towards the front door, juggling the bag and his key, eager to see Jethro.

"I'm home," he called, closing the door behind him and putting the bag down on the hall table in order to take his coat off.

Jethro strode into the hall and to Jimmy's slight surprise quickly closed the gap between them and, with Jimmy's coat half on and half off, pulled Jimmy into his arms and kissed him. Jimmy made a soft noise of contentment as he kissed Jethro back and tried to free his arm from his coat so that he could complete the embrace. The kiss and the way Jethro was holding him were both incredibly tender, which surprised Jimmy somewhat. It wasn't that Jethro was usually rough when he kissed and embraced him, but Jimmy couldn't remember a kiss ever being quite so tender, quite so intense, quite so loving, and the way Jethro held him implied he didn't intend to let Jimmy go any time soon.

"Come to bed," Jethro murmured, finally breaking the kiss.

Jimmy swallowed hard at the intense passion which gleamed from Jethro eyes and felt himself blush as Jethro let his gaze travel down Jimmy's body, coming to rest on his obvious erection. He pointedly stared at Jimmy for a few seconds before he slowly returned to staring at Jimmy's face.

"I was going to cook dinner," he said.

Jethro shrugged. "Dinner can wait. I want you."

Jimmy didn't need to be asked twice. "Just let me put things away," he said, grabbing the bag of groceries and hurrying into the kitchen.

SEVERAL HOURS LATER

Jimmy lay on the bed with Jethro propped up on one elbow staring at him. Jimmy's entire body tingled from where Jethro had kissed and caressed it and Jimmy was completely sated, happier than he could ever remember being and more in love with Jethro than he had ever been. For hours Jethro's full focus had been on Jimmy and giving him pleasure, making him happy; his own pleasure had seemed secondary.

It was perfect; everything was perfect; their evening had been perfect; Jethro was perfect; they were perfectly happily; perfectly in love. In some ways it seemed like a new beginning for them and as Jethro traced his fingers over Jimmy's chest, Jimmy dared to wonder if Jethro just might ask him to marry him. He would never admit it to Jethro, but it was his dearest wish.

Suddenly Jethro kissed him intensely before pulling back. "Love you, Jimmy," he said, his tone almost harsh. "Don't ever forget that."

Jimmy stared wide-eyed at Jethro. Jethro had never said the words before; he had in many ways showed Jimmy he cared deeply about him, but love . . . To be honest Jimmy almost hadn't dared to hope. He swallowed hard. "I love you too, Jethro," he said softly.

Jethro nodded. "Know that." He sounded slightly sad. "Always known it," he added, cupping Jimmy's cheek with his hand and staring at him.

"Jeth-"

"I'll get us a drink." Jethro spoke abruptly and got out of bed; he grabbed his robe and strode out of the room.

Jimmy lay on the bed just staring after him. For a moment the wonderful feeling that everything was perfect began to fade and he found himself worrying if something was wrong. Was Jethro ill? As Jethro came back into the room a bottle of scotch and two glasses in his hands and smiled at him, Jimmy pushed all such negative thoughts from his mind and instead held out his arms to Jethro, letting him know exactly what he wanted - and it wasn't at the moment a drink.

TWO DAYS LATER

"But why?" Jimmy demanded, frantically trying to blink back the tears that had filled his eyes. "Why, Jethro? What have I done?"

Jethro sighed. "You haven't done anything, Jimmy. It's not you. It's -"

"Two nights ago you told me you loved me. You told me, Jethro. You told me you loved me; you made love to me in a way you never have and now you're telling me you're leaving me. Why?" Jimmy had given up fighting the tears and simply let them fall down his cheeks, however, he ignored them.

Jethro looked pained and troubled. He sighed again. "I do love you, Jimmy. Guess that's what finally made me decide."

"What?"

Jethro reached for Jimmy's hand. Jimmy tried to yank it away, but Jethro's strength always had been greater than his. Nonetheless, he struggled for a moment or two, but finally gave in and stood still.

"I'm too old for you."

"No you're not." Jimmy frowned.

Jethro shook his head. "Yeah, Jimmy. I am. I'm twenty-five years older than you. Maybe that doesn't seem that much now, but in a few years it will. You've still got most of your life ahead of you. Mine is -"

"I don't care about that, Jethro." Jimmy knew he sounded desperate and he was; he couldn't lose Jethro. He couldn't. Everything was so right between them. Everything was so perfect. Jethro was all he wanted. What did a few years matter? Age wasn't important; what they shared was important. That was what mattered.

"Yeah, well, I do." Jethro's tone changed slightly and became a little hard and his look became the steely determined one Jimmy remembered from when they had both worked for NCIS. Then it softened for a moment and he touched Jimmy's cheek. "You're a - Oh, hell, Jimmy, I don't do, words. You know that. Just know this, you're a special guy. You'll -"

"Find someone else?" Jimmy's tone was flat.

Jethro shrugged; then nodded. "Yeah."

"I don't want anyone else, Jethro. I want you."

"Maybe I don't -" Jethro broke off abruptly and to Jimmy's surprise he actually glanced away for a moment; when he looked back he looked almost contrite. "Sorry," he muttered. "Look, don't make this any harder than it is, Jimmy. I'm leaving; we're over."

"Just like that?" Jimmy asked, suddenly aware of two things. One his tone had become cold, icy even and secondly, he was no longer crying.

Jethro nodded. "Just like that."

Jimmy stared at him, shrugged, yanked his hand away from Jethro's, he had to force himself not to react to quite how much it hurt, and turned his back on Jethro. "Fine. Go."

"Jimmy, I -"

"Just go, Jethro. You're the one who wants to go. So go." Jimmy bit his lip so hard he tasted blood as he dug his fingernails into his palms.

He heard Jethro sigh; he felt a light touch on his back and he fought so hard, so very hard, not to tremble. A moment or two later he heard the front door open and quietly close again. He stood there, not moving, barely breathing, until he heard the sound of Jethro's truck driving off. After which he allowed himself five minutes to sob as his heart shattered, before he dried his tears and went upstairs to fetch a clean handkerchief.

TWO WEEKS LATER

"You bloody fool!"

"Nice to see you too, Duck." Ever since he had left Jimmy, Gibbs had been expecting this particular visitor. His only surprise was that it had taken Ducky so long before he came to see him. Actually, he was also surprised that, for the first time ever, Ducky had just walked into his house, not even bothering with his usual courtesy of ringing the doorbell. The lack of politeness told Gibbs quite how pissed off Ducky was.

He stood up and moved towards the kitchen. "Tea?"

"No, thank you." Ducky's tone was clipped.

"Scotch?"

"Jethro, it's ten o'clock in the morning."

Gibbs just shrugged and poured himself a shot of bourbon. It wasn't that he really wanted it; he wanted to see what, if anything, Ducky might say. When Ducky said nothing at all, but just went on staring at him, Gibbs slammed the glass back down and stalked back to the couch.

"If I told you it was none of your damned business, would you piss off?"

For the first time since arriving, Ducky's expression actually softened and a hint of mild humor touched his eyes. "No," he said flatly and then sighed. "Oh, Jethro," he said, moving towards Gibbs and putting his hand on his arm. "Shall we sit down?"

Gibbs shrugged. "Sure, Duck. But there's no good you trying to change my mind, because you won't." Ducky sighed and sat down carefully. Gibbs frowned, noticing that Ducky was taking more care than he usually did. "Your leg hurting you more than usual?"

Ducky raised an eyebrow and looked slightly surprised. "Um; actually, yes, it is."

"You should see a doctor." Ducky gave him a polite smile. "No, seriously, Duck," Gibbs touched his arm. "I mean it; you should see a doctor."

"Yes, Jethro. I know I should. Now as for -"

"I told you, you won't make me change my mind." Gibbs's tone became harder.

Ducky sighed. "I wouldn't attempt to do so. I know that when Leroy Jethro Gibbs makes up his mind he never changes it. Actually, that is not why I came here."

Gibbs was stunned. "It isn't?"

Ducky shook his head. "No."

"Then why did you come here?"

"Actually, my dear Jethro, to see how you were."

Gibbs was stunned again. "Me?"

Ducky gave him a gentle smile. "Yes, Jethro. You."

"But why? I'm the one who -" He fell silent and looked away from the only gaze which could penetrate him; the only person capable of reading him.

"I know you were. However, contrary to belief and the image you like to portray, you are not a bastard; nor are you without feeling. I happen to know that you cared for Jimmy; you cared a great deal. Thus, I wondered how you were."

Gibbs sighed. "I loved him, Duck. I still love him." Gibbs looked down at his hands.

"Ah. I see. That explains it."

Gibbs looked at Ducky. "Explains what?"

"Your foolish decision." Ducky's tone was gentle, conversational even, but Gibbs hadn't known him for more years than he sometimes cared to remember without being able to hear things other people wouldn't.

"I'm too old for him, Duck."

"Nonsense. And you don't really believe that; you just think you should."

Gibbs started and glared at Ducky. "What the hell does that mean?"

Ducky shrugged. "Exactly what it sounded like."

Gibbs frowned. "You don't think I'm too old for him?"

Ducky met his gaze and held it. "Actually, Jethro, what I believe, what Tobias or Anthony or Timothy or Abigail or anyone else believes is irrelevant. All that matters is what you and Jimmy believe. But as you asked and I was always brought up to answer a question, no, I do not believe you are too old for him."

"There's twenty-five years between us. When he's fifty I'll be -"

"Seventy-five, yes, Jethro. I am quite good at maths." He smiled at Jethro. "You know, you of all people should realize."

"Realize what, Duck?"

"How short life is. You might not even get to seventy-five."

"Gee, thanks, Duck."

"On the other hand, given you survived the marines and being an NCIS field agent and despite your at times appalling diet you are in very good health, you almost certainly will. And what will you be? A lonely seventy-five year old; you'll have wasted ten years because for the first time in your life you seem to actually be concerned by what other people think." Gibbs glowered at him. "Life is short, Jethro. Far too short to - You had a second chance at true love. Why would you throw it away?"

"I -" Gibbs fell silent. "Thought you weren't going to try to get me to change my mind."

Ducky shrugged. "I wasn't and I haven't tried. I merely pointed out a couple of truths. Now, if you don't mind, I think I would like that cup of tea - don't forget to warm the pot." His eyes twinkled and Gibbs laughed.

"Ah, Duck," he said, squeezing Ducky's shoulders and standing up. "What would I do without you?" Ducky just smiled at him.

TWO WEEKS LATER

"Jethro?" Jimmy stood in the doorway and stared at the man he still loved deeply and passionately.

"Hey, Jimmy. Is it all right if I come in?"

Jimmy moved back a little. "It is still your home, Jethro," he said softly.

Jethro went into the house and closed the door behind him and for a moment leaned against it. "Jimmy?"

"Yes, Jethro?"

"I - Oh, to hell with it. I told you, I don't do words." Jethro closed the small gap between them, put his arms around Jimmy and pulled him towards him, holding him closely for a moment or two before putting his mouth on Jimmy's and kissing him.

Jimmy didn't hesitate; didn't struggle. Maybe he should, but why waste time struggling when all he wanted to do was to kiss Jethro back, to let him know how much he still loved and wanted him?

"I'm sorry," Jethro said, when they finally broke apart. "I'll understand if you -"

Jimmy put his fingers on Jethro's lips. "Hush," he said. "It doesn't matter, Jethro. Nothing matters but us. Now come on." And with that he kissed Jethro lightly and led him towards the stairs.
Tags: fandom: ncis, fanfic: stories, pairing (slash): gibbs/palmer
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