AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
CHARACTERS: Leroy Jethro Gibbs & Anthony DiNozzo
SUMMARY: Ducky asks Gibbs to do him a favor; DiNozzo offers to go along and help. However, things do not go quite according to plan.
WORD COUNT: 3,175
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for mrlnpndrgn : W - Where did the boat go?
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
"Ah, Jethro," Ducky called, as Gibbs followed by DiNozzo went into Autopsy. "You're arrival is most apposite."
"Glad to hear it, Duck." Gibbs raised an eyebrow.
"Yes. You see I have a something I need to ask you, a favor really."
"Do you want me to go?" DiNozzo asked, already half-turned towards the doors.
Ducky shook his head. "No, Anthony, it isn't anything that will shock you." He smiled before turning back to Gibbs. "Now, Jethro; it's like this. You see I have a bridge tournament this weekend and -"
"You don't want me to partner you, do you, Duck. Because -"
Ducky chuckled and shook his head. "Oh, no, my dear Jethro, of course I wouldn't ask you to do that. I am altogether certain you even know how to play bridge, do you?"
Gibbs shrugged. "Can't say I do, Duck. So if you don't want me to partner me, what's this favor you want?"
"I have a friend at the British Embassy and -"
"Just a friend?" DiNozzo asked.
Ducky shot him a withering look. Gibbs hid a grin as actually DiNozzo did look rather withered. "The gentleman in question is rather high up, I first met him -"
"Favor first, Duck, stories later."
"Yes, of course. I do apologize. "Well to cut a long - Yes, thank you, Anthony," Ducky said, turning to shoot DiNozzo another withering look; this time Gibbs matched it.
"Sorry, boss. Shutting up now, boss."
"Now where was I?" Ducky asked.
"About not to tell me a very long story."
Ducky chuckled. "Indeed. Well, Charles has recently bought himself a new boat and I happened to mention during one of our conversations, we talk quite - But that's irrelevant - I happened to mention that it had been some time since I had been on a boat and Charles very kindly offered to loan her to me for a week or so. As you know I am on leave next week and it fits in very well with a trip Charles has to make so he suggested I borrow her."
"Sounds nice, Duck. If you need a hand you know where I am."
"Thank you, Jethro. It's very kind of you to offer, you see the favor is this. Charles has her moored quite some distance away, I won't bore you with the reasons for him choosing her moor her there. However, he simply cannot spare the time to sail her down to here. Thus, I was wondering as we are not due to work this weekend, if you would . . . Well . . . Um . . ."
"You want me to go and get the boat and sail her back," Gibbs said succinctly.
"Um, well, yes. If you wish to put it as plainly as that."
Gibbs grinned. "Sure, Duck. Be happy to."
"Thank you, Jethro." Ducky smiled.
"Dad had a boat for a few months." DiNozzo, who was now leaning against one of the Autopsy tables said; he sounded almost wistful.
"Did he, DiNozzo?"
"Yeah. He even took me out a few times and let me . . . You know do things."
"Yes, boss. I got pretty good. I think I must be a natural or something." Gibbs avoided looking at Ducky lest they both laugh or say the thing that was clearly on both of their minds. "You don't think I could . . . You know, come with you. Give you a hand. I really did get to know a lot about boats."
Ducky's face paled slightly and he glanced at Gibbs. "Um, I'm sure you don't want to waste your weekend, Anthony. And the boat doesn't need two people; Jethro will be more than able to manage her on his own. I really do think . . ." He ran out of words.
"I don't mind, Ducky. I hadn't got any plans for the weekend. And I could give Gibbs a break from time to time and help him put the sails up and stuff like that. Can I come, boss? Please."
Just for a fleeting second Gibbs saw the young boy DiNozzo must have been at one time as he stared at him. He glanced at Ducky and was greeted with a look of resignation; so DiNozzo's expression had had an affect on Ducky was well. "Okay, DiNozzo," he said. "But you'll do exactly what I tell you to, exactly when I tell you to. The first time you don't do what I tell you, I'll dump you overboard."
DiNozzo's eyes widened and he swallowed hard before grinning and saying, "Thanks, boss; thanks, Ducky. And I'll do just as you tell me."
"I guess there's a first time for everything," Gibbs muttered so softly that while he knew Ducky would hear him, he knew DiNozzo wouldn't.
Gibbs pulled out his ID and showed it to the man in charge of the harbor. "Leroy Jethro Gibbs. I've come to collect Lord Charles Carrington's boat. I believe Lord Charles has made the arrangements."
The man studied Gibbs's ID for a moment before nodding. "That's all in order, Agent Gibbs. She's over there. Fifth on the right."
"Thanks." Gibbs pushed his wallet back into his pocket. "Come on, DiNozzo, and shut your mouth."
"What? Oh, right. Yes, boss. Sorry, boss. Did you say Lord Charles?"
"Yeah." Gibbs was admiring the other boats as he walked past them.
"Ducky's friend's a Lord?"
"Yeah. Ah, here she is." Gibbs stared at the boat and whistled appreciatively. "She's a real beauty," he said.
"What kind is she?"
"A Bermuda Sloop and a particularly fine example of one. Lord Charles knows his boats."
DiNozzo rubbed his hands together. "So shall we get going? I'll untie her if you like."
Gibbs shot him a withering look. "Firstly, I'm going to check her out, get a feel for her. You don't just sail off."
Gibbs spent some time checking over the boat; moving the tiller from side to side, examining the boom and the mast and the bowsprit before he set about putting the sails up. He was impressed; he was very impressed. "She's been well maintained and looked after," he said, as he raised the forestay. "She'll run well."
"Can I do anything?"
"Yeah, go and check the cabin. See if his lordship arranged for any provisions for us. If not, you'll have to go into town and get a few things."
"Okay, boss." DiNozzo bounced down into the cabin, leaving Gibbs to raise the mainsail. He didn't expect DiNozzo to have to visit the town. He was certain Lord Charles would indeed have arranged for provisions.
"Plenty of stuff, boss. More than we'll need. Well, unless we get ship-wrecked somewhere or lost."
Half an hour later they were out at sea and Gibbs was once again proven right; she handled like a dream. The tiller responded to his touches like a woman responded to her lover.
"Can I have a go?"
"No." A moment later Gibbs relented; they were in calm water, the wind wasn't strong; there really wasn't any trouble DiNozzo could get into. And it wasn't as if he was going to go below deck and leave him alone. "Come here. Now handle her with delicacy, DiNozzo. She responds easily, don't be heavy handed."
"Yes, boss." DiNozzo beamed as he took the tiller from Gibbs and began to control the boat.
Gibbs settled down on the deck nearby, ready to act instantly if he needed to. However, he had to admit he was impressed by DiNozzo; he had not only listened to Gibbs's instructions, he was acting on them; they moved along almost as smoothly as they would have done if Gibbs had been in charge of the tiller.
They reached the mooring where they had arranged to spend the night and Gibbs took control of the tiller to bring her into berth.
"Do you want me to tie her up, boss?"
"That'd be' moor', DiNozzo, and no. I'll do it. I want to make sure she can't just wander off when we've gone."
"I know about knots."
"Yes. Well, okay, probably not as much as McGeek does. And you of course and Ducky. And - But I know about them."
"DiNozzo, this boat is worth over a quarter of a million dollars. She's my responsibility; I'll moor her. Okay."
A COUPLE OF HOURS LATER
Content after a good dinner, Gibbs and DiNozzo made their way back to the harbor. "What the -" Gibbs said, as he saw a group of young men stumbling around the various boats. He nodded to DiNozzo and, as they did on the job, they moved swiftly and silently until they were near to the men.
"Hey!" Gibbs called. "What do you think you're up to?"
One of the young men turned around, nearly lost his balance; he regained it and stared at Gibbs and then to Gibbs's surprise he took an swing at him. However, he was so uncoordinated that the punch merely passed in front of Gibbs and the man fell over. It seemed to be the impetus for the entire group to start yelling and throwing punches - some of which actually found their mark.
Gibbs and DiNozzo were more concerned with keeping the men away from the water and evading the punches rather than trying to make theirs land. They circled the young men, easily dodging the vast majority of the waving arms and bottles.
Finally, Gibbs was tired of it. He pulled his Sig out pointed it upwards and fired twice. It did the job as the men stopped yelling and floundering around and all just stood and stared at him. "Right," he said, keeping his gun in his hand. "Who the hell are you and what are you doing here?"
"I have a right to be here," the young man who had thrown the first punch said, or at least that's what Gibbs thought he said. Given how slurred his voice was it was a little hard to be certain. "My dad has a boat here. We were going to take her out."
"Don't think that's a good idea, son," Gibbs said, his tone calm.
"You can't stop me."
"No. But I can." Gibbs glanced around to see two cops; no doubt they'd been alerted by the shots. "I'm Sergeant Hilton," he said, glancing firstly at Gibbs's gun and then at Gibbs.
"Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs; NCIS." Carefully Gibbs reached into his pocket and pulled out his ID.
Hilton took it, glanced at it and nodded. "Okay, Agent Gibbs. That's in order. I still need you and your friend to come down to the station with me."
Gibbs nodded and reholstered his gun. "DiNozzo," he called. "Come on."
"And you can come with me, Freddy," Hilton said, taking the arm of the obvious leader of the group.
Once Freddy had capitulated, the rest of the young men fell in behind them and it was a quiet group that made its way to the nearby station.
"Coffee?" Hilton said, glancing at Gibbs.
Gibbs nodded. "Thanks."
"Sorry about dragging you down here, but paperwork . . ."
Gibbs grinned. "Tell me about it. Who's Freddy? You seemed to know him."
Hilton looked at Gibbs. "I do. He's Senator Gilmore's son."
"So smack over the wrist time, is it?" DiNozzo said.
"Actually -" Hilton raised a questioning eyebrow.
"Agent DiNozzo," Gibbs said.
"Agent DiNozzo, no. The senator made it clear the next time Freddy got into trouble we were to lock him up for the night. He'll spend the night in the cells; maybe this time it'll actually have an impact to him."
Gibbs nodded. "Sounds like a good man, the senator."
"Yeah. He is. I've known a lot, but Senator Gilmore is the best I've known. Contrary to belief, Freddy isn't spoiled. It's just that he lost his mom when he was twelve and the senator has found him hard to handle since then. Freddy's not a bad lad; I really hope this night behind bars will shake him up. Anyway, we'd better get that paperwork done."
AN HOUR LATER
Once more Gibbs and DiNozzo made their way back to where harbor and to where they had moored Lord Charles's boat.
"Boss," DiNozzo said, coming to a sudden stop.
Gibbs glanced at him. "What, DiNozzo?"
"Er, where's did the boat go?"
"What? What are you - Oh, fuck it!" Gibbs cursed, staring at the empty mooring. He whirled around and stared at DiNozzo. "You didn't mess with the mooring, did you, DiNozzo? You didn't decide to try to show me just how good you are at knots. Because if you did, then God help me I'll -"
"No, boss. Honest. I didn't. I didn't touch the rope. I wouldn't, boss. It wasn't me." DiNozzo held his hands up somewhat defensively as he stared at Gibbs.
Gibbs stared back at him, narrowing his eyes and moving forward until he was well inside DiNozzo's personal space. He knew DiNozzo well and knew when he was lying and when he was telling the truth. He was telling the truth; he hadn't messed with the mooring. He gave a sharp nod and moved back as he stared at the place the boat should be; the place he had left her; the place he had moored her.
"Maybe we've come to the wrong mooring," DiNozzo said.
For a moment, even though he knew full well they hadn't, Gibbs dared to believe DiNozzo was correct. "Let's have a look around," he said. "Maybe someone moved her."
"I don't know, DiNozzo!"
Gibbs sighed. "Yeah, DiNozzo. Know that. I'm sorry too." And he was; sorry he had ever agreed to collect the boat. Sorry that Ducky had a Lord who had a boat for a friend. Sorry that -
Gibbs dragged his thoughts away from the conversation he would have to have. "Yeah?"
"I'm not telling Ducky."
Gibbs shot him a look. "Can't say it's top of my favorite things to do."
"Are you sure we're not at the wrong place?" DiNozzo asked.
Gibbs sighed. "Yeah, DiNozzo. I'm sure. But as I said, maybe someone for some reason moved her. Let's look around."
"Maybe Freddy and his friends untied her and she's floated off."
Gibbs groaned. It wasn't beyond the realms of impossibility. "Guess they might have." Visions of her running into other boats flashed through his mind. He didn't know if those thoughts were worse than the ones that had her making a safe 'escape' from the harbor and now being out at sea.
"We could call the coast-guard." Gibbs shot DiNozzo a withering look. "It was just a thought," DiNozzo said, his tone defensive.
"Yeah, well, if you've got any more similar ones, you can keep them to yourself." Gibbs snapped the words, and then a very rare feeling of not quite guilt but at least regret for being so harsh passed through him. It wasn't DiNozzo's fault; for once he was completely blameless. If anyone was to blame it was Gibbs himself, they shouldn't have left the boat; they should have stayed with her rather than going into town for dinner. They should have - He stopped the thought; should haves were irrelevant.
"Come on," he said, his tone gentler, "let's look around."
They were just about to start walking when a voice hailed them. "Excuse me, gentlemen!"
Gibbs turned around and stared at the man dressed in smart trousers, a blazer, a crisp dress shit and a neatly tied tie; he was also wearing a cap. "Yeah?"
"Are you the gentlemen in charge of Hope of Glory? Lord Charles's boat," he added, in a very posh British accent.
Gibbs dared to hope. "Yes, sir. Leroy Jethro Gibbs." He dug into his pocket and pulled out his ID.
To his surprise the man didn't glance at it, he waved it away. "I'm glad I found you. You'll no doubt be wondering where she is."
DiNozzo glanced at Gibbs. "Yes," he said slowly. "We are."
"I'm sorry about that you. You see, I moved her."
Gibbs bit down on the flash of temper that raced through him. He forced himself to remain calm and not to grab the man and shake him until his teeth rattled. "Did you?" he said, between gritted teeth.
The man nodded. "Yes. I'm Henry Falkner, by the way. Retired Admiral Henry Falkner," he added. "I know Charles and his boat very well."
"Do you? Well, maybe you can tell me just why you felt you had to move her." Gibbs forced himself to speak reasonably and kept breathing deeply to keep a grip on his temper.
"Oh, that's easy. You'd moored her in the wrong place."
Gibbs turned to DiNozzo. "DiNozzo . . ." He growled the word.
DiNozzo visibly paled. "Er. I was sure Ducky said the third mooring on the left or maybe it was the right. Or maybe . . . Sorry, boss," he all but squeaked the words as he took a step away from Gibbs and then another one.
Again Gibbs did battle with his temper; again he couldn't fully blame DiNozzo. He was meant to have been in charge of the boat; he should have double checked.
"I thought it must be something like that," Falkner said. "Look, I wouldn't normally have interfered, I know it's damn bad form to move another chap's boat. But you'd moored her in Daniel Ashton's berth and he and Charles . . . Well, let's just say I felt it was apposite to move her. Planned to wait around for you to return from dinner or wherever you'd gone."
"Why didn't you, sir?" Gibbs felt more in control of his temper as he saw the man spoke nothing but the truth; in his eyes he believed fully that had done the right thing.
For a moment he thought Falkner wasn't going to answer then he said softly, "I received a call from the hospital; my wife has been pretty ill and -"
Gibbs silently groaned. "Sorry to hear that, sir," he said.
"Oh, the call was good news, Agent Gibbs. She's a lot better, but was asking to see me. I felt that I really had to go and - I am sorry, really I am. It must have been awful for you coming back and finding her gone. I do hope you can forgive a foolish old man." He held out his hand.
Gibbs took it and shook it. "It isn't a problem, sir. I quite understand. I would have done the same myself. Don't worry. Look why don't you show DiNozzo and me where you moved her to and then you can get back to the hospital."
A few minutes later they once again stood in front of Hope of Glory; Gibbs had never been so pleased to see a boat in his life.
"I'm still not telling Ducky."