AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship
SUMMARY: Ducky is forced to retire. He does however manage to find ways to fill his days. One day is in invited to go on a radio show to talk about his time as NCIS's Medical Examiner. On the way home he spots two youths stealing an elderly lady's handbag. It ends with him in hospital and Gibbs coming to a realization.
WORD COUNT: 2,880
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for duckys_lady: E - Every day with you (19/26)
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
"I am sorry, Dr. Mallard," Vance said, as he stared across his desk. "If it was up to me things would be different. However, I'm afraid the decision has been taken out of my hands. I really am sorry."
Ducky smiled and inclined his head. "That's all right, Director Vance, I do understand. I have, after all, been in effect 'living' on borrowed time for quite some time now," he chuckled softly. "And I have no doubt that Jimmy will make an excellent replacement for me." He paused and shot Vance a look. "You are intending on offering the job to Dr. Palmer, are you not, Director?"
Vance nodded. "Yes, Dr. Mallard, of course I am. I know he has been your choice of successor for quite some time now. I'm sure he will do an excellent job."
Ducky nodded and smiled again; he was relieved. He had half expected to have to argue Jimmy's case and had been more than prepared to do so. "Good. I am delighted to hear that you have faith in him. He really is a first rate doctor and will make an excellent Medical Examiner; NCIS could not find a better replacement for me." He smiled.
Vance nodded. "I'm sure he will, Doctor. Everyone will miss you," he added.
Ducky smiled again and sighed softly. "Just as I will miss everyone. However, I am quite certain I will be able to find plenty of things to do to fill my days with. And I confess one thing I will certainly not miss is being called out of my nice warm bed in the middle of the night." He chuckled softly. "Nor," he added, a little more seriously, "will I miss being on my feet for hours at a time. Yes, as much as I will miss everyone here and miss the actual job, I do believe the decision to retire me is actually the correct one. It is a job for a younger person."
"I hope you know you will be welcome here any time you wish to visit." Vance's sincerity was clear in his look and in the tone of his voice.
Ducky beamed. "Why, thank you, Director Vance; that is very kind of you." Ducky was genuinely pleased to hear Vance say what he had said. It wasn't that he had thought he wouldn't be welcome; it was, however, reassuring and pleasant to hear the words said.
Vance smiled. "And I do hope you will visit us," he said. "You really will be missed, Dr. Mallard."
"Oh, I certainly shall, Director. After all I have family here. And now I'll leave you to get on with things. Thank you." Ducky stood up and held out his hand. Vance also rose to his feet and took his hand and shook it before going to the door and opening it for Ducky. "Thank you," Ducky said, going out into the outer office.
"Well?" Jethro demanded a few minutes later as they stood in the hallway outside Autopsy.
Ducky smiled and nodded. "Yes, my dear. It is indeed as we thought: I have been told I must retire."
Jethro frowned. "Want me to have a word with Leon, see if I can get him to change his mind?"
Ducky shook his head and put his hand on Jethro's arm. "No, Jethro. There is no need. Anyway the decision wasn't Director Vance's; he assures me had it been up to him he would have allowed me to stay. No, the time is right. Jimmy is ready to take over the reins and will do a very good job, and I confess the long days spent on my feet and the broken night's sleep are beginning to take their toll on me. It is for the best."
"You sure, Duck?" Jethro asked, as he put his hand on Ducky's shoulder and stared down at him.
Ducky smiled. "Yes, Jethro," he said firmly. "I really am quite certain."
"Well if you're -" The sound of Jethro's cell phone ringing cut into whatever he was doing to say. "Gibbs. Yeah? . . . On my way, McGee. Gotta go, Duck; apparently my 'presence' is required in MTAC. Catch you later."
Ducky smiled again. "Of course." He watched as Jethro took the stairs two at a time before sighing softly and making his way into Autopsy. What he had said to both Vance and to Jethro hadn't been a lie; he really had been finding it harder to work the hours he did and he was well aware that compared to many other Mes, his job was easy going, sedate even; certainly he had all the resources he could possibly want. Retirement was the right thing for him; he would finally have time to devote to all the things he enjoyed but found it difficult to find time to. Yes, retirement was the right thing.
However, there was one huge downside to it: he wouldn't see Jethro every day as he did now. He rather wished he had the nerve to suggest that Jethro not only retire as well, but also moved into Reston House with Ducky. That way they could indeed spend every day together - and every night.
It wasn't that he thought, not even for a moment, that his longstanding relationship with Jethro would end when he left NCIS; they had far more together than merely a place of employment. However, he would see less of him, as he would no longer be able to pop up to the squad room or invite Jethro down to Autopsy; it would also no longer be easy to just decide to go out to lunch, they would have to make firm arrangements beforehand. And as close as they were, as fond of one another as they were, as much as they loved one another, because Ducky knew Jethro did love him, even if he had never actually said the words (unlike Ducky himself) they didn't spend every evening or night together.
Ducky had always hoped the day would come when Jethro, because it had to be Jethro who made the suggestion, would suggest that they took their relationship to the next level, formalized it somewhat more and shared a home together. Just as he had always hoped Jethro would suggest they retired together. However, that wasn't going to happen.
He sighed again and then pushed the negative thoughts from his mind, they would still see one another, even if it would no longer be every day; they would just have to make the best of the time they did spend together. He put the kettle on and prepared to congratulate Jimmy when he returned from seeing Vance and on telling him how pleased he was for him and assuring him (because he knew Jimmy would need assuring) that he would make an excellent ME; that he was more than capable of doing the job; that Ducky was so happy to know he would be leaving the place in such good hands; and that the rest of the team would be happy for him.
A FEW WEEKS LATER
Ducky hummed to himself as he made his way to the local radio station. He was so glad Vance had given his permission for him to be interviewed and talk about his long-time job as NCIS's ME. He hadn't been certain he would agree, but Ducky had promised he wouldn't reveal any secrets and would be, as he always had been when working for NCIS, professional.
He had enjoyed the weeks since his retirement and hadn't had any problem filling his days. He had read considerably more than he had done during his working years; he enjoyed listening to his classical music collection, which he had sadly neglected over recent years; he visited various historic sites and museums and delved more into the history of the country and state in which he had made his home, and it had been fascinating. He had played golf and bridge, enjoying being able to join afternoon bridge games rather than only being able to play at weekends or in the evenings and he really enjoyed knowing he wouldn't be interrupted. He cooked; something he really enjoyed doing, and had filled the freezer with various dishes. He had even arranged for his house to be recarpetted and redecorated; he had been rather shocked to discover quite how dingy the place had become, and quite how threadbare some of the carpets had been.
Yes, he really was enjoying retirement. The only downside was the one he had known there would be: the fact that he no longer saw Jethro every day. So far they had managed to fit lunch in one day each week, and they had still spent as many evenings and nights together as they had done before Ducky's retirement. In fact Ducky mused, as he made his way to the radio station, he rather fancied they had spent more evenings and nights together - which had of course been lovely. However, it still didn't quite make up for not seeing Jethro every day, for not being able to just pop up to the squad room for a few minutes.
Not seeing Jethro as often actually intensified Ducky's feelings, maybe consolidated would be a better term, for him and he realized, he was prepared to admit, quite how deeply he loved Jethro; quite how important he was to him; quite how much he cared; quite how much he missed not seeing him every day.
A couple of times he had, in a gentle, round-about, rambling way tried to bring the conversation around to the possibility of Jethro retiring, or at least of Jethro moving into his home. However, Jethro had never seemed to pick up on what Ducky was hinting at; thus Ducky gave up. Although when he had told Jethro of his plans to have Reston House recarpetted and redecorated from top to bottom, inside and out, as well as having some repairs carried out, Jethro had suggested that Ducky went and stayed with him for the duration of the work, rather than live with the chaos. Ducky had of course accepted the invitation and had dared to hope that maybe it might, in Jethro's mind, be some kind of trial for them living together permanently.
Ducky left the radio station, saying goodbye to everyone and promising he would happily return if invited. He believed the interview had gone well, indeed he would even go as far as to think (not say, that would be very un-British and despite living in America for as long as he had, he did still consider himself British) that it had gone very well.
The young lady interviewing him had clearly done her homework and was well clued up on the basics of autopsies and medical procedures and had asked some interesting and thought provoking questions. She also had been delighted by the stories Ducky had told; in fact she had gone so far as to say she was going to suggest to the station owner that they should consider making Ducky a regular guest so that he could share his stories with a wider audience.
In Ducky's considerable experience he believed she had been being honest, not merely polite. She had seemed genuinely interested; in fact they had sat and chatted, once he had finished one particular story, for half an hour after his interview had finished. He believed they might have chatted for longer, but she had been called away and reminded she was due to interview someone else. She had seemed genuinely sad to be pulled away.
The chance of being able to share his stories with a wider audience really did appeal to Ducky as these days his audience really was limited. He really did rather hope the station owner would agree to him appearing again.
He stood on the corner of the street and thought about what to do next. It was nearly lunch time and his choices were: to go home and have lunch; to find a nice restaurant or café and enjoy a solitary lunch which he didn't have to prepare; to call Jethro and see if he was available for lunch; to go to NCIS and see who was available to go out to lunch with him. He had visited NCIS a couple of times since his retirement; however, he hadn't been too often. He didn't want Jimmy to think he was checking up on him; once Jimmy had really settled into the job (a job he was doing very well according to Jethro) Ducky would feel able to visit more often.
As he stood contemplating what to do, he saw two youths grab an elderly lady's handbag and run off in his direction. Without thinking about it, he stuck out his leg and tripped the first youth up; he sprawled to the ground, spewing vile words and the bag was propelled out of his hands where another man picked it up and hurried towards Ducky. However, a moment later Ducky felt a hard thump on the back of his head and he collapsed onto the sidewalk.
Slowly Ducky opened his eyes and groaned as his head throbbed. At the sound of the groan his hand was taken and he turned his head slowly and carefully; he blinked several times in order to focus and saw Jethro sitting on a chair next to his bed holding his hand. He looked deeply concerned and somewhat shaken.
"Ah, Duck," he said, carefully guiding Ducky's hand to his mouth and kissing it. "What did you want to go and do that for?"
Ducky gave him a rueful look. "My dear Jethro, I really couldn't just stand there and let those young buggers get away with it now, could I?"
Jethro sighed and gave Ducky a rueful look. "Guess you couldn't, Duck. But -" He fell silent and glanced away from Ducky before looking back at him. "You worried me, Duck; it scared me even when I got a call to tell me what had happened. Made me -" Again he fell silent.
Ducky closed his eyes for a moment. His head really was aching and he was quite sure that as he had regained consciousness, Jethro really should be letting the nurses know. However, despite how painful his head was, Ducky didn't believe he was seriously injured; his hat had partly deflected the blow; his vision wasn't blurred, the need to blink several times to begin with had simply been because he hadn't got his glasses on; he didn't feel nauseous; he was fairly sure if he was concussed at all, it was only mildly. Thus, he saw no necessity in telling Jethro he should be letting a nurse know that he was conscious; he was certain one would be in soon.
Ducky opened his eyes and once more looked at Jethro. "Yes?" he said politely.
"Those repairs and the decorating you want doing."
"How would it be if," Jethro paused for a second, tightened the grip he had on Ducky's hand, looked Ducky directly in the eye and said, "I did them."
Ducky hardly dared to hope. "Jethro?" he said cautiously.
Jethro glanced away for a moment, before looking back at Ducky. "Miss you, Duck. I miss seeing you every day."
"I miss seeing you every day too, Jethro."
Jethro nodded. "Reckon it's time, hell it's past time, I . . . I'm retiring, Ducky, with immediate effect. And I thought it would be a good time to - I want to spend every day with you, Ducky."
Ducky swallowed hard. "Oh, Jethro," he said, putting his other hand over Jethro's. "I would like that, my dear. I would really like that. But are you quite certain? I'm sure what happened to me today has shaken you a little."
"More than 'a little', Duck; it's shaken me a hell of a lot. But it's not just that. I really have missed seeing you every day and I'm getting tired of being dragged out of bed during the night and working eighteen hour days. That's for the young; I'm . . . Well, I'm not exactly young any longer. I want to be with you, Duck. I want to wake up every day with you and go to sleep every night with you. Reckon it's time I sold my house and moved in with you. If you want me to of course."
"Oh, Jethro," Ducky said softly, as he felt a huge smile on his lips. "I would like that very much, my dear. I really would. In fact there's nothing I would like better."
"Good. That's sorted then. Right, we can go and choose paint and wallpaper and stuff as soon as you like. Now I guess I'd better go and tell the nurses you've regained consciousness." He stood up, bent over and kissed Ducky lightly on the lips. "Love you, Duck," he said, letting his hand for a moment settle on Ducky's head.
Ducky smiled. "I love you too, Jethro," he murmured, as he watched Jethro stride across the room and out of the door. Every day. Every day. Every day with Jethro. It would be wonderful. Really wonderful.