AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Anthony DiNozzo/Jimmy Palmer
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship
SUMMARY: A companion piece to X-Ray Like. Jimmy tells Ducky about his relationship with Tony.
WORD COUNT: 2,820
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
Jimmy glanced surreptitiously at his watch; it was time. Tony would be talking to Gibbs, would be telling him about his relationship with Jimmy and how they intended to live together. Now he had to tell Dr. Mallard.
Just for a moment he hesitated; he didn't think the doctor would be upset or angry or disgusted, he just hoped he wasn't disappointed. The last person in the world he wanted to be disappointed with him was Dr. Mallard. However, unless he told him he wouldn't know and at the end of the day as much as he liked and respected Dr. Mallard, well, it was Tony he loved. Tony he was going to live with; Tony who was the most important person in his life; Tony who made him smile; Tony who completed him; he was Tony's.
"Dr. Mallard?" he said.
His boss turned around and frowned slightly. "It's Ducky, Jimmy, Ducky; I believe I have told you that more than once, have I not?" he smiled.
Jimmy smiled back and forced himself to think of Dr. Mallard as 'Ducky'. It had been several months since Dr. Mal- Ducky had insisted it was time, well past time actually, that Jimmy addressed him as all the other younger members of the team did; that he should call him 'Ducky'. Jimmy had been delighted, until he actually came to use the name rather than 'Dr. Mallard', at which point he had felt awkward, it had felt odd and in some strange way just a little disrespectful. However, Ducky had insisted and Jimmy had forced himself to use the name and each time he did it got a little easier. Nonetheless, he found that if he was focused on some problem or something was worrying him slightly or if he was tired or felt under the weather that he slipped back into using 'Dr. Mallard'.
He wished Ducky hadn't corrected him because he really would feel more comfortable at the moment calling him 'Dr. Mallard'. However, he didn't want to irritate his boss, so 'Ducky' it would be.
He nodded. "Sorry, Ducky. I wondered if . . . That is . . . There's something I need to tell you. Do you have the time?"
Ducky looked at him. "Something you need to tell me? I do hope it isn't bad news."
Jimmy shook his head. "Oh, no. Well, at least I don't think it is and I hope you won't. It's just . . . Do you have the time?"
"Yes, Jimmy my boy, of course I do. We currently do not have any visitors; it appears that our services are not needed at the moment; we finished stock taking yesterday; nothing needs cleaning or rearranging, we certainly do have time for a chat."
Jimmy breathed a sigh of relief. "Oh, good. Shall I make a pot of tea?"
"I'll make it; you made it earlier," Ducky said.
"Oh, do let me, Ducky. I'd like to." Jimmy spoke quickly and smiled.
They argued gently for a few minutes before Ducky smiled, patted Jimmy's arm and said, "Very well, Jimmy, you make the tea. I'll just pop to the loo."
Jimmy hurried over to the kettle and switched it on as Ducky left Autopsy. Jimmy smiled fondly; despite Ducky having lived and worked in America for many years, he was still British; at times he was still so very British.
"Now," said Ducky, a few minutes later as they sat side by side at his desk, each with a mug of tea in their hands. "What is it you wish to tell me, Jimmy?"
Jimmy sipped his tea for a moment. He wished now he had planned what to say, mentally written a speech. However, he hadn't. "Um. You see . . . Well . . . It's like this. I'm . . . What do you think of two men being involved in a relationship?" he suddenly asked. And then, wanting to be sure Ducky understood what he meant, said, "A romantic and . . . sexual relationship," he added quickly, knowing to his horror that his cheeks had reddened slightly.
Ducky stared at him; he looked almost bemused. He sipped his tea, put his head slightly on one said and said, "Well now, Jimmy, as long as the two men are over the age of consent in the country or state in which they live and both of them are happy to be in the relationship, then I see no problem with it at all. In fact to my mind any romantic and sexual relationship be it between two men, a man and a woman, two women, two men and a woman, two women and a man or any other combination of which you might be able to think are perfectly acceptable, just as long as they fulfill the two conditions I mentioned: being above the age of consent and both, or all, parties wishing to be in the relationship." He smiled.
Jimmy managed a weak smile in return. Sometimes Ducky's replies to simple questions got just a little convoluted. He thought he understood, but this was so important, he simply had to be sure. "You don't mind?" he said. "Two men being together?"
Ducky chuckled and patted Jimmy's arm. "I was a little long-winded, was I not? So to be clear, no, Jimmy, I have no objection to two men being together in a romantic and sexual relationship. Is that better?"
Jimmy nodded. "Yes, thank you, Doctor."
"Good." Ducky beamed and stared at Jimmy. He appeared to be waiting for Jimmy to speak again. However, Jimmy was still trying to find the words to move the conversation from the general to the specific. Finally Ducky said, his tone gentle, "I am assuming, hopefully not incorrectly, that that was not all you had to say, am I correct?"
Jimmy sighed. "Yes. Yes, you are. You see . . ." And he began to talk quickly; he began to talk very quickly. He told Ducky about his relationships with both Tony and with Breena and how he hadn't liked having two lovers, but hadn't known which to give up until he knew which one it was he really wanted to be with and how he hadn't expected Tony to agree but that he had and that they were going to live together and Tony was telling Gibbs, thus he was telling Ducky and how he hoped Ducky wasn't disappointed and how much he loved Tony.
He knew he was babbling and he knew he wasn't actually making any sense because he kept jumping from the beginning of the relationships with Tony and with Breena to the here and now to part way through and back to the here and now and back to the beginning. And then somehow his mom came into it and his medical school friends and if Tony had thought about telling his dad and what Tim and Abby might think and how easy would it be to find an apartment.
He went on babbling for at least ten minutes before finally coming to a halt. He sat breathing quickly, his fingers mentally crossed as he stared at Ducky.
Ducky looked somewhat stunned and now most definitely bemused, as well as having a look Jimmy wasn't sure of. "Um, Jimmy my boy," he said slowly. "I really do hate to admit it and I'm sure it was my fault, not yours. However . . . The thing is, Jimmy, I'm not entirely certain I understood what you were saying. As I said, I am quite certain it was me not you. However . . . Do you think you could maybe tell me again - perhaps in not quite so much detail? Just the salient points, you know as if we were writing a report for Jethro. Could you do that?" He spoke gently, encouragingly and the look he gave Jimmy was kind, genial, father-like really.
Jimmy groaned and for a moment put his head into his hands. "I'm sorry, Doctor," he said. "I really am. And it wasn't you, it was me. I was babbling. I'm sorry."
Ducky patted his shoulder. "That's all right, Jimmy, you really do not need to apologize. Now drink some of your tea, take a deep breath, compose yourself and tell me slowly and simply what you want to tell me."
Jimmy nodded. "Yes, Do- Ducky." He swallowed some tea and then took another gulp; took a deep breath, once again mentally crossed his fingers, looked at Ducky, took another deep breath and said, forcing himself to speak slowly and distinctively, "Tony and I are lovers." He held his breath and stared at Ducky, forcing himself to hold his gaze, hoping he didn't see anything negative in the blue eyes that appraised him.
"I assume you are talking about our very own Anthony DiNozzo?" was all Ducky said.
Jimmy nodded. "Yes."
"I see. Well -"
"We want to live together," Jimmy said, actually interrupting Ducky. "No. We are going to live together," he clarified, just a little forcefully. "Tony is telling, well probably as already told, Agent Gibbs now and . . ." He trailed off, glanced down at the desk and said quietly, "I just hope he isn't now talking to Director Vance."
"Why might Anthony now be talking to Director Vance? It is really none of his business." Ducky sounded surprised, indeed also just a little forceful.
Jimmy sighed and looked up, staring at Ducky, "Because if Agent Gibbs disapproves or quotes Rule #12, then Tony said . . . He said . . . He said . . . He said he'll ask for a transfer to another team," he said quickly. "And if that isn't possible, he'll leave NCIS."
Ducky's eyes widened. "Did he now?"
Jimmy nodded. "Yes," he whispered. "He said he . . . He said . . . Well, I guess I'm . . . I think I matter more to him than being a field agent does."
Ducky laughed softly. "There's no 'thinking', Jimmy. I assure you that you do mean more to Anthony than being a field agent does; he has made that quite, quite clear. However, you do not need to worry." He patted Jimmy's arm.
Jimmy stared at him. "I don't?"
Ducky shook his head. "No. In the first place, technically speaking, Jethro's rule is unenforceable. However, that isn't the point."
"Isn't it?" Jimmy widened his eyes as he continued to stare at Ducky.
Ducky again shook his head. "No. It is irrelevant because Jethro will not disapprove; will not quote Rule #12 to Anthony."
Jimmy stared wide-eyed at Ducky. "Won't he? Won't he really, Ducky?"
Ducky smiled. "No, Jimmy. He won't."
"But how do you know? How can you be certain?"
"Let us just say I have known Jethro for many years - sometimes for more years than maybe either of us wishes to actually remember. I know him, Jimmy. You are not a field agent; thus Jethro will not disapprove, will not insist Anthony leaves the team. Now had Anthony's relationship been with Timothy . . . Well, that might have been somewhat different. Although I must admit that - I'm sorry," he smiled. "I was about to start to ramble, please ignore me."
"I'd never ignore you, Ducky. Never!" Jimmy spoke firmly, determinedly and stared at Ducky, hoping to ensure he was getting his point over; that Ducky believed him.
Ducky smiled. "That is nice to hear, Jimmy. It really is. So you and Anthony?"
Jimmy nodded. "Yeah. It's . . . It's really nice."
Ducky smiled. "I'm glad it is. You certainly look and sound happy and when it comes down to it, that is all that matters. Do you intend to tell Timothy and dear Abigail as well?"
Jimmy nodded. "Oh, yes! Once Tony has told Agent Gibbs and I've told you, we'll tell Abby and Tim. We wouldn't want them not to know; it wouldn't be fair or right."
"And your mother?"
"Yes. I'll tell mom. I just hope . . ."
Ducky put his hand on Jimmy's arm and squeezed it. "I'm sure she will be perfectly all right about it, Jimmy. She is your mother; she loves you. She will be fine."
"Do you really think so, Ducky?" Jimmy hoped he was right; he really did. He thought he was; his mom had never shown any hint of being bigoted, but sometimes what you felt about other people and their life choices wasn't the same as what you felt about your own family.
"Yes, Jimmy. Now do I have your permission to ask you something?" Ducky sounded a little serious.
"Of course!" Jimmy said quickly.
"Very well. Now I hope you'll forgive me if I am over-stepping the mark. However, now you have explained, I think I can make a little more sense of your . . . First attempt at telling me, shall we say?"
Jimmy nodded slowly. "Okay."
"Right. Very well I am going to say it plainly: are you quite certain about this relationship with Anthony? Are you quite certain it is he with whom you wish to be and not Breena?"
Jimmy nodded. "Yes, Ducky. Yes, I am. I'm really sure; I'm certain. I . . . I love him. I want to be with him. Breena . . . Breena was nice, really nice, I cared about her. But I realized I never - Oh, you don't think any less of me do you, Doctor, for dating two people at the same time?"
Ducky smiled and shook his head. "No, Jimmy, I do not. You are not the first, nor will you be the last, person to do so. And you didn't make any promises to either Anthony or Breena, did you?" Jimmy shook his head furiously. "Well then, that's all that matters. In fact I think you did a very sensible thing."
Jimmy stared. "You do?"
Ducky nodded. "Yes, I do. I really do. You discovered, and did so without badly hurting anyone, with whom you wished to spend your life. I sometimes think if more people . . . But that isn't important. What is important is you. Now I wish to tell you something."
Ducky nodded. "Yes. I am proud of you, Jimmy. Really proud of you."
Jimmy felt his eyes grow really wide. "You are?"
Ducky nodded. "Yes, Jimmy. I am. Proud that you told me; that you wanted to tell me. And proud of you for having the courage to be who you are; to love whom you love."
Jimmy just stared at Ducky. For a moment he didn't know what to say. Then he swallowed hard, touched Ducky's hand for a moment, stared right into his eyes and said simply, "Thank you, Doctor. Thank you, Ducky." He smiled.
Ducky beamed. "You are very welcome, Jimmy. Now when you and Anthony start looking for an apartment together, do not rush into taking the first one you see. It may turn out to be the right one for you, but don't just take it because it's the easy option, because you are short of time. I know for now sharing Anthony's apartment - that is what you are going to do, is it not?"
Jimmy nodded. "Yes."
"I know that will be a little hard and you'll be a little cramped. However, don't just go for the first available option. This is going to be your first home together, make sure you get it right."
Jimmy nodded furiously. "Yes, Ducky. Thank you, Ducky. I'll remember that."
"Good boy. After all moving isn't inexpensive, even if you don't have a great deal of furniture. Plus, deposits aren't always easy to find. Now I hope you know that if you need any help with whatever rent you will have to pay in advance or with the moving costs that you will - Please, let me finish, Jimmy. That you know you only have to ask for a loan, a loan, Jimmy - this would be a loan. Please tell me you know that?"
Jimmy smiled and nodded. "Yes, Ducky. Thank you. I do know that."
"Good boy. Now there is a story I simply have to tell you. Your situation reminds me of . . ."
Jimmy only half listened to the story; most of his focus was on wondering quite how long it would be before he could go and see Tony and find out if Ducky had been correct about Gibbs's reaction. To be honest he didn't doubt Ducky, as he said he had known Gibbs for many years. However, he wouldn't relax totally until he heard Tony tell him himself.
However, until then, until Ducky had finished his story, he decided he really should pay him the courtesy of listening. He turned his full attention back to Ducky and began to listen intently.