AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
PROMPT: Hot Tub
WORD COUNT: 5,903
SUMMARY: A sequel to Found. Gibbs gets Ducky home and is able to alleviate one of his worries.
SPOILERS: Stakeout, Broken Bird & Deliverance.
NOTES: For sparky955
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
The snow began to fall more heavily and the wind managed even to cut through his thick overcoat, but still Jethro just stood and held Ducky in his arms. Held him tightly, firmly, letting him cry for his mother, letting him accept all the comfort he could offer.
His biggest concern was not Ducky's tears. Nor the fact that in all likelihood his cell phone would start to burble soon with DiNozzo 'checking' as to whether it was Ducky. Nor was it the fact that he was starting to get very wet from the relentless snow. None of those things really troubled him. What did was how cold Ducky was. Even though four layers of clothing he could feel the cold seep through and begin to chill him.
He tightened his grip even more, desperately trying to share some of his body heat with Ducky. Ducky was shivering, Jethro could hear, even over the now quieter sobs, his teeth chattering, but what also concerned him was that he got the impression that Ducky wasn't completely aware of just how cold he was - and that was dangerous.
He was going to have to interrupt Ducky's grieving and get him into the car so he could get him home and into a hot bathtub, get some food and drink inside him and then -
"Perverts!" The none too softly cursed word cut into his thoughts. Apart from turning his head slightly and glowering at the man who was passing by them, Jethro ignored the comment. He didn't give, he never had given, a damn what people might or might not think of him, well with the exception of the man he held so tightly and protectively in his arms. He hoped Ducky hadn't heard the comment, but as with how cold he was, he doubted Ducky was truly aware of anything. And that maybe included not even being aware that he was standing in the middle of a park, in the dark, in the snow, being held by his lover.
Ducky's hat was crumpled against his shoulder and he nudged it to one side and put his lips to Ducky's ear. "Come on, Duck," he whispered. "We need to get you into the warm. You're freezing. Come on," he repeated, when Ducky didn't move, instead he pushed himself impossibly closer to Jethro.
Hating himself, but knowing he had to do it, Jethro used his extra height and strength and pushed Ducky away from just far enough to break the now frantic hold his lover had on him. "Jethro?" Ducky sounded utterly woebegone.
Hardening his heart, Jethro said firmly, "Come on, Duck. We have to go now. You need to let me get you into the car, take you home and get you warm. Now, Ducky. Come on, put your arm around me." He broke the two-armed embrace and instead put one of his arms around Ducky's shoulders. After a second or two he felt Ducky put his own arm around him. "That's it, Duck," he said, beginning to walk slowly, fully aware of how heavily Ducky was learning on him and how badly he was limping.
"They ought to lock people like you up." The same voice who'd spoken minutes earlier called, as Jethro guided Ducky out of the park and across the road to where his car stood. "Sick, that's what you are. Disgusting. Depraved fucking faggots."
Still forcing himself not to react, telling himself that Ducky was of more importance than a few vile words, Jethro continued to walk to the car. Once there, he juggled with Ducky and the keys, got the passenger door open, helped Ducky inside, shut the door and turned slowly around, already prepared, already waiting.
"Try it," he growled, easily deflecting the blow to his head and catching the man's wrist. In one swift movement he had his potential assailant spun round with his arm twisted half way up his back. With his other hand he pulled out his badge and flashed it in front of the man's eyes. "Federal Agent," he said softly. "Now I'm going to let you go and you are going to walk away. If you don't . . ." he trailed off, while pulling the man back just far enough so that he would have felt the butt of Jethro's Sig pressed against him. "Do we understand one another?" he said in his silky-highly dangerous tone.
The man he held so easily nodded. "Yeeess." Jethro could feel the man trembling.
"Good." With one quick and fluid movement, he let go of the man and pushed him away from him. He didn't expect anything other than for him to run off. Nonetheless he remained on alert, wary, prepared, until after a trip, another one and a third, the man managed to co-ordinate his feet and run off down the street.
He stood and watched him, fists clenching and unclenching for another few seconds, before dismissing the incident from his mind, jogging around the car, opening his door and getting in. He didn't know whether he should be concerned or not by the fact that Ducky seemed not to have noticed quite how long it had taken him to get into the car.
"Soon get you warmed up, Duck," he said, wincing slightly at how falsely bright his tone sounded. He turned the key in the ignition, let the engine turn over and flipped the heating up a notch or two, letting the air blast onto the screen.
He sat there engine revving until warm air rather than cold started to pour out; he then switched the blowers into the car. "Right," he said. "Home. Hot bath. Food and drink. And -" The sound he'd been expecting cut into his words. He dug into his coat pocket, pulled out his cell phone, gave a cursory glance at the caller ID before answering it. "It was Ducky, DiNozzo. He's okay. I'm taking him home." And with that, he ended the call and pushed his phone back into his pocket.
Horribly aware that apart from saying his name once, Ducky hadn't spoken since he'd broken down and cried, Jethro reached across and took his hand. "Duck?" He spoke gently, vaguely wondering if rather than take Ducky home he should take him to a hospital to get checked out. He was starting to get more than a little concerned by the fact that Ducky didn't really seem aware of where he was. He hoped it was just the shock of his mom's death and being so upset, but he was beginning to fear it just might be something else.
Finally Ducky turned his head towards him. "I'm sorry, Jethro. I - Thank you for coming to find me. I do apologize for putting you to so much trouble. It was quite wrong of me to walk out as I did, and so foolish to leave without money or my phone or indeed letting anyone know where I was going."
Even though the speech was very Ducky-like, in length and content, Jethro wasn't overly-comforted by Ducky's tone. Nor did the fact that he seemed to almost be looking through Jethro, seemed to be withdrawing from him, reassure him. "Not a problem, Duck. Really. That sort of news is never easy and I know how much you loved your mom."
"Even so, I should have let someone know. I shouldn't have worried you so. You have enough to concern you at the moment, enough things to get used to, without having to track me down."
Jethro frowned. "Case is over, Duck. It's all behind me. Nothing to worry about anymore. I should have told you about Rose. But I . . . Oh, what am I thinking. You need to get home and get warm."
"Yes, thank you. If it wouldn’t be too much trouble for you to drive me home. I will assure you I will have a hot bath and get myself something to eat and drink."
Jethro blinked. "We're going to my house, Duck. It's nearer and even if we weren't, you won't be getting yourself anything. I will. I'm going to look after you." And with that he squeezed Ducky's hand, before letting go of it and finally driving away.
Ducky was silent for a moment. Then he spoke, his tone was still unlike his normal one. "Oh, I had thought . . . But I suppose that was a little foolish. I imagine it is a little too soon for that. In fact maybe you won't at all. But I imagine you will. But if not at the moment . . . In that case, I accept, thank you, Jethro. If you are sure though that it won't cause any problems for you? I wouldn't like you to -"
"You going say that again in English?"
"Um. I . . . I just thought that . . . I thought you may have someone else at your house, that is all. Someone you wouldn't want to meet me."
"What? Duck? What are you -"
"You see I always knew. I knew I'd never, oh, dear this will sound really conceited and I don't mean to be, but I have always known, yes, even with dear Shannon, that I would never lose you to a woman. But . . . Well, I have also always known that if the occasion should ever arise when one of your liaisons wasn't . . . Well it you weren't quite as careful as you usually are . . . Or indeed it just happened, as these things do. I have told you more than once that there is only one method that is totally and utterly guaranteed. So . . .Well, I knew."
Suddenly what Ducky was saying, or not saying, hit Jethro, as hard as the baseball bat Stephanie had wielded. Taking his eyes off the road he looked at Ducky, trying to see through the darkness, but he could barely make out his lover's profile. "Duck. Is this about Tomás?" he asked, going straight on and answering his own question. "You think he's mine, don't you? You think he's my son? You've been listening to scuttlebutt."
"It's very hard not to, Jethro. One of the downsides of our family is that people do talk and like to share news."
"Don't mind people sharing news, Duck. I do mind them sharing inaccurate gossip."
"Tomás Tamayo is not my son, Ducky. Rose was already pregnant when we met. His father was Castelle - the drug dealer I was sent to eliminate. The torturer and rapist I killed. Tomás is not my son, Duck. I killed his father."
"Oh." The word was breathed more than spoken, and out of the corner of his eye Jethro could make out that Ducky was once again trembling.
Taking one hand off the steering wheel, despite the condition of the road, Jethro reached for Ducky's hand and took it. "It's all right, Duck," he said, not really certain what he meant by the words.
"It was one thing too many," Ducky said quietly.
"What was, Duck?" Feeling the car begin to skid somewhat Jethro tugged Ducky's hand over to where he sat and put it on his knee, before grabbing the steering wheel with both hands and correcting the skid.
Ducky let his hand rest on Jethro's knee - Jethro could feel how cold his lover still was as the chill began to seep through his thick trousers. "Mother's death coming as it did after - And the belief that the young man was your son. I'm afraid when the home told me that Mother had passed away, I simply couldn't take anymore. That is why I left as I did. But I had no need to, because it wasn't true."
"No, Duck. It wasn't." Jethro spoke quietly. He swallowed hard. "I should have told you about Rose, but I . . . I guess I was ashamed."
"I did sleep with her. Once she'd nursed me back to health, I slept with her. Told her about Shannon and Kelly too."
"Not sure you do. I slept with her, Duck. Mere months after . . . After - Wasn't sure you'd understand. Hell I didn't understand. I was so cut up about Shannon and Kelly, I missed them so much, I - And then I went to Columbia and . . . She was there, she'd saved my life, I'd saved her village, she was grateful, I was grateful. I . . . I guess I feared you'd see me as . . . Oh, I don't know what exactly, Duck. But it wouldn't have been positive. So I came home and said nothing. But I should have told you. If only to stop what happened today."
"You couldn't have known, my dear. You had no idea what Mike had done."
"I know. But - Look, I am sorry, Duck."
"You don't have to apologize to me, Jethro. It wasn't as if we were . . . Well you hadn't made any promises to me." Once again Ducky seemed to be withdrawing from him, his voice that for a moment or two had been almost Jethro's Duck, had changed again.
"Duck, I -" He cut himself off, not really knowing what to say, and for a minute or two they travelled in silence.
Finally, it was Ducky who broke it. "Jethro."
"Mmm?" Jethro said, concentrating on safely overtaking two cars.
"I am sorry."
Jethro frowned, pulled back in and again glanced in Ducky's direction. "What for?"
"For behaving as I did. For just walking out. For causing you concern. For not taking the time to ask you about Tomás. For -"
"You reasoned all this out before you left?" Jethro asked gently.
"Well, no. I did not. To be honest, Jethro, I don't really even remember changing from my white coat into my overcoat and leaving the building. Nor do I remember exactly where I walked. I just knew I had to walk and walk and walk and then I stopped and saw where I was. And I was so tired, I had to sit down. And part of me knew I needed to get inside somewhere, to get into the warm, but . . . It was too much effort, Jethro. I hadn't got the energy to do so. I don't know what would have happened had you not found me."
"Was never going to happen."
"Me not finding you."
Ducky didn't answer. In fact he fell so quiet Jethro wondered if he'd maybe fallen asleep - he wasn't sure that was a good idea or not. He touched Ducky's leg. "Hey? You okay? We're almost home. Duck?"
"Yes, I'm fine, thank you. Still colder than is necessarily good for me, but, I will be fine. Jethro."
"Does this make us even?"
"Huh? Even? What do you mean, Duck?"
"Well . . . It's just that nine months ago you stood in Autopsy and said 'I thought we didn't keep secrets from one another' - but we have both done so. I never told you about," Ducky broke off and swallowed. Jethro waited, half guessing what was on Ducky's mind, but not wanting to say so just in case. "My time in Afghanistan," Ducky spoke quietly, flatly, once again his tone slipped from being Ducky to being the distant Ducky.
Again Jethro took his hand off the steering wheel. "Duck," he said quietly, groping for Ducky's hand. He caught it and gently but firmly pulled it back to his knee where he could at least keep his hand near to the steering wheel.
"And you did not tell me about Columbia. Thus, I merely wondered if that made us even now? Or -"
"Didn't know we kept score, Duck." Jethro said, trying to keep his tone light.
From the passenger seat he heard Ducky sigh and then he felt Ducky's hand squeeze his knee; suddenly he realized it was the first physical gesture Ducky had made of his own accord. "I am sorry, my dear, I really didn't mean it to come out that way. I think I was out in the cold for longer than was good for me."
Jethro glanced sharply at Ducky. "Duck? You okay? Want me to take you to an ER? Because if you need it, I can get some kind of escort to -"
"No, Jethro. Really. I'm fine. Or at least I will be once you fulfill your 'prescription'."
"Home. A hot bath. Food and drink. And . . . Although, you never did finish what you were going to say. I believe Anthony called you. Do I assume you took advantage of that badge you carry and didn't quite find me by yourself?" Ducky's tone was lighter than it had been since Jethro had found him sitting in the snow. He sounded almost his Ducky, not quite, there was still some edge to his voice; Jethro hoped it was just the sadness Ducky would be feeling over the death of his mother.
"Guess you can, yeah. It was getting dark, it was already below freezing, you'd been missing for four hours, couldn't risk not finding you. I was worried, Duck." He said the final words more softly than the others. Just occasionally he wondered if Ducky knew quite how much he meant to him. Sure he told Ducky he loved him, showed him too - at least he thought he did. But he wasn't one for the grand gesture; he wasn't that great at picking up nuances, not outside of the job. Saying 'love you, Duck', was one thing, but telling Ducky just how vital he was to him, how his life wasn't complete without him, how his world centered around Ducky, well . . . He certainly hadn't come out and said that kind of thing. Surely Ducky knew? He hoped so, but sometimes he did wonder.
For a moment he again took his gaze of the road again and glanced at Ducky, but it was too dark for him to see anything. He waited for a moment, wondering if Ducky had even heard him or whether he'd slipped back into only partial awareness. Maybe he should ignore Ducky's wishes and take him to the ER to get checked out, if only to reassure himself.
Just as he was about to say something, Ducky squeezed his knee again and said, his tone soft, but heavy with emotion, "Thank you, my dear Jethro."
Unable to respond to what Ducky didn't say, Jethro shrugged into the darkness and closed his hand over Ducky's and held it for a moment or two, before returning it to the steering wheel. Even in those few seconds, he'd felt the car once again begin to pull and slide somewhat on the icy road.
Ten minutes later his house came into view; he was relieved on more than one level. It wasn't just that he wanted to get Ducky inside and continue to warm him up, it was that driving had been hard, harder than he'd experienced for some time. Add that to the tension he'd been feeling from the moment he'd discovered his lover had gone missing, his shoulders and neck muscles were twanging and telling him he needed to relax.
He pulled the sedan as close to the house as possible, turned off the engine, took the keys from the ignition and got out of the car. He circled it, opened the car door for Ducky and offered his hand to help his lover get out. Once Ducky was standing, he put his arm around Ducky's shoulders, felt Ducky's own arm go around his back and they walked carefully to his house.
Once inside he shut the door, locked it (he did lock his front door when Ducky visited him) and pulled Ducky into an embrace, just holding him and letting the silence of his house and the presence of his lover wash over him. "Bath," he said, after a moment or two had gone by.
However, Ducky although he moved back in the embrace a little, didn't break it. Instead, he tilted his head back and stared up at Jethro, before reaching behind Jethro's head and tugging it down slightly so that he could put his mouth on Jethro's and kiss him.
Several more minutes went by until Jethro realized that if he didn't break the kiss and embrace very, very soon, the bath wasn't going to happen; he'd be taking Ducky straight to bed. He was about to calm things down, when Ducky slowly and with obvious regret took his mouth from Jethro's. "I believe you mentioned something about a hot bath," he said, his tone teasing, his eyes shining.
"Mmm, did, didn't I?"
"Of course there are other ways of getting warm . . ." Ducky trailed off.
Jethro smiled and bent his head to put his lips to Ducky's ear. "That, Dr. Mallard," he said, his tone silky, "was the 'and'."
"Oh, good. I rather hoped it might be."
"Ah, Duck. You okay?" Jethro pushed his lover away from him a little and looked down into the open, steady gaze. The gaze that was almost completely the Ducky he was used to.
"I will be," Ducky said quietly. "Thanks to you." He touched Jethro's cheek.
Again, Jethro had no answer. Instead he just shrugged again, mumbled something that even he didn't catch, broke the two-armed embrace so that he could just put his arm around Ducky's shoulders and led him upstairs and into his bedroom. "You get undressed, Duck. I'll go and fill the tub." He paused long enough to tug his overcoat and jacket off and throw them onto the bed and briefly kiss Ducky again before leaving the room and going to the bathroom.
There he turned on the hot tap and let the water pour into the tub - one of the improvements he'd made to his house was to ensure that filling a bath didn't take forever. He was more of a shower man, but there were occasions following a particularly hard case when even he had to admit a good soak would do him more good than standing under hot water.
By the time Ducky appeared wearing only the heavy soft robe he kept at Jethro's house the tub was almost full and the water just the right temperature. He had also, on a whim, thrown into some Jasmine scented bubble bath; he couldn't quite remember where it had come from, but one thing he did know it hadn't been left by one of his women. Bastard that he was he was always extremely assiduous about erasing all traces of any of his over-night guests once they'd ceased to be in his life. The exception to this was Ducky, what Ducky kept there stayed there no matter what.
"Tub's just about ready," he said, smiling at Ducky.
"Thank you, I do - Jethro?"
"Um, yeah. They're soothing," Jethro said quickly.
Ducky just chuckled softly before moving the toilet and quickly relieving himself. Evidence that he had shared Jethro's bathroom with him many times came in the form that he didn't instantly flush the toilet. Instead he waited until Jethro had finally turned off the bath taps before doing so.
He removed his robe, hung it on the back of the door and still limping far more than Jethro liked to see, made his way to where Jethro stood by the tub. "Here let me help you," Jethro said, holding out his hand. "It'll be a bit slippy."
"And whose fault it that?" Ducky asked, with a smile in his tone and his eyes. He offered no objection to being assisted into the tub, rather the opposite and Jethro took more of his lover's weight and supported him more than he'd been expecting.
"Mmmmmm," Ducky managed as he slowly and carefully lowered himself into the hot, bubble-filled tub. "Oh, that does feel good. Oooh," he murmured again, wriggling a little until he was completely submerged, bar his head which he rested against the edge of the tub. "Oh, that feels so very good indeed."
Jethro now squatting down by the bath, smiled at the obvious and deep pleasure and he watched as the tension and pain and stress that had been present on Ducky's face from the moment he'd found him sitting him the park began to slip away. Ducky's eyes were closed. "Hey," Jethro said gently, touching Ducky's shoulder. "Don't go to sleep on me, Duck."
Ducky opened his eyes and gazed at Jethro through virtual slits. "I won't, my dear," he said. "I am just taking full advantage of the pleasure this is giving me. Now I seem to recall you mentioned a drink?" He opened his eyes a little wider and looked at Jethro.
"Sure did. What do you want? Tea? Whiskey? Brandy? Hot toddy? Rum? Cocoa?"
Ducky looked at him. "You have cocoa?" his tone was heavy with surprise.
"Um. Now you come to mention it . . ." Jethro grinned at him. "Why do you want some?" If Ducky wanted it, he'd get some - even if it meant troubling the neighbors.
"No, Jethro. I do not. I was merely intrigued, that is all as to quite for whom you would keep cocoa in the house."
Jethro smiled. "So what's it to be?"
"Oh, dear. I really am not certain. I have to confess more than one of them is appealing."
"Tell you what, how about a cup of tea to start with and we'll take it from there?"
Ducky beamed at him. "That sounds an excellent idea. Thank you." And with that Ducky closed his eyes again and settled back even further under the lapping water and array of bubbles. "Do not worry," he said, once again proving that there did exist between them some degree of telepathy, "I assure you I shall not go to sleep."
When Jethro returned the tray he carried held a mug of tea, another of coffee, a bottle of his good whiskey and a thermos of hot water and some brown sugar. Ducky opened his eyes as he went back into the bathroom and chuckled softly at the sight. "Ah, Jethro," he said, holding out his hand for the mug of tea.
After putting the tray on the window-sill, Jethro sat down on the edge of the tub and sipped his coffee all the time watching Ducky. He put the fingers of one hand into the water and reassured himself it was still hot enough, before swirling them about a little and creating more bubbles. Again Ducky laughed quietly. Jethro was pleased to see that now all hints of tension had fled from his lover's face and although he could see the pain of Ducky's loss still hovered, it wasn't the over-whelming kind it had been earlier.
Once Ducky had drunk his tea, rather than slide back down under the water again he reached for the wash cloth saying, "I might as well take advantage of being here."
Before he could snag the soap, Jethro deftly took the wash cloth from Ducky's hand and picked the soap up himself. "Here, let me wash your back," he said.
Ducky gazed at him, the look speculative. Then he smiled and leaned forward. "Do go ahead," he said. "Oooh," he murmured, a moment or two later, when Jethro dropped the wash cloth and instead began to massage Ducky's shoulders with his bare hands. "Now that really is what the doctor ordered. Oh, yes, just there. Oh, that is good. Oh, Jethro." He leaned back into the firm strokes.
Kneeling behind the bath, Jethro leaned forward a little and put his lips to Ducky's ear, it tasted of Jasmine bubbles. "Like that, do you?" he asked, his tone soft.
"Oh, yes, very much indeed. I - Jethro! That is not my back," Ducky exclaimed, as Jethro slid his hands from Ducky's shoulders, over them and down to his chest where he began to caress his lover's hardening nipples. "Ooooh," Ducky managed, once again settling back against the bath, splashing water as he did so.
He tipped his head right back and offered Jethro his mouth. Kneeling up a little, Jethro accepted the offer and began to kiss his lover. As he did he leaned forward a little more and let his hands slip even further down Ducky's body.
"Ahhhhh!" Ducky exclaimed, suddenly breaking the kiss. "And that most certainly is not my back." Nonetheless, even as he spoke he parted his legs as far as he was able to and allowed Jethro slightly better access. Forced to stop kissing Ducky in order to be able to reach him, Jethro instead turned his attention to nuzzling Ducky's neck, deciding as he did that maybe the bubble bath hadn't been the greatest idea - at least not taste-wise. For the purposes of being able to stroke Ducky, the slightly slippery water certainly helped.
He could feel Ducky beginning to harden as he stroked and caressed him in the way he knew excited Ducky most, but with enough restraint so that Ducky wouldn't race to completion. Meanwhile Ducky just kept his head tossed back as far as he could and moaned and murmured with clear and deep pleasure.
After stroking Ducky for a few more minutes, Jethro slowed his caresses and instead returned to massaging Ducky, this time focusing on his thighs. Ducky's pleasure was clear to hear as he murmured words of encouragement and contentment.
However, soon Jethro's knees and back began to protest, and with reluctance he reversed the direction of his caresses and a little faster than he'd made the downward journey, returned his hands to Ducky's shoulders. "Better?" he murmured, once more kissing Ducky's ear.
"Oh, yes. Very much so, dearest. And I believe it could be even better. I also think I am quite warm enough now. So why do you not help me out, take me to bed and make love to me?"
"You don't want to eat?"
Ducky twisted his head a little. "Maybe later, for now I want something far more basic than that. However, if you do not wish to do so then I can always . . ." He trailed off and quite deliberately slid his own hand down his body, gasping slightly as he put his own hand around his arousal.
Jethro leaned forward and snagged Ducky's hand. "Oh, no, Dr. Mallard," he said, tugging it away. "You don't get to do that."
Ducky looked at him. "Do I not?"
"No. That's my job."
"In that case, I think it is time you fulfilled it, do you not agree?"
"As you put it so eloquently, yeah. Come on then, let me help you stand. Be careful, it's slippery." Jethro stood up, wincing very slightly as his leg muscles objected to the position they'd been in and guided Ducky carefully to his feet, keeping a firm grip on him and forcing himself to ignore that more than half-hard erection that seemed to urge him to touch it.
Several hours later Jethro held Ducky in a loose embrace as he thought about just how right his world was. They had never got around to eating, but had both enjoyed a hot toddy - less the sugar, that Ducky had objected firmly to.
He was pleasantly tired, sated even from the gentle, intense, loving lovemaking they'd shared. It had never been as good with anyone else; never. No one had known him so well, so intimately; no one had ever been able to move him so incredibly deeply with what in many ways was amazingly simple lovemaking. Ducky completed him; he'd known that for years and years; Ducky made him what he was.
He glanced across at the chest of drawers where a small box nestled. He should have done it years ago, he should have in effect made an honest man out of Ducky, and in four days time he would. It might be soppy, but he'd planned to propose to Ducky on Valentine's Day.
And then suddenly Ducky's words came back to him. "Well you hadn't made any promises to me." In that instant he knew.
"Jethro?" Ducky who had been partly dozing, now woke up fully as Jethro tossed the covers back and got out of bed. "Is something the matter, my dear?"
"Nah, just something I need." Jethro glanced back over his shoulder and found that now Ducky was propped up on one elbow watching him - the look was not one you would expect to see in the eyes of a sixty-seven year old man who had just spent several hours making love. It was enough to send shooting signals to Jethro's own body. He pointedly dragged his gaze away from Ducky's, which was becoming more and more intimate by the second, opened the drawer and pulled out the small box. Just for a micro-second he hesitated again; why not wait four days and do it as he'd planned?
But four days can be a long time in the life of a Federal Agent, he might not - He stopped that thought.
"Jethro, you must be getting rather chilled out there. Do come back to bed." Ducky called softly.
Decision made, Jethro closed his hand over the box and strode back to the bed, getting under the covers and briefly kissing Ducky again. Against his skin, it had been cold out of bed, Ducky felt extremely warm. He was also moving nearer to Jethro and deepening the kiss.
Using his extra height, few years and greater strength, Jethro gently stopped Ducky. "Duck," he said.
"There's something I want to ask you. Give you," he added.
Ducky cocked his eyebrow and pushed himself a little further up the bed. "Jethro?"
Jethro sighed silently. Damn it. Why didn't he have words like Ducky did? He knew that had it been Ducky about to propose he'd do so in a special, moving, personal way that didn't fall back on the norm. But he wasn't Ducky, he didn't have pretty words.
So instead he simply opened the box, took out the gold band and looked at Ducky. "Duck," he said, swallowing at the look in the steady pale-blue gaze that intensified with love and more than a hint of hope as it flickered from the ring to Jethro's face. "You know I love you. You know, least I hope you do, how important you are to me. How much I . . . Ah, Duck. I don't have your skill. I just have -"
"More than enough for me," Ducky said quietly.
Jethro swallowed hard. What had he done to deserve Ducky? He took Ducky's left hand, licked his lips and said quietly, "Will you accept this ring from me, Duck? Will you marry me?"
Ducky's face gave him his answer. Nonetheless he waited, still wanting to hear the acceptance. "Oh, yes, my dear, dear, most beloved Jethro. It would be my honor, privilege and delight to do so."
"Good." It was all Jethro could manage, as he carefully pushed the ring onto Ducky's finger. It fitted perfectly, just as Ducky fitted perfectly into Jethro's arms and into his life.