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Varying Degrees

by: Ashleigh Anpilova (Send Feedback)

Series: Occasions Universe #5
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 5953
Rating: TEEN
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Ducky Mallard, Ensemble
Category(ies): Friendship, General, Holiday, Established Relationship
Pairing(s): Gibbs/Ducky
Summary: The fifth story in my Occasions Universe.

Ducky and Jethro invite the team over for Thanksgiving.

An established relationship story.

Chapters: 1

TWO WEEKS BEFORE THANKSGIVING

“Tony.” Ziva hissed his name as Tony came back into the squad room. He raised his eyebrows at her. “Come here.”

Glancing at Gibbs who appeared engrossed in the report he was reading, Tony sauntered over to his coworker’s desk. “Ziva?”

“Look,” he pushed a piece of card under his nose. “Dr. Mallard,” She glanced at Gibbs and lowered her voice, “ has invited me to his house for Thanksgiving.”

For a moment Tony was tempted to tease the Mossad agent. She still hadn’t quite recovered from Ducky giving her a bouquet of daffodils earlier in the year; even now she occasionally looked at Ducky as if he might jump her at any time. Teasing her would have been amusing, at least for a few minutes, but the presence of Gibbs, more than anything else, prevented him from enjoying himself.

“Don’t worry, Ziva, he’s invited us all.”

She looked relieved. “He has?”

“Sure. See,” he dug his own, already crinkled, piece of card out of his pocket and showed her.

She leaned back in her chair and visibly relaxed. She muttered something in her native tongue, but Tony, unlike Ducky, didn’t speak Hebrew.

He learned closer, glancing at Gibbs before he did so. “I keep telling you Ziva, Ducky is not out to seduce you. He and Gibbs live together. They’re a couple and have been for . . . I don’t know, but a long time.”

“That does not always stop people. When a man gets to a certain age he -“

“Ducky’s gay Ziva. Gay. And unlike me, he’s a gentleman where women are concerned. ” Gibbs’s voice interrupted her.

She flushed and bent over her report.

Tony grinned and moved across to Gibbs’s desk. “Thanks for the invite, boss. I’ll be -“

“Wasn’t me, it was Ducky.”

Tony blinked. “Oh, well. Can you tell Ducky then that I’d love to come.”

“No.”

Tony blinked again. “Er, boss?”

Gibbs sighed and looked up. “Ducky wrote to you, DiNozzo. The least you can do is to reply properly to him.”

“Fine, I’ll call him.”

“No, you won't”

“Okay. I’ll go down to Autopsy and tell him -“

“No.”

Tony opened his mouth and shut it again.

“He wrote to you, DiNozzo.”

“Ah, got it, boss. I’ll send him an email.”

Gibbs rolled his eyes. “God, I pity your parents, DiNozzo. Wrote, as in pen and paper.”

Tony stared. “You mean I’ve got to . . . ?”

“Yes, Tony. Of course you have. Hey, Gibbs. Got this for the Duckman.” Abby beamed and held up a cream envelope; a cream envelope that was heavily rimmed with black.

“I’ll give it to him, Abbs,” Gibbs held out his hand.

Abby pulled the envelope back towards her. “Are you sure you won’t forget, Gibbs?”

Gibbs stared at her.

She held her ground. “Well, we all know how you feel about these kinds of things. I didn’t want you to accidentally ‘forget’.”

“Abby,” he said patiently, using the tone he only ever used with Abby. “Do you really think that I’m going to ‘forget’ to tell Ducky that we are going to have several hungry people turning up on our doorstep?”

She frowned. Tony could see that she was trying to find a reason to continue to argue with Gibbs; apart from Ducky, she was the only member of the team who would dare to. However, she clearly couldn’t, as she sighed, shrugged her shoulders and handed the envelope over to Gibbs.

“I’ll let Ducky know that I gave my answer to you,” she called over her shoulder, as she bounced out of the office.

“Hey, Abby,” Tony said, hurrying after her. “I don’t suppose -“

“No, DiNozzo, she hasn’t. Get your own paper.”

“Yes, boss. Of course, boss. Anything you say, boss.” Tony returned to his desk.

When McGee arrived he’d ask him where the nearest stationery store was. Better still, he’d try to get McGee to go and buy some paper for him. It was the kind of thing that the Probie probably knew all about anyway.

With that settled, he rubbed his hands, glanced at Gibbs, saw that his boss had once again returned to his work, and began the essential part of the day. Checking the latest porn sites.

Deciding to allow DiNozzo a few minutes of 'freedom' before he put a stop to the non-work related activities, Gibbs let his mind return to the previous evening.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Just tell me why, Duck?"

"It's Thanksgiving, my dear. The day when one traditionally spends time with close family and friends."

"Yeah, so?"

Ducky just looked at him.

Jethro groaned silently and briefly closed his eyes. Ducky was using 'the' look; the one that always got him his own way. He was being manipulated and he knew it. He knew it and yet he didn't mind, it didn't annoy him, anger him, irritate him, make him determined to do just the opposite. Which was the complete reverse to how it had been when one of his ex-wives or girlfriends had tried the same thing.

Sometimes he wondered whether Ducky was good for him, whether he loved his oldest friend too much, whether it was healthy. However, given that the times Ducky used such blatant manipulation were few and far between, not to mention all the benefits that went with loving and living with Ducky, the odd time when he had to do something he'd rather not, faded into insignificance. Ducky wasn't just good for him, Ducky was his savior, his life, his anchor. His . . . He stopped himself before he became too mushy; he didn’t like to do that, even in his thoughts. Yeah, but you do, don't you? And not just in your thoughts. He ignored the voice.

He looked back down at Ducky, who had moved a little nearer to him and was watching him with an expectant look on his face. "Go on then, Duck. Invite them."

"Thank you, dearest. It will be fun; you'll see." Ducky reached up and pulled Jethro's head down and gave him a brief, but deeply affectionate kiss. Then he patted Jethro's arm, crossed the room and picked up a handful of envelopes. "I'll give these out tomorrow," he said, beaming at Jethro.

"Duck!"

"I knew you'd agree, my dear," Ducky said, and smiled.

Jethro looked up at the ceiling and shook his head. "One day, Duck," he said, closing the gap between them.

"Yes, dear?" Ducky tipped his head back and blinked 'innocently' up at Jethro.

"I'll . . . Hang on, there's six envelopes here."

"Yes, dear." Ducky glanced away from him.

"Oh, Duck. Why?"

"We have to, Jethro. It would be unfair otherwise. It would look as if we didn't want her here."

"We don't."

"Jethro." Ducky sounded hurt.

"Sorry, Duck," Jethro brushed Ducky's hair back from his forehead. "It's just . . ."

"If you really do not wish to invite her, then of course we won’t."

Jethro gritted his teeth. "No, you're right, Duck. Just don't expect me to sit next to her." He tugged Ducky into his arms.

"I won't. I did wonder about inviting Tobias. I know that he and the children aren't always . . . "

"He and Emily are going to his mom's place. He told me the other day. Otherwise, I'm sure he'd loved to have come. Now come here. I think you owe me something for agreeing to this." He pulled Ducky closer to him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

By the end of the day, Gibbs had collected four replies. Two of the envelopes looked suspiciously alike, despite the different handwriting, but at least DiNozzo had written - something. He was pulling on his coat and packing his briefcase, when Cynthia called to say that the Director wished to see him before he left.

Not bothering to take his coat off, or leave his briefcase behind, Gibbs took the stairs two at a time and, without waiting for Cynthia to announce him, strode into Jenny’s office. Jenn?"

"Jethro." She took off her glasses and looked up at him, before picking up a white envelope. "It was kind of Ducky to invite me to your Thanksgiving dinner. Please thank him for me." Gibbs just looked at her. "It was Ducky's idea, I assume, wasn't it?"

Gibbs shrugged. "He likes that kind of thing."

For a moment she just looked at him, then she smiled slightly. "Who would have thought it," she said softly. He frowned. "As I said, it was kind of Ducky. However, I already have plans for the day."

"Oh?" Gibbs said, before he could stop himself.

To his amazement, she flushed slightly. "Yes, Bob has invited me to his parents' home. I've already told him yes, otherwise . . . But it's probably better that I do have other plans, isn’t it?" she added quietly.

Gibbs frowned down at her. "Jenn, I don't know what -"

She interrupted him. "Jethro. Don't you think it's time that we stopped."

"Stopped what?"

"Behaving like children. And don't give me that wide-eyed, innocent look Jethro Gibbs. It might work with Ducky, although I doubt it. However, it does not work with me." She sighed, and before he could say anything, she went on. "I think it's time we both put the past behind us, don't you?"

"I've been willing to do that ever since you came back."

"Have you?" She challenged him. "Tell me, Jethro, can you honestly say that our past has not affected the way you've behaved?"

"I don't know what you mean?"

"Let me give you one example. How about walking into my office whenever you feel like it, without knocking, without waiting for Cynthia to show you in. Did you do that with Tom Morrow?"

For a moment he was silent. Then he shook his head. "No," he said curtly. "But Director Morrow didn't interfere with the way I ran my investigations. He wasn't forever -"

Again she cut into his words. "I appreciate that. As I said it is time we both put the past behind us. Both let go. Both acted as we would, if we hadn't had a . . . relationship beyond senior and junior agent."

"What are you proposing?" Again to his surprise a faint flush touched her cheeks. Had Senator Bob . . . ? No, surely not.

"A truce. Paris is over. We forget it. We don't mention it. And we don't let it affect how we work together. You give me the respect you'd give to any other Director, and that way maybe your team will too. And I'll. . . I'll stop ‘interfering'."

He stared down at her, trying to read her, trying to see beyond her words, beyond the way she looked at him; trying to see if she meant what she said. He knew her, he knew her well, in some ways better than he wished he did; she was probably his biggest regret. And yet . . . She did mean what she said.

And what was more, as much as he hated to admit it, she was right; he was as 'guilty' as she was; more so. The kids, with the exception of Ziva, did follow his lead; he remembered Abby's 'but I haven't told her anything', and that was wrong. That was very wrong. Damn it, the Director of NCIS should be able to ask any of their staff anything; and they should answer, without worrying about upsetting Gibbs, or being disloyal to him.

He nodded. "Fine," he said curtly. He saw her eyes flash and hurried on. "You're right, Jenn. Truce," and he held out his hand to her.

She looked up at him, smiled, stood up and shook his proffered hand. "Give this to Ducky for me," she said, letting go of his hand. "And do thank him."

"I will." He thought he should say something else. But couldn't think what. So instead he flashed her a half-smile, nodded, turned and left.

Ducky would be pleased at least. He might not be overly fond of Jennifer Shepard, but he had, on more than one occasion, 'suggested' to Jethro that they should do what they had just agreed to do: put the past behind them.

Ducky was waiting patiently for him in Autopsy. "Sorry, Duck. The Director wanted a quick word."

"That's quite all right, my dear." He looked up at Gibbs expectantly.

Gibbs hid a smile; sometimes he wondered who was the elder, him or Ducky. He dug into his briefcase and pulled out five envelopes and handed them over.

Ducky beamed brightly, turned away, and unsurprisingly began to open them. "Oh, good," he said, when once he'd carefully slit, using the paperknife Gibbs himself had given him, the envelopes, taken the contents out and read them. "All the children will be present. Won't that be nice?"

"Yeah, Duck. Very nice," Gibbs said, suddenly realizing that he meant the words. "Come on, let's go home." He slipped his arm around Ducky's shoulders and moved towards the door.

THANKSGIVING DAY

Jethro left the chattering and giggling kids behind him, and headed for the kitchen and Ducky. Why, oh, why had he ever agreed to this? “Because when it comes to Ducky, you’re a soppy fool,” he murmured. It was true; he was. Saying no to his lover was something that he found virtually, if not completely, impossible.

“I’m sorry, my dear, did you say something?” Ducky turned around as Jethro entered the kitchen. One look at him was enough to enough to calm Jethro, and make him realize that all was well with the world.

“Nah, Duck. You busy?”

“Not at this precise moment, dearest. Why? What did you have in mind?” Ducky’s pale blue eyes twinkled.

“This,” said Jethro, moving closer to his lover, tugging him into his arms, lowering his head and finding Ducky's mouth with his own.

“Oh, Jethro.” He felt the words, through the kiss, rather than heard them.

"Don't mind me," Abby called, as she bounced into the kitchen.

"Abby," Jethro growled, pulling away from the embrace he and Ducky had been in.

"What?" she demanded, turning to face him. "What's the matter, Gibbs? Okay, I caught you and Ducky kissing, so what? What do you think we all think you do? We know you live together; do you think we think you spend all your time playing chess?" She stared defiantly at him.

For a moment Jethro didn't speak as he fought to recover his composure. "I didn't think you thought about us at all," he finally said.

"That's okay then." Abby beamed, turned on her heel, pulled open the door of the fridge, snagged a bottle of beer, and bounced back out of the kitchen. "You can get back to what you were doing," she called, shutting the door firmly behind her.

Jethro stood and stared after her.

He suddenly became aware that Ducky had spoken. "Sorry, Duck, you said something?" He dragged his gaze from the closed door back to his lover.

"I merely suggested that we obeyed Abigail's 'instruction'," Ducky said calmly, gazing up at him. Then his look changed. "My dear, what is it?" he touched Jethro's arm. "Does the fact that Abby saw us kissing bother you that much?" Ducky’s tone told Jethro that he was trying to keep the hurt from his voice. However, Jehthro hadn't known his lover for three decades without being able to read his eyes, tone of voice, and body language, perfectly.

He pulled Ducky back into a loose embrace. "No," he said firmly. "Really, Duck. It's not that." And it wasn't, well not really.

"Than what is it, Jethro?" Ducky tipped his head back and stared unblinkingly up at him.

"I'm just not sure I like the idea that the kids think about you and me and . . . What?" he asked, as Ducky began to chuckle.

"Oh, Jethro. Abigail was not speaking literally."

"She wasn’t?"

"No, dear. Think about it for a moment. Anthony is far too busy with all of his lady friends to even have time to think about what anyone else might be doing. Jimmy is . . . Well, I do sometimes wonder whether Jimmy's parents ever really 'talked' to him. We aren't computer generated, therefore Timothy's mind will not process us. And as for Ziva, well . . ." Ducky shrugged. "I assure you, Jethro, the children do not spend their time wondering about what we do in our own home. Now, come here," and before Jethro could object, his head was pulled down towards Ducky's.

"Dr. Mallard, I was wondering if I could do anything to he - Oh, excuse me."

Jethro turned around to find Ziva standing with one hand on the door, eyes wide, staring at both of them. To his surprise a faint smile touched her lips, and her face softened in a way he'd never before seen it do.

"If you are quite certain, Ziva dear. There are a few things you can do to assist me. Jethro isn't terribly good in the kitchen, are you my dear?" Without giving Jethro a chance to reply, Ducky continued to speak. "And I still remember the excellent meal you gave us when you invited us to your apartment for dinner.

"I would be more than happy to assist you, Doctor," she said, moving with her usual cat-like grace across the kitchen.

"Thank you, dear. But please do remember, it's Ducky."

"Yes, Ducky," she said, and stood, without objecting, while Ducky carefully tied an apron around her. Jethro assumed it must have belonged to his mom or someone.

"Why don't you go back to the rest of our guests, my dear?" Ducky said, smiling up at Jethro.

"Yeah, why don't I," Jethro said, and pausing long enough to grab a bottle of beer, he left the kitchen.

"And don't forget to open the wine, Jethro. It needs to breathe," he heard Ducky call.

"No, Duck," he said automatically, and went into the dining room to carry out the instruction.

~~~~~~~

"Mmm, this stuffing's good. Where'd you buy it from, Ducky?" DiNozzo asked, pausing for long enough to speak.

Ducky glanced at him. "I did not buy it, Anthony. I made it," he said firmly; he sounded quite horrified. Jethro hid a smile.

For the first time since they'd sat down to eat, silence descended on the room, as everyone turned to look at DiNozzo. "Oh," he said, swallowing another mouthful. "Sorry, Ducky. I just assumed that . . . Sorry. Sorry, boss," he added, glancing at Jethro.

Ducky smiled. "That's quite all right, Anthony. But to save you any further embarrassment, let me assure you that everything is home made."

And it was. Jethro could attest to that! Ducky had spent a considerable amount of his non-office time preparing the various pies, buying ingredients, and doing whatever it was he did with them. So much so that Jethro had, on more than one occasion, had to drag him from the kitchen.

"This cranberry sauce has something extra in it, hasn't it, Ducky?" Abby said, waving her fork.

Ducky beamed, and his eyes twinkled.

"And you're not going to tell me what it is, are you?" Abby pouted.

Ducky continued to smile and look at her.

"That is so not fair. Gibbs," she pleaded.

He shook his head. "Don't look at me, Abbs. I don't know what went into it. As Ducky pointed out to Ziva, I'm not very good in the kitchen. Isn't that right, Duck?"

Ducky looked at him from the other end of the table. "Yes, dear," he said simply. His eyes, however, said a lot more.

After a second or two, Jethro had to tear his gaze away from Ducky's. He hoped that none of the kids saw what he'd seen in Ducky's eyes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"That was the best Thanksgiving meal I've ever had," DiNozzo declared, as they all slumped in armchairs and sofas in the sitting room.

"Why thank you, Anthony." Ducky smiled with obvious pleasure.

"Me too, Ducky."

"Thank you, Timothy."

Palmer, Abby and Ziva added their praise as well.

Jethro, pouring brandy for everyone, glanced at his lover; Ducky looked sublimely happy and more than a little pleased with himself. He poured a generous measure into Ducky's glass. "Yeah, it was great, Duck," he said, simply but with sincerity, as he touched Ducky's hand.

The look of pleasure intensified, and again Ducky's gaze was clear to read. Jethro swallowed hard; sometimes the open love and clear devotion Ducky always showed for him, moved him so deeply, he felt unworthy of such affection.

He stood for another second or two, his fingers still brushing Ducky’s hand, before straightening up fully. He was about to turn and return to his armchair when something hit him. Why the hell not? “DiNozzo, move.”

“Huh?” DiNozzo’s unsteady gaze blinked up at him.

“Move,” he repeated. “Over there,” he added, nodding towards the empty armchair.

For a moment DiNozzo continued to just stare, slightly open-mouthed. Then as Jethro watched he saw his words finally penetrate DiNozzo’s brain. “Oh, right, boss. Of course, boss. I’ll just . . .” Ziva caught and steadied the edge of the coffee table. “Sorry, boss,” DiNozzo muttered, as he stumbled his way across the room and sank down into the chair.

Jethro watched him, grateful that, at his insistence, the kids had all arrived in cabs. Then he sat down himself, next to Ducky, deliberately ensuring that he was sitting near enough so that his thigh and arm brushed slightly against Ducky’s. A glance at his lover saw how much Ducky appreciated the small, but significant gesture.

Well, what the hell? Abbs and Ziva had seen them kissing, and, as Abby said, the team did know they lived together.

“This is great, isn’t it?”

“What is, Tony?” Ziva asked, when it seemed that no one else was going to.

“Us. The Team. All sitting here, together. Having enjoyed that great meal. Just like those pilgrim people all those years ago.”

“Years?” McGee echoed.

“Decades, then.”

“Decades?” This time it was Ziva who sounded astonished.

DiNozzo shifted in his seat, slipping even further down. “Centuries?” he said. Jethro was certain his senior field agent hadn’t meant to make it a question. He sometimes wondered why DiNozzo played the dense fool so often. DiNozzo might not the most intelligent member of his team, but he wasn’t as stupid as he often appeared to be. But then, Jethro had given up trying to figure Tony DiNozzo out quite some time ago.

“It makes you feel good,” DiNozzo went on. “Knowing that we, centuries,” he said decisively, “later, are doing the things they did. Sharing the same food as they did. Ah, history. Gives you a . . . Well, you know. A whatsit. Tradition. I like it. Makes you proud to be American.” He glanced from one person to another. They all looked at him, in silence.

Next to him, Jethro felt Ducky shift slightly. Then he heard his lover clear his throat. “Well actually, Anthony, that isn't strictly accurate,” he said, sitting forward a little and putting his brandy glass onto the table.

Jethro leaned his head back against the sofa back and hid a chuckle; he knew that tone. Maybe he should say something. Or maybe not. After all, Ducky deserved some payment for the meal they’d all enjoyed.

"It isn't?" DiNozzo asked.

"No. In fact there are several myths about the pilgrims and Thanksgiving. But I'm sure that none of you are interested in my ramblings."

"Nah, go on, Duck. Tell 'em. I'm sure they'd love to hear about it."

Ducky turned to Jethro and smiled. "Well if you're certain, my dear."

"Yes, please tell us, Ducky, there's nothing like a good story for after dinner entertainment." Abby almost bounced in her seat.

"And I'd be interested, Doctor."

"I keep telling you, Jimmy, it's quite all right to call me Ducky."

"Sorry, Doctor. I'll remember that." Palmer beamed at his boss.

Jethro glanced at his field team and raised an eyebrow.

"Sure, Ducky. Come on tell me all the stuff I should have learned in school, but was too busy being a jock to do so." DiNozzo slid down further in his chair.

"Well, I for one would be interested. I still find many of your customs more than a little strange."

"Me too," McGee said. "Well, not that I find our customs strange. Being American and all, I . . . Sorry, boss. Go ahead, Ducky."

Jethro shifted slightly on the sofa, making himself a little more comfortable before Ducky began his 'lecture'. He realized that he'd better not get himself too comfortable, as one of the disadvantage of turfing DiNozzo out of his seat so that Jethro himself could sit next to Ducky, was that, he was now sitting next to Ducky. And with his lover about to educate them all, the kids attention would be, at least to varying degrees, on Ducky, and thus him. It wouldn't look very good if Jethro's eyes closed. Not that he found Ducky boring, quite the opposite; he could listen to his friend for hours. However, the lunch had been extremely good and plentiful; as had the alcohol.

He wondered idly whether, rather than listen to Ducky tell them about Thanksgiving, he could instead send the kids home, and then Ducky and he could . . . But no, that'd only upset Ducky; not to mention the fact that it'd be pretty obvious why he was sending the team away. No, he'd sit here, next to Ducky, warm, comfortable and enjoy Ducky's latest story. All he had to do was to keep his eyes open.

"The very first, what we now all call Thanksgiving, celebration was held in 1621, after the first harvest; it was shared by the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians. The colonists wished not only to celebrate the fact that the harvest has been successful, but to thank the Wampanoag Indians, who had taught them the necessarily skills they had needed in order to survive in the New World. It was not at that time known as ‘Thanksgiving’, despite the fact that they were giving thanks. It was simply a harvest festival, of the kind that the pilgrims would have celebrated whilst in England; other countries held harvest festivals too. Indeed, many of these countries still continue to hold such celebrations. In fact -"

"Duck," Jethro said softly, and he touched Ducky's arm.

Ducky turned to him. "My dear?"

"Thanksgiving; pilgrims; myths, now. Harvest festivals, another time."

"I am sorry, do forgive me." Ducky turned away from Jethro and looked towards the rest of the team.

"Hang on, Ducky."

"Anthony?"

"You're telling us that we didn't invent Thanksgiving? That it's not American? That it's just some English festival with a different name?" For a moment DiNozzo sounded as though Ducky had just told him that Father Christmas didn't exist.

Ducky glanced quickly at Jethro, before turning back towards DiNozzo. "Strictly speaking, Tony, yes, I am. However, as with Halloween, which - "

"Also wasn't invented by us," Jethro intervened, fearing if he didn't, that Ducky would begin to share his knowledge of that occasion too. "But we've made it ours. Isn't that right, Duck?"

"Well, yes, Jethro. You are correct. Given the way the world began, Tony . . . Of course I do not wish to get into the creation versus evolution debate; that is far too an intense and potentially divisive a subject for such a pleasant occasion. However, as I was saying, given the history of mankind, many things that one country or another believe to be 'theirs', are merely derivations of the same event. In fact it is not always possible to trace the true origins of an event, an occasion, a festival, or anything, due to the fact that in very early times records and primary sources were, and are, sketchy at best, and often non-existent. Therefore, we -"

"Take it and make is ours," Jethro repeated, once again touching Ducky's arm.

"Indeed. Therefore, Tony, do not fear, Thanksgiving Day is an American custom."

"Oh, good. I wonder if those pilgrims knew that nearly four hundred years later we'd still be doing what they did. They really started something."

"Actually, Anthony, they didn't. Not really."

"Didn't they, Doctor?"

"No, Jimmy. That is one of the many myths associated with the pilgrims. In fact the event wasn't repeated the following year, and as I said it wasn't even called Thanksgiving. To the pilgrims thanksgiving meant a religious event, a time when they would go to Church and thank God for a specific event, such as winning a battle. And on such days the kinds of things in which the pilgrims and the Indians participated, for example, singing songs, feasting, drinking, dancing, playing games, would not be permitted. It was also held at a different time. No one knows the exact date of that first celebration, but it almost certainly took place sometime between 21st September and 11th November, and unlike today, it lasted three days."

DiNozzo sat up in this chair; his eyes gleamed. "Three days? Just think of it."

"Yes, Tony. You would. I can imagine that the thought of three days of overeating, drinking and playing games would appeal to you." Although Ziva's words were somewhat harsh, her tone was not; she made it clear to everyone that she was merely teasing her coworker. It surprised Jethro, as it again showed a sign of the Mossad agent she'd hitherto kept hidden.

"I wasn't the one who had thirds of the apple pie, Ziva."

"No, that's probably because you hadn't got room after the thirds of pumpkin pie, pelican pie and - What?" she demanded, as everyone began to laugh.

Even Ducky was having problems keeping the amusement from his face. "I believe you mean pecan pie, Ziva my dear," he said quietly.

"You said the event wasn't repeated, Ducky." McGee spoke quickly, drawing attention away from Ziva on to himself.

"Indeed, I did, Timothy."

"So how did we get from there to here?"

"After the first harvest was completed successfully, Governor William Bradford proclaimed there should be a real day of thanking God and prayer, and rather than an elaborate feast, the colonists would fast. However, in 1623 this was changed to a thanksgiving celebration, because during the fasting and praying, rain came to break the drought. Gradually the custom prevailed in New England, of annually celebrating thanksgiving after the harvest, although different regions held the celebration on different dates."

Jethro glanced at the kids; they still stared at Ducky, still seemed interested in what he was saying, but it was clear that for some of them at least, the interest was waning slightly. Only Abby and Palmer seemed as intent on what Ducky was saying as they had been since he’d begun. He didn't want to stop his lover, just hasten him along a little.

He dug into his mind and dredged up some long forgotten, very hazy memories. "It was George Washington, wasn't it, Duck, who first declared a national day of Thanksgiving?" Ducky had turned to look at him as he was speaking, and now Jethro made his communication silent.

Ducky nodded briefly, smiled and turned to the rest of his audience. "You are correct, Jethro. It was indeed George Washington, in 1789, who attempted to formulize things. However, for several decades, until President Lincoln in 1863 set aside the last Thursday in November for Thanksgiving Day, it still continued to be celebrated on different days in different states. For some reason, in 1939, President Roosevelt advanced Thanksgiving Day by one week. However, since some states used the new date and others the old, it was changed again two years later, to the fourth Thursday in November, and it has remained there ever since. Over the years has become what you all know today."

"Why turkey?"

"I'm sorry, my dear?" Ducky looked at Ziva.

"Why do you eat turkey? Is there something symbolic about it?"

"Tradition, Ziva."

"Again, I'm afraid not, Anthony. The pilgrims did not enjoy the meal that we today associate with Thanksgiving. Historians do not know exactly what would have been on the menu, however it is safe to say that they did not sit down to pumpkin pie and mashed potato. The only items that are known for certain to have been on the menu, are venison and wild fowl, both of which are mentioned in a journal from 1621, which was kept by Edward Winslow. Also, they would have eaten very little in the way of vegetables; meat was the main part of a feast. And social standing also came into the equation; the best food would be placed next to the most important people, and rather than sample everything -"

"As you did, Tony."

"I was only being polite."

Ducky continued as if there hadn't been an interruption. "People would simply eat what was nearest to them. And all the courses would be placed on the table at the same time, and people chose which to eat when."

"When did the turkey become the main dish, Doctor?"

"Ducky, Jimmy, it's Ducky."

"Yes, Doctor."

Ducky glanced at Jethro and offered a 'what can I do'? look. Jethro just smiled. Ducky turned back to his assistant. "The turkey related back to Lincoln's nationalization of the holiday, and was simply a cost-effective choice. A turkey could feed more people than a chicken, thus turkeys were sent to the troops. There are of course households, indeed whole areas of the country, where different things are served, such as goose, duck or indeed crab, but turkey has remained the mainstay for the vast majority of Americans. And now, my dears, if you do mind, I find that I am a little tired, and my throat is beginning to feel slightly sore. Besides, I don't want to shatter anymore of Anthony's illusions." He smiled.

"That was really interesting, Ducky. Thank you," Abby beamed at him. "Well, wasn't it?" she demanded, when the others didn't answer quickly enough for her.

Jethro was pleased to hear that the assertions, that Ducky's story had indeed been interesting and enjoyable, from the rest of the team sounded completely genuine.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Another hour of general talk, reminiscences, and even times of the kind of comfortable silence, that can only be shared by the close knit team they were, passed by, before Abby declared it was time they went and left Jethro and Ducky alone.

Jethro carefully shut and bolted the door behind them all, then turned around and tugged Ducky into his arms. “Now,” he murmured, lowering his head, as Ducky obligingly tilted his own, “I’m going to get to kiss you without fear of interruption.”

And he did.

Several times.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

They lay quietly, just gently caressing and kissing in a soothing, connecting way, in their bed a while later, a compromise as to how much washing-up would be done that night, having been found.

As he pulled Ducky a little bit nearer and moved his lips towards Ducky’s, Jethro said quietly, “You know one day, Duck, I’m going to turn the tables on you.”

“Dearest?”

“One day, I’m going to find an event and tell you all about it. Now stop talking and let me kiss you.”

Chapters: 1

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MTAC - NCIS Fic