Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 711
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Ducky Mallard
Category(ies): Angst/Drama, Episode Related, Friendship, General
Episode(s): 3-24 Hiatus (2)
Summary: Ducky remembers the day that Jethro promised him he would come back; he also remembers the months before it really happened. An established relationship story.
I remember the day you left me and the promise you made to me, as clearly as if it were yesterday.
We stood in the airport, uncaring of the glances we were getting, me in your arms, you holding me as though it would be a physical impossibility for you to ever let me go. I rested against you, taking comfort and nourishment from the fierce embrace; determined to remember every second of it.
"I have to go, Duck. You understand, don't you?" As you spoke the words, the plea in your voice was clear.
What could I have said? 'No, Jethro, I don't'. Of course I couldn't.
So I did what I had never done to you before, I lied to you. I told you what you wanted to hear; what you needed to hear. And maybe it wasn't such a lie after all; because at one level, intellectually, I did understand. However, as another level, emotionally, I didn't.
Your flight had been called for the final time, when you eventually pushed me away from you. You held me just far enough away; just far enough for you to be able to look down at me, at my face; just far enough to allow you to look into my eyes. You still held me so tightly though, your fingers bit into my arms; indeed the bruises were clear when I undressed that night.
For a long moment, despite the fact that if you were going you needed to go, you said nothing. Then you whispered, "I promise I'll be back, Duck." And then, still uncaring, indeed I believe unnoticing, of those around us, you lowered your head a little and brushed your lips over mine. With that fleeting kiss, I knew you had sealed your promise; at least in your mind. And with that fleeting kiss, I tasted the salt you had somehow kept from being visible.
Then you had squeezed my arms one final time, crushed me to you, before letting go at such a speed, I momentarily struggled to maintain my balance, and, without looking back, you strode away from me.
I watched you go.
I watched each and every step you took.
I watched you walk further and further away from me.
I watched as you vanished from sight.
I watched as your plane took off.
I watched as the next flight was called.
I watched as people said goodbye to loved ones and followed the same path you had taken.
I watched . . .
I watched until my leg screamed in protest, and finally, I had to admit defeat and go home.
It has taken a year before you kept your promise.
Oh, you returned to the office after a mere four months away, but you didn't return to me.
You didn't return to my bed, my arms, not even to our friendship. In some ways it was the lack of friendship that I found the hardest to bear. After all, friendship has always been the bedrock, the most important part, of our relationship, of our love.
We hurt one another during the months I waited for you to return. Hurt one another in ways I would never have believed it would be possible for us to do.
I believe I know why you kept your distance. Why you stayed away from me. Why you pushed me away, kept me at arms length. Why you failed to keep your promise. I believe it was because you were afraid. Afraid that although you were physically back, that you still were not certain that you would, that you could, stay. And leaving me for a second time would have destroyed both of us.
In the beginning I tried to hasten your return to me. I pushed you, or I tried to, and I hurt you. I am still a little ashamed to say that a few of the things I said to you, were said in a deliberate attempt to wound. But I only did so because I feared for you, for your sanity, for your hope, for the man I knew and loved.
But now, here in your bed, in your arms, I know I have you back. You have finally kept your promise to me.