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Christmas Crackers

by: taylorgibbs (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 1160
Rating: TEEN
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Ducky Mallard
Category(ies): General, Holiday
Pairing(s): - No Pairing -
Summary: An unexpected present from a dear friend changes Gibbs' perspective. Day 5 of the 12 Days of Gibbsmas.

Author Notes: Thanks to Anna for the beta.

Chapters: 1

Christmas Crackers

December 23, 1994

“Well then, Jethro, I trust that you’re done for the holiday.” Ducky fell into step with his friend as they crossed the Navy Yard toward their cars. He and Jethro had only known each other perhaps eighteen months but Mike Franks’ senior agent impressed the life out of him. Mike was due to retire soon and scuttlebutt had it that Jethro would be named the new MCRT team leader.

“I guess so.” Jethro gave Ducky a small, sad smile and the elder man wondered what lay beneath the surface. There was so much depth to Jethro Gibbs and Ducky didn’t delude himself that he had even scratched the surface of the normally jovial senior special agent.

“Very well then. Would you stop by my house tomorrow? I have something I should like to give you and Mother is entertaining. I shall need the distraction.” He shuddered delicately. “Watching a dozen octogenarians attempting to cheat at poker holds no appeal for me.”

Gibbs looked undecided and Ducky patted his arm. “Come on now, my friend. I know your first Christmas as a single man will be a hard one. You needn’t brood over bourbon and that boat of yours. Have you given any thought to going home to your family in Pennsylvania?”

“Not an option,” Gibbs bit out.

Ducky didn’t know much about his friend’s home life—or his life in general. Jethro was a notoriously private man. Ducky had spent a bit of time with Jethro and Julia before things had gotten tense between husband and wife and Gibbs started pulling back on social engagements.

“Why isn’t it an option?” Ducky asked. He subtly led the younger man to a coffee shop they both enjoyed and ordered Jethro a coffee and himself a tea. The other man looked pensive for a moment and Ducky realized how much he missed the happy go lucky jokester who drove Mike crazy on a daily basis.

“My father and I don’t talk,” Jethro said quietly. “And my brother is overseas.”

“Ah yes, your brother is in the Navy, correct? And you and Julia are divorcing. Oh, my dear boy, I hate the thought of you being alone on the holidays. Reconsider and celebrate with Mother and me, will you?”

The younger man smiled now, but it was wistful, pensive. “I’m never alone. My neighbors tend to feed me. I shovel and sand their walks and they bring me food on major holidays. It all works out, Ducky.”

“Nevertheless, dear friend, please stop by tomorrow. Have a late lunch with me. Consider it charity. You’ll be rescuing me from a fate worse than death.” He watched as Jethro stroked a bracelet he’d only started wearing recently before nodding.

Ducky gestured to it, motioning to the script. “USMC. Someone knows you very well, Jethro.”

“They do,” he replied, nodding. “Thanks for the coffee, Ducky. I’ll be by about fourteen hundred or so.”

He got up and strode purposefully out, leaving Ducky to ponder the mystery of Jethro Gibbs.

~*~

Jethro didn’t really want to leave the house but he knew he couldn’t brood. Shannon wouldn’t have wanted it and he sure as hell wouldn’t give Julia the satisfaction. Despite his urge to curl up under blankets and watch home movies or just drink himself into a stupor, he found himself driving out to Reston and parking his sedan behind BMWs and Mercedes.

He hadn’t even dressed up and wondered if he’d made a huge mistake when Ducky hurried out the front door, clasped his arm, and urged him inside. “Oh, thank goodness, Jethro. They’re bickering and Mother is in quite a snit.”

“Whatcha need, Duck?” Gibbs asked companionably.

Ducky gave him a smirk and Jethro shook his head, placing his small package on a table. “No, I’m not entertainment for your mother and her friends. She always calls me Matthew and thinks I’m a shipbuilder.”

Ducky chuckled, ushering Gibbs into the kitchen and pouring a glass of eggnog. Gibbs took a sip and one dark eyebrow shot up. “Strong stuff here, my friend.”

“How do you think I plan to get through the afternoon?” Ducky replied. “Come along to my study. I have your present in there.”

Gibbs followed, shuffling slightly. The whole gift-giving thing was usually a disaster for him. He scooped up his package, worrying that his friend might not like the gift. He’d worked hard on it…it wasn’t something that could be bought in a store.

“Here you go, Ducky,” Gibbs said, handing his friend the plainly wrapped box and accepting one of a similar size. “Open yours first.”

He stood there nervously as Ducky removed the wrapping paper and opened up the shoebox. When his friend could only gape, Gibbs felt a prickle of unease skirt its way up his back.

But then Ducky’s head came up, tears glistening. “It is exquisite, my friend.” He pulled out the small mallard duck carving, tracing his fingers over the lab coat and NCIS ID. “The detail, Jethro. My word, this must have taken forever. You are truly an artist to have handcrafted something so beautiful.”

Jethro ducked his head slightly, a little embarrassed. “Thanks, Ducky. Was something I wanted to do for you.”

“I’ll give it a place of honor here. Not at the lab, too many opportunities for it to get damaged.” Ducky handled the carving gently, placing it in the middle of his desk. “Now yours, dear Jethro.”

He looked at the package, amused. “Christmas crackers?” He’d never received them but had seen them before when he was deployed not far from British troops.

“Yes, handmade. None of that useless nonsense that is often enclosed.”

Gibbs pulled the bright wrapping apart and began sorting through a stack of papers. A gift certificate for a bookstore was at the top, a gift certificate for Home Depot, one for a camping store. A three figure one for their favorite coffee shop. Ducky knew him so well.

Underneath was the one piece of paper that meant the most to him. “Dinner here every week? Are you sure?” he asked quietly.

Ducky nodded firmly. “Oh yes indeed, dear Jethro. A young man shouldn’t spend all his free time alone and while the other gift cards encourage your solitary pursuits, I find myself worrying that you spend entirely too much time to your own devices. This will allow you the pleasure of our company once a week, at minimum.”

Even though Ducky didn’t—couldn’t—know the pain Gibbs carried, by his kindness, he’d lessened Gibbs’ emotional burden.

“Thank you, Duck,” he said simply.

“You are most welcome, Jethro. Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas to you too, Ducky.” As his friend gave him a warm hug, Gibbs found the ice around his heart melting just a bit.




Chapters: 1

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