Title: Frères
Author: Batwoman
Rating: T for some mild language - gen

Feed Back: always welcome. : ) Either onlist or email: aaaahbatwoman – run yahoo . com (no spaces)

Archived: my journal, (communities navyncis, ncis, NCIS special ops board. Anywhere else, let me know.

Disclaimer: I don't own Ducky, Tony, Kate, Gibbs or NCIS. Beth, Lee, her mother, and Abigail are all mine though, and so is this story. I'm just playing with the rest. Donald P. Bellisario owns everything else.

Author's Notes: Okay, I know I said I wasn't going to write any other NCIS fics, but this came to me one day. I had requests for more, people wanting to know more about Lee and others. I decided to write this despite everything. I've made a change that I've never done before. In Famille I named Lee's wife Olivia. I meant to go back and change that after I finished, having used it as a place holder. It wasn't until I posted it and reread it that I realized I forgot to make the change.

So I changed it now. Amanda was the only name that seemed to work for me for this character. Yes she's loosely based off Amanda King, but Lee Singleton isn't Lee Stetson. For those who read Famille you got a familiar sense with Lee. He was indeed Napoleon Solo, or a fond memory of him. Those of us who are MFU fans would love to see RV guest on NCIS. I can't help but see him this way if they did create a character for him and got him to guest.

o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

A couple days after Elizabeth visited Ducky, he decided to call his old friend. That call was the first of many over the course of the next month. The two men helped to ease each others minds over the ordeal that Ducky had endured. As the weather continued to warm, so did Ducky's spirits.

The day was like any other; the NCIS crew started it on a call. A dead body was found. The team was busy sketching and shooting, looking for clues, questioning witnesses, bagging and tagging. Everyone was so busy doing his assigned job that no one noticed the older gentleman walking up to them.

He quietly sneaked up behind Tony, watching as he took pictures of the area. The older man waited until Tony was about to snap another photo, keeping a close eye on his trigger finger. Just as Tony was about to push the button, Lee spoke. "DiNozzo, how many times do I have to tell you if you ask my daughter out one more time I'm going to kill you?"

Tony jumped and wildly took pictures as he tried to regain control of himself after hearing the voice of the one man who struck fear into his heart faster than Gibbs. The only man who was able to frighten Tony more than Gibbs; not even Gibbs when hasn't had his coffee could do that to Tony.

"Quit it, Tony," Kate growled after being blinded by the flash.

Gibbs turned at the sound of the rapid fire camera. "DiNozzo quit screwing around!" he barked.

Finally regaining control of his erratic heartbeat, Tony moved as far out of the older man's reach as he could. "I, ah, didn't ask her out. Sir," he blurted.

Lee Singleton was an older man. He stood a few inches taller than Ducky and had dark brown hair, graying at the temples. The dark haired man eyed Tony suspiciously. He knew the young man was lying. He made sure to ask Elizabeth all about her trip when she returned home. Deciding he wasn't going to let the NCIS agent off easy, he glared at him and was about to stalk forward when Ducky interceded.

"Leave the boy alone, Lee," Ducky said.

Lee ignored his friend and continued to glare at Tony, wanting to chew him out. He made it his personal mission to make sure the lothario left his daughter alone. The first time he met the hound, Lee didn't like him. He made it a point to let the Italian gigolo know his daughter was off limits the first time he met her.

Gibbs stepped between the two men and addressed his mentor, "Hey, leave DiNozzo alone already."

Lee turned his attention to his former agent, eyeing him for a moment. "Would you let him date your daughter?" he asked.

"IF I had a daughter, no, but right now I need him to focus and get back to work without any more distractions," Gibbs replied stone faced. The two men stared each other down for long moments until Gibbs smiled fondly and said, "It's good to see you. What are you doing here?"

Without saying a word Lee merely pointed at Ducky.

"Can you be any more subtle?" the medical examiner teased.

All three men broke into laughter.

Kate looked back at the sound of laughter, intrigued at the man that could strike more fear into Tony's heart than their own boss could. After Beth's recent visit, Kate grilled Abby for details of Beth and her father. The more she heard, the more she wanted to meet the man.

"Hey, who's that with Gibbs and Ducky?" McGee asked as he walked up to Kate.

"That's Lee Singleton, an old friend of Ducky's," she explained. Remembering McGee had been out of the office the day Beth paid her "uncle" a visit. "Ask Abby about it," she smirked as she packed her equipment back into her bag. When she finished packing her gear, Kate walked past Tony on her way to the car, pausing briefly to pat him on the shoulder. "Looks like you'll be having fun," she laughed.

Tony glared at her as she walked past laughing. He thought of shouting out a comeback, but the sight of Lee Singleton changed his mind. Instead, he packed his gear into his bag and walked to the car, being sure to take a wide path around the three older men.

Lee glanced around as the trio chatted. "Hey, looks like you're holding someone up," he said, nodding in the direction of the truck as he nudged Ducky.

Ducky turned to see what his friend was talking about. Finding Palmer standing next to the truck waiting patiently, he said, "I'm not holding anyone up. You're the one that came here and has been holding us up."

Lee gave his friend a mock annoyed look and raised his hand in a threatening manor.

With a satisfied smile, Ducky turned on his heels and walked to the truck. "I'll see you at headquarters, Lee," he called out with a wave of his hand.

Gibbs looked at Lee, arching an eyebrow, "I guess you're coming to the office," he said.

"I guess so," Lee laughed. The men both laughed as they walked to their respective cars. "So how's the team?"

"You know how it is. They're a good team, but they can be a pain in the ass sometimes," Gibbs replied.

"Yes. I do know," Lee smirked as he unlocked his car.

"Who was that, Dr. Mallard?" Jimmie Palmer asked as he drove back to headquarters.

"That, Mr. Palmer, is an old friend of mine," Ducky replied.

"How did you two meet?" Palmer asked.

"That is a story that goes back to the Vietnam War," he began. The rest of the ride was filled with tall tales of the war as Palmer smiled fondly, humoring the older man.

Later at headquarters Lee Singleton decided to join his friend down in the morgue. He stayed out of the medical examiner's way, sitting in the chair on the other side of the room, idly flipping through a book he had found on the table.

"How are the wedding plans coming along? Has she set a date yet?" Ducky asked as he continued to examine the corpse.

"December 24th," he said, waiting for his friend to comment.

Ducky looked up and arched an eyebrow, "Ah, a Christmas wedding. That'll be nice," he smiled.

Lee smiled, "Yes, and the girls have turned the house into wedding HQ, as they call it. It's like a war zone when they're all together. The other day I came home and the dining room table was overrun with invitation samples," he chuckled.

"It sounds as if they're having fun. How are you doing with all this?" Ducky asked.

"What can I say? She's my baby girl. At least her fiancé's a nice enough kid," Lee commented. At the sound of the doors hissing open, he turned to find Gibbs walking in. "Unlike some people I know," he teased at the sight of his protégé.

"Talking about Beth's wedding?" Gibbs asked.

"What gave it away?" Lee asked.

"I can always tell when someone's talking about weddings. I have a sixth sense about these things," Gibbs said.

"Yes and three ex wives to go along with that," Ducky teased. "You'd think with that kind of sixth sense you wouldn't have gotten married that many times," he added.

"Sounds to me like he needs a divorce radar instead," Lee retorted.

Gibbs ignored the jibes from his friends and instead focused on the case at hand. "What do you have for me, Duck?"

"So far nothing out of the ordinary, I'm going to send blood samples up to Abby for analysis," Ducky explained.

"He's not holding you up, is he?" Gibbs asked pointing at Lee.

"You never were subtle," Lee commented.

"I have something I'd like you to look over," Gibbs said.

Lee raised an eyebrow intrigued, "Is it a case you're working on?"

"Something like that," Gibbs commented evasively.

Lee was even more intrigued now; his former agent rarely asked for help. Deciding it must be big, he put the book down and stood from the chair. Tugging at his suit coat. he followed Gibbs out of the morgue.

Gibbs waited until they were in the elevator before he spoke. "Do you know anything about Ari Haswari?"

"Why ask me?" Lee asked perplexed.

"You always seemed to find information no one else could. He shot one of my men, and he shot me. I want him," he said, driven.

Lee took a deep breath. It was true that he had a way of digging up information no one else could. There were very few secrets he didn't share with his protégé, and this was one of them. He didn't know who this Ari person was off hand, but he did have the resources to find his exact location at any given moment. The question he needed to ask himself was if he should provide Gibbs with that kind of information. All it would take from him was a phone call to an old friend and the information was as good as his. But the consequences of his actions would weigh on him.

For him to provide Gibbs with such information would be to open up a can of worms he couldn't. If he were to hand over the information, then there would be too many questions. Sure Gibbs would never tell anyone where he came by the information, but there was always the risk of the truth coming to the light. He wanted to say no, but he knew that wasn't good enough for the former Marine. Jethro Gibbs did not like hearing the word no.

"I'll see what I can do," Lee said evasively.

"Does that mean you'll get the information for me or not?" Gibbs demanded.

Lee paused momentarily not wanting to say anything. Thinking quickly he replied, "It means just what I said." When the elevator dinged and the doors opened, he ushered Gibbs out and quickly punched the button for the main floor. "I'll let you get back to work; I just remembered I promised Manda I would pick up a dress she ordered," he said as the doors closed.

Lee breathed a sigh of relief. The last thing he saw before the elevator doors closed was Gibbs glaring at him. He made a mental note to call Ducky and warn him of Gibbs' foul mood, as soon as he left the building.

Briefly pausing in front of the doors he thought about what he was going to do now that his day was free. After calling Ducky to warn him of the impending foul mood, Lee then called his wife to make plans for the day. When all calls were made he snapped his phone closed and replaced it in his pants pocket and walked to his rental.

The couple spent the day walking around the gardens, holding hands and frequently kissing like a pair of newlyweds. As they strolled around perusing all the colorful flowers, Amanda made comments about how various plants would be wonderful for their daughter's wedding.

The more she went on, the more Lee distracted her. He was happy his daughter was getting married, but he constantly teased his wife about it. He loved his girls, but this wedding had driven them all nuts.

Ducky finished the autopsy before lunch. The autopsy revealed nothing surprising. It was a standard execution style gunshot wound. He spent the rest of the day getting caught up on paperwork.

Deciding to join his friend for dinner, he wrapped up his work and called Lee. "Why don't you meet me at the house? I'll cook," he told his friend.

"Sounds good, I'll be there. Do you need anything?" Lee asked.

"No, I don't need anything," Ducky said. After the pair said their goodbyes, Ducky snapped his phone closed and slipped it into his pocket. He slid behind the wheel of his car and drove home.

"I take it you're having dinner at Ducky's," Amanda said.

"No, we're having dinner at Ducky's," Lee said, including his wife with a sweep of his hand.

"You don't need me to tag along. I can manage just fine by myself at the hotel," she said, trying to give the men their space.

"Not a chance. Ducky would love having you over. It'll be just the surprise he needs," Lee said, taking his wife's hand and leading her to the car.

The couple decided to go back to their hotel room to change and relax for a bit, allowing Ducky ample time to leave the office and drive home to begin preparing dinner. Lee pulled out of the parking lot and began the drive back to the hotel, thankful for the light traffic.

Amanda leaned back into her seat and sighed, relaxing as her husband drove. With all the running around helping their daughter plan her wedding, she was happy for this trip with her husband. When he first asked her to join him, she said no, not wanting to impose. This was his time to take care of his friend, a man he had known far longer than most others. Despite her reticence Lee managed to persuade her to join him on this trip.

"What is it love?" Lee asked as he pulled to a stop at a red light.

Reaching out to her husband, she ran her fingers through his hair. "Nothing," she sighed. "I'm glad you insisted I come along."

He caressed her leg as he turned to face her, keeping one eye on the light. "I'm glad you decided to come along," he purred.

She smiled lovingly and stole a quick kiss before the light turned green. Leaning back into her seat she continued to run her fingers through his hair. "The light's green," she smiled.

Lee faced forward again and continued to drive as Amanda chuckled. "You distracted me," he groused jokingly.

"But you're so easily distracted I couldn't help it," she said, grinning. "In fact, you were distracted the night we met," she teased.

"Distracted? I'll show you distracted. Just wait until we get back to our room," he began.

"Uh, uh, uh," she playfully admonished, "You better behave. Ducky's expecting you for dinner. If you show up late with me in tow, you'll never hear the end of it."

Lee opened his mouth to say something when he thought better of it. She was right of course, Ducky would do just that. The annoying little imp, he thought. Allowing his wife the victory, he reached for the hand massaging the base of his neck and wrapped his fingers around her hand. Bringing it to his lips, he planted a kiss on her fingers. "Tonight then," he declared. "I'll show you how distracted I am," he mumbled.

Ducky walked through the front door and was greeted by one of the dogs, Vanessa, who had sat in the window watching for him. The affectionate Corgi had become unusually attached to the older man after his horrific ordeal. Ducky knelt down to pet the doggy, her attention helping to lift his depression. He smiled down at her and asked, "Where are the others?"

Vanessa lay on her side, allowing Ducky an opportunity to scratch her belly. Jumping to her feet at his question, the Corgi planted a kiss on her human brother before turning to lead him towards the back of the house.

Ducky smiled as he stood and followed. Walking into the kitchen he found the Corgis patiently waiting for him by the back door. "Hello, would you like to go outside for a while?" he asked the dogs. The four Corgis became excited and wagged their little tails. Ducky laughed as he opened the door to let the dogs out.

"Now, what shall we make?" Ducky asked more to himself than to anyone in particular. Ducky opened the refrigerator and stared inside, hoping something would jump out at him telling him to cook it. Deciding it was a nice night to fire up the grill, Ducky grabbed the chicken and various ingredients to prepare a marinade. Closing the door; he placed the items on the kitchen counter before turning to the sink to wash his hands. Once done he prepared the marinade and chicken then let the bird soak while he went upstairs to change.

A couple hours later Lee pulled to the front of the house. The pair exited the car, and Lee reached for his wife's hand as he rounded the vehicle. He entwined his fingers with hers and walked up to the front door. Lee knocked on the door and the couple waited patiently for someone to answer.

Ducky was in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on dinner when the dogs barked at the sound of knocking. Vanessa ran to Ducky to let him know their guests had arrived. Ducky smiled at her as he removed his apron, placing it on the table and began to follow the Corgi as she led him to the door. He pulled the curtain aside to peek outside to see who was there.

His smile broadened when he saw Amanda standing next to Lee. Stepping aside, he opened the door allowing them entrance. "Amanda, it's good to see you," Ducky smiled. "What brings you here/" he asked as he wrapped his arms around her, giving her a warm hug.

"Lee insisted I join him on the trip and wouldn't take no for answer on dinner," she said as she returned his hug. "How are you doing?" she asked as the hug ended.

"I'm doing well, thank you," he said wrapping an arm around her shoulder.

The Corgis descended upon Lee as soon as he stepped over the threshold. Each wagged its tail, excited that Lee was there to see them.

Lee chuckled as he attempted to walk past the door. Closing the door, he knelt down to pet the pooches.

"Did you bring Abigail with you?" Ducky asked the pair.

"No, we left her home this time. The kids are taking turns babysitting. They begged us to leave her, said they don't get to spend that much time with her since they're all busy," Lee answered as he pet the dogs.

The dogs' ears drooped, and they all seemed to pout when they heard their playmate wasn't visiting this time. They scampered off to various ends of the house, Vanessa being the only one to stay close to the humans.

"Ungrateful little flea bags," Lee muttered as he pushed himself to a standing position.

Ducky laughed, "Sounds like someone's jealous."

"I am not jealous," Lee denied.

Amanda laughed, "Oh, he just needs his ego stroked every once in a while."

Lee slid beside his wife snaking his arm around her waist as he pulled her to him, "That's not what needs stroking," he purred.

Playfully swatting him she said, "Behave."

"You know he can't do that. It goes against his very being," Ducky teased.

Lee glared at his friend. "Who asked you?" he growled.

"My work here is done. Now, if you will, dinner is this way," he said, motioning to indicate the kitchen. "I thought we'd eat outside for a change. It's such a nice night."

"That sounds wonderful. I hope you didn't go to too much trouble," Amanda said as they walked through the house.

"No trouble at all," Ducky declared. "You're family. Besides, I made plenty. Now come."

"Where's your mother?" Amanda asked.

"She's staying with my sister for the week. Melody said I needed some time away from taking care of mother after what I went through," Ducky answered.

That was nice of her," Amanda smiled. "How's your mother doing there?"

"She's doing surprisingly well actually. She has her moments, of course, but at least the children are spending time with her before it's too late," Ducky said.

The ambiance outside was warm and inviting, the balmy weather making dining alfresco for a pleasant time. The dinner conversation was light hearted as the friends reminisced about old times, the children, work, anything and everything. As dinner finished, the conversation continued to grow strong.

"Lee, I hear Abigail's been keeping you in line," Ducky teased.

"You've got that right," Amanda said. "You should see her. She fends off all the women that flock to him while they're out walking."

"The little fur ball growls at any woman that approaches me that isn't a member of the family," Lee said.

"She's just keeping and eye out for you," Amanda said rubbing a hand on her husband's leg.

"That she does," Lee smiled. "She even takes care of me when you're not home," he said as he planted a kiss on her forehead. Lee stretched an arm across her shoulder.

Amanda gave her husband a smile and placed her head on his shoulder. "Just like the other women in our family," she said.

The men both smiled, the couple was the most loving Ducky knows. "You two are like a couple of teenagers," Ducky chuckled.

"Thank you," Lee smiled.

Ducky shook his head, Lee was incorrigible. "Amanda, do you think Lee will make it through the wedding? Or do you think he'll fall apart half way through it?" Ducky teased.

"I will not fall apart," Lee growled.

"Uh huh," Ducky said not believing his friend. "I seem to remember someone climbing the walls waiting for his children to be born. I also remember that same person crying when he held those same babies."

Lee made a sour face. His friend was asking for it. If only there were something about Ducky he could exploit, as the Scotsman had been doing to him.

Amanda unsuccessfully tried to hide a giggle by covering up her mouth. The two old friends were as bad as ever.

Deciding to change the subject, Lee asked Ducky, "Do you remember when we moved to Pensacola?"

"The kids were still little then," Amanda said, inching closer to her husband.

Ducky smiled, "I remember Beth was barely walking. David, on the other hand, nearly bowled me over when he saw me."

"And Josephine was such the little lady," Lee said. "I miss those days."

Ducky solemnly nodded. He too missed those days. Though he had no children of his own, at times Lee and Amanda's were like his adopted children. He easily remembered all the times of his various visits. He'd shoo Lee and Amanda out of the house for a date just so he could spend time alone with the children. The couple knew, of course. Ducky seemed a little too eager to get them out of the house.

Ducky pushed his chair back, lifting himself in the process. "I almost forgot, I have dessert," he said reaching for Lee's plate.

"We'll help you Ducky," Amanda said lifting her head from her husband's shoulder

"Nonsense, you two, sit. I can manage," Ducky declared.

"Are you sure?" Lee asked.

"Positive. Now sit back and relax," he replied.

"You're a stubborn old coot, you know that?" Lee said as Ducky turned to walk into the house.

"I won't let you do all the dishes yourself this time," Amanda called over her shoulder barely beating the screen door as it swung close.

"I don't think he heard you, love," Lee told his wife.

"More like he's not listening. I won't let that stubborn old man clean up. He does enough, taking care of his mother. The least we can do is help him clean up," she said.

"I know sweetheart. He is stubborn," Lee said.

Vanessa ran to Lee growling followed closely by Ducky carrying a tray loaded with coffee and dessert.

Lee looked at the Corgi questioningly and then to his wife, "Since when does she growl at me?" he asked.

"Since she's become protective of me," Ducky said, placing the tray on the table. "She's become rather attached to me since my ordeal." He placed a plate in front of each of his guests.

Amanda smiled; the little Corgi was always one of her favorites. "Sounds like someone loves you very much," she said.

Ducky smiled. "That she does," he said. He poured coffee for his guests from the carafe before finally sitting down.

Vanessa looked in the direction of the sound of scraping legs. Seeing Ducky get comfortable she waddled to him and plopped down next to his feet. Happy that her big brother was back in his seat, she rested her head on his foot. I

Lee watched as his furry adversary walked off to sit at his friend's feet. Mentally shaking his head at the irony of things, the corgis were Mrs. Mallard's and yet one of them had become attached to Ducky.

The trio continued to reminisce about the days of their early friendship as well as when the children were little. When dessert was finished, Amanda stood as she reached for the tray. Loading the plates onto it, she walked into the kitchen insisting on cleaning up alone. The men protested, but she refused their help.

A comfortable silence fell over the friends as they enjoyed the pleasant night air, sipping their coffee. The fire in the fire pit was still going strong.

Lee finally broke the silence. "I hear you're bringing Samantha to the wedding. Is this THE Samantha?" he asked.

Ducky didn't look at his friend, merely looked at his cup as he twisted it around. He wracked his brain wondering how he could tell Lee that it was indeed the very same Samantha he fell in love with several years ago. He knew his friend would be disappointed that he kept the information secret from him, but the reality of it was he'd only recently gotten back in touch with his old flame. Unable to say anything he sighed and nodded his head.

Lee leaned in intrigued. "When did you two get back together?" he queried.

Ducky hesitated answering. He knew his friend was fishing for information, and he also knew what the next question would be. "About a month before my… ordeal. I didn't say anything because there isn't much to say. We're still getting caught up on lost time really." Suddenly a thought occurred to him. "How did you know I was planning on bringing her," he asked.

Lee leaned back into his chair. "Beth asked if I knew a Samantha," he shrugged.

"Ah, I see," Ducky smiled. "It seems the apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

"That's my girl," Lee beamed.

Amanda looked out the screen door as she dried the dishes. She smiled at the boys. Ducky looked even more relaxed then when she'd walked in the front door, surprising him. Deciding to let them have their privacy, she stayed inside. When the kitchen was cleaned and all dishes put away, she refilled her coffee. She grabbed her purse and carried it to the living room.

Stepping into the living room, she placed her coffee mug on the end table before turning the lamp on. She sat on the couch and began rummaging through her purse for the paperback she brought on the trip. Settling back into the couch she ran her fingers along the edge, feeling for the bookmark.

Contessa watched on as Amanda bunkered down with her book. The Corgi jumped up on the couch and snuggled next to her.

Amanda smiled as her furry friend snuggled close. She reached out and ran a hand along her back, occasionally scratching behind her ear. She looked up to find Tyson lying at the foot of the couch, keeping watch over the family.

"I read the report. I can't even begin to imagine what you went through," Lee commented.

Ducky eyed him suspiciously. There were two ways his friend could have gotten hold of that report. Either he had requested a copy of it when Gibbs called to tell him Ducky had been abducted, or Lee had pulled rank and ordered a copy of it as soon as Ducky was safe at home. Deciding to let it go he sighed. "As I told Beth, no one should experience that alive. I've always known how intrusive an autopsy is. That's why I've been so respectful of the bodies on my table." Unconsciously shuddering, Ducky grew silent.

Lee eyed his friend closely. He wanted to get Ducky to talk, but he was concerned about pushing him. Deciding to take things slowly, he began, "How have you been doing?"

Ducky remained silent, unsure he was able to talk about it. In the time that he'd been talking to Lee on the phone, they had never actually discussed the ordeal. Now Lee was asking him about it as part of the healing process. As a doctor he knew that, but as a victim was he ready to talk about it? That was the question he was struggling with. His knee jerk reaction would be to tell his friend that he didn't want to talk about it. But a tiny part of him deep down wanted to.

The silence grew as Ducky stared off in the distance. Lee was becoming even more worried when he finally spoke. "I couldn't sleep that night," he began in monotone. "Every time I closed my eyes to sleep I'd relive the needle piercing my skin. Lying there helpless as my blood drained out of me. It was days before I could sleep through the night."

"I had nightmares for days; sometimes they ended the way it ended that night. Other times, I never walked away from the table. I'd watch as they placed me in a body bag and zipped it closed."

Lee felt bad, as the last thing he wanted to do was make his friend relive that horrendous experience. But he knew from experience that you could only keep your thoughts and memories to yourself for so long. There comes a time when you had to talk to someone. They both knew they were too old to keep going as they did when they were younger. Neither of them was called to do the things they once did in the line of duty. In those days they were half the age they are now. It was nearly a lifetime ago. They lived on the edge, unsure if they'd survive to tell the tale, much less live to be old men. Yet here they were, men in their 60s. A couple of old war horses, with plenty of tall tales to tell anyone willing to listen.

Only this was one of those instances when they couldn't tell just anyone. This time there were only a select few that could listen. Not for security reasons but due to what happened.

"Depression set in quickly, but I did my best to hide it at the office and around mother. The nightmares finally ended shortly before Beth's visit. Things have been improving since then," Ducky continued. Finally turning to face his friend, he gave him a ghost of a smile.

Lee breathed a sigh of relief; he feared Ducky might be having a relapse. A broad smile broke out on his face, "That's good to hear."

Lee's smile was infectious; Ducky found himself smiling despite himself. "That girl is a ray of sunshine," Ducky said.

"Just like her mother," Lee beamed. "Speaking of the office, who is Ari?"

Ducky raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Did Gibbs ask you for information?"

"Who else?" Lee said, spreading his hands out.

"I knew he was still looking for Ari, but I didn't think he'd go so far as to ask you for help," Ducky said as he shook his head. "I take it you told him you couldn't get the information."

"I told him I'd see what I could do. I can't hand him what he wants. There would be too many questions," Lee said.

"Yes, questions that would cause more problems than they're worth. No, I think you'd be better off not giving him the information. Gibbs will find out eventually, no need to take chances. Neither one of us can afford that," he said.

Lee nodded in agreement. He too thought the same thing earlier. Now all he had to do was break the news to his former agent, which was not a task he was looking forward to.

As Lee looked at his watch Ducky said, "You'll just miss Gibbs."

"Who said I was thinking of going to the office?"

"You know as well as I do it's best to leave Gibbs a note rather than tell him in person," Ducky said.

"Actually, I was thinking it's getting late; we should get going," Lee commented. "But since you mention it, I think I will write him a note, only you're going to deliver it for me."

"Me? Why not do it yourself?" Ducky asked.

"If we weren't staying at here in Reston I'd do it, but I don't want to drive back and forth with Amanda. And I'd rather not leave her here or at the hotel while I run an errand," Lee answered.

"Where are you staying?"

"At the Hyatt," Lee said.

"Why don't you stay here? You know you're always welcome to stay," Ducky said.

"I don't want to make you jealous. Besides, I don't plan on sleeping anytime soon," Lee winked, giving his friend a mischievous grin.

"Ah, I see," Ducky smiled. "Well then, since you put it that way, how long are you staying?"

"Through the weekend."

"Then I insist you check out tomorrow and spend the rest of the weekend here," Ducky said as they walked into the house.

Lee thought it over briefly. "Deal," he said.

"Good, it's settled then." He placed his coffee cup on the table. "You go write that note before I change my mind and make you deliver it yourself." Reaching for the spare set of keys from the hook next to the refrigerator, Ducky handed them to his friend.

Lee picked up the pad of paper off the counter and pulled out a pen. Scribbling a quick note, he folded the paper over and wrote "Gibbs" on one side. He handed the note to Ducky as his friend held out the spare keys. The men walked to the front of the house in search of Amanda; finding her in the living room.

Amanda looked up from her book at the sound of her husband's voice. "Are we leaving already?"

"It's getting late, love," her husband said. "Ducky insists we check out of the hotel tomorrow and spend the rest of the weekend here."

Amanda replaced the book in her purse. "Really, and what did you tell him?" she asked as she rose from the couch.

"What do you think? Do you really think we have a choice," he teased.

Amanda smiled as she slid next to Lee wrapping her arms around him.

Lee planted a kiss on the top of her head, "We'll be on our way now," He announced.

Ducky followed the pair to the door, holding it open as they walked out. "Goodnight," he said.

"Night," the couple waved. They walked to the car arm in arm. Lee held the passenger door open as his wife sat down. As she secured her seatbelt, he closed the door then walked around the front of the rental and opened his door and slid behind the wheel

Ducky watched from the front porch as the car disappeared down the road before turning to walk back into the house. He locked the front doors before walking around the main floor, making sure the back door was locked and all necessary lights were off. Satisfied all was taken care of, he went up the stairs to settle in for the night, followed closely by his furry little shadow.

The next morning Gibbs walked into the nearly empty office sipping coffee. He walked to his desk to find a note propped up on his keyboard. Recognizing the handwriting as that of his mentor, he quickly unfolded the paper. His anger grew quickly; it wasn't the information he wanted. Gibbs crumpled the paper into a ball and threw it across the room, narrowly missing DiNozzo.

Tony ducked as the flying object appeared in his peripheral vision. Sparing a quick glance in the direction of the ball he found Gibbs glaring at his monitor. He bent down to pick up the paper wondering what would cause his boss to get so angry. Unfolding the ball he found the answer. "Sorry I can't help" was all that was written on the paper. He had a sick feeling at the pit of his stomach; he didn't like the way the day was starting. He turned around and tiptoed towards the stairs, hoping to sneak out unseen fearing Gibbs' wrath.

"DiNozzo!"

Too late.

fin