A CHANGE OF DIRECTION
Set after Jimmy's heroic enterprise in About Face.
Jimmy ponders his future.
A Gibbs, Ducky & Jimmy centric gen story.
Written: September 2009. Word count: 1,000.
Jimmy dabbed his nose with the tissue Gibbs had given him and smiled. He knew Gibbs's anger had been out of concern for him; the knowledge warmed him. He'd never believed the day would come when he'd have that kind of Gibbs's anger directed at him. He'd helped the team; for once he'd really helped the team. For a few seconds he'd been part of the team; he hadn't just been Dr. Mallard's assistant. Maybe . . .
He was still enjoying the warm feeling of Gibbs's anger, when the driver's door was pulled open. "Move over, Palmer."
Jimmy looked up. Gibbs stood staring down at him. "Huh?" he managed, silently cursing himself.
But rather than look annoyed, the harsh expression softened slightly in the way Jimmy had only seen it do when Gibbs looked at Dr. Mallard or Abby. "Move over, Jimmy. I'll drive you back to the Navy Yard. Better get Ducky to check you over."
"I'm fine, Agent Gibbs." Jimmy nonetheless slid across to the passenger seat. "It's just a bloody nose." A second later he was pressed back in the seat as Gibbs gunned the engine and hit the accelerator.
When they reached the Navy Yard, Jimmy was surprised that Gibbs escorted him to Autopsy. As they reached the automatic doors, Jimmy saw Dr. Mallard on the other side; his boss did not look happy.
"Hey, Duck. Palmer here -"
But to Jimmy surprise, Dr. Mallard interrupted Gibbs to address Jimmy. "And just where have you been, Mr. Palmer? How many times have I - Jimmy, oh, my dear boy, what on earth . . . ? Jethro?" Dr. Mallard hurried towards them, took Jimmy's arm and stared up at Gibbs, clearly demanding an answer to his single word question.
"Palmer here took it upon himself to help us, Duck," Gibbs said.
"Doing what, may I ask?"
Again Gibbs answered. "Put himself and his car in the way of a dirt bag who was about to get away."
"Ah, Duck. Don't be too hard on him. He did all right. Banged his head though, thought you'd better take a look at him."
"Yes, I'll do that. Now come with me, Jimmy. I'll see you later, Jethro." For the first time since Gibbs had returned from Mexico, Jimmy noticed a hint of coldness in Dr. Mallard's tone when he spoke to Gibbs.
"Sure, Duck." After a quick glance at Jimmy, Gibbs left.
Dr. Mallard turned his attention to Jimmy. "Why?" he asked quietly.
Jimmy glanced away. "I just wanted to . . . I felt I'd let everyone down because I couldn't remember the name on the passport. And Assistant Director Vance -" hastily Jimmy stopped speaking.
Dr. Mallard sighed and taking Jimmy's arm guided him to one of the tables and made him sit on it. "Follow my finger," he said. Jimmy obliged. "No one blamed you, Jimmy," he said softly. "Least of all Jethro."
"But I should have remembered, Doctor. It's just that when I saw the gun, I . . . It was . . . Dr. Mallard," he said, his voice now very low. "Have you ever had a gun pointed at you?"
Dr. Mallard paused and looked directly at him. "Yes, Jimmy," he said softly. "I have."
Jimmy blinked. "And were you scared?"
"Yes, I was. And I'd received training in the use of firearms."
Jimmy stared. "You had?" Dr. Mallard nodded. "What's it like?"
"To fire a gun?"
"Why do you wish to know?"
Jimmy let the thoughts he'd had when sitting in the car rush out. "Well, I thought . . . I mean, Agent Gibbs was . . . I know he was angry, but he was also . . . But, he wouldn't want me, and besides . . ." He trailed off as to his surprise, Dr. Mallard left him, went to his desk and picked up the phone.
"Jethro. I wonder if it would be possible for you to pop back to Autopsy for a few minutes and to bring your Sig Sauer with you. Thank you, Jethro." He replaced the receiver.
Five minutes later the doors swished open and Gibbs strode in. "Hey, Duck. You planning on shooting Palmer?"
Dr. Mallard held out his hand for Gibbs's gun. After a second's hesitation and a puzzled glance at Jimmy, Gibbs handed it over. Dr. Mallard extracted the clip and held the gun out towards Jimmy. Jimmy just stared at it.
"Take it. That's it. Now feel how heavy it is in your hand. Look at it, turn it over, and examine it. Imagine it is an x-ray or a piece of evidence." Not certain why he was doing it, Jimmy nonetheless obeyed.
"Now," Dr. Mallard said after a few minutes. "Do you think you could point that at someone - at another human being - and pull the trigger? Do you, Jimmy?"
Jimmy felt as though cold water had been poured over him and he had to fight not to tremble. He swallowed hard and forced himself to look first at his boss and then at Gibbs, who was standing silently watching him. He met the steady gaze and saw nothing but understanding and a hint of compassion.
Jimmy shook his head. "No, Doctor," he whispered, holding out the gun, proud that his hand wasn't shaking, towards Gibbs, who took it and pushed it into his pocket. Jimmy saw him glance at Dr. Mallard and felt sure he read Dr. Mallard's 'later'.
"Now, Jimmy," Dr. Mallard said, turning back to him. "Go and get yourself something to eat and drink."
"Yeah, go on, Jimmy. You did a good job."
Jimmy paused for a second, glanced from the doctor to the special agent and then nodded. "Thank you," he said, turning and hurrying from the room.
The giddy moments of his daring enterprise had passed. He could no more fire a gun at someone than he could . . . He couldn't even think of a suitable comparison. The awe he'd always felt for Gibbs and the others increased ten-fold. He was a doctor, he would be a doctor; he was not, and never could be, a special agent.
Feedback is always appreciated
Go to NCIS General Series Gen Fiction Page
Go to NCIS Index Page
Go to Home Page