It's New Year's Eve, but one case is still haunting Gibbs and he was to find a resolution. He asks Ducky to help him, but finds Ducky isn't the only person happy to help resolve the case.
A team gen story.
Written: February 2013. Word count: 3,470.
It was the last day of the year and Gibbs was finalizing the list of cases solved that year by him and his team. Overall he was pleased; he was very pleased. They'd solved every single case they'd been assigned to - except one. But no matter how often he told himself that one out of forty-five was good, was in fact very good, it still annoyed him that the one case remained unsolved and there seemed to be no chance of getting a resolution any time soon.
In fact he was close to calling it a cold case as every single lead they'd had, and there hadn't been many, had dried up; every route they went down turned into a dead end; every single thing they tried, thought of, even imagined, went nowhere. The case was dead; he should admit it; he should accept it wasn't going to be resolved and let it become a cold case. He should; that's what he should do.
He stood up, grabbed the file from his desk and strode across the squad room to the elevators and went down to Autopsy.
"Hey, Duck," he called as he strode into the room. "Got a minute?"
Ducky turned around and smiled at him. "For you, Jethro, I have as many minutes as you would like." Gibbs rolled his eyes and Ducky chuckled softly, "What may I do for you, Jethro?"
Gibbs held up the file. "It's the Zimmerman case."
"Ah," Ducky said.
"I want to have one last look through it before I call it a cold case. Wondered if you could have another look at the autopsy reports and other medical stuff."
"Of course, Jethro. I confess to still being a little irked myself that we have been unable to resolve that particular case."
Gibbs grinned at him. "Yeah, guess you could say I'm a little irked too, Duck." Ducky chuckled softly again. "Thought we could use the conference room, we can set everything out there."
"That sounds ideal to me, Jethro." Ducky stood up and walked towards Gibbs and Gibbs turned towards the doors.
"Um, Agent Gibbs?"
Gibbs stopped. "Yeah, Palmer?"
"Well, it's just that . . . If you needed, no not needed, of course you wouldn't need, I hope you donít think I was implying that you - "
Palmer looked a little startled then swallowed and said in a rush, "It's just that if you would like me to, I could stay and help. If that would be all right with you, Doctor. I wasn't trying to say that you -"
"I would be quite content to have you look at the reports again as well, Jimmy," Ducky said calmly, "but surely dear Breena is expecting you home? It is after all New Year's Eve."
Palmer flushed a little. "Er, well, the thing is, she's sick and she doesn't want me near her when she's sick. She's even made me sleep on the couch. I told her I'm training to be a doctor and she knows the kind of things I do each day so it doesn't bother me. But she's insistent and you know what women can be like, don't you?"
Ducky merely stared at Palmer with one eyebrow slightly raised. Gibbs found himself saying, "Yeah, Diane was like that; still don't know what Fornell did to her in order to be with her when she had Emily." He shook himself and looked at Palmer. "Come on then, Palmer, what are you waiting for?" And with that he turned on his heel and strode across to the doors.
"Right," he said, after he'd spread everything out onto the conference room table. "You and Palmer start with the medical stuff, Duck, and I'll look at the other stuff. Try to imagine you're seeing it for the first time, if you can. Let me know if anything stands out."
"Yes, Jethro," Ducky said and then he looked at Palmer, "why do you not begin with looking at the photographs of the body, Jimmy? See if we could have missed something."
Palmer glanced at Gibbs who just shrugged. "Yes, Doctor," he said. He proceeded to spread out the photographs in what to Gibbs's eyes was a completely illogical way and began to look very carefully at them, studying each one intently and for a several minutes before moving onto the next one.
Palmer must have seen him looking as he flushed a little and said, "It sometimes helps to look at things in a non-linear way, Gibbs."
Ducky looked up from the report he was reading. "Jimmy is quite right, Jethro. It does. In fact . . . " He never completed the sentence, he just put the report he had been studying down, picked up another one, frowned put that down and pounced on a third. "Ah," he said and fell silent.
Quite some time went by; Gibbs didnít know how long, he hadn't been keeping track of the time. But he did know that his head was already hurting as he read reports he'd written, reports that still led nowhere, no matter if he read them backwards, forwards or sidewards.
He read one particular report again, but it told him nothing - well nothing new - it merely seemed to be taunting him. He was just telling himself his idea had been a foolish one, a pointless one and they should all just pack up and go home and whether he liked it or not he'd redesignate the case as a cold case, when the door opened.
"Boss, Tony wondered if - Oh, is that the Zimmerman case?
Gibbs looked up. "Yeah, McGee," he said. "Thought I'd have one more look at it to see if we'd missed anything."
McGee moved closer to the table and picked up a sheet of paper and stared at it. "I wonder if . . . Boss, may I take this? I've got an idea."
"Do I need to sign some kind of chain of evidence thing?"
"Yeah, I guess. Here," Gibbs pulled out his notepad torn a sheet off, wrote ZIMMERMAN at the top and the case number and then made a note of the report number of the piece of paper McGee wanted to take away.
McGee signed it and hurried out. "I'll be in Abby's lab," he called.
"He seemed excited," Ducky said after a moment or two.
"Good job someone is. You found anything, Duck?"
"Well, as a matter of fact, Jethro, I believe I may . . . At least it's possible that . . . I shall need to go back to Autopsy and check something. May I take these with me, Jethro?"
"Sure, Duck." Gibbs pushed the chain of evidence paper over to Ducky who obligingly added the necessary details and then made his way to the door.
"May I stay for just a moment longer, Doctor? There's something . . ." And Palmer fell silent as he took his glasses off and bent over one photograph getting closer and closer to it, frowning as he picked it up and once more stared at it.
Ducky hesitated for a moment then looked at Gibbs and smiled. "I'll send him down when he's done, Duck," Gibbs said, "unless you need him now?"
Ducky shook his head. "No, there are a few things I would like to look up on the computer and Jimmy is much better at searching than I am. However, I also wish to check something in some books - and that is something I am much better at than Jimmy is; later will be fine." And with another smile at Gibbs Ducky left the conference room.
Gibbs continued to read the reports, now even looking at some of the medical stuff Ducky hadn't taken with him, while Palmer went on staring at the photograph. Gibbs left him to it, he knew what it was like when you had a feeling or whatever it was Palmer had and if Ducky really needed him, he'd call.
At one point Palmer put the photo down, walked around the room, paused to stare at the window before hurrying back to the photo and snatching it up and looking at it quickly. "There's something, I know there is," he muttered as he again stared intently at the photograph, turning it on its side and even upside down. "If only I could remember what it was. There is something here, Gibbs," he said. "I just can't see it. But I know it's there.
"Want me to have a look?" Palmer sighed, squinted at the photo and then held it out to Gibbs. "Er, what am I looking for?" Gibbs asked.
Palmer flushed. "That's just the point, Gibbs, I don't know. But it is there."
"Okay, Palmer," Gibbs said calmly after a moment or two of just staring at him. He took the photo and stared down at it, but he saw nothing more than he'd seen the other times he'd looked at it. He tried closing one eye and then the other; he tried squinting; he tried moving it nearer to him, finally he held it out at arm's length and stared at it.
"That's it!" Jimmy said so loudly that Gibbs jumped. "Oh," he said, you've moved it.
Gibbs opened his mouth to say something when the door opened. "Hey, boss, McGeek said you were looking at the Zimmerman case again. Ziva and I wondered if you'd like us to have another look."
Gibbs stared at him. "Thought you had a New Year's Eve party to go to, DiNozzo?"
DiNozzo shrugged. "I do, but no one gets to parties until at least ten o'clock."
"They don't?" Gibbs asked
DiNozzo shook his head. "No, at least you don't if you're cool. I'm sure Palmer and McGee get to parties as early as - You know what, boss, I'm going to shut up now."
"Good choice, DiNozzo," Gibbs said handing the photo back to Palmer. He glanced at Ziva who was standing silently in the doorway. "Don't you have a party to go to?"
She shook her head. "I had intended to spend the evening with a good book and a glass of wine."
"Gee, Ziva, the fun you - Shutting up, boss."
Gibbs shook his head. "Okay. Ducky's got most of the medical stuff; McGee took some technical looking paper or something; Palmer here's looking at the photos in a non-linear way - wasn't that what you called it, Palmer?"
Palmer was still staring at the photo he held, but he nodded slowly. "Yes, Agent Gibbs," he said.
"I've read my notes, your notes, McGee's notes again - I've even tried reading them in a non-linear way, but . . . Nothing. If you and Ziva want to look at them again, be my guest."
"I imagine it is the opposite of linear," Ziva said, picking up one of the reports and starting to look at it.
"Yes, thank you, Agent David, I got that," DiNozzo said. "What I meant was -"
"It basically means looking at things out of order," Palmer said quickly. "That's not the exact dictionary definition. I'm sure that if you asked him Dr. Mallard would -"
"Oh, he would," Gibbs said. "He really would."
After a second or two they all began to laugh.
"Got it," DiNozzo said once they fell silent. "So if I start with the last piece of evidence and . . ." He picked up a report, sat down and began to read, starting with the last page.
Once again they all sat in silence, or in Palmer's case stood and occasionally paced around the room with the photo in his hand, for quite some time.
Finally Gibbs had, for the moment at least, had enough. "I need coffee," he said heading for the door. "Then I'm going to see if Ducky or McGee has found anything. If any of you take anything, make sure you record it on that piece of paper."
"Of course, Gibbs."
"Certainly, Agent Gibbs."
Gibbs closed the door as his cell phone began to ring. "Yeah, Gi -" McGee's excited voice stopped him. "I'll be there in five, McGee," he said and disconnected the call.
He paid a quick visit to the head before grabbing a coffee - he'd make do with the in-house stuff for now - and then he headed towards Abby's lab. He refused to get his hopes up; McGee may have sounded excited, but Gibbs doubted he'd found anything. He was seriously beginning to think there was nothing to find.
He was a little surprised to find Abby waiting, clearly very impatiently, outside "Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs!" she cried, dragging him inside her lab and across the room to where McGee was sitting his fingers flying over a keyboard; his full attention was on a screen on which information seemed to be moving at a high speed.
"Timmy is a genius!" She beamed like a proud parent.
Gibbs waited. "Well? Genius, what -"
"In a minute, boss. I just need to - Got it!"
"Yes!" Abby punched the air and beamed.
McGee spun round on his chair. "I did it, boss. I did it."
Gibbs stared at him. "Well?"
"Well actually, we did it; I couldn't have done it without Abby." McGee turned
to look at Abby and he smiled.
"Oh, Timmy, that's so sweet." She kissed his cheek.
He flushed a little. "Well, it's true, Abby, I couldn't. I only have two hands and I needed four."
"Team McGee!" Abby said.
"Aww, Abby. That's -"
"If one of you doesn't start talking soon I'll -"
"Jethro! I believe I have -"
"You'll have to wait, Ducky. Timmy's first. Go on, Tim, tell him."
"Well, boss, you see I -"
"Agent Gibbs! I found it. I found it. I remembered what it was that I -"
"Gibbs. Ziva had this brilliant idea; well it was my idea but Ziva -"
"It was not your idea, Tony. It was I who said -"
Gibbs gave serious consideration to pulling out his Sig and firing it. However, he thought that might upset the janitorial department or set off some alarm or other. So instead he got up on the table and yelled. "Shut up, all of you!"
Six people fell silent and turned to look up at him.
"Right," he said. "DiNozzo, Ziva -"
"Boss, that's not -" McGee fell silent under Gibbs's stare.
Gibbs turned back to DiNozzo. "Is it just an idea you have or have you actually found something?"
DiNozzo looked at Ziva who looked at Gibbs. "At the moment, Gibbs," she said a little reluctantly, "it is just an idea. However, I am -"
"Then go away, apply your idea and find something."
They looked at one another, before turning in synchrony and saying, also in synchrony, "On it, boss."
Despite himself, Gibbs had to fight to hide the laugh that wanted to escape when Ziva had said DiNozzo's favorite phrase. He glanced at Ducky who of everyone looked quite calm and relaxed; indeed he'd even sat down and was merely looking up at Gibbs in his ever-fond way. "Duck?"
"Oh, I am quite happy to wait, Jethro. I believe you should listen to Timothy and Abigail or Jimmy first."
"We were first," Abby declared. "Right, Tim?" McGee just nodded.
"Jimmy, let us go next door and I'll tell you what I believe I have found and you can double check it for me before I tell Jethro. And you can tell me what you have found."
"Yes, Doctor," Palmer said obligingly and he hurried over to Ducky. Heads together they left Abby's lab and went into her office.
Gibbs sighed, jumped down off of the table and looked at McGee and Abby. "Well?" he said. "What have you done, McGee?"
He let McGee talk, with occasional additions from Abby, for quite a lot longer than he usually did before he finally gave up. "McGee!"
"Er, I hacked the Pentagon."
Gibbs blinked. "Thought you told me that was impossible due to the additional security?"
"Well, yes, boss, I did and it was, but you see I . . ."
This time Gibbs listened for a shorter a time before he clapped his hands and silence McGee. "And . . . ?"
"Look." Abby dragged Gibbs towards the screen McGee had been staring at and pointed.
Gibbs squinted, pulled his glasses out and stared. "Well I'll be - McGee, are you sure?"
McGee nodded. His excitement had faded and now he just looked grim. "Yes, boss," he said. "I triple checked it."
"But we cleared him," Gibbs said. "I ruled him out."
"Yes, boss," McGee said softly. "We all did. It was impossible; it wasn't just that there wasn't any evidence there was proof he couldn't have. But he did."
"Fuck it," Gibbs swore violently. "If only I'd -"
"It wasn't your fault, Jethro."
Gibbs turned around; he hadn't heard Ducky and Palmer come back into the lab, but from the look on Ducky's face he'd been there for a while at least. "Duck -"
"No, Jethro. It was not your fault; nor was it mine; Anthony's; Timothy's; Ziva's; Abigail's or Jimmy's. As Timothy said there was proof, hard, unbreakable proof he did not do it. But he did. Look, it's here. It's all here." And he handed Gibbs a single sheet of paper covered in his handwriting.
Gibbs read the first paragraph and shook his head. "How?"
"He was good, boss."
"But we're better, right? Right?" Abby demanded.
Gibbs looked at Ducky and saw that Ducky, like him, was thinking of the dead bodies; the people they might have - He stopped the thought; McGee was right, there was nothing anyone could have done. Ducky was right; it wasn't anyone's fault.
After glancing at Ducky who nodded, Palmer hurried over to him with the photograph and held it up at an angle. "There," he said. "You can only see it when you hold it in a particular way in a particular light. It's all but hidden."
"Ziva's idea - well, she was right. Here." DiNozzo came over to Gibbs and handed him the final piece of evidence.
"What do we do next?" Ducky was the one to break the silence.
"We can't arrest him, can we?" DiNozzo asked.
Gibbs shook his head. "No. The SecNav would never allow it."
"So he gets away with it?"
Gibbs turned to McGee. "No. He doesnít. We might not be able to arrest him, but I can and I will make him resign."
Gibbs shook his head. "The how doesn't matter. But the day after tomorrow," he glanced at the clock. "Make that tomorrow, I'll go and see him and just let him know what we know."
"Do you think that will be enough, boss?"
It was Ducky who answered. "Oh, yes, Anthony. I assure you it will be enough." Even though he spoke to DiNozzo, he didn't look at him; his gaze never wavered, not even for a second, as he stared at Gibbs.
Everyone fell silent as Gibbs and Ducky stared at one another and the kids watched them.
Finally, Gibbs mentally shook himself, gave Ducky a quick nod and smile and said, "Well, thanks to you all we've resolved our last case of the year or maybe that should be we've resolved our first case of the New Year."
"Hey," DiNozzo said suddenly, "it's a New Year's resolution," everyone looked at him and he turned a little red. "Well," he said after a moment or two, "it is."
They all looked at the clock. "Oh," Abby said. Then she beamed, threw her arms around McGee and kissed his cheek again. "Happy New Year, Timmy!" she cried, it took a lot to keep Abby down for more than a minute or two. Then she left McGee and hurried to Ducky, hugged and kissed him before making the way around the rest of the team.
It was several minutes before they'd all hugged and in some cases kissed one another and exchange Happy New Year greetings.
"Well," Ducky said. "Champagne, I think. Mr. Palmer."
"Certainly, Doctor." And Palmer hurried off.
"I have a couple of bottles in the fridge, Jethro." Ducky spoke as it was the most natural thing in the world.
"Do you always have champagne at work, Duck?"
"Oh, no, just on certain occasions such as New Year's Eve; just in case we end up having to work late."
Gibbs shook his head and gazed at Ducky. "Yeah," he said suddenly, "we are better."
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