IT WAS IN HIS VOICE
The first part of the Noticing Series.
Jimmy Palmer makes a startling realisation.
An established relationship story.
Written: May 2006. Word count: 729.
Special Agent Gibbs loves Dr. Mallard.
He told me so.
Well of course he didn't come out and tell me so, but he did tell me. In fact he tells anyone who cares to listen.
I'm good at listening.
When you work every day with Dr. Mallard you have to get good at listening. You never know when he's going to break off from telling one of this stories and tell you something important.
It took me a while to realize it. At first I was so in awe of Special Agent Gibbs, so desperate not to do or say anything wrong, so eager to please him and Dr. Mallard, so keen to keep out of his way - I can be quite clumsy and I've seen the look he gives people who knock over his coffee - that I didn't listen to him.
At first when he used to snap 'Duck' or 'Ducky' at Dr. Mallard, I really believed that he was irritated by my boss's ramblings. So I took to trying to intervene and protect my dear doctor from him. I'd jump in and say something; I'd try to stop Dr. Mallard when he had gone off on a tangent, and wasn't giving Agent Gibbs the information he wanted.
But rather than help matters, it only seemed to irritate Agent Gibbs further. Plus Dr. Mallard used to look concerned. He'd look at me and quickly turn his attention to Agent Gibbs, or he'd interrupt me. I didn't know why. I was trying to help him. But rather it seemed to worry him and make Agent Gibbs snap even more.
Then one day I realized why.
Agents Gibbs and DiNozzo were in Autopsy with Dr. Mallard and myself. I was in the background, none of them were paying any attention to me. DiNozzo for some reason seemed more desperate than he normally does to please and impress Agent Gibbs, maybe he'd knocked a cup of coffee over. Dr. Mallard was telling one of this stories, I cannot remember which one - but I'm sure that Agent Gibbs could - which as always did in some roundabout, convoluted way, possibly known only to Dr. Mallard, did have some bearing on the case.
For once Agent Gibbs was letting him ramble. I looked at him and saw a difference in his face, in his eyes. For a moment he wasn't the Special Agent Jethro Gibbs who has always scared me, who seemed so inhuman most of the times, so distant, so angry, he was . . . He was human. He had a very faint smile on his face, and his eyes had softened slightly. He was leaning back against one of the empty tables, watching Dr. Mallard and listening to him.
Suddenly DiNozzo interrupted Dr. Mallard by snapping his name and telling him they hadn't got time for stories. It was something that Agent Gibbs has often done and said - but it was then I noticed the difference.
When Agent Gibbs snaps at Dr. Mallard, his tone might be exasperated, as it is when he snaps at any of us, but it's fondly exasperated, as it never is when he snaps at the rest of us. There it was for all of us to hear and realize and recognize. It was there all the time, in his voice, in the way he said Dr. Mallard's name, in the way he always spoke to him, even when he was really wound-up and irritated.
I wouldn't have been surprised if DiNozzo's ears and head weren't still ringing when he got home from work that day from the slap that Agent Gibbs delivered. I heard it connect from the other side of the room. DiNozzo looked shocked and hurt. Even my beloved doctor widened his eyes and looked surprised as he murmured 'Jethro', in his soft, loving tone.
So there is was. That was the day I knew. I really knew that Special Agent Gibbs loved Dr. Mallard. He told me. He told us all. And now when I listen to him speak to Dr. Mallard, snap at him even, I hear it again and again. It's there, all the time, in his voice for everyone who cares to listen to hear.
Dr. Mallard listens, of that I'm sure. I'm good at watching as well as listening.
LINKS TO ALL THE STORIES IN THE NOTICING SERIES
It Was In His Voice
Will He Never Learn?
Something In The Air
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