Ashleigh Anpilova


Jenny Shepard finally pushes Gibbs too far.

An established relationship story.

Written: October 2005. Word count: 1,648.



The door leading into Autopsy was automatic. As such it swished open in exactly the same way each time someone approached it - at least in theory. However Ducky, washing his hands after his most recent autopsy, could have sworn that when it opened this time, the ferocity was so great that he expected to hear the glass shatter.


He didn't need to turn around to know who had come in; as always he just knew. However, as the nape of his neck had begun to tingle, rather than simply address the person, as he usually did, he did look up. One swift glance at the handsome face was all he needed to confirm his suspicion that all was not well. "Jimmy," he called, watching as Jethro began to pace up and down the room. His friend and lover was clenching and unclenching his hands, as thunderclouds settled over him.


"Yes, Dr. Mallard?" Jimmy Palmer came hurrying up to him. "Oh, hello, Special Agent Gibbs," he said brightly. He didn't look surprised when the man whom he had just addressed ignored



"Take these up to Abby, Jimmy. Then go and have your lunch," Ducky said, handing over several small glass phials.


"Lunch, Doctor? But it's only te-"


"Yes, Jimmy. Lunch," Ducky said firmly, hoping his assistant was bright enough to understand his meaning.


"What Dr. Mallard means, Palmer, is get yourself the hell out of here and don't come back until he tells you to!" Jethro snapped, turning on his heel and glaring at the young man.


"Jethro," Ducky said quietly, and met the furious dark gaze as it was turned his way.


"I'm sorry," Jethro muttered, as he spun back around and continued to pace.


Ducky smiled reassuringly at his assistant and briefly touched his shoulder. "Go along, Jimmy," he said and all but shooed his assistant towards and out of the door. Jimmy moved slowly, casting looks over his shoulder the entire time, as though he wasn't certain that he should leave his boss alone with the clearly enraged Special Agent.


Finally though the door swished open and shut again. Ducky breathed a sigh of relief and moved across the room to where Jethro was still pacing. By now he was also muttering under his breath. Ducky had seen his old friend in any number of moods and states, but even he had never seen him so furious. He caught Jethro's arm as he strode past him for the third time, "Jethro," he said softly.


He was under no illusion that if he had wanted to keep moving, Jethro would have done so. However, the touch and the word seemed to be what Jethro needed. He came to a halt and turned to face Ducky. Anguish hung heavily in the dark eyes, and Ducky could see that the storm had not fully abated. "What is it, my dear?" he asked, keeping a grip on the tense arm.


"That bitch has gone too far this time," Jethro snapped.


Ducky sighed. He didn't need to ask about whom Jethro was talking. He'd been expecting something like this to happen from the moment he'd heard that Jennifer Shepard had been appointed as the new Director of NCIS. To his mind it was a foolish appointment - for more than one reason. "What has she done?" he asked gently. The ‘this time' hung unspoken in the air.


In answer, Jethro dug into his jacket pocket yanked out a screwed up piece of paper, and thrust it at Ducky. "Read this," he snapped.


Ducky unfolded it, scanned the contents and looked up at Jethro in utter shock. "She can't be serious?"


"Oh, yes, she can. And she is."


"But she's been an agent. She knows this is impossible."


"Not according to some damn stupid management training session she went on, it isn't. ‘All employees will schedule their tasks each day.'" Jethro's tone was heavy with sarcasm. "I can just see that, can't you, Duck? We get a call to go to a dead Marine, and I have to tell them to hang on while I sit down and schedule my time. And detail how long it'll take me to drive there, to take pictures, to check the scene, to interview witnesses. And then," he went on, "if I've spent more or less time than recorded in my schedule, I have to explain why. And then I have to schedule time for Abby and time for you. And schedule how long it'll take me to break the bastard I have in my interrogation room. I'm surprised she hasn't insisted we plan the times we're going to visit the head, and how long each trip will take us! But no doubt that'll come."


Ducky waited until he was certain that Jethro had finished. "Well I can't do it either. I never know how long an autopsy is going to take until I begin it. No two bodies are ever the same. Even if two people have been killed in what looks like identical ways, when I get them open there will always be differences. What is she trying to do, Jethro?"


Jethro ignored the question. "First she forces that blasted Mossad agent onto me, and I don't care that she killed Ari, I still don't trust her as I should trust an NCIS agent. Then she tried to insist that Abby conform to some pathetic dress code. As if wearing a suit and high heels is going to make Abby any more efficient. Then she insists that Abby needs an assistant without asking either Abby or me. But this . . ." Jethro broke off, tugged away from Ducky's grip, and once more strode off across the room. Then he stopped dead, lowered his head and said softly, "But that's not the worse of it, Duck."


Ducky crossed the room to where Jethro stood. Again he didn't like what he saw, what he read. The last time he'd seen Jethro so full of pain had been after Kate's death. "Jethro," again he touched Jethro's arm. "Tell me." He made it an order the kind that only twenty-seven years as friends and lovers could give him the right to do.


"I have to lose a member of my team, Duck. One of my agents," Jethro added.


Ducky blinked. "Well that's simple," he said. "And it solves two problems at - Jethro?" Jethro was shaking his head.


"Nope. Not her. She's exempt. It's DiNozzo or McGee. My choice."


"Oh, my dear Jethro," Ducky whispered, wishing that they were anywhere other than in Autopsy with a security camera gazing at them. "What are you going to do?" he asked eventually.


Jethro lifted his head and met Ducky's gaze. "An old Commander of mine once told me, when I asked him the same question, ‘when a Marine is given a direct order, he has two choices: obey or resign.'" For one of the few times ever outside of the privacy of one or the other's homes, Jethro's dropped the shield that he habitually built to keep his eyes from betraying him. For a brief moment, Ducky wished his lover would raise it again.


"Oh, my dear," he said softly, moving even closer to Jethro and touching his face.


"You know why she's doing this, don't you?"


Ducky nodded. The phrase ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned' could have been written for Jenny Shepard.


"Please don't say ‘I told you so,'" Jethro said.


Ducky offered a half smile and shook his head. "Have I ever done that?"


Jethro shook his own head. "Sorry, Duck," he said. "I told you I'm a bastard."


"No, my dear, you're not. Jethro, you have to fight this. There must be someone to whom you can turn. Even Agency Directors answer to someone."


"Yeah, but that makes it official. And then no one wins. You know that."


"Tom Morrow."


"Excuse me?"


"Call Tom Morrow. Off the record. He might be able to help."


Jethro looked at him dubiously. Then shrugged. "It's worth a try. Hell, I don't want to leave, Duck. But I can't - What did you say?"


Ducky tilted his head back and met the now questioning gaze. "I said ‘neither do I.'"




"Go, Jethro. Go out and contact Tom Morrow. We'll talk later."


Jethro just continued to stare down at Ducky, until Ducky gently turned him and pushed him in the direction of the door. Jethro moved slowly. Then stopped and turned around. Ducky crossed his arms, and stared up at his friend, daring Jethro to continue the discussion. But instead his lover said, "Who would you go for, Duck? If you had to. Which one of them?"


"You know the answer to that, Jethro my dear," Ducky said, quietly and firmly.


"Yeah, guess I do, Duck. Guess I do." Jethro sighed and continued towards the door. It swished open, in a far less violent way than it had done when he'd arrived. Jethro paused on the threshold, glanced back and said softly. "Me too, just in case you were wondering."


Ducky didn't speak until the door had closed again. "Yes, I know, Jethro," he said softly. He watched until the elevator engulfed his lover. Then stood for another moment or two in silent contemplation, his head lowered.


When he looked up, he glanced around the room. He would miss it. He would miss it a great deal. He'd miss the team too - Abby, Timothy, Jimmy and Tony. For a long time now they'd been part of his family, saying goodbye would be very difficult. But unless Jethro could pull of one of his miracles, and for the first time in his life Ducky had his doubts, he would indeed be saying that word - very soon.


"Oh, Jethro my dear," he said softly, before moving to his desk where his latest report awaited him.



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