VERIFYING WHAT SHE SAID
A case causes Gibbs's gut to go into over-drive and Ducky to test a theory.
An established relationship story.
Written: May 2013. Word count: 3,960.
The team sat around Gibbs's desk as he went through the weekly round-up of cases. It was a new policy that Vance had introduced and whereas at first Gibbs had considered it a waste of time, after a few weeks he realized it was a good thing; it was one of the few occasions all seven members of Team Gibbs interacted as a group.
As usual Ducky sat in Gibbs's chair, it being the most comfortable chair; Gibbs perched on his desk and the kids pulled chairs across the room. Someone (usually Abby, Ziva or Ducky) always provided something to eat and the boys took it in turns to fetch whatever drinks people wanted.
Gibbs grabbed a file. "Petty Officer Carter -" The sound of the phone on his desk ringing silenced him. He leaned over Ducky and grabbed it. "Gibbs, yeah?" He listened for a moment, frowning at what he heard. "You sure?" he demanded. "Okay, on our way." He put the phone down and still frowning turned back to look at the others.
"Dead body, boss?" DiNozzo asked, sounding more than a little pleased. Gibbs stared at him until DiNozzo flushed and muttered, "Sorry, boss."
For a moment Gibbs continued to sit in silence as he processed what he'd been told and wondered why his gut was already churning. "Jethro?" Ducky's soft voice interrupted his thoughts.
He shook himself and stood up. "Got a dead body at Quantico. McGee, Palmer, take the truck; Duck, come with me. DiNozzo, Ziva -"
"Yes, boss?" DiNozzo was already by his desk grabbing his bag.
"Carry on following up the Carter leads," Gibbs said.
"But why, boss?"
"Because I said so, DiNozzo. You got a problem with that?"
"No, boss. It's just -" DiNozzo fell silent as Gibbs continued to glare at him.
"Is there something unusual about the death, Jethro?" Ducky asked.
Gibbs glanced at him and gave him a half-smile. "You could say," he said. Ducky raised an eyebrow as he gazed up at Gibbs. "Wife of the deceased was the one to report it."
Ducky frowned a little. "That is hardly that unusual, is it?"
"It is when she confessed to killing her husband," Gibbs said, grabbing his coat and Sig as the others just stared at him. He handed Ducky his coat; the Friday meeting was always first thing in the morning, so Ducky didnít bother to go to Autopsy when he and Gibbs arrived, he just accompanied Gibbs to the squad room.
"The wife confessed to killing her husband?"
"Yeah, McGee. Claimed it was self-defense. Well, what are you waiting for?" And with that, making sure he kept his stride somewhat slower than he would have done had he been on his own, Gibbs, Ducky by his side swept across the squad room towards the elevators. A moment later he heard the sounds of McGee and Palmer, the former he assumed having paused long enough to grab his gear, behind them.
TEN MINUTES LATER
Gibbs drove at a speed which was slightly slower than his usual one and Ducky sat next to him. "There's something else, is there not, my dear?" Ducky said, after they'd traveled in silence for a few minutes.
Gibbs glanced at Ducky who he saw was looking at him. He gave a half shrug. "My gut's not happy," he said.
"Well, I did suggest last night that eating cold pizza just before we went to bed, was not necessarily a good thing," Ducky said placidly.
Gibbs shot him a look and shook his head. "Not that kind of not unhappy," he said, knowing full well Ducky had been teasing him. "I don't know, Duck, something doesn't feel right. Don't ask me what or how I know, it's just . . ." He trailed off and shrugged.
TWO HOURS LATER
Gibbs grabbed a coffee and headed for the interrogation rooms. Despite the fact that Lieutenant Wilson-Graves had been calm as well as seemingly genuinely upset and quite plausible in her explanation as to why she had killed her husband, Lieutenant Graves, in self-defense, something about her didnít ring true. He couldn't explain it, not even to himself, but there was just something about the whole thing that made his gut churn.
He arrived outside the interrogation room to find Ducky waiting for him. "Has Palmer started the autopsy?"
Ducky nodded. "Yes. I have given the body an initial and fairly cursory examination and everything seems, on the face of it, to concur with what Lieutenant Wilson-Graves told us," Ducky paused for a moment and glanced away from Gibbs.
Ducky looked up and gave Gibbs a half-smile. "Maybe I have spent too much time with you, my dear," he said, "however, I found myself feeling that something wasn't quite . . . Well, right, is the only word I can use to describe it. It isn't anything I can explain; it is just that there was something about the body, if only I could -"
"It'll come," Gibbs said quickly interrupting Ducky, whom he knew from experience could happily ramble away for several minutes and basically say nothing.
Ducky chuckled softly and touched Gibbs's arm. "Well, shall we?" he said and nodded at the door behind which Lieutenant Wilson-Graves waited.
"Yeah, lets." Gibbs put his hand on the door handle, but Ducky caught his arm. Gibbs stopped and glanced at him, raising an eyebrow.
"I just wondered how you were going to explain the presence of NCIS's medical examiner."
Gibbs shrugged. "Don't need to explain. But I'll tell her I want you to have a look at her wrists - which I do."
Ducky smiled. "But you also wish me to watch her and listen to her, do you not?"
Gibbs nodded. "Yeah. Need you to give me your opinion of her." Ducky nodded. "Ready?" Ducky nodded again.
Gibbs took a deep breath, opened the door and strode into the room, Ducky followed him. Lieutenant Wilson-Graves, who was sitting, looking perfectly calm and at ease, behind the table looked up at they went in. "Special Agent Gibbs," she said, her voice wavered only a little.
"Lieutenant. This is Dr. Mallard, I'd like him to examine your wrists to see if you need any treatment."
"Oh," just for a moment she seemed a little startled, and for the first time a flash of being somewhat ill at ease appeared on her face. Then she shook herself and pushed the cuffs of her sweater back and held her hands up.
After a swift glance at Gibbs, Ducky moved forward and took one of her wrists in his hand and began to examine it. "Does this hurt?" he asked, after a moment or two as he ran his finger over the rope marks.
She shook her head. "No, not really."
Ducky gave her a small smile, nodded and took her other hand in his and examined that. "Well," he said, "it appears you have been rather a fortunate young lady. There does not appear to be any real damage, indeed the skin isn't even broken."
"Peter never ties me - tied me - that tightly," she said. "Well, he didn't have to, did he? Not with being so much taller and stronger than me. Oh, dear," she said, as tears slipped from her eyes. "I am sorry."
Gibbs pushed a box of tissues across the table as he stared at her. She took a couple, nodded her thanks, and wiped her eyes, before turning away a little to blow her nose. Meanwhile Gibbs nodded at Ducky telling him to sit down.
Ducky moved the chair away from Gibbs and turned it just a little before he sat down. From his position he could easily observe both Gibbs and the Lieutenant without having to turn his head, and also he wouldn't be in her direct eye-line, when she looked at Gibbs.
Gibbs waited until she'd recomposed herself, wondering why he was getting the strong feeling the tears had been an act. "Do you want a glass of water?"
She shook her head and looked at him. "No, thank you, sir," she said. "I'd just like to . . . I'd just like to get this over with, if you don't mind."
"Fine by me," Gibbs said. He fell silent for a moment and opened the file he'd been carrying. "Okay, Lieutenant Wilson-Graves, you want to tell me what happened. And how exactly you came to," he paused and then met her gaze directly before saying, his tone flat, "kill your husband."
She made a half-choked noise and for a moment he saw a faint tremble pass through her. Before she swallowed, folded her hands together on the table in front of her and began to talk.
A few minutes later she said softly, "I'd finally had enough." Once more tears shone in her eyes; once more Gibbs got the feeling they were faked. "I've put up with his - With his abuse for eighteen months. And finally today, I - I didn't mean to kill him, Special Agent Gibbs. I did not mean to kill my husband; I just wanted to stop him. It was self-defense," she said. "Self-defense; I didn't mean to kill him. I -" She broke off and began to sob quietly, dropping her head and covering her face with her hands.
Gibbs glanced swiftly at Ducky; the look telling Ducky to remain in his seat. He was surprised to see how hard Ducky's face suddenly was as he stared at the crying woman and how his body language told Gibbs he'd had no intention of moving.
"I'm sorry," she said, after a few minutes had gone by. "I think it's only just really hit me that I've . . . That I killed Peter." She reached for the box of tissues and pulled several out and began to wipe her eyes and cheeks and blow her nose.
"Delayed reactions are quite common," Ducky said softly, however, Gibbs noticed his tone was more than a little flat. At his words Lieutenant Wilson-Graves jumped a little and looked at him; Gibbs got the impression that, just as Ducky had planned, she had indeed forgotten Ducky was there. Suddenly he stood up and pushed his chair back. "Do allow me to fetch you a glass of water, Lieutenant."
"Oh, thank you, Dr. Mallard, I'd appreciate that."
Ducky glanced at Gibbs. "Agent Gibbs?"
"Yeah, that's fine, Ducky," he said. "I've got a few more questions to ask, but we'll take a short break."
HALF AN HOUR LATER
"She's lying," Ducky said calmly, as Gibbs strode into Autopsy.
"That your gut or something more sci- Duck!" Gibbs exclaimed as he caught sight of Palmer lying on one of the autopsy tables, his hands bound with rope and tied above his head to the legs of another table which had been turned on its side. "Am I interrupting something?"
Ducky sighed and rolled his eyes. "Now, Jethro, really," he said, and smiled as his eyes began to twinkle. "Mr. Palmer was kind enough to assist me with an experiment, that is all."
Gibbs glanced at Palmer. "Right," he said. "And what exactly was the experiment?"
"To prove that our Lieutenant was not tied up, but that she tied herself up."
Gibbs blinked. "And have you?"
"Oh, yes." Ducky nodded. "Do come and have a look. Now, Jimmy, I fear you willl feel a sharp pain when I untie you as the blood begins to flow completely again. I am sorry, Jimmy my boy."
"That's all right, Dr. Mallard, I volunteered."
"You did indeed," Ducky patted Palmer's arm and then undid the knots. Palmer gasped as his wrists were freed. Ducky flashed him an apologetic look and then glanced at Gibbs. "Look," he said, "the marks are quite, quite different from the marks on our Lieutenant's wrists. There is no way the marks on her wrists were caused by her being tied up. She tied herself up. See," and to Gibbs's surprise, Ducky swiftly tied the rope around one of his wrists, pulled it tightly, blinked hard as he held knotted the rope.
"Just a moment . . . There, that should be long enough to give you an idea at least." Ducky undid the knot and held his wrist up to show Gibbs. Gibbs winced when he saw how the rope, even being held and then tied for a short amount of time had made a mark on Ducky's wrist. "Now look at the marks on Mr. Palmer's wrists again," Ducky instructed; Gibbs obeyed. "And now at mine again. As you see they are quite different."
Gibbs nodded. "They are, Duck. The ones on your wrist look like the ones on Lieutenant Wilson-Graves's wrists."
"Exactly. Whereas the marks on Lieutenant Graves's wrists resemble those on Mr. Palmer's wrists, marks caused by someone tying you up. Of course they are rather faded, well, very faded, however, if you look closely," Ducky lifted one of Graves's wrists up and handed Gibbs a magnifying glass and turned the overheard light on, focusing the beam onto Graves's wrist.
Gibbs squinted as he looked at the wrist. "Well, I'll be . . ." He glanced up.
"And," Palmer said suddenly. Gibbs turned to look at him and Palmer blushed. "
"Go ahead, Jimmy," Ducky said his tone encouraging.
"It's just that, well, I found evidence of bruising all over Lieutenant Graves's body, Agent Gibbs. Some were old and faded others were a lot newer. And there was -" Palmer broke off again and flushed a deeper red.
Gibbs glanced at Ducky and raised an eyebrow before looking back at Palmer. "And there was . . . What was there, Palmer?"
"Er, well, his groin is badly swollen, very badly swollen. Look," and with that Palmer pulled the sheet which had been covering the body.
Gibbs turned and looked at the evidence of mass bruising that pretty much covered Graves's body. As Palmer had said some of the bruises were clearly older than others. When he glanced at Graves's groin, he winced slightly; Palmer had not exaggerated. "You thinking what I'm thinking, Duck?"
Ducky sighed. "Yes, my dear Jethro, I believe I am." Palmer looked from Ducky to Gibbs and back again. "Lieutenant Wilson-Graves was not the one being abused," Ducky said to Palmer, "she was the one doing the abusing."
"It wasn't self-defense," Gibbs added. "She murdered him."
Ducky sighed again. "Yes, I believe she did. And now all you have to do is to prove it." He looked at Gibbs and held his gaze.
"Right, DiNozzo, McGee, Ziva get over to Graves's house and find me something, anything to prove that our 'grieving' widow is in fact a black widow."
DiNozzo stared at Gibbs. "You're joking, right, boss?"
Gibbs glared at DiNozzo. "Do I look as if I'm joking, DiNozzo?"
DiNozzo glanced at McGee. "Well, no, boss. But it's just that . . . Well, Graves was at least a foot taller than his wife and a lot heavier. How could she possibly be the one abusing him?"
Ducky flashed Gibbs a 'this should be fun' look, just as Ziva moved forward and stood in front of DiNozzo.
"You, Tony, are taller than I am, are you not?" Gibbs really didn't like her honey-sweet tone.
It seemed that DiNozzo wasn't keen on it either, as he glanced at McGee before looking back at Ziva and saying, "Yeah, I am, Ziva."
"And you are quite a lot heavier than I am, are you not?"
"Are you saying I'm fat? Because I'll have you know I'm -"
"No, Tony, I am not saying that at all. I am merely asking you to confirm that you are taller and heavier than I am, that is all." Ziva's tone was still her honey-sweet one and Gibbs wondered if he should intervene, but in the end decided not to.
"Okay, well, yeah, I'm taller and heavier than you are, Ziva. But I don't see what - owww!" DiNozzo hit the floor hard and blinked swiftly as he stared up at Ziva who stood over him smiling down at him. "What did you go that for?"
"To prove to you that height and weight does not necessarily matter," she said.
"Yeah, but you're a trained -"
"As, Tony, is Lieutenant Wilson-Graves," Ziva said firmly and held out her hand to him. He stared up at her, his reluctance to take it was clear. "It is all right, Tony, I will not hurt you again," she said.
After another second or two he took her hand and let her help him to his feet.
"Right," Gibbs said, "if you've finished messing around, get over to Graves's house and find me something. And don't come back until you do find something."
"Yes, boss!" DiNozzo answered for all of them and turned to hurry out of Autopsy. Gibbs heard him say under his breath to McGee, "She caught me off-guard; you know that, right, Tim?"
"Of course she did, Tony," McGee replied in a soothing way. Gibbs wondered if DiNozzo believed McGee's lie.
"Is there anything else you need me for at the moment, Jethro?" Ducky asked, as the doors closed behind the three younger members of the field team. "Because if not, it is time Mr. Palmer and I completed the autopsy of our poor Lieutenant."
Gibbs gave Ducky a smile and put his hand on his shoulder. "Guess not, Duck. I'm going to go and talk to Graves's commanding officer, see if there was any scuttle-butt about Graves and his wife."
"Are you going to give Lieutenant Wilson-Graves any explanation as to why you are still holding her in an interrogation room? Indeed, for how long do you intend to hold her?"
Ducky had a good point, after all she was meant to be the victim. He could go and call her on her lies, but he wanted to wait to see if the kids found him any evidence, so when he went in he had a water-tight case against her. He couldn't in his mind justify letting her go, he didn't trust her not to flee the country and while he didn't necessarily see her going off to murder anyone else, he couldn't let a murdering, lying, conniving bitch walk out of NCIS.
"I'll move her to the conference room. Tell her we still have a few things to ask her about when we've finished with the body. I'll get Dorneget to babysit her."
Ducky smiled up at him. "I shall let you know what else we discover when we have finished the autopsy. In the meantime let us hope the children come up with something that gives you unassailable proof of her guilt."
"Let's hope so, Duck." Gibbs moved his hand from Ducky's shoulder and briefly let it rest on his cheek, before turning and leaving Autopsy.
TWO HOURS LATER
"Boss! I've found something!" McGee sounded more excited than Gibbs had ever heard him as he arrived, somewhat out of breath, in front of Gibbs's desk; DiNozzo and Ziva were only a few steps behind him and they looked almost as excited. He raised an eyebrow as McGee held up what Gibbs had learned was a flash-drive. "I found it in her jewelry box."
"Which is a very strange place to keep such a thing," DiNozzo said.
"But a very good place if you do not want anyone else to come across it," Ziva added.
"Well?" Gibbs demanded. "What is it?"
"It's a flash-drive, boss. You -" McGee fell silent as Gibbs stared at him. "But you know that, don't you?"
Gibbs rolled his eyes and clamped down on his instinct to yell (which he would have done had it been DiNozzo, but yelling at McGee never made him feel as good as yelling at DiNozzo did). Thus instead he said, "Yeah, Tim, I know that. So what's on it?"
McGee positively beamed and without asking permission hurried around to the other side of Gibbs's desk, leaned over Gibbs, attached (or whatever it was called) the flash-drive and pressed a few keys.
The next second the plasma showed a video that indeed did give Gibbs irrevocable proof that Lieutenant Wilson-Graves was a black widow.
"That's just one of them, boss," McGee said, all excitement gone from his voice as the four seasoned agents watched Wilson-Graves abuse her husband and finally kill him. "There are several others as well - going back over a couple of years."
"Turn it off, Tim," Gibbs said. McGee leaned over him, pressed a key and the picture disappeared from the plasma.
"What I do not understand is why she would make videos," Ziva said. "Why would anyone do that?"
"Because she could," DiNozzo said quietly.
Ziva looked at Gibbs who shrugged. "Tony's right."
"I would not make videos," Ziva said firmly, "and if I did, I would not leave them lying around for anyone to find."
"They weren't just 'lying around', Ziva," McGee said. "The flash-drive was hidden in the secret compartment under the main box and was covered with jewelry."
"Yeah, I meant to ask you, McGee," DiNozzo said. "how did you know there was a secret compartment? I mean there was no way of telling from the outside." McGee flushed a little and glanced away. "Don't tell me you've got a jewelry box!"
"No, Tony, of course I haven't! It's just I bought the same jewelry box for Sarah, that's all. And the guy in the store told me it had a secret compartment."
"Oh," DiNozzo sounded almost disappointed. Then he glanced at Gibbs, "So what now, boss?"
Gibbs stared at the three of them; they all seemed a little more subdued, even a little paler than they normally did - and he could understand why, the video hadn't made for easy viewing. He didn't want to think what it must have been like for Graves.
He paused for a second before saying, "Grab a coffee and then meet me in the conference room in twenty minutes - bring the flash-drive and a laptop and some kind of screen, Tim."
"All of us?"
"Yeah, Tony, all of you."
RESTON HOUSE - LATER THAT EVENING
Ducky handed Gibbs a glass half filled with the strong bourbon Gibbs liked. "Thanks, Duck," he said, taking a long swallow and enjoying the way the liquid burned the back of his throat. "Needed that," he added, after he'd taken a second smaller swallow.
Ducky took his hand and gazed up at him. "Did our," he paused for a moment and then said softly, "black widow offer any kind of defense?"
Gibbs shook his head. "None at all - not that she could, not with the evidence from the videos. But, hell, Duck, she didn't even offer an explanation. She just sat watching and smiling and - oh, hell, Duck, she was almost drooling and I swear she was getting turned on."
Ducky sighed and moved a little nearer to Gibbs. "Come and sit down, my dear, supper won't be long - if you are hungry, of course?"
Gibbs drained his glass and after pausing to briefly kiss Ducky, strode to the drinks cabinet and poured himself another, smaller, glass. "You know what, Duck," he said turning around, taking Ducky's hand and moving to sit down on the couch, "I am. Not sure the kids will be, not sure I should be. Thought I'd seen all the hell people can dish out, Duck, but -" Ducky's mouth on his silenced him, and as he put his arm around Ducky and pulled him nearer as he kissed him back he realized just how fortunate he was to have Ducky to go home with and to.
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