Set immediately after Last Man Standing.
Gibbs goes to see Ducky to share his real thoughts about what has happened.
An established relationship story.
Written: September 2008. Word count: 1,000.
"Hey, Duck," Jethro strode into Autopsy and looked around. "Palmer gone for the day?"
"Yes. I sent him home and reminded him of his promise to you. I am so very sorry, Jethro. I should have -"
Jethro put his hand on Ducky's shoulder. "Not your fault, Duck."
"Maybe not, but - May I offer you a drink?"
Jethro nodded. "Thanks."
Ducky opened his desk drawer and took out a bottle of Thamdu and two glasses. He poured two healthy measures and handed one to Jethro who'd perched on the edge of his desk.
"Thanks, Duck." Jethro took a large swallow. "It's good."
Ducky sipped his and waited for a moment before speaking. "It came as a surprise to learn Agent Langer was guilty of murder and blackmail. I would never have believed it."
Jethro shook his head. "He wasn't."
"Jethro? What do you mean?"
"Wasn't Langer. I'm sure it wasn't."
Ducky leaned back in his chair slightly and looked up at Jethro as he considered his words. "Are you quite certain you're not letting your personal feelings cloud your judgment?"
Jethro shook his head. "No," he said, his tone grim. "I'm not, Duck. It was all too convenient, too slick. My gut didn't like it at the time and the more I think about it, the more sure I am. We both worked with Langer. We knew him."
"I know that, but people aren't always what they seem." It wasn't that Ducky didn't believe Jethro; he did. He had been shocked when he'd heard the news. However, he played Devil's Advocate.
Jethro flashed him a half-smile. "Know that, Duck. But I did know Langer. It wasn't him."
"Who do you believe is the real blackmailer, then? Agent Lee or Agent Keating? Or someone else entirely?"
"Not sure, Duck. But I know one thing: for someone who can't shoot, Lee did a damned good job of shooting Langer. Keep her lack of shooting abilities in mind when you Autopsy him."
Ducky touched Jethro's hand. "Of course I will. But, Jethro, you can't possibly think -"
"But that would make her a . . ." Even though he knew women could and did kill, Ducky's chivalrous side clicked in. He was unable to say the word 'murderer'.
"Murderer? Yeah, it would - and not just the once. The pillow wasn't used to mask the sound of the gun. It was used to cover Vargo's face. Whoever shot Vargo couldn't look at him while they did it. That sound like Brent Langer to you?"
"Well, no. I confess it does not. But, Jethro, if it's wasn't Langer, why then did Agent Lee shoot him?"
"Guess we'll never know for sure, Duck. Maybe he suspected her and she saw it and had no choice but to kill him. Maybe it isn't her. Maybe it was all a misunderstanding. They knew they shouldn't be there; they'd have been on edge, wary. Maybe Langer heard something, or thought he did, reached for his gun and Lee misinterpreted it."
"Except," Ducky said slowly, "I understand from Timothy that when Agent Lee called you for help, she was clearly distressed and there were sounds of gunfire. If it were neither of them, I cannot believe Brent would have shot at her."
"Nor can I. So either it is Lee or someone else was in the room. Langer saw them, drew his weapon - "
"And Agent Lee saw that, wasn't aware of the other person, so fired at Brent and the other person was firing at her."
Jethro shook his head. "And she went on not knowing someone else was in the room? Nah, Duck. She's not that bad an agent. Even she'd know the difference in direction of gunfire."
"Not necessarily. As you say she is not an experienced shooter, she was scared, the noise could have been reverberating and she panicked. And -"
"You defending her, Duck?" Jethro looked slightly bemused as he stared down at Ducky.
"No, my dear. Merely playing Devil's Advocate and responding as someone who doesn't know you, someone who is legally representing Agent Lee, might."
Jethro smiled. "Yeah. I know." He drained the rest of his scotch. "Thanks for the drink, Duck. I better get back upstairs."
"Jethro, do you really believe it was Agent Lee?"
Jethro shrugged. "Don't know, Duck. I'm not sure. Part of me says it's the only explanation. Part of me says it's ridiculous to even consider her. But there's something about her that's tripped my gut. Not enough to say for sure, but there's something. And there's something else."
"I don't believe she's working alone."
"Who else do you suspect?" Ducky looked at his friend. "Oh, Jethro, not Mr. Palmer."
Jethro squeezed Ducky's shoulder. "Not knowingly, no. But if he was speaking the truth earlier about feeling used by her, and I think he was, he's like McGee, he doesn't know how to lie, then unwittingly he could somehow be involved."
"But you said he assured you the relationship was over."
"Yeah. But they were lovers for several months. And Palmer's the kind who connects with people. If Lee asked for his help, he'd give it. And he probably wouldn't ask too many questions. Keep an eye on him, Duck. Let me know if you hear anything or if something doesn't feel right. Palmer's a good kid."
"He is indeed and he's a very good assistant. I'm very fond of him."
"Know that, Duck." Jethro smiled.
"If we rule Jimmy out then who could it be?"
Jethro stood up. "Put it this way, Duck, I'm not sure I fully trust our new director."
Ducky stood up too and moved a step nearer to Jethro. He gazed up at him and read the grim look in the dark eyes. "Oh, Jethro," he said softly.
"Yeah. Got to go, Duck. See you later." With those words, Jethro turned and left Autopsy.
"Oh, dear me," Ducky said softly as he watched Jethro leave. "Not again."
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