AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard. Also Jenny Shepard/Ziva David
SUB-GENRE: Established relationship
WARNING: Major character death
SUMMARY: For loralee who asked for the plot involving Jenn and Ziva to be revealed. A sequel to Explanations. Jenny and Ziva's duplicity is finally revealed. But what will the cost of bringing them to justice be?
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
"Jenny, are you certain we should be doing this?"
"But why? No one is going to believe that Dr. Mallard is involved. He's just a rambling old man, who should have been retired years ago. Gibbs will never believe it."
"It doesn't matter whether Jethro believes it or not. It'll give me enough grounds to get rid of him."
"But, Jenny, I -" Ziva broke off as Jenny glared at her. She changed her mind about what she had been about to say, and instead said, "But Ducky's computer doesn't even have the relevant access levels. He couldn't possibly have -"
"Bob's given me a program to install that will solve that minor inconvenience. Now be quiet please, Ziva. I need to concentrate."
Ziva roamed silently around Autopsy, touching nothing, but noting where everything was. She treated the room as if she had never been in it before.
After a few minutes she ventured, "Bob. He's the man you've been meeting twice a week, is he not?" She attempted to keep her voice flat.
Something of her feelings, however, must have slipped into her tone, because Jenny glanced up and looked at her. "It was just lunch, Ziva. Lunch and information gathering. He means nothing to me, you don't have to worry." She smiled. "And like all men, he's a fool. A trusting fool. He told me far more than he needed to. So much so that we don't need him anymore." She smiled again.
Ziva returned the smile. "Do you use everyone, Jenny?"
"All men, yes. You have to, Ziva, to get on in this world. How do you think I became Director of NCIS? They'd never allow a woman unless . . ."
"Gibbs is dangerous."
Jenny shook her head. "Jethro's as much a fool as any other man. He trusted me in Paris. He still trusts me. I know exactly how to wrap him around my little finger." She turned back to Ducky's computer.
Ziva said nothing. But she wasn't certain that Jenny was accurate in her assessment of Jethro Gibbs. He wasn't a fool; Ziva knew that. He had known that she'd killed the drug dealer. What surprised her was the Dr. Mallard had, for once, failed to back Gibbs. Failed to give him what Gibbs clearly wanted.
She did know that the only thing keeping her at NCIS was Jenny's authority. She also knew she'd been foolish to allow her temper to get the better of her and strike the man. Jenny had made that very clear. Luck had been on her side; no one could have anticipated the man having a thin skull. But still, Dr. Mallard's failure to act as she thought he would, troubled her. Ziva did not like it when people behaved outside of how she predicted they would behave. How they always behaved.
Again she paced around the room. It was taking too long. And it was unnecessary. Jenny was allowing her personal feelings to interfere with her judgment. "Why do you hate Dr. Mallard so much, Jenny?"
Jenny looked up again. "I don't hate him. I just need to keep Jethro occupied. And implying that his lover," she said the word with distaste and venom; it troubled Ziva, "is a traitor. And involved in selling defense secrets, will certainly do that."
"Agent Gibbs will not believe it. No one will." Ziva repeated.
"I will. And I control Jethro. Now -"
"Jennifer, what are you doing?"
Jenny whirled around. "What are you doing here?" She almost spat the words; the shock was evident in her voice.
Ducky limped slowly into Autopsy. "This is Autopsy, Director Shepard." He spoke softly, but from the wall against which she'd plastered herself, Ziva recognized his surprise. "How may I help you?" he enquired, moving further into the room.
Slowly he turned his head, whether he'd seen Ziva out of the corner of his eye or sensed her, Ziva didn't know. "Officer David." His eyes flickered down to where her hand had come to automatically rest on her gun. Behind the glasses that only partly shielded his all-too-revealing eyes, Ziva saw his eyes widen. She moved her hand away from her side and attempted to smile.
But now Ducky was frowning and had begun to take a step backwards towards the door. Before Ziva could decide what to do next, Jenny pulled out her own gun and pointed it directly at Ducky's head.
"Get away from the door, Ducky. I said, get away from the door."
Still moving slowly, Ducky raised his hands and did as Jenny ordered.
"Get over here. Now." She waved the gun.
"Jenny," Ziva cautioned softly.
"I'm sorry. Dr. Mallard, would you please come over here and sit down. Or I shall put a bullet through your brain. I'm a very good shot, as I'm sure Jethro must have told you. Ziva," she nodded once in the direction of Ziva's own firearm.
With more reluctance than she normally felt when drawing her weapon, Ziva pulled it out. "We don't want to hurt you, Ducky," she found herself saying. She shook herself.
"Ziva's right. We don't want to. But we will. Just do as I say and no one will get hurt. Sit down and put your hands behind you. Ziva." Again she gave an instruction.
Ziva tugged out her handcuffs and silently crossed the room. She moved towards Ducky, but Jenny shook her head and held out her hand. Ziva handed the cuffs across.
"And don't try any heroics, Ducky."
"I assure you, Jennifer, I have no intention of doing so." Ducky winced slightly as Jenny affixed the handcuffs to him, indicating that she’d used more force than was necessary.
"Why are you here so early?" Jenny demanded.
Ducky was silent for a moment. Jenny raised the gun. "Jethro was good enough to give me a lift today."
The look Jenny shot him was heavy with contempt, but she said nothing. Instead she again nodded at Ziva and turned back to the computer.
"I am sorry to see that Jethro's gut was once again accurate," Ducky said, after a moment or two. His tone was sincere.
Jenny whirled around again. "What?"
"Jethro doesn't trust you." He glanced at Ziva. "Either of you," he added softly. "I thought that maybe it was just . . . " He shrugged. "But I should have known better."
For a moment Jenny said nothing. Then she also shrugged and said, "He should have done something about it before now then, shouldn't he? Because now it's too late. After today he won't have a chance. Ziva and I are leaving, and there is nothing Leroy Jethro Gibbs or anyone else can do to stop us."
"I wouldn't be so sure of that, Jennifer. Jethro is a very resourceful man. You know that. And a very determined one."
"Maybe. But he has a weakness." Ducky cocked an eyebrow. "You. It wasn't quite how I'd planned to exploit that weakness, but a good agent can adapt. You're our way out of here, Ducky. You know it and I know it. Jethro will do anything to keep you alive. Anything."
"Do you really think so?"
"Yes. I do. And so do you."
"Jethro's duty as a Federal Agent comes before any personal feelings."
"Do they? Well when I send you back to him, alive if you're sensible. You ask him about Paris. Ask him where his Federal Agent's duty was then. And you are far more important to him than I ever was."
"Jenny." Ziva was getting worried. The longer this went on, the less chance they had of getting out of the building. Gibbs could turn up at any moment. The very fact that he was in the building was enough to make Ziva feel chilled. Jenny looked at her. "Maybe we should just leave it. Gibbs could -"
"No. I've worked too hard, for too long to get to where we are. This will end today, one way or another. Are you with me or against me, Ziva?" Jenny's voice was like ice.
"With you, of course, Jenny. Do you really need to ask?"
Jenny smiled. "No, of course not. Right let's get this finished. Watch him." She turned back towards the computer
Outside the door, huddled against the wall, Jimmy Palmer stood with his mouth open. He'd barely taken a breath since arriving there a minute or two ago, and now he had to brace himself against the wall as darkness crossed his eyes.
Calling on every ounce of strength he had, telling himself that his beloved Dr. Mallard's life was in his hands, Jimmy slid along the wall, until he was at the bottom of the stairs. Once there he turned and raced up them, once again barely bothering to breathe.
"DiNozzo, if I have to tell you one more time to spell check your reports before you -"
"Gibbs!" Palmer skidded to a halt by Gibbs, grabbed his arm and yanked him around. Gibbs's habitual cup of coffee plunged to the ground, spattering strong, hot, black liquid over their feet and the floor.
Attempting, and failing, to shake himself free from the iron grip, Gibbs growled, "Palmer. What the -"
"It's Ducky. Dr. Mallard. The . . . The . . . The . . ."
Gibbs pushed the younger man onto the edge of DiNozzo's desk, forced his head down and ordered, "Breathe, Palmer. Breathe."
As labored breaths filled the room and Gibbs held Ducky's assistant firmly, he clamped down on his worst fears. Knowing Palmer it was as simple as Ducky asking for coffee rather than tea. He ignored the voice that told him not to be so ridiculous; that even the hapless Palmer wasn't that hapless.
Palmer's breathing became more regular, and Gibbs let him lift his head. "Talk to me, Jimmy," he said.
"The Director and Ziva are down in Autopsy with Dr. Mallard. They're holding him hostage."
DiNozzo barked with laughter. "No, Palmer," he said, as if talking to a three-year-old. "It's not 1st April today. You only - ouch!" He rubbed his head and looked at Gibbs, his shock was clear.
Gibbs wasn't surprised. His hand tingled from the hardness of the hit. But DiNozzo didn't matter.
"I'm not playing a prank, Agent Gibbs." Palmer sounded hurt.
Gibbs squeezed his shoulder. "I know. Tell me, Palmer. Tell me what you know."
It wasn't much. All Palmer had seen was Ducky on a chair with his hands behind him, and Jenny and Ziva holding guns. Jenny had appeared to be threatening Ducky, but Palmer hadn't heard her words. Oh, and they were huddled around the Autopsy computer.
Gibbs opened his mouth.
"On it, boss." McGee's fingers started to fly over his keyboard.
Gibbs nodded briefly. "DiNozzo, pull up the Autopsy camera."
Gibbs didn't hold out much hope that it would tell him anything. If what Palmer saw really was true and not some elaborate hoax, and even he couldn’t see Jenny doing something like that, then clearly something would have been done to the Autopsy camera.
Seconds later it came up on the screen and the four men looked at it. Gibbs frowned. It seemed . . .
It was DiNozzo who offered the answer. "It's a feed, boss. Like we used in the school that time."
"I need another minute, boss."
"You haven't got it, McGee. Ducky's life might be -"
"I know. But I need it."
Gibbs wasn’t certain who was more shocked by McGee's snap-back, him or McGee himself.
"Sorry, boss," McGee murmured, as his face began to turn bright red. He did not, however, stop what he was doing.
A minute went by.
A minute that seemed like hours.
McGee looked up. "I'm in, boss."
"And?" Gibbs strode across the office and loomed over McGee.
"Someone has put an extremely sophisticated program on the computer. I haven't seen one quite like it. Whoever wrote it knew what they were doing. It's using -" He broke off as Gibbs glared at him. "Sorry, boss. Um, I think you better look at this."
Gibbs glanced at the screen. Then looked again. "McGee? Is this what I think it is?"
"Shit. I knew she was up to something. But this is . . . You said it's a sophisticated program. How sophisticated?"
"Very. And Ducky's computer isn't linked like ours our, but this program has taken it beyond what we can do."
"Jenn isn't that skilled."
"Bob someone or other. A Senator, our Director's been lunching with twice a week. It has to be him."
"Want me to track him down, boss?" McGee's fingers were again poised over the keyboard.
Gibbs shook his head. "He's not our worry at the moment."
"But -" McGee quelled under Gibbs's stare.
"What are we going to do, boss?" DiNozzo asked quietly.
"Autopsy. You two deal with David. Director Shepard's mine. We've got an advantage; they don't know Palmer saw them. We need to-“ His phone ringing stopped him. “Gibbs . . . . . . Yes, Director . . . . . . We’ll be down straight away.” He ended the call. “DiNozzo, McGee, with me. Palmer, call Fornell at the FBI. Tell him I told you to call him. Tell him I need him. Have you got that?”
“Call Agent Fornell and tell him that you need him. Yes, Agent Gibbs, sir.”
Gibbs nodded and moved toward the elevator.
“Boss. Does the Director know that we know?”
“Don’t know, DiNozzo. Be prepared. Both of you. Do as I said, if you get the chance, take David. I’ll deal with Jenny. But remember, do not risk Ducky’s life. You got that?”
“Got it, boss.”
They didn’t get the chance.
But then Gibbs never really expected them to.
With Jenny holding a gun at Ducky’s head, he ordered his agents to hand over their weapons. In turn he handed Ziva his own Sig.
“And the other one, Jethro.” Jenny's voice was cold.
He shrugged, bent down, removed his back-up gun from the ankle hostler and handed that over as well.
Ziva removed all the clips, pocketed them, and left their impotent guns on one of the autopsy tables.
“You okay, Duck?”
“Yes, thank you, Jethro. I am quite well. That is to say I –“
“Shut up, Ducky.” Jenny pushed the gun barrel nearer to his temple.
Ducky stopped speaking.
"You won't get away with it, Jenn. You know that. Let Ducky go."
"Why, because you asked?"
"You're not a killer, Jenn."
She laughed. The sound wasn't pleasant. "Remember Paris, Jethro? Your gut let you down that time, didn't it?"
Gibbs let nothing show on his face. No, his gut hadn't let him down. He'd let himself down. He'd let himself be lulled by red hair, tears, a mouth, and a willing and pliant body. "Why?" was all he said.
"He knew too much about me. And I no longer needed him. And I didn't trust him."
"So you killed him and used me to cover it up?"
"Oh, Jethro, what shall I do? I didn't mean to. I saw a gun. Oh, Jethro, Jethro. Help me, Jethro." Against his will Jethro was yanked back to the Parisian street, to him and Jenny, to her scent, her eyes, her voice. But this time he heard the truth he hadn't allowed himself to hear before.
"You were so easy to manipulate, Jethro. You still are."
"No, Jenny. That's where you're wrong. I haven't trusted you from the moment you came back here. Too much didn't add up. So what was the plan? Sell your final lot of defense secrets to the Israelis, then you and Ziva get out and Mossad hide you for a while, before you resume new identities?"
“Something like that, yes.”
“They must be paying you well.”
“Oh, they are, Jethro. They are. We’ll have more money than you could even dream of. And they’re good ‘employers’, far better than our dear Government. They look after their people.”
“Until you fail them.”
Jenny glared at him. “I won’t fail them. We won’t fail them. They know they can trust me, Jethro. I’ve showed that over the years. It was so easy to fool everyone.”
“Until you made one mistake.”
“And what was that?”
Gibbs nodded towards Ziva. “Foisting her on me. That never sat comfortably, Jenny. Never. A Mossad agent working for a US Federal Agency? Oh, no, that was your mistake.”
For a moment Jenny said nothing. Then she spoke, her voice heavy with contempt. "I don’t think so. The only mistake I ever made was getting involved with you. That was a miscalculation. I admit that. I never should have done it, for more than one reason. Do you know what the hardest thing was, Jethro? Going to bed with you. Having to pretend to enjoy you fucking me. Having to pretend I was having a good time. That you were a good lover. I'm not surprised they all left you. I'm amazed he's still around. Or maybe you're just happy with inadequacy, Ducky."
Ducky looked up; a very faint smile touched his lips. "I've always found Jethro a wonderful lover, Jennifer. But maybe it is dependent on who he is with."
She spun back around. Bringing the gun up and clicking the safety catch off.
The sound of four shots rang out across the room.
There was a shocked gasp.
And the sound of a body hitting the floor.
And then - silence.
Gibbs turned around.
In the doorway a gun held in a frantically shaking two-handed grip stood Jimmy Palmer.
Next to him, inside the room, stood Ziva. Her own gun in a two-handed grip. A steady two-handed grip. Tears were streaming from her eyes.
"I'm fine. Jimmy."
Gibbs moved carefully towards the young man, aware that the safety was still off, and that Palmer's shaking was becoming more violent by the second. "Jimmy, it's okay. Just lower the gun. That's it. Okay. I'm going to take it from you. There." He pushed the now-safetied gun into his pocket. It was his own second back-up gun; the one he always kept locked away in his desk drawer. The drawer had been locked when he'd left it. It always was.
"Did I . . . Did I . . . Was it me? Did I . . ."
"No, Jimmy." Ducky spoke gently.
Gibbs glanced around. Ducky, now uncuffed, was kneeling by Jenny's body. In the chest, closely grouped together were three shots. The kill shots. A fourth was lodged in her thigh; the same one she'd taken the bullet in before.
Ziva still stood motionless.
Her gun was no longer in her hand.
The tears no longer flowed.
"She's clean, boss," DiNozzo said softly, revealing a second gun and a knife.
Gibbs nodded. "DiNozzo, McGee, take Palmer to Abby. And here," he tossed his filing cabinet key towards DiNozzo. "Third drawer, a bottle of whiskey. Give him some. Then wait for Fornell."
"I couldn't let her hurt you, Doctor. I couldn't. But I didn't want to . . . I didn't mean to . . . I just wanted to . . ."
Ducky stood up, winced from the pain his leg must be causing him, and limped over to Jimmy.
He patted Jimmy's shoulder and slipped his arm around him. "It's all right, Jimmy. I know. You were very brave. Now go with Timothy and Tony. Go and see Abby. She'll look after you. Go on. There's a good lad."
With one final glance first at Ducky and then at Gibbs, Palmer let himself be led out of the room.
Unable not to do so any longer, Gibbs put his arm around Ducky and pulled him against him. "Oh, Ducky," he whispered. "Oh, God, Ducky."
"Hush, my dear," Ducky said softly.
A low mournful sound began to fill the room as finally Ziva moved.
It was Ducky's grip on him that prevented Gibbs from grabbing her.
She moved slowly, with none of her normal grace. Clumsily she slipped to her knees by Jenny's body and touched her hair.
Still the sound filled the air.
Gibbs recognized it.
He'd heard it once before.
In his basement.
After Ziva had shot Ari.
He turned to Ducky and said quietly. "Why's she singing that? Jenn isn't, wasn't, Jewish?"
"Ziva is not an Orthodox Jew, my dear. And Jennifer was her lover. The Kaddish is a prayer of for the dead. A prayer of sorrow. Of loss. Ziva has lost. Therefore, she will honor the person Jennifer was."
"There's no question where the shots came from?"
Ducky shook his head. "No, dearest. Ziva killed Jennifer. We have to be grateful to her for that."
Gibbs said nothing.
There was nothing he could say.
So instead he just pulled Ducky even closer to him and held him.
Finally Ziva stopped.
The silence was even more mournful and piercing than her song.
She rose carefully to her feet. Stood still for a second to get her balance and then walked slowly, deliberately placing one foot in front of the other like someone relearning how to walk, to where Gibbs and Ducky stood.
She stopped just in front of them. "You once told me that one day I would have to make a choice, Agent Gibbs. It seems today was that day."
Gibbs found himself unable to speak.
She raised her head and looked at him. Staring straight into his eyes. She held the stare, unblinkingly. The pain in her dark eyes cut into him. "In my life I have loved three people. Two of them are now dead, by my hand. The other is lost to me. And it's all because of you, Gibbs." She glanced at Ducky, and then returned her attention to Gibbs, letting her eyes linger for a moment on the arm Gibbs still had around Ducky's shoulders. "I hope it was worth it," she said softly.
Before Gibbs could speak, the door to Autopsy swished open and DiNozzo, McGee and Fornell entered.
Ziva looked at Gibbs once more, then at Ducky, before turning and walking towards Fornell.
He took her arm, glanced at Gibbs, nodded once and then led Ziva away, flanked by DiNozzo and McGee.
Once they'd gone, Gibbs turned slightly and pulled Ducky into a two armed embrace, lowered his head and buried it in Ducky's hair. Ziva's last words came back to him. 'I hope it was worth it'.'
Anything was worth Ducky's life.
For a moment Gibbs hated himself for the thought.
A woman lay dead because of him and his love for Ducky. A woman he'd cared for. A woman he'd spent time in bed with. A woman who'd been part of his team. A woman he thought he'd known. A woman . . .
A woman who had hated him. And used him.
But she was still a person. Corrupt, about to sell defense secrets and Lord alone knows what else. A murderer. A user. Not a nice person. But a person she was. He'd never wanted her dead. Just away from NCIS, her and Ziva. Out of his life and his world.
Impossible as it was, he managed to pull Ducky even nearer to him, soaking up the reassurance, love, hope and affection that Ducky always gave him.
For another moment they just stood in silence, in an embrace that no one could have broken. Then, with more reluctance than he'd ever felt before, Gibbs loosened the grip and let Ducky move back a little. Lowering his head, he placed a chaste kiss on Ducky's mouth, but still he couldn’t let Ducky go. Not completely. Not quite yet.
Instead he again gripped Ducky in a one-arm embrace, tugged him against his body, and held him.
He looked down at Jenny’s still body and tried to feel something.
Something that wasn’t relief.
As he looked at her, Ducky at his side as he’d been for nearly thirty years, he knew one thing. The storm that had been brewing, rumbling, building, threatening, attempting to destroy since the day Jennifer Shepard had returned the NCIS, had finally been abated.
Yes. It was worth it. It was.
"It was worth it. I promise it was."
Ducky simply moved even nearer and let his head rest against Gibbs’s shoulder.
The lull that always follows the storm, settled over them.