The First Cut Is The Deepest
Written for the NFA Community Autopsy Men Challenge
Disclaimer: NCIS is not mine, I've just borrowed them.
Characters: Ducky, Palmer
Parings: Mentions of Palmer/Lee
Word Count: 7,976 words
Chapter One: Nineteen Hours
"I told you to turn left, Mr. Palmer," Ducky said, clearly annoyed as he and Palmer exited their medical examiner van.
"I could have sworn you said turn right, Doctor," Palmer replied, a little defensive as he reached into the back of the truck.
"I think you need your ears checked." Ducky took the bag off Palmer and looked around to see if he could spot his next patient. Aside from the NCIS team's vehicles, no one else was around. Ducky sighed. "And to think people believe my hearing might be on the downwards slide . . ."
"Nice of you to join us, Duck," Gibbs said, walking up to the medical examiner and cutting into Ducky's thoughts.
"Mr. Palmer got us lost again," Ducky replied. Gibbs shook his head. "I clearly told him left, but what does he do, turn right. And where do we end up, you ask. Well, I do not think I have seen such . . ."
Gibbs cut Ducky off with a wave of his hand. "Well, you're here, that's the main thing. You feel like looking at a body?"
"Oh, yes, my newest houseguest," Ducky said, almost cheerfully. "Where is my body, Jethro?"
Gibbs gestured wildly to the woods behind him. "In there. Get Palmer and I'll take you there."
Ducky nodded. "Good, good." And then yelled, "Are you coming, Mr. Palmer? We do not have all day."
"Yes, Doctor," Palmer replied obediently.
"And bring the gurney," Ducky added. "It may be difficult to get back."
Jimmy nodded, but looked warily at the woods behind the two older men. He did not have the best experiences with overgrown spaces. "Right behind you, Doctor Mallard."
"Now that Mr. Palmer is set," Ducky said with a smile, "lead on, McDuff!"
"What have we got, Timothy?" Ducky asked as he, Palmer and Gibbs walked out from behind a tree, exiting the dreary woods and entering the clearing where Tony, McGee and Ziva had already started processing the scene.
McGee looked at Gibbs, who shrugged. McGee started, "Uh, Petty Officer Hassan Karim, born to first generation Muslim-American parents in 1982. Died, err, we are not sure how he died."
"Overdose of bad-taste movies," Tony interjected lightly, holding up a B-rated movie case in each hand. "Even Probie doesn't watch this rubbish . . ."
"Illegal?" Gibbs asked curtly, cutting Tony off.
"Not that we know of," Ziva replied. "It seems that our Petty Officer just had bad taste in movies. Even I . . ."
"Save the movie talk for later," Gibbs ordered and then turned to Ducky and Palmer, and said, "Can you find out how he really died, Duck?"
"We won't know exactly what killed our dear friend until we get him back home, but I can give you a preliminary report once I get to the body," Ducky replied.
Gibbs nodded. "Good, get to it." He turned to the rest of his team. "DiNozzo, bag the movies and get on with processing the scene. McGee, get Abby on the phone. I wanna know everything about Petty Officer Karim. Ziva, with me . . . we're going to talk to the hunters that found the body."
Tony snickered as he saw the pained look on Ziva's face. But his smile faded as he felt a swift tap to the back of his head as Gibbs, followed by a reluctant Ziva, walked behind him and disappeared into the trees.
"Come now, Mr. Palmer," Ducky said, kneeling down next to Petty Officer Karim. "Let's see what he has to tell us."
"Of course, Doctor," Palmer replied, wandering over to where Ducky and Petty Officer Karim were, and stopping over Ducky's shoulder. "What would you like me to do?"
"Hand me the liver probe," Ducky said, distracted. "We can at least give Jethro an approximate time of death."
"Yes, Doctor," Palmer replied obediently, handing the probe to Ducky. He peered over Ducky's shoulder and looked quizzically at the body. "What do you think killed him?" he asked. "Because Agent DiNozzo's movie theory . . ."
"Mr. Palmer, if you for one minute believe the theory that Anthony put forward, then I . . ." Ducky started as he plunged the liver probe into the Petty Officer.
"Oh, no, I was just saying . . ." Palmer started, blushing slightly. "I was just saying . . ."
"Nineteen hours," Ducky declared, cutting Palmer off.
"I was just saying . . . nineteen hours?"
"Yes, nineteen hours. That is approximately how long our friend has been dead for."
"Oh, right, Doctor," Palmer nodded, with a half smile. "Nineteen hours, that would put time of death around three o'clock pm yesterday."
"Very good, Mr. Palmer. I can see Mathematics lessons were not wasted on you," Ducky said.
"No, in fact, Math was one of my –" Palmer was cut off as Ducky pushed back the shirt of the Petty Officer and revealed a complicated pattern carved into the chest of Hassan Karim. "Oh!"
"Oh, indeed, Mr. Palmer," Ducky echoed, peering at the unique design. "This is not something you come across everyday."
"I would have to agree with that," Palmer nodded. "It is a rather strange pattern. What do you think made it?"
"I think strange is an understatement, and no, I have no idea what made it," Ducky replied. "We will have to get him back to headquarters before I can fully determine the cause of death, but I think, Mr. Palmer, it would be suffice to say that this poor boy bleed to death."
"I agree," Palmer said, and then nodded in the direction of the woods. "Uh, Agent Gibbs and Ziva have arrived back."
"Wonderful!" Ducky exclaimed as he watched Gibbs and Ziva walk over to him. "Ah, Jethro, perfect timing."
"What have we got, Duck?" Gibbs asked, coming up behind Ducky and stretching out his hand to help the doctor up.
Ducky grasped onto Gibbs' hand and pulled himself up. "As you can see, Jethro, our friend seems to have bled out from that interesting pattern on his chest."
"Interesting is putting it lightly there, Duck," Gibbs replied, taking a good look at the design. He turned to Ziva. "Ziva?"
"If you are asking whether or not those markings are terrorist related, I do not know," she replied. "It is like nothing I have seen before."
Gibbs nodded. "Okay, thanks, Ziva." She smiled lightly.
"TOD?" he asked briskly.
"In the early hours of yesterday afternoon, I believe," Ducky answered. "Mr. Palmer worked out that it would have been around three pm."
Gibbs nodded approvingly. "Good. You ready to go, Ducky?"
"Yes, Mr. Palmer and I just need to load Petty Officer Karim into the van and we can take him home."
"Do it," Gibbs all but ordered. "We'll meet you back at headquarters."
"Right away, Jethro," Ducky responded. "Mr Palmer, the gurney, if you please."
"I think that is everything, Mr. Palmer?" Ducky said as he shut the door of the medical examiner's van.
"I think that's everything," Palmer replied, nodding.
"Good, then I suggest that we get going," Ducky said as he opened the door to the van. Palmer climbed into driver's side and slammed the door shut.
"You could be a little more gentle, Mr. Palmer," Ducky chided lightly.
"Yes, Doctor," Palmer said, apologetic.
"No harm done," Ducky said brightly. "Now, Mr. Palmer, can you try and not get us lost this time."
"I didn't get us . . ." Palmer tried, but Ducky shook his head.
"Just try to get us back to NCIS in one piece."
"I will try."
"Good, now I suggest that we get a move on. We do not want Jethro kicking us up the rear-end because we take our time getting back home . . ."
Suddenly, something shifted behind the medical examiners, and the familiar and audible click of a gun echoed in the van.
"Oh, no," the new voice, male, whispered, "we do not want Jethro kicking us up the rear-end, as you say."
Ducky turned abruptly and saw Palmer sitting stiffly in the driver's seat, hands gripping tightly on the steering wheel, and the black muzzle of the automatic weapon resting on the back of his neck.
"I-I . . ."
"It is okay, Jimmy," Ducky said gently, in his best reassurance voice. "Just do as he says."
"I suggest you listen to the Doctor, Jimmy," the man suggested, a foreign accent clear within his speech. "Do as I say and we just might get out of this alive . . ."