Chapter Five: The End?

The dark-suited man smiled and turned to Rahim. "Cousin, are you up for a character building exercise?" Rahim nodded, almost excitedly.

"Good." He gestured to Palmer and Ducky again. "Shoot them."

"Wha . . ." Palmer looked horrified. Unlike Aali in the car, this man actually looked like he would go through with his threat.

Ducky paled. "Surely there is some other way to resolve this issue," he suggested, tyring to remain calm.

"I assure you there is no other way, Doctor," Rahim's cousin answered, matter if factly. "As the movies would say, you now know too much. If we release you, you will run back to your NCIS friends and compromise our operation. We cannot allow that to happen."

"We won't," Palmer managed to get out. "W-we won't say a word, we promise. Why would we? I mean, I assume you know where we live, you know where we work. You can easily come and take us out anytime you like. So there's a reason why . . ." Palmer trailed off as Ducky placed a reassuring hand on Jimmy's shoulder.

"You are babbling, Mr. Palmer," Ducky said softly, into his ear. "Hush, just be quiet. I will get us out of here, okay."

Palmer nodded, and their captors noted that he looked like he was on the verge of tears. Rahim's cousin smirked. "I am sure it will be painless, young man. That is, if my cousin has improved his shot since the last time I saw it."

Ducky remained calm as he looked over to Rahim who was not looking as eager as he was before. Apparently, he was naive enough to think that what he was about to be asked was not going to involve violence of some kind.

"Are you sure about this?" Rahim asked, his voice wavering slightly. "I mean . . ."

His cousin glared at him and said in a foreign language that Ducky identified as Arabic, "Have you gone weak on me, cousin? Has your time out there in the world softened you? And since when have you been brought up to disobey a direct order. I have ordered you to do something, and I expect you to carry out that order, no questions asked!" He finished by raising his voice and striking out with the palm of his hand.

Rahim stumbled backwards as Palmer gasped. "That is what you get when you show disrespect," Rahim's cousin spat.

Rahim reached up and touched the spot where his cousin had struck him. Then he nodded and said in English, "If that is what you wish, cousin."

He nodded. "It is." He paused. "If you would like, we can leave you alone. That is, if you have, say, performance anxiety." Rahim blushed and the other Boss took pity on the young man.

"You two." He pointed to Husam and Aali. "Grab Karim and go." He then turned to the other Boss. "Leave Rahim to it, Hakim. Come, let us get some of this American coffee. I have grown rather fond of the stuff." He gestured to the plastic draped door which Aali and Husam, carrying Karim between them, had exited only moments ago.

Hakim waited for a moment, before shooting Rahim a glare and following his partner out of the room, leaving Ducky and Palmer alone with the young terrorist.

"Look . . . Rahim, was it . . . you don't have to do this," Ducky tried, almost desperately. He knew their time was running out, but maybe, just maybe, this was the one weak link in the chain.

"Yes, I do," Rahim replied, but did not sound certain.

"No, you don't," Ducky kept at it. "Rahim, if you let us go, we can help you . . ."

"Yeah, because you are going to help a terrorist," Rahim answered bitterly. "I know your American government, they do not help terrorists. They put them in that detention centre, never to been seen or heard from again."

"But . . ."

"No, I am sorry. I must do what my cousin has ordered me to do," Rahim cut Ducky off and pulled back the safety on the gun. "I'll . . . I'll try to make it as quick as possible."

Ducky sighed and closed his eyes. He had tried, but unfortunately it had not succeeded. He hoped that Mr. Palmer was not watching, the young man did not need to see what was about to happen to him. He braced himself and waited for the shot to come, but it didn't. Ducky cracked open his eye and to his horror, found that Rahim was shakily aiming the gun at Palmer's head, and not his own.

Rahim looked over to Ducky as he felt his gaze. "I-I thought it better that he didn't have to see what he is up against," Rahim said softly, as if he was granting an act of mercy. Palmer looked panicked, but managed to keep himself together. He wasn't ready to die yet, and he was not going to give up without a fight.

"I . . ." Palmer started, but his voice caught in his throat. He shook his head and tried again. "Look, Rahim, I have a, uh, girlfriend," he managed to get out and Ducky looked at him with mild surprise. He gave Palmer an encouraging look so Jimmy continued, "Her-her name is Michelle and she works at NCIS with us . . ."

Both medical professionals saw Rahim lower his gun slightly at the revelation that Jimmy had a girlfriend. Ducky, on the other hand, looked unsurprised at the revelation that Michelle was his girlfriend. He knew there was something between them, but hadn't heard Lee referred to as 'girlfriend' before. Both of them took Rahim lowering his gun as a positive sign, so Jimmy continued to talk.

"Her name is Michelle, and she's . . . wow," Jimmy continued. Then he chuckled. "I met her on her first day at NCIS, in autopsy. She took one look at our demonstration and fainted."

Rahim let out a low laugh. "That sounds like something . . ." He trailed off as his eyes darkened. Jimmy did not fail to notice this, and becoming braver since the gun wasn't pointing in his face anymore, seized the opportunity and asked, "Do you have a girlfriend? A wife, perhaps?"

Rahim paled and in his moment of stupor, let the gun fall to his side. Both men breathed a sigh of relief as the gun no longer pointed at them. Rahim sighed and looked to the floor, so Ducky said, "I take it there is a special someone?"

"Was a special someone," Rahim answered, so softly that Ducky and Palmer had to strain their ears to hear it. "She's dead."

"Oh, my dear boy, I am so very sorry," Ducky said sympathetically, finding it ironic that he was feeling sympathy for the man who was about to kill him. "How long?"

Rahim shrugged. "Three years next week," he replied, his voice a little louder now. "Suicide bomber. Her name was Amira." He didn't offer any more details, and Ducky and Palmer felt that it would have been in bad taste to press for any more details.

Suddenly, as if he had been pulled out of a dream, Rahim levelled the gun with Palmer's face. "Look, just let me do my job, okay? Please." He sounded like he was pleading with them to let him kill them. He squeezed the trigger and prepared to fire.

"Wait!" Palmer yelled, arms outstretched. "Please, please, don't do this," he whispered, thinking about Michelle. He suddenly had a bright idea and said hurriedly, "What about Michelle? If you kill me, she'll feel the same way you did when Amira was killed!" He felt guilty for using this man's dead wife or girlfriend against him, but desperate times called for desperate measures.

Rahim flinched, but did not lower the gun. "Just-just let me do it!" He almost sounded a little hysterical.

"Think about Michelle," Jimmy pleaded, once again feeling horrible about what he was saying. "Think about Amira. Do you think she'd want you becoming a killer?"

"I am already a killer," Rahim replied hoarsely, a tear slipping down his cheek.

"Then don't add anyone else to the list," Jimmy said softly. "Let me go back to Michelle, and Doctor Mallard back to his mother. Let us have the ending you were denied!"

"No." Rahim raised the gun, but it was shaking so badly that it was likely he'd miss if he fired.

"Don't do this, I am begging you," Palmer continued to try. "Just-just think about Michelle and Amira. They don't want you to do this. We don't want you to do this. You don't want to do this!"

Rahim stepped back as if Hakim had slapped him across the face again. He actually looked like he was about to drop the gun, but at that moment, all hell broke loose.

"NCIS! DROP YOUR WEAPON!" came the familiar voice as the person swung into the room. "Put the weapon down or I will shoot." Her threat was echoed by gunfire in the background.

Rahim's eyes darted around the room like a deer caught in the headlights, but his gun clattered to the ground and he raised his hands weakly. Keeping her gun trained on him, Jennifer Shepard kicked the gun over to where Palmer and Ducky were before kneeling over and cuffing the young terrorist's hands behind his back.

"Aren't you a sight for sore eyes, Director," Ducky said, letting out the breath he was holding.

"You two okay?" she asked as she hauled Rahim to his feet.

"Yes, we are fine, Director," Ducky said gratefully. He paused. "I did not expect to see you here, Jenny. I thought Jethro and the team would be our saving grace."

"I was just in the neighbourhood so I decided to join in the fun," Jenny smiled. "I was actually on my way back to headquarters when Jethro called and said where you were. I could hardly drive past and leave you here, now could I?"

"No, I guess you couldn't." Ducky returned the smile.

"Jethro and the others are taking care of the rest of them," Jenny offered, as if she'd read Ducky's mind.

Ducky nodded happily. "Good, good." He turned to Palmer. "I knew Jethro and the team wouldn't let us down."

Palmer offered him a weak smile and stumbled towards the wall, the events of the day finally catching up to him. Ducky looked at his protégé worriedly, but Jimmy weakly waved away his concern.

"I'll be okay, I just need to sit down for a minute," he muttered. Ducky nodded in understanding as another familiar face entered the room.

"You okay, Duck? Palmer?" Gibbs asked as he stepped into the room. After Ducky had given him a look that said 'we're okay', Gibbs turned to Jenny and said, "It's all clear out there, Jen. We have two dead, the rest are with DiNozzo, McGee and Ziva."

Jenny nodded. "Good, so a job well done."

"I guess you could say that," Gibbs replied.

"I'm going to take him to join the rest of them," Jenny said, after a moment's silence and Gibbs nodded. "You'll be okay here?"

"We'll be fine, Jen," Gibbs reassured her, so she exited the room, pulling Rahim behind her. He turned to Ducky and Palmer. "You sure you're okay? Palmer doesn't look so crash hot."

"He'll be fine," Ducky said, and then added, "Could we have a moment alone, please, Jethro. We will meet you outside in a few minutes."

"Sure," Gibbs nodded, understanding the need for a bit of privacy. "I'll be waiting outside." With that, he turned and strolled out the room, leaving Palmer and Ducky by themselves.

They were silent for a moment, before Ducky spoke. "I am proud of you today, Jimmy. You stayed calm and the way you handled Rahim was impressive."

Palmer blushed and replied, "Not really, Doctor. I was scared the entire time."

"That may be so, but you did not let your fear get a hold of you," Ducky responded seriously. "Everyone gets scared, but the difference between life and death is how you control your fear."

"Did someone famous say that?" Palmer asked.

"No, just someone wise," Ducky replied knowingly. "But it does not change the fact that I am very proud of you." He paused. "And Agent Lee is a very lucky girl."

"But . . ." Jimmy opened his mouth to protest, but Ducky waved him silent.

"No, buts, Mr. Palmer," Ducky said firmly and Jimmy closed his mouth obediently. Ducky smiled warmly at him. "Now, Mr. Palmer, I think it is time to head home, don't you think."

Palmer nodded, so Ducky reached out and helped Jimmy to his feet. And together, they exited the so called autopsy corner and headed out of the warehouse.