Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS or fish, because my lease doesn't allow me to have pets or large-scale TV productions.

Spoilers: Dead Reckoning, for sure. Boxed In, a little. Everything else…also.

Summary: Jimmy has an odd crisis of faith when two more bodies show up in Autopsy.


Jimmy Palmer heard Tony razzing a few of the junior agents who worked in the garage even before the automatic doors to Autopsy whooshed open to admit them, pushing two unexpected bodies before them. "…but I'm sure you can see it wouldn't be the smartest idea, considering she's in a shooty kinda mood."

"But she…"

"She would politely decline on the best days, which is the best you can hope for if you actually try it, Steinberg." Tony waved his hand to dismiss him, calling after the two men, "But I wouldn't recommend it! Remember, Steinberg, I'm on your side! I'm just trying to…" he trailed off as the elevator dinged and turned to Jimmy. "Kid's got a thing for Ziva, but he doesn't realize that girls just wanna have guns. Ducky here?"

"He should be back in a few minutes. Where did…"

"Sign for these guys, Palmer?"

He removed the gloves he had been wearing to clean the recently used autopsy tables before accepting the clipboard Tony handed him. "Why didn't Dr. Mallard and I need to clear these at the scene?"

"Eh, we know when and how they died – about forty-five minutes ago from multiple ninja gunshots to the chest, but that's all in the paperwork. We knew you were wrapping up a couple of autopsies, so we didn't want to pull you out for no reason. Right, all signed? Okay, I gotta go track down my SIG. Later, Palmer."

"Wait, Tony!"

He popped his head back through the doors. "What?"

"You lost your weapon?"

"Nah, I gave it to Ziva. Both of hers are with Abby for test-fires and she looked sad with just her knife, so…hopefully Abby finishes soon. I know she doesn't carve notches in the stock, not that a SIG has a stock and she was using two different weapons but…yeah, I should really go find her."

Jimmy remained rooted to his spot next to the two gurneys for a few moments after Tony left, remembering something that had occurred a few years previously. He had been nervous and eager and feeling inadequate because he had bumped into McGee at the front door, and he had shown up with both wine and dessert. Jimmy was fairly certain he'd been invited only because he had walked into a conversation Ziva was having with Ducky about a dinner party she was planning, and then to commit the faux pas of arriving empty-handed…he'd spotted the piano in the corner and decided to try a distraction. "You play?"

"Not lately. I have not had a chance to have it tuned since it was shipped."

"I could take a look at it. My grandpa owned a music shop and I used to spend time there, so I picked up a few things. I would be happy to do what I can."

"That would be wonderful, Jimmy." When he had lifted the lid to look inside, he had noticed an odd series of marks, too ordered and neat to be a result of anything accidental. His question about what they were met with the answer, "They represent the times I have been faster."

"Faster? You mean in races?"

"Not exactly." He recalled her mysterious smile as she had walked toward the kitchen to check on dinner, leaving him squinting, giving up trying to count just short of fifty and nowhere near the end. The piano had proved easy to tune and he had been so pleased by his accomplishment and her subsequent gushing that it had been his overriding memory of that night. Until…

"Ah, our two new guests have arrived. I trust that everything is in order? Mr. Palmer?"

"What?" Jimmy snapped to attention. "Oh, sorry, Doctor. I was just thinking about something Agent DiNozzo said."

"Something terribly enlightening, I'm sure." He gestured to the gurneys and Jimmy took the hint, wheeling the first toward the nearest table. "I apologize for not warning you these bodies would be arriving, Mr. Palmer, but I thought I would beat them here. Perhaps the man who sold me these new tennis shoes exaggerated their potential to improve my demonstrable fitness levels."

"Gotta be the shoes," Jimmy declared with a smile. When Dr. Mallard raised an eyebrow, he elaborated, "It's from the old sneaker commercial with Spike Lee and Michael Jordan."

"Is that what you were meditating on when I came in?"

"No, I was just thinking…" He paused as they transferred the body bag to the table. "Doctor, do you ever think about Ziva?"

"In what way?"

"Oh, I didn't mean…I just…" He rushed to wheel the second body to the table where Dr. Mallard had moved. "Well, we see Ziva all the time and she's friendly and, well, normal. Then something like this happens and you suddenly remember that she's a trained assassin. How do you reconcile that with the person we work with and have lunch with and…"

"Mr. Palmer, are you a terrorist?"

Taken aback by the unexpected inquiry, Jimmy couldn't think of how he should reply for a moment. "What? No!"

"Ah, well, then are you a violent offender?"

"Of course not!"

"Then you must be planning a criminal enterprise of some sort? Passing information to dangerous groups?"

Jimmy was starting to get very upset. "Doctor, why would I even dream of doing any of these things?"

"Well, you seem to be under the impression that Officer David could be a potential threat to you. I can only assume this means that you would put yourself in a position in which she would be compelled to employ her training on you!"

After pushing a demonstration that involved his face pressed against Ziva's desk out of his mind, Jimmy laughed. "I think I understand what you mean. I'm just looking at this from the wrong angle."

"Not to mention being unreasonable. Gibbs was a sniper and you aren't afraid of him, are you?"

"Um…"

"Granted, that may not be the best example, but the point stands. Ziva is no more a danger to you than she is to me or McGee or Tony." He smirked for a moment. "Well, you know what I mean"

"Thank you, Doctor. I'm not sure why I suddenly started thinking like this. I suppose I'm just feeling a little overwhelmed by the sudden influx of work."

"Speaking of which – would you care to open, Mr. Palmer."

"I would be delighted." As the scalpel passed through skin, fat and muscle, Jimmy couldn't help but wonder if Ziva would be performing a similar procedure under the lid of her piano at some point later today.

He was removing the third bullet from the body when Ziva walked into Autopsy with a holstered weapon in one hand and a coffee in the other. "Have you seen Tony?"

"Not for a while," Jimmy answered, dropping the bullet into the glass jar Dr. Mallard held up for him.

"If you see him, let him know I have his SIG and a cappuccino for him."

When she was gone, Jimmy found it a little harder to picture her carving two more notches. Picking up a probe from the tray at his side, he passed it through one of the holes in the corpse's chest. "Doctor, I think this line passes through the aortic arch, so it must have an equal chance of having been the kill shot as the one two centimeters lower that…"