The Price of a Klondike Bar

Jimmy Palmer walks into autopsy wondering not for the first time that week if anything is wrong with his mentor Dr. Mallard. For the past several days, the good doctor hasn't been his normal chatty self and Jimmy is concerned. A quiet Ducky isn't a normal Ducky. He puts his coat away and puts on his scrubs, then heads into the main autopsy room to find Dr. Mallard waiting for him.

"Hello Dr. Mallard how are you today?"

"Just fine, Jimmy. Since we don't have any visitors this morning I'd appreciate it if you would start cleaning the lab."

"Yes sir. Umm, Dr. Mallard, I was wondering; are you feeling okay?"

"Well, of course dear boy. Why would you think otherwise?"

Jimmy pulls out his cleaning supplies and pulls on protective gloves as he formulates his answer.

"No real reason, I just…you haven't told us any stories this week. I admit we haven't had a lot of visitors down here, but you always have a story to tell."

Jimmy's concern only serves to endear him to the good doctor even more than he had been. Ducky decides that enough time has passed that he can "read" his assistant into the assignment.

"Ah, this too shall pass Jimmy. I only have eight more hours and then we can continue our discussion on the finer points of 18th century science."

"Eight hours?"

Jimmy closes the locker he'd just finished cleaning and opens the next door. As he does so, Ducky's words sink in.

"Eight more hours? Did someone actually tell you not to talk to our guests?"

Ducky smiles at the outrage in his young friend's voice.

"Actually it's a dare, and a darned good one if I do say so myself."

"What's the bet?"

The elevator door dings open and Leroy Jethro Gibbs steps out. He strides over to the freezer in Ducky's office and places something inside. He nods to Jimmy as he leaves the room and Ducky smiles in triumph. He motions for Jimmy to open the freezer and when he does, the assistant sees a small pile of square, silver-foiled ice cream bars.

"You're doing this for an ice cream bar?"

"Not just any ice cream bar, Mr. Palmer…it's a Klondike bar. Neapolitan from the looks of the wrapper. I must thank Jethro for that one; it's a difficult flavor to find."

Jimmy sits on the nearest desk and Ducky sits down beside him, chuckling at the implication behind the newest ice cream bar.

"The bet, as you put it, is between Jethro and me. He can't "Gibbs slap" anyone and I'm supposed to refrain from telling any stories. We set ourselves a one week time limit and I did take pity on him. Knowing Jethro's penchant for head slaps I told him that if he broke the bet once on any given day, he only had to pay with one Klondike bar."

Jimmy grins at the thought of how many head slaps Gibbs could give out on any given day. Ducky's grin is just as big and he puts a hand on Jimmy's shoulder, leading the younger man back to his cleaning.

"So, the object is to see which one of you folds first?"

"Not at all dear boy, after all, Jethro's already delivered at least six head slaps this week."

"So, what is the object?"

"Why to get the biggest pile of Klondike bars, of course."

Jimmy thinks for several minutes about what the M.E. has said. He wipes down several more lockers when it finally hits him.

"You deliberately told him that you'd stop telling stories. You couldn't have known it would be this slow, but you don't have to tell the stories, you choose to. Gibbs uses the head slaps as a wake-up call, or punishment. He'd have a much harder time restraining himself. That's almost diabolical doctor."

"Yes, Jimmy, but I am the one with the most Klondike bars."

The two men exchange devilish grins before going about their day. Five o'clock rolls around and Ducky enters his office, carrying a small cooler. He pauses when he sees Gibbs sitting on his desk, an equally small cooler in his hands.

"Well, Jethro, I'm ready to take my spoils home now. I do appreciate our game. We should do it again sometime."

"With a different restriction."

"Oh?" Ducky has a feeling he knows what his friend is going to say.

"Well yeah Duck. Next time, I'm gonna make it a point that you not tell anyone else about the bet. That means Abby, Tony, Tim, Ziva, and Palmer. Yeah, I can do the math Duck…you have just enough for a party."

"Well, Jethro, I did save one back for you, in case you decided to join us for our weekly poker game."

Gibbs just smiles as he pats his friend on the back and opens his own cooler. Two Klondike bars are inside. Ducky opens his freezer and adds his own pile to the mix.

"See ya there, Duck. Make sure they know that we're playing for keeps tonight. Winner takes all the Klondike bars."

Ducky grins as he pulls on his coat and heads for home.