Notes: I have never written Jimmy in more than a small scene before. Writing him as the main character is a big step.

Spoilers: Episode 10x3… if you haven't seen it, turn back now!

"Autopsy," Jimmy grated into the phone as he shuffled through the mountain of paperwork on his—Dr. Mallard's desk.

"Is there a problem, Palmer?"

"N-no, Agent Gibbs. What can I—"

"We've got a dead Marine. His body was dumped outside the Student Union at Waverley College."

"On my way, Agent Gibbs." Jimmy slammed the phone down. The reports would have to wait—again. Agent Balboa was breathing down his neck to finish the autopsy report on his dead Lieutenant Colonel, and he had a few reports to file for a backlog of cases for Agent Gibbs, not to mention that Autopsy was a mess, and Dr. Mallard was going to kill him for leaving the place in such disarray. Sighing, he got up and grabbed his coat to head out to the crime scene.

NCISNCISNCISNCIS

Four hours later…

"What have you got for me, Palmer?" Gibbs said as he strode into Autopsy with his cup of coffee.

Jimmy sighed, frustrated, and looked up from the body he'd been working on.

"I'm sorry, Agent Gibbs. I don't have anything more than I did when you asked me a half hour ago."

Gibbs glared at him, and Jimmy could feel the awkwardness coming back that he thought he'd gotten past years ago. He obviously hadn't. He set down his scalpel and turned away from Gibbs. He was afraid of looking him in the eye.

"Jimmy," Gibbs said, but not in the usual tone he exhibited when he visited Autopsy. It was more, understanding. "Take a breath. You're doing fine."

"I thought I was ready for this, Agent Gibbs. I'm not sure I am."

"Ducky wouldn't have kept you on if he didn't think you were up for this, Palmer."

"Ducky is—is—"

"Is what, Mr. Palmer?"

Jimmy whirled around. Ducky had come in behind Gibbs. He wasn't sure what to say that wouldn't hurt Ducky's feelings.

"Jethro, may I have a moment alone with Mr. Palmer?"

"Sure, Duck. I'm going to need that report soon, Palmer," Gibbs said, winking.

"As soon as I can."

Gibbs left, and he was alone with Dr. Mallard. Part of him wanted to give him the scalpel and bone saw, and bolt out of Autopsy to go have a nervous breakdown in private. But he stayed.

"I'm sorry, Dr. Mallard," he finally said,

"Whatever for, Jimmy?"

"I've failed. I can't do this job on my own. I can't—I can't be you."

Ducky sighed and walked around the autopsy table to join his young protégé. He put a comforting hand on Jimmy's shoulder.

"I don't want you to be like me, Jimmy. I want you to be like you."

Jimmy finally turned around to face Ducky.

"What do you mean?"

"You have proven to me time and time again that you can do the job of Medical Examiner without me around to guide you. What makes this any different from the time I broke my ankle? Or when Mother passed on, and I took a week off? You held down the fort successfully in those instances."

"Yeah, I did, but—"

"Stop it right now, Mr. Palmer! I don't want to hear another excuse! I know you are perfectly capable of this. It may get overwhelming at times, but you must carry on."

Jimmy nodded his understanding. Dr. Mallard was right.

"Thank you, Dr. Mallard. I think I'll be all right now."

"Good." Ducky turned to leave, then stopped. "Oh, and Mr. Palmer, keep this place clean, will you? It's not your apartment!"

Jimmy smiled.

"Yes, Dr. Mallard!"

Ducky left to join Gibbs upstairs in the squad room, and Jimmy turned back to his dead body. It was time he get back to work, the work he was meant to do. He just needed a little reminder now and again.

FINIS!

Short, but hopefully enjoyable! Please tell me how I did with Jimmy!