"Hey Harry," Jimmy replies, opening the side door to Harry's little office that's walled with sliding windows from waist-height to ceiling on the side facing the waiting room, and one more big sliding window on the side facing the inner hallway leading further into the hospital.
"How were classes today?" Harry asks as Jimmy hangs up his coat on one of the hooks next to a window set in the only exterior wall, and therefore giving a view of the bare trees that surround the building.
Jimmy sighs, glancing at first the clock, then the waiting room. Harry takes the hint and rolls over to close the windows to the waiting room and hallway so they're not easily overheard. Seeing that he has about ten minutes until he needs to check in with the vet, Jimmy takes a seat in the second office chair. "I'm pretty sure I failed the pop quiz on bedside manner. I was so nervous, I just froze, and my brain completely stopped working! It was so frustrating!"
"Oh Jimmy, I'm so sorry." And Harry was. Jimmy seemed to so badly want to be a doctor, but he just couldn't get the people skills down. Harry had gotten to know Jimmy well in the nearly two years they had worked together at the veterinary hospital. They were close friends, and often spent time together outside of work as they had started sharing an apartment last year, and before that they had often shared meals and visited museums and the like together. He knew that Jimmy genuinely wanted to help people, it was something they both had in common. Every other subject he excelled in, from Anatomy to Diagnoses, and the fact that he couldn't get down the interactive aspect of being a doctor, something that was vital to patients, was a source of constant frustration for him. It upset Harry to see his friend try so hard to learn to say the right thing, only to constantly fail.
"Jimmy..." Harry hesitated, drawing out his words. "Maybe... maybe you shouldn't be a doctor." Jimmy opened his mouth, inhaling angrily. "No!" Harry shouted, stopping Jimmy before he could begin. "No, Jimmy, that's not what I meant. I know you've worked hard to get your degree, and that you're almost done with the program. I'm not saying you should give that up! It's just that, well, you're so awkward around strangers. And it's part of who you are, and not at all a bad thing. I know you want to help people, but being the kind of doctor you want to be isn't the only way! You could... you could be a coroner! Help people get some closure! Remember how you said that you didn't have a problem with the cadavers like the rest of your classmates did? Or... or..."
But Harry needn't have continued, because after a moment Jimmy's face was brightening. Hope was already shining in his brown eyes, and a smile was spreading on his lips. He stood with a little laugh, pulling Harry up from his chair to swirl him around. "Harry, you're a genius!" He exclaimed happily. He wouldn't even have to change any of his courses, his degree would be perfect for applying to any graduate schools with the courses he would need to become an ME. The solution to the problem that had been troubling him for so long had just been dumped right into his lap! He was so bad at interacting with strangers, and now he wouldn't have to, while still having a job that suited his medically-inclined love of puzzles, and wish to help people. It was perfect!
He gave Harry one last squeeze before setting him down. "Wonderful, Harry! Wonderful!" A surprised laugh bubbled from Harry, and his green eyes danced brightly behind his round glasses as he lightly shoved the Veterinarian's Assistant.
"Go on, Jimmy! Dr. Michael will be expecting you!" Jimmy sent a grin his way one last time before bounding out of the little office, a bounce in his step.
Jimmy sighed as a gloved hand pushed his glasses up his nose, the tips of his fingers lingering on the wire framing.
"Is something wrong, Mister Palmer?" His boss sounded from beside him, the accent only serving to further remind Jimmy of a similar accent belonging to a voice he had once heard daily.
"No, Doctor Mallard. I just... I don't really like Halloween. I'd been hoping I wouldn't have to come in today."
The doctor scrutinized his assistant, a slight frown tugging at his lips. His assistant had been unusually downcast today, even during the autopsy of their latest dead marine. There had also been a distinct lack of attempt at humor. Perhaps a distraction was in order? "Well, as they say, Mister Palmer, 'There ain't no rest for the wicked!' Why, I remember when I was traveling in India, and..."
But as Ducky wove his tale, he couldn't help but notice that Jimmy wasn't looking as interested in his story as he normally did. His eyes were still dull, fingers fiddling with his glasses. They were odd glasses. Jimmy had been teased about them quite often, and they were neither fashionable, nor well-fitting. But Jimmy had never switched them out, even after all these years. And Ducky knew for a fact that he had been to the optometrist recently, and certainly had enough money for new frames.
When they finished sewing up the body and slid it into the cooler, it was pushing eight in the evening.
"Well, Mister Palmer, it appears we are finished for the day, and it's getting quite late! I'd say it's high time for you to head home!"
Jimmy murmured his agreement, threw away his gloves and cap, and quickly headed for the elevator. No goodbye, and no asking if there was anything left to be done.
Ducky frowned again.
A/N: Didn't turn out as I expected, but I still like it! Tell me what you think? What happened to Harry is open to interpretation, as I like a little mystery :)