“And that, Mr. Palmer, is why I believe the dead always have one more tale to tell. Which reminds me: do you know the origin of the phrase ‘dead men tell no tales’?”
“When people wanted to hold a secret meeting they held it in the cemetery because the dead would not repeat what was said,” Jimmy replied as he slid the drawer containing their latest occupant into the wall and shut the door.
“Ah yes, I see I have told you that story before…forgive me for repeating myself.”
“Not a problem, Dr. Mallard. You know what they say: ‘A good tale never tires in the telling.’”
Ducky chuckled and shook his head. “I’m afraid there are some who would disagree with you, Mr. Palmer.”
“Their loss,” said Jimmy with a grin. “For me, some stories never get old, no matter how many times…not to say that you repeat stories a lot, Doctor. Sorry.”
“It’s alright, lad. I’m well aware of my propensities. Some of my past assistants have been unable to appreciate my quirks. You, on the other hand, seem to be picking up some of my habits.”
“Is that a good thing or a bad thing, Dr. Mallard?”
“Well I suppose it depends on who you ask. Personally I find it rather flattering.”
Jimmy blushed slightly. “Thank you, Doctor.”
“You’re quite welcome. Now, I believe we have done all we can for today. Once we have everything in order, I suppose we can call it a night. I’m sure you’ll be happy to have the extra time to spend in the company of your young lady this evening.”
“Actually, Breena is out of town this weekend. She’s doing wedding stuff with her bridesmaids.”
“I see. Well, perhaps you would care to join me for a cup of tea. There is quite a lovely little tea shop only a few miles from home, and it is open fairly late. We should have time for a drink or two. Unless, of course, you have other plans.”
“No, no other plans. Thank you for the invitation, Dr. Mallard. Just…can we please not talk about the wedding? It seems like that’s all I hear outside of work, and…”
“Perfectly understandable. I believe I can find some other suitable topic of conversation.”
“I look forward to it,” said Jimmy. The tone of his voice and the happy grin on his face left no doubt as to his sincerity. Ducky had often wondered why the younger man always seemed to enjoy his ramblings when many others did not, but he supposed he had just been lucky in that regard, and in others as well. Despite a bit of a rough beginning, and some minor stumbles along the way, his assistant had become quite a competent medical investigator in his own right, and Ducky felt a swell of pride in his own role in guiding this young man towards what promised to be a well suited and successful career. He fully expected Jimmy to take his place as M.E. for NCIS someday, although in the meantime there was still plenty to teach his assistant, and many of his stories left to pass on.
After they had finished their clean-up from the latest autopsy and changed into their street clothes, the two men headed towards the parking lot. Ducky gave Jimmy detailed directions to the tea shop, but knowing the younger man’s poor navigational skills, he instructed Jimmy to follow him, just to be on the safe side.
When they finally arrived, Jimmy followed Ducky into the shop and listened intently as the older man described the basic attributes of the different teas available, finally choosing to try what his mentor most strongly recommended. Ducky chuckled to himself as he observed Jimmy watching the preparation of the drink, done the proper British way, of course. The lad showed the same intensity of concentration as he did while following Ducky’s instructions at work, and the older man wondered if perhaps he had had a bit too much of an influence on his assistant.
Once their order was ready, the two men moved to one of the tables in the corner of the shop, settled into the sinfully comfortable chairs, and began their conversation. Ducky had just started to elaborate on an amusing event from his childhood when he saw Jimmy look past his mentor’s shoulder and stiffen, a look of surprise crossing his face. Ducky immediately turned to see what had caused such a reaction and froze as he realized a situation he had hoped to never experience was starting to unfold. A man was standing in front of the register, pointing a gun at the cashier, and a second armed man was covering the rest of the room.
“Give me the money in the register, now!” yelled the first gunman, and the terrified cashier began to cry as she struggled to open the register to retrieve the money. The other girl who had prepared their order had started to tremble in fear as she slowly backed away from the gunman. The gunman noticed her, turned and quickly fired his weapon and she fell behind the counter, out of sight. One of the other customers screamed and the second gunman immediately turned in her direction.
“Quiet! No more noise, or I’ll give you something to scream about, understood?”
The woman quickly nodded as tears fell down her cheeks, while the remaining customers huddled in their seats as they tried to make themselves as small as possible. Ducky glanced at Jimmy and was startled to see not fear, but anger in the younger man’s eyes. He looked as if he was ready to try to inflict bodily harm on the gunmen, an act that would surely end badly, so Ducky caught his attention and briefly shook his head. Their safest course of action was to avoid calling attention to themselves. Jimmy nodded his understanding, a movement which was unfortunately noticed by the second gunman.
“You two, what are you doing?” Before either could reply, the man pointed his gun at them. “Move over there with the others. Slowly now. Don’t try to be a hero,” he said, looking directly at Jimmy. Jimmy just shook his head slightly and moved to join the rest of the customers, keeping himself between the men and his mentor. “Stand over there, against the counter.” Both men complied, and Ducky wondered briefly if they would actually make it out of this alive, and result which seemed less likely with each passing moment.
Finally the cashier managed to get the drawer opened and emptied, but the amount of cash retrieved was obviously not to the first gunman’s liking.
“This is it?” The girl quickly nodded. “Is there cash anywhere else?” The girl shook her head. “Damn it!” He directed his attention to his companion. “I thought you said this place would have a lot of cash.”
“It does. She’s lying.”
“I’m not!” she screamed, and the man pointed his gun directly between her eyes.
“Where’s the rest of it?”
“I swear, that’s all there is. I can’t get any more!”
Without warning, the man pulled the trigger. Ducky winced at the sight of the girl’s ruined face, briefly visible before she too disappeared behind the counter. Choked screams and sobs emanated from the small group surrounding the M.E. and his assistant, further agitating the two gunmen and their guns were soon turned on the cluster of terrified men and women.
Ducky immediately saw their intent and tried to dissuade them. “You got what you wanted. You can walk away from this. There’s no need for further carnage here tonight.”
“Shut up, old man,” the first gunman snapped in reply before turning to his companion. “What do you think, Ty?”
“I think it’s time to get the show on the road.” Suddenly he grinned. “And this show doesn’t need an audience.” He turned, firing six shots in rapid succession, and Ducky watched in horror as the remaining customers fell from their chairs, red blooming from their chests as the bullets hit home. He heard Jimmy swear loudly and before he even realized what was happening, the younger man stepped in front of him, blocking the next shot that came from reaching its intended target. He felt Jimmy’s body slam into him and he staggered backwards before falling to the floor with Jimmy on top. The extra weight of Jimmy’s body prevented Ducky from being able to catch himself, and he hit the floor with a jarring crash, knocking the wind out of him. Unable to draw a breath, he did the only thing he could: he closed his eyes and played dead.
He felt a sharp kick to his leg and barely managed to not respond. Soon he heard footsteps receding and the door to the shop opened. After several moments, he was finally able to suck in a breath which brought with it pain, but not the pain of being shot. No, the source of his discomfort was the weight on top of him, and a different type of pain arose when he realized that the body on top of his own was completely still.
“Jimmy?” No response. He managed to extract himself and when he saw Jimmy’s face and those wide, unseeing eyes, he felt a surge of anguish unlike any he had felt for a very long time. Another loss, in a lifetime already full of losses, but this was different. Although he had always outwardly maintained their professional roles, Jimmy was much more than an assistant to him. He was one of the few people that Ducky would consider family, and the pain he felt was what he imagined a parent would feel with the loss of a child.
“Oh, Jimmy. I am so very sorry.” He placed a slightly trembling hand on Jimmy’s forehead. “I never wanted you to make such a sacrifice. You shouldn’t have made it, lad. I’m an old man. You had your whole life ahead of you, and so much to live for. It should have been me…”
He stayed in place for several moments before he could bear to remember his duties. There were others that might still be able to be saved. He needed to check. He needed to call the authorities… But the will to perform those tasks seemed to have vanished as he continued to stare at his friend. He had no idea why he’d invited Jimmy along tonight. Normally he preferred enjoy his tea without the company of others, but something had made him crave companionship. Perhaps it was because he had spent so much time alone recently, or because he had wanted to continue the feeling of camaraderie the two of them had shared earlier that evening. Or perhaps it was simply a realization that he didn’t have all that much time left to share the stories he so enjoyed telling. Had he been selfish in asking Jimmy to be the witness to those stories, and ultimately bringing him to his demise? There was no way either of them could have known, it was true, but had his own ego truly played a part in this tragedy? So many questions, many of which he wasn’t sure he wanted answered.
Finally Ducky was able to tear his gaze away from his fallen companion and he reached into his pocket for his cell phone. He let out a soft curse when he saw that the screen had been broken, rendering it useless, and struggled to his feet to go in search of a landline to use. He found a phone, placed the call to 911, where he described the situation, and was assured the police would be there as soon as possible. He was preparing to call Jethro when he heard a loud gasp. He turned to see Jimmy sit up and groan in pain.
“Who in their right mind would rob a tea shop?” he muttered softly and then, as if suddenly realizing where he was, quickly turned and searched for his mentor. A look of relief crossed his face when he saw Ducky standing a few feet away. “Dr. Mallard, are you OK?”
Ducky could only stare in shock before he finally found his voice. “Jimmy? What…?” Uncharacteristically at a loss for words, he continued to stare at the impossible sight in front of him. Jimmy soon registered his mentor’s silence and a mix of fear and worry crossed his face.
“Uh, Dr. Mallard…are you--?”
“It’s OK, Dr.Mallard, I can explain.” The sounds of sirens became discernable and a look of panic crossed Jimmy’s face. “But please don’t tell anyone, Dr. Mallard.”
“Don’t tell…? Jimmy, you were dead!”
“I know,” he replied sadly. “And I’m so sorry you had to see that. But please, please don’t tell anyone.”
“I promise I’ll explain later. I will, I swear. Please, Dr. Mallard…”
Ducky slowly nodded, wondering what in the world could explain what he had seen, and realizing that this story was likely to put his any of his own stories to shame.
Ducky stared at his companion as the younger man checked himself over, and then zipped up his jacket to cover his bloodstained shirt. Before the evidence disappeared from view, Ducky noted the round, singed hole in the garment directly over Jimmy’s heart, but the skin beneath appeared to be whole. Once the hole and stain were covered, Ducky mused that if he hadn’t witnessed his assistant’s demise, he wouldn’t have known anything had happened to him. Mind still reeling, he continued to watch silently as Jimmy carefully moved around the shop to check on the other victims. He turned to Ducky and shook his head after checking the final body; it seemed they were the only survivors.
No. I was the only survivor…
Before he could approach the subject of Jimmy’s resurrection with him again, the local police arrived. Jimmy immediately started to explain what had happened, and provided a somewhat believable explanation for he and Ducky being spared: they had barely managed to avoid the bullets, but had given the impression they had been hit, fooling the gunmen enough that they were left without further injury. As he listened, Ducky found himself admiring the younger man’s story-telling skills, but he now wondered if Jimmy’s ability to produce a falsehood was a talent he’d had to develop to protect himself.
By the time the detectives arrived, Ducky had recovered enough from his shock to answer their questions, backing up Jimmy’s story as best he could, and providing detailed descriptions of the assailants. He agreed to go to the station to help put together a computer sketch, as did Jimmy, and the two of them remained silent as they were transported by one of the officers. Jimmy occasionally sent a glance his way, but Ducky could not determine the nature of the man’s thoughts. I was almost as if he had become a stranger.
It was after midnight by the time they had finished both sketches, and Ducky was starting to really feel the effects of his fall. The officer creating the sketches had noticed his discomfort, and had asked him several times if he was OK, but Ducky waved off his questions. In reality, he wasn’t OK. He was alive only because Jimmy had stepped in and protected him…and now he was protecting Jimmy.
He lost track of the younger man as they made their way out of the police station, and when he reached the main desk he was surprised to find a familiar form waiting for him.
“You OK, Duck?”
“I’m fine, Jethro, just a little battered from dodging bullets.”
“Yeah, I heard. Where’s Palmer?”
“He…I’m not sure. He might still be back in the squad room.” Ducky turned and waited for Jimmy to emerge but saw no sign of him. “Excuse me,” he said to the receptionist. “Have you seen a man come through here: late twenties, brown hair, glasses? Dressed in a dark zip-up jacket?”
“Sorry, not that I noticed.”
“Maybe he got lost,” Gibbs replied with a slight smirk, which disappeared when he saw Ducky’s expression. “What?”
“Nothing, Jethro. I am merely concerned at how this evening’s events have affected him.”
“Palmer’s got more backbone than we give him credit for. He’ll be fine.” Gibbs tilted his head and studied his old friend. “But that’s not what’s bothering you.”
“Trying to profiler the profiler, Jethro?”
“When it’s necessary.”
“Well it’s not necessary. I do appreciate your concern, but this is something I must work through on my own.” He turned to search for Jimmy again and finally he was rewarded with the sight of his errant assistant. Jimmy’s smile faltered slightly when he caught sight of Gibbs but he quickly recovered.
“Hey Agent, Gibbs…uh, Dr. Mallard, I called us a cab to take us back to pick up our cars.”
“No need, Palmer, I’ll drop you off. You OK?”
“Fine, Agent Gibbs. Well, considering… Are you taking over the case?”
“Not our jurisdiction, Palmer. All the victims were civilians.”
“Oh, of course.”
“Doesn’t mean I won’t be keeping tabs on it, though. Come on, you probably want to get home.”
Jimmy merely nodded and followed Gibbs and Ducky out to Gibbs’ car. The three of them made the ride back to the shop in silence, and Jimmy had opened the car door and was out on the street almost as soon as the car had slowed to a stop.
“Thanks for the ride, Agent Gibbs. I’ll see you tomorrow, Dr. Mallard,” he declared before starting to close the door.
He froze before slowly bending down to meet Gibbs’ gaze through the car window. “Yes, Agent Gibbs?”
“You OK?” Gibbs asked again, and Ducky saw a strange expression cross Jimmy’s face.
“I’m fine, Agent Gibbs. I just…need to go decompress.” He glanced at Ducky before continuing. “This whole thing was just so…horrible, and—“
“You’re sure you don’t need to have someone with you?”
“Uh, no…I need to work it out on my own.”
Gibbs stared as Jimmy fidgeted before finally nodding his assent. “OK, Palmer. See you tomorrow.”
“Yes, sir, Agent Gibbs. Goodnight, Dr. Mallard.”
Jimmy fled and Gibbs turned to his passenger. “You want to tell me what that was all about?”
Ducky was silent for a moment while he struggled to put his own discordant thoughts into words. “While we deal with the dead on a daily basis, Jethro, seeing…eight lives taken before our eyes tends to leave us…rather unsettled.”
“That’s not all that happened, though, is it?”
“It is all I am willing to share at this time.”
Gibbs studied him for several moments, but Ducky had plenty of practice in remaining unwavering under that gaze. Finally Gibbs broke his silence. “If you need anything—“
“As Mr. Palmer said, I simply need time to ‘decompress’. Thank you for bringing me back here, Jethro. It’s late, and I really should be getting home.”
“If you need anything, call me.”
“I don’t imagine I will. Need anything, that is. Goodnight, Jethro.” Ducky climbed out of the sedan and walked over to his Morgan, relieved to find it still in one piece. As he pulled away from the curb, he glanced back, unsurprised to see Gibbs follow him. He ignored his shadow and headed for home, driving just under the speed limit, a tactic that he hoped would annoy Gibbs enough to abandon his pursuit. After a few miles, he looked back and smiled when he saw he was finally alone. While he did appreciate the concern, right now he needed to be alone, but not for the reason he had told Gibbs. Jimmy had promised an explanation, and Ducky was certain that he would not be able to rest until the mystery that had presented itself earlier that evening had been resolved. He had already searched his large mental files for something that could explain what he had witnesses but no solution had presented itself. He would have to go directly to the source of the puzzle, his young assistant.
When he arrived at his townhouse, Ducky first went to the medicine cabinet to retrieve a couple of painkillers, then went to his desk in his study and pulled out his address book. He opened the book to the page he wanted, copied an address onto a piece of paper, and returned the book to its proper place before heading back to his car. Just as he passed through the front door, his cell phone rang. He checked the number and sighed.
“What is it, Jethro? I’m at home now, safe and sound.”
“Got a call from Metro. The BOLO got a hit, and they’ve arrested two suspects. They’ll need you and Palmer to come down and make an ID.”
“No, they said it could wait until tomorrow. I talked to Leon, and he gave the two of you tomorrow off. What time do you want me to pick you up?”
“I am perfectly capable of making the drive myself, Jethro. Thank you for letting me know, and I will inform Mr. Palmer as well.”
“Positive. Goodnight, Jethro.”
Ducky shook his head as he stowed his cell phone and locked the front door before making the trek down the sidewalk to the driveway where his Morgan sat waiting. His friend’s famous ‘gut’ was apparently working overtime, and while that was normally a good thing on a case, Ducky feared that this time it would interfere with his own investigation, and that was simply unacceptable.
He pulled out of the driveway and headed for the address that he had recorded just a few minutes before. I wasn’t a bad section of the city, but neither was it as prestigious as the area in which he lived. Slightly run-down apartment buildings and small, older homes lined the nearly deserted streets in the area, and when he reached his destination, he noted that the lights were on in Jimmy’s apartment, and he could see a shadow moving behind the thin curtains. Ducky parked at the curb directly in front of the building and climbed out, closing the door carefully behind him. He walked up to the building and, finding the door locked, he pressed the buzzer for Jimmy’s apartment. He waited, expecting to hear Jimmy’s voice from the call box, but instead he heard a soft chime as the front door unlocked. He opened the door and stepped into the dim hallway, found the stairs, and made the ascent to the second floor. He found Jimmy’s apartment without too much trouble and raised his hand to knock when the door opened, revealing the younger man. He had changed into a plain black long-sleeve t-shirt and jeans, and was no longer wearing his glasses. Jimmy gave the M.E. a weak smile when he saw him in the doorway.
“Dr. Mallard. I had a feeling I might be seeing you, sooner rather than later.”
Ducky stared at Jimmy in shock. The man’s voice was different: slightly lower, with a faint accent, and lacking the man’s normal cheerful yet innocent tone. Ducky realized that there was a lot more to this situation than he had expected.
Jimmy chuckled ruefully when he noticed his mentor’s expression and spoke again in the same oddly mature-sounding voice. “Agent Gibbs called to inform me that the perpetrators have been caught, and our presence had been requested by Metro Police to confirm the identification.”
Ducky’s eyes widened as he listened to the cadenced speech of the man he had thought he knew and he finally managed to break his own silence.
“Who are you?”
Jimmy sighed. “That, Dr. Mallard, is a very long story, and not one I would care to repeat in public, even at two in the morning.” He stepped out into the hallway and closed the door. “Come with me.”
“And where are we going…at two in the morning?” Ducky asked, a trace of sarcasm seeping into his tone.
“Someplace safe.” His voice once again returned to the one Ducky had been hearing for the past eight years. “I won’t get us lost this time, I promise.” He gave the M.E. a reassuring smile and headed for the stairs. After a brief hesitation, Ducky followed.
They left the apartment building and Jimmy turned to Ducky. “You should put your car in my garage space. It’s not the best neighborhood in which to leave a classic vehicle out in the open.” Jimmy walked to the adjacent building and opened one of the bays, revealing his older model Toyota. After they had swapped the cars in the space, Ducky climbed into the passenger seat of Jimmy’s car and they were soon on their way. While Jimmy drove, Ducky studied him, trying to discern what else might be different, but, other than the missing glasses, he looked the same as he always had. Ducky knew he should be more worried. He was traveling to parts unknown with a man who apparently held a great deal of secrets, but he also knew that this man was someone he had trusted for years…and had recently saved his life.
After nearly an hour spent almost entirely in silence, they pulled into a gravel lot in front of a small stone building, obviously quite old. It took only a moment for Ducky to realize what it was and turned to Jimmy in surprise.
“Sanctuary. I know the pastor, he’s an old friend, and he won’t mind that we’re here,” Jimmy replied in his normal voice. He headed for the rear of the church and Ducky followed, puzzling over his word choice to describe the building. Jimmy had not struck him as a particularly religious man, but Ducky decided it was just one more item to add to the growing list of things he really didn’t know about his protégé.
Jimmy unlocked the cellar door and led Ducky down into the basement of the church. Instead on the cluttered space he had expected, the area was neat and orderly, with bookshelves lining three of the four walls, and old, yet well-cared-for furniture arranged in a sitting area. Jimmy seated himself in one of the chairs, and Ducky carefully lowered himself into one sitting a few feet away from Jimmy. He could see that the younger man was struggling with what he wanted to say, and Ducky decided to get the conversation started himself.
“What happened, Jimmy? How is it that you’re still alive?”
Jimmy sighed. “As I said, it’s a long story.” He looked up at Ducky and chuckled softly. “You know, I’ve listened to your stories for years, waiting for some hint that you were aware of people like me. I’m rather surprised you’ve never met one of us before.” The voice he had used earlier had returned, but Ducky was more concerned with what he had actually said.
“’One of us’? There are others that...?” Suddenly Ducky realized he had used the wrong word to begin the question he had first asked earlier. “What are you?”
“I’m…I am one of a group of…special people that, if we die a violent death, we return to life, and we cannot be killed again by normal means. We don’t get sick, we don’t die, and we don’t age.”
“We’re called Immortals.”
“Immortal? But that’s…that’s impossible!”
“Apparently not,” Jimmy said with a cheeky grin that made him look much more like the man Ducky had worked with for years. “No one really knows why, but we’ve been around for quite a long time.”
“How many of you are there?” Ducky managed to ask. With all of the things he had seen, he, too, wondered why he hadn’t encountered one of these ‘special people’ before now.
“I’m not really sure; maybe a couple hundred, worldwide. Not as many as there used to be, but we’re still around.”
“Why aren’t there as many? If you cannot die—“
“We can, just not by normal means.”
“And you do not age…” Ducky studied the man in front of him. “How old are you?”
“A lot older than I look. I was only about twenty-five at the time of my first death…and quite a bit of time has passed since then.”
“First death? When you…became Immortal?”
“Yes. I was born in a small village about five miles from in a town called Llanandras, now known as Presteigne. It’s on the border between—“
“England and Wales. Most famous for the battle that occurred there on June 22, 1402: the Battle of Pilleth.”
“Or the Battle of Bryn Glas, as it’s also known.” Jimmy sighed. “Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Ducky sent him a puzzled look and he continued. “I had made the journey to seek advice from the priest at St. Mary’s, but when I got there, the church was in flames…and then I got caught in the crossfire.”
“Wait just a moment: you’re telling me that you were there? At the battle?”
“But that means…you are…”
“Over six hundred years old, yes.”
Ducky could only stare at the man in front of him in shock. For years, he had seen him as someone much younger than himself, yet strangely able to relate to his mentor’s quirks and ideas. He had chalked it up to a unique personality, but now…
“You lied to me.”
“I’m sorry. It couldn’t be helped. About the important stuff, like med school, I told you the truth. I’d never been through the program before.” He paused, and an almost wistful look crossed his face. “My first teacher did suggest I attend Heidelberg with him for medical training, such as it was, but I wasn’t thrilled with the dueling that went along with it.”
Ducky managed to refrain from asking about that and tried to bring the source of his growing anger up again. “But you did lie. The stories you told me, about your family…none of those were true, were they?” A strong sense of betrayal had been growing ever since Ducky first realized that he had been lied to, and he wanted to make sure this man knew it.
“Well, the stories were true…most of them. They just weren’t mine. I just…borrowed them from people I’d known over the years. Obviously I’ve known some strange people, but—“
“And you expect me to trust you now?”
“I am sorry I had to lie, Dr. Mallard, but…I seriously doubt you would have accepted the truth, had you not seen for yourself. Besides, it’s not just you. It is part of who we are. We lie to protect ourselves…and those around us.”
“Protect us from what?”
“The knowledge that immortality exists…but not for everyone.”
“And the passing of our loved ones is made more difficult, knowing that we might have had longer, had they been one of the ‘special ones’,” Ducky murmured as he started to understand.
“Yes. Then there’s the fact that not all of us are as accepting of mortals knowing about Immortals. There are some who would protect their secret at all costs.”
“Their lives would be in danger if those Immortals knew that they knew.”
“That…is quite a burden you carry, Mr. Palmer…I suppose that’s not your real name, is it?”
“No. Ieuan ap Trahaearn is the name I had as a child. I definitely prefer my modern name,” he admitted with a slight grin.
“I can imagine… What about your real family. How did they react to your resurrection?”
“I, uh, didn’t tell them. It was the early 15th century. The would have thought—“
A pained look crossed Jimmy’s face as he obviously remembered something. “Yes. Of course, that became an issue later. That winter, many of the people in my village, including my family, grew sick and died, but I was perfectly healthy. The rest of the village didn’t take kindly to that, and…it wasn’t an experience I’d care to repeat.”
“What happened after that?”
“I wandered, heading north into Scotland, since the Welsh weren’t all that welcome in England, and from there to Ireland. Eventually I met my first teacher.”
“Another Immortal? What did he have to teach you?”
“How to survive. You see, some of the Immortals believe that the last one of us left alive will have some great power, so they spend their time eliminating the competition, as it were. My teacher taught me how to fight back, but also how to avoid other Immortals as much as possible. ‘Live, grow stronger, fight another day’ was his motto.”
“Sounds like a wise man.”
“A bit of a wise-ass, too, according to a couple of my friends,” Jimmy said with another grin.
Ducky chuckled, feeling a bit of the anxiety he had been carrying start to lift. Jimmy watched him for a few moments before he finally spoke.
“So…am I forgiven, Doctor?”
“Just answer me one question: have you ever used your…status to harm anyone at NCIS, or anywhere else, for that matter?”
“No, Doctor. I’ve never harmed a mortal, and I’ve only fought other Immortals defensively.” He met Ducky’s gaze. “Except for anything I may have said about my personal background before now, my actions and words have been true. I took this job because I wanted to help people…and I’ve been honored to work with the people I’ve known at NCIS. I may still have some quirks, but…I’m really not all that different from the man you worked with for the past eight years. I just have a longer shelf life. So the ball is in your court, Dr. Mallard. Can you still work with me? Or is it time for me to move on?”
Ducky considered all he had learned. Yes, Jimmy had lied to him, and to others to get the job he now had, but from what Ducky had seen, no harm had come from it. He had always shown himself to be an upstanding young…well, not young, man. He had offered support to Ducky and others when it was needed, and finally…
“You saved my life. You stepped in front of me and allowed yourself to be killed in my stead…and you knew fully well what would happen afterwards. Yet you still saved me. Why?”
“Because it was the right thing to do, Dr. Mallard. I have lives to spare. You only have one…and it is one well worth saving, no matter what happens now.”
Ducky watched Jimmy’s expression searching for any sign of mendaciousness, and found none. Finally, he nodded. “I can still work with you, Mr. Palmer, under one condition.”
“I expect to hear some of your real stories.”
The grin that appeared lit up Jimmy’s face. “It would be my pleasure, Dr. Mallard.”
So yes, the crossover universe was Highlander (the series). I’ve seen several such crossovers, but none of the fics have had Jimmy as the Immortal. I decided we needed one ;)