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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:18 pm 
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One-shot. Comments welcome here.

The Hostage Listens
by channelD



written for: Sherry, as a Haiti Relief auction ficlet. Thanks for your donation!
rating: FR13
characters: Jimmy and Fornell
prompt: Hear me out
genre: drama

A/N: This runs a little over ficlet size, and I’m not too sure about it. I hope it’s okay.
- - - - -

Jimmy Palmer looked up from his computer at the soft sound of a footstep, his mind trying to place it before his eyes settled on the figure. “Hi, Agent Fornell. Welcome to Autopsy.” He was mildly surprised to see that the FBI agent didn’t have an escort to Autopsy. Jimmy vaguely assumed that all visitors were saddled with escorts. But maybe not. Fornell was a frequent enough visitor to the building, or so he had heard.

The older man looked around, and frowned. “Hello, Potter, is it?”

“No, sir. Palmer. Jimmy Palmer.”

Fornell sighed, looking unimpressed. “Palmer. I’m looking for Ducky. I was supposed to meet him here.”

Jimmy got up. “Yes, sir. Dr. Mallard was called away suddenly; something about his mother at the rest home. He said you would be coming by. I have the materials you wanted.” From a nearby countertop he picked up a bulging interoffice memo envelope, and offered it to Fornell.

Fornell snatched it from him, looking irritated. “You couldn’t have put these in more carefully? Some of the papers are a little wedged and dog-eared. Don’t you know that neatness might count in influencing the judge if this case goes to trial??”

“No, sir, I—”

“For the love of God, Palmer! And this one’s been folded!”

“I, uh, I’ll just print out a fresh copy of that document for you, Agent Fornell.” He started to sit back down at his computer.

“Are you just naturally dense?? A printout won’t have Ducky’s original inked signature on it. That’s what the judge needs to see!”

Jimmy gulped. Not for the first time did he notice that the agent’s hand kept going near his holstered sidearm. Surely Fornell isn’t always like this? He knew that Fornell was a friend of Gibbs, and generally, usually, considered a friend of NCIS…but other than that, Jimmy knew almost nothing about him. “I—I—” Think! “I, ah, I’m sure I can press that original flat for you. We have equipment here that—”

“And just how long will that take?! Do you think I have all day, Palmer?!” Fury, and maybe something even darker showed on his face.

“No, sir! Of course not.”

“Though they’re not expecting me back at the Bureau for a little while…” Again the hand went near the holster. “They’re not expecting…they don’t know…they don’t understand…” He pulled out the Glock and leveled it at Jimmy.

Jimmy had had some psych courses in school, and wished now that he’d paid more attention in them. At the time, he’d glossed over them, assuming that the dead didn’t need to be psychoanalyzed. Fornell, though, was the poster of a man fighting more than what he was saying. That didn’t mean he was in control of his actions. Would he shoot first and apologize later? I’m facing a madman. I’m not near a phone to call for help. He’s really going to shoot me.

Oh, God, please help me…


“I can force them to change their minds. I can force her to change her mind,” Fornell went on, coldly. “If it means saving someone’s life, they’ll give in. They’ll have to, won’t they?”

“Sir?” Jimmy was surprised that his voice still worked.

“I hate to do this, Palmer.”

Mother…

But in his fear, Jimmy found the tiniest ember of courage, and he spoke again. “Something’s upsetting you, Agent Fornell?” He regretted the squeak at the end of the sentence. “Would you—would you like to talk about it? Maybe I can help.”

“She’s moving away!” Fornell blurted, gun still on Jimmy.

“Who?”

“Diane. My ex-wife. She wants to take a job in Florida. She’s going to court to get a judge to agree, and she’ll take our daughter…I can’t let that happen. Emily’s the only bright spot in my life. But if I have a hostage…they’ll have to give in, to save you. Before it’s too late.”

Before it’s too late…! “This isn’t…isn’t the right way to go about this, sir.” Jimmy’s hands fluttered, wishing he had one of the bullet-proof vests that the agents had. Mere scrubs would not protect him. “Think about it! You commit a crime, a violent act, and…I don’t know Law, but I think a judge would terminate your visitation rights completely!”

Fornell looked even angrier, if that was possible, and Jimmy closed his eyes, waiting for the inevitable end. He had no training in dealing with distraught people. Dr. Mallard, if he were here, would be disappointed in his poor choice of words.

The shot didn’t come. Jimmy risked a peek, and saw Fornell, looking shocked, slowly lowering his gun. “Palmer. I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me. That was so stupid.” He put the gun back in his holster. “I’m sorry. You need to report this. Call Vance or Gibbs, whoever you report this to. I won’t cause any more trouble.” Tears leaked, and he tried to fight them. “Oh, my God. Emily…”

Jimmy melted as the agent’s tears flowed. Automatically, he raced forward and, after just a small hesitation, hugged the other man, awkwardly, with one arm. “I won’t report this to anyone, Agent Fornell. This will be our secret. You didn’t mean to hurt anyone. It’s our secret; I swear it. I won’t tell a soul. You go to court and fight this. I’m sure you’re a good dad. I’m sure the judge will agree.”

“Thanks, kid.” A hand wiped away the last tears. “You married, Palmer? Any kids?”

“No, sir. I’m still in school. I can barely support myself.”

“Well, you won’t be in school forever. You’re compassionate. That’s good. You’ll do good with a family some day.”

“Thank you, sir.” Jimmy silently cursed the adrenaline that was just now kicking in. “I’ll iron out that report for you, and you’ll be set.”

“Ah, forget that. The judge has probably seen worse; maybe he won’t care all that much. Thanks for your trouble. See you.” Picking up the envelope, and actually smiling a little, he waved and went out.

Jimmy went back to his computer, and felt himself breathing again for the first time in several minutes. He’d learned something: not only did someone think he’d be a good husband and father, but also he must he be a better listener than he thought he was. He wondered if he could take another psych course next semester.


-END-

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:22 pm 
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Wow. That was an action-packed ficlet! Amazingly done. I kept waiting for someone to say "Just kidding!" ...but it never came. Wow. Just...wow.

Bravo!

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:32 pm 
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*whew!* That was what I was hoping for. Thanks! :D

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:32 pm 
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You got it!

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:38 pm 
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Wow, that was so moving and intense. Nice! I have no idea how you got the idea for it, but I'm glad you did!

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:43 pm 
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Thanks, Barbara! Since this was just going to be about Jimmy and Fornell, I got to wondering if there was a situation in which Jimmy might feel afraid of Fornell, who I wouldn't think he would know very well. So I figured to put them in Autopsy with no one else around, and have Fornell be so distraught about something that he would make a potentially violent move.

It's too easy to write Jimmy being comical, so I wanted to go for something different. :)

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:45 pm 
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That was very emotional, and it showed a great side of Jimmy. I like the depth and compassion you gave him. I also liked Fornell's devotion to his daughter. We don't usually get to see him distraught like that.

With that said, I'm not sure I could really see Fornell losing control like that, to the point he would actually consider holding someone hostage. I get that he's not thinking straight, but it seems like a bit of a stretch for someone like him. But I guess that is what fic is for; seeing characters in situations they wouldn't normally be in. :)

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:53 pm 
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That's why I was not sure of it. But I figure that Emily must be the most important thing in his life, and everyone...including Fornell, Gibbs, and Vance...has a breaking point. No one can resist torture forever; no one can't be immune to the need to collapse under such stress. But yeah, you probably wouldn't see this on the show, where Fornell has to remain strong. :)

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:19 am 
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Wow! That was totally not what I was expecting to get from that prompt. LOL. But it was awesome! I love the idea of people just losing it and doing something completely out of character, because they're under all this emotional stress. It happens, and you've shown that it can happen to anyone, no matter how stoic they normally are. Very nice. Thank you! :)

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:27 am 
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I'm so glad you liked it! That was not what I was expecting from the prompt, either; but that's where it wandered to. ;D

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:30 am 
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Oh, I know it. You should see the story I'm writing for Liz based off her Ziva/beauty pageant prompt . . . :backwards: She said she's not a picky reader, so we'll see if that's still true after she sees the story. LOL.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:31 am 
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Wow! That took me a bit by surprise, but the ending was really nice :yes: Fornell and Palmer is an interesting combo ;D

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:35 am 
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Prompts are fun, particularly when they're not interpreted at face value. ;D

Thanks, Colleen! I can't imagine that Jimmy and Fornell have much of a chance to interact, although I have vague ideas for a possible future story with them. :)

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 3:20 am 
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This was fascinating. I enjoyed seeing Jimmy think on his feet and defuse the situation, and show such compassion for Fornell. I can see where it was hard, especially in such a short piece, to motivate Fornell into losing control (I was wondering at first, from the title, if someone else was being held hostage and Fornell was acting under duress), but I was able to go with it and enjoy the story. I agree that if there's one thing that will make Fornell snap, it's losing his daughter or having her in danger. And Jimmy acts like a hero here, showing wisdom and compassion, and he grows because of it. Very satisfying!

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:28 am 
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Thanks! Yes, it was more compassion than anything else that saved the day here...restoring Fornell to sensibility, saving Fornell's career, and ultimately saving Jimmy from possible harm. That's instinctive, but it shows that Jimmy is made of good stuff. :)

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:32 pm 
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Bravo Jimmy! And bravo Pam! Excellent premise, Diane really goes through the wringer on NFA! She comes out as a real piece of work, and if she can drive Fornell to such drastic action – whew! Great work by Mr Palmer to save the day, and yes Jimmy, by all means take that psych course. Another great fic for Haiti!! :clap:

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:48 pm 
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Thank you, Mad! The writers have certainly made us hate Diane. ;D Jimmy would probably wish that he could tell Ducky about this...but of course, he can't.

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