“Damn,” NCIS Director Leon Vance whistled as he studied Buffy Summers through the one-way mirror. “She’s a dead ringer for the lady I was in a meeting with alright.”
Gibbs grimaced. “Not exactly the input I was hoping for.”
Vance glanced at him momentarily, chewed his toothpick a couple of times and returned his gaze to the blonde. “Sometimes, you just got to state the obvious, get it out of the way before moving to the more interesting questions.”
Gibbs patted the file in front of him. “I got plenty of those, Leon. What I don’t have is any sort of idea what the hell I’m dealing with. Those two got away from us pretty easy at the warehouse, so why the hell they just surrendered to us I got no idea.”
Vance impassively stared at Buffy through the glass. She was studying her nails now, and pouting somewhat. “Hey, any chance of a nailfile?” she yelled. “I promise not to use it to pick these handcuffs.”
“I can give you my impressions of the girl I met, and maybe a guess or two based on that.” Vance straightened up and looked over at Gibbs. “But that’ll be all it is: guesswork.”
“I’ll take it,” Gibbs nodded. “My gut tells me that unless we start asking the right questions, we’re never going to get to the bottom of this. And I want to.”
“Your boy McGee’s had more um, hands-on experience with them than anyone else so far. What’s he have to say about ‘em?”
Gibbs snorted. “Nothing of any use to me at this moment. Got him writing up exactly what he overheard at his place now.”
Vance suddenly became very grave, and even took out the toothpick in his mouth. “Okay. The Summers I met was very mission focused, determined to get the job done at nearly any cost. She had a brilliant front of ditzy, shoe-obsessed Californian Girl, which lapsed at times during the deposition. I think the key there was respect.”
He regarded Gibbs consideringly, and started chewing on the toothpick again. “If you can get that kind of respect out of her, I think you might get somewhere. Don’t treat her as a perp.”
Gibbs pursed his lips. “More of a debrief than an interrogation,” he said thoughtfully.
Vance walked towards the exit, and paused. “That’s Summers. Got no idea on Lehane at all. You’re on your own there.”
Gibbs barely looked around from where he was studying Buffy Summers through the mirror glass. “Director.”
Vance stayed where he was, still poised in the exit. “Gibbs?” he said, causing the NCIS agent to fully turn around. “My best guess on why she just stopped?”
“She’d finished her mission. Nothing else to do, nowhere else to go. Where do they go from there?”
Gibbs looked carefully at Buffy’s face through the glass. There was a kind of familiar, half-hidden look that passed across her face every now and then. With a slight jolt he finally recognised it as one he’d seen any number of times when interviewing troops who’d spent a long time on the frontlines. A kind of worn, resigned, this-is-the-way-things-are type of look.
“It could well be, Director,” he agreed, “It could well be.”
~ + ~
Ducky wasn’t much help either.
“Really, Jethro, I only saw the woman for a few minutes at most, much of that time spent cowering behind my gurney with Mr Palmer. How you imagine that would make me an expert on her mental state, I have absolutely no idea.”
Gibbs pinched the bridge of his nose. That headache was definitely not going away. “Ducky...” he said.
“No,” Dr Donald Mallard said, equally as firmly. “I do not care how much information you have in that remarkably slim folder you keep offering me, but I will not work up a psychological profile for you based on such a small interval of time.”
From the corner of his eye, Gibbs observed Jimmy’s head poke around the door frame, quickly decide the coast wasn’t clear in the slightest and vanish back with great alacrity. “Ducky,” he tried again, “I could really use your help on this....”
“No.” Ducky folded his arms in distain, and regarded Gibbs with mild disbelief in his eyes. “In the first place, over half of that information you are proffering me is from the file of someone else who merely bears a striking resemblance to the person in question. That alone should justify my refusal.”
Gibbs just waited. “And secondly?”
“You wish for this, this analysis to be performed instantly, merely so you may begin your interrogation post-haste.”
Gibbs tilted his head. “So now, you’re objecting that I’m not giving you enough time to study her file,” he observed.
Ducky flushed, then caught himself and ruefully grinned. “I will admit she sounds fascinating, Jethro, but my caveats remain. I cannot, and will not, produce an instant dissection of her psyche for you. Among other things, I still have the final report on Seaman Balboa to write up.”
Gibbs nodded, a small smile playing at the corner of his mouth. “I have to go, Ducky,” he said, placing the file down on the cold metal morgue table between them, “But I’ll just leave this here anyway. In case you change your mind.”
Ducky sniffed. “I very much doubt that.”
Gibbs turned and strode purposely towards the elevator. “Speaking of Balboa,” he called back over his shoulder, “Nothing new to report?”
“Mmmm?” said Ducky absently, “No, nothing other than I mentioned earlier. Death due to extreme blood loss caused by trauma to her neck, still no idea what caused that.”
Gibbs left and waited for a moment in the corridor, his foot keeping the sliding morgue doors from closing. After about a minute, he leaned forward and looked back into the morgue area. The file he’d left on the autopsy table was gone, and Ducky was now seated at the far end of the room, reading something.
Without looking up from his reading material, Ducky adjusted the lamp over his desk. “Aren’t you supposed to be in Interrogation by now?”
Quietly, and still smiling gently, Gibbs withdrew.
~ + ~