AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
CHARACTERS: Donald 'Ducky' Mallard & Jimmy Palmer
SUMMARY: Jimmy has a problem; Ducky does his best to help him with it.
WORD COUNT: 2,950
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for ami_ven: I - Inheritance
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
"Good morning, Mr. Palmer, and what a beautiful morning it is. How are you on this fine, spring morning, my boy?" Ducky breezed into Autopsy, a smile on his face, a tune playing in his mind and stared at Jimmy, who sat at his desk frowning. "Jimmy?" he said, hurrying over to him and putting his hand on his shoulder. "Are you all right?"
Jimmy started and looked up. "Oh, Dr. Mallard. I'm so sorry; I didn't hear you come in. Here let me put the kettle on and make a pot of tea."
Ducky put his briefcase down took his hat off and began to take his coat off. "I cup of tea would be very nice, Jimmy, but first, do tell me if everything is all right. You look somewhat pensive."
Jimmy smiled. "I'm fine, Doctor, thanks. It's just -"
"Just?" Ducky asked, after a moment or two of silence had gone by.
Jimmy stared at him and bit his lip for a moment. Then he sighed and said, "I have a problem, Doctor, and I wondered if you had time to help me with it - if I could tell you about it. I'd value your advice."
Ducky hung his hat and coat up as he said, "Of course you may tell me about it, Jimmy, and I certainly have time. We have no current visitors, the paperwork is all up to date, and we don't need to start the inventory today. So you make a nice pot of tea and we'll sit down and you can tell me all about it, and if I am able to help in any small way, I most certainly will be more than happy to do so."
Jimmy beamed at him. "Thank you, Doctor," he said, as he hurried off to make the tea.
A few minutes later Ducky and Jimmy sat at Ducky's desk, a mug of tea in front of each of them. "Well then, Jimmy, do tell me about your problem."
Jimmy took a sip of tea, frowned for a moment and said, "I'll have to explain how it came about, first. Did I mention that a few of us from my medical school class started to do some voluntary work a year or so ago at Hope Court?"
Ducky thought for a moment. "Yes, Jimmy, I believe you did mention it."
"Well, bit by bit most of my fellow students dropped out, but I kept going. I go for a few hours each Saturday, or Sunday if we're working on Saturday, or in an evening if for some reason we have to work Saturday and Sunday. I had been spending my time mostly with the same person; his name was Thomas Gladstone. He was a really lovely man and we got on very well. He'd virtually lost his sight as a result of damage to his eyes in the Second World War. So I spent a lot of time reading to him and even writing a few letters for him. We also used to play chess, he could feel the pieces and see the board well enough - so well he beat me every time we played. I really enjoyed the time I spent with him. He was like . . . Well, like a grandfather to me in many ways. We talked for hours about everything. I really liked him." By the time Jimmy fell silent his voice had become rather emotional and Ducky detected a hint of sadness in it.
Ducky touched Jimmy's hand and said gently, "You referred to him in the past tense; was that deliberate, Jimmy?"
Jimmy sighed and swallowed hard, before sniffing, nodding and saying, "Yes. He died a few weeks ago and you see that's when my problem began."
"Go on," Ducky said in an encouraging tone.
"Okay. You see . . . He left me some money, Doctor. Quite a lot of money, actually. Two hundred thousand dollars." Jimmy's cheeks had become a little red.
"Goodness me!" Ducky exclaimed.
"I didn't know he had that kind of money, really I didn't, Doctor. I didn't know he had money at all. You don't think I -"
Ducky interrupted him firmly. "No, Jimmy. Of course I do not think that you only kept on visiting Mr. Gladstone in the hope he might leave you something in his will. Surely you don't really think I would think that, do you?" Ducky tried hard to keep the flash of hurt he felt at the thought Jimmy might really think that from his voice.
Jimmy looked shocked. "Oh, no, Doctor," he said, staring at Ducky. "Of course I didn't think you would think that. I know you wouldn't. Some people might think it though. Which is why I don't intend to tell anyone other than you."
Ducky nodded. "I do think that's rather a wise thing to do, Jimmy."
"I don't mind you telling Agent Gibbs, but I don't want the rest of the team to know."
"We'll keep it just between us. If you don't mind me asking, Jimmy, why exactly did Mr. Gladstone leave you so much money? Did he leave you a letter explaining?"
Jimmy nodded. "Yes, he did. As I said I didn't know he had money; he was just a nice man who I saw as a friend as well as a kind of grandfather. I got the news last week, his lawyer contacted me told me about the inheritance and included a letter from Mr. Gladstone - he tried to get me to call him 'Thomas', but as close as we were, it just didn't seem right. Do you understand, Doctor?"
"Yes, Jimmy, I do." Ducky squeezed Jimmy's arm.
"After all he was a war hero and old enough to be my grandfather. I couldn't call him by his given name. I couldn't. It wouldn't have been respectful."
"Did he understand?"
Jimmy nodded. "Yes. I explained it to him and he laughed, not at me, he said he wasn't laughing at me. It was just . . . He did understand, and he said how it made him like me even more and it reassured him to know that kind of respect still existed today."
"I'm glad he understood."
"Would you mind if I showed you the letter, Doctor? Rather than me telling you what it said."
"Of course I wouldn't, Jimmy. As long as you're happy to share something so personal."
"Of course I am with you." Jimmy got up and hurried over to his locker and took an envelope out. He brought it back to Ducky and passed it to him.
"Thank you." Ducky carefully took the letter out and read it. He read of how much Thomas Gladstone had grown to like Jimmy; how important he had become to him; how lovely it was that he was willing to give up his valuable free time (he knew all about Jimmy's long working hours and long studying hours) to visit a man he wasn't related to. He read about how Mr. Gladstone felt sure Jimmy had extended his life with his visits and their long talks and games of chess and everything else, and how contented and happy he had made his final year. He read about how Mr. Gladstone had no one else in his life, well no one who cared enough to visit him; thus how he wanted to do something for Jimmy to thank him and to help him with his future. Hence the inheritance.
As he put the letter back into the envelope and handed it back to Jimmy, Ducky mused as to how Thomas Gladstone's opinion of Jimmy and Ducky's own was almost exactly the same. No, he and Jimmy hadn't even played chess, but as far as Jimmy's character went, how kind and caring and thoughtful and generous he was, both men were in full accord.
"That's a lovely letter, Jimmy," he said. "Thomas Gladstone clearly cared about you a great deal."
Jimmy flushed and looked away from Ducky. "His lawyer mentioned that Mr. Gladstone had dictated the letter to him and had been most insistent on him reading it back to him several times so that he could assure himself it was just right. He also said that Mr. Gladstone had told him to apologize to me for not writing it himself. He was such a lovely man, Doctor. I know you and he would have got on."
Ducky had no doubt they would have done. "I'm sure we would have done, Jimmy. So what are you going to do with the money?"
"That's the problem, Doctor. I honestly don't know. Well, of course I want to pay you some of -"
"No!" Ducky spoke firmly and stared at Jimmy in his non-compromising way. "No, Jimmy. I will not dream of taking any money from you. I gave you the money to pay your medical school fees; it wasn't a loan; it was never intended to be a loan. I thought I made that quite, quite clear." He continued to speak firmly.
Jimmy's cheeks grew a little redder. "Yes, I know, Doctor. But that was when I knew I wouldn't be able to . . ." As Ducky just continued to stare at him, Jimmy finally fell silent. "Are you really certain, Doctor?
"Yes, Mr. Palmer, I am. Now we'll have more talk about it, all right?"
Jimmy nodded furiously. "Yes, Doctor. Thank you, Doctor."
"Good. Now, as to what to do with your inheritance. What have you done for now?"
"I've simply put it in the bank - in my savings account. I just don't know what to do with it, Doctor. You see I know property is always a good thing to put money into, but if I were to buy an apartment or even a house, then people would wonder where the money had come from and I'd have to explain or lie and I don't want to do that. I'm going to send mom some, but I know she will be angry if I send her what she'd consider to be 'too much'. She'd want me to keep it and be sensible with it. I want to be sensible, Doctor. But I'd like to do something with part of it; something to help someone or something. I just don't know what. I never dreamed I would ever have this kind of money. I never dreamed I'd ever have anything like this kind of money. It's rather frightening, Doctor. Do you think that's a foolish thing to say?"
Ducky patted Jimmy's arm. "Actually, Jimmy, no I don't. When things happen that are quite outside anything we had expected or even dreamt about, anything that is outside our experience, it can be rather frightening. I do understand. In the short term at least there is absolutely nothing wrong with simply keeping the money in the bank. It will be quite safe and it will give you time to decide quite what you want to do with it, or at least with some of it. Yes, property is always a good thing in which to invest, but again I do understand why you might not wish to do that - at least not immediately."
Jimmy sighed. "Maybe I should tell people, the team at least."
Ducky stared at him. "That really is up to you, Jimmy. I don't feel able to advise you on that particular issue. I can see it from both sides. Telling them will indeed allow you to spend some of the money, to buy an apartment say. However, telling them will also, as you know, mean you will have to tell them how you came about the inheritance, and then I know you'll start worrying that maybe one or more of them might wonder . . . I don't think they would; indeed I would be shocked if any of the team thought you had cultivated Thomas Gladstone's friendship simply for monetary gain. They are all better than that - and you know that, don't you?"
Jimmy nodded furiously again. "Yes, Doctor. I do. I just . . . I guess when it comes down to it, I don't want them to treat me any differently. It wouldn't be the same as you. You've always had - Sorry, Doctor." Once again Jimmy's cheeks became flushed.
Ducky chuckled softly. "That's quite all right, Jimmy. You don't need to apologize. Yes, it is different from my situation. As you said, or rather didn't quite say, I have always had money. It's quite, quite different."
"It's not that I think any of them would . . . Well, you know, ask me for money or expect me to buy things for them or anything. I don't think that at all. It's just . . ." He trailed off, sighed and looked down at the desk.
"You don't want them to treat you any differently and you're worried they might, even if they do so inadvertently?"
Jimmy nodded. "Yes, Doctor."
"In that case, Jimmy. I really do think you are better off not sharing this news with the other members of the team."
"I agree, Doctor. Thank you."
Ducky smiled at him. "Now this 'something' you want to do. Do you have any idea what kind of 'something'? Are you talking about making a donation to a charity or giving some money to a school or hospital or something similar?"
Jimmy sighed. "I'm not sure, that's the problem. I thought about sending some money to a veterans' charity, after all, as I told you, Mr. Gladstone served in the war. But I also wondered if there was some kind of scheme whereby people who couldn't afford to go to college and had no-one personal to help them, could get some help. If I should do something like that. After all, if it wasn't for you . . . Well, I wouldn’t be at medical school. Part of me would like to sort of do the same. But I don't know if that would be practical. Whatever I do, I don't just want the money to be wasted. I don't want to think it'll be swallowed up by administrative costs, that kind of thing. I want it to do some good. Does that make sense?"
Ducky nodded. "Yes, it does, Jimmy. And sadly you are correct, not all money donated to charities actually goes on charitable work, well not directly. We know that charities have to be properly run and that not all members of staff can be volunteers, some have to be paid. However, we like to think that the vast majority of money we donate does end up in the right place. And whilst I believe, I like to believe, that the majority of charities, certainly the more well known ones, are scrupulous, sadly I am not naïve enough to believe that some give very little to those who are meant to be the beneficiaries."
Jimmy sighed. "It makes it hard, doesn't it?"
Ducky nodded. "It does, yes."
"Part of me would like to give some money to a relatively unknown charity. The kind that doesn't get many donations because they aren't big and well known and aren't for something that's seen as being sexy, do you know what I mean?"
Ducky nodded. "Yes, I do."
Jimmy sighed. "But then part of me thinks it would be safer to give a donation to an established, well known charity. One to which a lot of people give, because that way I'd be more sure it would get to those it was meant to help. Ohhh," he put his head in hands and sighed loudly. "I almost wish Mr. Gladstone hadn't left me the money."
Ducky patted his shoulder. "I understand, Jimmy, I really do. Look, my advice for what it is worth is the for now, in the short term, as I said, that you actually don't do anything other than leave the money in the bank whilst you think seriously about just what you want to do. I am quite happy to talk things through with you at any time; I'm happy to help you research charities, if you would like. However, just remember this: Thomas Gladstone left you the money because he wanted to; because he cared about you; because he wanted to make life a little easier for you. He didn't leave it to you so that you would get stressed and spend all your time worrying about it. Yes, I am sure he would approve of the fact you want to use some of it to benefit those less able or fortunate than you. However, he really wouldn't want you to make yourself ill by worrying. He wouldn't, would he?"
Jimmy sighed. "No, Doctor. He wouldn't. You're right. I will do as you say. I will leave the money where it is and I will think more and do some research into the kind of charity I want to give some money to. And then I'd love to sit down with you again and ask for your opinion. If you really wouldn't mind.
"It would be my privilege to do so, Jimmy, and now -" The phone ringing interrupted him. Ducky gave Jimmy a rueful smile and picked the phone up. "Autopsy."
"Got a body, Duck. McGee's sending the details to Palmer. See you at the scene." And in his usual way Jethro hung up.
Ducky smiled and replaced the receiver. "We have a body," he said.
Jimmy jumped up. "I'll go and get the van started. And, Doctor?"
"Any time, my boy. And you really are welcome."