He stared at the form on the page. It was mostly blank. There were some abrasions on the palms from when the man fell, an a bruise on his shin that was nearly healed – but there was nothing else.
He could see the notes on the paper – the y-cut across the chest, the injection holes on his neck, the bruising and abrasions where the straps rubbed raw... There would be notes on the side about the surgically removed ribs and organs, the clamped arteries and traces of machines used to keep him alive. Or would the machines be left in? Would he just be abandoned, or would the organs be bagged up and sewn back into him? Would he be stored away in a cooler, or left on the table for the team to find? To be autopsied again by-
He jumped at the sharp sound of his name being called, dropping the pen and barely catching the page only to have it rip off the clipboard. "I am so sorry, Doctor – I didn't sleep well, and.." He bent to pick up the pen and slipped off the chair, falling to the floor. There was no answer, and he carefully picked up the pen and straightened the papers, slowly standing up and waiting for the Doctor to continue.
The M.E. watched him for a moment; but then turned back to the body, continuing the preliminary examination.
He continued to take notes, marking things on the form when the Doctor drew his attention to it. The recorder was whirring in the background, but he ignored it. It sounded like the respirator, or the heart-lung machine – a noise in the background, so normal and innocent, belying the gore of the scene it participated it. Perhaps he would have survived. Perhaps he could have been rushed to surgery. But he wouldn't have been able to pay, and infection would have been immin-
"Mr. Palmer, is something wrong?"
He jumped again, startled as he realised that his attention had drifted away again. "I am so sorry, Dr. Mallard – it won't happen again."
The elder man sighed, stepping around the slab to look at the form his assistant was filling out. "Although I have dealt with similar cases, I do not believe that our current guest was autopsied alive, Mr. Palmer."
"What?" He looked down at the page, seeing the notes he had been thinking written over the form for the current John Doe. He hesitated, unsure what to say.
He pulled off his gloves, reaching out to take the form from the younger. "This is quite interesting." He walked back over to the corpse's head. "But you are quite fortunate that this is only from his head – this would be a very painful way to die. Cardiac arrest is certainly kinder." He looked back to the form, reading over the notes. "But the transfusions would be uneccessary when the body dies of shock." He tapped the notations on the neck. "So then what are these, hm?" He glanced back to the corpse. "I can hardly ask you as this isn't your story."
"...I – there were drugs to stifle the pain."
"Well thought out..." He let the page drop onto an empty slab. "What is wrong?"
"No-nothing's wrong, Doctor."
"Then is Timothy intending to autopsy a living victim in his next book?"
He winced, automatically shaking his head. They were too late – the team was too late. Would he write about it though? Would it affect them, or would it just be another murder to solve? He wasn't nearly as important as Kate – his killer wouldn't be nearly as hunted – so he'd just disappear. What would Ducky say to him when he was on his slab? Would it be an open or closed casket-
He flinched away from the gentle touch on his arm, looking up to see the M.E. watching him in concern.
"Nightmares, Mr. Palmer – nightmares. Phobias, if you will. Morpheus and Hypnos conspiring together at night."
"I really didn't sleep well last night, Doctor – I'll go to bed early tonight. "
"Yes, you will. But we would find you, Jimmy – Gibbs would find you before it was too late."
"...like he found you?"
"Yes – and perhaps with only that much time to spare as well. But he would find you. Anthony and Ziva and Timothy and especially Abigail and myself – we would find you."
He sighed, resting taking off his glasses for a moment and resting his head on his hands. His breath was caught in his throat, and he could feel the Doctor rubbing his back until he relaxed and could breathe again.
He had known that. Even in his dream, he had still known that. He had known they would come – but then they hadn't. The man had cut out his ribs, and no one had come. There had been no lights or gunshots – only silence and the clink of instruments being wielded by his killer. Only silence.
He felt Ducky pulling on his arm, and he quietly followed the man over to the slab. He reached back for the page to correct his notations, but the elder man held them away from him.
"What? No – Doctor, I couldn't..."
"Nonsense! Where would you begin?"
"I think...the best place to start would be at the beginning..."
"Indeed." He lifted the pen to begin taking notes, waiting for his assistant to begin the examination, watching to lead him along. "In The Sound of Music, if they had walked out of Salzburg, they would have walked into Hitler's winter home."
He looked up in surprise, distracted as always by the Doctor's stories. "Really?"
"Yes. You see, the town is too far away from either the Italian or Swiss borders – the family boarded a train to Italy and escaped from there to London."
"Wow. But that wouldn't have made as good of an ending scene."
"No – but it would have been more accurate!"
AN: Companion or sequel to my friend's story Vita et Mors, or the autopsy story. The title translates to 'out of life comes death'. Sadly, I cannot learn Latin yet, so I cannot say this is correct. I'm just ninety percent certain. Ish. I NEED TO STOP USING LATIN FOR TITLES! And this was just to finish the dream – I've never really tried to characterise Dr. Mallard and haven't seen it for a while, so I apologise for the wrongness of the character. I tried, but... 11-27-2015