"Delivery for Abigail Scuito," came a shout from the entrance to Abby's lab.
Abby came rushing out from the room next door with a smile plastered across her face, "Ooh, its my new shoes!" She often got packages sent here; she spent most of her time here anyway, it made sense. She'd been waiting for these shoes for close to a month; they had been out of stock and she'd trawled that website everyday waiting for more to be released. Normally she wouldn't, but these shoes were just perfect!
Her face fell slightly at the sight of the package however; it was just too small for the shoes she had ordered. The smile was replaced by curiosity as she took the package from the boy and turned it over in her hands. The message was written in permanent black marker and said 'NCIS C/O Abby Scuito'.
"Where did you get this from, Adam?"
The kid took the IPOD earphones from his ears and shot Abby a look of confusion, "Huh?"
"Where did you get the package, Adam?" Abby repeated.
"It was with the others, just like usual."
"Ok…" Abby gave her concentration back to the box and walked away from the kid, who shrugged and reinserted his earphones, heading out of the lab.
Abby sat down slowly and slowly began to study the package. What the hell was it?
Gibbs stepped out from the elevator and made his way into the bullpen. Tony and McGee weren't in yet, but he could see Ziva working at her desk. He walked past, expecting to see a write-up of some sort; they'd just finished a case and he had wanted their reports in today; but instead he saw her craning over a map of DC.
Gibbs didn't say anything and instead chose to sit at his desk and look over towards Ziva. Ziva promptly looked up and shot a confused look at Gibbs.
"Why would NCIS need a map of DC?"
Now it was Gibbs's turn to look confused, "What are you talking about, Ziva?"
"I got sent a map this morning; it was here behind the desk when I came in. The guy who gave it to me said it had a note with it saying that it was for NCIS, care of me." Gibbs lips tightened and his eyes hardened in response. Ziva held up a piece of paper written on by permanent black ink with the words 'NCIS C/O Ziva David'.
Gibbs looked down into his own hands in which he held the envelope that he had retrieved seconds earlier from the desk he was now seated at. It had been laying there, a plain white envelope, black marker neatly printed out the words 'NCIS C/O Leroy Jethro Gibbs'.
He eyed the envelope curiously and opened it carefully, checking it for any trace of wires or powder. He took out the piece of paper contained within it and held it up. It was completely blank and could have been interchangeable with any other blank piece of A4 paper if it had not been for the hole that had been cut out of it. Slightly off-centre, a hole about 1cm in diameter had been cut away.
"I take it back," Ziva said "NCIS would have more need for a map than…that."
Gibbs stayed silent in agreement and looked over as Tony entered the room. He sauntered over to the bullpen a package in him arms. Smiling, he swung round onto his chair and proudly placed the package on his desk in front of him.
"You'll never guess what I got this morning…" Tony said triumphantly, grinning.
"A package for NCIS, care of Tony DiNozzo?" Ziva guessed, smirking towards Tony.
Tony looked deflated, "How did you…"
Ziva and Gibbs both held up their own presents; Ziva her note and Gibbs his envelope.
"Have you opened yours yet, Tony?" Ziva asked, curious,
"Does it look open Zi-va?" Ziva gave Tony a childish look.
"Then I guess it would be a no," Tony said, "What did you two get?"
"A map of DC and a piece of paper with a hole in it," Ziva said.
"I have no idea," Ziva answered, as clueless as Tony.
Tony looked down at his package and moved his hands ready to open it when the elevator doors opened. Expecting to see McGee, Tony was confused when Abby hopped out onto the floor.
"Gibbs, I've got something to show you."
"You too?" Ziva asked; this was turning out to be a really weird day.
Ziva, Tony and Gibbs each held up their packages and Abby tilted her head slightly.
"What do you mean, 'uh oh', Abbs?" Gibbs said starting to take dislike to the packages they were receiving.
"I think something has happened to McGee."
Well I can't get hold of him, and then this morning I got this," Abby held up a picture of herself and McGee, a thick red circle around McGee's face. "It's one of those photos you get from machines in malls, we took it last year once when we were out; this one of his copies. It got sent to me this morning, like this."
"Black marker pen?" Gibbs said, knowing the answer.
"Yeah…addressed to NCIS care of…"
"Abby Scuito," came a mumbled reply from the rest of the team.
"Someone's playing us," Tony said from behind his desk.
"Ya think, DiNozzo?" Gibbs said sharply.
Everybody turned his or her attention to Tony's as-of-yet unopened package, lying on his desk. Tony began peeling back the brown paper packaging to reveal a white cardboard box. Slowly e opened the lid and jumped back at what he saw.
Gibbs rose from his seat and walked over to Tony's desk; Ziva peered over from her own desk.
"What is it Tony?"
"It's a…there's a timer."
Ziva was out of her seat and joined Gibbs and Abby by Tony's desk. Gibbs turned to Ziva as she eyed the package. She looked into the box and after a few seconds reached in and gently removed the timer.
"I can't see any evidence that it's a bomb."
"Are you 100 positive?" Gibbs said.
"I can't be 100 but close to."
"That's not good enough, Tony get a bomb squad up here, now."
13 minutes passed as the timer counted down from 37 minutes to 24. The man stood with the timer looked over to Gibbs and shook his head, "It's not a bomb, Agent Gibbs."
"Then what is it counting down for?" Tony asked.
"I think I might have an idea…" Abby said from Gibbs desk from where she'd been playing around with the piece of paper and the map. "I used to do stuff like this when I was a kid, with my brother."
"What? Send timers through the post?" Ziva questioned.
"No, I mean puzzles and stuff. Look, the map and the paper are the same size. If you put one on top of the other, you get…" She looked closely at the hole in the paper that was now placed firmly over a portion of the map that read, "Warehouse 33."
"The docks?" Tony asked, getting a nod from Abby.
Gibbs glanced at the timer which read '23:45:12' and counting. "In that case we have 23 minutes to get to the docks."