Author's Note:

Yea! another chapter! This should be wrapped up here soon. I'm trying to find an ending I'm happy with. All of them so far leave me unsatisfied. I'll keep working. Thank you so much for your continued support. Each review and story alert is a huge deal and puts a smile on my face. See you soon!

"Why is Mr. Spencer waiting in Interrogation Bay 3, Agent Gibbs?" Director Vance asked wearily. Every time he'd had to talk to Gibbs lately, it occurred to him that this man had been the cause of his first set of grey hairs. Gibbs nearly glared at the director out of spite. He was holding him from someone he really wanted to get to know better. Before Gibbs could answer Vance spoke again.

"Does this have anything to do with Ms. Scuito's absence?" Gibbs stiffly nodded his head.

"Is she all right?" Gibbs nodded, though the uncertainty in his face startled his boss. "Safe at least?" he questioned further.

"Yes. She's at home and Dr. Mallard is with her." Vance tapped his fingers together briefly before giving a hard look to his agent.

"Was there a definite act against her that has not been handled by city police?" Gibbs sighed heavily but answered anyway.

"Yes, she was attacked in a parking lot last night. City police have not gathered a suspect." He casually left off the fact that she hadn't reported the crime to anyone officially. Vance gave him a single nod.

"You and your team are to investigate Ms. Scuito's attack until the attacker is brought to justice. Just please remember, that justice cannot be served by the dead." Gibbs grimly accepted the hidden orders and turned to leave Vance's office.

"Thanks," he grunted without stopping.

"Give Abby my sentiments," Vance said softly as he buzzed his secretary to clear his schedule after 5:30.

David, McGee, and DiNozzo sat nervously in the center of their little section of office. They had begun at their own desks but had eventually drifted towards one another as they waited for Gibbs to return after the summons from Vance. Gibbs had them agree to keep their work on hold until he returned, so here they sat, each drawing a measure of comfort from being around their extended family.

"Have you heard anything from Ducky?" DiNozzo ventured quietly into the silence. McGee and Ziva shook their heads solemnly.

"I've been trying to not to hound Ducky this afternoon," he muttered. His two friends nodded in agreement and went back to their thoughts.

"Put those away and come here," Gibbs snapped as he went to sit at his desk. The three agents smiled as they realized they had unconsciously and simultaneously pulled out their phones to dial the ME.

"We have the 'official' go ahead," Gibbs started with a roll of his eyes. His three agents raised their brows at the anger that laced his words.

"What did you two find?" he growled at Ziva and McGee. They explained the evidence that they'd gathered and the interview with Green. He found the club owner's willingness to cooperate slightly unsettling also but decided to deal with it later. It did explain the large bruises on Spencer's face that he'd made sure were documented before he and DiNozzo interrogated him. In turn, he had DiNozzo explain the interview and confession from Mark. McGee and Ziva's eyes darkened considerably.

"What shall we do with our suspect," Ziva asked with a cold voice.

"I'm going to let him go," Gibbs said firmly.

Sarah let out a tired sigh as she flopped onto the giant couch.

"I couldn't agreed more, " Ducky responded form the chair across from her. "Drink that," he pointed to the steaming cup of tea on the coffee table. Sarah picked up the cup and wrapped her fingers around the circumference, relishing in the warmth the cup offered. They sat in comfortable silence for a few minutes.

"Abby is asleep. She was out before I finished slipping on her shorts."

"I'm sure she was. I've slipped pain medication and a sleep aid into her IV," Ducky answered as he lazily stirred his tea.

"I thought she requested to be without drugs," Sarah asked with concern.

"She did, but as her doctor I have to decide when a request is feasible. This was not. Her body needs rest and it was not going to get it without those drugs. She needs them almost as much as the antibiotics," Ducky answered. Sarah grunted in reply and leaned back into the couch. She'd thought a lot about what had happened over the last 18 hours while she'd cleaned the water and blood from Abby's floor. She stared at her index finger, the skin still glowing a bright pink. Abby's blood had been on there not twenty minutes ago when her hand had brushed over the towel she'd used to clean the bathroom floor. Instinctively, she'd dropped the towel and moved to wash her hands in the sink, but the longer she thought about the blood on her hand the more she tortured herself with the idea that the bloodshed had been her fault. At present, those thoughts began to swirl in Sarah's young mind again and she was forced to set down her cup of tea and rush to the bathroom to relieve her stomach of its contents. After setting herself to rights, she returned to the markedly worried face of Ducky and a different cup of tea on the coffee table.

"Are you all right," Ducky asked quietly. Sarah blinked at him a few times before nodding her head and returning to the couch.

"Drink that ginger tea. It's good for upset stomachs." Ducky's concern brought a smile to her lips and she realized she had nothing to gain from keeping anymore secrets. Her thin fingers grasped the cup and she brought some of the spicy, sweet liquid to her mouth. It did wonders to take the remaining taste of bile out of her mouth.

"I..." she started.

"You don't have to talk to me unless you want to," Ducky interrupted before she could continue. She took another sip of tea.

"I understand." Three minutes of silence passed between them, both preparing themselves for the conversation to come.

"You're going to what!" DiNozzo hissed.

"I'm going to release him," Gibbs answered flatly. His eyes were nearly navy blue and stared uncomfortably at DiNozzo.

"Boss..." his oldest agent began.

"No, DiNozzo. This has to happen," McGee cut in. DiNozzo turned incredulous eyes on him. Ziva's hand smothered his mouth before he let loose on McGee as her colleague's words sank in. McGee looked into DiNozzo's slowly reddening face.

"We don't have any legal reason to keep Spencer here. As long as Abby or Sarah don't have an officially filed report, there isn't a crime that we can arrest him on. Even with the confession," he added as Ziva opened her mouth to protest. DiNozzo forcefully removed Ziva's hand from his face and glared at her, then the rest of the group.

"I'll tail hm." His statement left no room for argument. Gibbs had to bite back on his admiration. It seemed his boys may have found some balls after all.

"I shall accompany you." Ziva would not accept no as an answer wither. Gibbs smiled at her. He already knew she had balls of steel. He eyed McGee.

"What about you, McGee?" McGee was not dumb. He knew that as soon as Spencer was released they could follow him and should they get into an altercation, it could be overlooked by their fellow law enforcement friends. It was a possibility. There was also the possibility that this idiot could press charges and they'd all be on probation of fired. The biggest possibility to him at the moment however, was the one where he'd be sitting in jail for killing the son of a bitch. He'd never had quite this much anger towards someone and it was beginning to eat at his control rather forcefully. McGee feared that should he be in the situation to show this man some old fashioned justice he may end up serving it to him rather Biblically.

"McGee," Gibbs repeated. He could see the wheels in the other man's head turning and he wasn't sure he liked where they were taking his agenet though he could understand it. Tim shook his head.

"I'm going to take off. I'll check on Abby and see if I can get Sarah to make an official report. I'll call with an update." Stoically, Tim went to his desk to gather his things. He quickly made a few notes to his calendar to mark his early absence to later report to HR and closed a few other windows. He left the three data searches he had running for the case they should have been working on and with a few parting words, he fled to his car. Gibbs, Ziva, and Tony watched him go with trepidation.

"DiNozzo, get the car. I'll let you know when Spencer is out." Gibbs commanded before grabbing his coat. Moments later, the remaining three agents were quiet as the elevator took them to the next step in their long day.

"I'm really not sure when she started cutting herself," Sarah began after another sip of tea. Ducky bit down on his tongue to remind himself to remain calm. The scars on Abby's forearms and legs were numerous and in different states of healing so it was difficult to tell when they had started in an evidential sense too.

"The scary ones by her wrist though? I think those happened that weekend I got alcohol poisoning, that Halloween weekend. She was really troubled after that weekend."

"What makes you say that?"

"When she was leaving on Sunday, she looked horrible. I have no idea what really happened to be honest, most of that time is extremely fuzzy. I just know that she did not look like herself when she left me Sunday evening." Ducky saw her gaze flicker to Abby's door a few times before she rested her eyes on the dark wood of the floor.

"I…" she stopped briefly as her resolve waivered, but another look at Ducky's surprisingly inviting face made her continue, "I saw her cut at her legs once. I had been visiting her earlier this month…

Sarah had been hanging around Abby's apartment all day. Abby had been at work for the better part of the day and had just returned. Sarah had fled to her savior's apartment after she began to lose her will power against the alcohol that her 'friends' had dropped off in her own apartment. She'd been bored and had even resorted to school work to keep her mind and hands occupied. Sarah cursed her weaknesses as she put the finishing touches on an essay that was two days overdue.

"Better late than never," she muttered as she checked it over for a final time and sent it off.

"Your period?" Sarah screamed and jumped from her seat at the dining room table.

"Abby! Don't you make noise?" she panted.

"Hello to you too." Sarah waved and slowly went back to her seat.

"Sarah what's better late than never? Am I right?" Sarah blushed crimson with embarrassment and anger. Abby knew she's been doing better!

"Actually, no. First time for everything, huh?" she snapped hastily. Abby felt the flames of anger lick at her face but she held onto the feeling and simply nodded at the young girl in her kitchen.

"Not the first time, no," she answered calmly. Sarah's anger immediately retreated as she heard the defeat in Abby's tone.

"Abby, I'm sorry. I just finished an essay and turned it in. It was due two days ago."

"Oh. Good. I'm glad you're getting your stuff together. Sorry, I jumped to conclusions," Abby smiled at her but Sarah noticed it stopped before it reached her eyes. She opened her mouth to ask what was wrong but Abby had already walked to her bedroom. A moment later Sarah heard the door click into place. She sat there for a moment and processed what had just happened. Obviously, Abby had had a rough day and it was not improved by Sarah's presence. She sighed heavily and chastised herself before looking around the kitchen to start some dinner. It was the least she could do after causing Abby even more grief. She searched through the cupboards and the fridge and was not pleased to find so little.

"Well," she said as she raised a questionable looking item from the freezer, "takeout it will be." She threw the unknown object into the trashcan and let her eyes search the front of the fridge. Abby kept all of her take away menus on the refrigerator door so that she wouldn't lose them; also, so that she wouldn't have a naked door. After a few minutes, Sarah had narrowed the choices to a Thai menu and a Greek menu. She grabbed the two and walked towards Abby's closed door.

"Abby?" she called. No answer. "Abby?" she called again. Assuming her friend was in the bathroom, Sarah twisted the handle and pushed her way into the room.

"Abby…' she dropped the papers to the floor and started at the other woman on the floor of her bedroom, shock etched into her young features.

"Abby, what are you doing?" Sarah asked calmly, quietly. Abby's hands had stilled and a look of sheer frustration morphed her features into an angry mask.

"I…I lost something under the bed. Do you mind?" Sarah flinched at Abby's tone.


"Don't you even knock?" Abby huffed again.

"I called your name, you didn't answer," Sarah said defensively. They stayed in silence for a moment.

"Should I get some bandages?" Sarah whispered, the situation making her sick to her stomach. Abby glared at her for a moment before looking down at the deep red cuts carefully placed on her skin. The blood from each cut had begun to intermingle and she realized she'd cut a little deeper than she'd meant to cut. She bit at her lips before looking back at the girl in her doorway.

"No. It's fine. Get out," she answered quietly.

"But Abby," Sarah argued.

"Get out." The command left no room for argument and Sarah slammed the door and marched into the living room to think. Shock, anger, worry, and hurt took turns bashing her over the skull and she stewed in the emotions like a wanton duck in a bog. Nearly twenty minutes later, Abby emerged from her bedroom and felt before she saw the eyes of her charge beaming her with unresolved questions. She trudged into the living room and took the seat opposite Sarah's end of the couch.


"What the hell just happened?" She demanded instead. Of the choices to remain angry or understanding, Sarah had taken the former by storm. Abby glanced at her and then to the picture of heavily magnified brain matter behind Sarah's head.

"I…it was an accident Sarah. I fucked up."

"You sure did."

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to yell at you. Not when I came in and not when you…came into my room. It's just been a terrible day and I am just…overwhelmed." Sarah glanced at Abby's bent head and saw that her lashes were beaded with water. Surprise erased her anger as her small hand reached for Abby's shoulder. She could feel Abby tense under her touch and could tell she'd wanted to pull away, but gripped her just the same.

"It's ok. I don't have room to judge you. I was just, surprised." Abby nodded and leaned back to get away from the other's touch.

"I don't blame you. You shouldn't have expected to see all that." Sarah let the rejection for her comfort wash over her before she continued.

"Does that happen often?" Abby bristled but kept her tone calm.

"Not at all. Just a slip. Won't happen again," she smiled at Sarah but the younger woman could see the lie. For the sake of their friendship though, she let it pass. They would discuss this later. Sarah briefly returned the smile and Abby could read the distrust in her eyes. She cursed herself for being so transparent and weak.

"Well, to change the subject, I'm going to get some things ready to run while I attempt sleep later. If someone knocks on the door, it's the Greek food I chose. It's already paid for and there's an extra piece of baklava in there just for you. You get the tip!" she smirked at her and wondered into her room, pointedly leaving the door open. Sarah stared after her with worry filled eyes just as a loud knock filled the room.

"Uncle Nick's delivery!"

Anthony DiNozzo was not a patient man by nature. He'd had to learn a hell of a lot about it working for Gibbs though. He let the energy of unresolved action roll over him as he and Agent David tailed their least favorite person of the moment. As soon as the taxi had dropped Spencer at home from headquarters, he'd promptly hopped into his own SUV and decided to run the DC streets. He'd visited a gas station, a dry cleaning business, the grocery store, and two private residences, so far. Currently, he was driving back towards his home. DiNozzo hoped he was correct, he was tired of following this loser and it was taking a special brand of will power not to hop out of the car every time they stopped to beat the living shit out of the guy. Ziva shared the feeling but remained much more outwardly calm. To the agent's relief, Spencer seemed to be finished with his errands and was choosing to remain indoors for the time.

"Waiting sucks, " DiNozzo pouted as he leaned back in the seat. Ziva sat forward to keep her eyes on the target.

"Do you think he's going to run?" she asked him quietly. DiNozzo blew at the dust particles floating around in front of him in the hazy evening light of DC's dying sun.

"This guy is dumb. He's also cocky so there is the chance he'll stay here because he thinks he's untouchable. I mean, we released him with a confession."

"But he did just fill up his gas tank, visit a grocery store, and meet with private relations. He may be preparing to sprint," she finished for him. He nodded and she tapped her finger impatiently on the dashboard. Ziva pulled her cell from her pocket and began to dial McGee's number when a loud crunching sound snapped her attention to the driver's side door. DiNozzo sat up quickly and reached to turn the keys in the ignition.