'Big Al' turned out to be a big, fat, dead end.

Emphasis on dead.

Ziva wrinkled her nose.

She had seen many bachelor pads, but this one had to be worse than Tony's – well, worse than she imagined Tony's being. She actually had shown some manners and refrained from breaking into his apartment out of curiosity – not that she was curious.

Sighing, she pulled her attention back to the pig-den at hand.

Big Al's place was in an old motel-turned apartment complex.

The living room/kitchen/bedroom was littered with crumpled laundry – dirty laundry by the smell – old food cartons, used cigarettes, and men's magazines. The meager light let in by the two smallish north-facing windows was blocked by an assortment of clothes and newspapers that were either jammed in or stapled to the frames.

According to Metro – who claimed to have already processed the scene – Big Al had been found sprawled dead in his arm chair. His super claimed to have been trying to collect rent.

Ziva sighed again – the officers at the door didn't know cause of death. The body was long gone and there was nothing but junk in left in the 'apartment'.

Snorting in disgust, Ziva left to join Gibbs in the hallway.

He was attempting to pull more information from one of the two cops stationed at the door.

Already processed the scene, my ass.

Tony could do a better job than that.

"Got your gear, Ziva?"

She nodded. Ziva knew without asking that she was in for a long day dodging cops at the metro station.

They did need to see the body and whatever evidence the cops had already carted away…

But, still…she wished Tony were here for this.

McGee ground his teeth in frustration.

He had just hit another wall.

He was already miffed from being left behind while Ziva and Gibbs went to question Big Al – the suspect McGee had found, thank you very much.

But now, after three hours of 'digging' on Secret Service Agents Pete Lattimer and Myka Bering and nothing to show for it – he was now considerably more than just 'miffed'.

Abby wasn't exactly a ball of sunshine right now, either.

She had begun alternately pestering him and Ducky because she had absolutely no evidence to process.

He sighed and wondered if it would be cruel to send her to visit Tony.

Sure, Tony annoyed him plenty – but did he really deserve a bored Abby in his injured state?

A beep jerked Tim out of his contemplation.


At last – he'd turned something up. He frowned when he realized just how little a something it was…

Lattimer and Bering were both legitimate Secret Service Agents – that much he could confirm, even with their service jackets being classified above top secret.

However, no matter how good a job the SS did with cleaning up their own records, it was very difficult to purge the records of other organizations – and it seemed that Agents Lattimer and Bering had a lot of interaction with the civilian world.

The first hit was a few articles in the upper-class newspaper of a small private school. The articles were weird – they described some supernatural event. The names Lattimer and Bering were only referenced once, in one of the articles, but McGee read through them all, just to be sure he had covered all his bases.

The four remaining hits were similar stuff. Strange suicides/destructive behavior in a small town in the middle of nowhere. Odd theories about several unsolved bank robberies.

McGee frowned, pinching the bridge of his nose – this stuff made absolutely no sense.

Sighing, he pulled the school articles up again. There had to be someone that could tell him more about these to agents.

And some clue as to why they were so interested in one pain-in-ass Tony DiNozzo.

Frustrated, Tony slumped against the nearest bookshelf.

While he consciously projected an image of near illiteracy – at least when it came to books without pictures – Tony actually read hefty tomes fairly frequently.

What he didn't do – what he absolutely and thoroughly detested– was research.

Researching was extremely unpleasant - which just so happed to be his current activity.

He'd hot-footed it to the nearest library – after being kicked out of the cab upon discovering that he had no wallet – and immediately delved into the ancient history section.

He'd chosen the ancient history section on account a vague impression of 'ancientness' he got when he thought back really hard on the image of the small object that had been lobbed towards him. The object that had caused him so much pain – was just barely registering in his memory.

After arriving in the ancient history section he'd picked Egypt 300 B.C. Egypt was selected because he'd always thought the Egyptians to be terribly cruel – hello, inventing and invisible bomb is a very nasty thing to do - and 300 B.C. just because.

However, three hours into his 'research' he'd uncovered absolutely nothing.

It was time to call in some back up.

Mid-day, mid-week – normally Abby would be mid-case or three.

But not today.

The atmosphere was set – her lab was spotless, her computers and Major Mass-Spec were attentive and functioning properly, a cheery punk-rock song was blasting loudly in the background….

There was, however, no work for her to do.

Without one of Team Gibbs' exacting cases to work through – well, without evidence from one of Team Gibbs' exacting cases – Abby had blown through all the standing requests submitted by the other teams before lunch.

Tony was still in the hospital – she would be, too, if Gibbs hadn't ordered her not to pester the recovering Agent. Her visiting hours were limited to less than three a day – and she had promised to bring a movie with dinner.

Both Tim and Ziva were busy. Jimmy wasn't, but Ducky had thrown her out of autopsy two hours ago.

In short – Abby Scuito was mind numbingly bored and there was no hope for reprieve.

Sighing, she contemplated changing the music to one of Ducky's Scottish dirges. It would certainly fit her mood better.

She was a forensic scientist with no evidence to analyze – that was like Gibbs not drinking coffee because there was no Starbucks or DiNozzo with no movie references because there were no movies.

It was completely unnatural. The balance of Abby's whole world had shifted. Caf-pows! even held absolutely no appeal.

She was beyond bummed.

There were ways, though – ways to get evidence.

All she really needed was a murder.

The Gothic scientist stared measuringly at her computer screen. She had mad skills – she know how to put out a hit on somebody. Of course, she would pick somebody bad – like an evil terrorist or something.

Okay, okay. She couldn't, wouldn't really.

But she almost wanted to.

At the very least, she could hack into the Director's e-mail and –

Brring, brr-

Abby nearly leapt with joy when her phone rang. She snatched the receiver out of its cradle without regard for her own health or the safety of any of her precious computer.

She would have a bruise on her hip, and her back-up back-up computer might require some light maintenance.

No matter – she would put McGee on it.

"Tell me you have something for me – anything. I can't take it anymore! Someone needs to die or steal some top government secret or something!"

In hindsight, Abby decided she should have opened with her standard greeting, instead of this … word vomit. What if the caller turned out to be a telemarketer or Billy from Legal?


"Uhm, hey Abbs."


Tony had called her.

Tony had called her from somewhere that wasn't the hospital.

Tony had called her from somewhere that wasn't the hospital and he sounded overwhelmed and slightly panicked.

On the one hand, she was totally going to kill Tony for getting himself into trouble again.

On the other hand, she could've kissed him for finally, finally giving her something to do. Something that promised to be both exciting and entertaining.

What could be more fun than sneaking around Poppa Gibbs to help the irascible Tony DiNozzo extricate himself from some sort of picklement?

Even if she really was going to have to kill Tony when everything was said and done.

Pete sighed as Myka scoured the scene of the crime yet again.

As far as Pete was concerned, there was absolutely nothing worth 'scouring'.

His gut was telling him that they would be more successful if they looked into this DiNozzo character – or course that action had been strictly forbidden by Artie, who still hadn't explained his aversion to the mysterious DiNozzo character.

"Pete – you could help me, you know," Myka called from her position across the dingy alley. She was squatting near a puddle of questionable origin. "After all – it is entirely your fault that we're here!"

"Oh, not that again!" Pete was beyond tired of being blamed for anything and everything that had gone wrong on this investigation. "Besides, it's not like there's really going to be anything left for us to find – if there was anything in the first place. Hello!" Pete's eyes widened and his posture straightened as irritation flooded his voice. "It was an invisible bomb. Nothing to see!"

Myka stopped poking at the puddle with some kind of swab thing and turned to her partner.

"You're right." She said, with an air of someone who'd just had a great revelation. Pete sure hoped, mostly for her sake, that it was a good one. "There's nothing to see."

Pete frowned. Some revelation.

More like stating the obvious. Myka, however, continued without regard for his increasing aggravation.

"That means that if there is some clue here – it's probably still here, because none of the investigators could actually see it. We need to call Claudia – find out what kind of clues an invisible bomb might have left behind."

"On it," Pete snapped – grateful for something to do. He pulled out the Farnsworth, desperately hoping that Myka's invisible clue actually existed.

A/N: I am so very sorry about the long wait – on this story and all of my other ones. To those of you still reading and reviewing: Thank you so much for your continued interest in my stories.