They were in the car, heading toward Norfolk when Tim finally asked, "So what is the mystery decapitating weapon?"

"According to Palmer it's some sort of string. Really thin, really strong, carbon fiber or something. Supposedly we won't even be able to see the damn thing, just the hook that Sherlock noticed in the picture."

"We're going to Norfolk to look for a hook in a ceiling with an invisible string on it?"


"Boss, no offense, but the last time I saw that plot I was in college playing Call of Cthulu with a bunch of my buddies and the string was a the GM being a complete and utter dick."

"English, McGee."

"String's fiction. They don't exist in the real world. They're working on them, and I think some labs have gotten a few of them up to an inch or two long, but that's not going to do this."

"That's what Palmer said."

"So we are doing this why?"

"Because according to Ducky a string like that could have made the wound that took the head off and explained why we ended up with the spatter where we found it, and it's a good answer for how he ended up decapitated in a locked room."

"If the string is there, then I suppose tracking it down won't be too hard. Can't be too many places that can make something like that, and people who have access to them have to be even fewer and further apart."

"Yeah. Tell me about Holmes and Watson."

So McGee did, starting with the blog, and how Watson was apparently Holmes' roommate and chronicler. They weren't precisely private detectives, but that was a good enough term to get the idea across. From there he got into their personal lives, and his doubts about if finding John Watson was a good plan.

When he wrapped that up he asked, "So what's the famous gut have to say about Sherlock Holmes?"

Gibbs shrugged. "Needed to be spanked a whole lot more or a whole lot less as a kid, but damned if I know which."

"He says he's a sociopath."

Gibbs just shook his head. One of the things he liked about working mostly with military people was that guys like that can't get in. Regular cops see all sorts of flavors of nutjobs, NCIS, not so much so. Sure, it's not like there are none, but they're a whole lot rarer.

Norfolk was still an hour away: that left a lot of time and a lot of secrets now in the open.

"So… Is Dorneget going to be Ziva's replacement?"

Gibbs shuddered a little at that. "I hope not."

"Maybe just the three of us until she knows if she's going to come back or not?" There were female NCIS agents with kids at home. Just, not a lot of them.

Gibbs shook his head. "Not on the same team. Not allowed. And that's why I've told Tony fifty times not to date his partner."

"So, you knew, or you told Sherlock you knew, why didn't you stop it?"

"How? Start feeding him saltpeter?"

"Doesn't work."

Gibbs stares at him in confusion.

"All it does is mess with your blood pressure if you get too much of it. Won't effect libido."

Gibbs nodded. "No way to stop it. Just had to hope they wouldn't screw it up."

Tim was watching Tony when Sherlock said Ziva was pregnant, and he saw the way every drop of blood drained out of his face and then all came screaming back a second later when the full force of the fear and anger hit.

"It's screwed up, isn't it?"

Gibbs looked away from traffic toward Tim. "Ya think?"


They're quiet for several minutes.

"Boss, if we get any choice in the matter, I'd rather we kept Ziva and Tony went off on his own team."

"I know."

"He's been ready for a while and…" And Tim doesn't know how to bring up the whole if Tony really does have a crush on you maybe getting him out of your immediate circle if he's trying to make a long term relationship work with Ziva is a good plan.

But it looks like Gibbs gets it. "I know, McGee. As long as no one said anything… But it's been said now."

"Yeah. So…"

"We'll see. She's right, she won't be in shape for it soon. It'd be one thing if she was tech and you were muscle, but that's not how it is and you two can't switch jobs. No matter what, it won't just be the two of us for any length of time."

"Dorneget really isn't that bad."

"I know. He's green and nervous, and I'm too old for that. You want to break him in, go for it. I don't want to deal with a guy who doesn't know the basics, not anymore."

They spent the rest of the ride talking about potential new team members, neither of them very happy about the changes that were coming soon.