A/N: Soooo I'm just now realizing (after reading about 4 dozen fics containing them…) that I probably should have a disclaimer in here somewhere…
This is my disclaimer:

I DO NOT OWN NCIS; I am merely borrowing the characters, etc.
I do however own this plotline so if Shane Brennan wants to use it, I want some moola for it (;

There (: Now I won't have lawyers breathing down my neck…

Okay. Enough babbling. Read por favor! (:

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Previously…

"It's Kate's perfume?" Gibbs gut lurched violently.

Tony nodded.

Gibbs was out of Abby's lab before Tony had finished nodding. Bypassing the elevator for the much quicker stairs, he sprinted up them, already mentally calculating how quickly he could get back to his house to ascertain that Kate was okay. Everything made sense now. Well, not everything, but at least one thing did.

Another death will soon follow.

That was bad enough.

Three is a magic number.

There would only be a total of three deaths (hopefully).

May 24th

They'd just been discussing all of that earlier today.

Everything is interrelated.

Kate's perfume was on the freaking note. How much clearer did it get?

Ignoring the questions that followed him as he tore through the bullpen and to his desk, he swiftly grabbed a second magazine for his SIG. Still not bothering to answer any questions or snap back at the remarks, he raced from the building and to one of the sedans, knowing it would be much quicker than his truck. He slammed his foot onto the accelerator in a very Gibbs-esque way. In just under twelve minutes, he was screeching to a halt in front of his house.

The front door was open.

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Conference Room

"Director, will you please explain to me why I am here?" Ziva asked for the fifth time. Mossad hadn't actually taught her patience; they'd taught her to grab the person and beat them for answers. However, since being in the U.S., she'd learned somewhat of a control, but that didn't mean she had to use it. For the fifth time, Jenny merely flicked a glance at the Israeli but disregarded her inquiries. Secretly, Jenny wondered why Ziva didn't just attack her and pin her to the ground, demanding answers.

Secretly, Ziva wondered why she didn't just attack the director and pin her to the ground demanding answers. The answer evaded her however, and she fumed silently.

"Agent Gibbs…" The Director began after a few minutes hesitation. "Believes you to be a suspect, regarding Petty Officers Noel and Post's deaths. He instru- asked if I'd watch after you…" she'd almost said that Gibbs had instructed her to do something. She was his boss, it was not the other way around.

"What?" Ziva deadpanned. "How can he think that? To begin with, I have an alibi for the time of the first death,"

"You do?" Jen interrupted; her curiosity had risen considerably.

Ziva nodded. "I was here at NCIS,"

"That's easy enough to verify-wait, didn't Doctor Mallard say that he could only estimate a time of death for Noel since he'd been covered in water and alcohol and it was freezing that night?" Jenny narrowed her eyes slightly.

"Regardless." Ziva modified her answer. Her face set into a slight glower at the Director's accusations.

Jenny, not unnerved by Ziva's glaring, began to grow suspicious…

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Gibbs' Place

Hastily, yet thoroughly, Gibbs cleared the main level and basement in about 30 seconds flat. He continued more quietly up the stairs. Sweeping the rest of the upstairs hurriedly, he hesitated for a split second in front of the bedroom door where Kate had been sleeping. Then, shaking off the foreboding feeling, he swung the door open.

He was stupid for leaving her alone tonight. It wasn't going to happen again. She was going to be under protective custody around the clock from this point. Kate lay there, sleeping still. Gibbs exhaled a sigh of relief and slid down the wall into a sitting position, his body overwhelmed with relief.

Kate stirred at the noise and sat up. Seeing Gibbs, with his gun still in hand, she became fully alert. "What's going on?" she inquired, slipping out from beneath the covers and going to sit down next to her boss.

"Nothing. We thought… never mind. It's fine now." Gibbs replied, clicking the safety back into place.

"Gibbs-" Kate began but he cut her off.

"Don't worry about it. Go back to sleep,"

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The next day, Gibbs had cooled off slightly, but not by much. The perfume thing still lingered in his mind. Upon arriving in the office with Kate, and remembering that the team had three cases to be worked, he had decided that he couldn't afford to have Ziva as a suspect and pretended like he'd never even considered her as one, for which the Director glared at him. He set Ziva working on who shot Abby, since that had no ties to her. Tony was occupied with figuring out the Kate/Ari/Eli and cloning issue. McGee was given the case with the petty officers.

Everything was, in a word, crazy. Kate and Abby were downstairs in her lab, and breaking a lot of the "rules" that the doctors had set for Abby about no working. Kate was doing most of it for her, and Abby just directed it. They had three cases, and none of them seemed to interrelate in the slightest. They had to go back over what little evidence they had from when Abby was shot, and then there was the vast amount of evidence from the two crime scenes from where the Marines were killed. On top of all of that, they had to figure out the whole "Kate/Ziva" deal and how Eli fit into everything now.

While Tony was getting take-out for lunch, and Ziva was getting evidence reports from Abby, McGee approached Gibbs with a very solemn and distraught façade. Gibbs looked up from his desk and snapped, "What, McGee?"

"Boss… it's Agent Cassidy." McGee barely refrained from stammering.

"What about Agent Cassidy, McGee?" Gibbs swore, if Cassidy needed help on a case, he'd lose it so fast… The last thing they needed was even a tiny thread of another case on their plate right now.

McGee gulped. "She's dead."

The coffee in Gibbs' hand dropped and splashed onto the floor surrounding his desk. He shot to his feet.

"What?" he demanded.

"Two locals found her body in her car about a couple hours ago. Metro was called to the scene and when they found out that she was NCIS, they called us," he explained quietly.

"Damn it!" Gibbs swore and rubbed his forehead. His head ached already; no doubt that Jenny would have him investigate this even though she knew damn well that his team was already stacked with cases… "Anything else, McGee? Cause of death? Time?" he asked, slightly calmer than he was a minute ago. He was trying very hard to not blow up at his youngest agent, especially since he was merely the messenger.

"Yeah… but you won't like it,"

"McGee…" Gibbs threatened, a warning tone clearly spelled out in his voice. It said that as hard as he was trying to not, he might just shoot the messenger.

"She bled to death. She was shot in both shoulders and hips."

The two stood in revered silence for a few minutes. Mourning. Thinking. Fuming. Everything. Tony bound into the bullpen smiling, and carrying Chinese takeout. "What'd I miss?" he inquired happily.

Gibbs just looked at his senior field agent. He walked out from behind his desk and went to pat Tony on the shoulder solemnly. "I'm sorry Tony," he whispered then left to go inform the director.

Tony stared after his boss. Why the hell was Gibbs apologizing to him? An icy hand grabbed his heart. What had happened to Kate? They'd only just gotten her back. The foreboding feeling intensified. What had happened to Ziva? No, it couldn't be her. Tony knew that Gibbs was considering her as a suspect, but… she'd been working a case all morning!

"Probie! Why did Gibbs just apologize?" Tony snapped, dropping the bag of foreign food on his desk.

"Tony, I'm sorry too." McGee said. Tony gave him a look and he quickly began to explain, "One of the other NCIS agents was found dead this morning."

The ominous feeling relinquished its iron-clad grip, yet remained somewhat, and Tony had to wonder why. Kate, Ziva, Abby, and Jenny had all made it in this morning. None of them had yet to leave the building. Ducky and Palmer were here. McGee and Gibbs were obviously here. Everyone was here and well. So why was he sensing that something awful was about to happen?

"The agent bled to death, due to being shot in both shoulders and hips." McGee continued, gauging Tony's reaction. Tony's eyes suddenly narrowed, as he realized that McGee was avoiding revealing the gender of the deceased.

"McGee." Tony stepped right in front of the younger agent and was about a foot from his face. "Tell me who was killed,"

Tim looked into Tony's eyes, and forced himself to not break the hold, even under Tony's intense gaze. He forced himself to utter the words, to even out his voice and to not break when Tony did.

"Paula Cassidy,"

Tony slowly sank into his desk chair. "No. That can't be. How is that possible?" he began murmuring incomprehensively to himself, while tears brimmed in his eyes. DiNozzo men don't cry. He told himself sternly. This might be an exception. After making sure that he could speak without completely losing it, and with somewhat of composure, he said, "I was with her at two this morning after collecting evidence from last night. We were just talking," Tony added on quickly upon seeing McGee's incredulous look. "I left at around three,"

"No time of death yet since Metro called us as soon as they figured out she was one of us. They didn't touch anything after that," McGee explained.

Tony sighed. He had only slept for about three hours last night, and other than that, had been awake since the morning Kate walked into the bullpen. Truthfully, he wanted to cry and mourn, but he didn't have it in him.

"Gear up," Gibbs commanded, striding back into the bullpen with a fresh cup of coffee. "McGee gas the truck," he tossed the keys to the probationary agent, "Tony get Ducky and Palmer to meet us in front of Cassidy's building, then have Ziva meet us at the car," Gibbs was leaving the bullpen when he noted that his senior agent had pretty much been up for two days straight.

"Tony," Gibbs extended his arm and handed his senior field agent his coffee.

"Thanks boss,"

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At the crime scene

"Ziva, shoot and sketch; Tony, get witness statements; McGee, bag and tag," Gibbs ordered as they stepped out of the sedan.

Click. Click. Click, click, click. The shutter sound of the camera going off frequently was putting Tony on edge. He hadn't seen Paula yet and he didn't want to. He was holding everything together with just a tiny shred of sanity.

"So at about what time did you find Agent Cassidy," Tony stumbled over her name but kept his face relatively impassive as he inquired the man and woman who had called Metro.

"Well, we usually go for our morning run together at around seven, but I overslept this morning and our daughter, Becca, had to be driven to school to take in a project which meant she didn't take the bus and-"

Tony cut the woman off.

"Ma'am, if you can just tell me the time…?" he didn't want to hear about their darling little daughter, who probably had a vast amount a friends and good grades and loving parents… Paula had wanted to settle down one day. He shook off their discussion from last night.

"It was around, nine to nine-thirty," clarified her husband.

"So I assume that you called local leos around the same time?" Tony scribbled in his notebook.

"I'm sorry? We don't know any Leos locally. But we do know a Leonard, but he lives in Detroit-" the woman began again.

"Leo. Law enforcement officer. The police. Whatever you'd like to call them. When did you phone them?" Tony grit his teeth together. This lady was worse than Ducky.

"Pretty much as soon as we found her," the husband answered.

Tony jotted down a few more things, got their names and told them to stay reachable. He slowly turned and walked towards the car. There were no bullet holes in the windshield, which meant that the shooter had to have been in the car. Paula wasn't stupid. One foot after the other, he made his way to the car. Ziva was crouched next to the driver's door, scrawling a depiction of the handle, which had blood smears on it. Tony looked away. Gibbs and McGee stood at the back of the car, examining the license plate. Tony jogged over.

"Want me to run the plate boss?" he inquired, glancing at the six number-letter combination.

"Why would we run the plate?" Gibbs asked back.

"Because it's not Paula's plate number?" Tony answered confusedly. Gibbs brow furrowed.

"Then why the hell is it so familiar?" he demanded, bringing his hand to his mouth on instinct, but quickly remembered that he'd given away his coffee.

"Don't know. Doesn't look familiar to me," Tony replied tersely.

Gibbs stared hard at the metal plate for a solid minute. Suddenly, recognition dawned noticeably on his face. "Oh," he muttered.

"What?" McGee and Tony wondered simultaneously.

"34JK6D," Gibbs read the registration code off. "That's what Abby signed to me after she was shot. It's the number of the car of the person who shot her," he shoved the already bagged template into Tony's hands and strode away furiously.

A/N: *winces slightly* Okay, so please don't hate me. But I didn't want this chapter to be like 4,000 words. Pretty, pretty please review! I've got the next chapter almost done (hooray for holiday breaks!) so can we try and get the review number up to 50 before I post the next chapter? Please? Thank you all so much for reading and sticking with this story!

Still anxiously awaiting TONIGHT'S episode (EEEP!),
Darlin24