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Hopelessly Lost

May 2009

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Hopelessly Lost

"Still you're an amazing artist, Neku!" Abby praised.

Neku flushed a little. Even though all of Japan raved that he was the next greatest thing since CAT, it was still a little overwhelming and odd to hear someone praise him about his artwork, especially directly to his face. His confidence that he might actually amount to something in the art field grew a little. 

"Ah, Abby here you go. The samples that I need you to run tests on." 

Neku turned around towards the source of the new voice. Standing before him was man getting on his years. Kind eyes twinkled behind the glasses and Neku couldn't help but grin as he heard a song that sang of past adventures and wild stories with a gentle touch and kind word. This was the type of man Neku would have imagined his grandfather to be. 

"Ducky! Thank you!" Abby all but hugged the older man. She took the samples out of Ducky’s hands. 

"And who is this?" Ducky asked, gesturing to Neku.

Neku bowed respectfully. "Neku Sakuraba. I'm a witness."

"Ah, I'm Doctor Mallard, the ME. But please, call me Ducky," Ducky introduce himself, returning the bow. 

Neku blinked a little. What...? 

"ME stands for medical examiner. You might have seen Ducky examining the body at the scene," Abby explained before Neku could ask. Then turning to Ducky she said, "Neku's first language isn't English." 

Ducky nodded in understanding. "Ah yes, Jethro mentioned it in passing as he came down earlier for the preliminary autopsy report."

Neku blinked once more. Lost again. "Au-top-sy? Jethro?" he asked.

"Autopsy is examining of the body to find out the cause of death, because sometimes even though you see someone shot, the actual reason why they died might be because they bled out. Other things we can find out things like when they died and confirm their identity. Jethro is Agent Gibbs," Abby explained. 

"Oh." Well Neku's English was improving faster then 7 years of teaching in middle and high school. At the rate things were being explained to him, Neku would go back with a full understanding of how to run an entire crime scene in English. 

"What is your native tongue, if I may ask, Neku?" Ducky asked. 

"Nihongo... damn. I mean Japanese," Neku quickly corrected himself. 

"Ah, the Continent of the Rising Sun," Ducky said. "It reminds me of a time that I visit that place myself. I was there for a conference when I had met the most unusual person. He was a young boy at the time but had the most fascinating stories. Told me about..."

"Neku Sakuraba?" A voice interrupted Ducky's story.

A young man, probably younger then Agent DiNozzo, enter the lab wearing a crisp tan suit. Neku blinked rapidly. This was a little odd. The song he heard from that man was quiet, Neku had to strain to hear it. When he finally could hear it clearly, he was surprise that song was strong and steady like a march. Two contradicting elements. Marches were generally loud and fast, not soft and quiet. Which meant the man before him, while a loyal person underneath, was probably suffering from either self-confidence issues or simple didn't know he had all this inner strength. 

"McGee!" Abby said happily. Time smiled back at her.

"Hey, Abby. This is Neku right? Gibbs wants me to take his statement about what he saw if you're done with him," Tim said. 

"Right, right. Neku this is Special Agent Timothy McGee. Our fellow computer geek and secret author in our fine group," Abby introduced. Tim gave Neku a small wave. 

"Author? Really?" Neku asked. He was surprised by this. Nothing had even suggested that this man was a writer. Neku examined Tim's song a closer. It was subtle, but he found the traces of high imagination lingering in the song. 

Beside him, Tim's face grew red from embarrassment. "Abby!" Tim started. "I'm sure he doesn't want to hear about that." 

Abby ignored him. Tim was so fun to tease. He had no problem telling people he’s wrote a book, but only to the people who had never met the “people” whom Tim had based his characters on. "Yup. He's written two books to far," Abby said with a mischief grin on her face.  

"What are the titles? Are they translated into Japanese?" Neku asked. He was curious to see what the writing of someone who had a unique song like Agent McGee would be like. It would undoubtedly prove to be a good book. 

"Can do you one better, Neku." Abby reached for two books on her bookshelves. "You can read them as soon as McGee finishes taking your statement," she said cheerfully. Abby handed the two books to Neku. "Tell me if you notice anything strange about them," she finished with a smirk. 

Neku blinked. Strange? They had to be bestsellers given the gold sticker on the cover. What would be strange about them? He open the first book and started reading as McGee lead him out the door and upstairs to take his statement.



Tony straighten up as Gibbs came into the bullpen with a fresh cup of coffee in hand. Tony was the only one in the bullpen at the moment as Tim was taking Neku's statement and Ziva was off checking up on Abby. "Our kid is definitely Dante Sinclair. His father demands we catch the bastard that did this. Also mentioned that Dante had some problems with bullies at school. It would explain the bruises Ducky found his body..." Tony trailed off. 

Ducky had discovered that aside from the gunshot wound, the kid had several old bruises that were in various stages of healing. Closer examination revealed old scars and a hairline fracture in his arm. Someone had beaten the kid hard and regularly. 

Gibbs raised his eyebrow. "But you don't think it's just schoolhouse bullies do you." It came out as a statement and not a question. Mentally he swore in his head. Abuse cases always hit Tony hard for they always cut a little close to home for his lead agent. Gibbs found out the hard away the first time they had worked an abused child case together. Tony was miserable for weeks after that case to the point where nothing short of an intervention of a combination of Gibbs, Abby and Ducky with some really good alcohol and a movie marathon finally coaxed the younger man into telling his story. 

"No," Tony confirmed, feeling his throat tighten. Just seeing the multiple bruises on the kid was enough to open the floodgates of his memories. He was suddenly grateful that the rest of the team was somewhere else. 

Gibbs felt his protective parental instinct arise as a haunted look appeared in Tony's eyes. Every time he saw that look, Gibbs sorely wished to be able to meet DiNozzo Senior in a dark alleyway. "You're staying with me this week, Tony," Gibbs ordered softly. He never liked leaving Tony alone during cases like these. It tend to prove to be destructive. 

Tony nodded, relieved by Gibbs offer. "Thanks Boss." 

Gibbs just smiled.

"Boss!" Tim came rushing into the bullpen. 

"Whatcha got McGee?" Gibbs asked. The tense atmosphere blowing away. 

"Finished interviewing Neku," Tim said, holding up a folder. "According to him, he went out for a walk around 7pm, having every intention of looking for something to eat. The hotel help desk told him about a nice restaurant, Tom's, about three blocks down that was affordable and had good food instead of something like fast food. Around 7:30pm he was leaving Tom's with his dinner in hand. That was when he passed a street when he heard yelling. He decided to investigate the noise. As he made his way into the alleyway, he saw two people in the distance fighting, and as they stumbled out into the light of a streetlamp, the older man shot the kid point blank in the chest. He said he must fell into shock, because he doesn't completely recall the direction the man took off in, but he managed to make his way back to Tom's to call for help. That was around 8:30. The Local LEOs showed up around 9:05 and at 9:20 discovered the kid's ID and called us." 

"Why is Neku here in the states anyways?" Gibbs asked. The kid was staying in a hotel, and given that he hadn't had any hysteric parents show up yet, Neku was here by himself. Didn't sound like his parents cared too much if he was here in a country that he barely understood the language. 

Tim nodded. "I asked about that. He said he's here because of an art competition. He got the invitation a few months ago and flew here five days ago. I checked with his hotel, his plane ticket and the company hosting the art competition. His story checks out."

"He got invited?" Tony asked. "He must be good. You don't go inviting some kid from another country on a whim." 

Tim chuckled a little. Neku had gone red in the face when Tim got around to asking that. "Yeah. Apparently his alias is some super artist that all of Japan recognized. He's artwork is featured all over his hometown along with fellow super artist CAT." 

"And his parents?" Gibbs asked.

Tim shuffled nervously for a second. He knew absent parents never sat well with Gibbs. "Well he didn't really want to talk about it, but he said they were busy with work and couldn't come. Plus it's currently summer break for him, so he was allowed to go by himself. He's 18, so I guess his parents figured he was old enough to come to the states alone."

Gibbs felt a pulse of a headache coming. He would never understand why parents would want to ignore their child. People like that didn't deserve kids in the first place. 

"Ziva, what did Abby have?" Gibbs asked as the Mossard Officer came into view. 

"Not much, she match the bullet to .45 Caliber, Colt M1911. She was unable to find any pull any prints from the crime scene except the victim, but she's expanding her search. Surveillance surrounding the street show a Blue Honda Civic pulling up to an alleyway around 8pm," Ziva explained. 

"Alright then," Gibbs said. "Ziva you --"

"Check the DMV records for all Blue Honda Civic got it."

"McGee, I want everything you can find on the Sinclair Family, everything."

"On it Boss."

"DiNozzo ---"

"Excuse me."

Gibbs stopped in mid-sentence.