Title: Through the Cracks
Author: Jaina Solo2, Jaina47, Jaina…pick a username
Timeframe: A few days after Hiatus II
Characters: Abby Sciuto, Ziva David, Tony DiNozzo, Gibbs
Genre: General, Action/Adventure
Summary: Something happens to Abby and it's up to the team to figure out what, in the aftermath of Gibbs' exit.
Author's Notes: This was originally written for SoniaHugo in the NCISficathon and also cross posted to fanfic100. Basically it's everywhere.
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Three AM was never a good time to receive a telephone call, Ziva thought groggily as she rolled across the bed, and reached for the persistently ringing phone. After the around-the-clock work that they'd been doing, she'd been hoping for at least one night of uninterrupted sleep.
"Ziva," Tony's usually drawling version of her name was gone. "Is Abby at your place?"
Ziva rolled over onto her back and stifled a huff of annoyance. "Why do you wish to know, Tony?"
"Answer the question, damnit."
Ziva's temper flared in an instant. "Of course, she's not here, Tony. We may have been forced to play nice, but she has not forgiven me for anything."
Ziva sat up quickly; her flash of anger being replaced almost immediately with concern from the tone that she had heard in Tony's voice.
"What is going on Tony?"
"Do you know where Abby's place is?" Tony asked instead of answering her.
"Meet me there," Tony ordered her and then hung up before she could retort.
Ziva stared at the phone, torn between anger and worry. She almost hoped that he didn't have a good reason for calling her and demanding that she go to Abby's place at an obscenely early hour of the morning, because if he did…
In the sparse traffic it barely took Ziva fifteen minutes to get to Abby's. Even at night the summer air was still sticky and oppressive with humidity and sweat had already begun its way down her spine by the time that she got to Abby's building.
The air conditioned air hit her like a slap in the face and her steps echoed loudly in the silence of the building as she walked towards the elevator. She pushed the call button and it dinged loudly before the doors immediately opened for her.
When it deposited her on the third floor, it wasn't hard for Ziva to spot Tony standing in front of a door halfway down the hall. He glanced up as Zvia started walking towards him and straightened, pushing away from the wall he'd been leaning against.
He smiled, but the expression was strained. Ziva didn't try to put him at ease. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a key. Tony held it up.
"For emergencies." He started to unlock the door.
"Wait." Ziva caught his wrist, not bothering to mention that she also had a copy of the key. "Why are we here, Tony? Abby would not like us coming into her apartment uninvited."
"No one's seen Abby since we all went home after Gibb's left."
"McGee took her evidence this morning-"
"He didn't see her. Thought she'd gone out for a Caf-Pow or something. Turns out, no one's seen her."
Tony stepped forward, invading her space. Ziva didn't step aside, but only gripped his wrist tighter.
"Tony, it is far more likely that she went out, got drunk and is sleeping it off in there." She carefully does not say what it is likelier than.
"For two days?" Tony scoffed.
Ziva rolled her shoulders in a shrug. "It has happened."
Tony shook his head. "No, I have to know that she's okay."
Ziva stared into his eyes, measuring his intentions and then let him go. Tony brushed past her to slip the key in the lock. He pushed the door open.
"Abby," he called. Tony slipped inside. Ziva followed.
They fell into habit without comment and cleared the apartment.
"She never came home, Tony." Ziva made herself speak what they both knew. She felt a knot of dread as if her heart were clenched within the grip of a tightened fist.
"I'm sure you tried her cell phone before we came over here?"
Tony nodded, seeming distracted. He walked to the window and stared out at nothing in particular.
"Ziva, we have to….Abby's," His voice sounded tight and strangled.
Ziva pushed down the answering rush of panic that rose up within her. If Abby really was gone, if something had happened to her, then she and Tony needed to be at their best, thinking so very clearly, not like this.
She slipped around in front of Tony, forcing him to focus on her.
"Tony," her voice was cold, unsympathetic. "Useless talk will not help us find Abby. We are investigators. We must use the skills we have to find her. WE do not have much time."
Anger flashed through Tony's eyes. He knew the statistics about missing persons as well as she did. He slammed his fist into the window frame. She didn't flinch, but met his eyes. Tony dropped his hand down to his side and checked his temper.
Pulling out his cell phone, he quickly speed dialed a number.
"McGee – Abby's missing. Start checking with her friends and at the places that she usually hangs out to see if anyone has seen her." There was a pause. "Just do it, Probie," Tony said sharply and echoed his statement by swiftly hanging up.
"He's going to check the hospitals and morgues too." Tony looked away, unable to face her.
Ziva flinched, nodded. "And you and I," she said, "There is someone that we need to have a conversation with."
They quickly exited Abby's apartment, taking the stairs at a jog and when they reached the parking lot, Tony reached the driver's side door first.
"I'll drive; you think of ways to make him answer our questions."
"Oh, he will answer our questions."
Tony let Ziva step in-front of him. She picked the lock easily and pushed the door open. Tony moved inside as Ziva followed him in. They headed towards the apartment's small bedroom.
Tony tucked his gun into the back of his pants as Ziva covered the man in the bed. Tony roughly grabbed him by the neck of the flimsy white t-shirt he wore and his boxers and threw him out of bed. His shoulder hit the wall hard and he groaned.
"Good morning, Mikel." Tony squatted down in front of him. "I think it's time for a little chat."
"Indeed," Ziva stood over him. "You should tell us what you've been up to, before this conversation begins to go badly." She smiled.
Mikel flinched and held his hands up in front of his face. "What the hell, man? I haven't done anything." He stuttered. "A-and that stuff last week was only worth twenty bucks."
Tony slammed his head into the wall – hard.
"I don't care what you stole last week. I don't care what you had for breakfast. I want to know about Abby."
"I haven't seen her in weeks," Mikel protested.
"Really," Tony looked back at Ziva, "Cos I don't think she believes you and you really don't want her to start asking you the questions."
"Okay, okay, man." Mikel shrunk away from him as if he'd swung at him, instead of merely threatening him. "I saw her once. It was a total accident," he blurted.
"Yeah, right." Tony stood and then yanked Mikel to his feet. "Tell us where she is."
"I don't know!"
"Tony," Ziva stepped forward, and put her hand on his arm. "He doesn't know anything."
Tony glanced away from Mikel. "You sure?"
"I am. He's too scared and too stupid. It doesn't fit his profile. If he had taken Abby, he would be with her and she is not here."
Tony's hand tightened around Mikel's shirt before he nodded. "But we'll take him back to NCIS with us."
Ziva nodded. "Yes. He will not be going anywhere."
Tony folded his arms over his chest. "What do you have, Probie?"
McGee shook his head.
"Nothing? What have you been doing?"
"I'm just as worried as you are, Tony," he retorted.
Ziva stepped back from the scene and turned on her heal without a word to either of the men. She walked slowly up the stairs to the Director's office. She slipped into the inner office without a word to the secretary in the outer office.
Jenny looked up sharply as she entered. She leaned back in her chair, putting down the pen she'd been using, as she saw who it was.
"Taking a page out of Jethro's book," she asked dryly.
Ziva shook her head. "Hardly."
Jenny laced her fingers together and favored her with a warm smile. "What can I do for you this morning? The day's barely begun."
"Abby's missing," Ziva said bluntly. "We've been searching for her for several hours, but so far we have no leads."
Jenny straightened and lost the smirk. "How long has she been missing?"
"As far as we can determine – two days."
"Since Gibbs left."
Ziva shook her head. "No, McGee checked discreetly. Abby hasn't been anywhere near Gibbs. He's making plans to take a trip."
Jenny fell back into her chair.
"Damn." She rose and began to pace the room. "What do you need?"
Ziva shrugged. "We have to figure out what we're missing. I was merely appraising you of the situation."
Jenny nodded. "I hate being helpless. Keep me up to date on the situation. You have anything you need."
"Thank you," Ziva hesitated.
Jenny took a step closer. "Was there something else, Ziva?" It was an honest question, not a dismissal. Ziva weighed it in her mind.
The loss of Gibbs, so recent, painful and fresh, boiled under the surface for all of them. There had not yet been time for them to deal with the fall out from that situation. Tony was riding the fine edge of control; his emotions nearer to the surface than she had ever seen them. He was also her partner and she owed him her loyalty.
"No, there is nothing. Thank you, Director."
"You will find her, Ziva."
Tony wasn't in the bullpen when Ziva descended the stairs.
"Any leads, McGee," she asked brusquely as she pulled on her jacket and grabbed her bag from her desk.
"Negative." McGee looked as shaken and upset as she had ever seen him. "We're trying to get authorization to run her credit cards to trace where she's been lately, but we're having no luck so far."
Ziva clipped her holster and weapon onto her belt.
"Call me if you get any leads," she called over her shoulder as she walked towards the elevator.
She took it down to the parking garage. A few moments later, she screeched out of the garage and drove into traffic. She wove in and out of the lanes expertly, using the car and the road to take out some of her pent up aggression as she drove.
Ziva hit the brakes as she just missed the yellow light in front of her and pulled to a stop in front of the daunting red light. Silence engulfed her as she waited for the light to change from red to green. Her hands clenched the steering wheel until her knuckles turned white. Her left leg began to tap impatiently against the floor of her car.
She forced herself to breathe slowly and steadily as the cars in the turning lane beside her surged into sluggish motion. Her vision blurred as the light finally changed. Ziva let out a ragged sigh, and hit the gas as she swiped at her eyes with the back of her hand. She shot out in front of the car beside her and raced through the next few lights.
It took less than half the usual time to reach her destination. She pulled up into the casually maintained front yard and eased up the driveway. Slowly she got out of the car and walked around to the back of the house. It took her only a moment to let herself in.
She only hesitated at the head of the stairs, as she looked down into the basement. Splinters flew as the sledge hammer connected with the wooden frame. Wood caved in on itself.
"That is one way to get it out of your basement."
Gibbs looked up before he took his next swing.
"What do you want, Ziva?"
The sledge hammer fell.
"You owe me."
Gibbs shook his head. "Personal favor," he grunted. "Not enough to get me to come back to NCIS." He cocked his head over at her. "Was it Tony or Jenny that asked you to come talk to me?"
"Have you seen or spoken to Abby in the last two days?"
Gibbs froze in mid-swing. "She called me the night before last – around midnight," he said. "I hung up on her." He let the sledge hammer fall and Ziva felt a flash of anger.
Abby had likely called Gibbs for help. He hadn't answered because he didn't want to deal with her asking him to stay.
"She's been missing for two days. You were the last one to have contact with her."
Gibbs dropped the hammer; Ziva folded her arms over her chest.
"Help us find her."
Gibbs jerked his head roughly in agreement, but didn't speak. He turned away and cleared his throat and then gestured towards the stairs leading out of the basement.
Ziva used the ride back to NCIS to bring Gibbs up to date on the possibilities that they had already eliminated. Gibbs shook his head as he stepped off of the elevator and walked towards their cluster of desks.
Tony's head snapped up and he straightened from where he had been leaning over McGee's desk. He stepped deliberately out into the aisle, blocking Gibbs' path. Tony glared over Gibbs's shoulder at Ziva.
"Why did you bring him here?"
"Abby called him at midnight two days ago." She looked at McGee. "It wasn't from her cell or her home phone." She pointed towards Gibbs. "His caller ID didn't recognize it as her number. Can you find discover where she was calling from?"
McGee was already typing. "On it."
Tony pushed past Gibbs and Ziva. As he passed them, he murmured, "Don't undermine me again."
Ziva spun around, a sharp retort already forming on her lips. Gibbs caught her arm sharply and pulled her back around to face him. Ziva glared. He reached up and gently placed a finger on her lips. The echo of the gesture that he had used to tell Abby goodbye brought Ziva up short.
Gibbs slowly shook his head at her and then let go of her arm. She watched as he walked to his former desk. He glanced down and then snatched up a piece of paper that lay in front of his computer. He walked around to the front of Tony's desk and slapped the piece of paper down in front of him.
"I didn't remember," Gibbs said and Ziva could see the anguish clearly on his face.
Tony scanned the piece of paper quickly. "What does this guy have to do with Abby?"
"She put him away." Gibbs grabbed the paper from Tony and handed it to McGee. "WE need to locate him now." He took a deep breath. "Daniel Pearson. He threatened her several times while he was one trial. Pearson killed three marines who were involved in an operation to stop weapons smuggling. He was careful enough that the murder charges couldn't be proved, but Abby managed to link him to the smuggling operation. He found a lawyer who talked the jury into giving him a shortened sentence." The words tumbled out of Gibbs.
"I was supposed to be alerted the moment that he was released." His face tightened painfully. They all stayed silent, unsure what to say in the face of his obvious emotion.
"Got it, Boss!" McGee's triumphant cry caught all of their attention. "Pearson used a credit card last night at a motel in Virginia. He checked out this morning. According to the records we have from his previous arrest, he had a warehouse about an hour from there. It's still in his name."
"Good work, McGee." The chorus of voices was immediate.
"Stay here, McGee. Keep looking for leads. This may be a diversion and we may need to know if he uses that credit card again."
Tony grabbed his holster and weapon and stepped out from behind his desk. "Let's go, Ziva."
She stopped him with a firm hand pressed to his wrist. "He goes with us."
"Gibbs is no longer an agent."
Ziva shook her head. "I do not understand many things, Tony. But he is Gibbs; and she is Abby."
Tony jerked his arm away, but nodded. "Let's go."
"Took you long enough, Agent Gibbs," a voice called out from the back of the building.
Gibbs ignored Pearson. "You okay, Abby?" He called out, hoping to hear some response from her. He couldn't see anything, but she had to be there.
A muffled whimper was the only response that he got.
"Ah-ah. I wouldn't think of doing anything foolish, Agent Gibbs. You see if my finger slips-"
Light flashed in the room for an instant, illuminating Abby and Pearson. Gibbs blinked furiously against the sudden light, but couldn't get a clear shot before it was lost in darkness once again.
Abby had been held in Pearson's arms, pulled back against his body as a shield with a gun to her head.
"You wouldn't believe how easy it was to grab her. I thought you would at least try to protect her. I even let her call you. I wanted you to know she was going to die," Pearson leered.
Gibbs flicked his flashlight off and began to move down the wall quietly, taking advantage of the darkness.
"I gave you a chance to play the hero." Pearson laughed. "And now here you are. She was terrified when she saw me following her."
There was a clatter from the other side of the room. The light flashed on again. Gibbs swung his gun into position, but couldn't get a shot.
"Tell your agent boy to back off, Gibbs. That was clumsy."
"Tony," Gibbs called out, putting an edge of warning in his voice. The longer that they could keep Pearson distracted. He reached back behind him, feeling along the wall. His fingers skimmed the rough concrete before he found the switch. He flicked it on immediately.
Light flooded the room and it was Pearson's turn to stagger back away from the light. A knife caught him in the back. Abby struggled away from him as his arm went limp, diving towards the ground. Gibbs and Tony fired simultaneously.
Pearson fell to the ground, arms flailing wildly. He squeezed off several wild shots as he fell. Tony rushed towards him and kicked the gun out of his hand. He covered Pearson as Ziva rushed towards Abby.
"He dead, DiNozzo?" Gibbs asked, as he slowly walked towards them.
"Dead, B- Gibbs."
Quickly Ziva pulled out a second knife and cut away the ties that were around Abby's wrists. Abby wrapped her arms around Ziva tightly.
Ziva put her arms around her, slightly awkwardly. "Are you hurt?"
Abby shook her head, but didn't show any signs of wanting to move.
Ziva held her tighter as Gibbs opened his cell phone and called for an ambulance.
"Gibbs." Abby's voice sounded horribly raw and weak.
"I'm sorry, Abs," he knelt down next to her and brushed her disheveled hair back from the livid laceration on her cheek. "So sorry," he whispered. "I should have protected you from this bastard."
Ziva leaned back and slipped her jacket off as Abby started to shiver. She laid it gently over the other woman's shoulders. "She's going into shock, Gibbs."
"Be okay, Gibbs," Abby slurred.
Ziva frowned and tugged at the jacket.
It seemed to take forever for the ambulance to arrive.
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The epilogue will be posted on Wednesday so stay tuned in if you're interested.