Title: With Friends Like This…

Author: PunkyRabbit

Author's Note: Repost-corrected version. This is a crossover with StarGate SG-1, though if you don't know that show, it won't detract from your enjoyment of this story. Anything you need to know is explained in the story. Also, thanks to my beta BrynnH.

Warning: Pretty extensive violence, though nothing I'd consider to be horribly graphic.

Disclaimer: I don't own any character you recognize. No infringement is intended.

With Friends Like This…

Tony, Daniel, and Kate sat at a table outside of a small restaurant, eating their lunch. While Tony was stuffing his sandwich in his mouth, Kate stared at him for a while, then finally broke the silence, and asked Tony a question, "Tony, how does a guy like you meet a guy like Daniel, who has two PhDs and a Masters?"

Tony looked up and took another bite out of his sandwich, before he answered "Ah!" he said, enthusiastically. "Mmmfh mumm mehmm mmmm mehrm mmmh." He continued, his mouth still full.

Daniel, glancing at a confused looking Kate, quickly jumped in, "Translation:" he said, "'we met when we were kids.'"

Tony had, by then, swallowed and nodded, acknowledging the fact that Daniel had translated correctly, then continued, "Daniel's foster parents were friends with my parents and came to New York to spend most of the summer with us. Well, Daniel spent the summer with me and the household staff while my parents and his foster parents traveled to wherever the "in" place was that summer." When I first met him, he was extremely geeky looking. Actually, he still looked geeky until just recently. And even though he doesn't look like it anymore, he still is geeky."

Daniel elbowed his friend. Tony immediately protested, and Kate smiled and said, "Hey, that's my thing!"

They all chuckled then Tony continued, "So anyway, he and I would go off and play…"

Daniel interrupted, "you mean I'd go off to read and you'd come bug the crap out of me."

Tony admitted "I used to pick on him unmercifully. I'd always get him into all sorts of situations. Once, I actually convinced him to climb to the top of the old apple tree, and then I left him there. He was stuck up that tree for hours."

Daniel looked at Tony and said "Three hours and 17 minutes." When the other two glanced at him, surprised that he had actually remembered the exact amount of time, Daniel cleared his throat, then stated dryly "Good times."

"Yeah maybe I was a little harsh sometimes."

"'Sometimes?' Try 'CONSTANTLY'!" Tony gave a shrug and one of those "Yeah, but you still gotta love me" grins, then Daniel continued, "Yeah, but you did always stick up for me when anybody else picked on me." Daniel stated.

"Well, yeah! You think I was gonna share my right to picking on my little buddy?" Tony said as he put his arm around his friend.

"'Little'?" Daniel asked as he looked at Tony. "I was every bit as tall as you were, if not taller."

"Yeah, but you were a tooth-pick, I was pure muscle."

Daniel gave a heavy sigh, then, deciding to let it go, continued, "Yeah, you really could be a pain, but you were like my summertime brother."

"Yeah, we pretty much grew up together. Even when we got older, went to college and got jobs, we still kept in touch. That's actually why he's here. He's been so caught up in his job of 'deep-space telemetry'…", Tony said totally not buying the cover story, " … that he hadn't visited in a while, so, when his team finally got put on stand down for a week he high-tailed it eastward to spend some time with little ole me." Tony looked at the archeologist, glad he came to visit, then reached over and grabbed some of Daniel's potato chips.


"Just because you don't look geeky anymore, doesn't mean I can't pick on ya, right Danny?" He looked up at Daniel, who rolled his eyes and said, "I just figured out why I can tolerate Jack!"

Kate, who had sat silently through their entire story / argument, chuckled at their playful banter.

"" "" "" ""

A shot rang out and Kate let out a yelp, as she collapsed on the table. "Kate!" Tony screamed as he drew his gun and tried to locate the attacker.

Daniel rushed to her side to check for a pulse. Blood was trickling out of the bullet hole in the middle of her back. As his fingers touched the side of her neck, she let out a groan. "She's still alive!" the linguist informed his friend, as he too tried to find the gunman. As Tony continued to look for the shooter, Daniel saw a man with a gun on the other side of the street. The man raised the gun, and pointed it at Tony. "Look out!" Daniel dove across the table and pushed Tony out of the way, putting himself in the path of the bullet.

"Daniel!" Tony picked himself up off of the ground and shot at the man across the street. As the assailant went down, Tony dove to the ground next to Daniel. He checked for a pulse, but found nothing. "NO!" he shouted as he cradled his friend's head in his lap. Another man snuck up behind him and struck Tony on the back of the head with his gun" As a black van came to a screeching halt by the curb, the man drug the unconscious NCIS agent over to it and shoved Tony into the back. Kate stirred, tried to will her unresponsive body to go after him, call for help, something, but her body simply would not cooperate. She got a good look at Tony's attacker and at the van. She could draw the man so that NCIS could identify him, and maybe help find Tony…if she could just keep from passing out.

She lifted her head wearily as the black van sped down the road taking her friend God knew where. "Tony" she whispered, trying again to move, to do something to save him, but the bullet wound in her back prevented it. She stared at the license plate on the retreating vehicle, "TYR-7306" she read, and repeated silently, so she could remember it and tell Gibbs, when he got there. She drifted in and out of consciousness, but she knew she had to tell Gibbs, so she struggled to reach for her cell phone, that movement sending searing pain rushing through her spine. She flipped it open and pushed the speed dial button, thankful that she could stop moving after that.

"Yeah, Gibbs" a familiar voice answered the phone.

"Gibbs" Kate said weakly.

"Kate, where are you?" Gibbs inquired, looking up at McGee. He immediately called Abby to get her to run a trace on Kate's phone.

Everything started to get blurry, and she tried to stay conscious, but it was getting hard. She knew she had to get the license plate to her boss. She fought to stay conscious, "Black van… T…" she gasped for breath, as she continued, "I…R…7…" Her voice trailed off, and the cell phone hit the side walk.

"Kate?" Gibbs wrote down the 4 digits she had given him, although he didn't yet know their significance. As Gibbs hung up the phone, he looked over at McGee, to see what he had gotten.

"Thanks, Abby." The young NCIS agent finished the conversation, ripped off the piece of paper, on which he had written the address, and gave it to his boss.

"" "" "" ""

A few minutes later, the NCIS van arrived at the scene.

"Kate?" McGee called to her as he got out of the vehicle. He saw Kate, collapsed, but noticed that rescue workers were already tending to her, so he started processing the scene.

Both NCIS agents knew that Tony had been with Kate, but he obviously wasn't on the scene now. Gibbs noticed a downed shooter across the road. Had there been more than one, Gibbs wondered. Was Tony chasing the other one? As soon as Gibbs started taking statements, however, it became obvious that Tony was in trouble…again. Gibbs figured that the letters and number that Kate gave him earlier was the license plate belonging to the men who took Tony. While the people from the ambulance strapped Kate to the backboard and took her to the hospital, the people from NCIS loaded Daniel and the shooter across the street into body bags to transport them back to NCIS headquarters.

"" "" "" ""

Back at NCIS headquarters, Ducky prepared for Daniel's autopsy. As he walked over to the body bag, he noticed that it was awfully flat. He wondered if they had laid out an empty body bag by mistake, though he couldn't imagine anything that would make someone do that. He opened it anyway, just to make sure. All he found were Daniel's clothes.

"" "" "" ""

"Yes, thank you." Gibbs set the receiver back on the cradle, put his head in his hands and let out an exasperated sigh.

McGee thought that the phone call was probably from the hospital, and wanted to know what had caused his boss's reaction, "Boss?" He said timidly.

Gibbs let out another sigh, "That was the hospital. Kate came out of the surgery okay. They got the bullet, and they don't think she'll be paralyzed, but … she's in a coma, and they don't know when or if she'll wake up."

McGee didn't know what to say. At that point in time, they didn't have anything, except a few shell casings and a partial license plate. They had interviewed all the people in the area, but no one saw the shooter clearly. Everyone at the café was busy running inside or diving under tables. A few people in nearby stores saw the kidnapper, but he was too far away for them to give an accurate description. Most of the people there did see the black van, and three people professed to have gotten the license plate. All three sets of numbers were completely different, none of them matched more than one of the digits that Kate had given them, and none were registered to a black van. They had nothing; no clue at all to help them find Tony, except for the four letters Kate saw from the license plate. Since she had, by then, lost a lot of blood, it was certainly possible that she had the wrong digits. Even if the four numbers were correct, it would take a while to track it down, for there were many combinations for the three missing letters. Kate was still their last hope. Both McGee and Gibbs had hoped she had seen something, had seen the shooter, or the person driving the van, or anything. But, if she did, she was in no condition to help. So, still nothing. And now they knew they still had to worry about Kate, too.

"" "" "" ""

As Tony woke up, he found himself in a cold, dark room, with no windows. When he tried to move around to find a way out, he felt a large, heavy, metal shackle, pull on his wrist. Attached to the shackle, was a short chain which was attached to the wall. He reached for his belt to get the knife out of the end of it, hoping to maybe pick the lock, but his belt wasn't there. They must have taken it. But why? There's no way they could have found the knife, and what do they think I could possibly do with a belt? As he continued fumbling with the handcuff, trying to pull his hand out of it, a large metal door opened, and two very large men came in. The first man, obviously the one in charge, approached him and tried to look menacing. The other man assumed his position in the corner nearest the door. "What do you want?" Tony asked.

The man looked at him and replied, "We'll get to that. But, first, what's your name?"

Tony looked at his captor, not about to give in and answer, "What's yours?"

"You can call me Wally."

Tony turned to the second man and said, "So what would that make you, the Beav?"

He got a foot in his gut as his answer and "Wally" continued, "Now, you know my name, now what's yours?"

Tony, being naturally snarky, and not really wanting to get to the 'captor tortures victim' part, continued, "How do I know that's your real name?"

"You don't, but I want to develop some trust here, so what's your name?"

"Why? So you can find my friends and hurt them too?"

"No, I just need something to call you."

"Ok, then, it's Tony"

"Ok, Tony, let's get down to business."

Oh, great. Tony thought, so much for avoiding the 'good' part, but he said nothing.

"I saw you were with the archeologist."

"What, the man you killed!?"

"That bullet was meant for you."

"So much for trust." Another foot to the gut.

"Ok here's how this works, I ask you questions, and you answer truthfully, or I will cause you pain.

Tony couldn't help himself, "Oh, you mean the foot in the gut was not intended to cause pain?"

Wally smirked, "I can do a lot better than that, if I want to. Let's start with the questions, shall we? I'm assuming that since you were with him, you work at the SGC?"

"What's that?"

Wally slapped him, "I said, 'answer truthfully'"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

Wally nodded to the corner and the other man emerged and punched Tony hard enough that his nose started bleeding.

"We know about the Stargate…and the aliens."

"Aliens?" What exactly did Daniel do at that job of his?

"Where is the second gate?

"I don't know what you're talking about."

The man from the corner punched him again.

"Look, all I know about Daniel is that he works with Deep Space Telemetry out of NORAD."

Wally smirked, "Deep Space Telemetry?"

"Yeah, okay, I never bought the cover story either," Tony pleaded, "but I really don't know anything more about whatever Daniel's gotten himself into. And if what you say is true, I don't want to know."

"Nice try." Wally kicked Tony in the gut again. "The gate at the SGC is too heavily guarded, so we need the second gate to run our op."

"What "op"? Who are you guys?"

"We're NID."

"NID? Yeah, right!"

"We couldn't quite see eye to eye with the rest of the organization, so we went in a different direction."

"You're rouge? Oh, well that explains everything." He received another foot in his gut.

"Now, where is the second gate?"

"What do you need it for anyway?"

"We need it for an operation we're running, and only someone from the SGC would know where it is."

"I'm not from the SGC. I don't even know what that is!" Tony yelled at the man, terrified that he was going to die because of his friend's secret.

The man kicked him several more times, each time knocking the breath out of him. "Well", Tony thought, "Wally was right…that was a lot more pain." By the time that he stopped, Tony thought that at least one of his ribs were broken.

"Well, we'll let you consider your options, and if you answer some questions, next time, we might give you something to eat. Rex." The man punched him hard several times and he fell unconscious. Wally motioned to the man, and they both left Tony alone and unconscious in the room.

"" "" "" "" ""

Tony regained consciousness to the sound of gunfire, and screams from outside of his cell. Then he heard the best sound he'd ever heard…Gibbs gruff voice demanding to know where Tony was. Not long after that, Gibbs and McGee burst into the room, and took off his restraints.

"Man, am I glad to see you, boss."

"Kind of good to see you too, DiNozzo," Gibbs retorted as he helped Tony sit up. "Ambulance is on its way, just stay put."

Not sure he wanted to know, Tony asked, "How's Kate, Gibbs?"

"She didn't make it, Tony." Gibbs actually looked sad. He tried to keep his emotions from showing most of the time, but he couldn't stand to lose members of his own team. "Ducky has her body, and that of the shooter and your friend."

"Sorry it took so long to find you, Tony." McGee spoke up for the first time since he came in the room. "We didn't have much to go on."

"You found me now; that's all that matters."

Tony heard sirens as the ambulance pulled up, and he lost consciousness again.

"" "" "" ""

Not long after that, Tony awoke expecting to find himself in the hospital, surrounded by friends. But, when he looked around, he saw the inside of the room he had been locked in. He yanked on the shackle, still clinging to his wrist. He hadn't been rescued. No Gibbs or McGee. No ambulance.

"Yeah," he thought, "it was a little too good to be true. Should have known it was just a dream." He let out a heavy sigh, and let his head fall back against the wall. The impact with the wall sent a pain shooting through his head.

"" "" "" ""

Gibbs and McGee had gone over to the hospital to check on Kate. The doctor said that she was still in a coma. McGee was scared for both Kate and Tony. He knew that Gibbs was too…on the inside…but no one could tell by looking at him. After Ducky had finished the autopsy on the shooter, he too, went over to the hospital. When he got there, he told the NCIS agents what he knew. "Abby identified the shooter as a Jerome Terrence, but it dead-ended. She said that there is nothing linking him to anything useful. His record is perfectly clean. He doesn't have ties to any known terrorist group. There is nothing to tie him to either Kate or Tony. That path seems to go nowhere."

"What about Tony's friend?" Gibbs inquired.

"Yeah… you're never going to believe this, but the body is just gone."

"What do you mean 'gone', Duck?"

"I put him in the body bag to take him back, but when I unzipped it, all that was there were his clothes. It reminds me of a time when I was a lad in England…"

McGee tuned Ducky out and thought to himself, "Great. Now, we're losing what little bit of evidence we have."

"" "" "" ""

When Tony woke up again, he was still alone in the room. He didn't know what to do, so he let his thoughts run free, by talking to himself in the empty room. "It's gotta be pretty late by now, because I'm getting tired, of course that may have something to do with all the blood I've lost. What do these guys want from me? I don't know anything about the SGC or any aliens or anything. I knew that Daniel did something besides 'Deep space telemetry', but aliens? Well, I've just got to hold on; I know Gibbs will find me... but there's nothing at the scene that'll help. Maybe Kate was conscious enough to see something. I wonder if she's ok. At least that's one good thing about my 'rescue' just being a dream. At least Kate might still be alive, but she was bleeding pretty badly last time I saw her. Daniel's dead. He took a bullet for me. If they meant to shoot me, then that means that they wanted to capture Daniel. I don't think he would make it in a situation like this. Although, he can be tough when he needs to be."

"Well, I'll take that as a compliment." A familiar voice said.

"Daniel?" He turned and saw his friend in a white sweater. "Crap, I'm dreaming again."

"No you're not."

"But, you're dead! I saw you! I held you!"

"I'm not exactly dead."

"What on Earth is that supposed to mean."

"I'm real, Tony, that's all you need to know."

Tony couldn't really believe that Daniel was real, not since the dream of his rescue had also seemed real, but he decided that he needed to tell someone about what was going on, even if it meant talking to his hallucination. So he began, "What's going on, Daniel? They're talking about aliens and stuff I have no clue about. They think that since I was with you, I know something about this SGC or whatever it is. And now you claim to be back from the dead. I'm a little confused, Daniel, and scared. They think I know something about what they want to know, where the second gate is, and they're gonna keep torturing me for it, but I don't know anything!"

"Calm down, Tony. I'm gonna help you, but you need to trust me."

"Why should I trust a dead guy?"

"Ok, Tony, I'm not supposed to tell you this, but under the circumstances, I think it's necessary. The really short version of a really long story is I am ascended to a higher plane of existence. We've got a lot of power, but we're not supposed to use it to interfere. There are rules."

"Ok, I'm REALLY not getting this."

"Ok, um, you know the TV series, "Angel"?"

"The one with the vampire with a soul?"

"Yeah. You remember when the character Cordelia ascended to a higher plane of existence?"


"Well, it's like that…sorta"

"But, when she came back, she was mean. I mean, we find out later it wasn't really her at all, but…"

"Yeah, well, I'm not mean. And it really is me! Stay focused, Tony."

"Oh. So what on Earth is the Stargate, and why do they keep talking about aliens?"

"I'm on a team called SG-1, and we, as well as many other SG teams, go on missions through the stargate, which is a portal to other worlds, hence the aliens."

"'Portal', so like 'Sliders'?"

"Sorta, but not really, I mean we don't find our alternate selves or anything. Well we have a couple of times, but that's not relevant to this conversation, so I'll leave that comparison at, 'sorta'."

"So, can you just beam me up or something?"

"Wrong TV show Tony, and no, I can't help. It's against the rules." They both heard footsteps approaching the room. "I gotta go."

"No, Daniel, don't go!"

"Don't tell them anything."

Tony looked toward the door, and continued, "I won't, but…" When he looked back, Daniel wasn't there. Wally and the big man entered. Oh no. He hoped Daniel had a plan. "You know, Daniel," Tony thought, "I would have had a LOT more plausible deniability if you hadn't told me all that."

"Ok, Tony, let's try this again. Where is the other Stargate?"

"Ok, Wally, can I be completely honest with you?"

"You might find it'll cause you less pain."

"Ok. I don't have an SG team, I do not work at the SGC, and I don't know where the Stargate is. I was friends with the archeologist you killed, and he was on an SG team, but that's just about all I know."

"You've said all that before, and I still don't believe you." Wally kept his eyes on the man chained to the wall, turned his head slightly, and nodded his head, making an invisible line between the muscular man, and Tony, "Rex."

Rex, the big man who punched him last time, neared the NCIS agent, grabbed him by the neck, and slammed him up against the wall. He couldn't breathe. He grabbed at Rex's hand with his right hand, and tried to pull his left hand out of the shackle, but couldn't. The edges of his vision became blurry, until, finally, total blackness. He collapsed and Wally ordered Rex to put him down. Rex and Wally left the room, again leaving the NCIS agent unconscious.

"' "" "" "" ""

Daniel knelt before Tony, and tried to coax him awake with a soft voice. Finally, Tony stirred.

"Tony," Daniel said urgently, "Come on, wake up. You have to get out of here, now!"

"Kinda hard to do, when chained to a wall, Danny." Tony slurred, holding up his left arm.

"Look," Daniel looked around like he was trying to make sure no one noticed what he was going to do next. "We're not supposed to help, but just this once, I'm gonna ignore the rules."

"What'd'ya mean, just this once? You never follow the rules if you don't agree with them, Danny."

"Yeah, well." Daniel looked like he was concentrating for a moment, and then said, "There, pull on your arm now."

Tony did, and the shackle came loose from the wall, as the concrete around it crumbled like so much sand.

"All right, Daniel!" Tony said, triumphantly. "Can you do something about the locks on the door?"

"Already done."

They continued through the door with no problem, and as they reached the corner, Daniel told Tony to get back. Again, he looked like he was concentrating, and Tony heard a sound at the opposite end of the hall. Apparently, so did the approaching men, because they turned around, and Daniel led Tony to freedom.

Somehow, they ended up in a hospital room, and Gibbs was there, waiting for him to wake up.

"About time you stopped with the 'Sleeping Beauty' routine…although if you hadn't woke up pretty soon, there was a line of nurses waiting to see if the 'kiss' thing worked on you."

Tony smiled weakly and drifted off to sleep again.

"" "" "" ""

The next time he woke, he was shackled to the all too sturdy wall, in the same position he was in before Daniel's 'rescue'. "Crap," he thought. "Having dreams this real of being rescued is worse than actually being held captive."

"" "" "" ""

McGee had gone back to NCIS headquarters to check on the BOLO he had put out on the four digits Kate had given them. Besides which, he didn't feel he could just sit at the hospital doing nothing. He had to be doing something, even if it meant sitting at NCIS headquarters, doing nothing except staring at a computer screen. He sat at his desk for a while, waiting for the search results, hoping for a match. The message "No Match Found" flashed in the middle of the monitor, "Come on," McGee begged his computer to give him something he could work with. He continued talking to his computer, only now, not aloud, "Give me something. Give me several matches that I'd have to go through personally and check out each one. I'd much rather have that than to have absolutely nothing."

Abby had come up to tell him something, and she saw McGee's inner struggle, she always could tell when he was upset.

"Hey, McGee," Abby said gently, trying not to upset her friend anymore than he already was. "What have you got?"

McGee sighed, and responded, "Absolutely nothing. What little bit of evidence we do have is either disappearing, or leading to a dead end." When he saw Abby's look, telling him to go on, he let out an exasperated sigh, then continued, "The license plate… the four digits Kate gave us, there are no black vans that start with T I R 7"

"Well, she had lost a lot of blood by the time she called, right?" when her friend nodded in the affirmative, she continued, "So, it's possible, then, that she may have skipped a digit, or had them in the wrong order, right?"

"You're a genius, Abby!" McGee said, as he turned back toward his computer.

"I know."

"Why didn't I think of that?"

Abby put a comforting hand on his shoulder, "Because, you're thinking too much. Sometimes, you just gotta come at it from a different angle."

"Thanks Abby." As McGee turned back to his computer, and Abby headed back to the elevator, he realized that there was probably a reason Abby had left her lab. "Oh, Abby," when she turned back around, he continued, "Did you have something you needed to tell me?" When all he got was a confused look, he clarified, "When you first came up, was there something you needed to say?"

"Oh, yeah. You probably already figured as much, but the prints on the shell casings belong to Jerome Terrence, the dead bad-guy."

"Thanks Abby" She was right, he had already figured that the prints on the shell casing that were lying beside the dead guy, would belong to the dead guy. But, he knew how much he needed to feel like he was doing something useful, so, by keeping quiet about that minor fact, he allowed Abby to have the feeling, no matter how small, of accomplishment.

"" "" "" ""

Gibbs was still at the hospital, clutching his eighth cup of coffee, pacing back and forth at the foot of Kate's bed. He, too felt like he needed to do something, and since the other members of his team had everything else covered, pacing, drinking coffee, and worrying about Kate and the still absent Tony, were the only things he could do. Gibbs watched the NCIS agent, as she laid there. She was still in a coma, but her eyes were moving.

"" "" "" "" ""

Kate saw a big black room, and walking down the middle of it was Daniel. "Am I dead?" she asked him.

"Not yet."

"Well, I know you are. I was pretty out of it already, but I do remember Tony screaming 'no' after you had been shot."

"Ok, listen to me, Kate. Tony is in trouble."

"Yeah, I figured as much when the guy dragged him into the van and drove off."

Daniel gave her an annoyed look, and continued, "Kate, I'm serious. You know some things that could help find him. You just have to wake up."

"I've tried, it's not that easy."

"Try harder."

"" "" "" ""

"UGH!" McGee was starting to consider putting a bullet through his computer. There was still no match to a black van for the digits T I R 7, in any order. He was hoping that Gibbs didn't want that van quite yet. As if on cue, the phone started ringing. He was sure it was going to be Gibbs, but was really hoping it wasn't. "McGee." He said, answering his phone.

"McGee, what do you have on that van?" his boss demanded.

"Um…well, boss, actually…as of right now…nothing."

"What do you mean "nothing"" Gibbs responded, infuriated. That seemed to be all they were getting was nothing and nowhere.

"Well, uh, I ran those letters, and then Abby suggested that they weren't necessarily in that order. But, there are no black vans registered with plates that have those four digits on it at all, in any order."

Gibbs took a deep breath, trying to keep himself under control, since it wasn't McGee's fault. "She wasn't articulating very well. Is there any other letters or numbers that those could be?"


"She did take a gasping breath before the 'I', is there anything else that it could be?"

" 'Y'…um… 'five'… or 'nine'"

"OK. Try each of those. Try it with those as the first four, then try it in any order. Just get me that d# van!"

"Yes, boss." As he hung up the phone, he realized that he was probably doomed, because those probably wouldn't match anything either. He sighed, and as he typed the letters into his computer, he looked up and saw Abby.

She came around behind him, and put her arms around his shoulders, resting her chin, on his shoulder, right next to his ear. "What was that all about?" Abby inquired, referring to the phone call, he had just received from his boss.

"Gibbs thinks that maybe Kate said a wrong letter, or at least that he might have heard a wrong letter because Kate took a gasping breath before one of them. He wants me to try 'Y', 'five', and 'nine', instead of the 'I'."

"Don't worry, McGee. You'll find it. And he's gonna be okay. We all know Tony. You'll find him before anything too terrible happens to him. You always do."

McGee turned his head to face her, thus causing her to step back, then settle against the filing cabinet. "You really think so?" He asked, terrified that she might be wrong.

"Of course, McGee." Had she been talking to anyone else, she would have then asked for them to tell her that Tony would be OK. But, she knew how McGee felt, and left him with what tiny amount of reassurance she had given him, without asking for any in return. She headed back to her lab to go over Daniel's clothes, as McGee tried, yet again to find the van.

"" "" "" ""

Tony was visited several times, throughout the next day, by Wally and Rex. They continued asking him the same question. When he continued answering truthfully that he had no clue where the Stargate was, he received some form of physical abuse: a foot or fist in his gut, fist to his face, and the occasional foot in his face. Each time his kidnappers left him alone in the room, Tony hoped Daniel would visit him, so he could have someone to talk to, but the ascended being didn't show up at all that day. He wasn't completely sure that Daniel wasn't just another dream, but as long as he didn't dream of a rescue that really wasn't, he didn't mind the company.

One of the times, when Rex and Wally left the room, he overheard them talking. "What if he's telling the truth, and really doesn't know where it is?" The voice didn't sound familiar, so Tony figured it must have been Rex.

"He knows." Wally said confidently.

"How has he managed to last this long, then? The human body can only withstand so much of this. If he knew anything, he would have caved by now, wouldn't he?"

"Some men are stronger than others."

"Yeah, but I have yet to meet one that strong."

"Most of the people in the SGC are special ops, or are at least trained to endure some pretty extensive torture by the hostile aliens."

"Yeah, Wallace, but what if we have the wrong guy?"

With that, Wally, the shorter of the two, whirled around, and stood just inches away from Rex's face, "You're not starting to think I'm wrong, are you, Rex?"

"No, sir."

"Okay, then." With that, he walked away, with Rex soon following.

With no one else in the room, Tony had plenty of time to let his mind wander. Rex was starting to have doubts, not about whether or not they were doing the right thing, but whether or not Tony actually knew anything. That was a start, at least. He paused on that thought, for a moment, then when his stomach growled, he noticed, for the first time, how hungry he had gotten. He wasn't sure how long he had been there. He knew it had to have been at least a day or two, but probably more. His ribs hurt from where Rex had kicked him, his head hurt from where he had been punched repeatedly, not to mention the original concussion from the gun to the back of the head, and his neck was bruised from where he had been choked. He had thought he was a goner the last time he passed out, but apparently he was still alive. By the end of the day, he was too weak to even keep his eyes open. His head was throbbing, the room grew dark, and he was unconscious, yet again.

"" "" "" ""

"Tony," Gibbs patted his face gently, "Come on Tony, no sleeping on the job."

Tony peeked through barely opened eyelids and looked around. They were at the restaurant. Daniel was dead, and Kate was unconscious. Gibbs and McGee were trying to wake him to figure out what was happening.

"Okay," Tony grumbled. "I'm not falling for this one. The beatings were way too real to have just been a dream."

"You thought all the rescues were real too, though, remember?" Daniel, suddenly not dead, reminded him.

Tony looked around again, and saw he was in the room, but Daniel was there, telling him help was coming.

Tony tried to will himself asleep again to avoid the dreams, though something about that logic didn't make sense even to his fevered brain, but he just couldn't deal with any more 'rescues' right now.

He finally fell into empty blackness…mercifully, no more dreams at the moment.

"" "" "" "" ""

McGee woke up to his computer beeping. He hadn't slept at all since Tony was kidnapped close to three days ago, give or take. As he lifted his head to glance at what he was sure was going to be negative results, he saw the green words flashing "Match Found." "Yes!" McGee quietly exclaimed, as he clicked the button.

Abby, again approached his desk, "What'cha got?"

"I found it!" He finished reading over the search result, then continued, "License plate: TYR7306. Black van. Abandoned on the side of a main road, reported stolen. But, at least we've got the car. We can dust it for prints and everything. It still isn't exactly what we needed, but we've got something!"

Abby grinned at her friend's excitement. As he rushed off in the direction of the elevator, she realized that that must be what she looked like all of the time.

"" "" "" ""

"Yeah, Gibbs" the silver-haired agent answered his phone. He had gone outside to call McGee to get an update, when the younger agent beat him to it.

"We found it!" McGee exclaimed.

"Found what, McGee?" the boss sounded annoyed.

"The van. It's abandoned on the side of a main road. I'm here now, with Pacci's team. I've been trying to call you the whole way over here, but your phone was off."

"It's a hospital, McGee. You have to turn your phone off, in the hospital."

"Right" he said aloud, and then continued, to himself "Duh, McGee."

"So, wha'cha got?"

"Don't know yet. We just got here. But, there doesn't appear to be much of anything. After we've bagged and tagged everything here, we're gonna take the van back to Abby, see if she can get some prints off it."

"Good job McGee."

"Thanks, boss." McGee was surprised that he was actually complimented on the job. "I'll let you know if we find anything."

"" "" "" ""

About three or four hours later, Gibbs was still sitting next to Kate in the hospital room, with yet another cup of coffee. He could see her struggling to wake up, and they needed her to wake up, in case she may have seen anything that could help them find Tony. Although Gibbs was told by several doctors that with the amount of blood loss on the scene, Kate may well not have been lucid enough to remember anything that would help find Tony.

His thoughts were interrupted by McGee's rushing into the hospital room. "What have you got, McGee?"

"We didn't find much of anything in the van, except for the usual, occasional fiber, hair. We proved that Tony was in the van since we found a small amount of his blood in the back, but nothing that helps us find where he is; they had cleaned up pretty well. But Abby did find a partial print. She's running it through AFIS now." He stared at Kate, as she slowly opened her eyes.

Gibbs, who was facing McGee, turned back around to see what the young agent's eyes were fixed upon. "Kate." He said gently.

She blinked at how bright the room was, in comparison to the darkness she had been in. The two agents simply stared at her, glad she was awake, but were unsure as to what they should do, or ask.

She thought to herself as if she were talking to them, "Oh, nice to see you, too." She didn't verbalize her thought though; she felt much too terrible to joke or tease at that moment in time. Besides, she had to help find Tony. As she tried to get her mind to wake up with her, she knew there was no way she was going to be able to get up, but she also knew she had to find Tony. She looked up at the NCIS agents, only to find that they were still in the same position as before. "Hey, McGee?" She paused briefly when her own quiet words sent a sharp pain shooting through her head. "Can I have some paper and a pencil?"

"Sure" McGee said, as he immediately dashed out of the room again, and began searching for a pad and pencil for his friend. Gibbs simply smiled.

McGee reentered the room, with the paper and pencil that Kate had requested. The probie handed it to her, and she began drawing something on it.

"" "" "" ""

Tony opened his eyes gently, even the dark room, making his severe head-ache even worse.

"How are you doing, Tony?" Daniel walked out of the shadows.

"Not so great."

"I'm sorry I couldn't get here yesterday."

Tony tried to sit up, but didn't have the strength. "Well, it's not like you got stuck in traffic." He said weakly, chuckled, then immediately regretted it, as it made his chest hurt more than it already did, which he didn't think was possible.

Daniel sat down beside his friend, smiling slightly, at the remark, then grimaced as he witnessed the pain his friend was in. "Save your strength Tony. Your friends are close, but you've still gotta hold on."

"I'm trying, Daniel, I really am." He said weakly. "Besides," Tony thought, "you've already told me that once. I don't think I believe anything I THINK I see, any more."

Daniel sat there beside him, for a while, and then got up to leave.

"No, Daniel, please don't go." Tony begged. Tony would rather talk to the hallucination than to be totally alone. Daniel sat back down, until Tony drifted unconscious, which wasn't long, given the condition he was in.

Tony's dreams were plagued with rescues that weren't, and funerals he hoped weren't real. By the time he woke again, Daniel was gone, but by then, Tony was sure the apparition of his friend was just another dream.

"" "" "" ""

McGee was curiously looking at what his teammate was drawing. She suddenly stopped moving her pencil, stared at the paper, gave a satisfied nod, and turned it around for McGee to see. He stared at the man's face, and lifted his gaze from the paper to ask her what it was, but before he could, Kate informed him, "Its Tony's kidnapper"

With that information, McGee sprung out of his seat with such enthusiasm, that he nearly fell over the back of the chair. He rushed to the door so quickly, that when he nearly ran into it, he turned around to look at Kate, who smiled at how excited he was. Then, turning back, he walked straight into it, then sprung back onto his path to Abby's lab. That action caused Kate to chuckle, which immediately sent pain shooting up her back.

"" "" "" ""

A couple of hours later, McGee darted back in the room. He found Gibbs sitting in the chair, beside Kate who was unconscious again. McGee's face fell.

"I left the room, for a second, to get some more coffee, but when I came back she was asleep." Gibbs stated.

"Well, at least, she's just sleeping, she's not in a coma." McGee worded it like a statement, but it was meant more as a question."

Gibbs nodded the affirmative, then inquired, "Do you have something, McGee?"

"Oh, uh, yeah. We ID'd the kidnapper as a Wallace Fitzgerald. He's NID, but he's been AWOL for about a week. We checked out his house, but it's squeaky clean. We're, well, Abby, is in the process of tracking down any known associates or hang-outs." Gibbs sighed, and was getting really disconcerted. McGee felt the same way, but was the fist one to voice it. "Yeah, another dead end so far."

"" "" "" ""

Daniel was talking to Kate in her dreams again. Kate was confused, "Did I actually wake up and give them that drawing?"

"Yes, you're just asleep now, but the drawing alone isn't going to be enough to find Tony. Your people might find him eventually, but it'll probably be too late. He's not gonna last much longer." He was walking a fine line by helping Tony through Kate, but he had to give her just one extra piece. Suddenly they appeared outside of an old abandoned warehouse.

Kate blinked at the sudden change in scenery, "Is this where Tony is?"

"I'm not allowed to tell you anything else." Daniel said reluctantly.

"Well, of course it is. Why else would he be showing me?" She thought, then asked aloud, "I'm getting the impression that it's in Northern Virginia…not DC?"

Daniel gave a tiny nod, all that he could do without getting into too much trouble, then looked over his shoulder and said, "Tony's counting on you, Kate."

She tried to wake up, again fighting her body, which needed to rest. Finally, she slowly began to hear voices from the room around her. She struggled with everything she had, and finally managed open her eyes, just a slit, for she knew, this time, how bright the room would be.

"Gibbs," she began in almost a whisper, "can you get a screen set up in here, and connect it to Abby's lab?"

"Why?" he asked, as he stepped toward the door to get some people to help with her request. He knew that if Kate said that's what she needed, she knew what she was talking about. He only asked the question to satisfy his curiosity.

"I think I know where Tony is." All she got from her boss was a look that told her that, given the situation, he wasn't at all sure she wasn't just hallucinating from the blood loss, but that he wanted to believe her.

"Long story. I just…I need a webcam connected to Abby as soon as possible."

"Should I get her to start a search on something?"

"Yeah. Um… get her to get photos of all the abandoned warehouses in Northern Virginia."

"Ok." He left the room to get the forensic scientist started on her task.

"McGee" she sounded better, still very weak, but better. "Where's that paper I had?"

"Oh, right here." He handed her the paper and pencil again, and again, she began drawing, this time a warehouse.

"" "" "" ""

Tony was barely conscious. By now, he was so confused by all the hallucinations and dreams, that he wasn't sure where he was. He could hardly breathe, due to what he was sure were several broken ribs. His arms and legs ached to the point of immobility. His left wrist was a bloody mess from having tried to get out of the shackles, and judging by his rigid stomach, he knew that he had some, probably considerable, internal bleeding. Confused or not, Tony knew he wasn't going to live much longer.

"Your people are close, Tony. You just gotta buy them some time." Daniel appeared long enough to deliver the message, but faded away before Tony could respond.

"How?" he more or less asked himself hardly able to speak.

Wally and Rex entered the room again. Wally had a small bowl full of food. "Answer some questions and we'll give you something to eat."

"Ask me something I know and I'll be happy to answer it." Tony's voice was barely audible.

"Where is the other stargate?"

"I've told you I've never even seen a stargate," he answered weakly, barely lucid.

"I don't believe you."

Rex kicked him in the ribs again.

"Well, it's the truth. I am an NCIS agent. I am NOT on an SG team."

"You're lying. Rex."

The big man looked speculatively at Wally, by now thoroughly convinced that Tony didn't know anything, but he didn't dare cross Wally, and besides, he rather liked his job, so he pounded on Tony's chest with his fist so hard that the doomed NCIS agent could hear his own bones crack a little more with each blow, until he could feel one puncture a lung. Breathing became almost impossible. Any more speech on Tony's part was just about out of the question.

"" "" "" ""

Several people had been in and out of Kate's room for a while, setting up the computer and video link. She finished the drawing, and within minutes, the video link to Abby's lab, was complete. "That should help Abby narrow down the photos, a little bit more." McGee nodded and promptly notified Abby, over the video link.

"" "" "" ""

Tony fought to stay awake, but with everything his body had endured, he wasn't at all sure it was possible. Wally stared at the helpless NCIS agent, and again asked, "Where is the stargate?" Tony could barely breathe, let alone talk. In fact, he was surprised he was still conscious, though he just barely was. When he didn't respond, the large man heaved his fist several more times into Tony's already broken ribs. Tony was desperately hoping that what Daniel had said was true, that his friends really were close to finding him, because he didn't know how much more his body could take.

"" "" "" ""

"Ok, Kate," Abby said over the computer, "the pictures should be coming up now."

Abby had already narrowed the search to the pictures that were similar to Kate's picture. Luckily, it was a fairly distinctive design and there weren't that many in that area of Virginia. Kate watched attentively as several pictures flashed by on the screen that had been set up near her bed, "That one!" She said as a picture of a large brown and black warehouse changed to another one, "Go back." Abby punched some keys on her keyboard and the brown and black warehouse was back on the screen. "That's the one. That's where Tony is. Abby, can you get me a location on that warehouse?"

"Sure." She went back to her computer, then looked back up again, "There. It should be coming up on your screen now."

Gibbs glanced at the screen then, on his way out of the hospital, grabbed a piece of paper off of the counter at the nurse's station, scribbled the address on it, slapped it on the counter in front of the nurse and said, "Get an ambulance to that address immediately!"

"Yes, sir." The nurse picked up the phone as Gibbs headed down the steps with McGee trailing close behind. He got in the car, and McGee just barely got the door shut by the time Gibbs stepped on the gas.

"" "" "" ""

Rex continued beating Tony, and the NCIS agent coughed blood up onto the kidnapper's shoes. Wally kicked Tony in the head, again and again. "I wonder if Daniel can help me do that ascending to a higher plane thing", Tony thought as he fell unconscious for what he was sure was the last time.

Wally bent down and jerked the shackle off Tony's arm, "Rex, get over here, and help me."

"What are you gonna do with him?" Rex was afraid he could guess what his leader intended, and was terrified about crossing him, but really didn't want to be a part of this anymore.

"We didn't get anything from him; he's useless. We're gonna toss him in the Potomac, so they can't trace him back to us."

Rex simply stood, completely horrified. "I'm not gonna do that." He stepped back, "This has gone on long enough. It's bad enough that I helped you torture the poor man, I am not going to help you kill him."

"" "" "" ""

The two NCIS agents pulled up in front of the warehouse, and right as they got out of the car, they heard a shot ring out. They were both terrified that Tony was the intended target of that bullet. They both ran at top speed, and with weapons drawn, entered the warehouse.

The outer door to the warehouse was flung open with a loud thud, and the two NCIS agents barged in the room within seconds.

"Federal agents!" Gibbs shouted.

Wally grabbed up Tony's limp body, and pressed his gun to the unconscious agent's head, hoping he would be able to get past the agents and get away. Gibbs promptly shot past Tony at Wally's head. Tony dropped as if his strings were cut. Gibbs walked around the two dead assailants and reached the half-dead NCIS agent within seconds.

"He's still alive." Gibbs informed McGee as he held Tony's limp body. They heard the sirens approach, and as they waited, Gibbs noticed the bruises on Tony's face, neck and arms, as well as on what he could see of his torso, peaking out from beneath his tattered shirt.

"" "" "" ""

As McGee and Gibbs followed the ambulance back to the hospital, the leader's cell phone rang, "Answer that, McGee." Gibbs ordered the young NCIS agent, as he threw his phone at him.




"I've been calling constantly for the past ten minutes. Did you find him? Is he OK?"

"Gibbs left the phone in the car, that's why we haven't answered. But we did find him. He's on the way to the hospital now." He heard his co-worker let out a sigh of relief. "We'll be there soon." His boss stepped on the gas and as McGee's head was pressed against the seat, he continued, "Make that, 'very soon'."

"" "" "" ""

Tony was still in surgery when Gibbs and McGee got there. He told the people at the nurse's station that he would be in Kate's room and wanted to talk to the doctor when he was finished with surgery.

A couple hours later, the doctor entered the room to inform the three NCIS agents how Tony was. "He has several broken ribs, one of which punctured a lung. He also has a minor concussion. He's very weak from a severe loss of blood and is currently asleep, but, when he wakes up you should be able to talk to him." McGee stayed in Kate's room, while Gibbs went in to sit with Tony.

"" "" "" ""

Several hours later, Tony woke up, and when he looked around, he saw Gibbs. "Hey, Tony, how are you feeling?"

"Am I in a hospital?" Tony said weakly.


"And is that …" He paused trying to keep a lid on his language, then continued, "is my kidnapper locked up?"

"Well, they're both dead."

"Then, I'm feeling pretty good," still joking even though he could still barely speak, "aside from the broken ribs, and the throbbing head, of course." He received a chuckle from his boss.

"Well, I'll let you get some rest." Gibbs said as he settled back in the chair, next to Tony. He watched as Tony drifted back to sleep, then, after about an hour, Gibbs left the room to tell Kate and McGee that Tony had awakened…if only for a short time.

When Tony woke up again, he found himself in the empty hospital room. Tony stared straight out in front of him and said in a weak voice, "Just in case this is actually real this time…thank you, Daniel. If you hadn't been there, I don't know what I would have done."

"You're welcome, Tony, anytime." Tony heard a familiar voice coming from the bathroom.


"Yeah" came the response, and Daniel came out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around him.

Tony looked at him, first of all wondering how he was back, but also wondering why he was naked in his bathroom. "Oh crap," Tony thought, "this IS just a dream."

Knowing what Tony's look of confusion was about, Daniel stated, "Unlike on "Angel", when I come back, I'm not…" he looked down at the towel, then continued, "…completely clothed."

"Hmmmmmmm," Tony thought for a moment, "Too bad Cordelia didn't come back dressed like that!" "If this is a dream anyway, why couldn't it be CORDELIA that was naked in my bathroom?"

Daniel stared at his friend, who was obviously envisioning that scenario, then stated, "If I had a free hand, I'd smack you. As it is though…"

Tony chuckled at his friend, then winced at the pain it caused. He nodded his head to the left, and told Daniel, "If I know Gibbs, there's a set of clothes over there. You can borrow them for a little bit." "Hey, it's MY dream, and I just REALLY don't want a naked Daniel in it."

Daniel went over to the chair, trying to keep the towel from falling, grabbed the set of clothes, and headed back into the bath room. "Thanks, Tony."

"You're welcome, anytime."

By the time Daniel came back out of the bathroom, completely clothed, this time, Tony had fallen asleep. Daniel couldn't really blame him; he had been through a lot. He sat down in the chair beside Tony.

After a little while, Tony's boss returned to the room, and seeing Daniel, whom he identified as Tony's friend, asked, "Weren't you dead?"

"Need to know, Gunny. Classified."

Gibbs nodded, knowing all about government secrets and 'need to know'. He decided he didn't. "Just tell me one thing." When he saw Daniel nod, he continued, "Did you're status of living have anything to do with why Kate knew just where Tony was?"

"I was helping as much as I could."

Gibbs decided that was good enough for him. He had his top agent back…more or less in one piece, and that's all he cared about right now.

"Thank you," Gibbs settled himself in a chair on the other side of Tony's bed

"" "" "" ""

About an hour later, Tony woke up again, "Daniel? Are you actually here, or are you still ascended, or are you just another dream?" he said a little stronger than when he regained consciousness before.

"No, I'm really here. Remember, you talked to me about a TV show, and loaned me your clothes." Daniel was worried about his friend.

"Yeah, I remember that, but was it actually real? How do I know you're not a hallucination, or a dream? How do I know I'm not still locked in that room, just dreaming that you all found me, and that you're back? It certainly wouldn't be the first time!"

"Tony, this is real. You're safe. I am actually here."

"That's what you said last time." Tony wanted to believe that it was all over, but he didn't want to wake up in the room with Wally and Rex beating him for information he didn't have. He wanted to believe it was real, but didn't want to give himself a false sense of security. He spoke to his friend, whether he was real or not, "I want to believe it, Daniel. I really do. But I don't want to convince myself that this is real, then wake up again, and find out that it's not."

Daniel glanced over at the silver haired agent, who had been sound asleep for a while. He noticed the NCIS agent start to stir. As Daniel still tried to convince Tony that it was real, and that he was safe, Gibbs woke up and jumped in, seeing that the archaeologist wasn't having any luck, "Tony, listen to me." When the younger NCIS agent redirected his gaze toward his boss, Gibbs continued, "Daniel's telling you the truth. This is real, you are safe, and your friend is really there."

"Yeah, but what if all of this is just a dream? I don't want to wake up there again, Boss… not again." Tony was becoming a little hysterical.

"You're not going to." The silver haired boss approached him, and smacked the top of his head. When Tony winced with the pain the gentle smack caused, Gibbs continued, "Still think this is a dream?"

"I don't know what to think anymore, Gibbs." But feeling Gibbs' slap helped somewhat. He didn't remember actually feeling anything in any of the dreams. "Maybe this IS real, after all," he thought.

Daniel had moved to the foot of the bed, to let Gibbs in at the side. "This is real, Tony."

"You with us, now?" Gibbs inquired, hoping they had finally convinced him that he wasn't dreaming, or hallucinating.

"Yeah, I think I am."

"Good, 'cuz you were really freaking us out, Tony." Daniel said. Both Tony and Gibbs looked at him, and Gibbs let out a soft chuckle. "Well, you were freaking me out, at least… Hey, can I keep these clothes? Cause, I gotta tell you, they are very comfortable…but of course, they probably cost more than I paid for my car." Daniel said, trying to lighten the mood.

"Yeah, you can have them. You don't look as geeky wearing those clothes!" Tony chuckled, and continued in a stage whisper, "Some people just have no taste in clothes." He was safe, and his friends were there, looking out for him …had been all along, actually, no matter what plane of existence they were in. Tony closed his eyes, while still smiling, and drifted back off to sleep.