Disclaimer: NCIS is not mine.
A/N I know there has been a big update gap, but I've returned to school and to work. I don't have big chunks of time to write anymore, and I prefer to write whole chapters in one sitting. Updates will be less frequent, but they will occur. You'll just have to bear with me. Thanks to my beta, Jems, who had some great input into this chapter.
Chapter Four: Fearing the Worst
For once in his life, Timothy McGee did not care that they were travelling way over the recommended speed limit. In fact, McGee did not care for much at the moment. A pink flying cow could be pressed up against the side window and he wouldn't have noticed, or cared.
As it was, he was staring straight ahead, trying to combat the growing panic that was filling his body. There had to be a simple explanation to all this. Joy riders must have taken Tony's car and then dumped it after they had finished with it. Yes, that was it. Joy riders, it was as simple as that. Yet, something told McGee that it was not that simple, something that McGee tried to push to the bottom of his soul. There was no place for negative thoughts like that. This was Tony. He survived anything.
"Joy riders, joy riders, joy riders," McGee muttered softly to himself, trying to convince himself steadfastly that it was true. "It has to be joy riders. It has to be, it has to . . ."
"What are you muttering about back there, McGee?" Ziva asked, her soft voice breaking the deafening silence of the car. McGee flinched at the sound of her voice.
"Ummm . . ." he murmured. Should he tell them what he thought had happened? Maybe. Would they believe him, or would they want to fear the worst, say out loud what he had trying to deny to himself. "I w-was just t-thinking that maybe . . . you k-know . . . It was probably just j-joy riders out for a bit of fun."
"Maybe," Ziva echoed, but did not sound convinced. Something about the way she said it caught McGee's attention, something in her underlying tone. She was worried, and try as he might, McGee couldn't figure out why . . . well, at least this time anyway. Maybe because Tony was her partner? She paused and then said, "We cannot allow ourselves to not prepare for the worst. In my experience . . ."
"This is not some war zone, Ziva," McGee snapped, his thoughts of Ziva's tone going into the recesses of his mind as his worry for Tony transferred into frustration directed at Ziva. "We're in Washington. Car bombs or whatever the hell you're thinking of don't occur here, at least not regularly . . ."
"I was not saying that, McGee," Ziva bit back sharply as she twisted around in her seat to glare steely at McGee in the backseat. "I was merely suggesting that you do not set yourself up of a collapse . . ."
"It's not collapse, its fall, and there will be no fall," McGee said defiantly, returning the look Ziva was giving him. "There will be perfectly reasonable explanation."
"Oh, so where do you think Tony is, McGee?" Ziva asked sarcastically, cocking her head to the side. McGee thought he caught a look in Ziva's eye, but ignored it. He was too angry to worry about it. "Out partying somewhere? Having a good time? What!?!"
"I don't know, Zee-vah," Tim snapped back, unintentionally drawing out Ziva's name like Tony did. "But at least I haven't given up on him . . ."
"I have not given up!" Ziva yelled, she turned back to the road, burying her feelings deep down inside her like Mossad had trained her to do. Worrying about Tony wouldn't do any good or find answers. Ziva calmed herself and spoke again, "I am just saying . . ."
"And I am saying that the both of you should shut up NOW!" Gibbs barked angrily, jerking the car to the side of the road and coming to an abrupt stop, sending McGee and Ziva forwards in their seat.
Gibbs was silent for a second, before he turned and glared at the two, one by one, with a glare that put Ziva's earlier one to shame. "I do not need you two making things worse," he growled, emphasising each word as he said it.
"Gibbs . . ." Ziva tried quietly, but was silenced by a look from Gibbs.
"I do not care what you have to say, David," Gibbs glowered. "Just shut the hell up and stop arguing with each other."
"B-boss . . ." This time it was McGee that foolishly tried to talk to Gibbs.
"McGee," he yelled loudly, making McGee jump violently. "What did I just say?" He drew out each word to get maximum impact.
"S-sorry," McGee tried, but only achieved to make things worse.
"Don't apologise, it's a sign of weakness," Gibbs snapped as he suddenly dove back onto the road, jerking McGee and Ziva sideways, earning a yelp of surprise from McGee.
Sensibly, both Ziva and McGee remained silent for the rest of the trip, while the aura radiating off Gibbs was anything but silent.
Tony's eyelids fluttered open at the sound of incessant dripping. He had fallen asleep, well; he wasn't sure how long ago, or for how long. And, it wasn't as if this . . . room, or place, or wherever the hell he was, had any windows. He sighed weakly and let his eyes get use too the dull lighting again.
With a stab of pain, he realised he was still tied to the same chair. He looked down at his wrists and grimaced at the sight. Keller's 'special design of rope' had painfully dug into his wrists, the glassed-modified rope now stained with blood. The glass had defiantly left its imprint in his skin. Some of the blood was dried and caked on his skin, but some of the fresher blood had trickled down his skin, like little streams of water. Where the glass had cut deeper, little bits of flesh hung on his arm by the teensiest thread.
As he struggled against his bonds, a few drops of blood were flung unceremoniously onto his shirt and a rather large piece of flesh that had been decapitated by the ropes dropped to the floor. Tony moaned in pain and it took everything he had not to throw up. He felt the bile inside his mouth rise so he swallowed it back down quickly. His face grimaced from the taste. This was certainly not what he'd signed on for when he had accepted Gibbs' job offer. Sure, he'd experienced other life or death situations, but something about this one told him that it would be unlike anything he'd experienced before.
With a loud bang that jerked Tony into full consciousness, the lone door to his right was flung open and a burst of light filtered into the room. Tony tried to raise his hand to shield the light, but it was jerked back towards the chair as he realised he was tied up. Pain jolted its way into his brain again. Instead, he closed his eyes and childishly wished that whoever it was would leave him alone.
He heard light footsteps approach his chair, getting louder with each second. Suddenly, the footsteps stopped and for a fleeting moment, Tony thought it had all just been a horrible nightmare. Then a sharp impact across his face forced his eyes open and he found himself looking at the sneering face of Keller.
Tony's cheek stung and turned red as Keller cooed sinisterly, "Did I hurt you, Tony?" Keller reached out and lightly stroked Tony face where he had slapped him harshly. Tony flinched violent and jerk his face away from Keller's touch, every fibre in Tony's being repulsed by the touch.
"I'm am hurt, Tony," Keller sighed, almost – almost like a jilted lover. "I thought you and I could be wonderful friends." Keller shook his head sadly. "We have a lot in common, you and I . . ."
"No, we don't," Tony said hoarsely, still reeling from Keller's creepy form of affection.
"But, we do, Tony," Keller said in a lulling voice. "And you will come to understand this. Yes, you will know the truth about you and me."
"I-I am nothing like you," Tony tried to shout, but could only manage a sound crossed between a yelp and a gasp. Keller tut-tutted, but said nothing as he ran his hand through Tony's hair.
Tony shuddered, the hair on the back of his neck rising as Keller breathed, "Such soft hair. You really must tell me what brand you use. My wife has a thing for hair, you see . . ." Keller winked at Tony like they were fraternity brothers. "And I so do love to please her. After all, she is the boss of the house."
Keller laughed heartily, which freaked Tony out even more than his actions before hand. Firstly, Keller had slapped him, and then tried to hit on him . . . which Tony was totally and utterly repulsed by . . . and was now acting like one of Tony's old frat brothers.
"Wh-what do you want?" Tony wondered whether or not he'd be able to get answers out of this psycho.
Keller stopped laughing and smiled sweetly at him. "All in good time, Agent DiNozzo. Don't be in such a hurry." He shook his head. "It's always rush, rush, rush these days. Why doesn't anyone stop and take the time to smell the roses, listen to the birds, feel the incredible force of nature . . . understand what life is all about!"
Tony looked at this man in front of him incredulously. He was beginning to think Keller had lost his marbles, or had a twin brother. This was nothing like the Keller who had tormented him earlier with Kate's death. He seemed . . . friendly, and if the circumstances were different, Keller seemed like the guy he could really be friends with. This scared him. Tony knew all about the Stockholm Syndrome and how captives could form attachments to their captors.
Tony shook this thought from his head, there was no way he would allow himself to think like that. After all, Gibbs was coming for him . . . wasn't he? Damn right he was . . . He could always depend on the boss, right?"
Even before Gibbs had screeched to a halt, the three agents were out of the car and running towards the officer standing guard of what the NCIS agents assumed was Tony's car.
"Um, Sir, you're not allowed . . ." the officer tried to say as Gibbs prepared to lift up the yellow crime scene tape encircling the car.
"Gibbs, NCIS," Gibbs barked and flashed his badge as he lifted the tape and ducked under it. McGee and Ziva followed
The officer nodded and relented. "This your man's car?"
Gibbs nodded curtly, and turned to this subordinates. "McGee, bag and tag. Ziva, shoot," he ordered.
"Um, Boss," McGee whispered near to Gibbs' ear. "We don't have evidence bags or a camera. They're, err, back at NCIS headquarters." Gibbs glared at McGee and he cowered. "Right, Boss. I'll call Ducky and get him to bring the crime scene gear down . . ."
"Wouldn't bother, Agent McGee," the officer offered. "CSU has already removed any evidence and processed the scene. I'm just here until the truck comes for the car.
"Well . . . Officer Bennett," Gibbs growled as he took in the officer's name badge, "I suggest that you call your CSU and get them to deliver all evidence and crime scene footage to NCIS headquarters within the hour.
"But, Agent Gibbs . . ." the officer foolishly tried, unaware of how Gibbs got when it was one of his own.
Gibbs glared absolute daggers at the young officer, possibly scaring him for life. "Y-yes, Sir," he squeaked. "I'll do t-that now."
Gibbs didn't dignify the reply with a response. Instead, he focused on the burnt out shell of what had once been Tony's beloved Mustang. He refused to believe that his senior field agent had been fried like chicken in that car. He would know if Tony were dead, and his gut was telling him that Tony was still alive . . . wherever he was. Gibbs' head told him that there was a perfectly innocent reason for Tony's absence . . . like the fact that Gibbs had seen the half-finished paperwork on his desk. He was most likely hiding from Gibbs' wrath. But his heart was telling him that something was seriously wrong, but he tried to push that feeling aside and focus on his head.
The sound of a cell phone ringing broke Gibbs out of his thoughts. McGee had pulled out his cell and was looking at it as if it were a bomb. Gibbs would bet anything that McGee expected bad news on the end of the phone. When McGee paled, Gibbs strode purposely over to him and said, "You gonna get that, McGee?"
"Umm . . ." McGee muttered weakly, "it's Abby. I don't . . . I don't know w-what to tell her. I think she's guessed something is . . . wrong."
Gibbs sighed. The last thing they needed was a hysterical Abby. "Answer it, McGee. Tell her about Tony, but keep it short. I don't need her getting hysterical over the phone, okay."
"Right, Boss," McGee nodded affirmatively and hit the little green 'talk' button on his phone.