Author's note:- Just to remind you I started writing this when Jenny had just come in as Director and so that's when it is set in my head. Consequently she and Abby don't really know each other yet. I need to put that in so you'll understand the context of the first part of this chapter. Thank you so much to all of those who continue to support me. I apologise for the extended delay in posting this next chapter but as those of you who read my other stories know I was involved in a car accident with a truck a few weeks ago- thankfully I'm fine apart from whiplash but it has caused some major logistical problems- finding a new car etc. Anyway barring any further problems I hope to post the next part much quicker. Hope you enjoy- J
"Hello Director Shepherd?" Abby barely waited for the reply.
"Yes, this. . ."
"This is Abby, that is Miss Scuito, that is I. . I work in the lab, that is. . "
"I'm well aware of who you are," Jenny said patiently, recognising the agitation from the young forensic specialist.
"Oh, ok, of course, why wouldn't you. . .Ok, I need to talk to you or to someone because there's a . . It's Gibbs. . ." Abby was speaking so quickly that her words were practically running into each other. "That is Special Agent Gibbs and his team, I've been trying to contact them and I can't get an answer from Gibbs, or Tony. That is Agent Dinozzo, or McGee, not even Ziva," at this point she seemed to give up on the more formal titles "and all of. . ."
"Miss Scuito," Director Shepherd tried to interrupt Abby's ongoing tirade but to no avail, it was as if she hadn't spoken, or at least Abby hadn't heard her.
"Their phones have signals or at least had signals, until someone jammed the cell phone tower, and that's worrying too because who would. . .? and even Ducky, that's Dr Mallard's phone isn't picking up because I tried that too, before the jamming of course because there wouldn't be much point after the jamming because then it would be jammed and even if he wanted to answer he wouldn't be getting the signal, but he didn't answer even when he could get a signal and that means there was a problem even before then, because they wouldn't all ignore, I mean even if they were busy they wouldn't all. . . and they were all meant to be together and"
"Miss Scuito," Jenny tried again with the same effect, none.
"Then I checked the satellite images of the area and the cabin that they're supposed to be checking out- it's gone; it's just not there any more, and it looks like. . ."
"Abby!" Jenny finally raised her voice to a shout, ignoring the strange looks she got from the agents and marines she was with. It was enough to stop Abby's agitated rambling. "Miss Scuito," she said more calmly, when it was clear she had finally gained Abby's attention. "We are well aware of the situation."
"You are?" Abby asked "I mean of course you are because you're the director so you should know what's going on right? Right," Abby answered her own question. "That's good, so what's going on I mean are Gibbs and. . I mean are they Ok? What happened? Why. . .?"
Jenny almost gave a huge sigh, wishing that she had more answers than she did, but she managed to control it. "We don't know exactly what happened but we have a tactical group and a marine contingent here and we are going to get Agent Gibbs and his team out of whatever situation they find themselves in."
"Situation?" Abby asked, "Yes it is a situation because the cabin is toast I mean splinters of wood small enough to be used for matchsticks and. . ."
"Abby," Director Shepherd said firmly reminding herself that Gibb's had told her that this young woman was a certified genius as well as the best forensic specialist he'd ever worked with and Gibbs was not a man to offer praise lightly, in fact he was not one to offer praise at all. He'd also told her that Abby Scuito had her own idiosyncrasies that you just had to put up with. "There are some things I," the briefest of pauses, "that Agent Gibbs and his team need you to do to help them." You didn't get to be Director of NCIS without a certain ability to understand the best way to focus and motivate people. It was a trick she in part had learned from Gibbs although he didn't try nearly as much as he should unless he thought the people were worth it.
"Anything," Abby said, relieved by the Director's confident tone.
"Do you have a live satellite feed of the area of the cabin?"
"Yes," Abby stated,
The director wasn't going to ask Abby how she'd pulled that off, she knew that she could get that feed herself easily enough by going through channels, but that would take time and such permissions were well above Abby's pay grade. Still if she didn't ask. . . "Good, I'll put someone on in a minute and you can direct the feed to us. Secondly I want you to find out how that cell tower is being blocked and see if you can come up with a way of unblocking it."
"No problem," Abby stated. "Director?"
"Are Gibbs and his team going to be all right?"
Jenny sighed, "We'll do everything we can to make sure that they are."
"Yes we will," Abby echoed.
McGee moved back across to where Ducky still worked on Palmer, carefully treatinghis injuries, for the moment he wasn't removing the larger pieces of debris, ideally that was a job for a nice sterile operating theatre, not the middle of a clearing in the aftermath of a rocket attack, not that Ducky hadn't done more than his fair share of field medicine, and he could expound on those experiences at great length, if he had a suitable audience, or even if he didn't, but it had been a long time ago and there were far better options available in modern medicine. No, better to leave the shrapnel to be removed in totally sanitary conditions, not to mention with a full trained theatre staff to assist in case of complications, unless it became more dangerous to leave it than to take it out. He looked up at the approaching agent not liking the frown on the young man's face.
"Problem?" Ducky asked.
McGee nodded. "No signal, anywhere, and I managed to find two different cell phones to check." He looked up in the direction of the cell tower that they had driven past on their way into the valley. This wasn't far enough away from civilisation and more importantly from Washington DC for it not to have good coverage, one the advantages of working in and around the country's capital there were very few areas without good cell coverage, even in the wilderness, because heaven forbid one of the politicians, diplomats,or their staff be unreachable. There was no reason why McGee shouldn't be able to get a signal now unless something had been done to deliberately stop it. McGee stared at the woodpile that was all that remained of the cabin "The signal's being blocked or they took out the cell tower when they hit the cabin," he stated trying to sound less scared than he actually was and outgunned, injured, friends missing and out of contact with any form of help, that was pretty scared. This was the sort of situation where even Gibbs would admit that if you weren't scared you were either crazy or a fool and McGee was neither.
Ducky was also neither and he recognized the younger man's fear. "I don't know about you but I'm feeling a little too exposed right now." He emphasised his point by scanning the devastation around them, before looking back at his younger friend. "We should try to get to some cover." he suggested, knowing that it was a good idea both from apractical point of view andbecause the action would provide both of them with a distraction from their predicament. "If you could help me?"
McGee moved willingly to help.
The third time Tony stumbled Gibbs decided that the younger man had had enough. He had tried to keep up, was clearly pushing himself well beyond what Gibb's would have put down as his endurance, and had no intention of stopping until his body quite literally gave out on him. Gibbs was already impressed and he wasn't easily impressed, but allowing the kid to push himself to the point where he fell over would achieve nothing for either of them. He had already proved that he was stronger than he looked and he hadn't tried to take advantage of Gibbs' earlier weakness, everything was pointing towards him telling the truth. They worked together and if that was true there was all the more reason for Gibbs to stop him from hurting himself any further.
But there was something else, another reason why Gibbs knew that he had to stop and help Tony take care of his wounds, another reason why he had to help him. Gibbs had no memory of why but he felt strongly protective of the younger man. "OK that's enough we need to take a break," he said, catching Tony's good arm before the stumble sent him flat on his face.
Tony turned to look at him "Boss?" he questioned before he could stop himself. Damn that was a rookie slip, then again the way he was feeling he was kinda surprised that he was able to utter anything even vaguely coherent. He met Gibbs gaze.
Gibbs eyes narrowed. "You said that earlier," back when they'd first met, or at least the first time he remembered them meeting. "Not sir, you didn't address me by my rank. You called me 'boss' why?"
Damn! He'd gotten away with it earlier, had managed to fit into Gibbs' new world view, no make that old world view, these memories were from Gibbs' past, that's where he thought he was still in the military. Tony knew that he now had to make a fast decision, which would keep Gibbs on his side, feed least into the paranoid delusions. Did he come clean, tell him what was really going on or continue trying to play a part in Gibbs' past life "I. . ." He was saved from having to decide what to say by a dizzy spell that had him wavering on his feet; by the time he was back Gibbs was already supporting him towards a large old tree.
"OK, let's get you sitting down before you fall down again," Gibbs stated as they walked, well Gibbs walked Tony stumbled, "And then you can explain to me why you just called me boss."
Damn! Why couldn't an amnesiac Gibbs at least have poor observational skills or a bad memory! Tony giggled at his own joke amnesiac, bad memory, that was. . .Damn, that wasn't funny even by Tony's own rather questionable standards and the fact that he was giggling at his own thoughts, that was a bad sign, a very bad sign.
Tony gratefully allowed himself to be lowered down to rest against the tree. His eyes were closed but he didn't realise it until a bottle pressed against his lips and there was a soft command to "drink." He opened his eyes at the same time as his mouth allowing the cooling liquid to be poured in. He noticed Gibbs eyes had lost the spark of danger they'd had last time they'd spoken in this position; now they only held concern. Tony raised his good hand to help support the bottle and Gibbs let him take it from him.
Gibbs gave him time to drink about half of the bottle. "Better?" He asked.
Tony gave a slight nod, anything more risked a return of the dizziness. "Much, thanks."
"OK," Gibbs said, "I think it's time you filled me in on exactly what you know and what you and I are doing here."
TO BE CONTINUED. . .