All the Little Things
Ch 10: On the Clock
A/N: Thank you so much to those of you who reviewed the last chapter…it was greatly appreciated. I'm sorry for the delay in updating this. A bad combination of writer's block, school, and a broken back all conspired to keep me from writing on this for a very long time. I will try to update more regularly now that things have settled down some. Anyway I hope it lives up to standards and expectations. Again, please read and review.
Their dinner at the lakeside restaurant was a quiet and enjoyable affair. Anderson was to all outward appearances a normal, charming man. He was a most attentive waiter, even if he did ask too many questions. Afterwards, Ziva returned to the cabin while Tony went to the store in search of a sweet snack.
Ziva changed into gym shorts and an oversized T-shirt before settling down on the couch to read. An hour later, she surfaced from her book and checked the clock. She began to worry when she saw how much time and elapsed and noted that Tony had not returned. She waited anxiously for another half an hour before slipping on her running shoes and a jacket. She paused just long enough to grab a flashlight and her cell phone before locking the door behind her.
She jogged at a brisk pace to the resort's small store. Her heart rate increase two fold when she saw that all the lights in the store were out and a wooden sign in the door read 'Closed'. She walked up the stairs to read the sign that posted the stores hours. Yet another wave of panic hit her when she saw that the store had closed half an hour earlier.
Now truly worried she decided to check back at the restaurant just to make sure he hadn't gone back to get something he'd left. Upon arriving she noticed that just a few of the waiters were left and seemed to be going about the routine process of closing up for the night. She stopped one of them as they past her and asked, "Is Michael Anderson still here?" At the man's puzzled look she added, "He was my husband and I's waiter tonight and I think I may have left my sweater in the booth. I wanted to ask if he'd seen it."
"I'm sorry miss but he's left for the night. He went out to his car with another fellow just ten minutes ago."
The investigator in Ziva kicked in. "Another fellow that works here?" she asked, before she could stop herself.
The man gave her another odd look before saying hesitantly, "I've never seen him before in my life, miss. Now if you don't mind, I've got work to do."
Ziva nodded and walked out. As she stepped into the somewhat chill night air she wrapped her arms around herself protectively. She was now truly worried that something had happened to Tony. They had no concrete proof that Anderson killed his victims at the same time. Maybe he did draw one off first, and then kill the other later. Still fretting over this worrisome new possibility, she jogged back to their cabin.
As she arrived at the cabin she slowed to survey the porch, her paranoid mind making something out of every shadow. Just as she was about to relax, convinced that nothing was there, one shadow rose up the wall and unfolded itself into a human form.
"Lisa? Is that you? Are you going to let me in or not?" Tony's hushed voice called out to her.
Ziva could have fainted with relief. She jogged up the steps and opened the door for him with her key. As soon as the door was shut though, she suddenly felt angry. "Where the hell have you been? I have been everywhere looking to find you! The store has been closed for more than a half an hour. I even checked at the restaurant. Anderson was not there and the man said he had left with a gentleman he did not know." Her voice started to shake as the adrenaline wore off.
Despite himself, Tony couldn't help the small smile that played at his lips. "Were up scared, Zee-vah?" He asked in mock incredulity.
"No!" Ziva exclaimed too quickly. "I was worried for your safety, yes, because we are tracking a serial killer. But I was not scared, Tony."
Tony's smile widened as if her answer had affirmed his belief instead.
"Anyway it does not matter. What happened to you?" Ziva said changing the subject abruptly.
"I tried the back trail without a map or a flashlight. Big mistake. I got horribly lost and it took me an hour just to find my way back to the store, then I still had to walk back here." Tony whined in a pathetic voice.
Ziva smiled mockingly. "Aww…my poor little hairy butt had such a hard night." She cooed sarcastically, anger that he had wreaked such havoc on her nerves still simmering just below the surface. She turned to walk away.
Tony reached out and grabbed her shoulder, spinning her back around to face him. When she tried to struggle away he gripped both of her arms tightly.
"Ouch, Tony that is hurting me!" She complained.
"Don't be cross with me, Ziva, please…" He whined. He leaned to kiss her and she turned her head to the side just to be defiant. He kissed her cheek instead. He rubbed his nose along her jaw line and her under her ear. "Please?" He asked again.
Ziva still refused to look at him, but her stance softened a little.
"I won't scare you like that again." Tony promised. He was rewarded when Ziva turned to meet his next kiss. "I love you." He whispered in her ear.
"I love you too, Tony." Ziva grumbled back, "Even if you insist on causing me trouble."
"Trouble is my middle name, Zee-vah…" He purred, a dangerous glint coming into his eye.
Ziva smiled devilishly at him, and ran towards the stairs.
"Tony!" Ziva called from the small kitchen of their cabin. "I'm going into town to print off those new pages for the case file that I typed up!"
"Alright…" Tony called back around his toothbrush. "See you in a little while."
"Bye!" Ziva called, and then the front door snapped shut.
Tony finished brushing his teeth and spit. Then he wandered into the bedroom part to get dressed. He was just pulling on his shirt when the cabin phone rang out shrilly. He furrowed his brow. No one had called them on that phone since they'd been here. In fact, the only people who even knew they were there would call on their cell phones if they had to call at all. Still confused he leaned over and lifted the receiver. "Hullo?"
"Mr. DiNardo?" A raspy voice asked on the other end of the line.
"Yes?" Tony said confused. "May I ask whose calling?"
"This is Scott Davidson from the beach restaurant."
"Who?" Tony asked scratching his head.
"I'm a janitor at the resort restaurant. We found your wife's sweater that she left here the other night while we were cleaning and we wanted to call so that someone could come and get it."
"I didn't know that Lisa had left anything. She's so forgetful sometimes." Tony laughed. "I'll be right down to get it." He hung it up.
In the basement of the beach restaurant, Scott Davidson hung up the phone and turned to his partner. "The male is on his way here now."
"Brilliant," Michael Anderson smiled. "All the pieces are falling into place."
"We've got them." Davidson agreed. "The girl will follow him anywhere he goes. She's completely besotted."
"Yes, though I wonder if perhaps even he knows how much…" Anderson mused.
Tony quickly finished getting dressed and grabbed one of the bran muffins that Ziva had brought them on his way out. He walked briskly towards the restaurant enjoying the crisp morning air. When he arrived he noticed that the usual bustle of getting the restaurant ready to open for lunch seemed strangely absent. But then he looked at his watch. Seven a.m. No wonder no one was there yet. Ziva's damn alarm must have woken them up extra early this morning. He knocked on the restaurant door and then back up slightly.
A small scrawny man came to the door and opened it. "Can I help you?" He asked.
"My name is Tony DiNardo. I received a call that my wife had left her sweater here. I was told to speak with a Scott Davidson."
"I'm Scott Davidson. It's a pleasure to finally meet you Mr. DiNardo. Now, I remember you from the restaurant last night. And where is your beautiful wife this morning?"
"She went into town to get a few things. She wants to make me dinner tonight. I told her that there's no need to cook while we're on vacation, but she insisted. She just likes doing the little domestic things like that sometimes." Tony smiled, but it was more from the irony of how characteristically un-Ziva it was to do anything 'domestic'.
"She must be a very special woman."
"She is." Tony said, not having to lie to keep them in character. She really was special. "Now, where's this sweater she left?" He asked.
"Right this way sir. It's in our lost and found in the back office." Scott Davidson led the way back to the kitchen.
Tony followed him through the kitchens and into a narrow dingy back office. Tony's eyes narrowed suspiciously as he spied a staircase leading down somewhere at the back of the office. Just then his head erupted in pain. 'Anderson's got an accomplice!!' was his last conscious thought before he slipped into blackness.
Ziva got back from running off the copies of the new information and let herself into their cabin with her key. "Tony?" She called. Her brow furrowed when she didn't hear a response. She found a hastily scrawled note on the kitchen counter reading 'Hey Zee-vah, I went to get the sweater you left at the restaurant.'
Immediately panic flooded through Ziva. She'd used the sweater as an excuse to check Anderson's whereabouts the night before. It had been a complete lie. Why had they called telling about finding it? All of a sudden it struck her. Anderson had used her lie to lure Tony to the restaurant alone. But how had Anderson known? She hadn't talked to him that night. She'd talked to another employee.
She pulled out her cell phone and speed dialed the secure line that Jen had set up for this mission. She bounced up and down impatiently as the phone rang.
"Director Shepard, NCIS." Jen answered formally.
"Director this is Ziva!" Ziva practically cried in relief that someone had answered.
"Ziva? Is something wrong?" Jen asked. The younger woman's panicky tone startled her.
"Anderson has an accomplice! And they lured Tony to the restaurant alone while I was in town making a few copies for the file. And it is all my fault. Last night I needed to check Anderson's whereabouts and so I lied about having left my sweater and wanting to talk to him. But he had already left. When I came home I found a note from Tony telling me that he had gone to pick up the sweater I had left at dinner last night…" Ziva explained in almost a single breath.
"Ziva, slow down," Jen commanded. "Did Tony know that the sweater was a lie?"
"No," Ziva moaned.
"How lone have they had him?" Jen pressed.
"I do not know. I was not gone for more than an hour Director, I promise." Ziva insisted.
"I don't blame you for this happening Ziva. It would have happened anyway."
"What should I do?" Ziva asked.
Jen was momentarily taken aback. Ziva rarely asked for instructions and it was even rarer still that she asked for advice. And yet here she was so truly worried and afraid that she was asking for both. "Try and go after him, Ziva. I'm alerting the field office in Reno. Fortunately Gibbs and McGee jumped on a plane last night to come and brief them. They should have landed by now. I'll have assistance to you in an absolute maximum of 2 hours."
Ziva sighed in relief. "Hopefully I will have him out by then." She said.
"Good luck, Ziva."
"Thank you, Director." Ziva hung up and raced from the cabin, pausing only to grab her gun from the safe. She arrived at the restaurant in record time and tried the door. It was unlocked and swung open easily. Pulling her service pistol from the holster she'd clipped to her belt, she entered. She swung her gun in a quick arc, followed by her eyes, and cleared the main room of the restaurant. With quick, quiet steps she slipped from table to table towards the kitchen. She repeated the procedure through the kitchen, still finding it uninhabited. Her keenly trained eye noticed the faint light coming from under the door at the back of the kitchen. She followed it into the back office and over to the door leading at the back of the office. As she hastily approached the far door she forgot some of her safety precautions and exposed her back to the darkened room.
"Nice of you to join us Mrs. DiNardo," a sinister voice echoed through the room. Whirling Ziva pointed her gun at the shadowy figure that she hadn't noticed in the room's far corner. Her finger was just tightening on the trigger when she heard the door behind her creak open. Before she even had time to react her head being torn apart by acute pain and her vision was tunneling into blackness.
Ziva came to her senses in a dark room. She could tell that she was lying on a thin mattress, but mostly she was aware of the fact that the temperature in the room was barely above freezing. Shivering violently, she waited for her eyes to adjust to extremely minimal light. Her head felt as though it was stuffed with cotton, and as she moved it the room slid sickeningly before focusing again. As her training kicked in she tried to see how much motion she had. Her feet were bound she discovered but only at the ankles. She could manage that. One hand was free, but the other was chained to the wall. As she moved it experimentally the chain rattled, the sound echoing in the small room.
She heard a shifting noise off to her right and then a bleary voice called, "Ziva?"
"Tony?" She called back, warm relief flooding her to hear his voice.
"How did you end up down here?"
"I was trying to rescue you."
"Good job." Tony said, sarcasm tingeing his voice. They were silent for a moment before Tony asked her, "Are you hurt at all?"
"Not besides the keg on my head."
"Egg, Lisa." Tony reminded her gently, somehow remembering that they were still undercover despite his pounding head. "A keg is used to store beer or something like that."
"Oh, right." She too was silent a moment. "Are you hurt Tommy?" Ziva was grateful that Tony had reminded her that they were still undercover. Otherwise her worry might have made her forget.
Tony shook his head before realizing that she wouldn't be able to see that small of a motion in the dark. "Nothing serious. They hit me over the head the same as they did to you. They roughed me up a little bit when I wouldn't tell them where you were. I'm pretty sure I have at least one black eye, and my jaw feels a little bruised. I took a couple of kicks to the ribcage, but I don't think that it's anything more serious than some bruises."
"I'm sorry Tommy. If I hadn't left my sweater here this never would have happened to you." Ziva explained genuinely, trying to convey her apology for her lie about the sweater without breaking their cover. They still didn't know if their captors were listening.
"Don't be sorry Lisa. It probably would have happened anyway. Creeps like this can't keep their hands to themselves for very long."
"I wish we had just stayed at my mom and dad's house." Ziva said, hoping that Tony caught her implied meaning instead of just thinking that she was rambling.
"Yeah, but who wants to spend their honeymoon at their mom and dad's house. I mean there are certain things that newlyweds do that they wouldn't want their parents catching them doing."
Ziva smiled to herself. He had caught the meaning. "And besides this seemed like such a beautiful place. Dad and Timothy always come here fishing around this time." She heaved a dramatic sigh as though she was lost in memories.
Tony's mind raced. 'Dad' could only mean Gibbs. And Timothy would be McGee. Fishing could mean looking for information. 'About this time.' Did she really mean that Gibbs and McGee were here or would be soon? He had to know for sure. "Doesn't your mom miss them since they go so far from home?" He asked.
Ziva's smile widened. He really had caught on. "No. She always kicks them out about now so they don't drive her crazy."
So Jen had sent Gibbs and McGee out here. Tony smiled at Ziva's insinuation that it was because they were driving her crazy. Most likely Gibbs had been driving Jen crazy and McGee had probably been driving Gibbs crazy in return. Sighing he settled back to wait it out.
Just then the door to the room banged open and two men entered.
As Tony and Ziva were talking in code in their darkened prison, Gibbs and McGee were talking to Director Shepard on the phone. She filled them in on what Ziva had told her and before he'd even hung up Gibbs had them geared up and in a car headed to Zephyr Cove. The head of the NCIS field office in Reno had volunteered a task force to go in with them since their subjects were mostly armed and dangerous. They arrived at the little resort restaurant and Gibbs had the men fan out to form a perimeter. Using earwigs he told them to hold off on entering that he and McGee would go in first.
And so they did. The restaurant appeared empty at first, but Gibbs could here noises coming from a back office on the far side of the kitchen. He motioned to McGee to follow him. In the office they found Anderson and his accomplice deep in conversation. The accomplice was talking and so Gibbs and McGee listened quietly from the other side of the semi-closed door.
"I listened to their whole conversation. The woman was whining about how they should have stayed at her parents' house. After that she got talking about her dad and some guy named Timothy that come fishing here together every year about this time. It was pretty pathetic."
McGee's brows knit together in confusion. Why was Ziva talking about him and her father going fishing together? He'd never even met Ziva's father. He looked at Gibbs who had a knowing smile on his face. And then it hit him. She'd been using a code to tell Tony that he and Gibbs were on their way.
Just as this dawned on him, Gibbs motioned that they should enter. He counted down with his hands and then kicked the door in. "NCIS! Put your hands where we can see them!" Both men jumped and raised their hands. "Where are Agents DiNozzo and David?!" He asked, completely forgetting that they were under cover.
"Who?" One of the men snarled.
Gibbs rolled his eyes. "Lisa and Tommy DiNardo, the young couple you kidnapped earlier today."
The accomplice broke first under Gibbs' withering stare. "The basement. Down those stairs." He confessed.
Gibbs nodded. He grabbed Anderson and handcuffed him. McGee did the same to the other man. Then they radioed to the support team to come and get the suspects. When men arrived to take them out to the waiting prisoner vans, Gibbs and McGee headed down the flight of stairs that had been indicated.
The found a single door at the bottom which Gibbs hastily kicked in. Scanning his flashlight around he saw both Tony and Ziva lying on mattresses with one hand chained to the wall. DiNozzo looked a little beaten up, but Ziva seemed to be okay. "McGee, go back up and find out where they stashed the key to these handcuffs." Gibbs commanded. McGee nodded and left.
"Nice of you to join us boss." Tony said, smiling wryly.
"You're lucky the Director even thought to send us." Gibbs lectured.
"We know." Ziva said. "Thank you."
Gibbs just nodded as McGee came back down the stairs with the key. He knelt and unlocked Ziva first and then Tony. He and Ziva helped Tony to his feet and up the stairs. As they walked out of the restaurant into the light of day, Tony leaned heavily on Ziva's shoulders. Under the pretense of adjusting her grip around his waist, Ziva leaned over and kissed his cheek. "I'm glad your okay, Tony." She whispered. "I'm so I couldn't rescue you."
"Don't apologize Ziva." Tony reminded her.
She smiled. "Come on; we need to get you to the ambulance. You need to have the hump on your head looked at."
Tony chuckled and Ziva's brow furrowed.
"That was the wrong word wasn't it?"
"I think you meant 'lump' or 'bump'."
"There you go. That's the one."
Twelve hours later they finally made it to NCIS Headquarters in D.C. Gibbs left immediately to brief the Director and McGee went down to the lab to tell Abby and Ducky the story. Tony and Ziva stood in the center of the bullpen for a minute before they decided to just get to work on their reports on the case. They'd been hard at work on them for about a half an hour when Gibbs came down from the Director's office.
"What are you two still doing here?" He asked in his typical blunt fashion.
"Working on our case reports boss." Tony explained.
"Go home. The cases reports can wait."
Both agents instantly saved their work and started to log off before Gibbs changed his mind.
"And I don't want to see either of you here until Monday!" Gibbs called after them.
"Yes boss!" They called back, unable to believe their good luck.
Gibbs smiled and returned to the Director's office. "You were right about them Jen." He told her as he shut the door.
"Tony and Ziva?" She asked, slightly confused. Gibbs nodded. "What about them?"
"They really are like we were once."
"Like we are, Jethro." Jen reminded with a smile.