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Chapter 2 - Replacement"Whatcha doing, Abs?" Not looking away from the computer screen, she used her hand to push away the Caf-Pow Gibbs was trying to hand her.
"I don't have time to talk Gibbs, I'm trying to locate Ziva!" Placing the caffeine drink on the desk, he reached over her shoulder and turned off the screen of her computer, something he'd only recently learned how to do. "Gibbs!" She spun around to face him, and he didn't think he'd ever seen her that mad.
"Talk to me, Abs." He couldn't stand having Abby being pissed at him too. It was bad enough that Tony practically refused to look at him, but he was having a hard time himself, and he didn't think he'd be able to cope if Abby, his always cheerful Abby turned on him as well. Taking the Caf-Pow and throwing it into the trash can, she turned back to her computer and resumed doing whatever it was she was doing.
"It's been over a week, Gibbs! She still hasn't contacted any of us!"
"Give it time, Abs." The forensics scientist just shook her head, her pigtails flying around in the air.
"You keep saying that, Gibbs, but unlike you she didn't even say goodbye to me!"
"Then call her." She bit her lip and turned back towards him.
"I can't." When Gibbs just raised his eyebrow, she started fiddling with her hands, looking almost nervous. I tried, I really did, but her phone has been disconnected, and her email account has been erased." She could have sworn she saw confusion cross his features, but it was gone again too quick. "Is she really that mad at us?" Gibbs didn't know what to say, so he just placed a hand on her shoulder instead. "Or do you think it was just all some kind of fake stuff to make us trust her, and she erased it because she no longer needs it?" He really wanted to tell her that that could never be true, but he wasn't sure either, and he didn't want to accidentally lie to her.
"I don't know, Abs. I don't know." He wasn't surprised when she broke down, right there in the middle of her lab. He just held his arms out and let her bury herself in his embrace as she let the tears form the entire team fall.
The second Ziva tried to get a bit more comfortable, she regretted it, letting out a tiny groan. Pain was shooting through her entire body, and she was no longer able to keep count on how many times they'd 'interrogated' her or the different types or amounts of injuries she'd sustained. She had absolutely no idea about what time it was, whether it was day or night or how long she'd been there for. It could be days, weeks, months even. But her guess would be around a week or two, judging by her energy and weight loss.
She was no longer tied up, and her 'captors' knew it wasn't needed. She was weak, too weak. She couldn't even keep herself in a sitting position, so how should she be able to fight back or attempt to escape with the big amount of broken bones?
She fought to hold back another cry as there was another kick to her ribs. "Come on, you can't even tell me the color of the carpet?" At times she was really tempted to tell them what they wanted to know, not because what they were doing to her was that bad, cause she'd done worse things herself when she'd coerced people, but because she didn't know why she shouldn't tell them. It's not like the people at NCIS cared about her anyways, right?
But then she saw all these images of any of them being hurt, just the slightest splinter in their finger, and she got some of her will power back. It didn't matter what had happened between them, she'd do anything in her power to keep them safe and unharmed. And besides, telling them anything would mean letting her father win, proving that everyone were right. She'd be a traitor to the people she cared the most about, and it would show how weak she was, how weak she'd gotten after being in America.
"Who says there was a carpet?" It was the first time since they'd come in perhaps an hour ago that she'd responded to anything they'd said, and with a big smirk the smallest one of the two pulled her up from the floor by her hair, causing a pain filled moan to escape her throat.
"You know what's kind of sad? I actually hate having to do this. Your face is too pretty to be ruined like this." She wanted to laugh at that, but knew that a movement like that would be the same as torture, due to her broken and fractured ribs. "But I suppose that's already too late." Kicking her in the stomach he let go of her hair, smiling as her body crumbled down on the floor.
"It's amazing how much you look like your mother, you know. Too bad your beloved sister was never as beautiful as you." If looks could kill, not even Abby or Ducky would be able to match up all the pieces of their bodies, and that is if they were ever found.
"Perhaps that is why she dies, yes? Perhaps your daddy knew she was too ugly to ever succeed any missions, unlike you, who could seduce any man just by looking at him." Not being able to control herself, she ignored the pain as she attempted lashing out at him, cause no one were allowed to talk about Tali like that, but he just grabbed her hand, twisting it around until the sound of her wrist breaking caused the two men to laugh as she once again moaned in pain.
"You think that is why he sent her that day instead of you? Even though it was your daily job? You think he knew what was gonna happen and figured you were of more use to him than she was?" She closed her eyes as she felt them using the bruised skin on her leg to turn off a cigarette, attempting to block out their words and their laughter.
She got more and more convinced by the minute that these people were Mossad, that they were working for her father. Although many terrorists had good Intel, there'd be no way for them to know most of the things they used for the psychological torture and manipulation, and there were only so many people who'd be able to supply them with that knowledge, one of them being her father. She just still didn't know why.
"We'll be back, so try not to get too comfortable." She didn't acknowledge them, just used all her remaining strength to not let the pain show as the heavy one of them stepped on her leg on the way out of the room.
By now she really just wished for this to be all over, not caring whether it meant dying or getting rescued, although dying would probably be easiest and the least painful of those two options.
Eli David slammed his fist on the table, causing the officer on the other side of the desk to internally flinch. "Why is she still not talking?"
"Perhaps she is stronger than you... than we believed, sir." As the older man just glared at him, he stood up straighter. "I suppose you should be proud, sir. You trained her very well." Director David looked at the piece of paper in front of him, the latest picture of Ziva, only a day old. It was true, he should be proud, but at the moment he cared more about the mistakes she'd done and the things she knew, than about her.
"Perhaps it is time for me to take a trip there myself. That should make her talk."
"I agree, sir, but don't you think it might be too dangerous. You might be seen." The murderous look his boss sent him quickly made him look down. "But of course, you being the director, you'd know that." When he looked back up again, David was drumming his fingers on the table.
"I know. That's why I'm considering sending you in stead."
When Tony walked into the bullpen Monday morning, way earlier than he was supposed to, he stopped dead in his tracks. "Who are you, and what are you doing behind my partner's desk?" The blond woman looked up at him with an ice cold stare that seemed worse than Gibbs'.
"Mandy Cole, and this is my desk now, so I suppose that'll make me your new partner." Before he had a chance to reply he heard the elevator ding, signaling that Gibbs had arrived.
"When I get back, you" He pointed at her, not caring how unfriendly he seemed. "Better not be sitting there!" He hurried back towards the elevator, practically pushing Gibbs along with him when he walked past him.
"What, DiNozzo?" He flipped the switch the second the doors had closed, causing all the lights in the elevator to disappear.
"Why didn't you tell me someone was replacing Ziva?" Gibbs looked confused, and for a short moment Tony wasn't sure whether that was because of what he'd said or how he'd said it.
"What are you talking about?" Tony leaned back against the wall, running his good hand through his hair, as he realized that Gibbs hadn't even known.
"There's some blond, wannabe bimbo sitting at Ziva's desk." He was surprised that he actually meant what he said. It wasn't long ago he'd have started flirting with her right away, but now that was the last thing he wanted.
"Let's go." Realizing Gibbs had already left the elevator again, he ran out after him to see motioning for the tall woman, who hadn't moved at all, to follow them, and before he knew it they were bursting into Vance's office.
"Wanna tell me what the hell is going on?" Not bothering to comment on Gibbs' entrance, the director looked up from his paperwork at the 3 agents.
"I told you I would choose for you if you didn't, so meet your new team member, Gibbs, Special Agent Cole." Gibbs was fuming, and he didn't care what anyone would think of him as he slammed his fist on Vance's table.
"We don't need, and definitely don't want a new member on our team! Assign her to someone else!" Director Vance just plugged a tooth pick in his mouth as her looked at the young woman looking uncomfortable behind Gibbs and Tony.
"It's none of your choice Gibbs, and DiNozzo needs a partner."
"He can be partnered we me or McGee!" Vance just raised his eyebrow, getting even more on Gibbs' nerves. "It hasn't even been two weeks yet, damn it!" The door slammed before any of them even registered he'd left the room, leaving Tony to quickly follow his boss' example, followed by his so-called 'new partner'.
"You," Gibbs pointed at the now not so confident blond. "Never go near this desk." He picked up the only items from the desk that seemed to be hers, some kind of calender and a cellphone, which caused a slight smile to appear on Tony's lips (she obviously didn't know rule 3 – 'Never be unreachable'), and threw them onto the desk furthest in the back and away from the rest of them.
"This is yours, but don't get too comfortable." Tony just snickered at the confused look on the new probie's face before hurrying after Gibbs into the elevator.
"I'm going for coffee. McGee should be in the lab with Abby, go ask her if she's found a way to contact Ziva yet." It took the younger agent a couple of seconds before he registered what his boss had just said.
"What do you mean 'found a way'?"
"Just do it, Tony." He really wasn't in the mood to chat, and he knew Abby would let Tony know anyways. Besides, he didn't think he could handle being the one making Tony even more upset. "She's running out of time. If she wants to come back it'll have to be before that... girl up there thinks she's part of our team." Knowing he wouldn't get any more information out of his boss no matter how hard he tried, he got out of the elevator at the bottom floor to go see their favorite geeks.
"Hey Abs, McGee." He hadn't called McGee any nicknames since returning from Israel, but then again, he'd barely spoken, so it wasn't as if he'd wasted that many opportunities.
"You're here early. Decided to finally catch up on some paperwork?" Fighting the urge to roll his eyes, he simply ignored the other man's question.
"The boss sent me down here."
"Oh, got a new case?" The word 'new' made Tony consider telling them about agent sitting in the bullpen but decided against it. He didn't think any of them would be any more acceptant of the news than he'd been.
"No," He joined them at the desk although not understanding any of the things currently happening on the computer screen. "He wanted to know whether Abby has been able to contact Ziva yet." For the first time Abby turned around to look at him, looking as lost as he felt himself.
"No, still nothing." Picking up Bert from the table she squeezed him, causing the famous farting sound to fill the room. "Does she hate us that much, Tony?" When he didn't answer she turned back to her computer, throwing her beloved hippo into the corner.
"I knew it! She never did like us, did she? She just had us fooled from the very beginning. I should have never trusted her!" She could have gone on forever, but Tony's arms embracing her made her stop and turn to look at him.
"If it isn't because of that, then why is Gibbs looking for her?" Taking a deep breath, Tony figured now was as good a time as ever to break the news to them.
"Because unless some kind of miracle happens, someone will be replacing Ziva on our team."