Title: Two Feet High and Rising (Title cleverly stolen from Johnny Cash :-D )
Category: Drama, Angst, Friendship
Summary: Over at the NCIS Fanfiction Addiction Community, we recently finished up a fic exchange. Every author wrote a prompt set and chose another author's prompt to write. I chose KayleighBough's--Het, slash or Gen: Two of the team find themselves in an abandoned mine. Little do they know it's raining outside, and the water is starting to rise…
Disclaimer: These characters are the property of somebody other than myself. :-D
Through the throbbing in her head, she struggles back to consciousness. She opens her eyes.
She closes them again.
Her hands reach out, feeling the ground beneath her.
She smells the air.
She opens her eyes again and tries to make sense of it all. Her mind is as dark and empty as the air around her.
Think, Abby, think.
Fifteen Hours Earlier...
He dropped the cigarette butts, one by one, onto the street, his eyes never leaving the restaurant door. The older gentleman and girl were taking their sweet time eating their dinner, but he didn't mind the wait.
"Ducky, this place is amazing!"
The older gentleman merely smiled at his young friend's enthusiasm. They were finishing up dinner, a treat for Abby's birthday at one of the city's hottest new restaurants. It had enough class that Ducky fit right in and enough of a darker, fresh look that Abby didn't look at all out of place.
Abby sighed contently. "I'm absolutely stuffed. You're right—that braised lamb steak was simply to die for! Although, that's rather a poor choice of words, considering a poor little lamb had to die for my supper."
The two walked across the dark parking lot, talking quietly. That was, Ducky was talking quietly. Abby on the other hand, in her usual cheerful manner, was talking loudly. When they reached Ducky's car, Abby paused to thank her friend.
"This was really sweet, Ducky. Thank you so much." She hugged him.
Ducky merely smiled. "You're welcome, Abigail. Happy birthday."
"Ducky, you're the perfect gentleman," Abby giggled as Ducky reached for the car door.
It all happened in a split second. Neither one saw the shadow quietly trailing them. The man swung silently, taking down Abby first. She didn't even cry out as she crumpled to the ground, scarlet billowing across the concrete where her head lay.
"The door, Abigail." With a gallant bow, Ducky turned towards Abby. His mouth fell open in shock, but he never had a chance to rush to her aid. The shadow flattened him, knocking him, hard, into the side of the car.
Gibbs never questioned his gut. Well, almost never. He had woken early this morning, feeling inexplicably restless. He was on his third cup of coffee and his gut still had not let up. He had left for the office early, figuring that he might as well get some work done if he couldn't get any rest.
"Unusually heavy rains for Pennsylvania have some worried..."
With a sigh of annoyance, Gibbs looked around for the tv some idiot must have left on last night.
There was no tangible reason for alarm until an hour later when he walked into the Morgue to find it empty. There were no lights on, no sign that anyone had been there since Ducky left early last night with Abby.
Gibbs' gut twisted in knots. He reached for the phone and dialed the lab.
He was out the door before the seventh ring.
Donald Mallard tried to blink his vision clear. His head was pounding and he could feel something crusted to his face—most likely blood. He felt exhausted, although he could not say why.
"Ducky! Thank goodness you're ok!" Abigail descended on him like a hurricane.
"Abigail." He winced as her weight caught him in a rib.
"Oh, Ducky." Abby drew back. "Are you hurt? What happened? Where are we? Gibbs will find us, won't he?" She paused for breath and Ducky jumped in before she could continue.
"Are you all right, Abby?" He looked up at her, cupping her face in his hands. He ran practiced hands over the back of her skull. He watched the wince on her face as he brushed the base of her skull. He struggled to a sitting position. "Turn around and let me have a look at the back of your head, my dear."
Abby squirmed with impatience as Ducky sat up to examine her head.
"But, Ducky, where are we?"
The medical examiner didn't answer for a minute.
"I have no idea, my dear."
It was the quietest—and darkest Timothy McGee ever remembered Abby's lab being. There weren't even any candles lit to breach the darkness. He smiled slightly to himself. Apparently, Abby had slept in a little this morning...
Tim jumped as the silent darkness of Abby's lab was shattered by a phone ringing. It rang several times before McGee decided to answer it, hoping Abby wouldn't catch him.
"McGee!" Gibbs' bark made Tim yank the phone away from his ear. What did he do now?
A few seconds later, the color began to drain out of his face.
Thirty minutes later, they were all truly worried. The last time anyone on the team heard from their medical examiner or forensic scientist had been Five O' Clock the night before, fifteen hours earlier. Repeated calls to their cell phones had gone unanswered.
Gibbs' glare swept his team, worry evident only in the extra lines on his face and his (more so than usual) grouchiness.
"Still no reply, Boss." Tony hung up the phone. "On either phone."
"Keep trying, DiNozzo! McGee." Gibbs strode over to McGee's desk and planted his palms on the edge, closing the space gap between himself and the special agent. He didn't even have to ask; McGee knew what he was wondering about.
"Their phones are off, or out of service. I can't trace them."
Gibbs banged his hand on the desk in frustration. McGee winced and Tony jumped. Only Ziva remained unperturbed.
"Yes, thank you. We'll be there in twenty minutes." She jumped to her feet and out of habit grabbed her gear. "The Falcon confirms that Ducky and Abby ate dinner there last night and are allowing us access to their security tapes without having to wait for a warrant."
"McGee, keep trying that trace and calling. Tony, Ziva, get over to the Falcon and get those tapes."
No one needed to be told twice and no one asked Gibbs what he was planning on doing.
Satisfied that Abigail was unhurt, Ducky turned his attention to escaping from their current predicament. Their eyes had now adjusted to the dimness, the darkness broken by a thin, weary shaft of light from high above them. It must be getting late, Ducky noticed, with a little worry, as the light was fading. He touched the wall—solid rock.
"Ducky? Did you find anything?" Abby breathlessly called, nervousness tinging her voice.
"That means there's no way out." She sounded nearly panicked now.
"No door out." Ducky corrected. It was nearly the same thing, but Ducky wanted to try and keep both their heads clear. "How high up do you think that crack is?"
"About a hundred feet—Ducky! You're not seriously thinking of climbing it, are you? These shoes were not made for rock climbing! Or the scaling of slimy precipices, because whoever dumped us here didn't have the courtesy to leave us with an easy way out! There's no rope, no cell phone reception, no way possible--" Tears choked her words.
"Abigail." Ducky interrupted, holding out his arms.
"Sorry, Ducky," she sniffed, "I didn't mean to freak out on you."
"It's quite alright, my dear."
"I'm scared, Ducky."
"So am I, Abigail."
It was raining. Perfect. Pouring—the most rainfall Pennsylvania had seen all year. He could not have chosen a more perfect weekend if he tried. The rain was sheer accident, although the date was very deliberate. Ever since he had seen Miss Sciuto's name appear in the local paper alongside one Donald Mallard, ME, for their work in catching a serial killer focused on navy wives, he had known they were his. The sheer irony of it all, he thought with a wicked sense of glee. His attention was drawn to these two, who used science to outwit even the shrewdest criminal. And now they would die, abandoned by all their science, drowned, like rats, at the bottom of an abandoned mine. Yes, he thought with pleasure, it was most ironic.
Tony's knuckles turned white as he gripped tighter to the side of the car door. Perhaps he should have tried a little harder to persuade Ziva to let him drive...
"Do you think they're alright?" Tony studied Ziva's face intently for any sign that she had given up on the two. She told it like she saw it, and as much as he was hoping that Ducky and Abby were alive and well, he also needed to know the truth.
Ziva didn't answer immediately. They both knew that with every hour that ticked by, the odds got worse.
"It is possible, Tony. They have been missing for eighteen hours now. It is unlikely, though." Ziva replied, at last, the final sentence more for herself than for Tony. She was steeling herself for anything.
The crash of thunder signaled another problem. A flash of lighting lit up their prison for a second and then disappeared, plunging them into the dark once more. The spattering sound of rain came next. Neither Ducky nor Abby said anything.
"There!" Ziva cried, pointing at the screen.
One tap of McGee's fingers on the keys and the image froze on the screen.
Tony whistled. "Wait 'till Gibbs sees this."
"Wait until I see what, DiNozzo?" Gibbs raised an eyebrow and stared at his senior officer.
"We have a clear face shot, Boss. Getting an ID should be no problem." McGee could barely contain his excitement.
"That quit gabbing about it, McGee, and start running that search."
McGee's face fell. "Of course, Boss." His fingers flew over the keyboard.
Gibbs felt a slight prick of conscious and added, "Good work, McGee."
"I'm glad we ate such a big dinner last night. We won't have to worry about starving to death."
"Do we know him?" Gibbs squinted at the picture. The man did not look at all familiar.
"There's no record of him ever working for, or with, or even coming in contact with NCIS, Abby, Ducky, or the Navy. I'm completely stymied, Boss." McGee looked up at his boss with frustration. If there was a reason for this monster to clobber Ducky and Abby and haul them off goodness knows where, he wasn't seeing it.
"Thank you very much! If I'm ever in Pennsylvania—well, after today, that is, I'll take you to dinner. Or how about dinner and a movie? Do you like--"
"DiNozzo!" Gibbs barked.
"Oh, sorry. Got to go. Bye." Tony hung up the phone and reached for his gear. "Jenkins owns a plane. He can fly it, too, and took it out last night. Another plane flying over last night reported seeing it at his ranch. Which is," he glanced down at the paper, "Umm...In Pennsylvania...in the middle of nowhere actually."
"Grab your gear." Gibbs turned and headed for the Director's office.
Abby shivered. The water levels in the mine shaft were rapidly rising. The water was already mid-way up her calf...
The helicopter buzzed an old white house and a dilapidated red barn. There were no signs of life.
Tony stretched his aching muscles. Even by copter, the flight had taken a while. There had been a tense, worried silence for the entire duration of their journey. He swept the faces of his teammates. After several hours, the same expressions were fixed on their face.
Gibbs had that if-you-talk-to-me-I'm-going-to-kill-you look on his face. Ziva had spent most of their flight staring out the window, rubbing her hands across her knife with an expression that would be unreadable to most people, but that everyone on her team knew meant she was worried, too. McGee had a worried crease on his brow that Tony thought would likely become permanent after so long.
DiNozzo peered through the haze of rain, hoping for some sign of life from below. There was a lot of ground to cover. Jenkins owned nearly two-hundred acres, more than enough room to hide one forensic scientist and a M.E. Or two bodies.
Where are you, Abby? Come on, Duckster, give me something to work with here. Tony silently pleaded with his friends. A sign, anything. Please don't be dead.
He grimaced slightly at the sound of the helicopter above. It was annoying, but nothing more. By the time Miss Sciuto's and Dr. Mallard's team thought to search the bottom of an abandoned mine shaft, there would be only bodies, who had gasped their last breaths of air while their friends flew above them.
Abby's teeth chattered. The water was above her waist now and was nearly half-way up Ducky's chest. She couldn't remember the last time she'd been this cold. She and Ducky were huddled together for comfort and warmth, but it wasn't helping her much.
Come on, Gibbs, I know you'll save us.
I'm coming, Abby. Hold on, Duck.
Gibbs leaped from the helicopter before it touched the ground, Tony, using his previous jump experience, on his heels. Ziva jumped next and then turned to give McGee a hand down. After the team had disembarked, the helicopter took off again, returning to the aerial search.
The team descended on the house, guns drawn.
Jenkins looked up. He was seated calmly at the table, reading a newspaper.
"I've been expecting you."
"Where are they?" Gibbs crossed the room in three steps, and slammed the barrel of his gun into Jenkins' shoulder.
Jenkins looked mildly startled, but only looked back at Gibbs evenly.
"You're too late. They're swimming with the fishes right now."
"Where?" Gibbs repeated, with more intensity, pressing his gun harder into Jenkins' shoulder.
"Gibbs." Ziva hissed. "This is taking too long. Let me do it."
McGee turned away. He refused to let himself believe that Ducky and Abby were gone. There was still a chance, until he saw their—their—he couldn't even think the word. He ducked outside. Let Gibbs and Ziva handle the interrogation. He would continue the search.
Abby started. She must have fallen asleep... She was so tired. Was she hallucinating? It sounded like McGee...
Tony saw McGee turn and leave the house. He ran after him.
McGee was calling their friends' names.
"Tim, they're not here."
McGee ignored then and kept calling. Tony joined in.
Could it be?
Ducky lifted his head to the rain.
"Timothy! Anthony, we're down here!"
McGee almost broke his leg as he tripped over a stone structure. He kicked it in disgust and frustration.
"Where are you?" he cried to the sky.
"Tim! Tony!" Abby's voice was hoarse, but she yelled as loudly as she could.
Please hear me...
Tony held his breath.
Could he have heard what he thought he did?
"Ducky! Abby!" He called as loudly as he could and listened. McGee froze, too, and listened.
There was no mistaking it this time.
"Where are they?" Tony turned to look at Tim.
McGee didn't reply. He bent down and tugged at a worn wooden door. "Help me!"
Tony rushed over and tugged at the door. It seemed an eternity before the door creaked open on its hinges.
"McGee!" Abby's voice cracked with watery laughter.
"Timothy." Ducky laughed, too. "I've never been more glad to see you, my boy."
Tony resisted the urge to whoop with joy, although he joined in the joyous laughter.
"Go get some rope." McGee instructed.
Ziva and Gibbs were standing within inches of Jenkins, fiercely interrogating him. The door blew open.
"Boss, rope!" Tony shouted breathlessly.
Agents David and Gibbs stared at him.
"DiNozzo..." Gibbs warned.
Gibbs and Ziva became more visibly more relaxed. Jenkins calm slipped. He cursed.
"Where are they, Tony?" Ziva asked as she searched the house for rope. Without waiting for answer, she turned back to Jenkins. "Where do you keep rope? Tell me or I will break your fingers!"
The mood swing caught Jenkins off-guard and he pointed wordlessly toward a cabinet.
A few minutes later, Gibbs, Tony, Ziva, and Jenkins, at gun point, were rushing towards the abandoned mine shaft. McGee was laying down on the ground, leaning over the edge and talking to Ducky and Abby.
Ducky fastened the rope underneath Abby's arms.
Tony held a gun on Jenkins, while Gibbs, Ziva, and McGee hauled Abby up. As soon as she was on safe ground, Gibbs caught her in a hug and wrapped his jacket around her.
"You're safe, Abs, you're safe." He kissed her on the forehead. He passed her to Tony, who kept one arm around her shaking shoulders and one finger on the trigger.
Ducky came up next and McGee gave him his jacket.
"Duck? Are you ok?" Jethro asked quietly.
"I will be, Jethro."
"Let's go home." Gibbs authoritative voice boomed over the radio.
A minute later, they could hear the drone of the helicopter coming back.
Above them, the rain stopped.
With a smile, Gibbs looked down at Abby. She was sound asleep on his couch, a blanket covering her. Her dark hair fell over her face, which, in slumber looked as young and innocent as a child's. Just before falling asleep on his shoulder flying home, she had drowsily asked if she could stay at his house. As he had every time she had asked after a traumatic event, he said yes.
Tomorrow, they would begin to sort out the trial, paperwork, and most of all, the emotional impact on the entire team.
All that could wait, though.
For tonight, just having Duck and Abs safe was enough.