The air seemed somehow fresher as Tony stepped back out into the bright sunlight.
First things first, he had to find a place to stay for the night. The only hotel he was familiar with was The Grand downtown, but…he wasn't so sure he'd be welcome there considering how he'd left the last room he'd occupied. Perhaps another hotel would be a better idea.
Of course then there was the problem that he didn't actually have credit cards anymore. He still had what was left of his gift visa, but those generally couldn't be used for things like renting a car or a hotel room. He was going to need a little help.
At least that meant he had a pretty good excuse to call the number that was still scrawled on the back of his hand. He headed over to one of the payphones.
"Too soon to play the 'you're a great friend who would pick me up at the airport' card?" he asked as soon as Abby answered. He grinned as he held the phone away from his ear as she squealed with excitement.
He wasn't even aware that he was being watched until it was too late; he felt the gun poking into his side. He froze as his assailant pulled the phone from his hand.
"Shalom," Tony greeted the man he recognized as one of David's henchmen, hoping that Abby would pick up on the clue.
"Do not make a scene, Agent DeLuca, or I will aim for that little girl over there first," the man quietly informed him as he hung up the phone. "Or another child just like her."
Tony nodded his understanding. His heart raced and his mind scrambled seeking escape, but he knew he couldn't risk the lives of innocent bystanders. "I'm not who you think I am," he quietly tried to explain the man as he allowed himself to be led away from the airport entrance, toward the parking ramp.
"I do not know how it is that you found out, Agent DeLuca," the man ignored his claim.
"No, you see, I don't know what you're talking about, and I'm not Agent DeLuca. That was all just one big misunderstanding," Tony rapidly tried to explain as he was swiftly guided toward the far end of the lot. As they progressed and the bystanders became sparser, Tony knew he was going to have to make his move. "You see, Agent DeLuca doesn't exist, he's a fictional--" All the breath was forced from his lungs as the man suddenly whirled and punched him hard in the gut, sending him to the ground. A moment later, the man had hold of him by the scruff of his neck. Before he even had a chance to struggle, he felt the small prick of a needle as it breached his skin. He swore could actually feel the drug rapidly spreading through his body, as though ice was rushing through his veins, numbing his limbs and making his vision swim in and out of focus. He couldn't fight as the man hauled him to his feet.
"Wait," he weakly protested as the man popped open the trunk of a car, but he was helpless to stop himself from being manhandled into it. "No…"
He fought against the drug as long as he could, but in the end, the attempt was futile.
As he fumbled toward consciousness, his first observation was that he was no longer in the trunk of a car…unless that car had been partially submerged in a lake, perhaps. For a while, judging from the sliminess of the surface where he was sprawled. Plus it smelled of…rotting fish. And other disgusting things.
Tony groaned as he rolled to his side, raising his hand to cover his nose in hopes of staving off the stench before his already queasy stomach decided to show off and add yet another foul odor to the mix.
Unfortunately, his hand couldn't quite reach, and he became aware of an odd pressure that encircled his wrist. He forced his eyes open and though it took a few moments for his eyes to adjust to the dark, he already knew what he would see--a metal cuff affixing his hand to a chain that was secured to a metal pipe.
What he didn't expect to see, however, was that there was a second chain attached to the same pipe.
Groggily his gaze followed the chain until it came to rest upon her.
It took a few moments for him to reconcile the picture he'd seen of Ziva David to the woman that now sat before him. Though her hair was muddied and tangled, her face streaked with grime, and her eyes dull from the effects of exhaustion and possibly hopelessness, she was still one of the most beautiful women he'd ever seen.
Her eyes met his, her expression one of wariness and mistrust. She neither confirmed nor denied her identity as she studied him for a few moments before greeting him with an ominous salutation.
"Welcome to hell."
Thanks so much for reading! Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing! Thanks to everyone who reviewed, alerted, favorited, c2ed, or even just continued to come back to read more.
(And thanks to the readers of Acquired Tastes who have been really patient with my lack of updates to it; promise, it will be updated soon!)