"I'm sorry Gibbs; they won't let me send out a chopper until at least 06:00." Commander Gregory apologized to his former fellow Marine.
Gibbs shook his head in anger as he glanced around the group of uniformed men that had been gathered to start the search of the state park. "Agent McGee will tell you of your instructions." Gibbs nodded to the field agent across from him. "I am expecting to find these two alive, so there is no need to search through brush or under any rocks as a waste of time, they'll come to you if they see you." With that he turned and walked away, the commander at his side.
"I'm sorry Jethro," He apologized but quickly corrected himself as Gibbs gave him a knowing glance. "Right, forgot about that rule." He nodded chuckling to himself. "If your agents made it through two nights in those woods already, I'm sure they can handle another." He assured him.
They were inside his office now, the commander handed him a mug of coffee as they sat opposite each other, his desk between them. "That's not what I'm worried about Greg." Gibb's uttered, taking a small sip of the warm beverage. "I have the evidence to believe they found a bomb, or possibly worse."
Commander Greg raised his eyebrows in concern. "What makes you think that?" He asked a hint a fear in his eyes.
Gibbs inhaled and exhaled slowly. "Before they were sent out, we gathered Intel off a chain of former Israeli spy's. They believed the terrorist group had set up a small training camp inside of the park. They were specialized in the distribution of explosive devices and small arm retribution." The commander leaned back in his chair shaking his head.
"You think they're still out there?" He asked gesturing to the outskirts of the park behind him.
Gibbs shook his head. "Not all of them, maybe one or two. They move fast, but they're known to leave behind a lot of evidence." He took another swig.
"I'll contact Sec Nav. And issue a terrorist alert." Commander Greg ran a hand over his face. "I can't believe we let this happen right under our nose."
"It's not your fault. This is what they're trained to do." Gibbs assured his old friend as he stood up to look out the window. Soldiers were being loaded into convoys while others stood in groups listening to directed orders from NCIS agents.
Why was it when his two top agents when under assignment together, they created some sort of disruption? He sighed in annoyance, but somewhere deep down inside of him; there was a hint of worry.
(Back at camp 06:00)
Tony watched as his partner slowly slipped a pair of his windbreakers over his bare legs, to cover her tiny pair of shorts.They were running a tad behind schedule, Tony had planned to wake up early (very unlike him) to backtrack on the trail they had come down.
"You ready?" He asked Ziva who silently nodded in reply, she looked horrible. Pretty, but overall she was a wreck. Tony almost made her go back to sleep when she had woken up, she was white as a sheet, worse than the last time she had woken up.
They took off down the trail, Ziva taking the lead so Tony wouldn't wear her down by walking to fast. She had slipped another dose of aspirin down her throat without Tony's knowledge so he wouldn't worry, but the pain wouldn't disappear from her body.
They hiked in silence, taking small momentary breaks from time to time for Ziva to rest. After they had retraced there footsteps Ziva collapsed after two miles. Tony hurried over handing her a bottle of water. "You all right?" He asked as she took a long swig them pushed herself off the ground.
"Yes," She nodded, hiding her embarrassment as she headed once again down the trail.
"Ziva," Tony said warningly. He pulled back on the hood of her jacket. "Let's take a break." He beckoned her to sit down.
"I am fine." She lied as she gave a rebellious yank in the opposite direction. He held a firm grip before she cooperated with him.
"No," He argued back. "You're not. Eat this." He handed her a chocolate chunk energy bar.
"This has over 500 calories in one little bar and loads of sugar, you really think I'm going to eat it?" She raised her eyebrows and threw it over in the bushes.
Tony crawled over and retrieved it. "You ate a marshmallow," He reminded her. "And don't litter, it's against the law." He said sarcastically waving the bar in front of her face.
Ziva rolled her eyes. "Well then everyone in America should be accused of a crime then." She retorted sourly, crossing her arms firmly over her chest. "We need to go." She added as she gazed along the long trail before them.
Tony shook his head. "Not until you eat." He said stubbornly.
"I am not eating that."
"Well then we're not moving."
"Says me, I'm senior field agent. You eat or we sit here until someone decides to locate us." Tony's patience had run thin. He was tired of her trying to be all strong and mighty when she couldn't be.
Ziva opened her mouth to object but he narrowed his gaze at her. He was taking charge weather she liked it or not. And due to her current state she couldn't use any sort of physical violence to get her way. She continued to stare at the energy bar; she had to make a choice.
(Helicopter over state park 08:00)
"There a reason why we couldn't get the chopper out earlier private Cooper?" Gibbs asked as he scanned the forest hovering below them, not caring to hide his annoyance. He was accompanied by four younger pilots, heading towards the coordinates Abby had laid out for them. Gibbs felt a particular sense of comfort being surrounded by a group of Marines; it enabled him to trust them better.
"Well sir," The hesitant private started. "Its base regulations I suppose." He answered back safely, not wanting to be brought down by a Marine who was twice his age.
Gibbs nodded unconvinced as he shifted the headpiece more comfortably over his ears, and then something out in the distance caught his eye.
"Holy shit..." He heard one of the pilots mutter as the steered towards the river. As they neared, Gibbs faced hardened. A large section of the forest had been toppled down along the rivers cliff side; trees littered the floor as pieces of debris laid aimlessly in the surrounding area. They circled the spot momentarily, not bothering to comment.
"Sir?" One of the men acknowledged Gibbs, waiting for orders.
He snapped out of focus and glanced at the four Marine pilots who studying him, waiting patiently for orders. He gave a quick nod. "Land the chopper."
They obeyed, landing in a nearby by clearing a couple hundred yards down from the explosion site. They all stretched out, searching the surrounding area for any signs of life. Gibbs walked to the middle of the area where he could see the bomb was detonated. There was nothing; absolutely nothing.
The pit in his stomach grew as he shifted through the remains of what looked to be a small shack. Twisted pieces of metal and charred wood we all he found, not one sign of his agents.
"Nothing to the east," Private Cooper reported to the lost looking Marine.
"You find anything?" He asked the two officers that emerged from the forest.
They both shook their head. "That would be a negative sir." They approached his side as they stared around at the sight of destruction before them. An unbearable feeling washed over Gibbs, and it wasn't his gut.
"Alright," He started quietly, but without emotion. "Start searching for…."
"Sir!" An urgent voice called from the cliff a few yards away. Gibbs hurried over to see the last younger Marine hanging from the cliff. He was out of breath, but he had a hint of hope in his voice as he stared up with a smile plastered upon his face.
It almost made Gibbs laugh, seeing a Marine so happy hanging from a cliff. "What the hell are you doing sergeant?" He asked letting a small chuckle escape his throat. He held out a helping hand and hoisted the climber to his feet
"The rock sir," He started out of breath, "Under it. There are footprints, and…" He pulled a bag out of his pocket. "Marshmallows." A grin split his face.
Gibbs snatched the bag. It had to be DiNozzos; he would be the only one stupid enough to worry about packing marshmallows on a mission. "Where did you find this?" Gibbs asked urgently.
He pointed to his left. "Under that overhang."
Gibbs raised his eyebrows and gave a sly smile. "Pride rock…"
The younger Marines gave him a weird look.
"Follow me." Gibbs ordered as the group made there way down the Cliffside to the river edge below. He kneeled to the ground as he found a set of footprints. They were small woman's boots; defiantly Ziva's size. They followed the trail a few paces down.
"They're back on their assigned trail aren't they sir?" Private Cooper guessed as the four young Marines followed their leader like a pack of hound dogs.
Gibbs nodded. "Back to the chopper." He ordered. As they all piled back in the familiar gut feeling presented itself to him. They were going to be alright.
(On trail 08:00)
The cheap sticky chocolate taste lingered in the back of Ziva's throat as she trudged through a swap like area of forest. She hated to admit it, but eating the energy bar had given her enough will power to resist resting every twenty minuets.
The pain still found refuge in her body, but she pushed it aside.
"Where exactly are we going now?" Tony questioned as he swatted at the cloud of misquotes that buzzed nosily around his head.
"To a ranger base a couple miles down the trail, we can make contact there, get more directions." Ziva responded as she successfully made his way across the swap.
Tony followed moments behind her. "What do you mean get more directions?" He asked shaking off his wet boots.
"The map was lost with my backpack," She reminded him. "All I can remember is the way to the station; we can ask Gibbs for more information."
Tony grabbed her arm. "No," He said sternly, he locked his eyes with hers. "You can't continue Ziva, you need to rest."
She yanked her arm away from him angrily. "I have told you before I am fine!" She snapped as she retreated into the woods blowing him off.
Tony quickened his pace to keep up with her. "Stop acting like you're invincible Ziva, I don't want you to get hurt."
She whirled around. "Getting hurt?! Stop thinking about trying to protect me Tony, I. am. Fine." She spelt out as he looked taken aback for a moment.
He narrowed his eyes. "Really? I don't think resting ever two seconds is a great way to complete an assignment, do you?" He asked as she glared back at him.
Before she could give him a desirable tong lashing there was a faint sound of a helicopter in the distance. They watched as it appeared over the trees in the horizon. Tony gave a small laugh.
"I knew he'd find us!" He exclaimed as he ran up the path to a clearing. Ziva watched as he continued to jump up and down the like a fool, waving his arms until the aircraft landed steadily on the ground.
They quickly piled in, greeted by there boss who couldn't help but give a small grin at the sight of his weary agents. They flew back in silence before landing safely back at the army base. Barley stepping out of the helicopter, they were rushed into the medical examiners room after Tony had told Gibbs about there bomb adventure.
Ziva was ordered to return back to NCIS or go home. Which she did not take lightly with Tony. Gibbs drove them both back to base, as they argued with one another.
Later that evening after being embraced with over a hundred hugs by Abby, the pair sat across from one another in the bullpen. Tony clicked away silently at his keyboard as Ziva filled out a report at her desk. She then straightened up in her chair to leave.
"Night," Tony called as she was about to leave without acknowledging him. She stopped in front of his desk and squinted at him. He glanced up as she continued to stare at him. "What?" He asked.
Without answering she walked back to her desk and grabbed a small slip of paper and presented it proudly on his desk. Tony's eyes went wide after noticing what it was. She smirked happily and walked away.
"A ticket?!" He exclaimed in disbelief as she disappeared into the elevator. A $50 fine had been issued in his name for damage to state property, signed proudly by his partner. "For what?" He asked, thinking he was alone.
"Littering," Gibbs said shortly entering the scene with his jacket. He stopped at his desk to shut down his computer as he watched Tony's face fall as he stared in aw down at the ticket. He chuckled. "You should be happy she didn't kill you DiNozzo." He assured him as the senior field agent was left once again in disbelief.