Several hours passed. Abby, who was now hysterical, was hardly containing herself as she went over the evidence collected from the scene. She processed hairs, which turned out to be Gibb's and Tony's, neither of which was of use to them. She knew that Tony had been spending a lot of time with the Bossman because of the experiment. The blood found in the car was definitely Gibb's, which scared her. First Tony quits and now her silver fox was missing and probably hurt. This was just all spiraling too far out of control for her. This needed to end; she couldn't take the stress anymore.
Dr. Mallard and Jimmy didn't have much to do. There was no body, which was good, but that limited their resources for helping with the investigation. A body would help with evidence to solve the puzzle, but a body was the last thing they wanted right now. Dr. Mallard spent his time in Abby's lab, assisting her with the forensics and keeping her calm. Jimmy was instructed to help look into Gibbs call log, while McGee checked his financials. It wasn't much, but it was the least Jimmy could do to help find their leader.
Agent Keller was too stunned to do much of anything. How had everything gone so wrong? She knew that whatever case Agent Gibbs was working on had nothing to do with their sessions or the events that followed, but how could everything just crash and burn so fast. She called up her superior at the FBI and informed him of their current status on finding the missing Agent. She asked for Agent Tobias to be read into the case, as she knew they were both he and Agent Gibbs were friends.
McGee and Ziva were busy working the scene. When they returned to NCIS, they did what they had always been taught. Look through financials, call logs, and they looked into the cold case that was left lying on Gibbs desk. They found his side arm and badge in his desk drawer, they wanted to know if he was at least armed when he went to this meeting. They had his car towed into the evidence garage, watching as it was loaded onto the truck.
Director Vance watched from his perch above the bullpen in front of MTAC as Ziva threw her arms up angrily, shouting about hitting a dead wall.
"Dead end, Ziva." McGee corrected her.
"Do not start with me! You do not need to pick up Tony's bad habits!"
She shook her computer furiously and slammed her fingers on the keys. The small show of violence made her feel better. There was no outlet for her in this situation. Normally, she would have harassed Tony. She no longer had that option, not that she wanted it, she thought.
McGee looked at his watch and then ran his hands through his hair. They didn't even know where to look. They had nothing. The case that Gibbs was working on was four years cold now. He recognized the pictures of the dock that they found Gibbs car at, but he didn't recognize the case. They had no clues to lead them to the location of their boss. Gibbs could be hurt, or worse, he could be dead. He shook his head; he had to stop thinking like that. Tony would have head slapped him for that.
"Tony..." McGee breathed.
"Has anyone told Tony yet?" McGee swallowed the lump in his throat.
Tony and Gibbs were close. He knew that Tony would want to be informed and kept in the loop. How could they have forgotten?
"I do not know. I am sure that someone will contact him. I have no doubt that Abby will make it her business to inform him of what has transpired."
Jimmy listened to their conversation as he went through the call logs on for Gibb's cell records. How could they forget to tell Tony? If they didn't, he sure as hell would. He listened as they continued to debate the subject when something caught his eye.
"Guys. I think I found something."
McGee rolled over to Palmer and looked at his screen, "What?"
Jimmy pointed to the only number on Gibbs cell that didn't have an address or name attached.
"Good work, Palmer."
Jimmy smiled and slid aside for McGee. Tim did a trace on the phone and found that it was a burn phone...not traceable.
"It's a burn phone. I can't trace it. Whatever Gibbs was doing, whoever he was meeting, the other party didn't want to be found."
Director Vance approached them, his features stern, but surprisingly calm.
"Where are we?"
"Nowhere, Director." Ziva admitted. "We have found nothing that links to Gibbs accept the pictures in that file. We have been over everything."
"Dig deeper. That file means something. He was working on it, then he left to check out a lead. Our answer is in that box." He ordered.
They nodded. They were at a loss. They had no idea what their next move should be. Both were now extremely worried about Gibbs. Ziva was beyond thinking this was a game. Gibbs was missing for over six hours. Her senses and emotions were on overload and it was hard for her to focus. She wanted to do nothing, but cry. It was hard for her to compartmentalize. She may have looked in control, but inside she was falling apart.
McGee was a nervous wreck. Gibbs had always taught them to never let a case get personal. What he forgot to teach was what you do when it can be nothing, but personal. What were they supposed to do when it was about one of their own? He remembered what happened when Kate died. Everyone was quiet and having a hard time, but Gibbs had been around to be the one in control. He told them what needed to be done. This was different. Gibbs was the one missing. He didn't know how to keep a straight head when all he could think about was what was possibly happening to Gibbs. They needed to find him. That was all that mattered. He turned his attention back to the file in front of him. They would find him...wouldn't they?
Another five hours later revealed no new leads into Gibbs' disappearance. Ziva had collapsed from exhaustion at her desk an hour or so ago. McGee was fighting to keep his eyes open. He couldn't take it anymore. He heard movement behind him and to the right. Ducky and Jimmy were rounding the corner, Abby not far behind. They didn't look happy. Director Vance was approaching from the opposite side.
She didn't move. She was out cold, her head lying on top of her keyboard.
McGee through a pencil at her, poking her in the head. Her head shot up. She glared at him, but adjusted her response when she saw the Director.
Angrily, Abby stomped up into McGee's personal space, "How can you be sleeping? Gibbs is missing. Doesn't that mean anything to you?"
"Of course it does. We're just tired, Abs. You have to understand, we've been at this for eleven hours. We're exhausted."
"Would Gibbs have slept if it were one of you missing? Would Tony?"
Ziva sighed, "Oh, please not again. One more mention of Tony and how he is perfect at everything will run me up a wall."
"That was said wrong, but I'm not going to bother to correct you. I have lost interest in helping you with your mannerisms. Do you have anything new? Is there anything that we can help with?" Abby demanded.
"No, I'm sorry, Abs. Not right now." McGee said softly.
"Do not worry, Abby. We will find him."
"You're right, you will. You're going to have help."
They stared at her, wondering what she was talking about. Director Vance had a feeling this would be coming soon. Agent Keller had spent some time with Abby and she brought up the possibility, which Vance agreed with if he did. He certainly wouldn't stop him.
"You're going to have help, right?" Abby demanded again.
"Help from whom?" Ziva asked.
"From Anthony of course," Ducky said, as though it were the most obvious of answers.
"I do not think that is a good idea." Ziva insisted.
McGee thought a moment. Tony might know where Gibbs was last. Tony might know where he was.
"We're out of options. Tony might know where the Boss is."
"So we call him in here as a witness, yes? That is all."
"Alright, give him a call, Ziva."
"Me? Why me? You are closer to him. You call him."
"I can't call him. I wouldn't know what to say. DiNozzo will kill me. We lost Gibbs."
"Well I am not calling him."
"McGee!" Vance barked.
"Make the call."
He swallowed hard and picked up the phone. All eyes were on him. He hit speed dial number two and waited. He paused as he realized what he had just done. Tony was number two on his speed dial. He was even before Abby. He made Tony number two after Tony rescued Maddy and Gibbs from the river. Tony was the only one that he could think of to call when they lost contact with Gibbs. If Tony could save Gibbs, then he was capable of being there for him when he needed him most.
The other line picked up and he heard, "DiNozzo."
Tony knew who it was the second he picked up, his caller id displaying the name the number belonged to. He was hoping this was the apology phone call, but when he heard nothing on the other line accept breathing, his senses went on high alert. His gut clenched. Something was wrong.
"Yeah...hey, Tony. I um..."
"McGee, what's wrong?"
Tony sounded genuinely concerned for Tim. It made the whole situation press that much harder on his mind. Even after all they had done to him, Tony still cared.
"We...we have a problem. I...we need you to come in."
There was no sound coming from the other line. Tony was waiting for Tim to explain.
"It's about Gibbs."
The line went dead and he stared at the phone. Tony hung up on him. He knew Tony would be pissed, but he never thought he would just hang up on him. He explained to the others what just happened. They thought that Tony would have been more than cooperative. None of them expected him to hang up on McGee, though considering the circumstances, could they blame him?
They were all gathered in the bullpen when they head the elevator ding twenty minutes later. Abby shrieked and ran out of the cubicles. Tony walked with purpose toward them. He had a full cup carrier in one hand and another man following behind him with two more. Abby tackled him, hugging him to within an inch of his life. He managed to keep the drinks from spilling, wrapping his free arm around his gothic princess. He held her tight, feeling her tears on his shoulder. He looked up at the team and saw the helplessness and sorrow. It was going to be a long day.
"Abs. I need you to let go. I need to talk to Tim." Tony said softly.
She stood, kissed his cheek and held onto him a second longer before releasing him. She walked back with him as he continued on to the bullpen. Tony stood before McGee and Ziva. He was quiet a moment. He read the exhaustion on both their faces. He saw the defeat in their eyes. They had no idea what to do. They were at a loss. At this rate, they would be collapsing within the hour.
Tony held up a large cup of coffee to McGee, "Here, thought you could use this."
Tim took the offered cup and just stared at him. He watched as Tony turned to hand Ziva a large cup as well.
"It's Jasmine tea. I figured it would help."
Ziva hesitated, then took the cup from him. She was touched. Jasmine was her favorite tea. It soothed her when she was stressed. He remembered.
"I have coffee for everyone. There will be plenty more. I have a standing order that will be delivered every hour. So, what's going on? What happened to Gibbs?"
After a moment, they sat him down and went over what they had so far. They told him about finding his car with Gibbs blood in it. He remained quiet through the entire explanation.
"We were wondering if you saw Gibbs in the last twenty four hours?" McGee asked.
"I've been staying with him. With everything that was going on, I just really needed a friend. I went to bed around midnight. When I woke, Gibb was gone, the door was locked. He didn't leave a note; I just assumed he went to work. I should have known better. Never assume."
"Okay. Sorry about all this Tony."
"Not your fault, McGee. There was no way that you could've known."
"Thank you, Tony," Ziva said quietly. She looked at him, trying with everything she had in her to stop her tears, "Thank you, for coming in so quickly."
He looked up at her. Her arms were wrapped around her middle. It was a protective pose that she acquired when something troubled her to the point of breaking down. She was at her wits end. She would not last much longer if she continued to hold it all in. Tony stood and walked over to her. She paused before looking up at him. Her eyes were brimmed with tears and her bottom lip quivered.
He looked over her shoulder to see Abby in the same, miserable state. He couldn't stand to see them so upset.
"Ziva..." He said quietly, his voice laced with sympathy.
She cracked, but did not move. Several tears slid down her cheek against her will, but she would not concede. Abby gasped and then she too was crying quietly, but she wouldn't take Ducky's comforting. That wasn't what she wanted.
"It's gonna be okay." Tony reached forward and pulled Ziva into his embrace. She broke the moment her face hit his chest.
He motioned for Abby to come to him and she ran, crashing into his other arm. Her head slid in next to Ziva's and they shared Tony's warmth and love. He hugged them tightly. He kissed the tops of their heads and rocked them side to side.
"We'll find him. It's gonna be okay. Gibbs is strong. He is the toughest agent this agency has. He's going to make it. "
Dr. Mallard and Jimmy smiled. Tony was a natural.
"Tony...you can't promise..."
"I can, McGee. I will. We'll find him." Tony's boss tone was sliding into place as naturally as his ability to console Abby and Ziva did. "Gibbs can handle himself until we can get to him. We'll get to the bottom of this."
McGee nodded his head. Vance watched as Tony all, but took over the investigation.
"Come on, girls. We have work to do. Gibbs would want you doing everything you can to stay positive."
Ziva pulled away, ashamed that she had let it come to this, but was thankful that Tony had been there. McGee would not have been helpful. He always looked like a deer caught in headlights when a woman cried. Abby pulled away, wiped the tears away and saluted.
"You're right, Tony. What do you need me to do?"
"Right now, I need you to go and get food. Knowing you, you haven't eaten yet. Get something for everyone. We're not leaving until Gibbs is home safe. You already went over all the evidence, so right now, there is nothing for you to do."
"The second we have something, Abs, I'll call you. I got you on speed dial." Tony held up his phone to show her.
She nodded and walked away, her pigtails swinging with renewed energy.
"Go with her. Please."
Ducky nodded. He knew with no body, there wasn't much he could do either. He knew the second there was something new, Tony would call. Jimmy followed his mentor out.
"McGee...show me this number you found."
"Tony, it's a burner phone. It's not going to help us." McGee sighed.
"Let me see it."
McGee pulled up Gibbs cell phone records. The number in question was highlighted. Tony read it over twice, his brow furrowed. Why did that number look so familiar?
He went to his desk, which he saw was now covered in McGee's things. He ignored the gut wrenching pain in his heart and pulled up the computer screen. He did a search in the solved and unsolved file archive for that number. After a few minutes, he got a hit. It was an old case involving drugs. FBI had been involved. Tobias Fornell was the Agent liaison.
"Get FBI on the horn. I want Fornell here yesterday." Tony ordered.
Ziva, falling in to routine, sat down at her desk. Reaching for the phone, she looked at Tony, her eyes questioning.
"That number was used once before as Fornell's undercover burn phone. He gave us the number in case we needed to contact him without blowing his cover. Boss might be on an op."
"Good work, DiNozzo. Keep me appraised." Director Vance said before walking back to his office.
Jessica Keller, who had been watching from the sidelines, came forward. Tony glanced at her, then turned to McGee.
"McGee, make a list of all Gibbs enemies."
"Why? We already know that whatever happened to Gibbs was because of the case left on his desk."
"Never assume, McGee. It could be that, or it could be someone who wants him dead because of someone else he put away. We'll also look into the idea of him being on an op he hasn't told us about. It wouldn't be the first time. Look up anyone with a grudge against Gibbs going back a year. If nothing pops, go back two."
"Uh, right." Why hadn't he thought of that? They were so focused on the cold case that was lying conveniently on top of Gibbs desk, they forgot the other possibilities for Gibbs disappearance.
"How can I help, Agent DiNozzo?" Keller asked.
He looked at her. "You know how to use a computer and run a trace?"
"Of course, I am an agent."
"Tony, we already looked into Gibbs cell phone remember?" McGee looked puzzled.
"Anyone check his desk phone?" Tony asked.
They shook their heads. They completely forgot.
"Agent Keller. Dub his desk phone and see if he got any calls late last night or early this morning. Anything jumps out at you, let me know."
She nodded and moved to sit at the desk at the end. She pulled up the computer and got to work.
Tony looked at the people around him. This team was all he had, even if they didn't want him around. He could live with their hate. He couldn't live with it if they were taken from him. Gibbs was a part of that. His mind was going crazy over the different scenarios that could have played out to get them where they were now. Gibbs could be unconscious. He could be hurt and alone. He could be being tortured or he could be dead. Taking Gibbs from him was bad enough, Gibbs was a huge part of his life, but taking him away from this team was far worse. They needed Gibbs. He would do whatever he needed to, to bring back their smiles. Finding Gibbs was his only priority, not just for himself, but for them. He couldn't and wouldn't let them down.
He started going over all the evidence in his head. Something that was said before didn't fit, he just couldn't remember what it was. In the middle of his thought, he heard the elevator ding. He looked at his watch and grinned.
Without looking up from the file in his hand, "You're late, Fornell."
Tobias Fornell smiled at Tony with that crooked, knowing grin.
Tony stood and leaned forward on his knuckles, "You want to tell me why you were the last person to call Gibbs' cell phone? You recruiting Gibbs for another one of your undercover stings?"
Fornell didn't say a word.
"Where is he Fornell?" Tony, just barely containing his rage, leaned forward a bit further, bringing him nose to nose with Tobias, "Where the hell is Gibbs?"