Tony wasn't moving anymore. His head was hanging forward, lolling on his chest. Blood had started soaking into his shirt and though Ziva couldn't see where it was coming from, she knew from his shaky breath and gray pallor that it wasn't good.

"Tony," Ziva said, wishing that she could reach her friend and once again cursing the handcuffs that kept her hands connected to the heater in the small room. At least the huge desk that took up a good portion of the room wasn't blocking her view of her partner.

She wasn't sure where they'd been taken, only that she and Tony had been ambushed by at least six men when they'd gone to pick up a suspect. It seemed as though they were still in D.C., though probably in a bad part of town; she'd heard a few trains rumble by and a car every once in a while. The building they were in seemed to be an old office building with crumbling ceilings and stained floors and ancient desks. There were also rickety old chairs- such as the one that DiNozzo was currently slumped in.

"Tony!" Ziva said, louder this time. The men had seemingly abandoned them after beating Tony senseless, and Ziva estimated that it had been a good three hours since they'd last been in to taunt her. She grit her teeth in anger. She hated American men who thought they were the coolest thing since chopped bread. Cut bread? Scratched bread? Whatever. And the men who had attacked them were definitely that.

Tony had said they were thugs working for one of the bigger druglords in D.C., and they seemed just like the gangsters she had seen in movies, all glittery jewelry and bravado and huge guns shoved down the crotch of their pants. If it hadn't been for their number and advantage of surprise, Ziva alone would have been able to take them. As it was, they'd attacked suddenly and surprisingly effectively, pistol-whipping Ziva fairly quickly. Tony had cried out in pain as Ziva had sunk slowly to the floor, blinking hazily. She suspected now that he may have been knifed.

Whatever it was that had happened, Tony needed help, and he needed it fast.

"Tony! If you do not wake your hairy little butt now, then you are going to be very sorry that you ever met me, do you understand?"

DiNozzo remained still. Ziva watched a trickle of blood roll from his nose to join the other splotches on his shirt.

"I know many ways to kill you that you cannot even imagine," Ziva continued, wishing that she couldn't feel her heart pounding in something that felt horribly like fear. "And they are all long and painful."


"Tony, please," ZIva said finally, allowing her panic and fear to seep into her plea.

Tony stirred slightly, a weak moan coming from the back of his throat. He mumbled something that may have been Ziva, or may have been brassiere. Ziva suspected that he had a concussion. Come to think of it, she probably had one too.

"Tony, can you hear me?"

"Nrgh. Yes."

Ziva sighed in relief, tugging ineffectively at the handcuffs.

"Tony. This is important. Do you see anything around you that could be useful?" She prayed silently that he would understand what she was asking. "Can you reach the desk?"

Tony blinked a few times and shook his head as if to clear it.

"Useful like how?" He muttered finally.

"Just tell me what you can see."

DiNozzo painfully managed to move the chair closer to the desk by jerking his whole body toward it. he groaned slightly each time he moved, and Ziva wished there was another way for her to get them out of this mess.

"Umm. Okay. I see…hell, I can hardly see anything. Okay. A note pad, looks like one of those yellow ones. We could write them a nice note and see if they want to let us go."


"Right. Still looking. Okay, there's a coaster, looks like it's seen better days. Also a few business cards. Maybe we could give them paper cuts?"

Ziva almost said something to rebuke him, but bit her tongue when DiNozzo moaned a bit.

"I'm getting kinda dizzy here," he said breathlessly, and Ziva banged her head against the heater in frustration. She stopped quickly when her head screamed at her in protest.

"Tony, you have to hurry. You need to get to a doctor and I can't get us out –"

"Okay Ziva, I'm trying," Tony said quietly. He probably heard the note of helplessness that Ziva had tried to keep out of her voice. Tony always heard what she didn't want him to.

"Umm, damn it, okay, there's a little thing of paperclips-"

"That is perfect, Tony! Can you reach them?"

"Umm, maybe," Tony said, leaning awkwardly and trying to scoot his head closer to the paperclips. "Almost…got it!"

Even as he reached them, the chair finally tipped and toppled onto its side, sending the paperclips flying. DiNozzo's head made a sickening thud as it contacted the side of the desk on its way to the ground.

"Tony! DiNozzo! Damn it!" Ziva cried. To her surprise, Tony stirred weakly.

"'M here," he mumbled. "Don' need t' yell."

"Tony, can you get a paperclip over here? Come on, you have to do this," she urged, and Tony weakly started nudging a few paperclips toward her with his head. Ziva was glad that he'd knocked so many down, or else there would be little likelihood that he would be able to get any to her.

"Almost, Tony. You're almost there."

Tony grunted in response and managed to wriggle himself a bit further, panting with the effort.

"Okay, I've got it," Ziva said. "Thank you, DiNozzo."

Tony was already unconscious by the time she spoke, and Ziva offered up a small prayer of thanks that he'd managed to push himself enough.

Now to get that paperclip.

It was relatively easy to get her shoes off, pushing against the heel of one shoe with the toe of the other, and the socks followed quickly. Using her bare toes, Ziva managed to grasp a paperclip, and by stretching her neck and head she was able to take it in her mouth fairly easily. From there, it was just a matter of using her teeth to straighten the clip, and then picking the lock on her handcuffs.

Of course, almost the moment she was free was the moment the door opened and one of the gangsters came in. Ziva was on him before he could open his mouth, jamming the straightened paperclip into the jugular vein on the side of his neck. Blood spurted out of the wound, splashing her face and neck, but she was determined and she was furious and she had killed before. She patted the man down and tucked the gun she found in her waistband, sticking a few more paperclips in her pocket just in case, then hurried to Tony's side.

"Tony! Tony, come on," she whispered, hurriedly loosening the knots that held her partner bound. Tony was lax in her grip, his head lolling and his limbs flopping. Ziva grit her teeth and stooped down, heaving her partner's still form over her shoulder. She staggered for a minute and her head exploded with pain at the sudden exertion, but she quickly gained her balance.

There was a man standing at the end of the hallway, and Ziva swore silently under her breath. She eased Tony to the ground, then crept silently towards the man. He had barely started to turn around when she made her move, gripping his chin and head tightly and twisting sharply. The man fell to the floor without a sound. Ziva took his gun, too.

Picking Tony up again was more challenging than the first time, and Ziva made a mental note to try to get away without putting him down again.

That plan went relatively well, minus a few moments of dizziness that almost led to falling, until they reached what appeared to be the lobby of the building, and also the main headquarters of their captors.

There were three men sitting there, lounging around on old ratty chairs, and Ziva could tell instantly that they were all high, and therefore had slower reaction times. Unfortunately for them, Ziva had never had slow reaction times.

She pulled a gun out and fired three shots in quick succession, nailing each man once in the forehead, then tucked it back into her waistband and continued out the building. She felt irrationally proud of herself for having killed the remaining men without dropping Tony.

After that, it was just a matter of stumbling into a broken-down pawn shop and demanding a phone (she got one quickly, whether because of Tony or because of her blood-spattered face and wild eyes she didn't know) and then calling Gibbs and 9-1-1, in that order.

And then, Ziva David allowed herself to sink down to the ground, Tony held protectively in her arms, one gun out beside her and her pocket reassuringly full of paperclips. She was starting to tune out a little bit when Tony stirred and blinked up at her.

"Ziva?" He mumbled.

"Yes," Ziva answered. "We are safe now." Tony looked at her in obvious confusion, bringing up a shaky hand to touch a spot of blood on her face. He squinted at her.

"Did you…kill them…with a p-paperclip?" He gasped. Ziva gave him a lop-sided grin.

"Only one of them."

Tony sank back in her arms, blinking rapidly.

"That," he declared (at least, as much as he could in that weak, breathy voice) "is so badass."

And as Tony fell unconscious again in her arms and the sound of sirens could be heard coming closer, Ziva couldn't help but agree.

Who's the coolest thing since chopped bread now?