It was their turn to sit phone-duty this past weekend on the NCIS hotline and they had actually found a legitimate lead. The lead turned into a case about a semi-delusional Navy scientist using young petty officers as his guinea pigs. There had been no evidence discovered yet as to what the scientist was actually testing, though it did seem evident that the substance could result in fatal consequences for the testing subject.
Gibbs was beyond annoyed, mainstreaming black coffee like water, and the rest of the team was equally frustrated. Abby couldn't identify the isotopes and compounds that would create a substance of this caliber and cause these effects. Ducky was unable to find any lasting remnants of the drug in the two cadavers and there were no other obvious signs of death. Tony and Ziva had gone through every investigative technique in the book and still couldn't catch a break. McGee had hacked into more internet sites and web browsers than he cared to say. But no matter what they did, the baseline remained the same, nothing.
This all changed however when another tip came in. A different team was now fielding call-ins but they forwarded the message to Gibbs' team when they learned that the information related to the case that his team was currently working. If it had been any other time, then maybe Gibbs would have questioned this anonymous caller and tried to gain more of a background history on them before rushing in blind. However, this time they were desperate and running on less sleep between the four of them over three days than a normal person would have in one night.
If only they would have investigated a little more and gone that extra mile to uncover the caller's true reason for giving them a tip. Because if they had done that, then they would have found the truth and all of this could have been avoided.
"Tony, Ziva," Gibbs ordered, "Go through the back, McGee and I will stay out here if you need back up or someone tries to sneak in behind you. We'll follow in fifteen if neither of you come out."
Tony and Ziva nodded before skirting around the brick building towards the back entrance, sticking to the shadows to avoid being noticed by any of the building's possible occupants. Tony silently counted to three with his fingers before they simultaneously kicked in the back door and rushed in. They scanned the place before deciding that it was all clear and lowered their weapons.
The two-story building was broken up into a lab downstairs and a small one-bedroom apartment upstairs. Both levels looked as though they hadn't been cleaned since the Stone Age. The lab was equipped with scientific instruments and testing tables along with an eyewash station.
"Anything unusual?" Tony asked as he flipped over a thick notebook lying on a lab table. The entire contents were transcribed in Latin.
"No," Ziva answered while opening and closing cabinets. "Though he does seem to favor the Frankenstein motif."
"Movie reference, nice," Tony commented. "You wouldn't happen to read Latin would you, Ziva?"
"It was a book first, Tony," She replied, walking over to where he was standing, "And that is not Latin."
"I do not know," She answered, speeding up the carpeted steps that led to the apartment level. She hopped down them a few minutes later.
"Everything appears fine upstairs, no blood splatter or apparent signs of a struggle," Ziva said.
"Guess this isn't our crime sce-" Tony started, but was interrupted when a hazy orange gas permeated the air of the lab and talking sudden became quite difficult.
As their bodies slumped towards the tiled floor, Ziva aimed her SIG but found nothing to fire at. Their eyelids slowly sagged closed and their bodies were rendered unconscious.
When they finally came to, they found themselves in adjacent hospital beds at Bethesda Naval. An IV was stuck in both Tony and Ziva's arms, administering low dose medication. The small hospital room TV played ZNN quietly in the background. McGee was sitting between their two beds, typing away on an HP Laptop.
"Mmmm…Probie," Tony groaned, "How long have we been out?"
"Two and a half, maybe three," McGee replied.
"Hours?" Ziva asked hopefully.
"Days," McGee corrected.
"Gibbs is gonna kill us," Tony complained.
"Only if you stay in bed any longer, DiNozzo," Gibbs said, striding in through the glass sliding door.
"We were exposed to a chemical compound. Why are we not in quarantine?" Ziva asked.
"Well you were, at first. Your guys' tox reports came back yesterday and your blood's clean," McGee answered.
"Clean blood doesn't get you your own hospital suite, McDoctor," Tony refuted.
At this moment, an actual doctor decided to enter the pristinely white hospital room where the two agents were being housed.
"Tony, great to see you again, though not particularly under these circumstances," Dr. Pitt said.
"Brad," Tony acknowledged.
"And you must be the lovely Ziva," Dr. Pitt said, reaching out his hand to shake her own.
"Thank you, Doctor…" Ziva trailed off.
"Pitt," He finished for her.
"Isn't that…" She started.
"We're not related," He said, "Well, down to business, you have both been issued a clean bill of health and are free to go."
"Thanks, Doc." Tony smiled.
The three of them exited the room, leaving Ziva and Tony to lay their in silence.
"Wanna play a game, Ziva?" Tony asked.
"Are you hyped up on morphine again, Tony?" She said in response.
He thought for a second, "No, because then you would be too since they're pumping the same drugs into both of us."
"Ditch the game. Let's just get dressed and get out of here so I can go home and shower," She said.
"Or, you know, we could share a shower," Tony suggested.
Ziva chucked her pillow at him and it smacked him in the face. He grunted and threw it back at her.
The next morning at HQ, Gibbs sipped his coffee in the squad room while McGee was down in the Abby's lab trying to crack another level of encryption on a laptop to help with the investigation. Time ticked by while they agonized over the difficult, insolvable case. It was now 1200 and neither Ziva nor Tony had chosen to grace the rest of the team with their presence yet. At first, Gibbs had given them leeway since they were hospitalized yesterday, but now it was borderline ridiculous. Gibbs had never known Ziva to show up for work after 0700 and even Tony didn't usually go past 0900 without calling ahead first to deliver some lame excuse. So either they were both framed for murder by Iranian terrorists or something was off.
A few minutes later, Gibbs decided to give up on finding the two AWOL agents and went to see Abby, bringing her morning Caf-Pow down to the lab with him.
The elevator dinged as it reached its destination and Gibbs stepped off, heading towards Labby as Abby had christened it.
"Whatcha got Abbs?" He asked, placing the plastic Caf-Pow container down with a thud.
McGee made no sign of acknowledgement and went right on with his only semi-legal computer hacking and code-decryption.
"Well, Gibbs, in a word: nothing."
She proceeded to explain that while some forensic evidence had been found it didn't lead anywhere and whatever this substance was it left no trace whatsoever on any surface.
Tony and Ziva met up with each other in the elevator leading to the squad room.
"You're in late," Tony commented, leaning against the back wall of the elevator.
"So are you," Ziva replied.
"Yeah, but I'm normally in later than you anyway. What are you, five hours late according to Ziva-Time?"
Ziva glared in response.
"Hot date last night?" He asked jokingly.
"If you must know Tony, I was sleeping. Not that I've ever slept that long in my life. It must have been over thirteen hours and I slept through my alarm multiple times."
"Yeah, same here," He said dejectedly.
"Let us just go and continue our investi-" Ziva was interrupted by her cell vibrating in her jeans back pocket. She yanked the HTC phone out and checked the new text message.
All down in my Lab. Try 2 get here ASAP. Gibbs really annoyed –Abby
Ziva punched the floor number that would take them down to Abby's Lab and Tony understood instantaneously what the text had said. Ziva quickly texted back a response that they would be they were in the building and would be there in a couple minutes.
"He's going to be so pissed. We broke rule #3," Tony stated.
"Never be unreachable," Ziva finished.
"I must've flipped my phone to silent or something last night cause now I have like twenty-something missed calls from Abby, Gibbs, McGee, and Ducky even tried me once," Tony remarked.
"Same," Ziva agreed.
"Let's go give 'em some peace of mind that we're not dead yet," Tony said as the elevator stopped on their floor.
"I bet that's them now," Abby guessed as she heard footsteps approaching from the elevator.
"They better have a damn good reason for being late," Gibbs muttered under his breath.
McGee turned away from his computer and the latest search algorithm that he'd been inputting. He was really hoping that their punishment for late arrival involved something mortifying happening to Tony.
But instead of two highly-trained NCIS agents standing in the doorway, there were two adolescents, around the ages of fourteen or fifteen.
"Who the hell are you two and how did you get past security?" Gibbs demanded angrily.
"It's us, Boss," the male teenager said.