Where the Teddybears Have Their Picnic
Rated: T for violence
Summary: Tony goes missing for over a month. When the team finds him, he's not the man they knew...
Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS or its characters. I just like to play with them...probably at an unhealthy level.
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It's been thirty three days since Special Agent Anthony Dinozzo Jr. went missing. His team leader, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, swiped a hand over his tired eyes, forcing himself to look away from his screen at his desk if only for a few moments.
It was dark out. Three in the morning, to be exact. He was the only one in the building aside from security. He'd ordered the rest of the team home an hour ago, including Abby. They'd all been tirelessly working to find their missing friend since the beginning. But it seemed the harder they looked, the further away from finding him seemed a real possibility.
Gibbs' eyes found their way to Tony's desk. For the most part, it looked the way the senior field agent had left it that day before he'd disappeared. McGee and Ziva had both, on separate occasions, searched it for any signs or clues that might assist them in figuring out just what had happened to him. But they took special care to leave it as they'd found it. It might have been for the soul reason that it somehow provided them some sense of comfort; the notion that he'd be returning...
This, of course, was a couple of weeks before they'd received a devastating package addressed to Gibbs. It contained hair, blood and urine samples, along with a short, typed letter. Abigail Scuito, their forensic scientist and one of Tony's closest friends, confirmed that the samples all came from Tony, and all very recently. The note and the package everything came in, had no traces of DNA or prints. No forensic evidence to be found. Nothing to lead them any closer to where Tony was or who had him. It was simply a bragging right, the note saying nothing more than that they wouldn't find him; not until it was finished.
What the kidnapper meant by that, they could only assume. It'd been another two weeks since they'd gotten that package. There'd been no more. No demands. Nothing...
Gibbs stood from his desk and made his way over to Tony's, carefully sitting down in the agent's chair as his eyes scanned over the contents of the desktop. He hadn't done this before; not since Tony had disappeared. Part of him felt like he was giving in to the inevitable by doing so. But he couldn't bring himself to go through the agent's desk; not even with Vance breathing down his neck about finding a replacement. No way in hell...
Gibbs closed his eyes, trying to will the ache behind his eyes away, and he thought about the last day he'd seen his agent...
33 days ago...
"DiNozzo!" Gibbs barked as he rounded the corner into the bullpen.
"What do ya got?"
"Uh...I haven't actually been able to get ahold of Simons, Boss. He's not answering any of his phones. And I'm still waiting on that analysis from Abby."
"Boss, I did manage to get the warrant for his house, though," McGee interjected.
Gibbs glanced at the younger agent then back to Tony, "Good, McGee. You're with me. Ziva, you too," he said as he made his way toward the elevator.
"Boss?" Tony called out. "What about me?"
"Go get your analysis from Abby, then meet us out at the Simons' place," he called back, nonchalantly. The elevator doors closed as Tony gave a disappointed yet resigned sigh.
"What, exactly, did you do to piss Gibbs off, Tony?" McGee queried as they searched the basement of the Simons home.
"That's just it, McGoo! I didn't do anything!" Tony whispered loudly in an aggravated tone.
"Perhaps that is why, then," Ziva smirked. "You did nothing."
Tony glared at her for a moment, but his retort was cut short when Gibbs appeared on the staircase. "Ziva," he motioned for her to come upstairs with him. She sent a smirk in Tony's direction and followed Gibbs up the steps. "Simons wants to give a confession," he told her. "Apparently there's something to find in this house and he wants it to look better that he confesses before being found out."
"You want me to take his statement," she surmised. He nodded. "Gibbs, what are you upset with Tony about?" she asked.
"What makes you think I'm upset with him?" he queried, seriously interested to understand the overheard conversation he'd heard from the stairs moments earlier.
"Because you seem to be..."
"Well, I'm not," he furrowed his brow. "A jogger knocked my coffee outta my hand on the way in this morning. Haven't had a chance to refill."
"And you are taking this out on Tony, but not the rest of us?" she raised an inquisitive brow.
Gibbs narrowed his eyes, "You want to be added to that list, Agent David?" She shook her head and furrowed her brow. Gibbs' expression softened, however. "I'll buy 'im a beer later; make it up to him. Happy?"
She smirked, "He will be."
Gibbs was pulled from his thoughts when the elevator sounded with a ding. He looked up to see Abby in over-sized flannel pajamas and a trench coat as she headed purposefully toward the bullpen. As she got closer, he could tell she'd been crying.
"Abby, what are you doin' here? What's wrong?" he said as he stood and made his way around the desk.
"I went home like you told me, Gibbs. And I had some decaffeinated tea and took a long hot shower and went straight to bed," she explained as she slowly paced up and down the middle of the bullpen. "But then I had this horrible dream," her voice cracked. "And I couldn't go back to sleep, Gibbs. I couldn't bear to have that dream again and I couldn't stay home and think about how this nightmare could very well come true. I had to come back to work, Gibbs. I have to keep working. I have to find Tony..."
"Abs," he stopped her by grabbing her arms with both hands and she stopped in front of him and looked him in the eyes. But what could he tell her? To stop? Not to worry about it? To go back home and try to get back to sleep? How could he possibly expect her to do all the things he refused to do himself? "Oh, Gibbs," she cried and fell into his chest. "We have to find him... He can't be dead... He can't be like I saw him in my nightmare. Please tell me he's not dead, Gibbs!"
"He's not dead, Abby," he said in barely a whisper as he held her. He knew this, only because the kidnapper said they wouldn't find him until it was finished. He could only assume that had meant they'd find him if he were dead. They would've found him...right?
33 days ago...
"You really should have mentioned the invitation for a beer before we left him to drive back alone," Ziva smirked to Gibbs as they headed back toward NCIS.
"I think you underestimate DiNozzo's ability to tolerate my moods," he retorted with an amused smirk. "Sometimes a beer is all the sweeter if it's been a long time comin'."
Ziva scrunched her brow in confusion, "Beer is not supposed to be sweet, is it? It is bitter, no?" she turned her head to look back at McGee who was now smiling. Even Simons, who sat calmly beside him in cuffs, seemed to be a bit amused.
Gibbs' cell rang and he fished it out of his pocket. "Yeah. Gibbs."
"Hey, Boss," DiNozzo's voice sounded on the other line, in a somewhat monotone manner. "I might be a while longer getting back."
"Why is that, DiNozzo?"
"My lucky day just got luckier. Flat tire."
"You got a spare?"
"Yeah. Getting ready to change it, now."
"Well, hurry it up, Tony. I'd like to wrap up this case before the workday is out." He ended the call with that and put his phone back in his pocket.
"Tony got a flat?" McGee asked.
"He really is a magnet for negativity today," Ziva commented...
One hour later...
"Where the hell is DiNozzo?" Gibbs growled as he reentered the bullpen. "He ever make it back here?"
"I don't think so, Boss," Tim said from his desk.
Gibbs narrowed his eyes with a flash of concern and pulled out his phone to see if he'd missed any calls. Seeing none, he dialed Tony's number. Ziva and McGee watched him with an equal level of concern and curiosity. "He's not pickin' up," Gibbs said. "McGee, see if you can locate his GPS."
"On it," he replied as he quickly typed into his computer. Impatiently, Gibbs rounded the desk so he could lean over Tim's shoulder as he worked. "Looks like uh...he's about a mile from Simons home on Main Street. 30 meters from the road..." he looked up at Gibbs. "That's in the wooded area, Boss," his face washed with concern.
"Let's go," Gibbs said, storming back to his desk to grab his badge and gun. Ziva and McGee scrambled toward the elevator after retrieving their own...
Gibbs pulled the car to a screeching halt behind Tony's abandoned car. The rear driver side tire was, indeed, flat. The three agents quickly exited the Charger and went to work. "Keys are still in the ignition, Boss," McGee said.
"His pack is still in the car. Front seat on the floor," Ziva told him. Gibbs was busy dialing Tony's number and motioned for them to follow him into the wooded area on the side of the road. They followed; guns cautiously drawn, and possible scenarios playing in their heads as they listened for Tony's ringer. Tony could have been attacked or mugged, possibly having gone into the woods to relieve himself before changing the tire. He could've been caught off guard, hit in the head and been left to bleed to death, for all they knew.
Gibbs followed the ringer sound, scanning the ground for a body. But when they finally did come across the phone, there was nothing but that. No blood; no trail; no indication of anyone having been there. Nothing...
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