Chapter 2

Between Jimmy trying to get free from the restrains and Ziva pulling against his attempts, the two of them finally managed to loosen the rope and get out of it. Jimmy was ecstatic about his success but Ziva suspected that it was still the drug he had taken the night before or sometime in the morning that was still working in his system. She knew that those two attractive blondes hadn't meant anything good when they started to chat up the unsuspecting boy in the bar. Well, at least it didn't mean anything good for her seeing that she was the one stuck with him.

"What are you doing, Palmer?" she asked with a sigh while Jimmy was enthusiastically feeling around the walls of the basement.

"I'm looking for an exit. Don't worry, Ziva. I told you I'd get you out of her." At that she couldn't do anything but nod, rubbing her sore wrists. Slowly she took in her surroundings, noting that they must have been taken down to the basement of their victim's house, and decided that she couldn't possibly do anything until she didn't know how many of their abductors there were. She was about to tell Jimmy that they should wait for their abductor or abductors to check on them before deciding on any course of action when a loud shattering of glass could be heard. When she snapped around to look at Jimmy, she found him standing under the now open window of the basement with a huge grin on his face.

That was not good… not good at all.

And right on cue the basement door burst open.

"Do not say a word," Ziva warned Jimmy, stepping in front of him, before she turned and came face to face with their abductor. He was a young man but extremely well-built and Ziva suspected that she wouldn't necessary have the upper hand if it came to hand-to-hand fight. So she opted for keeping him engaged until the others, who were undoubtedly standing outside the house, made their move.

"What the hell," the boy cried angrily and jerked Ziva away from Jimmy.

"Don't touch her, you scumbag!" Jimmy protested but he was effectively shut up when the boy crowded his personal space with a menacing look. "I mean… please, don't be so rude with the lady…" He stammered but the boy didn't look impressed.

"All right, just calm down," Ziva eyed the boy's gun warily. She just hoped that Jimmy knew how to play this. If he kept antagonizing the boy with his bravado fueled by whatever drug he had taken, they'd be in big trouble. "Tell us what you want. Maybe we can work something out. With keeping us here, you are just making things worse… let us help you. No need for more people to get injured. There is othe…"

"Shut. The. Hell. Up," he shouted as he slung his arm holding the gun whose butt contacted with Ziva's chin with a sickening sound. Ziva fell to the floor, holding her chin and watched on in horror as Jimmy jumped the boy, who effortlessly pushed him away and he fell against the hard wall. He slumped to the ground unconscious. Ziva didn't have the time to react in any way because she was immediately pulled to her feet by her hair. "And now about that offer… you're going to help me get me out of here," he snarled into her bruised face as he pushed her toward the stairs.

Gibbs cursed the early afternoon traffic as he navigated towards Alexandria. Picking up Abby and McGee took longer than he had anticipated and now – after sending Abby back to Quantico with an officer and successfully chastising both Tony and McGee – he wanted to get to the crime scene as fast as possible. He felt bad about leaving Ziva on her own for this long. He assumed that Palmer had already taken the corpse back to the Navy Yard and all that had been left to do was to help Ziva pack up, make a quick round in the house then go back to do the usual check-ups.

He was sorely mistaken.

"What the hell's going on here?" Gibbs asked the first person that came his way when he had exited the car.

"Agent Gibbs?" The man in the grey suit asked. "I'm Detective Monroe."

"What the hell are you doing at my crime scene?" He ignored the detective outstretched hand.

"Well, now it's my crime scene."

"Why is that exactly?" Tony asked while Gibbs ignored the detective and walked closer to the house with a sinking feeling. Something was very wrong.

"It's because the suspect shot two of my cops."

"Do you have him in custody?" McGee asked.

"No. He's still in there."

"The suspect is still in the house?" McGee asked incredulously – it wasn't lost on any of the NCIS agents that neither Ziva nor Palmer could be seen anywhere – and watched stunned as in a matter of a second Gibbs had the detective pressed against a nearby car.

"You have two of my people in that damn house with a murderer and you waltz in taking over my case without giving me a damn call."

"Agent Gibbs…"

"Don't Agent-Gibbs me, you son of a bitch. That is a Navy officer's body in there and those are my people in there… and this… this is my crime scene. Am I clear?"

"Yes," Detective Monroe nodded then Gibbs let him go. Just when the detective was about to call to his people to pack up and let NCIS handle the case, the front door of the house opened and the suspect appeared in it with Ziva held against the front of him as a human shield. Immediately every police officer and agent pulled their guns at took cover.

"You know that kid?" Gibbs asked in full agent-mode without taking his eyes off of Ziva and ignoring the pang of his heart as he saw her bruised face.

"Edwin Tully," Detective Monroe supplied. "He's twenty-three. He does the odd jobs around the house for Captain Lewis. He lost his father when he was only a child. Her mother died a couple of months ago. His record is clean."

"Boss?" Tony looked at him worried. "What we're gonna do?"

"Edwin Tully, put down the gun and let Officer David go!" Gibbs shouted, ignoring Tony's question. It was clear what they were going to do: they would get Ziva away from the boy no matter what.

"Don't do this, kid," Tony warned him when the boy didn't move except for tightening his grip on Ziva.

"Let me go and I'll let her go."

"And where do you plan on going?" Gibbs asked. "You killed a Navy officer. Can't just walk away."

"Yes, I can. If I have to, I'll take your friend with me. You won't shoot till there's a chance you hit her."

"Do not be stupid," Ziva hissed then gasped when the boy jerked her.

"Shut up!" he practically yelled, though Ziva was completely pressed up against him. "I'm not stupid. I AM NOT STUPID! Captain Lewis always believed that and I just couldn't prove myself to him."

"That's why you killed him?"

"I wanted to be like him." He pressed his face against Ziva's hair. "I thought when I tell him that I want to join the Navy, he'd finally believe me. But you know what he did? He laughed at me. He laughed into my face and told me that I'm too stupid even to know which end of the gun to hold. Guess he was wrong, huh?" Ziva couldn't help the shiver that ran down her spine when she heard the maniac laughter that broke out of the boy. She quickly collected herself, though.

"If you are really that smart, Edwin, you know that the moment you make a move with me, you are a dead man."

"They won't risk hitting you."

"They will not hit me, believe me."

After a disbelieving snort, Edwin called out to the cops and agents, "So what will it be?"

Ziva locked eyes with Gibbs and for that few moments everything else disappeared. From behind the dull thumping of her head, the only thing she was concentrating on was his blue eyes that bore into her brown ones. He was scared, she could tell but she knew that even hung-over, he was the best shot among all of them. So she gave him a hardly perceptible nod…

Ziva sighed contentedly as she sank deeper into the warm afghan that she was currently wrapped up in and a smile appeared on her face when the two strong arms encircling her tightened around her.

"You alright?" Gibbs asked nuzzling her neck with his nose.

After the events of the day, they were finally home snuggled up on the couch in the living room. Jimmy had been sent home from the hospital with a mild concussion but finally lucid. Tony had driven a half-sleeping McGee home mostly because he couldn't pass up an opportunity to torment his friend and Abby snuggled up with Bert in her lab as soon as she heard that the situation had been taken care of and everybody was all right. Well, except for Edwin Tully, who had been taken to the morgue with a bullet in his head.

"I am happy to be home. This was not how I planned on spending my Sunday."

"Tell me about that."

They settled into a companionable silence but then Ziva sat up and turned in his arms, her eyes shining with curiosity.

"What did you tell the Director that he gave us some days off instead of making us write reports for the rest of the month?"

"The truth," Gibbs shrugged. "I told him that we came in hung-over as hell while Palmer was still high from last night. Then I told him that I had to pick up Abby and McGee from jail because they'd been caught vandalizing public property."

"And he told you that it was all right and we can stay home?" Ziva asked incredulously.

"No." He put a light kiss on her lips then he continued in a matter-of-fact tone. "He said he needed an Aspirin. I told him I couldn't help 'cause I'd taken all I had… you know… because of the hangover. He told me to get out of his sight and that he didn't want to see me – or any of you, for that matter – for a while."

"You are unbelievable," Ziva chuckled and settled back against him. After a short silence, she spoke up again. "Thank you," she said in a more serious tone.

"For what?"Gibbs raised an eyebrow.

"For saving my life," she told him and a loving smile appeared on Gibbs' face.

"Always, Ziver," he kissed her hair. "Always."