Disclaimer: Do not own anything except the harebrained schemes for this plot.

AN: Not a lot of Alex in here, but the chapter is needed to fill in some of the blanks in this story.


And please leave a review! Maybe I'll put up the next chapter today rather than tomorrow!

Chapter 10 (already!): Gone. (~2,035 words)

Alex went up to the roof. She avoided the picture in the message and scrolled down.

'We will kidnap lover boy next. It's you or him. Decide.'

She dialed a number. "I need information on those three other assassinations," she heard herself say in a cold, detached voice.

After clearing a few formalities, the person on the other line answered her questions as satisfactorily as she could.

"Thank you," Alex said politely.

She knew where they were and how to contact them now.

Before hiding the phone, she sent one last message. Then she got into position.

Sorry, Chris.

"She didn't care how much it would cost her. She went ahead with her plan anyway when she heard you being tortured," Wolf added thoughtfully.

He glared at the thick file in Ziva's hands as if he wanted to incinerate it.

"Eagle is just like her underneath all of that childish behavior. I'm worried what will happen if either of them gets hurt. In Germany... When he heard her scream - her leg was broken by Ben's captor in a fight - he threw all caution out of the window."

The door was more forcefully pushed open than absolutely necessary by Eagle.

His eyes had darkened and gave nothing away but hatred. His whole body was tense, hands clenched into fists so hard that the knuckles whitened.

In other words: he was furious. He glared at them all, making even Ziva shudder, but not really seeing them.

Then he opened his mouth, for only three words.

Three words they never wanted to hear and that expressed all his pent-up rage, desperation and hurt.

"They have her."

Everyone stared at him. Ben paled in anger. She had done it again! Alex had to have found out where they held Sabina.

Wolf ground his teeth together, assessing Eagle. If there would have been a fight, their weapons specialist wouldn't be unharmed. He most likely wouldn't be conscious or even here to alarm them.

"I took the stairs and she took the elevator. I thought she wanted a bit space, but this stubborn idiotic girl had to get herself kidnapped!", Eagle's voice grew hoarse and raw, as if he desperately tried to hold on to his rage.

"Where was she going?"

"The roof. They came with a small helicopter, just big enough to land shortly on top without anyone noticing. I saw them take off, but it was too late."

A few choice curse words came out of K-Unit's mouths.

"What the hell was she thinking?", Ben shouted. "Can you show me the roof? She wouldn't take off without leaving something behind for us to find if we look hard enough. She had to have known somehow that they were coming. Alex is stubborn but not stupid."

Eagle led the way to the roof.

Everyone was looking hard for something out of the ordinary.

Ziva found what she left behind for them to find - her phone.

It was locked.

Eagle took the phone and typed something in. After the second try he got the password right.

He stared at the display, shaking his head.

"They f******* blackmailed her! Sh**!"

Eagle combed a hand through his hair, understanding her actions now.

He would have done the same, in her position.

That meant he couldn't be this angry with her anymore. Closing his eyes for a second, to reign in his emotions again, Eagle focused on her smile from last night.

"I swear if she gets herself murdered this time, I'm going to kill her.", he muttered.

Only Ziva heard.

"What did you find?", Ben wanted to know.

"They sent her an ultimatum of sorts. If she wasn't going to meet them, they said, I was the next on their docket list.", Eagle explained, his heart breaking.

Anger. Stay angry.

Don't cry.

Don't cry.

Don't cry.

He opened his eyes again to find everyone was looking at him strangely.

"Show me the message?", Ziva reached one hand out.

"What exactly did they write?", Gibbs asked.

"Who did she call last?", Ben demanded.

"It says: 'We will kidnap lover boy next. It's you or him. Decide.'", Ziva read out loud.

Eagle kicked himself mentally to keep himself in check. A breakdown wouldn't help her now. He could still rant if she was back home safe.

Not if - when, he corrected himself.

"Okay. We really need to call Taipan now.", Snake said. "He'll want to know about this."

"What exactly did she tell you last night? They must have heard everything.", Ben argued.

Eagle stared into space, not really seeing anything. He thought about the situation. Ben wasn't exactly the person he wanted to tell what happened last night. If it helped to bring her back safely and soon, he was willing to talk though, to hell with the consequences for him.

"She dragged me in her room, like you saw. Then she made one of her sarcastic remarks, before telling me what Mrs. Jones told her. She... They are not bound by old Scorpia treaties, Ben."

Ben inhaled sharply, the only emotion he allowed himself to show on the surface.

"Was there a treaty about her?", Ziva wondered.

"Yes. They would refrain from killing her if she wasn't on a mission and getting in their way and SO were keeping quiet about who disbanded them.", the spy said, suppressing a groan. "Was that why you blew up?"

"I do. I don't want to have more people killed. That marine was the fourth victim. I need to help."

"No, you don't.", he deadpanned. "Look, I understand if you are sent on missions and come back hurt. I hate it, but I can. I would be hypocritical if not. However, you haven't had a decent time off since three years ago. Let somebody else do this job. Please, Alex."

"No. She said she needed to help. I didn't agree and she accused me of being an insensitive, uncaring jerk. That's when I exploded."

Wolf and Ben exchanged a look. They had heard most of what Eagle had practically shouted.

"We heard most of that. What did she say?"

"No! I freaking care about you! Damn it! I would rather the freaking world ended than know you'll get hurt or killed! For God's sake! I would die happily if you wouldn't get hurt!", he exploded.

"Why would you do that?", the teen whispered. For me?

"Because you are damn worth it! You always act like you're not, but you are. Alex, you are a reckless, selfless temptress, not a monster. You are worth every single idiotic remark, tease and threat I have to endure. To me, you are perfectly worth it.", he said exasperated, angry with himself, MI6, the world. Then he added in a low, hoarse voice: "Because I love you."

Alex stared at him, unable to comprehend his words.

"I love you. I don't freaking care that you were a boy in the past. All that counts is the present. And right now you are a stunningly beautiful, highly intelligent woman. A young woman, but nonetheless, you are one. When we thought you were shot by Walker, my damn heart stopped, because I cared for you already then! When you come back from missions beat up, bruised and broken, all I care is that you are still breathing. That you'll heal at some point. That you are freaking alive. I may want to beat the sh** out of the idiots who injured and probably nearly killed you, but it's not my main concern. That's you."

"She asked me how I could...care for her. Underneath all that tough, bad-ass spy, Alex thinks she isn't worthy to be loved.", his voice was about to crack. "I told her what kind of bull that is."

He had told her he loved her and Wolf and Ben knew it.

"What did she say after that? It was too low for us to understand.", Ben pressed on.

"I love you too.", Alex whispered quietly.

The soldier almost didn't catch her words. Almost.

He turned back around, astonished that she said those four words.

"I love you too. And your craziness. Even if you call me princess.", she cracked a half-smile. "It kind of grows on you after a while."

Eagle closed his eyes, his control slipping.

Don't cry. Don't cry. Don't cry.

He slid down, sitting with the back against the wall, supporting him to stay upright.

The memories were crashing in on him.

They crumbled his anger and filled him with an ocean of sadness, pain and fear for her. He tried to keep at least his fa├žade of controlled emotions, as he gathered himself enough to be able to speak.

If they heard everything, Alex was doomed.

They all were.

"I know that you are curious and you want to know what happens on my missions, but you never press me for answers if you notice that I would rather not talk about crap like that. At least right then. The others don't give you enough credit for your observation skills or consideration. I also know that you are always there if I need you. Even at two in the morning. I know that you want to shield me from pain, but, birdbrain, if I wouldn't do it, someone else, some other unfortunate kid, will. I can't let that happen," she explained fiercely, but sad as well.

"That's why I went back in the first place. If I survive long enough to be someone at '6, I can stop them from using minors. Because I care about that as well. And I don't want those NCIS agents to get hurt unnecessarily so I'll try and help them out a little. I don't want what happened to me happen to anyone else. I have the knowledge, the strength and permission to help these agents out. In the future, maybe I'll need their help. One hand washes the next and all that. So, will you support me?"

Gibbs felt for the soldier. He had bad luck with his women, actually the last two. At least he was spared the awkward, embarrassing situation that poor guy found himself in. Having to lay down his soul like that to the father of the girl he loved... Gibbs didn't want to change with him.

McGee pitied him obviously, thinking it was bad enough to know a regular bad guy had kidnapped the woman you love. To know she had been abducted by the worst kind of people... He had to be desperate.

"Alex told me why she keeps going. Why she came back. What she wants to do if she gets the chance to survive until she's old enough," the soldier whispered, his eyes closed. A tear ran down his cheek.

Ben paled. "She finally opened up to you?" Of all the times she could have chosen...

"Yes. She wanted me to understand her reasoning. Alex...reminded me what Blunt did four years ago. If given the chance, she wants to stop them from employing another minor. She said, she would not have anyone else live through what she...", Eagle ran a hand through his hair and buried his face in his crouched legs, shaking his head slightly.

This perfect picture of hopelessness told Gibbs everything he needed to know.

"If they know the how's and why's, they will use it against her. Right?", Tony, uncharacteristically serious, summarized.

"Yes. And then we're doomed.", Snake whispered. He went to sit next to his comrade. Pulling him in for a hug, like one would a child, the medic looked at Ben. "Taipan may be our last hope. We need to find her ASAP. They won't be nice to her and frankly, I don't want to picture what they will do to Sabina just to spite Alex more."