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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:45 am 
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Tower of Strength
By EmyPink

Disclaimer: NCIS is not mine.
Rating: FR15
Parings: None
Genres: Angst, Drama, H/C
Warnings: Dark!Fic, torture
Summary: He survived gunshots, stab wounds and even the plague . . . but can he survive one man using him as a pawn for revenge?

A/N Tower of Strength is like nothing I’ve ever written before. This is just an experiment for me. I want to find out how far I can push myself as a writer before I back off and say no, I’m not going there. So please bear with me, I’m not sure how this is going to turn out. Thanks to my beta, Kandon Kuuson, for all his hard work.

Discussion thread here.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:47 am 
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‘If it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge.’ ~ William Shakespeare (The Merchant of Venice)

~*~*~*~

Prologue: Revenge

‘SNAP,’ the sound carried on the air as the twig snapped in two by the darkened foot. The shadowy figure froze and looked around rapidly. It was silent, he sighed in relief. Taking another step forward, he jarred his foot on a solid object. He cursed and looked down. He saw a rough edged log, which was decaying as it laid on the moss-covered ground.

It was hard to see, the figure had no flashlight. The only light came from the round full moon, illumining the trees in an eerie glow. The night was cool. The sky was empty of clouds. It was the perfect night for such a meeting.

He pushed passed an overgrown bush before setting his sights on the run-down old house. The figure walked swiftly towards the house, pausing only to remove his beanie. His dark brown hair tumbled out and fell into his eyes. He pushed the offending strands out of his eyes before he pushed open the door, without knocking.

The figure walked along the hallway. He peered into each room, looking for signs of life. It wasn’t until he came to the final room on the left that he saw the man he was seeking.

Pushing the door open, the figure nodded at the man who was sitting in one of the two chairs.

“Keller,” the seated figure stated. Keller nodded again. “Good, I see you found the place easily enough.”

“Yes.” Conversational skills and bedside manner was not Keller’s strongest point. “McIntyre?”

“Yes, yes, welcome,” McIntyre smiled and gestured with his hands for his companion to be seated. “Welcome to my humble abode.” Unlike Keller, McIntyre was all charm.

Keller didn’t crack a smile. “How much?”

“My dear boy, down to business already?” McIntyre tut-tutted, with an easy smile. “All work and no play . . .”

“I am here on business.” Keller cut McIntyre off with a frown.

“People these days,” McIntyre sighed, “but if that is what you wish. Let’s get on with it.”

“Target?” Keller asked curtly.

“NCIS Special Agent,” McIntyre replied, all traces of a kind man vanishing off his face.

“NCIS?”

“Yes, Naval Criminal . . .” McIntyre started, but Keller hastily cut him off.

“Yes, I know what it is,” he hissed. “I have worked against NCIS before.”

“Then this should be no problem,” McIntyre smiled, but it wasn’t an easy smile like before.

“Nothing is a problem,” Keller said firmly. “Name?”

McIntyre shot Keller a dirty look, his face was etched with hatred. “Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs.”

Keller nodded. “How would you like it done? I charge extra for strangulation, stabbing, bombing, drowning, torture and beating. Shooting is my cheapest method. No fuss, less mess and a lesser chance of being seen.”

“No, no.” McIntyre shook his head. “No, I don’t want just any old method.”

Keller sighed. “What do you want then? Beheading, I’ve done that a few times before. Burying alive? Starvation?”

“No, no, no,” McIntyre repeated, a grin slowly spread across his face. “I want Special Agent Gibbs to suffer.”

“Torture, then.” Keller was getting sick of this man’s games. “On top of the standard price, I charge extra for –”

“No-no,” McIntyre said for the third time. “I do not want Special Agent Gibbs harmed.”

“Then what?” Keller growled exasperatedly.

“I want you to bring me this man?” McIntyre gently handed Keller a 4x6-surveillance photograph.

“A kidnapping?” Keller raised his eyebrows. “Is that all? My expertises greatly outweigh simple kidnappings.”

“Even the kidnapping of Federal Agents?” McIntyre questioned.

“Even kidnapping Federal Agents,” Keller said calmly. “You could have hired someone with a lot less prestige than I.”

“I want the best,” McIntyre stated bluntly, “and from what I’ve heard, you’re the best.”

“You heard correctly, but still . . .”

“You bring me that man and I’ll double your normal rate,” McIntyre suggested. “Plus, I need your expertises once the man is in my custody.”

“Why don’t you just eliminate this Special Agent Gibbs?” Keller asked.

“Because, my friend, that would be no fun,” McIntyre said dangerously. “I need to hit him where it hurts the most.”

“This man?” Keller questioned, and let the photo flutter to the floor.

“Yes, my friend, that man,” McIntyre repeated, looking at the photo resting on the floor. Staring back at McIntyre and Keller was the smiling face of Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:49 am 
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Chapter One: Stranger Danger

“Seriously Tony, is that all you think about?” Ziva rolled her eyes, gesturing to the roses and the box of chocolates sitting on his desk.

Tony smiled suggestively as he rested on top of her desk. “Well, you know. Hot chick, hot date, you know where it leads to.”

Ziva sighed. “And you think these ‘gifts’ will speed things along, yes?”

“You never know,” Tony replied with a smile. “Like I always say . . .” He leant over and whispered something into Ziva’s ear.

“You’re a disgusting pig, Anthony DiNozzo,” Ziva muttered, pulling away from Tony and glaring at him.

“Awww, Zee-vah,” Tony faked whined and then changed his tone to a very fake sounding masculine voice. “You know I aim to please!”

“Aargh.” Ziva flexed her hands in annoyance. “McGee, help me out here.” She looked pointedly at McGee who was trying to hide himself behind his computer, unwilling to get involved.

“Leave me out of this, guys,” he suggested weakly. “I . . . I have a report to finish?

“Report, shemort,” Tony said with a smile. “It’s Friday night, Probie. Live a little . . . go out . . . get laid.” McGee blinked. “No, no, probably you’ll go home and work on that so-called fiction book of yours.”

“It’s not about you guys,” McGee tried.

“Sorry, McGee.” Ziva looked at him almost sympathetically. “But Tony’s right. Your book, it’s very . . . how do you say . . .”

“. . . Totally unrealistic,” Tony offered. “Fake?”

“Nooo . . .” Ziva muttered. “Heavily . . . reliant on poetic permission, yes?”

“Poetic licence, Zee-vah,” Tony corrected.

“Yes, that, poetic licence,” Ziva amended. “You depend on poetic licence.”

McGee briefly closed his eyes before opening them again. “How many times . . .”

“You pretty much admitted, McGeek,” Tony countered, looking thoughtful. “During that case with the loony coffee worker who was killing characters in your book.”

“He wasn’t loony, Tony, mentally disturbed,” McGee corrected.

“If that makes you feel better, go for it,” Tony smiled. “Hey . . . you know what, McAuthor. If you books are based on us –“

“They’re not,” McGee interjected swiftly, but Tony ignored him.

“– We should get some kind of royalties, or commission, or copyright fee,” he finished.

Ziva snorted. “Copyright fee?”

“Yes, I am a uniquely, self-efficient, wonderful, loving, humorous . . . did I mention handsome . . . one-of-a-kind very Special Agent,” he announced to Ziva and McGee who both looked at each other. “There is no one like me.”

“I’d say that’s a very, very good thing,” Ziva emphasised good. “And I think you left off . . . self-centred, egotistical kid whose mind is forever in his pants, yes.”

“He-ey, not always,” Tony defended himself. “There’s other stuff too.”

“Like flashy cars and extensive suits,” Ziva countered.

“And the booze, you don’t forget the booze,” Tony added good-naturedly. “Sex, booze and cars, it’s a male’s mantra.”

Ziva let out an exasperated sigh. “Not all men are like you, Tony. Take McGee for example.”

“Yeah, I’d rather not.” McGee tried to convince Ziva not to go any further. She ignored him.

“McGee is a gentleman,” Ziva continued. “You don’t see him flaunting his sex life around the office. Or talking about male mantra. Or being a chauvinistic idiot.”

“Why, Officer David, I am hurt,” Tony said in a fake hurt voice and dramatically placed his hand over his heart. “You have crushed my very soul!”

Ziva rolled her eyes. “I feel very sorry for the poor, poor girl who actually said yes to you.”

“Who would reject this handsome face?” Tony questioned, framing his face with his hands. “They’d be an idiot.”

“Yeah, an idiot for saying yes,” Ziva muttered.

“You’re both idiots for even talking about DiNozzo’s sex life,” Gibbs said, strolling into the bullpen, shocking the three agents. He whacked Tony and Ziva on the head as he passed.

“Yes, boss, right, boss,” Tony muttered as Ziva smiled. He looked at her. “What are you smiling about, Zee-vah.” Ziva chuckled.

“You finished your reports?” Gibbs barked.

Ziva nodded. “All done, Gibbs.”

“Then why are you still standing here, go.” He nodded towards the elevator.

“Right, see you all on Monday. Shalom,” she farewelled as she picked up her jacket and bag and headed to the elevator.

“McGee?” Gibbs questioned.

“All done now, boss,” McGee replied as he picked up the loose sheets of paper from the printer and handed them to Gibbs. He walked back to his desk and gathered his things. “Night, and . . . err . . . have a good date, Tony.”

“Oh, I will, Probie,” Tony answered and Gibbs just nodded.

“What about you, DiNozzo?” He turned to his remaining agent.

“Err . . .” Tony looked sheepish. “I started . . .”

“Then finish them,” Gibbs ordered.

“But my date . . .” Tony said weakly.

“Finish those reports, DiNozzo,” Gibbs ordered again as he rose from his desk. “I’ll see you on Monday with completed reports.”

“Yes, boss, have a good weekend,” Tony muttered as Gibbs exited the bullpen.

He turned and looked at the unfinished reports on this desk. “I’m sure they can wait till Monday,” he reasoned. “I’ll come in early and finish them, or tomorrow. Yes, that’ll work.”

He walked over to his desk and picked up the roses and the box of chocolates. Switching off his light and having a last guilty look at the paperwork, he walked out of the bullpen and headed for the elevator.

~*~*~*~

‘Beep, beep,’ his Mustang sounded as he automatically unlocked the doors. Slipping into the driver’s side, Tony turned the ignition and the car rumbled to a start. He checked his watch. There was just enough time to go home and get changed before he was due to meet Marie.

Reversing out of his parking space, Tony switched on his radio. A local jazz station was playing. Tony sighed happily, his paperwork troubles forgotten with the sound of Coltrane. Humming along to the song, Tony waved at the guard who controlled the entry and exit gates and turned left onto the street. He didn’t notice the dark Sedan pull out behind him.

He was about half way home when his Mustang shuddered to a halt. Cursing under his breath, he yanked open the door and stepped out onto the road. He made his way over to the smoking bonnet of the car. Gently lifting the lid, a whole cloud of smoke floated into his face. He coughed.

“Damn,” he muttered angrily. “I have a date.”

He pulled out his cell phone and dialled his local garage, hoping they would know a tow service nearby. He let it ring for a while before giving up. He thought about his options. He didn’t know any tow services that were in the general vicinity and his normal garage wasn’t picking up.

He kicked a lone rock and watched as it bounced along the gutter.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” he muttered and called another number. He heard the other end pick and was about to open his mouth when he heard the recorded message.

“Hello, you’ve reached Timothy McGee,” McGee’s mechanical voice said. “I’m sorry, but not available at the moment. Please leave your name and number after the beep and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you. BEEP!”

“Probie, why the hell aren’t you picking up your phone,” Tony said. “Look my car has broken down. I need a lift . . . or the name of a garage or tow service. Call me back when you get this.” He hung up. McGee was going to be no use. He tried another number.

“Yo, Abby Sciuto’s phone,” came Abby’s recorded message. “I’m not here at the moment, as you can probably tell ‘cos I’m not picking up. Leave a message, or not. I’ll get back to you when I can. It might be awhile, ‘cos if I’m not home, I’m with my babies at work or with my nuns or on a date with a totally luscious guy or . . .” Abby was cut off by another voice.

“I think they get the picture, Abby.” Tony smiled slightly at the sound of McGee’s voice. “Okay then, leave a message after the beep. BEEP!”

“Well, if you’re not too busy with your nuns or on a hot date, Abs,” Tony started. “You could come and rescue me. My car’s busted. Call me.” He hung up.

“Okay, please, please pick up,” Tony muttered as he dialled another number.

“You have reached Ziva David. I’m not available at the moment, but you can leave a message after the beep. Toda. BEEP!”

“Not you too, Zee-vah,” Tony grumbled into the phone. “My car broke down . . . stop laughing . . . I need a lift . . . please. Ring me back.”

Tony sighed in frustration.

He wasn’t about to call Gibbs, he would be so busted for not finishing his paperwork. Just as he was about to climb back into his car and wallow in self-pit, another car drove up beside him.

“You need some help, pal?” the dark-haired driver asked as he pushed some of his hair out of his face.

Tony looked at the car warily. “My car has broken down,” he said carefully. “You wouldn’t happen to know a garage close by or a tow service, would you? I’m . . . I’m late for a date.” He smiled sheepishly.

The man in the car smiled. “Yeah, I know a place. Hop in and I’ll take you.”

“Ah, that’s okay,” Tony said hesitantly, knowing it wasn’t a good idea to get into a car with someone he didn’t know, especially down a dark street. “If you just give me the number, I can call.”

“That wasn’t a suggestion . . .” The tone of the man changed from friendly to threatening. “ . . . Agent DiNozzo . . .”

At the sound of his name, Tony immediately reached to his side in order to draw his gun.

“Wrong move, Agent DiNozzo,” murmured a new voice behind him. Before Tony could get a firm grip on his gun, he felt a small prick at the base of his neck.

“Oh,” he muttered before his vision blurred and he toppled forwards, hitting his head on the side view mirror.

Keller reached under Tony’s arms and heaved the unconscious agent into the boot of the Sedan. A small river of blood was trickling down his face from where he hit the side view mirror; he wasn’t going to be waking up any time soon.

Once Keller was sure the agent was securely in the boot of the Sedan, he reached for a red container and doused the Mustang with kerosene. Reaching into his pocket, Keller pulled out a box of matches and lit the first one. He threw it into the passenger’s seat. The car ignited as flames danced through the interior of the car. Keller smiled, he liked fire.

Pleased with his work, he opened the passenger door and slid into the seat.

“Move it,” he ordered and the driver nodded. “You know, the Naval Yard really does need better security.” He laughed humourlessly as the dark Sedan speed off down the road, leaving the flaming car behind.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:51 am 
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Chapter Two: Stage One Commenced

The sun felt nice as it showered down upon Anthony DiNozzo’s back. He could hear the waves crashing against the shore, so, he assumed, he must be on a beach. He sighed happily. Beaches meant girls in bikini … or if he was lucky, girls with no tops. But where was he? The waves and the sun didn’t do much good if he didn’t know where he was.

‘Hmmm … the Caribbean would be nice,’ he thought to himself.

He looked around, trying to find a clue as to where he was. His eyes fell upon a ‘Welcome to’ sign next to the entrance of the beach. At first, it was a little blurry and he was unable to make out what it said. Slowly the sign slid into focus and he read:

‘Welcome to the Caribbean’.

Tony smiled brightly. This was more like it. But then he stopped to consider why he was in the Caribbean in the first place.

‘A case?’ he wondered. ‘Holiday? Unlikely, but …’ A familiar voice interrupted his thoughts.

“What are you doing here, Tony?” came McGee’s voice. Startled, Tony whipped around and, yes, there was McGee standing behind him in swimming trunks with polka dots splattered all over them.

Tony tried to open his mouth to respond, or at least comment on the hideous trunks McGee was wearing, but he found that no words came out as he tried.

“What are you doing here, Tony?” McGee repeated. This time, Tony noted, that McGee sounded cheerless. He had a look of concern on his face that unnerved Tony.

‘Probie,’ he tried to say, but nothing came out. ‘What are you …’

“He can’t help you, Tony,” replied the familiar female voice.

‘Ziva?’ Ziva was wearing a red bikini that accented her curves in all the right places. Despite his situation, he grinned at the sight in front of him. Ziva really did look nice in a bikini.

“You have to be strong, Tony,” she continued, looking him directly in the eye.

‘Strong for what?’ he thought.

“Please stay strong.” Ziva sounded pained, Tony mused. Interesting, why would McGee and now Ziva sound so depressing. And Ziva at that too? “We will come, I promise. I will come.”

‘Come where.’ Tony was even more confused now. He tried to speak, but again he could not.

“You will survive this, DiNozzo!” a male voice said gruffly.

‘Boss? What …’ He looked at his boss, and had to suppress a grin at Gibbs in bright blue Speedos.

“You will come home,” Gibbs stated firmly, ignoring Tony’s smirk. “That is an order.”

‘Of course I’ll come home.’ Tony blinked twice. ‘I’m on a case … or was that a holiday.’

“Tony!” he heard Abby shriek before the Goth launched herself on him. She was also in a bikini, black and covered with skulls. Very Abby.

“I’m so sorry, Tony,” she cried into his neck. “I should have … I really … my phone … forgive me, Tony.”

‘Forgive you for what, Abs?’ Tony tried to voice, not comprehending any of what was going on. ‘Forgive for what?’

“Oh, Tony,” Abby continued to mutter. “I … I won’t stop till I find you. I won’t eat, sleep, I promise I’ll get you out of here, Tony. Tony …” She hugged him tighter.

“Abs …” came a very familiar voice, one that he only heard in his dreams.

‘Kate?’ That wasn’t the surprise he expected. Kate stood there in a lime green bikini. Even if Tony had wanted to, he couldn’t have imagined her more sexier then she was right now.

“Abby, let him go …,” Kate whispered, pulling at the Goth clinging onto his neck.

‘Kate? Hmmm … nice bikini.’ Kate glared at him as if she knew what he was thinking. She was still struggling with Abby.

“You need to go back, Tony,” Kate smiled sadly as she managed to free Tony from Abby’s grip. “Go back, Tony. They will find you. You’re not forgotten. I will … I will watch over you. Protect you as I can. But you have to go back.”

‘Back where?’ Tony tried desperately, annoyance rimming his thoughts. No sound came out. Their sad smiling face started to fade away and their voices merged as one:

“Be strong, Tony. We will come.”

As they continued to fade away, a light breeze rushed across his face, bringing a fine spray of liquid. At first he thought it was blood … Kate’s blood. But one look at the fading Kate showed him that her face was perfect, just like it was before it she was killed.

The water droplets got heavier, and an unfamiliar, cold, voice barked at him from somewhere nearby, “DiNozzo.”

Tony felt his eyelids droop. He felt more sleepy than he had in this entire life.

“DiNozzo,” the same, hard voice barked and more droplets fell on his face. Maybe he’d just have a small nap. The sun, after all, was very comforting.

~*~*~*~

Tony moaned as he slowly opened his eyes. He immediately felt the change in temperature. Gone was the warm and sunny beach. He shivered. Wherever he was, it wasn’t pleasant. He felt cold. He could almost feel the damp and mouldy walls that felt like they were closing in around him. The air was stale and damp, it was thick with tension, hate and something he couldn’t quite identify … maybe malice or cruelty.

Tony moaned again as a shadowy figured appeared in his line of sight.

“Kate …” he whimpered as the figure looming overhead got clearer.

The figure laughed cruelly. “Sorry, Agent DiNozzo. Your precious Caitlin Todd is not here to save you now.” Tony saw the figure bend over and immediately he felt his breath in his ear.

“How was it, Agent DiNozzo?” he leered. “When the blood of your partner sprayed across your face?” A reminder of what happened on that roof top nearly three years ago blasted its way into his mind as a soft spray of liquid was cruelly sprayed over his face.

He flinched violently. The bile rose up in his throat as he desperately tried to push back the flashing images that were assaulting his mind. He felt sick as another spray landed on his face … Kate’s blood. He couldn’t help himself as the last meal he’d eaten found itself all over the floor in front of his captor. He didn’t even flinch.

“Oh, Tony,” the man said comfortingly as he ran his hand through Tony’s hair before gently pushing a stray strand out of his eyes. “It is awful isn’t it,” he cooed. “You couldn’t save your precious Caitlin, and for that, I sympathise.”

“I’m sure she went quickly, Tony,” he continued to coo. “No pain, just sleep. It’s the best thing, I think. She could have bled out, but that lovely terrorist had a big heart and used her head. Painless, and not too much mess. I, on the other hand, would have preferred other methods.” The comforting voice faded and the previous voice returned. The figure was still blurry, but he could make out his distinct nose and his cold, hard sneer.

“I,” he sneered, “would have shot her in the chest … the lungs I think. She would have bled out, slowly of course. He lungs would have collapsed, blood would have trickled out of her mouth. You would have been covered in her blood as you desperately tried to save her. But you wouldn’t and the blood would stain your hands everything you touch another living thing … knowing that what you touch dies …” he finished in a dangerously low voice.

“Instead, all she got was this …” Keller flicked Tony hard in the middle of his forehead, the same place where Kate had been shot.

This was enough to jerk Tony upwards, his eyes open wide in horror. He looked around at his surrounds wildly. He then slumped forwards as he felt his muscles turn to jelly. Hard hands caught him around the shoulders and forced him upwards again.

“Well, well, Sleeping Beauty finally decided to wake up,” he announced as he pulled Tony roughly to his feet.

Tony swayed on the spot and his knees gave way, but Keller yanked him up sharply. Keller slammed Tony into the lone wooden chair, securing his arms behind his back tightly. Already the ropes started to dig into his skin. Keller took another length of rope and secured his leg to the front chair legs.

Instinctively, Tony started to struggle against to bonds, but only caused himself more pain as the unusually sharp rope dung into his wrists.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Tony,” Keller said with a false tone of kindness. “That, Agent DiNozzo, is my own special design of rope. Little, teeny, pieces of glass have been painstakingly added to the rope, making attempts to get away painfully difficult.”

He laughed humourlessly as Tony’s hands fell limply behind his chair. He could already feel droplets of blood trickling down his fingers.

“Wha …” Tony coughed as he tried to speak. He cleared his throat and tried again. “What do you want?” he rasped.

“Now why would I tell you that?” Keller responded lightly with a smile. “Where is the fun in that? No, it will become clearer, Agent DiNozzo. I predict that you will be my houseguest for a rather long time. We’ll have such fun.” He smiled at Tony manically.

“What?” Tony rasped again. His throat was painfully dry and he was beyond confused. All he knew was that he was trapped in a room with a madman who seemed to like alternating between sweet and sour at the drop of a hat.

Keller sighed. “No more questions, Agent DiNozzo.”

And before Tony had a chance to react, a syringe appeared out of nowhere and was thrust into his arm. Immediately, Tony head dropped forward as he feel unconscious and his last conscious thought was:

‘Damn … I really do hate needles.’

Keller sneered cruelly, but at the same time ran his hand over Tony’s hair. Somewhere in his heart, a small pang resounded as Keller unconsciously compared this agent to his eldest son. Shaking his head, Keller flipped open his phone and pressed speed dial one.

“McIntyre,” came the voice on the other end.

“Stage one commenced,” Keller growled down the phone before snapping it shut harshly.

Stage one had more than commenced.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:52 am 
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Chapter Three: Monday Morning

After regaining consciousness, how long later Tony did not know, he found himself still tied to the chair and since his first encounter with Keller, he had found himself left surprisingly alone. Unfortunately, this unnerved him more than if Keller had been stopping by. It was like he was suspended somewhere between life and death. Life, obviously, was him being alive and death was being stuck in this room with no human contact or sign of life.

For someone like Tony who thrived on friendships and relationships, this was torture on its own. There was no one to talk with, joke with, hell, yell at, scream at. He was alone, something Anthony DiNozzo did not relish. Alone in this … he wasn’t sure what to call it, but chances are that it was a reincarnation of hell.

There were no signs of flames or heat, qualities that portrayed hell. In fact, it was the complete opposite … cold, dreary and damp. He knew it was nearing summer, but he couldn’t stop himself from shivering. Tony wasn’t sure whether that was due to the conditions he’d been left in or the fact that, though he didn’t want to admit it, he was scared out of his mind. What he wished to have someone …anyone here with him. But as fate had it, all he had was himself, and after the first … God knows how many hours … he was starting to resent himself.

In the beginning, he tried to entertain himself by listing the names of all the James Bond movies in order of production … and the James Bonds … and the Bond Girls. Then he tried to list all the movies he knew that started with D … followed by J … followed by M and finally, T. Still he continued to list all the movies he’d ever remembered watching, but he found that mind-blowing and frustrating that he had given up after the first thirty. Next, he tried thinking up the most ridiculous pairings of NCIS agents he could think of. After disgusting himself out with some very bad mental images, he just stopped thinking full stop.

Instead, he stared at the walls, his heart hoping that it was nearing Monday morning and his team would finally discover he was missing and come to his rescue. He wouldn’t even mind Gibbs’ head slaps for getting kidnapped. Ziva’s teasing about being the damsel in distress. Even McGee’s over-concerned tone of voice would be a welcome relief, or Abby’s hugs. In fact, he was wishing for an Abby hug right now, or a Gibbslap, or a bewitching smirk from Ziva, or even a techno-babble explanation from McGee. But no, here he was, Anthony DiNozzo, alone, chained and slowly going insane as the world around continued to spin, even if he felt like time had stopped. No, the world had not noticed that Anthony DiNozzo was falling apart right under its nose.

~*~*~*~

“Morning, McGee,” Ziva said brightly from her desk as McGee walked into the bullpen. Her hands were clasped behind her head and she looked very relaxed.

“Ziva,” McGee nodded his greeting as he dumped his bag behind his desk. He noticed her look.

“Good weekend?” he asked as he switched on his computer and sat down behind his desk.

“Yes, very good, thank you.” Ziva gave McGee a suggestive smile.

“Ah, okay …” McGee gave Ziva a look. Maybe if he was more like Tony, he would have pried into it more, but as it was, he was Timothy McGee so he hastily changed the subject.

“Tony, Gibbs, not here yet?” he questioned casually, diverting the topic away from Ziva’s … err … weekend activities.

“Gibbs is here,” Ziva said, matter of factly. “He is with the Director. As for Tony, I do not know where he is. Maybe, he is sleeping in after his big date, yes?”

“Maybe,” McGee echoed. He’d woken up with a very strange feeling on both Saturday and Sunday morning, and on Sunday, the lingering thoughts of a dream that involved a beach. On this particular Monday morning, the feeling was even stronger and he had no idea why he was feeling the way he was. ‘I must be coming down with something,’ he reasoned with himself. ‘That’s it. I’ll talk to Ducky later. That’s what I’ll do.’ But he still couldn’t quite shake the feeling.

“He is just late, McGee,” Ziva reassured, sensing that something was off with McGee.

“Of course he is,” McGee confirmed in what he hoped was a steadfast voice. “He’s probably just having a lie in …”

“Not on my watch, he isn’t,” Gibbs muttered as he walked into the bullpen, making McGee jump.

“B…boss … Good morning, Boss,” McGee stammered, the presence of his superior unnerving him even more, something that he was sure he’d gotten rid of.

Gibbs nodded slightly towards Tony’s desk. “DiNozzo here?”

“No, not as far as we can tell, Gibbs,” Ziva replied from her desk, hastily removing her hands from behind her head and sitting up straight in her chair.

“Why the hell not, David,” Gibbs barked at her, shooting her a glare.

Ziva did not flinch. “I do not know, Gibbs. Perhaps he had a large weekend and is sleeping it off, yes?”

“It’s big weekend, actually, Ziva,” McGee corrected from his desk, but backtracked after Gibbs glared at him. “Not that it’s important, is it Boss?”

“He’d better hope he isn’t,” Gibbs growled, sitting down heavily in his chair. “Or I am going to kick his ass from here to eternity.” McGee and Ziva were silent, they knew better than to argue with Gibbs.

“McGee!” Gibbs barked suddenly, making McGee jump out of his seat.

“Yes, Boss?” McGee replied immediately, standing behind his desk.

“Call DiNozzo and let him know that if he isn’t here in ten minutes, he’ll have me to answer too,” Gibbs ordered. “And that I haven’t had my morning coffee …” He let the threat hang suspended in the air.

“Okay, Boss, calling Tony,” McGee said obediently, reaching for his desk phone. There was a moment’s pause as McGee dialled Tony’s number

“Gibbs, I …,” Ziva started but was cut off by Gibbs immediate interruption.

“What?” he barked, his fuse quickly fizzing out.

“I was going to say,” Ziva muttered, “that I think he is just late …”

“DiNozzo better have a damn good reason,” Gibbs said angrily to no one in particular.

“Um, Boss,” McGee said hesitantly. Gibbs glared at him, which McGee took as a sign to continue.

“Ah, Tony didn’t pick up his home phone,” McGee said warily.

“Try his cell,” Gibbs snapped.

“I … I have, it goes straight to voicemail,” McGee replied, a tiny hint of concern in his voice.

Gibbs’ body language changed slightly as he took in what McGee had just said. It was minute enough for McGee to miss, but not for Ziva to pick up on.

“You think something is wrong?” Ziva asked calmly.

“I don’t know, Miss David,” Gibbs snapped as he stood up. Gibbs calling her that meant something was wrong. “Do you think something is wrong?”

“I …” Ziva wasn’t sure what she thought, but a part of her felt that something was seriously wrong. Call it partner’s intuition, if you will.

“Boss?” McGee questioned hesitantly, looking for guidance.

Gibbs briefly closed his eyes before opening them. “McGee, get the car and pull it around the front. Ziva and I will meet you there.”

“Boss?” McGee asked worriedly again

“We’re going to DiNozzo’s apartment,” Gibbs sighed gruffly. “And if he’s just sleeping in then …” Ziva and McGee needed no more words; they could envision what Gibbs might do.

“On it, Boss,” McGee replied instantly, noticing that he was still standing up. After a second thought, he reached into his draw and pulled out his gun and badge, clipping them in place. McGee walked quickly out the bullpen, leaving Ziva and Gibbs alone.

“Gibbs, do you really think something has happened to Tony,” Ziva asked softly, coming to a halt in front of his desk.

Gibbs looked Ziva in the eye. “I don’t know, Ziva, but my gut tells me that something is not right.”

“Yeah, mine to,” Ziva muttered and when Gibbs looked at her curiously, she amended, “I mean, something just feels … hinky, as Abby would put it. I think McGee was feeling weird too.”

Gibbs looked thoughtful for a moment, before standing abruptly. “I’m going for coffee!” He stormed away, leaving Ziva standing stunned in his wake.

~*~*~*~

As McGee pulled up in front of Tony’s apartment building, he noticed that the familiar Mustang was no where to be found.

“Tony’s car isn’t here, Boss,” McGee pointed out as the three agents exited the car.

“You think I can’t see that?” Gibbs snapped, even more short-tempered now that he was at Tony’s apartment and his car was no where to be seen.

“Ah, sorry?” McGee tried weakly.

“Don’t apologise, it’s a sign of weakness,” Gibbs said curtly as he strolled up the path towards the door of the apartment block. McGee and Ziva shot each other a look before following their boss.

“Do you really think something is wrong?” McGee whispered to Ziva as they followed Gibbs into the apartment block and up the stairs, remaining a few feet away at all times.

“I don’t know, McGee, maybe,” Ziva whispered back. “It is not like Tony to be this late and not answer his phone.”

“Do you think Gibbs is worried?” McGee asked as the continued to climb the stairs, nearing Tony’s floor.

“How should I know if Gibbs is worried,” Ziva snapped, making a split second decision not to tell McGee of Gibbs’ gut. It would just worry him further and Ziva wasn’t sure if Gibbs wanted her telling anyone what he had said.

“Are you worried?” McGee asked cautiously, not wishing be harmed in anyway.

Ziva closed her eye for a moment, and then opened them. “He is my partner…so yes I am, but…”

As they stepped onto Tony’s floor, Gibbs barked at them from down the hall, “You two, stop your yabbering. The door’s locked and DiNozzo isn’t answering, I’m picking the lock.”

“Ooh, Tony is going to love that,” Ziva muttered under her breathe and McGee cracked a half smile.

“Don’t just stand there,” Gibbs yelled as he pushed open the door.

“He’s probably just sleeping,” McGee said uncertainly as they walked down the hall and followed Gibbs into the messy apartment.

“Definitely Tony’s apartment,” Ziva commented as entered the living room. A few old pizza boxes lay on the ground and DVD cases were strewn across the room. McGee studied the very poorly stacked shelves of DVDs.

“He really should categorise them, or sort them by alphabetical order,” McGee stated for no apparent reason. Ziva looked at him incredulously.

“What?” McGee shrugged his shoulders. “It would make finding titles so much easier. And he really could use …”

“If you’re done playing Home Improvement, maybe you two could check out the bedroom and bathroom,” Gibbs called sarcastically from the kitchen. “You know, investigate …”

“Yes, Boss,” McGee called back while Ziva answered with a curt, “Okay.”

Minutes later, after Ziva and McGee had cleared the bedroom and the bathroom, they met Gibbs back in the living room.

“No sign of anyone being here last night,” Ziva commented just as McGee’s cell phone rang.
He excused himself and pressed the answer button. “Agent McGee.”

“He probably had a … big night last night and banged at a friend’s house, yes,” Ziva suggested, surveying the room.

Gibbs didn’t bother to correct her English and was about to say something as McGee closed his phone and walked back to the other two agents.

“What was tha …” Ziva trailed off as she spotted McGee’s face.

He had gone deathly pale and had a pained look on his face. Gibbs heart sank. McGee’s face did not look like the bearer of good news.

“Tony?” Ziva asked softly, fearing the answer. Gibbs just stared straight ahead.

“They … they found,” McGee started hoarsely and Ziva eye’s grew wide. Both she and Gibbs had the exact same thoughts and it was not good.

“Metro Police,” McGee continued weakly, “they … they found Tony’s car … Friday night … on fire … They aren’t sure whether anyone was … was in it or not.” He was met with stunned silence, with everyone fearing to worst.

___________________________
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:54 am 
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Chapter Four: Fearing the Worst

For once in his life, Timothy McGee did not care that they were travelling way over the recommended speed limit. In fact, McGee did not care for much at the moment. A pink flying cow could be pressed up against the side window and he wouldn’t have noticed, or cared.

As it was, he was staring straight ahead, trying to combat the growing panic that was filling his body. There had to be a simple explanation to all this. Joy riders must have taken Tony’s car and then dumped it after they had finished with it. Yes, that was it. Joy riders, it was as simple as that. Yet, something told McGee that it was not that simple, something that McGee tried to push to the bottom of his soul. There was no place for negative thoughts like that. This was Tony. He survived anything.

“Joy riders, joy riders, joy riders,” McGee muttered softly to himself, trying to convince himself steadfastly that it was true. “It has to be joy riders. It has to be, it has to . . .”

“What are you muttering about back there, McGee?” Ziva asked, her soft voice breaking the deafening silence of the car. McGee flinched at the sound of her voice.

“Ummm . . .” he murmured. Should he tell them what he thought had happened? Maybe. Would they believe him, or would they want to fear the worst, say out loud what he had trying to deny to himself. “I w-was just t-thinking that maybe . . . you k-know . . . It was probably just j-joy riders out for a bit of fun.”

“Maybe,” Ziva echoed, but did not sound convinced. Something about the way she said it caught McGee’s attention, something in her underlying tone. She was worried, and try as he might, McGee couldn’t figure out why . . . well, at least this time anyway. Maybe because Tony was her partner? She paused and then said, “We cannot allow ourselves to not prepare for the worst. In my experience . . .”

“This is not some war zone, Ziva,” McGee snapped, his thoughts of Ziva’s tone going into the recesses of his mind as his worry for Tony transferred into frustration directed at Ziva. “We’re in Washington. Car bombs or whatever the hell you’re thinking of don’t occur here, at least not regularly . . .”

“I was not saying that, McGee,” Ziva bit back sharply as she twisted around in her seat to glare steely at McGee in the backseat. “I was merely suggesting that you do not set yourself up for a collapse . . .”

“It’s not collapse, its fall, and there will be no fall,” McGee said defiantly, returning the look Ziva was giving him. “There will be perfectly reasonable explanation.”

“Oh, so where do you think Tony is, McGee?” Ziva asked sarcastically, cocking her head to the side. McGee thought he caught a look in Ziva’s eye, but ignored it. He was too angry to worry about it. “Out partying somewhere? Having a good time? What!?!”

“I don’t know, Zee-vah,” Tim snapped back, unintentionally drawing out Ziva’s name like Tony did. “But at least I haven’t given up on him . . .”

“I have not given up!” Ziva yelled, she turned back to the road, burying her feelings deep down inside her like Mossad had trained her to do. Worrying about Tony wouldn’t do any good or find answers. Ziva calmed herself and spoke again, “I am just saying . . .”

“And I am saying that the both of you should shut up NOW!” Gibbs barked angrily, jerking the car to the side of the road and coming to an abrupt stop, sending McGee and Ziva forwards in their seat.

Gibbs was silent for a second, before he turned and glared at the two, one by one, with a glare that put Ziva’s earlier one to shame. “I do not need you two making things worse,” he growled, emphasising each word as he said it.

“Gibbs . . .” Ziva tried quietly, but was silenced by a look from Gibbs.

“I do not care what you have to say, David,” Gibbs glowered. “Just shut the hell up and stop arguing with each other.”

“B-boss . . .” This time it was McGee that foolishly tried to talk to Gibbs.

“McGee,” he yelled loudly, making McGee jump violently. “What did I just say?” He drew out each word to get maximum impact.

“S-sorry,” McGee tried, but only achieved to make things worse.

“Don’t apologise, it’s a sign of weakness,” Gibbs snapped as he suddenly dove back onto the road, jerking McGee and Ziva sideways, earning a yelp of surprise from McGee.

Sensibly, both Ziva and McGee remained silent for the rest of the trip, while the aura radiating off Gibbs was anything but silent.

~*~*~*~

Tony’s eyelids fluttered open at the sound of incessant dripping. He had fallen asleep, well; he wasn’t sure how long ago, or for how long. And, it wasn’t as if this . . . room, or place, or wherever the hell he was, had any windows. He sighed weakly and let his eyes get use too the dull lighting again.

With a stab of pain, he realised he was still tied to the same chair. He looked down at his wrists and grimaced at the sight. Keller’s ‘special design of rope’ had painfully dug into his wrists, the glassed-modified rope now stained with blood. The glass had defiantly left its imprint in his skin. Some of the blood was dried and caked on his skin, but some of the fresher blood had trickled down his skin, like little streams of water. Where the glass had cut deeper, little bits of flesh hung on his arm by the teensiest thread.

As he struggled against his bonds, a few drops of blood were flung unceremoniously onto his shirt and a rather large piece of flesh that had been decapitated by the ropes dropped to the floor. Tony moaned in pain and it took everything he had not to throw up. He felt the bile inside his mouth rise so he swallowed it back down quickly. His face grimaced from the taste. This was certainly not what he’d signed on for when he had accepted Gibbs’ job offer. Sure, he’d experienced other life or death situations, but something about this one told him that it would be unlike anything he’d experienced before.

With a loud bang that jerked Tony into full consciousness, the lone door to his right was flung open and a burst of light filtered into the room. Tony tried to raise his hand to shield the light, but it was jerked back towards the chair as he realised he was tied up. Pain jolted its way into his brain again. Instead, he closed his eyes and childishly wished that whoever it was would leave him alone.

He heard light footsteps approach his chair, getting louder with each second. Suddenly, the footsteps stopped and for a fleeting moment, Tony thought it had all just been a horrible nightmare. Then a sharp impact across his face forced his eyes open and he found himself looking at the sneering face of Keller.

Tony’s cheek stung and turned red as Keller cooed sinisterly, “Did I hurt you, Tony?” Keller reached out and lightly stroked Tony face where he had slapped him harshly. Tony flinched violent and jerk his face away from Keller’s touch, every fibre in Tony’s being repulsed by the touch.

“I’m am hurt, Tony,” Keller sighed, almost – almost like a jilted lover. “I thought you and I could be wonderful friends.” Keller shook his head sadly. “We have a lot in common, you and I . . .”

“No, we don’t,” Tony said hoarsely, still reeling from Keller’s creepy form of affection.

“But, we do, Tony,” Keller said in a lulling voice. “And you will come to understand this. Yes, you will know the truth about you and me.”

“I-I am nothing like you,” Tony tried to shout, but could only manage a sound crossed between a yelp and a gasp. Keller tut-tutted, but said nothing as he ran his hand through Tony’s hair.

Tony shuddered, the hair on the back of his neck rising as Keller breathed, “Such soft hair. You really must tell me what brand you use. My wife has a thing for hair, you see . . .” Keller winked at Tony like they were fraternity brothers. “And I so do love to please her. After all, she is the boss of the house.”

Keller laughed heartily, which freaked Tony out even more than his actions before hand. Firstly, Keller had slapped him, and then tried to hit on him . . . which Tony was totally and utterly repulsed by . . . and was now acting like one of Tony’s old frat brothers.

“Wh-what do you want?” Tony wondered whether or not he’d be able to get answers out of this psycho.

Keller stopped laughing and smiled sweetly at him. “All in good time, Agent DiNozzo. Don’t be in such a hurry.” He shook his head. “It’s always rush, rush, rush these days. Why doesn’t anyone stop and take the time to smell the roses, listen to the birds, feel the incredible force of nature . . . understand what life is all about!”

Tony looked at this man in front of him incredulously. He was beginning to think Keller had lost his marbles, or had a twin brother. This was nothing like the Keller who had tormented him earlier with Kate’s death. He seemed . . . friendly, and if the circumstances were different, Keller seemed like the guy he could really be friends with. This scared him. Tony knew all about the Stockholm Syndrome and how captives could form attachments to their captors.

Tony shook this thought from his head, there was no way he would allow himself to think like that. After all, Gibbs was coming for him . . . wasn’t he? Damn right he was . . . He could always depend on the boss, right?”

~*~*~*~

Even before Gibbs had screeched to a halt, the three agents were out of the car and running towards the officer standing guard of what the NCIS agents assumed was Tony’s car.

“Um, Sir, you’re not allowed . . .” the officer tried to say as Gibbs prepared to lift up the yellow crime scene tape encircling the car.

“Gibbs, NCIS,” Gibbs barked and flashed his badge as he lifted the tape and ducked under it. McGee and Ziva followed

The officer nodded and relented. “This your man’s car?”

Gibbs nodded curtly, and turned to this subordinates. “McGee, bag and tag. Ziva, shoot,” he ordered.

“Um, Boss,” McGee whispered near to Gibbs’ ear. “We don’t have evidence bags or a camera. They’re, err, back at NCIS headquarters.” Gibbs glared at McGee and he cowered. “Right, Boss. I’ll call Ducky and get him to bring the crime scene gear down . . .”

“Wouldn’t bother, Agent McGee,” the officer offered. “CSU has already removed any evidence and processed the scene. I’m just here until the truck comes for the car.

“Well . . . Officer Bennett,” Gibbs growled as he took in the officer’s name badge, “I suggest that you call your CSU and get them to deliver all evidence and crime scene footage to NCIS headquarters within the hour.

“But, Agent Gibbs . . .” the officer foolishly tried, unaware of how Gibbs got when it was one of his own.

Gibbs glared absolute daggers at the young officer, possibly scaring him for life. “Y-yes, Sir,” he squeaked. “I’ll do t-that now.”

Gibbs didn’t dignify the reply with a response. Instead, he focused on the burnt out shell of what had once been Tony’s beloved Mustang. He refused to believe that his senior field agent had been fried like chicken in that car. He would know if Tony were dead, and his gut was telling him that Tony was still alive . . . wherever he was. Gibbs’ head told him that there was a perfectly innocent reason for Tony’s absence . . . like the fact that Gibbs had seen the half-finished paperwork on his desk. He was most likely hiding from Gibbs’ wrath. But his heart was telling him that something was seriously wrong, but he tried to push that feeling aside and focus on his head.

The sound of a cell phone ringing broke Gibbs out of his thoughts. McGee had pulled out his cell and was looking at it as if it were a bomb. Gibbs would bet anything that McGee expected bad news on the end of the phone. When McGee paled, Gibbs strode purposely over to him and said, “You gonna get that, McGee?”

“Umm . . .” McGee muttered weakly, “it’s Abby. I don’t . . . I don’t know w-what to tell her. I think she’s guessed something is . . . wrong.”

Gibbs sighed. The last thing they needed was a hysterical Abby. “Answer it, McGee. Tell her about Tony, but keep it short. I don’t need her getting hysterical over the phone, okay.”

“Right, Boss,” McGee nodded affirmatively and hit the little green ‘talk’ button on his phone.

___________________________
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The Weekly Writing Challenge is back!!
The current challenge is WWC #49: Catch Up.
To find past challenges, please go here.


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