Seeing the Forest Through the Trees
Summary: Can Ziva and Tony survive being pursued by a mad man with a penchant for blowing things up? For Thing-a-Thon 2009 at NCIS_Shared on LJ. Prompt :Explosions
A/N: I'm still working on the T.A.D., but this story I just had to write and with it coming from a prompt from the Thing-a-Thon, I had to have it done before the end of the month. Anyway, you should check out the NCIS Share point community on Live Journal, there are still lots of prompts to choose from and its a fun way to get the creative juices flowing- community.livejournal.com/ncis_shared/ncis_shared
“No, I believe it my is turn to drive.” Ziva tried to correct Tony as they walked towards the black sedan they had been assigned.
“Too bad....I've got the keys.” he pointed to himself.
“You do not anymore.” she smiled and he came to an abrupt halt, patting down his pants pockets.
“Wha-?...Oh man....did you pick my pocket?”
Ziva just smiled smugly and produced a set of keys, twirling them on her index finger.
“Aw...C'mon, Ziva...I just ate. You can't really expect me to ride with you on a full stomach, can you?”
“You will survive.”
“Sack it up, Tony”
“You mean 'suck it up' and no, I will not 'suck it up' because....” Tony reached into his jacket pocket and produced another set of keys, jingling them in front of Ziva's face with a huge grin. “you picked the wrong pocket and the wrong set of keys-so there...HA!”
Tony was still smiling broadly as he drove off with a pouting Ziva sitting crossly beside him in the passenger seat. Tony tried to change the radio station, but Ziva slapped his hand away.
“If you are to be driving, I would appreciate it if you kept your attention on the road and not on the radio dial.”
“Fine, then why don't you pick a radio station, Zee-Vah. Anything would be better than having to listen to you complain about my driving for the next hour until we get to there.”
“Alright then.” Ziva turned the station to NPR.
“Ugh...public radio?....You want us to die when I fall asleep at the wheel?”
“It is informative and relevant, unlike that other station you like to listen to with that Brittney Spikes girl you love to drool over.”
“Her name is Brittney Spears and just because I think she's young and hot doesn't mean I like her style of music.. I happen to like much classier stuff.”
“Pussycat Dolls.” He replied with a sideways grin.
“You are an ass, Tony.” Ziva sighed with a roll of her eyes. How long of a drive was it again? she wondered.
“That's right, a bright, shiny, handsome ass...and just admit it...you can't get enough of me.”
“I believe it is you who cannot get enough of you.”
And so it went on much like that for the next hour until Tony got them lost. He assured Ziva that he was indeed not lost, but had just been distracted by another one of Ziva's arguments about how the US military was inferior to the Isreali and had missed the turn.
A half hour later and after much cajoling to get Tony to finally stop at a gas station and get directions, they stumbled upon their intended destination in the sleepy little town of Chester Gap, Virginia, just outside the Shenandoah National Park. Pulling into the local post office, Tony and Ziva exited and made their way inside.
“Hi, there.” Tony cheerfully greeted an old lady that sat behind the counter. “I'm Special Agent DiNozzo and this is Officer David with NCIS, we've come to ask about a couple of packages that were sent from this location a couple of days ago.”
“Oh,” The lady stood and came around the counter slowly, straining from the effort it took for her frail body to walk over to them. “may I ask why?”
“These two packages contained explosives and seriously injured two Marines when they were mailed to their homes form this post office.” Ziva explained.
“Oh my” The little old woman took on a shocked and horrified face. “I should have known better.” She muttered, putting a hand to her forehead. For a moment Ziva was certain the woman was going to pass out, so she carefully held onto the woman's elbow and steered her to a chair to sit down.
“What should you have known, ma'am?” Tony asked.
“Desmond Rogers...He's loner...he lives in a trailer out by the forest....he only comes into town for supplies, but mostly sticks to himself. I always thought he was just an eccentric hermit, but a couple of days ago he came in here for the first time and mailed two packages....I didn't think too much of it at the time....but now....” Her guilty feelings were evident on her face as she shook her head.
“It's not your fault, but we need to know where this Desmond's trailer is.”
“Like I said, it's out in the Forest, that's all I really know. From what I've been told, he moves it around often since it's illegal to camp out in the forest without a permit. Folks here usually leave him be and he leaves us be, that's why I should have been more concerned to see him come in with those packages. ”
Tony and Ziva left the post office a few minutes later with a suspects first name, but little else to go on. They walked out into the sunny street and stood on the sidewalk, wondering where to go from there.
“What now?” Ziva asked, Zipping up her windbreaker as a cool breeze blew by. “Shenandoah is a very large forest for us to go and try to find this Desmond on our own. We should call it in to Gibbs and get help.”
“Or....I have a better idea.” Tony brightened as he looked across the street at the establishment on the other side.
“We could just ask the people in town that probably know the most about everyone else in town.”
“Who would that be?”
“If there is one thing you should know about small town America, Ziva, it's that one of the best places to get the juiciest gossip on your neighbors is at the local church.”
Tony was already crossing the street towards the church and ten minutes later they had the location of Desmond's trailer from the ladies sewing circle that was meeting there that afternoon. Each one of the elderly ladies having their faces charmed off by Tony may have played a part in their exuberance in trying to help give them all they knew about their suspect: his full name, peculiar habits, and best of all directions to where he most likely was now and arguing over the fastest way to get there all the while offering both of them enough cookies, coffee and pimento and cheese sandwiches to fuel them for the rest of the day.
Walking back to the car while eating a cookie, Tony whipped out his cell phone and called Gibbs to relay the situation to him..
“Hey, Boss.” Tony spoke with his mouth full, disgusting Ziva as little specks of crumbs flew out. “We may have a name for our bomber guy. It's Desmond Rogers and according to the Patchwork Sisterhood at the First United Methodist Church of ....of..wherever the hell we are, he's an ex-marine that's lived out in the woods since he was discharged a few years ago for mental illness. People say he's had a grudge against the Marine psychologist that recommended his discharge and his commanding officer that signed off on it. Ziva and I were about to go and check it out his trailer in the forest.”
“McGee and I are interviewing the injured marines, one of them is a psychologist, so you may be on to something. We'll come out to join you when we're done, but if you find him, bring him in, just be careful checking out that trailer, DiNozzo. Abby thinks it was a pretty sophisticated bomb for it to go undetected through the post office, so who knows what he's got stashed away in there, so don't get yourselves blown up.”
“Got it, Boss. We shall do our best not to go kaboom.” Tony snapped his phone shut and gave Ziva a smug smile which remained on his face until they found the trailer under an hour later, just off a narrow gravel road in a clearing, partially hidden by a copse of trees and dense foliage. They easily could have missed it if it hadn't been for the information the quilting group had given them, something of which Tony was quick to point out.
“Yes, Tony...I get it...You are an investigative genius asking a gossipy group of elderly women that have nothing better to do but talk about other people's business.”
“I'm just saying...it was pretty impressive thinking, that's all.”
Ziva sighed as they they slowly pulled up near the dilapidated, aluminum trailer. Tony kept a some distance between the car and the trailer, not only in an attempt to catch him off guard, but to keep some space away from the trailer that may or may not be loaded up with bomb making materials. Ziva felt her Mossad trained instincts snap onto the alert as Tony parked the car and pulled out his weapon. She too wrapped her finger around her own Sig Sauer 9 mm, enjoying the way the weighty feel of the steel in her hands made her feel powerful, confident and safe.
Scanning the surrounding area, she and Tony carefully came up along the side of the rusty trailer and checked it out before going near the entrance. There was no movement coming from inside, but Ziva and Tony were on their toes as they took up positions on either side of the door. Tony climbed up the steps to the entrance and banged loudly on the door with his fist as he shouted:
“Desmond Rogers, NCIS, we have a warrant, come out now with your hands up!”
Still, it was silent inside and Tony pounded on the door once more. He was about to try opening the door when Ziva noticed the wire.
“Tony, Stop!” She pointed to the wire, barely visible at the bottom of the door jam.
Taking a deep breath, he nodded his thanks to Ziva, grateful that she stopped him before he opened the booby-trapped door and blew them both to smithereens. She knelt down and examined the wire then looked underneath the trailer to where it lead to a full stick of dynamite, primed to explode as soon as the door opened. Ziva recognized it as a simple and crude set-up, easily diffused. It would have been effective if she hadn't noticed it and Rogers was apparently counting on the element of surprise rather than the sophistication of the bomb's design to inflict a lot of damage.
“I can diffuse it, Tony.” She told him with confidence.
“Let's just leave it and get the bomb squad down here. They can do it. We should wait until Gibbs gets here anyway.”
“You do not trust that I can handle it?” She asked with her hands on her hips.
“That's not the issue here.” He snapped back.
“Then what is? What if Rogers is still in there?” She argued.
“And what if there are other booby-traps waiting inside for us. I don't know about you, but I've grown pretty attached to having all of my body parts...attached to my body.”
“Fine, but we should at least get a visual and see if he is inside.”
“Fine.” Tony agreed then cautiously tried to look through the window on the door, but a curtain, blocked the view. Ziva was already moving to the side window, but she was too short to reach it and get a glimpse inside.
Tony himself had to stand on his tip toes to look over the cafe curtain that covered the bottom half of the window and he could only make out a little of what was in there, but it did appear that the place was deserted for now.
“Do you see anything, Tony?”
“Yeah, a lot of crap.....I don't think this guy's ever thrown anything away.....Whoa...Hold up.....” Tony stiffened then tried to get a better view of the interior, but he wasn't able to make himself any taller.
“I think this guy might be taking lessons from Ted Kasinski's guide to crazy survivalist bombers..... Here, maybe you can get a better look.” Tony holstered his gun and stooped a little, clasping his hands together so she could use them as a step and get a better look inside than he could. Stepping into his hands, he boosted her up and she grabbed onto his shoulders for balance. Tony couldn't help but smile up at her as he caught a whiff of her berry scented shampoo, it was a nice reminder of her femininity, yet then again, the view from below her was also a nice reminder of just how much of a woman she really was.
“Wow.” Ziva let out in surprise.
“Yeah, wow.” Tony grinned responding not only to her statement to his own point of view and the feel of having her so close to his own body.
“He must have enough materials here to take down several buildings. I think see timers and detonators.....My goodness, he has even has some c-4 in there and several other firearms just laying out in the open.”
“Definitely enough to warrant a search and arrest him.”
“I would certainly say so.” Ziva looked down to see the juvenile leer on Tony's face. “You can put me down now.”
“But I thought you liked it up top.”
Ziva lifted her hand as if to slap him, but he got the hint and helped her back down, getting a little closer to her face than she was expecting and eye contact was made. Their noses a hairsbreadth away, they could both feel the breath of the other, taking them off guard for a tense few moments. Ziva regathered her bearing and looked quickly away to the ground, trying to hide the flush that came to her face.
“We should look for signs of where he might have gone.” She suggested, trying to rid her mind of the feeling she felt creep up having Tony hold her and the look he held in his eyes when he brought her down. She couldn't let herself get too close; she was skirting the line as it was when it came to him as it was and one false step might send her crashing over it.
“Yeah, I better call Gibbs.” Tony broke off as well and reached for his phone, but realized it wasn't one him anymore.
“Dammit!” It had been a sunny day, but it was still early spring and there was a definite chill in the air. Ziva, being used to warmer climates, had insisted on keeping the heat on in the car at full blast despite Tony's reassurances that they wouldn't freeze to death. Having lost any hope of talking her out of the heat, he had to take his jacket off when it became too warm for it in the car and he must have forgotten that his phone was in the pocket.
“What?” Ziva asked.
“I left my phone in the car...I'll be right back.” He grumbled
Tony walked off towards the car while Ziva continued to look around the area surrounding the trailer for any tracks that might tell where the suspect had gone. Going around the back of the mobile home, she spied an open window and figured that Rogers may have used that as a way of escaping the moment he might have seen them pull up next to the trailer. There was an old pickup truck still parked next to the trailer, indicating to the Mossad officer that he most likely ran off into the forest on foot in his haste to get away unseen.
Ziva turned to look back at Tony as he approached the car when her senses picked up that something was amiss. She wasn't sure what it was at first, but then she saw it. Just under the car, a small, but unmistakable flash of light and her mind screamed out a warning long before her mouth could catch up, but it was too late.
Tony stopped and turned back towards her shout, but it all was happening too quickly for him to react. Flames shot out from underneath the carriage of the car followed by the deafening roar of a blast after that. Flying metal, heat and pain registered across his body as he flew towards the ground and landed face down, his head meeting the earth with a sickening crack.
Ziva was forced to the ground by the explosion, but ran to Tony as fast ask she could get her legs to move once she initial blast had passed.
His back was on fire and she quickly whipped off her jacket and used it to put the flames out before he could be badly burned. Thankfully, as she looked him over, he didn't appear to be burned, except on his back, but the sweater he had been wearing had prevented him from serious injury. His skin showed red under the blackened holes of the sweater, but not blistered; a good sign.
“Tony?...Do you hear me?.....Tony?” The lack of response had Ziva extremely worried for her partner as she tried to turn him over and get a better look at his possible injuries. A nasty open wound mingled with dirt and bled down his face from where his forehead had made contact with a rock on the ground which accounted for his unconscious state.
Ziva would have continued to try to treat Tony right there, but before she could do more than assess his injuries, a shot rang out and hit the tree right behind her, blowing off pieces of bark in all directions. She realized then that Rogers must have been waiting for them out in the woods and planted the bomb on the car while the were checking out the trailer, perhaps setting a remote detonator and blowing the car as soon as Ziva yelled out for Tony to run. She cursed as another bullet whizzed by and she thanked God that the man was apparently a much better bomber than he was a marksman.
With the flaming car out of the question for cover, Ziva had no choice but to grab Tony from behind his shoulders and haul him backwards towards the treeline. Once she had him behind a large tree, Ziva grabbed her weapon and aimed in the direction the shots were being fired from. She saw the flash of a muzzle nearly 150 yards away and she fired off a few rounds just as the tree she was hiding behind was hit again. His aim was improving, but she was confident hers was better. Another flash and she fired again.
She heard a yell across the distance and she was certain she must have hit him and from her vantage point she could she that he had come out of his hiding spot and fallen face down onto the ground.
After making sure Tony was still doing okay and well hidden, she cautiously made her way out with her weapon trained on the suspect. He was still and unmoving as Ziva approached.
“Desmond Rogers?” She called still yards away from the shooter, yet he remained motionless on the ground. Ziva couldn't see his weapon and that concerned her, but before she could react, he suddenly came to life and rolled over.
Two shots rang out simulanteously across the forest, sending birds flying and animals scurrying, one from Ziva and one from Rogers. After the sound of bodies hit the ground, all went deathly silent.
Continued in part 2