A/N: At over 5,000 wds, I think this is the longest chapter I have ever posted. Hope it was worth the wait! Thanks for being so patient. Drop a note on the way out, let me know what you think! love xx Shezzi
Former Watcher Gwendolyn Post could not believe her luck when she first saw the girl in the park. She might not have recognized the Slayer, who had dyed her very visible blond hair a much more non-descript brown, if it wasn’t for the fact that when she saw her she was fighting a vampire and winning. Miss Post had actually been on her way over to take down the creature and save the girl it was attempting to sneak up on, whose attention had appeared to all be on the dog at her side, when the girl herself had exploded into action in a way that only a Slayer could. She had pulled back and studied the girl, eyes widening as she recognized the facial features from the photos she had catalogued for the Council.
She had set about tailing the girl in order to ascertain the best time and place for an extraction, and had finally had to settle on the Navy Yard, as it was the only place where the girl could be found both alone and relaxed enough to sneak up on.
She was pulled from her self-congratulatory thoughts by a low groan from the back seat, and turned to look at her captive.
“Miss Summers, so nice of you to join me,” she said as the now-brunette’s eyes opened. “I’m sure Mr. Travers is going to be ever so interested in seeing you again, just as soon as we get to England.”
“Khalb,” spat Buffy, her eyes narrowing in hate as she came to a quick decision about how to handle this woman and her idiocy. “Waladatu khalb.” She gasped when her shoulder and knee both screamed when she tried to move, announcing that falling down the stairs was not really an idea conducive with keeping all your joints properly articulated. “My name is Elisheva David, and you don’t know what you’re doing. You will be really sorry once my father finds me.”
“Miss Summers, give it up. I know who you are, and I know what you are, and pretending you don’t speak English isn’t going to help you any,” Miss Post spat. “What is that, anyway, Hindi?”
“Marghful,” Buffy muttered. “You don’t know anything, you stupid bitch. Hindi, seriously?”
“If that’s how you want to play it, fine,” Miss Post snapped. “It’s going to be a long trip to England for you.”
Buffy’s eyes widened when her captor informed her that they would be traveling to England. To keep herself from panicking, she started, in her head, to list the different ways she could be gotten out of the country and how NCIS would thwart them. Flying, well, commercially it would be completely impossible. A private plane, however, was a possibility. As far as boats went, again, commercial should be out, but there was nothing to stop her if she somehow had a way of getting them onto a container ship. And if she was capable of pulling off a kidnapping in the Navy Yard, she clearly had a way of spoofing video cameras and quite possibly Jedi-ing the guards into just letting her through. She wished now that she had paid more attention to some of Giles’ and Willow’s long rambles on magic, she was sure that that type of mind-control had come up at some point, she remembered that it was something Xander said that started the conversation.
Deciding to see if there was anything she could do to get herself out of this predicament, Buffy carefully flexed her wrists from where they were tied behind her, then rolled her shoulders in an effort to ascertain how her arms were bound. It seemed that they were simply bound together at the wrists, and Buffy resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the woman’s stupidity.
She could already feel, just by flexing her wrists, that the bonds were only strong enough to hold a normal human, which she certainly wasn’t. She wondered about that for a long moment, then remembered, vaguely, the mumblings about drugs that would control a Slayer. It made sense to her that the Council would have created such things, but she wondered with a shiver what use they were put to, other than the capture of truly dangerous, insane Slayers. Still, she wasn’t a Slayer anymore, and unless she missed her guess, the things that were meant to control the Slayer were mystical and aimed at the Slayer spirit.
From what she and Ziva had been able to ascertain, what she had was purely physical, no mystical aspect except that what had caused it originally was mystical, which meant that once whatever sedative was combined with the drug wore off, she’d be ready to take the bitch out, unless she gave her more before it wore off fully. She could already feel it going, the strength seeming to seep back into her muscles as the false lethargy retreated. Buffy subsided onto the back seat, not wanting to draw too much attention to herself and make the woman think that maybe she should giver her more sedative. She found by dint of careful manipulation that her legs, where tied together at the ankles, and there wasn’t even a hobbling rope connecting wrist to ankles. Buffy couldn’t believe that this woman had ever managed to get a drop on her, whatever she thought about herself. She settled in to wait, feeling the heaviness drain out of her muscles and her mind, and just waited for the opportune moment.
Ziva wanted to scream, or hit something, or both. The security feed clearly showed what had happened to her sister, but for some reason it had been hidden at the time from the security guards on camera obs. She felt absolutely helpless, and found that she didn’t like the feeling at all.
Gibbs growled as he watched the screen, watched the woman tossing his Lizzy, one of his girls, into the backseat of the car before speeding away. He could already see a bruise over half of the girl’s face, presumably from where she had fallen down the stairs, and he worried about what other damage may have been done. They knew she was bleeding, but what if she had internal injuries as well? Her ribs were still weak, and he worried that they may have fully broken this time, possibly even punctured a lung. He carefully kept all of these thoughts behind his lips and off his face, hiding them from his team, who needed him to be the leader now. Abby, he knew, was down in her lab, having a quiet break down even as she analysed the evidence, trying to figure out how Lizzy had been taken down so easily. Ziva was pacing, as she only did when she was extremely upset, and he knew that the Director was quietly freaking out upstairs, not only over the kidnapping, which was embarrassing enough, but also over having to suddenly organize security for the head of the Israeli Mossad. Tony was quiet, which was always a bad sign with the rambunctious agent, and there hadn’t been a movie reference since he’d heard about the situation. It reminded Gibbs eerily of how he had been directly following the loss of Kate, and he silently swore to himself that this situation would not have the same ending.
Turning his attention back to the video, Gibbs imprinted the image of the woman’s face in his mind. “Anything back from the BOLO yet?” he demanded for the fifth time.
“Nothing yet, boss. She’s not likely to try for the airports, but we’re screening for any private international flights.”
“She will probably not try to fly at all,” Ziva declared, her accent thicker than normal. “If she is what I think she is, she will be in no hurry and perfectly happy to be heading to England as slowly as necessary. I believe she may attempt to gain passage on a cargo ship or something similar.”
“And what, exactly, is it that you think she is, Zi-va?” demanded Tony, jumping on the hint.
Ziva realized suddenly that she hadn’t actually told them who she thought had her sister. She had called her father, then come back in to work, and…it just hadn’t been said. She had thought it had, and now she wanted to hit herself. ‘This is why relations shouldn’t be investigating their own cases,’ she thought to herself furiously. “She is…what Giles is, I believe. My father is following up on that, Tony, but if she is…she may well have ways of controlling Elisheva that render her incapable of helping herself.”
Gibbs frowned, looking between his two lead agents. He knew there was something going on with Lizzy, that there was something different about her, but he hadn’t actually picked up on anything that couldn’t be explained by an overly rigorous training schedule as a child. Her nightmares were fierce, but he figured she’d been through more than enough in just the last couple of weeks to give her some doozies, so he wasn’t sure if they were proof of anything or not.
“Well, shit,” Tony said after a long moment, breaking Gibbs out of his thoughts and bringing his attention back to the current situation. “Then she…”
“Well, shit,” Tony repeated.
Gibbs scowled, stepped up behind them and popped both of his lead agents in the back of the head. “Will someone kindly explain what the hell you two are talking about?” he snapped, glaring between the two of them.
Tony and Ziva looked at each other and gulped quietly.
“You see, Gibbs…”
“It’s like this…”
“Lizzy isn’t the most…”
“Normal girl, right Ziva?”
“Right, Tony. She is…most abnormal, in tip of fact.”
“In point of fact, Ziva,” Tony patiently corrected his partner, who shrugged it off.
“ENOUGH!” shouted Gibbs, breaking up the already confusing attempt to explain. “Ziva, you talk. Tony, quiet.”
“I cannot…tell you much, Gibbs. It would not be fair to Elisheva,” Ziva said after a moment. She frowned in thought, then continued, “Lizzy has a past with a group that use young women to fight, not strictly speaking a political group, but anyway. My father used his influence and had them release her as soon as he found out about it,” she lied smoothly. “I believe that the woman who snatched her today was involved in the same group and who must be unaware that they have released Lizzy from their…service. What she did today betrayed certain…methods that group is well known for. And she would have certain methods which would allow her to restrain Elisheva far more efficiently than…anyone else I can think of.”
Gibbs’ eyebrows rose, but he refrained from commenting. “And you did not bring this up before, because?” he asked, and Ziva’s shoulders slumped.
“I thought I had. I called my father with my suspicions, and I came back up from the parking garage and helped with the scene and…I forgot I had not told you. I should not be working this case, Gibbs.” She sank into her desk chair with a defeated groan, burying her head in her hands.
“No,” Gibbs agreed softly as Jethro pushed his head into her lap, whining in concern as he looked up at her face. “But you have information about this case that may well prove very important. Just like any relative in this type of situation. Just stay there, drink that,” he put his own cup of coffee down on her desk, shocking her almost senseless, “and answer questions or input information as you remember it.”
“Yes, Gibbs,” she replied, still looking at the coffee cup as though it might bite her, before reaching out gingerly and taking its comforting warmth into her hands, cradling it so that it warmed both her palms. She took a sip, and found that the coffee was, despite Tony’s continual protestations to the contrary, very good. Black and strong and bitter and exactly what she needed right now. It settled in her stomach and radiated warmth, the familiar bite on her tongue seeming to wake her almost instantly, even though she knew, factually, that caffeine took a lot longer than that to work.
“So, you think she’s one of Giles’ crowd?” Tony asked, pulling his chair over and sitting in front of her so that he was looking her in the eye. “Why don’t we try contacting Giles then?”
Ziva bit her tongue on the immediate response and tried to come up with something more temperate. They couldn’t allow the Watchers’ Council to know how much of her abilities Elisheva had ended up retaining, and if anyone was able to identify how much she had, it would be her former watcher. And Ziva knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, if the man heard what was happening, he would come. “He has…many responsibilities where he is,” she temporized. “And I do not think that it would be in Lizzy’s best interests, long term, for him to come.”
This occasioned more than one raised eyebrow around the group. “That is something it is not my place to discuss, and while it impacts directly on the why of this situation, it does not impact on finding them,” Ziva said firmly. “It will be up to Lizzy, when she gets back, what she tells you, but it’s her story and her secrets and I can’t tell them for her.”
Gibbs scowled, turning away. He didn’t like this at all. But he knew Ziva and Tony and when both of them agreed on this…something was seriously wrong with Lizzy. He didn’t know what yet, but he was going to find out and he was going to find out soon, just as soon as he got her back and could get her to talk to him. He couldn’t be in a situation like this, not knowing everything necessary to help one of his family.
Eli David sat in the comfortable leather of the jet and scowled, staring out the window. Somewhere out there his youngest child, his baby, was lost. No, not lost. Stolen. And he had to get her back from a woman who had not only been trained to deal with a Slayer in terms of incapacitating as well as training but who had also been taught how to take a child and hide them completely, how to feel no guilt over taking a ‘tool’ from her family, and he wished he could follow through on his first impulse and wipe the Watchers’ Council from existence. He dismissed the wistful thought with a sigh, knowing that he never would, never could, that they were too important, even if most of what they clung to was absolute rubbish. He caught himself grinding his teeth and forced himself to stop, loosening his jaw with a determination that those who had faced him as an opponent, be it physical, political or psychological, knew and feared. He was getting his daughter back. There were no two ways about that. He was finding her and bringing her home.
Buffy now knew why the Watcher bitch hadn’t worried about tying her up more securely. Not long before the sedative would have worn off to the point where she could act, the car had stopped, and the woman had turned and shot another dart into her leg, pumping her full of the drug once more before she exited the car. Opening the back door, she dragged Buffy out and hauled her bodily into a large crate, the base 2.5 meters square and about 1.5 meters high, with narrow, barred windows at the top, which read ‘Dangerous Animal Transit’ on its metal exterior.
“There,” she panted. Whatever she’d shot Buffy with this time wasn’t knocking her out. “That will hold you, and anyone who looks in will see the tiger that I have papers to transport to England. We’ll be home…well, not actually in time for tea, but by this time tomorrow you’ll be safely ensconced at the Council and I will be taking charge of your…reeducation.”
The pause she left felt a lot more than vaguely threatening, and even knowing what she knew, Buffy was nervous. She knew, theoretically, that the Watchers’ Council wouldn’t keep her, but there was knowing, then there was knowing. Before she could throw any more barbs at the woman, the door on her prison clanged shut, sealing her in on a bed of thick tough matting with what smelled like a small chemical toilet stuck in the corner, a large bottle of water and a bag of what looked like trail mix in the corner opposite. That was all she could make out from her current vantage point, and she lay where she was, unable to move and desperately hoping that it wore off before they loaded her into the plane and took off, because if it didn’t there was a pretty major risk of her choking on her own vomit, she’d always been a bad flyer.
It was maybe ten minutes later when she heard the sound of heavy machinery approaching, then stopping by her crate. “You’ve got the paperwork?” asked a gruff male voice, and the Watcher, who hadn’t given Buffy her name, responded in the affirmative. There was some rustling of papers, then footsteps approaching her cage and a head appeared in one of the small barred slits. “Big girl,” the man commented. “Beautiful. Not to worry, I’ve had experience moving animals before now, she’ll not feel a bump. I’ll get her loaded now, shall I?”
“Thank you,” the clipped, polite British tones did not hold the disdain they had when she was speaking to Buffy, but there was something indefinable within them that said she held herself above this man. He didn’t respond, but a moment later the engine started again and she felt something sliding underneath the floor below her head, then the box was moving.
The adrenaline that shot through her burned through most of the drug in moments, allowing her to scramble up to sit against one side of the crate, eyes wide, hands clenching tight enough for her short fingernails to cut into her palms. This was really happening. The fear that suddenly gripped her drove everything else from her mind, but rather than sending her into a fit within the crate it held her still, eyes wide, breath panting through her teeth and fine tremors running up and down her limbs. She wanted her mother, and the thought that she wanted her mother started tears coursing down her face. The anguished sobbing shook her, knocking her bruised back again and again against the side of the crate.
It was the breakdown that, although Buffy didn’t know it, Ziva had been waiting for for weeks. After they’d reached DC, Buffy had been so busy that she hadn’t had time to really think, let alone grieve, and while she had done a good bit of that before they left Sunnydale, you didn’t just lose someone that important to you and pack up your entire life to move somewhere else in the space of a week without it giving you major issues. Ziva had been waiting for Buffy to crack for some time, as had the rest of the NCIS team, but it seemed that being crated up and shipped to England was the straw that broke the camel’s back. So Buffy sobbed, and shook, and screamed all within the charmed confines of the crate, the sound transmuted as it reached the walls of the crate into the terrifying but somehow still pitiful calls of a distressed tiger.
The crate tipped up on an angle suddenly, gravity pressing her back against the wall, but she didn’t really notice beyond finding it somewhat uncomfortable. The crate leveled, then settled with a solid thud of metal on metal with an oddly hollow ring to it, and the engine cut off again.
“There, there, girl,” the man crooned as he moved around the crate, fastening it down securely. “You’re going to a nice new home. Maybe they’ve got a man for you there, too, that’d be nice, wouldn’t it?” He peered in at the complaining feline, then stepped back with a sigh and left her there, fully secured for her trip across the Atlantic.
Buffy vaguely heard the man speak, but was too caught up in her tears to really notice what was going on. She did hear the engine start again, then move away. Pulling her knees up and wrapping her arms around them, she buried her face against her thighs, the rough denim soaking up her tears.
“There’s one charter flight to England leaving in an hour,” McGee called. “It’s apparently a big cat transfer to the London Zoo, a Bengal tiger.”
“Have you contacted the zoo to confirm they are expecting an arrival?” demanded Gibbs.
“I’ve got a message into them now, I’m just waiting for someone to be woken up who can actually answer the question,” McGee replied. “There are three container ships all leaving port for different English ports today, all leaving from the same DC harbour, I’ve printed the details, they should be coming out now.”
“She…did something to get past the guards on the gates, and to fool the guards watching the security cameras, didn’t she?” demanded Gibbs, and Ziva nodded reluctantly. “What’s to stop her from doing it again?”
“There are several conditions that, to my understanding, render what she did very difficult, Gibbs. The key one is suspicion. While the guards here are paid to be suspicious, lets face it, no one is going to expect a kidnapping in the Navy Yard, none of us did after all. But if people are actually looking for this woman, know what she did, she shouldn’t be able to do it again, not unless she’s incredibly…strong. Just by the fact of people actively looking for her, a lot of what she can do should be rendered completely useless.”
“So, it’s not quite, ‘These aren’t the droids you’re looking for’, it’s more misdirection than absolute control,” Tony asked to confirm his understanding.
“This is impossible,” snarled Gibbs. “And I know it happened because I questioned the guards, but still…this is impossible!”
“We will explain,” Ziva told him, her voice clearly betraying her exhaustion. “For now, you have to just accept it, and I’m sorry, Gibbs. I really am. We didn’t think this would be an issue here, ever.”
Tony grabbed the pages off the printer and began looking them over setting one aside as an almost immediate no as it carried crates for only one company, then looking over the other two, trying to figure out which would be better for the purposes of someone trying to smuggle a teen out of America illegally. He catalogued the differences between the ships, and quickly settled on one as the more likely target. It accepted single box allotments from private citizens, mostly for the transport of household goods for expatriates. The other, while it carried the goods of multiple corporations, still didn’t allow for single cargo crate lots, and he couldn’t imagine anyone being willing to pay the exorbitant rate for the minimum of five that was required just to get two people out of the country.
McGee’s phone rang, and he answered it, Ziva straining to hear over the noise in the bullpen. She couldn’t, and she waited impatiently for him to finish. She didn’t have long to wait, as he dropped the phone barely ten seconds later, jumping to his feet.
“Boss, we’ve got it! There’s no delivery of a Bengal tiger to the London zoo anytime in the near future. That’s got to be it. It’s scheduled to leave in forty-five minutes, I’ll try and get airport security in on it, but we have no guarantee that they’ll be able to see through what she’s doing.”
“Lets move, people!” Gibbs said, and all four of them grabbed guns and badges, Ziva immediately dismissing the ‘I shouldn’t be working this case’ attitude and leading the way to the elevators.
Buffy had finally calmed somewhat, her sobs easing although tears still ran down her cheeks, when she felt the plane start to move around her. She scrambled up, straining to see through the bars on the crate, but all she could make out were the sides of a relatively small cargo hold. Her tears stopped as she finally had something else to focus on, and a horrifying thought suddenly occurred to her.
“You’d better have remembered that the hold needs to be pressurized, bitch,
” she muttered to herself. She took a deep, still somewhat shuddering, breath and turned to survey her prison. There really wasn’t anything more to it than what she’d already seen, and she realized with a start that there was no way to secure herself for take off. After a couple of moments consideration, she jammed herself into one of the corners, away from the toilet, water and sealed back of food, jamming her hands against the wall to hold herself in place. She felt the plane speed up, and gritted her teeth, waiting for the wheels to leave the ground, knowing that once they did there was no true guarantee that she would leave Council custody again, whatever her father had to say about it. If the Council was to find out that she had retained ANY slayer-like abilities, they would want to keep her. And if they knew that all they had to do was bring her close enough to demons and let her loose to be sure she would kill them all or die trying, they would use her again and again until she was dead.
Suddenly, it wasn’t her mother she was wanting half so much as she wanted her father. She wanted to be safe in her papa’s arms, the safest place in the world, regardless of how much stronger she was than him. She wanted it with a fierceness that almost seemed to burn in its intensity.
The plane, which had been speeding up steadily, slowed with an abruptness that threw her off balance, causing her nose to bash into her knees with a burst of pain, warm liquid flooding down her lip telling her she now had a blood nose.
She remained huddled in on herself, not sure what was happening, and waited.
Ziva saw the plane, a small cargo model still capable of a fair turn of speed, finish taxiing to the end of the runway and complete its turn while they were still more than a hundred meters away. She could hear the tower ordering the plane to stop, telling them that their take off clearance had been revoked, but the plane still started to speed up, obviously preparing to take off, and Gibbs floored it, racing the accelerating plane down the runway.
For a heart stopping moment Ziva didn’t think they would make it, and all of the horrible what-ifs that had been running through her head since Lizzy was taken crashed into her at once. What if Lizzy died on the trip? What if the Council decided to renege on their deal when they found out she still had some, if not all, slayer powers? What if the crazy woman decided not to go to the Council at all, but found some magical way of binding Lizzy to her and just used her that way? Those thoughts and many more ran through Ziva’s head as she watched the plane. Just when she thought it was going to get away, Gibbs managed to inch in front, then turned hard, throwing all four agents against their seatbelts, and blocked the plane’s passage. There was some screeching as the plane’s breaks were applied, the car, now in reverse, moving in front of it to avoid being run down simply by force of inertia.
As soon as the plane was at a stand still, all four doors of the car were thrown open and four guns were trained on the cockpit window, where two people, one man, one woman, could just be made out through the light reflecting off the Plexiglas. The woman was standing now, something, presumably a gun, pointed at the back of the man’s head. He had his hands raised, visible in the windows, and his lips were moving fast, but nothing was coming over the radio.
The woman was glancing furiously between them and the back of the plane, as though trying to decide on her next course of action. None of the plane doors opened, leaving the NCIS team with no clear course of action – they couldn’t shoot through the cockpit windows for two reasons – one was that shooting through Plexiglas was incredibly inaccurate, not to mention there was always the possibility of the bullet not penetrating at all, and secondly, they didn’t know where Lizzy was within the plane, or if the pilot was truly the unwilling accomplice he now appeared. Although Ziva knew it had only been seconds, it felt like an eternity as they waited for a way to break the stalemate.
“Gibbs?” Ziva asked softly. Before anything further could be said, there was a flash of movement in the cockpit and the pilot, now on his feet, had the gun in his hands, pointing at the woman. He reached one hand behind him and pulled a switch, and the four all clearly heard the familiar sound of a ramp being lowered. They split, running down either side of the plane, and cornered carefully, covering the ramp in such a way that if they were forced to fire they wouldn’t hit their team members.
“Gunny Gibbs? That you?” the voice was vaguely familiar to Gibbs, and he called back in the affirmative. “Think this here….female,” at that point the woman who had taken Lizzy was shoved down the ramp out of the plane, pancaking on the tarmac with enough force to hit her face despite her attempts to catch herself, “got a sight more than she bargained for when she hired this old Marine as her pilot.” The man who stepped out was a couple of years younger than Gibbs, with some colour still left in his hair, and he held the gun hanging from one thumb, both hands stretched out to his sides. “Soon’s tower started calling for us to stop, she cut off my mike and put a gun to my head, telling me if I didn’t take off she’d take it off. Wasn’t until you managed to make us stop that I had the opportunity to overpower her.”
“Good job, Simms,” Gibbs said, having placed the man as soon he saw his face. Tony stepped up to relieve him of the gun, which the newly identified Simms relinquished gratefully. At the same time, McGee knelt, pressing one knee into the back of the woman on the ground, and handcuffed her, possibly tighter than necessary, securing her hands behind her back, ignoring her protests.
Ziva brushed past on her way into the cargo hold, all of her attention held by the large crate that was strapped down there, the one that said ‘Dangerous Animal Transport’ on the side that had the sounds of a very unhappy large cat coming out of it. She looked in, straight into the eyes of a furious tigress, and jumped back slightly before her eyes narrowed and she forced herself to really concentrate, to believe that what she was seeing wasn’t real. In moments, it faded away, leaving her looking into her sister’s bloodshot eyes, sent in a bruised, bloodstained face.
“Ziva…” Elisheva’s eyes widened, and she managed a half smile, then toppled over sideways, unconscious.
A/N: Translations. Sorry all, forgot to include this! Oops.
Khalb - dog
Waladtu khalb - daughter of a dog.
Marghful - idiot/moron