Edge of woods near MacArthur Supply Base
Gibbs straightened up from where he was studying the dirt as a familiar sounding car came to a stop nearby him. Tony and Ziva got out, glanced around and approached him, stepping past the search party of seamen provided from the base who were now busy searching along the edges of the nearby main road.
Gibbs’s eyes narrowed. Tony had driven, which meant that Ziva probably wasn’t that confident yet that she’d shaken off that blow to the head. He regarded his two agents as they stopped. “Ziva?” he inquired.
Ziva’s face tightened up, and she stiffened. “I will be fine, Gibbs,” she said firmly, clearly understanding his meaning. “It is a matter of time. Besides, Tony needed practice in his driving skills.”
Tony winced. “Only thing worse than Ziva driving is a backseat Ziva constantly pointing out that I should be going faster.” He grinned at Ziva. “Speed limits really are just a suggestion for you, aren’t they?”
“Enough,” Gibbs grunted, internally pleased to see them back to as normal as they were going to get.
“So, why we here then, boss?” Tony said, pulling a pair of dark sunglasses out of his pocket and putting them on.
“Tell me what you see,” Gibbs said, and stepped back a couple of paces.
The actual area of the woods they were standing in was a small dirt patch just off the side of a small road that ran through the edge of the trees. Washington itself could be seen clearly through the treeline, basking in the warm, bright sunlight. Their area was still fairly shadowed, and judging from the sheer number of tire tracks that were evident on the edge of the road, quite a popular parking spot as well.
Ziva frowned, studying the area carefully. “Quiet, secluded, yet easy access to the roads and with all this woodland area for the view, I would say that this is a good place for joggers.”
“Mmmm,” Gibbs nodded, still impassive.
Tony stepped a couple of feet to one side, then a couple more and stared around the side of a small bush. “And there’s a very familiar looking tarpaulin here, boss.” He straightened up and looked around the area closely.
Ziva joined him and knelt down by the tarpaulin. Using a small probe, she lifted one flap up off the ground and regarded it. “It certainly bears a strong resemblance to that which we saw on the recordings, Gibbs.” She looked up suddenly, “Gibbs! There is fresh blood on this!”
Gibbs grunted again, this time managing to get annoyance and worry mixed in together. “Was afraid of that.” He nodded towards the two of them. “Get tracking, Ziva.”
He gestured towards the open map outstretched on the hood of his car. “Layout of the land suggested anyone leaving the base at that point where all three of ‘em did would head this way. The CPO over there knows the area. If they headed downhill, they’d end up around here.”
Tony’s face twisted. “Approx timing of the first solo guy leaving the base would be early enough in the morning that there still might be joggers about, taking a quick run before work.” He looked over at Gibbs, and sighed. “Boss, have to get McGee to check it out for sure, but I swear there wasn’t any blood showing on that tarp when I was looking at the tapes.”
Ziva nodded in agreement, as she studied the ground around the tarp. “There is a spot of blood over here, and here. A trail of kinds,” she said, moving around the dirt area in intense concentration.
Tony stood still for a moment, fixing the layout in his mind. He stepped towards the turn-off from the road. “Okay, if I was driving in, I’d come in this way,” he said, making turning motions with his hands as if driving a car. “Bump over this bit here, and swing her round to park up.... over here!”
He found himself standing next to Ziva who’d followed her blood splatters to the same area. They both looked at each other, then knelt down in unison to study the ground at their feet.
“Slight traces of engine oil, like if this spot had been used pretty regular for parking, boss.”
“Scuff marks on the ground, Gibbs, and drag marks. Possible fight, possibly also the moving of that tarpaulin. Fragments of broken glass here, still bright and sharp. They have not been here for long.”
Tony nodded. “Bout the right area for a side-view mirror.”
Gibbs joined them and regarded the area before them with barely concealed loathing. “Right, assume that our perp now has a car. Question is what happened to the driver in the first place.”
“And why he took them with him, boss. It would have been just as easy to leave them, unconscious or dead, with the tarp.”
Gibbs nodded again, and pulled out his phone. “Good. Work on the assumption there’s been a kidnap. Go back the way you came and look for any cameras, CCTV or anything that covers this road for this morning. I’ll go south, do the same.”
Ziva nodded. “We cannot proceed further without an identification of the car.” She turned and headed back to the car she’d arrived in, only to stop when she realised Tony wasn’t following her. “Tony?”
He was standing there, staring into the woods back towards where she assumed MacArthur Supply Base was. “Tony?” she said again, gently touching him on one arm.
He shivered, and dropped out of his stance. “Sorry... thought I heard something, that’s all.”
Ziva tugged him back towards the car, his gaze still drifting towards the trees. “You are thinking of those women, are you not?”
Tony shrugged, and unrepentantly smiled at Ziva, finally joining her on the way back to their car. “Can’t help but remember they were talking about tracking as well. Odds are they’d end up around here as well.”
Ziva glanced over to where Gibbs was busily instructing Tucker’s men, and pointing to the woods towards the base. “I do not think you will have to concern yourself with that for much longer,” she said dryly.
“Luck we’ve been having on this case so far?” said Tony opening the car door and swinging himself back behind the wheel, “Wouldn’t bet on it.”
As their car pulled out and headed back up the road, back in the woods left behind them, a branch snapped as if someone had stood on it.
Tucker’s men later reported finding nobody.
~ + ~