Ziva seemed to take the statement "it's only an hour and a half from here" as a personal challenge, and the speed limit as more of a guideline than a law.
Consequentially, they arrived on the outskirts of Myso in about forty-five minutes.
"Awesome place," Tony said with a hint of sarcasm. He looked at the little town before them warily.
Ziva pulled up on the Main Street, where she navigated the road until she found the police station.
The inside of the station seemed to come straight out of an old western movie. Sparse jail cells sat empty in the back of the small front room. A heavy desk sat near the door, and behind it sat a white-haired man who stood up when Ziva entered.
"Morning, ma'am," he said politely. He nodded to Tony and Gibbs as they filed in after her. "Morning."
"Good morning," Ziva said. She pulled out her badge. "We are with NCIS. This is Agent Gibbs and DiNozzo. My name is Agent David. We are looking for someone named Timothy McGee-"
"You know Tim?" The man's eyes lit up. "He's a good guy. I've known him since he was a kid. Him and his friends." A pained look came onto his face.
"You know about that accident, then?" Ziva questioned cautiously.
"Know!? I was the officer on duty that night. I always wondered if I could've stopped those kids from dying..."
To keep the man from going too far into his memories, Tony spoke. "Where would he be? Do you know?"
The officer looked startled. "I didn't even know he was in town. But he could be in a couple places. It's not that big a town, obviously, but Tim McGee spent so much time here, I'd say he knows every inch of it."
"What places?" Gibbs asked.
"Well, you could check the diner, Tim and his friends spent a lot of time there... The movie theater, the park, and then- I don't know why he would- but he could be at Penny's old house, or the houses of his old friends. But, again, I don't know why he would be. No one lives in those houses now."
"Where are these sites?" Ziva asked.
"The park and the movie theater are on this road, in each direction...oh hell, let me just write the addresses down for you."
He took a few minutes to write the addresses on a notepad. The officer had to look through a file to find the addresses that Diana, Kristen, Alex and James stayed at. He sniffled a little as he put the dusty file away.
"Never thought I'd have to go through this thing again," he said. Writing the last of the information, he passed the note to Tony. "There you go."
"Jake Hughes, sir."
Leaving the police station, the team found themselves back on the sidewalk. Gibbs took the piece of paper and ripped it in three.
"Boss?" Tony protested.
Without a word, Gibbs gave a set of addresses from the long list to each agent. He raised his eyebrow at Tony, who grinned sheepishly.
"Right. Sorry, Boss."
Each agent set off to their assigned tasks. Ziva took the movie theater and diner. Tony would pass by the park and Penny's old house. Gibbs would take Alex's house and James' home, as well as Diana's former residence.
"So, Boss, are we drawing straws for the car? Or...?" Tony stopped short as Gibbs pulled away in the car.
"Right," Tony muttered.
"Do not worry about it, Tony," Ziva said. "You could use the exercise."
Kyle Carroll got a certain thrill from going out in the daylight. It sounded ridiculous, but made a sort of twisted sense. It was a rush to think, when he smiled at the cashier in the Myso supermarket, that they all had no idea who he was. He was the man who held up that jewelry store all those years ago! He was the man holding two people in his basement now!
Carroll was almost finished fixing the air conditioning unit. One ancient piece had broken, and he headed to the hardware store to replace it. It was almost noon, so he planned on feeding Tim and Kris when he returned to the old house.
He decided to walk to the hardware store, given the lovely day. The short walk took him several minutes -he was in no rush.
Carroll bought the piece he needed from the hardware store. Next to the store was a movie theater, where he spotted a pretty young woman standing outside. He smiled politely as he passed her, and she smiled back. "Hello," he greeted cheerily.
"Hello," she said as he passed by. She seemed to think for a minute, then moved to catch up with him. "Excuse me, but could I ask you a question?"
"Have you seen this man? We are looking for him." The woman said, producing a picture from her pocket. Kyle stared at it for a minute, and realized with dread that it was Tim McGee. The smile fell off his face.
"I'm afraid not..." He decided to play clueless. "He's not a criminal, is he?"
"No, he's a good friend of mine, actually..."
Carroll noticed badge pinned to the belt on her cargo pants. "Is that an NCIS badge I see?"
She was about to respond when he said, "Lots of people around here are former military. My brother was, actually."
"I see," she said.
"But I won't keep you," he said. "Good luck with your friend."
He walked home faster than he came, the color drained from his face. Somehow, NCIS had figured it out.
Walking through the door of James' uncle's house, he threw down his AC piece and picked up his gun.
Tim and Kristen were wilting in the now-stifling room. Carroll had yet to fix the air conditioner, but he was due to bring them lunch soon.
As neither prisoner knew the time, they weren't sure exactly when Kyle would come. Because of this, they had to stand ready on either side of the door at all times, waiting to act.
"Remember, when he opens the door, run as fast as you can to the phone upstairs," Tim reminded Kris.
"I know, Tim," she said. "But I don't like this. It's too risky for you. And what if you can't hold him and he rushes out of the room? I can't run fast enough to get to the phone in that case."
McGee contemplated the possibilities of this. "When you get out of the room, slide the door shut. Bolt it if you can. It's gonna hurt, but it will buy you time."
She nodded. They waited for another minute, and Tim scratched at his arm and shoulder as gingerly as he could without hurting them. Both wounds were itching and burning now, definitely infected.
Suddenly, the door began to slide open. Tim and Kristen tensed up. Tim crouched a little in preparation to tackle Carroll.
Kyle stepped through the door, but was pushed to the ground before he could notice that his prisoners were loose. Tim pinned him down.
"Go, Kris, GO!" he shouted, rather unnecessarily. She was already sliding the door closed. Taking a deep breath, she slid the bolt into place, hoping to god that Tim would be alright.
At FLETC, one of Tim's instructors mentioned that three things made a person unnaturally strong: Desperation, Self-Preservation, and Insanity. The agent wasn't sure which combination of the three applied to Kyle Carroll. Whichever, the old man was quickly up, throwing Tim off of him. McGee landed on his bad shoulder, and his vision blurred for a second as it began bleeding again. He almost regained his bearings when a sharp kick was landed in his ribs.
Tim heard a crack and realized absently that the sound came from his own rib cage. He didn't feel it quite yet, but he was sure that he would soon.
Looking up, he saw a gun pointed in his face.
"Get up," the man sneered.
McGee had no choice but to obey. It was so odd, he felt like a teenager again, facing off against Kyle's brother.
Carroll seemed to see where Tim's thoughts were going. "Having flashbacks, are we?"
Tim took the opportunity to distract the man. "I was thinking about your brother. How he put up a good fight."
"He did, didn't he?" Kyle said with genuine pride.
"But, ultimately, he lost," Tim needled. "To a bunch of kids."
His opponent growled in frustration. Tim tried to stay strong, but he was beginning to feel where his ribs were newly broken. He continued anyway, with "He lost, mainly, to a small girl. Though in his defense, she was an unstoppable force of nature when she wanted to be-"
Kyle had become so angry he pistol whipped Tim. He might have shot McGee, but he felt a maddening impulse to defend his brother and make a point.
"But your little friends didn't come out alive, did they?! He took out three teens in one summer- two in one night!"
"That's only because the police couldn't come-"
"Which was his idea." Kyle snapped.
Tim widened his eyes in confusion. His vision was shifting in and out, but he somehow figured out what that meant.
"Yes, I kept the police from coming. That jewelry store robber was me. It was my brother's idea so that the cops would be too busy to worry about a bunch of brats. I borrowed the idea the other day to distract NCIS in Alameda, too. That bomb and its aftermath will keep them busy for days. They're not coming for you. No one's coming for you."
"Navy brats," Tim said.
"You said 'too busy to worry about a bunch of brats.' We were Navy brats."
Kristen had run up the stairs as fast as her weak, malnourished legs could carry her. She grabbed the phone in the kitchen and dialed 9-1-1. Her muscles were quivering under the strain, and she was crying from exhaustion, pain and fear. She squinted in the natural light coming from the windows, and put the phone to her ear.
"911, what's your-"
"Please, I need the police. I'm being held here against my will. My friend is fighting our captor right now. Hurry!"
She gave them the address, and prayed again.
Tony, Gibbs and Ziva met in front of the police station, going over their progress.
"I did not see him anywhere, Gibbs. No one knew him at the movie theater, either," Ziva reported.
"Nothing at the park, Boss. Penny had a cute house, though," Tony said.
Gibbs looked at his agents. "Didn't Hughes say that no one was living at the old houses?"
"Because one house had a car in the drive and someone was moving around inside."
Tony was about to respond when the door opened and Officer Hughes rushed out.
"Agent Gibbs! I just got a 9-1-1 call from someone in James Wilson's house- claims to be Kristen Macheer, Tim's old friend. Says she's been held hostage in the house the past few days."
Team Gibbs was already in the car, speeding to the house.
Tim stared at the man, who was so angry he was shaking. He took the moment in a last-gasp effort; knowing that he was going to fall down soon anyway, McGee launched himself at this distracted, pathetic person. He collided with Kyle, tackling him to the floor. Carroll's hand was jostled, and he accidentally fired two shots into the ceiling. The gun flew out of his grasp. He kicked Tim in the ribs again and army-crawled to where his weapon lay.
Tony, Ziva and Gibbs shot out of their car, guns drawn. Tony quickly kicked in the door, and Ziva rushed through.
"NCIS!" she shouted in her most intimidating tone.
A whimper came from the kitchen. Ziva approached the sound and took in the sight before her- a weak and faltering Kristen Macheer. She cleared the room and heard Tony and Gibbs shout "Clear!" as they swept the rest of the house. Ziva tried to approach the artist, but she was waved off.
"The door! The trap door in the living room! Tim's down there!"
Ziva ran into the living room as Tony, who had heard Kristen, pulled open the door. Gibbs ran down the steps first.
McGee had pulled Kyle away from the gun as fast as he could, but the old man grabbed the firearm anyway. He turned and fired two more shots. Tim, assuming he missed, grabbed the gun strait out of Kyle's hands. He stood up and faced the crazy man, who, with a loud shriek, jumped at Tim, who fired a shot of his own.
At that moment, the door slid back with a bang, and Gibbs rushed through, followed by the rest of his team.
"Boss!" Tim exclaimed in an exhausted voice. He turned to see Kyle Carroll fall down, dead.
Turning back to his team, he saw Ziva coming towards him quickly, a look of horror on her face. His chest felt prickly, so he looked down to see two big stains of blood on his shirt, where he had been shot.
As the life drained from him, Tim wondered if this was how Diana felt all those years ago, as the life drained from her.