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NCIS: Recoil
Airdate: May 8, 2008
Author: callerbear

A good looking, muscular man rinses a great deal of blood from his hands, then uses a towel to dab a bit more blood from his cheek. He seems to be in a good mood, and doesn’t appear to be injured in any way. His cell phone chirps, and he answers it with a smile. “Hey, be right there!” He pulls on a shirt and leaves by his front door.

Along the way, he passes a dead young woman lying on a sheet of plastic in his living room. Next to her lies her blouse and a knife – and she apparently has been disemboweled.

The man cheerfully walks down the sidewalk to a waiting car and climbs in the passenger door. “Hi, gorgeous!” He grins and leans over to kiss the eager driver… Ziva David!

Roll the opening credits.

Ziva’s car pulls away from the house and away, passing a plumber’s van with a disguised Tony in the driver’s seat. “Elvis has left the building,” he radios to Gibbs and McGee in another car. “Get in there, DiNozzo!” Gibbs radios, while he and McGee use a tracking device to follow Ziva. Tony starts walking towards the house.

“So where are we going on this ‘mystery date’?” Ziva asks. Her hair is loose and around her shoulders. The man brushes off the question. “Well, it wouldn’t be a mystery if I told you, Gina.” They laugh when she asks if she should have brought a toothbrush.

McGee and Gibbs are a couple blocks behind; Gibbs driving while McGee gives him directions from the tracking software.

The man observes that Ziva had left the bar early the night before. “Yes, my husband was calling from Fallujah,” she tells him. “Should I get on the expressway?” she asks. “Nope,” he answers succinctly. Ziva looks at him in appreciation. “I like a man who keeps secrets.”

Tony enters the house through the back door, then quietly steps into the living room. Aghast at the sight, he immediately calls Gibbs. “Don’t need the bugs, boss, got Hoffman’s latest victim. Number five. Female Caucasian, late twenties, dead on the living room floor.” “What about the finger?” Tony looks at the woman’s left hand, and we see that her ring finger has been cut off. “Yep, missing the finger.”

Gibbs hands his phone to McGee and orders him to call Ziva and give her the distress code. They’re going to capture Hoffman right now. When Ziva answers her phone, McGee says just one word: “Bernard?” Open-mouthed in surprise for a moment, Ziva says that he’s called the wrong number and hangs up. Gibbs races the engine of his car to catch up.

Her passenger picks up her phone. “Who’s Gibbs?” he asks, “His name is number two on your speed dial.” “He was an ex-boyfriend, OK? Can I have my phone back, please?” Hoffman whips out a revolver and aims directly at her head. “Drive,” he says, cocking the gun.

McGee and Gibbs follow Ziva’s car into an industrial area, and find the car stopped with the doors opened.

Inside a warehouse (with no-one else around), Hoffman still has the gun trained on Ziva. “You’re a cop, aren’t you?” Ziva turns around with her hands in the air. “Why did you kill those women, Andy?” “For their husbands. Save them the humiliation of finding out that their wives are screwing around on them, while they were serving their country!” “Is that what happened to you?” “You don’t need to know what happened to me. Walk.” Ziva turns around, hands still in the air, and begins to walk through the warehouse.

Outside, Gibbs and McGee, weapons aimed, confirm that Ziva’s car is empty. Tim finds her cell phone. Gibbs signals McGee to go around while he heads towards the nearest warehouse door.

Inside, Ziva approaches a doorway blocked by an iron grate. “Get in there,” Hoffman orders. He cocks the gun. Hearing the noise, Ziva whirls sideways as Hoffman’s shot grazes her temple. Gibbs and McGee hear the gunshot and break into a run. Ziva and Hoffman fight and the gun slides across the floor. It’s a fairly even match. Ziva breaks away and scrambles for the gun as Hoffman rises above, knife in hand, ready to stab. She turns and fires up at him, five shots, center of mass. He falls and lands directly on top of her, face to face. He dies with his eyes open, looking directly at her.

“Ziva!” Gibbs calls. She pushes Hoffman to the side, lies on the floor with arms akimbo as she catches her breath. “Ziva!” Gibbs and McGee arrive at a run. They help her to her feet; she has Hoffman’s blood in several places on her face and clothing. McGee confirms that Hoffman is dead. Gibbs looks squarely at Ziva. “You all right?” She manages to nod, but is still shaken and somewhat unsteady on her feet. Phoof!

Still at the scene of the shooting, Ducky is attending to Ziva’s temple wound while the others begin documenting the site. He tells her that she should go for x-rays. “I am fine,” she declares. “You don’t look fine,” Gibbs tells her. Ducky leaves to attend to the body while Ziva looks at Gibbs. “He did not hurt me,” she says. He hands her a pair of coveralls. “Need your clothes. Get changed, get an x-ray, go home.” He leans close for emphasis, but speaks softly. “I do not see to see you again today.”

Tony calls McGee – he’s impatiently waiting with the dead woman in Hoffman’s living room. “How’s Ziva?” “Pretty shaken up.” Tony has a concerned look. “Keep me updated,” he says.

A DC Metro Police detective arrives. Gibbs tells him that Officer David was working undercover in the bar where two of the victims had last been seen. “Planning to do the same thing ourselves if you hadn’t taken over the case,” the detective grouses. “You know, Rosetti, I don’t think Hoffman is your type.” Meanwhile, Ziva has finished changing clothes inside the van and walks back towards Hoffman’s body. Her memory flashes the very near miss of Hoffman’s shot. She ducks under the crime scene tape and Rosetti looks at her in appreciation. “Nice work, David!” She doesn’t respond, and still looks somewhat shell-shocked. Gibbs and Rosetti each offer to get her a ride to the hospital, but she snaps out of her stare. “I’m fine, really. Thank you.” She hands the bag with her clothing to Gibbs and leaves. Gibbs looks after her with concern.

That night, at her desk in the squadroom, Ziva reaches into a drawer. When she sees her gun in the drawer, she winces, then quickly reaches past it for a bottle of painkillers. Gibbs walks in. “I told you to go home.” “My statement is on your desk. Have you identified the last victim?” Gibbs is joined by McGee and Tony, and they surround her desk. “No.” says Gibbs as the boys all look on. Ziva takes a breath, then rises. She plans to go back to the bar and ask the patrons if they recognize the victim. McGee will print a face shot. “You stay with her, DiNozzo.”

Tony looks at her. “What?” she asks. “You don’t look so bad. McGee said you were a wreck.” He reaches out towards her forehead, and she grabs his wrist forcefully. “I was just going to tussle your hair. Sometimes it makes you smile.” Tight-lipped, Ziva looks down, relaxes a little and softly apologizes.

At the bar, many patrons are watching the ZNN coverage of the case. “[Hoffman’s] shooting death [by an undercover NCIS agent] ends the series of brutal murders of military wives found in war memorials around DC.” Ziva and Tony walk in, and Tony is immediately impressed by the pretty bartender. “Her name is Heidi,” Ziva tells him, and Tony wanders off towards the bar.

Michael, one of the patrons has noticed Ziva’s arrival, and rushes over to join her. “Gina, you hear about Andy Hoffman? ‘Cuz this thing with a bar…” Ziva cuts him off, and explains that she is a federal agent that has been undercover. He realizes that when she was “chatting him up”, she may have thought he was the killer. “Michael, I was just doing my job.” “Sure, just doing your job.” He moves away.

Tony is talking with Heidi the bartender, who doesn’t recognize the victim but had frequently talked with Hoffman. “There’s a couple of guys in here I would have suspected before him.” She doesn’t know anything about Hoffman’s ex-wife. Tony looks over at a corner where Ziva and Michael are talking together in a booth. Heidi tells Tony that Michael’s girlfriend walked out on him a few weeks earlier and he hasn’t been able to find her.

In the corner, Michael recognizes the victim in the photograph. Her name was Julie; he had talked with her once or twice, hoping that she had known his ex-girlfriend, Devon. Now Michael is worried that Devon may have been another one of Hoffman’s victims. He notices the bandage on Ziva’s temple. “He do that?” he asks, and gently brushes her hair aside as Tony watches from the bar.

The next morning in the squadroom, the team reports what they know about the latest victim; her employer has filed a missing persons’ report. Ziva says that she was last seen two nights earlier leaving a lounge, alone. Tony walks in, followed by the husband of the fourth victim. He asked DiNozzo to allow him to come up to the squadroom so that he could personally thank Ziva for killing Hoffman, and hopes that she made him suffer for what he did. Ziva face is downcast and she has nothing to say. Gibbs has DiNozzo take Petty Officer Massey down to the evidence locker to pick up his wife’s effects. In her mind, Ziva replays the moments of the shooting once again. “Hey!” Gibbs brings her back to the present.

In Autopsy, Ducky has been reviewing the medical facts of the five victim’s deaths. Many factors are the same across all five victims, but the fourth victim’s finger was cut off almost immediately after death, where the others were cut off several hours after death.

Abby rolls in on a pair of inline skates. “Efficiency, Gibbs,” she explains, looking at a stopwatch. “I took off 14 ½ seconds from what it usually takes me to get here. So I estimate that I could gain 17 minutes a day, that would be 85 minutes in a week, 382 minutes in a month, so in a year…” “Abs.” “Yes, Gibbs?” He points. “Is that knife going to tell me something?”

It’s definitely the serrated knife used to sever the victim’s fingers, but she found a partial print in blood on the handle that doesn’t match Hoffman or the other victims. She doesn’t think Hoffman was working alone. Phoof!

In the squadroom, Ziva is still uncharacteristically solemn. Tony tries to lighten the mood by teasing her, but it doesn’t work. Gibbs walks in an announces that they have an unexpected and unmatched fingerprint. “Hoffman had an accomplice?” McGee asks. “Yeah, that’s one explanation.” Ziva suggests that it could be a copy-cat killer. Gibbs barks out orders, assigning things for the team to follow. “Tomorrow,” he concludes, “Go home. Been a long day. Get some rest.” He turns to Ziva. “You. I do not need to see you here tomorrow.”

McGee grabs his bag and heads out in a hurry. Tony steps over to Ziva’s desk and apologizes for his earlier teasing.

“Listen, I wasn’t trying to make light of what you went through. Just trying to snap you out of your headspace, you know?”
“I have perfectly good space in my head.”
“Great! Then let’s get a drink. You talk, I’ll listen.”
“I don’t want a drink.”
“OK. One drink. I’ll talk, you listen.”
“Tony. No.”

Cut to the bar, where Ziva is sitting alone and finishes a Mojito. She is trying to make sense out of a strange television show when Michael walks up behind her. He offers to buy her next drink. “Are you working?” She tells him, no, she’s not working – just drinking. She calls out to Heidi for another (in half Spanish, half French). Michael’s gentle teasing surfaces the first chuckle we’ve seen since the shooting. In response to her question, Michael says that he’s not at the bar searching (for Devon), but just drinking.

Ziva smiles, then leans forward and pulls Devon’s picture from Michael’s pocket. He tells her about Devon, again bringing a smile to light. “She sounds amazing.” “Yeah, other than the fact that we were totally incompatible, Devon was perfect for me.” He’s not looking to get back together with her, but just wants to know she’s OK. “I’m going to help you,” Ziva decides. “You already have,” Michael tells her. “How so?” “By killing Hoffman. That’s one less nightmare.”

Ziva’s nightmare returns – once again, her mind replays the terrible events of the shooting and Hoffman falling upon her face to face. “You OK?” Michael asks. Ziva smiles half-heartedly. “Never better.” She looks at Devon’s picture once again, then back at Michael.

The next morning, Ziva walks slowly into the squadroom, still looking terrible. McGee is reviewing video surveillance of Hoffman. Ziva recognizes Hoffman leaving a bar with victim number 3. “Look at this guy here,” McGee says as another patron steps out of the bar just after them. “He’s watching them. If Hoffman had an accomplice, it could very well be him.” Ziva points out that the man could just be a passer-by. We see the patron get in a car and leave in the same direction as Hoffman and his victim. McGee speculates on reasons he could be following Hoffman. “Or he could just be going to a bar,” Ziva notes. McGee is convinced the man was an accomplice, but the surveillance image is from above and behind, not showing a face.

Tony comes down the stairs with Gibbs; he reports that the neighbors barely knew Hoffman. Metro Detective Rosetti comes in – he thought the case was closed. Rosetti downplays the partial print – “It could be anything”, but Gibbs doesn’t agree. He wants everything Rosetti has on the case. “I’ve already given you everything that I think is relevant.” “Well, then give me everything you think isn’t.” Rosetti still wants to close the case and move on, even though they haven’t found the missing fingers. “DiNozzo, you were a cop. Tell your boss what it’s like to have twenty open case files on your desk…” Gibbs has had enough. “I don’t care if you’ve got a hundred. There could still be a killer out there.” Rosetti leaves in defeat.

Ziva looks on, silently, with deep shadows under her eyes. She gets an idea.

Cut to the bar. Michael comes in just as Ziva was leaving.
He chuckles. “Well, I hope you weren’t looking for me.”
“Is that really what you were hoping?”
“Not even close. You know, I could buy you a drink, or…”
“Or what?”
“Or you could come home with me.”
It’s her turn to chuckle. “Why would I do that?”
“Because you feel guilty about lying to me. Or because you just killed somebody, and you need someone to hug.”
Ziva’s eyebrows rise. “Why do I have the feeling you’re angling for more than just a hug?”
“Angling? No. Hoping?” He cocks his head.
She considers the offer. “Have you been telling me the truth about your girlfriend, or are you just taking advantage of my raw emotional state?”
“Yes. And… yes.”
She smiles back at him.

At his place, Ziva’s sidearm lies on a nightstand next to books and a pair of glasses. She’s apparently sound asleep. Michael sits up, looks at her, then begins to reach across her. She instantly awakens, grabs the gun, and aims it at his face with her other hand on his neck. He lies back in surrender. “Whoa, easy, I was just reaching for my glasses.”

She catches her breath. “You should not do that to me.” The gun is still aimed directly at his face.

Using just one finger, he gently pushes the gun to the side and she begins to relax; puts the gun back on the nightstand and sits up. “Look, I don’t usually do this kind of thing,” she tells him.
“Neither do I.”
She’s still trying to slow her breathing.
“Is that the gun you shot Hoffman with?”
“No. We struggled, and then I… No, it’s not the gun.”
“So, ah, what’s it like to shoot someone?”
“It is what it is. It is what you have to do. These are not things I dwell upon.”
“Were you scared?”
Her mouth twists. “No.”
“Sorry, that’s a dumb question. I guess you wouldn’t be an NCIS agent if you had a problem with it.”
“I am not an NCIS agent. I am Israeli Mossad.”

His eyes widen. “Wow… I’m guessing Hoffman’s not the first guy you, uh…”
She whirls to face him. “Why does everything think all Mossad agents are assassins?”
“Are you?” he asks.
She just looks at him.

He moves closer to her in the bed. “You know, I’ve never handled a gun before.”
“Well, you’re not going to handle one now.”
“Well, I guess I’ll just have to handle something else.”
They smile at one another and embrace.

In Forensics, Abby has tried all she can to enhance the video image that McGee hopes will show an accomplice. McGee finally gives up and turns to leave, but Abby tells him that she’ll continue working on it. Just then, one of her machines chirps. Even though Hoffman meticulously cleaned his knife after each victim, he wasn’t able to remove all of the blood where the blade meets the handle. She has found blood from four of the victims – and blood from someone else, as yet unidentified. “There’s a sixth victim, McGee!” Phoof.

In the squadroom, Ziva still looks terrible. Talking in a low voice to someone on her phone, she asks “Did she leave any forwarding number or address? OK, well, if she makes contact, will you notify me?” Tony watches from his desk. He’s also trying to locate Michael’s missing girlfriend, but he’s doing it through her medical records. He learns that her blood type matches the unexpected blood Abby found on the knife.

Tony suggests (rather strongly) that Michael could be the hypothetical accomplice, but Ziva strongly denies the possibility. “Michael is not involved in the murders!” From the strength of her reaction, Tony suspects there’s more to the story, but Ziva won’t talk.

Detective Rosetti pulls into the evidence garage with a box of case notes. He hands the files to McGee, then realizes that Abby is processing Hoffman’s car. She hasn’t found anything significant just yet. As McGee turns to leave, Rosetti pops open the trunk – there are several more boxes inside.

In Forensics, McGee moans about the amount of evidence he’s just been handed. He randomly picks up an address book, but the pages all fall out on the floor. Abby has an idea on processing the video image – she may be able to estimate the patron’s height and weight based on the angles of the camera and the heights of other known elements in the image. While reassembling the address book, McGee realizes that someone has torn out a page. Wonder why?

Ziva steps off the elevator and tries unsuccessfully to avoid Tony. He asks about Michael’s height and weight – her answers exactly match Abby’s estimates of the bar patron. He tells her saw her leave the bar with Michael – she’s offended that he was following her.

McGee reports to Gibbs that the address book belonged to the third victim, and that the missing page is the R’s. McGee checks the victim’s calls for the past year: she called Detective Rosetti five times during a two-week period. Rosetti never mentioned knowing the third victim. “He’s covering for something. Bring him in.”

In Interrogation, Gibbs puts the screws on Rosetti who eventually admits that he had an affair with the victim. He was already investigating the first two murders when his lover was killed; he covered up his involvement with her so that he could find the killer and get his revenge. Gibbs (and Ziva) believe him.

Ziva enters the empty Autopsy room, then moves to the storage lockers and pulls out Hoffman’s body. His eyes are still open, and her eyes are red and swollen. Her mind replays the shooting yet again. Gibbs finds her there and calls from the entrance.

“You’ve got to stop staring at this one, Ziva.”
She silently pushes the rack back in and closes the door.
“Put it behind you,” Gibbs says.
She strides out, grabs her bag, and stops to face Gibbs in the doorway.
“You seeing Locke?”
“You have a problem with that?”
“I do if he’s a suspect.”
“Is he?”
“You tell me.”
She tries to walk past him, but he blocks her escape.
“Look,” she says, “If you think you can give me a lecture on my bad judgment, I don’t need to hear it.”
“Is that what this is about? You doubting your judgment?”

Her lips set in a tight line. “I should have moved earlier.”
“You would have if you could have.”
“I left it too late.”
“You still took him out!”
She swallows. “I almost died.”

“But you didn’t,” Gibbs says, moving closer for emphasis. “You gotta trust your judgment, Ziva. The moment you don’t, it won’t be almost.” He steps away, turns to the elevator. Ziva is left alone in the dark, thinking of his words. Phoof.

In the squadroom, Gibbs, DiNozzo and McGee listen to a recorded message. A man left a message for Devon, Michael Locke’s girlfriend, implying that Devon had decided to leave Locke for the unidentified caller. DiNozzo and McGee make a case that Locke was friendly with Hoffman, that he killed Devon out of jealousy, and that he reported his girlfriend missing as a cover for the murder.

“You’re wrong,” Ziva says from the entrance to the squadroom. Tony says that the evidence indicates Locke is guilty, but Ziva doesn’t believe it. She pulls her sidearm out of the drawer and lays it on Gibbs’ desk. “His print is on the barrel.” “What are you doing?” Tony asks. “Trusting my judgment.” She turns away.

Abby is down in the evidence garage, trying to remove the spare tire from the trunk (while waving her skate-clad feet in the air) when Tony walks down with the gun for processing. Tony grunts, but finally gets the tire out. Abby’s eyes widen as she spots a small plastic box that was hidden under the tire. It contains four severed fingers. Not five.

Ziva and Michael Locke step into the warehouse and duck under the crime scene tape. Ziva believes she needs some answers, but her cell phone rings. It’s Tony calling, and she ignores the call. She continues to walk towards the fatal spot, which Locke trailing behind.

In Forensics, Abby is working on the fingerprint on the gun using the superglue vapor in a box. Tony has been trying to call Ziva, but there’s been no answer. Abby notes that it was easy to match one finger to a victim based on fingernail polish. Ducky offers to help match the others.

In the warehouse, Ziva walks through the events of the shooting in her mind yet again as she traces her steps on the floor. She is convinced she should have moved on Hoffman much earlier. She recognizes the point at which there was nowhere left to go, and begins logically working through the events out loud.

Ducky reports that he’s certain the four fingers belong to victim’s 1, 2, 3 and 5. He reminds Gibbs that victim 4’s finger was cut off almost immediately after death, where the others were cut off several hours after death. The copycat theory is sounding better and better.

In the warehouse, Ziva is still explaining the sequence of events, and remembering the terror and desperation of the fight and shooting. “I don’t understand,” Locke says, “Why didn’t you shoot him earlier?” “I was undercover. I didn’t have my gun.” She reaches down almost automatically and pats her hip, where her gun belongs. “Just like now,” Locke notes.

In Forensics, Abby has successfully drawn Locke’s fingerprint from the barrel of Ziva’s gun. It does not match the mystery fingerprint at all. “You owe Ziva an apology,” Gibbs tells DiNozzo. Ducky points out that they still need to account for victim 4’s finger; Gibbs notes that you should always suspect the spouse. Petty Officer Massey’s build does match the guy in the surveillance video. “Call her” Gibbs says. Abby is spinning on her skates and nearly hits Gibbs as he tries to pass. “Abs, lose the wheels.”

Ziva phone rings again, and she answers it this time. She tells Tony that he should listen to her instincts next time. Locke realizes that the call was about him; that he was still considered a suspect; and is distressed that Ziva would use his fingerprint on her gun without telling him. She says that she had tried to stop this, but he’s still angry and walks away.

At the Pax River Naval Air Base, Gibbs and the boys meet Petty Office Massey. They accuse him of killing his wife and take him away in handcuffs.

At the bar, Michael Locke is sitting alone when Ziva walks in. For the first time since the shooting, her eyes look clear, her hair is pulled back and her head is held high. She joins Locke at the bar.

“What do you want?” he asks.
She shows him a folded slip of paper; lays it down on the bar. “Telephone number. Found Devon.”
He looks at her in surprise.
“I thought I owed you that much,” she says, “She wants to talk to you.”

Ziva smiles at him and walks away. “Ziva,” Michael calls, “Thanks.” From the doorway, she watches him look at the paper, pull out his phone and start dialing. Ziva smiles. Phoof!

Roll the closing credits.
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