Chapter 55. Schrodinger's Freezer
They wouldn't let Abby onto the scene.
Ducky and Jimmy were holding her in the ME's van, and not in the sense of locking her in, but in the sense of Jimmy had one arm around her waist, tight, and Ducky was holding her hand, also tight, making sure she stayed back.
She's babbling about being as good, if not better, of a shot than most of the agents slowly creeping up on the building, and Palmer's agreeing with her, but as Ducky is pointing out, she's also not a cop, not wearing body armor, and if she got any closer to that building than she already was, both Tim and Gibbs would double team them and kill them very, very slowly, and no one wanted that, at all.
She jumped when the explosion sounded. And it was a good thing Jimmy had a firm hold on her and is very strong, because she bolted for the warehouse when that happened, and it was only the force of his hold on her that kept her in the van.
"You can't go in there," he's saying it over and over as he holds her in place with Ducky, feeling her struggle and hearing her whimpering about her boys being in there. Jimmy can see it, the fear, the desperate need to do something. Her dad and husband are in there, and it doesn't matter that Gibbs wasn't there for the first twenty-eight years of her life or that she and Tim aren't married. The two most important men in her life are in a building that just rocked with an explosion.
Two of her best friends are in there as well, and that's not making things any better.
People are running out of the building, grabbing bags, and tools, and then slowly moving back in. And no one comes over to tell them what is going on.
They see the power go down. Hostage situation? Cutting the power is something like move number three if they're being held hostage. Bombs need electric? Maybe. Planning on storming in, night vision goggles on? Possible.
Now Palmer is holding onto her for a different reason.
She's pulling against him, trying to get to Vance. "I've got to ask. Vance is just standing there, telling people what to do. He can tell me."
"No you don't. When did you call Breena?"
"After they went to get you."
"Because every minute one of us was comforting her was a minute we weren't finding you." She sags against him as she says that.
Jimmy holds her and kisses the top of her head. He doesn't have to say anything after that. They just sit there, holding each other, waiting.
A million years later, Vance is in the van. "I need an answer. They're in a freezer. We've cut the power, so it's not getting any colder, but it's cold. The warehouse is booby trapped and filled with enough explosives to take out ten city blocks. How long do we have to get the traps cleared?"
"How long have they been in there?" Ducky asks.
"How cold is it?" Abby asks.
Vance isn't looking at her. He's staring at the warehouse. "We don't know. They're using it to store Sarin."
"Give me a computer," Abby says, voice dead. She knows this is Vance giving them something to do. They aren't going to risk blowing up downtown DC and poisoning millions of people to get four agents. They'll take exactly as long as it takes to get to them safely, and if it happens before they freeze, all the better.
A few minutes of googling, a few more minutes of math, and the memory of what Tim was wearing this morning gives her something close to an answer. She trims five minutes off of it, just to be safe. "Seventy-five minutes from now."
"We'll have them out in seventy. Next question, if we need to, can we go through the wall?"
Ducky fields that one. "Can you cut through it, and the wall of the freezer? Certainly. They make saws and torches that can do that. Can you get one of them and get through in less than an hour? Maybe. I'm sure one of the underwater demolition teams out of Norfolk can be flown in here in time, and they could probably handle it. Can you be sure you won't accidently crush, cut, or in some other way open one of the containers of Sarin? No, Director, you can't." She can see it in Ducky's face. He loves every single person in that freezer and he is telling Vance not to do it. It's not worth the risk. A drop of Sarin the size of a pin head will kill a person just by touching their skin. A freezer full of it...
It doesn't matter who is in there, the math is on the side of caution.
"Abigail." Ducky is holding her arm, petting her hand. "Come. We have preparations to make. Heated blankets. Warm drinks. Luke warm water. We'll need to be ready to warm them up, gently." Ducky turns away from the Director and digs around in the back of the van. Finally he locates his prescription pad and scribbles a few words on it. Then he rips off another sheet, flips it over and begins writing.
"Mr. Palmer, painkillers, coffee, thermal blankets, heating pads. I believe we passed a Walmart on the way. Take Abigail. You should be able to find all of that there. I want you back here in forty-five minutes."
Jimmy nods, snatches the list, grabs Abby's keys from her, and they run to her car.
Thirty-four minutes later they were back, and Ducky oversaw a the creation of a quick and dirty hypothermia trauma center/triage. And for anything he couldn't handle, there were two ambulances waiting.
Twenty-nine minutes and forty-two seconds later, eight agents, Dornaget and Vance among them, carried them out of the warehouse.