Ziva tore through the peak hour traffic at a pace that was outlandish even by her own high personal standards. Tony and McGee, in the front bench seat, could only grip their seats and scream in horror as she narrowly avoided the on-coming traffic with an air of nonchalance.
"You two are such babies," she muttered under her breath.
She shot around a line of queued cars, mounted the median strip and landed on the opposite side of the road with a thump.
"BUS!" yelled Tony to warn of the imminent collision.
Ziva swore and spun the wheel hard towards the correct side of the road, scooted across the median strip to allow the bus to pass and then landed back on the wrong side of the road with a bone crunching thud, pushing the design specifications of the vehicle's suspension.
Tony grimaced as the swerving manoeuvre caused McGee's head to thump hard against his shoulder. Then something struck him as strange: they were about the same height, how did Probie's head hit his shoulder? He snapped his head suddenly to the left to find McGee's head swinging pendulously, his body supported only by his newly installed seatbelt.
"Probie?" He expected no response and his expectations were fulfilled completely.
"Ziva, park this thing," he yelled urgently.
Tony wasn't sure whether Ziva had heard him, or whether it was a co-incidence but at that moment she cut across three lanes of traffic to her right and ended up 'parked' on the correct side of the road with two wheels mounting the pavement. The acrid smell of burnt rubber wafted through the cabin as she cut the engine.
"What!" She cried in exasperation.
"Someone has finally died of shock from your driving," Tony accused her, slapping McGee's grey face.
"McGee?" Ziva seemed a little surprised, "he's been through worse than that."
Tony gave her a withering look as he dug out his phone.
"Ducky, where are you?" he asked.
"Goodness only knows, Anthony," Ducky sighed. "Mr Palmer, do you know how far we are from the crime scene…oh hold on, is that you in that van at 30 degrees to the curb and two wheels on the pavement?"
Tony shot Ziva a disgusted look. "Yes," he confirmed.
"Oh then we're right behind you," Ducky sounded quite pleased.
Off to one side Tony heard him say "that's quite remarkable, well done Mr Palmer."
"Could you pull over a moment?"
"Righto," said Ducky cheerfully.
McGee started to rouse as Ducky parked.
"Did we crash?" he asked groggily, blinking repeatedly to orientate himself.
"Astoundingly enough, no," said Tony looking across at Ziva who crossed her arms and abruptly turned her face from him.
"Then why are we halfway up a pavement?"
"Because", Ziva cut in, "Tony went crazy yelling at me to pull off the road."
"Oh, you did hear me then. I thought it was just a co-incidence that we nearly wiped out half a dozen innocent motorists," Tony shot back.
Ducky knocked on the window and Tony opened the passenger side door.
"What seems to be the problem, Anthony?" He eyed the car, "apart from the obvious, of course."
Ziva narrowed her eyes, and huffed at him.
"McGee just seemed to pass out there for a moment," Tony started.
"No I didn't!" McGee denied vehemently, "I must have just dozed off."
Tony started at him, open mouthed.
"No," he said firmly, "you could doze off in a James Dean movie, a Marlon Brando movie or even, God forbid, a John Wayne movie, but you do not doze off in the front seat of the van when Ziva's driving."
"I have to agree with Anthony here Timothy," said Ducky, seemingly oblivious to Ziva's spluttering, "Why don't I just check your blood pressure?"
"I'm fine," McGee insisted, "There is nothing wrong with me."
"Nevertheless," said Ducky, unpacking his equipment, "if you wouldn't mind just stepping out of the way, Anthony."
Tony slid out of the car and Ducky wrapped McGee's arm in the cuff.
"Hmm," he pondered, prising McGee's right eyelid wider with his fingers. "You are a bit low. Do you feel OK?"
"I'm fine," McGee insisted in an increasingly aggravated tone.
"OK," Ducky surrendered, throwing his hands in the air. "We'll meet you at the crime scene."
As he passed Tony he said in a low voice: "keep an eye on him."
Tony nodded and then looked over to Ziva.
"I'm driving," he said shortly.
"But Gibbs said…," Ziva protested.
"Out." It was not a suggestion.
"What the hell took you so long?" Gibbs greeted them as they walked into the house.
"Ziva was driving," Tony began.
"And?" Gibbs prompted.
"Well, we had an, ah, incident," Tony hedged.
"Not another accident?" Gibbs rubbed the fingers of his hand wearily across his forehead.
Every time Ziva crashed another one, he got to spend a day with the legal department and everyone had to live with the consequences: mileages checks, video cameras, seatbelts, airbags…. All new, all with Ziva's Sandalwood scent on them.
"Actually no," Tony began, "You see we were driving along…"
McGee walked between the two of them carrying a load of equipment.
"Nothing happened, Tony," he said forcefully in Tony's face as he drew level with him.
Gibbs raised an eyebrow at Tony as McGee passed. Something must have really happened for McGee to use that tone of voice with him.
"And Ziva swerved into the oncoming traffic...," Gibbs raised the other eyebrow at Ziva who shrugged and went back to sketching.
McGee dropped his load and headed back to where Gibbs and Tony were talking.
"Nothing happened, Tony," he repeated menacingly, positioning himself directly in front of Tony and glaring angrily at him.
Tony stared him down for a moment and then took a nimble step to the right to re-establish eye contact with Gibbs flinging his arms wide to illustrate the magnitude of the situation "and there was this humungous bus…"
There was a heavy thump on the floor and McGee literally became a shadow of his former self: lying face down on the floor, where Tony had been standing only a moment earlier.
"And Probie did that," Tony concluded lightly.
"Christ", Gibbs swore dropping to one knee and calling for Ducky at the top of his lungs.
"What's wrong with him?" Gibbs growled at the old ME.
"Hard to tell," said Ducky casually, using a tissue to wipe a trickle of blood that was leaking from McGee's nose. "It could be anything from the flu coming on to a brain tumour."
"That's your considered opinion after 25 years as a medical examiner?" Gibbs grumbled.
"No," Ducky retorted angrily "after 25 years as a medical examiner, I can categorically state that he's not dead. Anything else is merely speculation at this point."
There was a great gasp of air and McGee's eyes flew open. "What happened?" he asked in confusion, hit eyes flitting between the two feuding faces immediately above him. The tension in the air was threatening to descend and crush him through the floor.
"Nothing, apparently," said Tony.