McGee swore loudly as the blimp descended into the Potomac in front of his eyes. Much to his chagrin, he'd had to drive over the speed limit for the majority of the low-speed chase. Although the blimp hadn't been moving fast, it had traveled over some populated areas, requiring him to improvise routes through neighborhoods, parking lots and driveways. The Director had encouraged him with periodic shouts, like, 'My grandmother drives faster than you and she's dead!' and 'Stop letting that fat balloon beat us, you baby!' He was really starting to consider disliking the woman.
The blimp had begun its painfully slow plunge into the river shortly after Ziva had finished her last swing on the mooring line by crashing through one of the front windows on the small cabin. Prior to the crash, he thought he'd seen some shapes that could have been bodies dropping into the water from it before the large airbladder began to collapse on impact.
At the Director's command he stopped on the bridge they were crossing and jumped out of the car, following her as she jaywalked across several lanes of traffic. He hung over the side of the arching structure. "Do you see anyone?"
"I don't have my glasses, Agent McGee. You'll have to be in charge of looking."
"I thought you only wore glasses for reading," he argued, turning to see that she wasn't looking at the river at all, but waving at passing cars. "I wish Gibbs was here."
Gibbs cleared his throat as the group of people standing at the counter continued to swell. He'd thought his problems would be over when his order had been placed, but his patience, already thinly stretched, was reaching its breaking point.
Abby whispered in his ear, "Don't freak out, Gibbs. If you do something rude or threatening, they could withhold your coffee. Remember, this is the closest coffee shop to NCIS."
He growled deep in his throat, "It's all for the coffee."
"Good mantra, boss man."
"It's only gonna work for so long, Abs."
"Relax, Gibbs. It's not like we've got anything better to do."
Tony kicked his shoes off, regretting the loss of the expensive Italian loafers as he treaded water in the chilly river. He spun around to watch as La Grenouille's blimp sank beneath the gentle swells of the Potomac, creating a Jacuzzi-like effect on the surface. It was kind of anti-climactic; he'd hoped for some dramatic explosions at least. On the plus side, it seemed like Jeanne was gone. It was an appropriate end; a blimp wreck with the Lincoln Memorial in the background was sure to garner overblown and melodramatic media attention worthy of the late Dr. Benoit herself.
Tony continued to watch as the bubbles became less evident. As far as he could see, no one else was swimming with him. The revelation that he was the only survivor caused a cold wave to sweep over him. La Grenouille, two nameless extras playing pilots, Jeanne, Ziva…another sheet of freezing water cascaded over his head as he shouted, "Ziva!"
The third cold splatter was accompanied by a giggle and he turned just in time for Ziva to splash him in the face. "You made it out!" he cried joyfully, swimming toward her as she continued to splash him. He didn't realize he was hugging her until he began to go under the surface. Releasing her and concentrating on treading, he asked, "Did Jeanne or La Grenouille make it?"
"Well, your horrible girlfriend was sobbing on the floor and her proud papa was comforting her when I jumped, so I'd say, no. She was upset about the orange lifejacket clashing with her outfit, or something. They went down with the blimp." Ziva saluted in the direction of the bubbles still rising around the sunken airbag, wiping a tear from her eye.
Tony looked at her disbelievingly. "Why are you sad?"
"It's a big loss."
"You didn't even know them. And if you had, you'd probably be celebrating."
"It's not that. It's just…that was a hell of a bottle of cognac." She sighed heavily, her gaze drifting upwards. "I'll never forget…Chauffer Hound!"
"There!" He turned and saw McGee as she waved her arm excitedly, high over her head. "He's waving to us from the bridge! Hi, Chauffer Hound! I haven't forgotten about your rug!" She turned her attention back to Tony. "We could play Marco Polo. Or would you rather just swim to shore?"
"Swimming sounds fine. Unless the rescue boats are on the way, I don't see how else we're getting out of this river."
"We're going to need a shower when we get back to NCIS. Now that your fake girlfriend is gone you won't be uncomfortable if I suggest that we just take one to conserve water."
He swam beside her, again disbelieving. "How drunk are you?"
"Very. But we can hold off on sex until I've gotten over my hangover."
"What makes you think I even want to have sex with you?" he inquired, suppressing his elation and hoping she wouldn't renege once her buzz had faded.
"Well, I'm over eighteen and female. Do you have other criteria?"
"You're hot too. That doesn't hurt."
"Excellent. Want to plan for Sunday night? That should give you time to get a wax."
"For your little hairy butt. So, Sunday?"
"I'm free as long as I don't have to remove any hair that isn't on my face." He gave her his best seductive grin as they continued toward shore.
"We'll discuss it. We've got time."
McGee folded his arms on his desk and put his head down. After lengthy statements to police, federal agents, politicians and the media, he, Tony, Ziva and the Director had returned to NCIS. The Director had strutted around the building for some time, bragging about the demise of the dangerous arms dealer, while Cynthia, with a hedgehog on her shoulder, had trailed behind her, trying to get her timesheet signed. Tony and Ziva had disappeared for an hour, ostensibly to shower and change, though the security cameras had shown them involved in a game of naked tag that had passed Jimmy Palmer sprawled out in the hall playing with a snake and an agitated Agent Lee sitting in Ducky's lap in the morgue.
Tony and Ziva were now clad in blue jumpsuits, hiding behind Ziva's desk under a blanket and giggling. McGee had no interest in what they or anyone else were doing. He just wanted the day to be over and life to return to normal. He raised his head and began a search of the online yellow pages, looking for a reliable-sounding carpet cleaner.
Gibbs strode into the bullpen, sipping from his coffee cup. "I miss anything?"
A/n: Thanks to all who read and reviewed. It's been a brief, strange blimp ride. I can't say I didn't find it excessively enjoyable!