A/N: This is a pretty long story. 30 chapters or so. McGee again... as usual. It's based entirely around a thought I had while watching the 6 o'clock news one evening. I had thought it was going to be a oneshot or maybe a twoshot. Ha. Little did I know where my thoughts would take me. I have to give special props to Shellie for giving me some great inspiration. However, if you don't like it. Don't blame her. :)
Disclaimer: I don't own any part of NCIS. The bad guys are mine... why can't I lay claim to the good guys?
Premise: During traffic reports, we often get information about accidents. This information is generally given without comment on the severity of the accident beyond its effects on commuters. The reporters merely state the facts and relate it to the inevitable traffic jams. Who really thinks about the people involved when they hear about these "incidents" on the radio? But what if you found out that it happened to someone you know?
"And I-495 is still jam-packed from a busy commute this morning. Traffic is moving, but slowly. It looks like some of the gridlock is easing and the traffic is getting closer to freeway speeds. We'll keep you updated as usu– wait. Did any of you just see that? Sorry, folks. Looks like the Beltway is about to come to a stop. A car just plowed through about three other cars and has blocked off all westbound lanes just past the US-29 interchange. It looks like a bad one. We'll give more information as it becomes available. You're listening to Majic 102.3 FM."
The melodic strains wafted through the car and Ziva, clenching the steering wheel tightly, decided that Tony was not choosing the music this time.
"Tony, we're not listening to this station." Ziva leaned over and turned the dial.
Tony slapped her hand. "Well, we're not listening to that crap you call music." He switched it back.
"Tony, so help me, if you touch me again, I'll rip your throat out."
Suddenly, Tony glanced ahead. "Ziva, hit the brakes!"
"What?" She looked back to the road and immediately slammed on her brakes. The smell of burned rubber filled the air as the car screeched to a halt just inches from the car ahead of them.
"Whoa. What was that?" Tony asked, adrenaline pumping from their near miss.
Ziva, calm again, quickly turned the dial to her preferred station. They both quieted as the radio announcer resumed his report.
"This is your eye in the sky on Majic 102.3. For those of you sitting on I-495 and wondering why the freeway has become a parking lot, I'm sorry to say that there's been a four-car pileup just past the interchange with US-29. You won't be going anywhere for awhile, folks. I recommend that you sit back and relax."
Tony sat up and peered through the windshield as if trying to see what was going on up the road. There was no sign of anything beyond the seeming thousands of cars all drawn to a standstill. He groaned. "You've got to be kidding me."
Traffic inched forward and stopped again. They sat in silence for about ten minutes.
"I knew we should have stayed off the interstate. Taking the Beltway is never a good plan."
"I don't recall you mentioning this before we got on the road," Ziva spat through gritted teeth.
"Everyone knows that. Two of the interchanges are in the top ten worst in the country."
"Everyone knows this?" Ziva asked looking pointedly at the hundreds of other cars in the same situation.
Tony just groaned again and leaned back in his seat. Traffic again moved forward for about thirty seconds before the brake lights flashed all over the road.
"Come on. Tell us something about how to get out of this," Tony begged the radio.
"Wow, I'm just flying over the accident now. Looks bad, folks..."
"Who cares?" Tony said. "Tell us something important."
"There are three ambulances on the scene. Lots of flashing lights down there."
"Information, please!" Tony said.
"Quiet, Tony. I can't hear what he's saying."
"Looks like the police are clearing people away from one of the cars. There's a fire. I hope no one is..."
The announcer cut off suddenly as black smoke began billowing up toward the sky and revealed the exact location of the accident.
"That was amazing! One of the cars just exploded! Luckily, it looks like the fire hasn't spread to the other cars. Fire crews are moving in to douse the flames."
Forty-five minutes later.
"Well, we're not getting to Bethesda any time soon," Tony said unnecessarily.
"No, really?" Ziva asked sarcastically. "It would probably be faster to walk."
"Ha. Go ahead."
"And let you drive? I don't think so."
"I'm better than you. I, at least, watch the road."
"Well, I..." Tony broke off as the announcer came on again.
"Emergency crews are still on scene. Police are directing traffic onto the right shoulder, but traffic is obviously still slow..."
"No way. I would never have figured that out myself."
"Shut up, Tony!"
"It appears that there may be some fatalities, but we have no information as yet. We'll keep you updated."
As promised, eventually traffic did begin to move, but the speedometer never even hit 10 mph.
"I am so bored."
"Tony, you'd be bored no matter what was happening."
Tony scrunched up his face and asked petulantly, "Are we there yet?"
"No... and if you start repeating that question, I'm going to kill you."
Tony just smirked and leaned up to change the station. Ziva immediately grabbed his hand and bent it backward.
"Ow! Hey, let go!"
"Don't change the station. I like it where it is," Ziva replied calmly. She didn't release his hand.
"All they're doing is giving updates. There's no music. Let go!"
"Don't touch the radio again, Tony." Ziva kept her eyes on the road as she spoke but maintained the pressure on Tony's hand.
"Ow! Ow! Okay, okay. I won't touch it."
"Good." Ziva released his hand.
"We're getting reports that there were two fatalities in the accident. One of the drivers is still stuck in his car and another is being life-flighted to the hospital. We still have no word as to what caused the accident or if there was anyone inside the car that exploded. Traffic is still crawling, but we can report that I-495 is moving well beyond the interchange."
"Moving well. Of course it's moving well. No one is on it."
"Tony, why do you persist in speaking to the announcer when there is no way for him to respond?"
"It keeps me sane, Ziva."
"Muttering inanities to a piece of equipment keeps you sane?" Ziva raised an eyebrow.
"Yes. It does. What's our speed?" he asked craning his neck.
"We're almost at ten miles per hour. ...and now we're back to zero."
Another twenty minutes.
"We're almost up to the accident now. We'll get there." Indeed, the black smoke was thicker now and they could both see the flashing lights up ahead.
Tony's phone starting ringing, and nearly simultaneously Ziva's did as well.
They both looked at their displays. "Gibbs." They said together.
"He's calling both of us?"
"Which one of us is going to answer?"
"You do always tell me that talking and driving is dangerous, Tony."
Tony sighed. "No, Ziva. I just say that your driving is dangerous. You driving and talking on a phone is suicidal," Tony clarified as he answered the phone. "Yes, Gibbs?"
"Aren't you at the hospital yet?"
"No. We're still stuck in traffic."
"You've been gone for more than two hours. The FBI is getting antsy, not to mention their witness."
"I know, Boss, but there's this huge accident on the Beltway and..." he trailed off as they reached the site. It took up about a quarter mile stretch of the freeway. The left three lanes were blocked and packed with police cars and firefighters. Tony gave each wrecked car a glance as they passed, just long enough to note that the accident had been really bad. Then, finally, they came upon the car that had exploded.
"Tony. Doesn't that–?" Ziva didn't finish, her eyes going wide.
"No. It couldn't be. McGee had the day off today. He was even bragging about it..." Tony's voice faded to a whisper as they reached the burning hulk of a Porsche Boxster.