A/N: Last one!
Chapter Thirty-Three (Epilogue)
6 Weeks Later
The elevator dinged and Tony strolled out. He slung his backpack in the corner, swung his feet up onto his desk and counted to ten before anyone noticed.
"Tony. Your cast! It's gone!"
Tony grinned at Ziva across the bullpen, flexing his newly-healed fingers. "Mighty observant of you, Miss David."
"Tony, that's great!" McGee popped up from behind his computer and strolled over to inspect the completely plaster-less arm. Tony nodded. It was great. For the first time in months, he was feeling completely healthy. And, since his cast had been removed the previous afternoon, he'd even been able to fit in a run this morning. Not his usual 6 miles, but with a week or two of training he'd be back at his peak again.
Tony blinked and realized McGee had suddenly returned to his desk, disappearing behind the computer screen. His feet were swept off the desk before his mind could register a reason for McGee's retreat.
"I see your arm is better DiNozzo."
Gibbs. Of course. Tony wondered if Abby could fix him up an alarm system to alert him when Gibbs was coming. He looked up to see his boss standing over him, a smirk gracing his lips.
"Sure is, boss." Tony flexed his arm for the benefit of Gibbs, then reached down to turn on the computer.
"Don't bother DiNozzo," Gibbs said, striding to his desk and yanking open the top drawer. He grabbed his badge and clipped his gun into the holster. McGee, Tony and Ziva, watching him, followed suit.
"We got a case, boss?" Tony asked, standing up.
"Yep. Dead Marine was found in a Virginia park." He glanced over at Tony. "You cleared for field duty?" When Tony nodded he continued. "Good. You can drive."
Tony caught the keys, pumping his fist in the air. Ziva looked slightly disappointed and McGee looked relieved. While he wasn't exactly the safest driver, Tony drove like a grandma compared to either Gibbs or Ziva. And while his breakfast tasted good going down, McGee was in no rush to taste it again.
The downside of Tony driving, McGee thought as he sat squashed in the back of the NCIS truck, was that it also entitled Tony to choose the music. With Tony out of the field for what had added up to more than 12 weeks, McGee had heard a whole lot of Ziva's bass and rhythm-heavy tunes and had even had a chance to choose the music on several occasions. Gibbs, of course, drove in silence. However, with Tony at the wheel there was no knowing what his ears would be contaminated with next.
Sometimes it was heavy rock, sometimes jazz, sometimes rap and even Frank Sinatra was known to make an appearance. Tony knew all the words and, just in case they didn't believe him, indulged his passengers by singing along at the top of his lungs.
Today the radio was playing some gansta rap. Tony drummed his hands on the steering wheel as the truck glided smoothly down the freeway.
McGee sighed, grateful for once to be stuck in the back of the truck. He didn't envy Ziva and Gibbs, trapped in the confined front with Tony and his voice.
"Th-th-th-that that don't kill me, can only make me stronger." Tony sang, changing lanes.
Gibbs hand reached past Ziva, who was stuck in the middle, and whacked Tony on the back of the head.
"Shut it, DiNozzo, or I will kill you."
Tony glanced up from the road. Gibbs' face was deadly serious so he changed to a different station. Country music filled the car and Tony frowned. No way he was singing along to that. Gibbs seemed pleased.
McGee wasn't. Even Tony had a better voice than the country singer. Thankfully they arrived at the scene shortly after. The body was stretched out over a bench in the middle of a park mostly frequented by joggers and mothers with small children. Blood pooled under the bench from a gun shot wound to the man's abdomen, a crowd gathering around the crime scene tape that had been put up by local LEOs.
Ziva photographed while Tony sketched the scene and McGee was sent on a trek around the perimeter while Gibbs waited for Ducky and Jimmy to arrive. Once they'd finished, Gibbs sent his team to talk to the witnesses.
Tony spoke to a group of three mothers with their children who'd been feeding ducks by the pond when the body had been found by a jogger, who'd raised the alarm. They all remembered seeing a man in a black jacket and a green baseball cap around the area shortly before the body was found. Tony thanked them and met up with McGee and Ziva, who were also finished.
"The guy who found the body didn't notice anything unusual beforehand, but he did recall a man in a black jacket hanging around the bench on his first lap of the park." McGee reported.
Ziva nodded. "The groundskeeper I talked with also mentioned something similar."
Tony frowned, scanning the crowd still gathered around the crime-scene tape up the hill from them. He grabbed Ziva's sleeve, pointing. "See that guy at the back? Black jacket, baseball cap?"
"I see him too," McGee said, squinting up.
"I think that's our guy." Tony said, climbing back up the hill. He, Ziva and McGee spread out, each approaching the suspect from a different angle. McGee got there first, flashing his badge.
"Excuse me sir, I need to ask you a few questions."
The man in the cap looked somewhat surprised. He stood still for a moment, then took off without warning, careering down the hill.
"Damn!" Tony shouted, weaving through the crowd in hot pursuit of the man. He could hear Ziva's feet thudding right behind his own. Despite being slightly out of condition, Tony was quicker on his feet. He caught up to the man, grabbing him from behind, both hands on the man's shoulders.
"Whoah!" The man pitched forward, taking Tony with him and together they rolled down the hill. Unable to stop the momentum, Tony tumbled down, still hanging onto the murder suspect, until they both landed in the middle of the pond with a resounding splash.
"Eugh!" The man jumped up, wading quickly out of the muddy pondwater and into Ziva's waiting handcuffs before Tony could even stand up. When he did, he found his shoe was stuck in the mud.
"Damn it! That was Italian leather." Tony muttered, still thigh-deep in the water.
"Are you okay Tony?" McGee called out, slightly breathless. "That was some fall."
Tony nodded, abandoning his shoe and hopping through the pond on one leg. Gibbs was waiting at the edge of the pond when Tony finally hopped out, looking more than amused.
"Have a nice trip, DiNozzo?" Gibbs said, offering his hand to Tony
"Very funny boss," Tony said, taking Gibbs' hand for balance as he pulled off his mud-soaked sock. He stepped down on his now-bare foot, but cried out in pain, the leg buckling under him. Gibbs grabbed Tony, lowering him down to the grass.
"What is it?"
Tony gritted his teeth, the pondwater still dripping down his face.
"I hurt my knee."
Hahahahahahaha… how's that for a cheesy ending! But how else do you end a never-ending story with no apparent plot? I hope this didn't disappoint you. I want to thank everybody who reviewed this. Every single review brought a smile to my face, so that's a lot of smiles :P Hugs to you all, and I apologize for not replying personally to each of them. Even if you didn't review, thanks for reading. I really admire your stamina for making it through all 33 chapters of this story. At over 40,000 words, this is the longest thing I've ever written in terms of both length and time. I hope you enjoyed both the last chapter and THHK as a finished piece. Please drop me a review if you did, because you can never smile too much :)
I also should say that the song Tony was singing is from Kanye West's 'Stronger'. Great song that's been totally stuck in my head all week. I guess writing it in was another way to justify listening to it again :P
I've got a few new things (NCIS of course) in the works so look out for me in coming weeks… Anyways, this is a really long A/N. Sorry! I just wanted to say, I've had so much fun writing this. I feel kinda sad now it's all over. But without your enthusiasm, THHK wouldn't have been so long and hence I wouldn't have had so much fun. So thank-you!
super em xo