"No. You sat in front on the way here, so I get to sit in front on the way back."

"You are so childish!"

"Hey, I'm the one in favor of fairness!"

"Only because it benefits you."

"It's fairness. It's an abstract concept that benefits society as a whole."

"How does you shoving me out of your way to get to the front seat benefit anyone but you?"

"I didn't shove you. It was more like a gentle nudge in the direction of the backseat where you should have volunteered to sit after I graciously allowed you the front on the way over."

"Allowed me?"

"That's enough." Gibbs tapped his fingers impatiently on the roof of the Charger, tired of Tony and Ziva's argument. This had to be the reason he usually just sent them off together in a separate vehicle – or it would be the reason any time he did it in the future. "DiNozzo, take the front. Ziva…you can punch him or something once we get back."

"Thank you, Gibbs!" Her face lit up as she bounded toward the back door.

Tony was far less eager. "Yeah, thanks, boss."

"You could have offered her the front and saved yourself the trouble." Gibbs sat in the driver's seat, waiting for Tony to try and negotiate his way into switching with Ziva. "It's too late, DiNozzo. Just get in the car."

"Sorry. Did you really have to tell her she could punch me?"

"At least now you know what the retaliation for shoving her out of the way will be."

"I…" Tony looked over his shoulder at the sound of cracking knuckles from the back. "Yeah, really can't thank you enough for that, boss."

The ride proceeded quietly, aside from the occasional gasps from Tony when Gibbs made perfectly safe turns or lane changes, until a wall of traffic on the highway forced them to slow to a crawl. He smacked the heel of his hand against the wheel when no one allowed him to cut across all four lanes to the exit ramp that would only take them ten minutes out of the way. Anything was better than sitting in this. "Did Daylight Savings end and push rush hour up?"

"Probably a jack-knifed tractor trailer," Tony said sagely.

Ziva leaned forward into the front seat. "There is no way you can see that far ahead."

"No," he conceded, "but at this time of day with this much of a backup, it doesn't take a genius. I spent two years on transit detail in Baltimore, so I think I know when…"

Gibbs interrupted, "Remind me again how long you worked in Baltimore, DiNozzo."

Tony assumed the look of a deer caught in headlights. "Oh, well, I…the thing about that is…long enough to…uh…"

"Be clever?" Gibbs finished, recalling the conversation he'd made himself privy to via speakerphone. "How's that working out for you?"

He grinned and Gibbs knew he'd stepped in it. "Well, no imaginary friend whaling on me yet, boss, so I suppose I can keep being clever for the time being." He continued smiling until he seemed to realize that Gibbs was staring. "What?"

The answer came to him like a revelation sans trumpets and flashes of light. "You really have no idea what you are, do you?"


Gibbs smiled, glad that he himself knew the answer. "At least it works for you."