'Oh come on, McHesistant!' exclaimed Tony as they approached the set of stairs that would take the pair to their destination. 'Trust me, you're gonna love it And just think about how much better you'll feel the next time you've gotta run to catch a perp!'
McGee hurried to keep up with Tony's long strides and tried to resist the strong urge to simply run away. He had, after all, agreed to this excursion – partly to shut Tony up, but also because he had been feeling seriously out of shape. As annoying as Tony could be and often was, the senior agent consistently out-ran him and seemed to relish pursuit on foot. Tony had been harping on how good this particular exercise class was and how incredibly hot the instructor was for weeks. And when McGee had found himself imagining Tony calling him 'McPodgy' if his physical fitness slid further downwards, he'd decided to take Tony up on his offer of letting him go along. Tony, of course, had been delighted. Maybe it was because he was genuinely interested in helping a colleague tone up. Maybe (and more likely, thought McGee) it was because Tony was going to get a kick out of seeing McGee make a fool of himself. Either way, McGee was here with Tony on the morning of a rare day off from work, and he was going to make himself go through with it. There was no way he wanted to hear Tony tell Ziva and Abby that McGee had chickened out.
Tony smiled to himself as he reached the top of the stairs and held the door open for the younger agent. The drive had been smooth, courtesy of McGee's new Saab, obviously bought with the proceeds of stories about Tommy and Lisa. He had been pleased and, if he was totally honest with himself, relieved that McGee had decided to come to the class with him. Since the arrival of Vance, Tony had detected distinctly snarky and superior vibes from McGee. Tony really wanted to re-connect with McGee, preferably away from the office and away from Vance, and what better way than working out and then grabbing lunch and a beer?
'Two for Avril's 'Knockout' class,' said Tony cheerily to the beautiful woman at the service desk who smiled warmly at him. He passed over his card and saw McGee reaching for his wallet.
'My shout, Probie,' Tony told him. 'It's his first time,' he enthusiastically told the woman as she handed him two passes.
'Enjoy,' she told them both, eyes only for Tony.
'This way,' Tony told McGee. The younger agent rolled his eyes at the obvious adoration the woman was sending Tony's way. No wonder he liked this place!
McGee followed Tony to what turned out to be the men's change room.
'Dump your stuff,' Tony told him cheerily as he walked towards another door. 'Gotta use the head. Class starts in ten.'
Tony was in an exceptionally good mood. He knew McGee had felt like bolting, but he was still with him. He'd love the workout. Avril was a tough but fair instructor. Tony had worded her up that he'd be bringing McGee and she'd promised to go easy without making it obvious. Tony hoped that this was going to be a semi-regular thing – something to ease the tension that had developed between the two of them. Of course he was also excited about the likelihood of amusing moments along the way.
After pausing to check that his hair was indeed still perfect, Tony made his way back to McGee. The moment he'd walked through the doorway, however, his keen senses immediately told him that something was wrong. He could hear McGee speaking to someone in the same strained tones he used when Gibbs was demanding answers he didn't have. Tony silently sidled along the bank of lockers and ducked behind a storage cabinet near to where McGee sat.
'You know what I want,' a stranger's muffled voice said.
'I told you I don't,' said McGee. Tony could hear barely suppressed panic. Daring to peer out from his hiding spot, Tony was able to clearly see the cause of McGee's anxiety. A gun was being pointed straight at McGee's head by a man wearing a balaclava.
'The keys,' hissed the stranger. 'To the Saab.'
Before McGee had time to react, to pull his car keys out of his bag, to say anything, to do ANYTHING, Tony flew out of nowhere and grabbed hold of the hand that held the gun trained on the younger agent.
From McGee's perspective, what occurred next seemed to occur in slow motion. The man's gun fell to the floor and was immediately kicked away by Tony. Incensed, the assailant tightened his grip on Tony's hand, causing the senior agent to flail like a fish on the end of a line. When McGee finally regained his senses enough to stand up, the man released his grip on Tony and rushed to the exit, leaving the two agents alone. Tony was curled up on the floor holding his right wrist with his left. His hand looked unnatural. His fingers stuck out at odd angles. His face was a nasty shade of white.
McGee rummaged for his cell and quickly called 911. He gave the address and his name in a shaky voice before hanging up and making the call he was far more nervous about.
When Gibbs arrived at 'Personal Best' Fitness Studio, he was royally pissed off. He had been spending the team's first day off in weeks spending quality time in his basement with his boat and his bourbon. He did not want or need a garbled phone call from McGee telling him that he and Dinozzo had been attacked. Still wearing his sweatpants and t-shirt, Gibbs impatiently flashed his badge to gain access to the establishment and was directed towards the change rooms. He stood in the doorway for a few moments to take in the scene.
Three paramedics were attending to Dinozzo in the middle of the floor. His senior agent did not appear to be doing a lot of talking, which was not a good sign. He was also allowing himself to be treated –another bad sign. A local LEO was still getting details from McGee who kept looking anxiously over towards Dinozzo.
Gibbs strode in and peered over a paramedic's shoulder, gaining Tony's attention.
'I'm fine, Boss,' Tony said, a comment that Gibbs chose to ignore, particularly in light of the elaborate dressing that was being placed around his hand.
'What's the story with him?' Gibbs asked the nearest paramedic, showing his badge once again. 'These two are both on my team.'
'At least three broken fingers,' he was told. 'Maybe some ligament damage. Hard to tell here. We need to get him to X-ray, but they'll have to set the whole hand.'
Gibbs took a closer look at Tony's hand and then at his agent's pinched, pale face and felt anger rise within him.
'What the hell happened?' he demanded. 'Not you, Dinozzo,' he snapped as he saw Tony open his mouth to speak. 'McGee. Spill!'
'We – uh – we came do a workout class,' began McGee, 'but, but of course you don't care about that,' he added as he saw Gibbs face darken even further. 'I was waiting here for Tony while he used the bathroom and a man in a balaclava pointed a gun at me and said he wanted the keys to my car.'
'Why the hell didn't you give him the damn keys?' demanded Gibbs.
'I was going to,' protested McGee, 'but Tony suddenly leapt out of nowhere and grabbed him. He made the situation worse.'
'He had a gun pointed at your head,' said Tony, his voice weakened, probably by the pain he was in as his hand was dealt with.
'You should have just stayed out of it!' said McGee, his voice rising.
'McGee!' spat Gibbs. 'Dinozzo's got a pretty serious injury trying to stop you getting your head blown off. You should have been quicker producing the keys.'
'It's not his fault, Boss,' Tony said.
'Butt out, Dinozzo,' said Gibbs.
'Butting out,' Tony acknowledged quietly as he was assisted onto a stretcher.
'I swear, Dinozzo' continued Gibbs, turning his attention away from McGee for a moment. 'Don't you get enough serious injuries at work that you have to look for new ways to get yourself nearly killed?'
'It's not Tony's fault,' said McGee, suddenly feeling horribly guilty about what looked like a nasty injury.
'McGee!' barked Gibbs, angrily.
'Shutting up, Boss,' muttered McGee.
'We're ready to transport to Bethesda' one of the paramedics told Gibbs. Gibbs moved closer to the stretcher and waited until Tony's eyes were fixed on his.
'I'll tell Ducky to meet you there,' he told Tony, his voice low and reassuring. 'I'll be there as soon as the scene is processed properly. We'll get the bastard that did this.'
'Don't be too tough on McGee,' Tony said, his voice hushed.
'Don't give the doctors any bullshit,' was Gibbs' only reply. He touched Tony lightly under the chin before turning his attention back to McGee and the local cop.
'Okay, what've we got?'