Marathon

So runn'st thou after that which flies from thee…

But if thou catch thy hope, turn back to me.

Shakespeare's Sonnet 143



As a child, Calvin Malloy's Kool-Aid must have been spiked with liquid rubber.

Somewhere between lung-protesting breaths Agent DiNozzo considers the possibility that the Navy is recruiting sub-humans as part of some secret plan to punish him. The chase has encompassed twelve city blocks, two sidewalk sales and a near collision with a bike messenger. But the alley presents a barrier that can only aid the gasping federal agent, a six foot retaining wall dividing the neighborhood from an industrial lot. And Tony applauds his good fortune right up until Malloy clears it in a single bound.

The problem with jumping a cement wall is that, lacking x-ray vision as Tony does, what waits on the other side is something of a mystery. Except that he's sure it will be mud. Mostly because he's wearing a new suit.

If luck comes from catalogues, he's not on the mailing list.

The wall and its ominous crown of rough hewn stones stands between the pursuer and the jackrabbit who leapt over the damned thing like he'd sprouted pogo-stick legs. Swearing in the tradition of the sailors he serves, DiNozzo sucks in an overheated breath and hurdles the wall with relative ease. The landing needs work. Italian shoes complain viciously about their assignment, unwilling to grip the rightly predicted mud.

He's no longer on speaking terms with his knees.

The man, most recently a lance corporal and currently a meth-fueled marathoner, isn't facing court martial without a flight. The rest of the team spared themselves this organ-burning adventure by being smart enough to play dumb. Processing scenes, picking up trace and other crime-fighting activities left the senior agent the task of hauling in the bad guy for questioning. Alone, since the boss decided to practice his swing by teeing off against the brass.

The abandoned building beyond the wall, windowless and desperately out of code, welcomes the junkie into its cobwebbed embrace moments before Tony arrives. The disturbed dust acts as a trail marker and with gun drawn, the agent casts a nervous glance to the great holes in the roof. A shot fired could bring the place down and death by rubble will bring no decent eulogy. He intends to pass from this life in a manner that ensures a climactic final scene to the movie they'll make of his life.

Maybe they should leave out the transvestite.

Gentle thudding overhead gives away the addled man's position on the second level past the skeletal stairs. Drugs have lent Malloy false confidence while clogging his hearing; the sneaking-on-tiptoe maneuver is best performed on a floor not littered with large tin shavings. Before DiNozzo can execute his interpretation of sneaking, the rotted timber decides against supporting crime and lets the man fall back to earth. A punishing collapse is punctuated by a drill press somersaulting down the new hole after him. Tony's humanitarian effort begins with pulling Malloy away from the impending kiss of heavy machinery and ends with planting the man's face against the nearest solid surface.

His dry cleaning bill could finance a terrorist cell.

The Duke never had days like this. Running men stopped at the sound of his impressive drawl, knees knocking and pants suspiciously moist. Dragging the battered wreck of Navy property back through twelve blocks at an angry pace and shoving him in the backseat, DiNozzo looks down at his trousers and ponders how mud could splash that high. In the middle of a drought.

And suddenly he's craving Kool-Aid.

…………

It's hard to be hated by so many gods at once.

Freshly changed, DiNozzo waits in the observation room as Gibbs makes the lance corporal sweat. More. In the course of falling off his high, Malloy has taken on the appearance of a porcelain water feature. Perspiration races itself down a face pale enough to make one believe in vampires. The downtown chase did the man no special favor. For his part, Tony's calves are spitting damnation for the prolonged standing. Gibbs is pacing the small room, making a silent orbit around the shaking man and though the play normally entertains, Tony finds himself clamping down on vicious annoyance.

Instead of the marathon sex he ordered, Tony must settle for cooling coffee and a stiff back. Of course, the government has yet to recognize the value of an on-call masseuse and when he laces his fingers behind his head to stretch his muscles, the resulting pops would make Orville Redenbacher proud.

The next scene deserves popcorn.

Malloy, whose detox vibrations have reached seizure levels, quite simply falls over, his head bouncing admirably off the floor. As he bends to check for a pulse, the boss turns to the mirror and merely shrugs but Tony can't get the wince to retreat from his face. A moment later, the man remains a drooling mass and Ducky's attentions are far kinder than any Malloy has seen today. A swoon produced by unhealthy living, the coroner explains and the story that follows involves hollow chocolate bunnies on the western front.

Returning to the bullpen, DiNozzo is accosted by the scent of a woman trying too hard to be noticed for all the wrong reasons. The lance corporal's girlfriend, recently enhanced and pointing the expensive additions in Tony's direction. He's a fan of the ample handful but prefers a woman naturally supplied. There's a sense that he has disappointed the team by stifling any commentary as her breasts lead the rest of her to Vance's office. He's too busy sinking into his chair, the standard office model never so comfortable.

Adrift until he catches the heave of Ziva's natural supply.

She's doing it purposely, evil vixen that she is. And while most of his body is content to play dead, other parts are heading toward resurrection. He needs to get out of here before his leer becomes permanently affixed and she shoves the electric pencil sharpener where it clearly does not belong. He gently reminds his overactive libido that a shamefully limber attorney is scheduled for tonight and Shayne promises to be worth the cost of the requisite dinner. He's about to venture down to the lab when…

Did he break a funhouse worth of mirrors?

These are the ingredients for a breakdown: First he oversleeps, then he's dragged through half of D.C. by a spring-loaded junkie, braves a demolition-site-in-waiting, stands through a wordless interrogation and now tonight's dessert cancels. There's a definition for this; cursed. Do Israelis practice voodoo?

…………

By the time he leaves the office, Agent DiNozzo downshifts into the casual charmer and secures the company of a female pilot he'd met three cases ago. A gum chewer, he recalls and has taken the habit as a sign of youthful enthusiasm. And in a swift reversal of fortune, the leggy blond wants to skip dinner entirely, evidence that at least one god has granted him pity.

It's the one who giveth and taketh away.

Youthful, yes. Enthusiastic, yes. But the combination fails to translate into stamina and as she lays panting in singular bliss, he's not sure he was truly present during the making of her orgasm. And therefore he considers falling back into his belligerent persona to dispatch her because dissatisfaction makes for a moody and mouthy Italian. He's cold-showered and draining his third beer when she wakes and leaves, too pleased to be offended by his silence.

An hour later, the knock on his door stirs him from the murky trance born of insomnia and alcohol. The vision rendered in miniature through his peephole tells him that he drank too much again. Because beyond the triple dead-bolted door a ninja waits, holding a six-pack and his dry cleaning. Her smile has nothing to do with work. He's been running all day. All year. All his life. But once she's safely stowed in his bed, he can't quite remember why he thought his own personal marathon equaled freedom. The urge to indulge in sightseeing quarrels with the instinct for self-protection but it's an argument she's winning.

Impulse control be damned… he's finally on the mailing list.


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