AN: Two things… I don't know if it's called Av-Gas in the USA, and I couldn't find out. And… I did something bad. And if you flame me, I'll tell you who put me up to it.

Flying To Die

Chapter 5

The dark van was pulled in at the side of the road, about a mile away from the gates of Calderstones airfield. The driver glanced in the mirror. "Here comes McBride."

"Bout time."

A red Beemer jerked to a halt, scattering clouds of dry dirt and sending pebbles flying. Only the driver got out. The front seat passenger of the van, he of the sarcastic voice, eased himself out, and waited for the other man to approach. He was the Boss, people came to him. "McBride…"

"Pascoe… got three others. We got two semis, and hand guns. And face masks. What's going down?"

"Our $500.000 if we don't move quickly. The Feds know Starling's been carrying drugs. We know he didn't get it off the plane. He went missing from home… his boss said he's gone to the airfield… trouble with the old lady." He didn't bother to reiterate his cohort's sentiments, although he'd known the marriage would ultimately cause trouble. "We got a new place set up … I shoulda moved faster changing things, cuz now the feds are at the airfield. Sniffer dog. They'll have found it."

McBride didn't ask how the boss knew. "Gonna have to shoot our way to the stuff, then," he said indifferently.

"Oh, yeah. Eight of us altogether. Maybe six of them. No plan, no clevers. Out of the cars and start shooting. They can die or not, I don't care," Pascoe went on. "But Starling's got to go. Before he spills his guts about the whole operation."

"What if he already has?"

Pascoe thought for all of two seconds. "You're right. Kill 'em all."

Fuller snapped his phone shut, his jawline tense. "No answer from Pearson. I'd say trouble's on its way. They've put two and two together. I've alerted LEOs and set up a search for Pearson."

Tony and Ziva started to move the cars out into a line between the Piper and the gate, as Paula hurried the other two women, and Blossom, towards the mess-room. She thought sourly of her lovely new Pontiac Solstice being used as a bullet stopper, and pushed the idea aside. It wasn't a moment too soon; the way the two vehicles that came through the gate at that moment slewed to an untidy halt was enough to warn anyone that they meant trouble.

Tony and Ziva leapt out of the cars and ran towards the mess; they'd got one vehicle up close to the door, then there was a gap of about twenty feet before the next one. Paula's car was still behind Tony's NCIS saloon; she wondered if he'd done it deliberately, reflected that he wouldn't have had time to plan, and got seriously mad at herself for thinking about it at all. Much more important was the fact that three agents were still over by the radio shack, extracting Starling from the back of the DEA truck. Gibbs, Fuller and McGee were stranded.

The newcomers, stunned to find themselves expected, (I told ya, should have shot that dog when ya had the chance!") had found cover behind two cars which Gibbs guessed belonged to Margaret and Isabella; and let off a flurry of shots with no particular aim. Gibbs yelled, "NCIS! You're not getting the stuff, so give up now." There was another fusillade, and that was the only answer. Gibbs reached for his phone.

"Just in case you're thinkin' about it, DiNozzo, don't. Try to come across here, I mean." He pointed to the garage area behind him, where a snowplough and a firetruck were under cover in an open fronted shed. "We've got good cover here. No heroics."

"No heroics," his SFA's voice hissed back. "You do know that when they realise you've got Starling you're going to be the first targets. You need to get back here, Boss."

"Workin' on it." He disconnected and Tony suppressed a growl. The attackers did seem to be concentrating their fire on the radio shack rather than the mess; Tony thought it was probably because the cars were the easier target. It was time to do something about that. None of the agents had returned fire yet, content to let the opposition waste their ammo. Now Tony stood, leaning over the top of the car, and Ziva lay on the ground to fire underneath. He felt her grab his ankle, to move his leg into better cover behind the rear wheel, and grunted his thanks. He was about to start shooting, when a single shot came from the opposition.

Ah… shit. Tony froze momentarily, horrified and incredulous. The big German Shepherd, over by the radio shack, had yelped and fallen. Tony couldn't believe it. His namesake was no threat to anyone; it was a mean shot, a spiteful, cruel and unnecessary shot, and, as it turned out, it was a very stupid thing to do. Kent Fuller, drug scourge, family man and all round nice guy, looked down at the body of his old friend, and swore a streak of obscenities that would have made Gibbs blush if he hadn't been thinking something along the same lines. He stood up, and took two of the drugs ring out with deadly accurate head shots, absolutely certain that the shot came from one of them, before a third one unfroze enough to fire back.

Fuller collapsed behind his truck, grasping his shoulder, swearing and weeping at the same time. Tony and Ziva fired from their position, and took the attention from the wounded man and his companions.

"Feds!" a voice yelled. "We only want the coke. Just give us that and we'll go."

"What's the matter," Tony yelled back derisively, getting in before Gibbs. He didn't want the Boss sticking his head up like Kent had done. And he knew that Gibbs was quite capable of it. "You getting cold feet? You found out that Feds have teeth?" He fired a couple of shots in the direction of the voice, then ducked. Through the car window, he risked a quick look round.

Gibbs and McGee were working on Fuller, and guarding their prisoner, who was huddled down and not putting up any resistance. Of more immediate interest right now, was the semi-automatic rifle that one of the dead dealers had let fall. It was out of reach of the others, and seemed to have been forgotten, at least for the moment.


"Yes, Tony?"

"You see that rifle?"

"I see it. Do you want it?"

"You don't know how long I've been waiting to hear you say that, Ziva. Yes, I want it."

Ziva gave him a lazy smile that said she was storing that bit of information away for future reference, eased back on her belly, past Paula who was kneeling behind the door, and into the mess-room. The other female agent moved forward to take her place. There was a door at the back, that the women had pushed the coffee machine against.

"Does that lead outside?" she asked Margaret.

"Yes. There's a stack of old aircraft tyres that we use to hold tarps down in the winter. It'll give you some cover. What are you doing?" She was already pushing the machine out of the way again.

"Do not worry about me," Ziva reassured her. "They will not even notice I am there." She handed the manager her Glock back-up. "Watch the door until I get back." It only seemed like moments later that Tony found himself grinning like a loon at the sight of the slender arm that snaked out from under the dark van. He threw a few shots to keep the opposition's attention on him, and the gun was silently appropriated.

Tony speed-dialled Gibbs, who'd watched Ziva disappear into the mess, although he'd not been able to see what happened next. "Boss? I'm worried about one of those cars going up with a bang. Can Kent move? Good. Get ready to go. Gonna give you some good covering fire in a minute."

"How ya gonna do that, DiNozzo?"

The SFA just coughed, and Gibbs looked across at him. Ziva emerged from the mess, looking pleased with herself, and handed Tony a semi-automatic, which He shook at Gibbs with a grin. "Thank Ziva."

Gibbs grunted. "You're enjoying this too much, DiNozzo."

"Yes, Boss, sorry Boss, shutting up now…" He was, as he'd expected, talking to the dial tone. He felt a little mean about not letting Ziva have the pleasure, but although he trusted their wild new ninja, he wasn't going to give her the chance to go Mossad on him, charge off with the gun, and maybe get herself killed by underestimating the opposition. Maybe when they'd worked together for more time – if they survived that long…

Gibbs gave McGee the wounded man's gun, and hefted Fuller's arm round his shoulder. The DEA chief swayed, and looked sadly at his dog, and Gibbs said steadily, "I'll come back and take care of him." Fuller nodded, eyes glassy and still filled with tears.

Gibbs uncuffed Starling. "It goes like this," he deadpanned. "You can't run fast with your hands cuffed behind you, so I'm giving you a chance. You run straight across to that mess room. It's my guess that your friends will try to shoot you. If you try to get away, McGee won't try, he'll succeed." He looked across at Tony, who held three fingers up. Two. One. Go.

Tony stood tall to send a long burst of automatic fire towards the criminals, and was rewarded with a yell of pain. Starling doubled up and ran, Tim close behind him, firing both guns at once. He dropped behind the end of the car, and added his covering fire as Gibbs and Fuller made it across the twenty feet to safety. He looked back into the mess room, expecting to see Paula dealing with Starling… he was flat on his back, clutching his eye, and Isabella was pointing a Glock at him.

The body language of the others in the room didn't suggest that he was in danger; but his wife had certainly relieved her feelings. Tim allowed himself a small, satisfied smile as he rejoined his team in the doorway, while the ladies turned to helping Fuller.

There was a lot of blood on Gibbs' jacket, and Tim glanced back into the room. "He needs help soon as possible," he said softly, and barely finished before there was another round of gunfire from the baddies.

Gibbs nodded, and didn't even look as if he were going to say, "Ya think?" He looked across at the body of the old dog, who'd deserved a long, honourable and loved retirement, and glanced back into the room. The man lying there bleeding loved his wife and kids, he didn't doubt, but he still cared enough for his old partner to risk a bullet to avenge him.

He looked at Tony, who was staring down at the gun with a thoughtful expression. As he took the full spare clip from its pouch on the strap, and put it into the gun, he became aware of the Boss's attention on him. Their eyes met, and Gibbs simply said, "This has gone on long enough." Tony nodded. As Tim's eyes widened, and he looked at them for clarification, Gibbs raised his voice.

"OK," he yelled. "We got a wounded man here, needs a medic. Take your stash and get the hell out of here." He looked at Tony. "Let's hope they're gullible." There was a long silence.

"Or desperate," his SFA replied quietly.

Finally… "OK. We're going to go behind the radio shack for cover, and we're keeping our guns." ("They're all in one place. Make like we're going to the plane, take note of exactly where they all are, then we start shooting. Before they can.)

"Just do it already." This time he looked at the whole team. "They've decided they can take us, head on," he said, and his tone was unafraid, and a bit… anticipatory? Tim wondered if he'd ever thought that about Gibbs before.

Tony ducked his head in the door for a moment. "Kent… can you move? You might want to watch this." The DEA man was a sight… what was left of his shirt was red, in contrast with his face, which was white. They'd used the only thing they had available for bandage, a roll of disposable hand towel from the dispenser, and his chest and shoulder were wrapped in coarse white paper that matched his face. "I look like someone's lunch," he'd growled when they'd first done it. He read the look in Tony's eyes, and with a lot of help from Margaret and Isabella, he made it to the door.

"Here they come," Tim said, raising his gun. Tony handed the semi to Ziva. "Have fun…" he said. He figured she'd earned it. She followed his eyes, and understood. As the five men approached the aircraft, she raised the gun, set it on automatic, and fired – at the plane, in the area beneath the Av-Gas cap. The devil plane, and its cargo of death, exploded in the most impressive, fiendish fireball, blowing all five men up in the air, to crash to the ground. The watchers all staggered slightly at the blast wave.

Kent Fuller looked at the column of red and yellow fire, and the roiling plume of brown smoke. "Holy shit," he whispered, and passed out, happy.

There were good and bad things in the aftermath. Margaret thought of fetching the fire truck, but said to Gibbs that maybe it was better to just let it burn. The five drug smugglers survived to be taken into custody. Both Gibbs and Kent Fuller had photographed the stash, and Tony had also witnesses it, so there was proof that a huge drug haul had indeed been destroyed.

Ken Starling was devastated by the loss of his brand new aircraft, although he didn't find a lot of sympathy. Later, he'd give enough detail to bring down people in DC, Florida, the West Indies, South America… In the end he got witness protection, which tore Isabella up, since, offered the chance to join him, she refused, because it would have meant not making contact with Inez. Tim confided to Tony that he'd rather the guy had gone to jail. Tony had agreed.

When she did, Tim went to Philadelphia with her, simply to support her on the journey. He wasn't there when the two women met, but afterwards Izzy seemed hopeful. She'd been completely honest with her daughter, who'd appreciated it, and both felt there was the basis for a relationship there.

Paula found there wasn't a scratch on her car, and felt guilty.

DEA Agent Pearson was found alive, but his head injuries were severe. After having his van forced off the road, he had been pistol-whipped for information he didn't actually have, as he'd left the airfield before any of the important facts had emerged. He was unlikely ever to be able to return to active duty. Tony sighed when he heard that news… just because the man was a dead loss where women were concerned, he didn't deserve that.

Gibbs had put Tony the dog's body into the back of Fuller's truck, and taken him back to the task force headquarters, where he was told that the old warrior would be treated with honour, and to tell Kent so. Gibbs had said sure, but to tell him themselves as well, as he'd been carried to the ambulance muttering that his wife was going to kill him. Might need a bit of moral support, Gibbs had told them.

Tony had gone to see him, and told him that he'd taken Blossom himself. She'd had a traumatic time, and he was going to fuss her until Fuller wanted her back. When he was on a case, Abby would fuss her, and there was no-one on this earth better than Abby at fuss….

The movie was coming to an end, the pizza was gone, the wine consumed, Tony's flat was warm, and the sofa comfortable. Kissing Paula was fun, even though he knew that any number of nights of hot sex was never going to make her change her views on commitment. Serves you right, DiNozzo.

Nevertheless, he drew her close, wrapped his arms round her, and kissed her long and con fuoco. His fingers tangled in her hair, and he felt hers scamper across his chest, and begin to work on his shirt buttons. Oh, yeah… he loved it when Paula undressed him… Running his hand slowly down her hip, he moved to kiss her again. She pulled back. What…?

"Tony…" uneasily.

He looked at her in surprise; she gestured down with a glance. Blossom was sitting on the rug at their feet, watching them, her head on one side.

"Oh, Bloss. Go lie down, girl."

Blossom trotted back to her favourite spot by the fire, and Tony and Paula went back to their favourite pastime. She'd pulled his shirt out of his pants, and was making twisty little circles in his chest hair, and he had his hands up the back of her top, counting the notches on her lovely sinuous spine as she breathed in his ear. Something nudged his leg. It must have happened to Paula too, since they both stopped at the same time.

The innocent chocolaty brown eyes were watching them solemnly. The only difference this time was that Blossom had tilted her head to the other side.

"Tony… I absolutely can't make out with an audience."

The Italian rolled his eyes and sighed. "No… neither can I."

He got up, and went into the kitchen, where Paula could hear him moving about. A few minutes later he came back with two mugs of cocoa. He hunted around in his movie collection for a moment, said, "A-ha!" triumphantly, and changed the disc in the DVD, all the time watched with amusement by Paula, and curiosity by Blossom.

Finally, he settled down on the couch, drew Paula's back into his chest, and reached down one-handed to lift Blossom up to join them.



He pressed the remote, and the three of them settled down to watch 'Lady and the Tramp'.

The End

AN: I want to keep Blossom myself. Thanks for coming along!