"Of all the dumb-ass things to do..." Tony moaned as he parked outside a house. The anonymous tip had claimed two seamen were growing and dealing Cannabis from this address. That combined with the owner's disappearing act made the place a candidate for exploration.

"Oh stop whining. Besides, think of the over-time." Replied McGee.

Tony pulled the keys out of the ignition and stepped out of the car. The street was nice. Respectable.

"Some of us have a life, McGee. DiNozzo's work to live, not live to work!"

"Is that why you were the last to go home on Friday?" Replied McGee.

"Was not!"

"Was too. Ziva told me." McGee said, determined to get the last word.

Truth be told, Tony had left last on Friday but it was not in his nature to admit defeat. Compared to Gibbs and himself, McGee was still a junior agent. He was younger. He was supposed to be out clubbing or whatever it was he amused himself with. The biggest drawback to being senior agent was the mounds of paperwork. Though he'd never confess, Tony didn't want Tim wasting his life before he'd even lived it.

They approached the one-bedroom house and both pulled their weapons. The front door was open. The kitchen was visible through the crack. An immaculate kitchen, no cannabis plants. Tony nodded at McGee and he opened the door. The drug may not have been visible but its heady scent hit both of them as they entered the premises. The stench was not bourne of Cannabis plants. A fug of smoke hung in the living room.

"Somebody's been smoking pot in here." Tony said under his breath.

McGee pointed upstairs and softly headed up them. Tony continued to the kitchen. He hadn't even reached the kitchen when footfalls followed a heavy impact on the floor above. His gut was nowhere near a infallible as Gibbs' but it was damn good nonetheless. Tony reached the bottom of the stairs. Deep inside he knew what he'd heard was his partner's body hitting the floor. He shouldn't have been surprised at the greeting he got at the bottom of the staircase. The man in the ski-mask had the greenest eyes he had ever seen. Tony's gaze lowered to the gun pointing at him. The pistol's metallic silencer gleamed.

"NCIS. Drop the weapon." He said.

The ice-cold eyes behind the mask told him all he needed to know. The gunman smiled.

Natural painkillers rushed around McGee's body. He wasn't in as much pain as he thought he should be. He thought of Sarah. He thought of his parents. What would they say? They'd be worried, or even grieving, depending on the outcome. Why had he pushed to become a field agent? This wouldn't happen to Ziva or Tony, they were naturals. He gasped for air but the hole in his lung made it excruciating.

He remembered Tony downstairs. He tried to call his name but a raspy whisper was all that came out. If anything happened to him he would never forgive himself. McGee had always wished he could gel with a partner as well as Tony did with Ziva. He thought of Ziva. She wouldn't have got herself injured and left Tony alone with a maniac.

McGee heard Tony's voice say something. The seconds of silence following were as agonising as his wounds. The gunshot was a beautiful noise when he heard it. Since the gunman had his weapon silenced the shot that just rang out must've come from Tony's weapon. The grunt of pain and a heavy bump were followed by yet more silence. Tim was aware that if help didn't arrive soon then consciousness and life would be abandoning him for greener pastures.

When Tony arrived in the room his weapon was still drawn. He looked ashen. Shock had made his complexion alabaster.

"You still with me, McGee?" His voice was remarkably steady although crouching down did seem hard for him.

"Just about." Tim gasped bravely.

"Keep breathing. You'll be fine. EMT're on their way."

"The guy...?"

"Got him before he got me." Tony lied.

The statement was half true. He had killed the guy but it wasn't before he'd stopped a bullet himself.

"You need to relax." He said pressing on McGee's heavily bleeding shoulder wound.

Tony took off his jacket and covered his injured partner. McGee suddenly noticed the blood covering Tony's white shirt. His strained heart sank.

"You're hit."

Tony put hand over his own wound. It was bleeding quicker than he could staunch with his hand. His fingers were sticky with viscous blood.

"Yeah... I noticed." He admitted, not up to a clever retort, "Its not that bad, don't worry."

"I'm sorry." McGee muttered, his eyelids drooping.

"McGee, look at me. Keep talking."

McGee was pale. His eyes closed like the curtain on a final performance.

Tony was trembling uncontrollably. He felt hot and cold at the same time. He tried to move but the bullet hole in his abdomen gaped painfully. He savoured the cold, solid wall he'd propped himself up against. He leaned his head back and after a while his eyes closed too.