Pursuing the Brag

"He wants us to think his cannon is loose."

The dark-haired woman makes this observation from the side street curb. Beside her the sedan waits, engine humming and doors thrown open.

"His cannon is unhitched and rolling down the hill," the driver notes, head tilted in a way that suggests the unfolding drama is best studied from a curious but impassive distance.

Their colleague, a carefully dressed man who insists on intellect over impulse, is currently slogging down a rain-slicked alley, mud and grime flinging behind his sensible shoes. Not so much chasing the suspect as covering the only means of escape. The man in the hoodie is either unaware of a potential dead-end that McGee is counting on or biding time until a plan formulates, one dominated by fists and luck.

Normally, this is a job for the two left guarding the car. Perhaps something in the suspect's grin had irritated McGee enough to make him volunteer for this slippery dash. He'd sprung from the backseat before the car had been fully halted, a distinct violation of personal safety.

"Maybe," Tony says, "we shouldn't have spent the morning recalling our best chases."

"Possibly."

"Might have hurt his McFeelings."

"Because he failed to contribute?"

"And now he's ruining decent leather." The state of costly materials is of less concern to Tony than the condition of the car's interior once both the pursuer and the caught are slopped into the backseat.

"He wants his own story," Ziva concludes. "And he needs witnesses."

"But should we tell him?"

Much thought is given to the practicality of warning someone in mid-flight. Tony casts his eyes down to his partner, who watches the two shapes being swallowed by distance and shadows. He will defer to Ziva, if only to appear blameless later.

At length, she decides. "Witness interference might disrupt his story."

And so, when McGee's disheveled body eventually stumbles in front of his sun-elongated shadow, nothing is said. Gibbs and his vehicle emerge from behind the set of buildings, having used the gleaming bumper to stop the offender on the other side of the two foot retaining wall. And because the supposed dead-end, as Tony and Ziva were aware, opens into another side street, even more purposeful nothing is said.

But when Tim's muddy shoes disturb the virginity of the brand new cruiser, Tony's tirade lasts thirteen miles.