“Slow the hell down, Jethro! You’re driving like the devil himself is chasing you,” Fornell complained, as he got a better hold on the dash.
“Watch the nails. That dash is original.” Gibbs glared at his friend until he released his death grip on the Challenger’s dash. Then he smirked as he accelerated yet again. The tires squealed as he deftly navigated a hairpin turn.
“Dammit, Gibbs!” Fornell’s face was a shade paler than normal, to Gibbs’ amusement.
“Just keeping you on your toes, Tobias,” Gibbs said.
“I’d settle for you keeping all four tires on the pavement,” Fornell grumbled, then added, “at the same time.”
Gibbs chuckled and slowed his speed…a little.
“It’ll do,” Fornell replied, almost relaxing into the passenger seat. “Don’t know why we’re in such a hurry, though. I still say it was the girlfriend.”
“Still gotta talk to Collins,” Gibbs said.
“Speak of the devil himself,” Gibbs continued, once again accelerating as he moved to follow a black, non-descript late-model Lincoln SUV.
“Here we go,” Fornell said, the excitement of the chase making him forget his fear.
The ensuing chase made Gibbs wish he was in his government-issued vehicle rather than the Challenger, but the call that Collins had been spotted had come in while he was joyriding. He was fortunate to be able to force the other vehicle off the road without causing damage to his car.
“Let’s do this,” Fornell said as he drew his weapon from his holster.
“Freeze! Federal agents!” Gibbs called as they cautiously approached the vehicle.
Everything remained silent, save for the pinging of the warm engine that had only just been shut off. With a nod to Fornell for cover, Gibbs reached out and yanked the handle to open the driver’s side door. The vehicle was empty.
“Dammit!” Fornell said, rushing to the other side of the vehicle where the passenger door stood ajar. “Got a rabbit!”
Not having seen anyone flee, Gibbs began a slow perusal of the vehicle, first checking beneath it and then the back seat and cargo compartment. “How the hell…?” he muttered under his breath.
“Call it in!” Fornell said, moving quickly toward the tree line, searching for a trail.
“I know,” Gibbs grumbled. “Watch yourself out there, old man,” Gibbs warned as he pulled out his phone to report the developments in the situation to the team.
Fornell waved away Gibbs’ warning as he disappeared from view, determined to find the suspect. “Old man,” he muttered. “I’m younger than you.”
Gibbs shook his head as he ignored the FBI agent and continued his search of the vehicle and surrounding area. Just as he determined he might have to join Fornell’s search in the woods, he heard the distinctive click of a hammer being pulled back. He was suddenly glad he had gotten through to McGee.
“Drop the weapon, Agent Gibbs.” The voice came from just behind his left ear. “No funny stuff.” He slowly lowered his own weapon to the ground and raised his hands.
“Frankie Collins? There are a lot of folks looking for you,” Gibbs said after he turned to face the young man.
“They can keep looking. I didn’t kill that marine. I didn’t even know him,” Collins said, his eyes darting from left to right.
“Nobody said you did. We just want to talk to you,” Gibbs said calmly.
“Sure. That’s what they all say,” Collins said.
“It’s the truth,” Gibbs said.
“That’s why you were chasing me like a bat outta hell?” Collins asked incredulously.
Gibbs shrugged. “Fast car. Habit.” Gibbs took a slow step toward the young man.
“Stop right there or I’ll shoot!” Collins shouted, nervously. “I’m not kidding.”
“You didn’t kill that marine and you’re not gonna kill me,” Gibbs said, taking another slow step toward Collins.
“You don’t know that.”
“You said you didn’t kill the marine,” Gibbs reasoned. “If you didn’t, there’s no reason for you to hurt me. You got nothing to hide.”
“You don’t believe me,” Collins said, still wide-eyed. “You’re just trying to get me to trust you.”
“You’re a smart man,” Gibbs said. “Yes, I want you to trust me. I also want to help you. Let’s talk. Figure this out.”
“I don’t know anything,” Collins insisted, his eyes wet with unshed tears. “Talking to me isn’t going to help you.”
“You would be surprised at what you know,” Gibbs said as he closed the remaining distance and slickly disarmed Collins.
“I have to put the cuffs on,” Gibbs said, “because you pulled a weapon. You understand. We’ll sort this out back at NCIS.” Gibbs cuffed the man and gently secured him in the back of the Challenger.
Gibbs honked the horn loudly. “Tobias! Get your ass out here!” He huffed as he waited, Collins cooling his heels in the back seat.
Sirens sounded in the distance as Agents McGee and Bishop arrived on the scene. Gibbs pulled his car alongside and lowered the window.
“Got him,” Gibbs said. He nodded his head toward the man in the backseat. “Fornell took a walk in the woods. McGee, wait for him. Bishop and I will meet you back at NCIS.” Gibbs nodded impatiently as Bishop slid from one car and hopped into the Challenger. Gibbs burned rubber squealing away from the scene, the car’s engine purring.
McGee pulled out his phone and began playing a game. Why had Fornell taken a walk during a pursuit, and why did he have to be the one to sit and wait for him? He was the senior field agent now. He shrugged his shoulders and settled back into the seat. Getting paid to play games wasn’t so bad. Tony would be proud of him.
2 Hours Later
“What the actual hell, Gibbs?” Fornell began shouting as soon as he exited the elevator. His hair was mussed and had bits of leaves in it, there were burrs clinging to his pants, and his clothes were wrinkled and wet in places.
“Find your rabbit, Tobias?” Gibbs asked. “You look like someone shook you up inside one of those snow globe thingies.” He took a sip of his coffee and turned his attention back to the report he was reading.
“I just saw Collins in the parking lot. You stranded me out in the woods so you could let the guy go?” Fornell asked.
“He didn’t do it,” Gibbs said.
“And you couldn’t have waited for me to come back from searching for your suspect?”
“I left McGee.” Gibbs shrugged. “Had to interrogate Collins,” Gibbs said.
“Yeah, I get it,” Fornell sighed. He took an offered paper towel from Agent McGee and began trying to clean up his suit.
“It was the girlfriend,” Gibbs said. “Torres and Bishop are picking her up right now.”
“So I was right,” Fornell said.
“Feel better?” Gibbs asked.
“I’ve been through worse,” Fornell said. “Got any more of that coffee?”
“Get your own,” Gibbs said.
Fornell chuckled. “Remind me never to go joyriding with you again.”
“Hey Tobias,” Gibbs said.
“Yeah?” Fornell asked.
“Never go joyriding with me again.” Gibbs smirked. Fornell threw the paper towel he had been cleaning himself up with in Gibbs’ general direction.
“No one loves a smartass,” Fornell said. “I’m going for coffee.”
“I could use another,” Gibbs said, rising from his chair and grabbing his jacket. “Wait up.”
“Huh. A lesson you could learn,” Fornell complained as the two stepped onto the elevator.
“Got a clean shirt?” Gibbs asked as the elevator doors closed.
“Shut up, Jethro,” Fornell said.