chapter 7

When they got back to Tony's place, Tim had already gotten there so he and Remy were waiting for the sedan to park. Remy opened the passenger door as soon as Gibbs set the parking brake.

"Fuckit, AJ, I swear. This time you're doing it my way, if I have to tie you to a bed." Remy was only half joking and Tony knew it. "Well, come on."

Tony eased himself out of the car and Remy helped him get steady on his feet. Gibbs came around and eased under Tony's bad shoulder.

"We'll put him straight to bed. Okay?" Gibbs glanced at Remy, noted his nod and continued. "Jimmy is going to set Tony up with another course of antibiotics and whatever else he deems necessary. Our job is to see that this idiot does what he's supposed to do." He repeated what he'd told everyone at Ducky's, concluding, "And I don't want to do that. We're always dodgin' a bullet when he's in a hospital. No one reads the charts, so they're always givin' him somethin' he shouldn't take." Gibbs grunted as Remy shifted all Tony's weight onto him to open the door.

Remy eased his mind by snarling at Tony under his breath. Gibbs could make out some swear words and a few threats. Tony didn't seem to mind or even pay much attention. He just patted Remy on the cheek, mumbled, "YES, Mom." and tumbled into his bed. He was asleep seconds later.

Remy rubbed his hand over his head. "Man, he's sick. I just wish he'd ... slow down. We've been runnin' on fumes for the last bit. That Homegrown Terrorist shit was just the beginning of a run that's had us in and out of Upcountry for the last three missions. Not to put too fine a point on it ... well, black ops are hard, no matter what. You know?"

Gibbs admitted that he did and turned to look a Tony. "He looks ... worn down. Keeping two jobs is wearin' him out. I hate to lose him."

Remy sighed, "We won't. He's fairly good at balancing things, but ... someone's attitude has been setting him on edge. He's been sleeping in cat naps for weeks. Up and pacing around over things when he should be sleeping. You and me? We have a ... calling. Keeping that dumb ass from killing himself. So. What's first?"

Gibbs started to speak but was interrupted by Jimmy. He was standing in the living room with a box in his hands. "The first thing we do is get his fever down. He's dehydrated again, or I miss my guess. And there's going to be either me or Ducky on duty, 24/7, until he's well on his way to recovery. And we need someone to be here with Ducky, to help with the heavy stuff. I can handle him on my own, I think. But I'd be glad of help too."

He walked into the bedroom and eyed Tony. "OK. AJ, you'll either do what I tell you to do, when I tell you to do it, or you'll be in the hospital again by next week. Do you understand?"

Gibbs looked from Jimmy to Tony. He felt bad; Jimmy had delivered a great lecture, he was just sad that Tony had missed it.

Jimmy poked Tony. Tony raised his head, opened one eye and grumbled, "I was asleep, I'm gonna be asleep again in a minute. Yes, I got you. I'm done. I'm tired. I hurt. Boss is right. There's no reason for me to be up and doing, instead of down and healing." He put his head down again and started snoring.

Jimmy sighed. "Well, that went better than expected. I need to get an IV into him. Will he punch me out if I just do it?"

Remy shook his head. "No, not if you keep talking to him. Just don't poke on him a lot. That's one of the things that turned him off hospitals. They can't seem to find a vein without sticking him to death."

Jimmy mumbled something about phlebotomists and crap. "Ok, Tony, I'm going to stick you. Just once." He carefully extended Tony's arm and got the needle into it with one try. "Now, I'm setting up an IV of fluids, antibiotics and a bit of something the help that fever. Do not pull that needle out." Tony mumbled a bit incoherently and Jimmy barked, "Damn it, Tony. Listen to me and do what I say."

Tony grumbled, "Don't pull out the needle. Right. Got it in one."

Jimmy gave him a heated look but refrained from further comment. He just taped up the needle and pulled the covers up. "Ok. That's got it. I'm going to lay down on the couch. I was going to go straight home after the meeting. Worked a late shift and I'm due in in ..." He looked at his watch. "Six hours. Call me if you need me." and with that, he headed for the living room.

Remy stopped him. "Man, use the fucking rack. I'll be up until I'm sure AJ isn't going to pull out that IV. That means until his fever breaks. So, go, sleep."

Gibbs nodded. "Go. We'll keep that lunkhead from doing something stupid."

Jimmy went. He stripped off his shoes and shirt then flopped down on the bed. "Man, this bunch is going to be the death of me yet." Then he was asleep too.

Gibbs settled in the easy chair. "Wake me if you need me." He was asleep in seconds, well aware that it was early. But he was going to sleep now so he'd be awake when Remy started to nod.

Remy went to make coffee. He was going to start drooping about 0200 even with that help.


Gibbs woke when his name was called. Jimmy was standing in the hall calling him. "Gibbs, we have to wash Tony down with this." He waved a bottled of alcohol at him. "His fever isn't breaking. If we can't get it down by noon, he'll have to go to the hospital. It's too dangerous."

"You gonna be late to work?" Gibbs was worried about Jimmy missing work; he didn't want the hardworking young man to endanger his job.

"No, I called in. I'll actually get extra credit for this. Ducky said." And that was the end of that bit of discussion. Ducky knew, or knew of, every doctor and instructor in the city. If he called Jimmy's supervisor and told him what was going on, it would actually help him in his career. "Now. I sent Remy out for more alcohol. We're going to need it."

Gibbs rolled his sleeves up, asking, "What do I do?"

"You hold him up, while I sponge him off. He's not resisting but I don't want him trying to sit up on his own either." Jimmy efficiently poured the alcohol over ice in a bowl and dipped a wash cloth into it. "Hold him up. And hold tight. This is going to be cold."

Gibbs got behind Tony and held him up, muttering, "The things I do for love."

Tony mumbled back, "But it's so worth it." He leaned back, stifling a yelp. "Man, son of a bitch, that's cold."

"Sorry, but that fever has to come down. 104 is too high. You'll cook your brains." Jimmy wiped the cloth over Tony's neck and chest.

Tony bitched and moaned about how cold it was, but he didn't start shivering. His temp stayed up.

Remy returned with more alcohol, breakfast burritos and coffee. He dumped everything on the kitchen table, calling, "Food and coffee. I'll be back there in a second." He left the food and took the alcohol back. "Ok. What needs doing?"

Jimmy shook his head. "Nothing really. Gibbs is keeping Tony from bucking like a wild bronco and I'm wiping him down." he looked into the bowl. "Might need some more ice. Why don't you go ahead and eat, then bring some ice and trade with Gibbs."

Remy glanced at Tony, who still looked half out of his head with fever. "Ok, you need me ... yell."

"Gotcha." Jimmy went back to wiping Tony down.

Gibbs watched over Tony's shoulder as Jimmy stoically endured the freezing iced alcohol, dipping his cloth, wringing it out and wiping it over Tony; again and again. Finally, he couldn't stand it anymore. "Jimmy, let me do that for awhile. You'll get frost bitten."

Jimmy smiled. "I don't mind. You think he wouldn't do the same for me? I'll be ok. I'm going to stop for a bit. The food smells good." he patted Tony's cheek. "Tony? You want to eat something?"

Tony thought about that for a moment then said, "No. Probably just puke it back up. Go. Eat." He rolled his head on Gibbs' shoulder. "Boss? You wanna go eat?"

Gibbs chuckled, shaking Tony in the process. "Oh, no, Boss, you didn't want to do that. Gonna ..."

Gibbs heaved Tony out of bed and onto his feet. He quickly helped him to the bathroom, dragging the IV stand, and held his head as Tony heaved. There wasn't much for him to lose, so he was soon done.

"Damn it, Boss. I swear, I've got a stomach like a cat. Look at me cross-eyed and I'm heavin' up my guts." Tony sat down on the floor, arranged the IV line and sighed.

Gibbs just dragged the duvet off the bed and covered him with it. They looked up to see Remy and Tim watching. Jimmy was behind them.

Jimmy eyed Tony, sighed and said, "Keep him covered. Let him puke in peace. I'm going to finish my breakfast. Tim, relieve Gibbs so he can eat."

Gibbs started to argue but Tony just said, "Go, Boss. I'm feelin' a bit better."

Gibbs got up and headed for coffee, grumbling, "DiNozzo, get well. Idiot."

Tony gave Tim a mirthless smile and curled up on the floor. "McGee."

"Tony. Look like shit." Tim settled on the floor near Tony.

"Thanks, man, makes me feel really swell." Tony pulled the duvet over his head, only to get up on his knees again.

When he was done, Tim handed him a glass of water so he could rinse and spit.

"Damn it, Tony. You need to take care of yourself." Tim flattened Tony with one simple statement. "How can you take care of Remy, Cosmo and Dean, if you don't take care of yourself?"

Tony muttered, "No worse than Gibbs."

Tim snarled, "And that's a good excuse? Ya think? I'd say the same damn thing to Gibbs, but he doesn't listen either."

Gibbs, thinking of the times he'd neglected himself, and the consequences of that particular bit of youthful stupidity, interjected, "Point taken, McGee. Wish I'd listened to various people when I was young and dumb. My knees would have appreciated it."

Tony sighed; he did feel like shit. "Ok, ok. I'll stay down. But you have to entertain me. I'll go bug fuck if you don't."

Gibbs glowered at the top of Tony's head. "You'll stay down. I mean it. And I'll not only call Abby, I'll call your CO. I do believe you have orders."

Tony gave up completely. He did actually know how to follow orders, even if he did utilize any wiggle room to his advantage. Unfortunately, his orders had been plain. 'Do what you are told to do to get well. No messing around,' didn't leave any question as to intent. "Okay, I said."

Gibbs was thinking over something that their young friend, Jonny Marsh, had said — or had it been DiNozzo? He dragged his weary mind back to the point. "Everyone in the kitchen."

They all trooped into the kitchen where they found the rest of the group that everyone was beginning to call DiNozzo Watchers. Jimmy hung back against one wall, eyeing the group hesitantly.

"Should I call Ducky?"

Gibbs shook his head. "No, we don't need him just now. He's old, and needs his rest. You'll more than do. What I want is for you to set up that machine for us. Show everyone how to do it."

"Okay, but it's not time for a treatment yet." Jimmy took the machine off the counter and demonstrated how to set it up. He stopped before he put the medicine in it.

Gibbs watched carefully then asked, "Is there any reason that any of us should not try that?"

Jimmy thought for a moment. "Well, no. The only reason the medicine is prescription is its strength. You can actually get everything except the albuterol over the counter." He got an odd look in his eye then dumped in a dose and started the machine. "I'll go first to demonstrate how to do it." He managed to keep from gagging by main force of will.

Remy refused, saying he'd already done it, and he wasn't lying. He'd nearly choked on the taste.

Dean confidently took the mouthpiece and breathed in deeply. He gagged, choked and sputtered. When he could finally talk, he announced, "Oh, my God. It does taste like butt. Christ on a cracker." He stepped back to leave room for the next man.

Cosmo cheerfully refused too. His excuse was simple, "If AJ doesn't like it but does it anyway, that's good enough for me."

Abby tried it and had to go repair her makeup as the taste made her eyes water like, as she said, 'A summer spring.' Her opinion of the taste was best left to the imagination as her language was anything but ladylike.

Tim took one tentative inhale and also gagged. "Shit! Oh, man. Ugh. No wonder he hates it."

Gibbs took the last turn and manned up like a Marine should. He took as deep a breath as he'd expect Tony to. He wound up gagging so badly that he couldn't catch his breath. Dean had to hold him up for a moment while he coughed. "Holy fucking ... damn it. That's nearly torture. And the treatment makes him cough?"

Jimmy nodded. "It does. And that hurts his ribs and shoulder. But, if he doesn't cough up all that gunk, he's gonna get pneumonia. That's worse. So ... he does the treatment and hurts, or doesn't do it and hurts. Not like it's a win-win situation. Rubbing his back helps. There's also a form of Swedish massage called tapotement, a sort of patting. That helps to loosen any phlegm."

Abby raised her hand, exclaiming, "Oh! I know how to do that. I can give him a massage at least once a day." She sighed. "My lab is being stripped and deep cleaned. It's a requirement to stay certified. Since all of Team Gibbs is on furlough while this Ziva mess is sorted, Vance decided it was a good time to do it." She beamed around, evidently quite pleased with herself.

Gibbs looked at Jimmy. Jimmy nodded to him and Abby. "That's good. Abby, teach Gibbs and someone else how to do it. He could use both a massage and a breathing treatment at the same time. Treatment first then massage." He frowned for a moment. "The massage twice a day, the breathing treatment every four hours. I'll keep him on an IV of antibiotics until further notice. Get him to ... Well, you know the drill as well as I do."

They all nodded and settled in to wait while Gibbs set up a schedule for them all. He wanted at least two people with him at all times. Jimmy would stay when he wasn't on duty, as would Ducky. They could now go watch-and-watch, since Jimmy was an intern. The only problem was that Jimmy still had ER duty as a intern and classwork to complete. He would be doing his work here to stay caught up.

Ducky would take the night shift, sleeping in the guest room so he was available, if needed. Gibbs was hopeful that, now that Tony had agreed to cooperate, none of these arrangements would be needed. But, knowing Tony, better safe than sorry.


Gibbs eyed Tony, curled up on the bathroom floor, then gently kicked his feet. "DiNozzo, up and at 'em."

Tony emerged from his cocoon of blanket and duvet. "Yeah?"

"Treatment. Come on." Gibbs turned around and left, leaving Tony to wake himself up.

Tony grumbled softly as he got himself up. "Hate that stuff. Doesn't make me feel better at all. And it really does taste like butt."

But he was up, blanket and duvet folded and on the foot of his bed, and headed for the kitchen in quick time. He entered the kitchen to find Abby, Gibbs and Jimmy waiting for him.

Gibbs was surprised when Tony just asked, "Ok, what's first?"

Jimmy had set up the machine while Tony was getting dressed, not that anyone would call ragged sweat pants and an equally ragged Navy t-shirt, dressed. "Treatment. Then Abby will give you a tapotement treatment to help loosen the gunk. After that, breakfast, if you feel like it. I'd recommend eating something."

Tony just started his treatment without comment. He stopped twice to cough, noticing the sympathetic looks from Abby and Gibbs. He refrained from comment, knowing none was needed. He didn't need pity and he wasn't getting it, but sympathy was good.

After he finished the treatment, which hurt because of the active resistance on both exhale and inhale, he just wanted to go back to bed. Abby didn't let him, however, she cheerfully announced that now she got to 'pound the crap out of him'. Which she proceeded to do.

It wasn't that bad. She started out by telling him to leave his shirt on as she wasn't going to be rubbing, just patting. The next thing she did was tell him to turn the chair around and push it up against the table then straddle it. When he'd complied, she began patting his back, waist to shoulder in a circular pattern. She didn't pat particularly hard but the constant percussion wore on him. It also made him cough even more. He was glad for the emesis basin Jimmy produced. He spit the phlegm into it, grimacing in disgust.

Abby glanced at it, then away. "Oh, ick. Tony, that's nasty." Tony started to apologize but Abby ran him over. "I'm so glad you're getting all that stuff out of you. Just sit still a few more seconds."

Jimmy took the basin and eyed the mess. "Well, mostly good ... in a way. Some old blood, a bit of infection, and a lot of fluid. I know it looks bad but it's actually good. It's getting the infection and such out." He washed the mess down the drain and ran plenty of hot water after. He made way for Gibbs, who scrubbed the sink and basin while Jimmy listened to Tony's lung sounds.

Tony patiently allowed the fussing, looking put upon and tired.

Gibbs, knowing that anything Tony ate would taste like albuterol and tea tree oil, gave Tony a treat. The cinnamon bun was his mother's recipe, handed down to Shannon by Jack. He still had the original recipe book, with her handwritten notes. "Here. Try that on for size." He handed more plates around and took one for himself.

Contrary to popular belief, Gibbs did not live on cowboy steaks and coffee. He actually ate rather well, and didn't indulge in sweets that much. But when he did, he went all out. On this occasion he slathered the still hot bun with butter, then poured syrup on it.

Jimmy winced. Tony noticed and remarked. "I know, and he puts peanut butter on his pancakes."

Abby nodded. "It's very good. I prefer peach compote myself. But that's really better on waffles."

Tony mumbled around a mouthful of bun. "I've got a great recipe for candied ginger peach compote that's really good. Remind me to give it to you."

"Ok, later. Now, finish eating and go to bed." Abby pointed her fork, loaded with bun, at Tony.

Tony leaned over and snatched the bite off Abby's fork. This made her squeak indignantly, which made Tim and Gibbs laugh.

Tony finished his food and coffee but refused to go to bed. Instead, he gathered up the duvet and an afghan he produced from the foot stool and settled on the couch to watch tv.

And that was the way it went for the next three days. Tony took his treatments with religious regularity, allowing whoever was on duty to fix the machine for him. He also submitted to Abby's back-patting massage.

Gibbs watched with some amusement, mixed with a bit of concern as Tony drifted through the days, moving from bed to couch and back, with stops in the kitchen for treatments and meals. He seemed to drift off at the drop of a hat, but woke with a jerk when anyone changed the channel or turned the tv off. He seemed in a permanent daze.

Day three came and with it, a total change in Tony. That day he was up, took care of the three S's and made it to the kitchen by 0700.

"Boss, when is Ducky coming? I'm goin' stir crazy here." Tony put the spirometer away, hopefully for the last time.

"Soon. He said by 0800 latest. Omelet?" Gibbs had taken over most of the cooking on site. Abby continued to come in, make huge quantities of something, then leave again. She also gave Tony a tapotement treatment twice a day.

Tony thought about that for a moment then nodded. "Got sausage?"

"Do. And mushrooms and onions. American, swiss ..." Gibbs checked the fridge. "or cheddar?"

"Just sausage and onions with cheddar. Thanks." Tony rubbed his face. "I feel a hundred per. How much longer will Vance give us?"

Gibbs smirked at Tony. "Tim and I have been back on cold cases for the last two days. Vance wants us all on cold cases until you pass your requal." Tony made a face. "Give it up. You have to requal and you know it. You'll be down on performance but we'll take care of that."

Tony just nodded. "Ok, Boss. Cold cases until I'm back on track. I'll have to do the same thing for my CO. Vance is gonna have a fit."

Gibbs shrugged. "Tough. He's gonna have to get used to it. You're a SEAL, just like I'm a Marine. We both work for NCIS, but ..." he smiled a bit self-consciously, "I'm a reservist and I will be until they kick me out. So, he'll deal, or we'll go. I bet I could get a detachment with your unit."

Tony snorted. "I know you could. Training snipers. But let's not shoot before there's a target."

. Epilogue

Leon Vance signed off for Tony DiNozzo to return to work, on desk duty only, on Monday.

He also signed papers to pay for six months' inpatient care for Ziva David. She was lost to them as an agent. Israel didn't want her back; she was too broken for them to fix. They were, however, granting her a retirement package that would keep her for the rest of her life; along with her NCIS package, she was set. What she was going to do with the rest of her life was now her problem. He didn't like that bit much but what was he to do? She was a free agent, as the saying went. Perhaps she could get a job with some other agency? One which did not require her to put herself in situations that might trigger her.

He looked from one paper to the other and decided his glass was half full. He was getting his best SFA back, after all.

He settled back to finish the rest of his paperwork.


Monday came, and with it, Team Gibbs. Abby returned to her clean lab and her retuned babies. Tim and Gibbs settled at their desks and piles of cold cases. Tony also returned to his desk and a pile of cold cases. Ziva's desk was empty; Vance had come down and gotten her things for her that Friday. Gibbs had nodded to him while Tim had had to go for coffee.

Tony nodded to Gibbs. "Boss."




"Cold cases." Tony eyed the pile.

"Cold cases," Gibbs agreed.

As usual, disclaimer, I don't own anything except my original characters, and the plot, everything recognizable belongs to Donald Belisario and co.


Due to the elimination of Ziva from NCIS I've taken the liberty of writing her out of my stories too. [Personally, I like the way you took to write Ziva out. I always thought that it was rather unrealistic, the way she showed little to no adverse reaction to her Somalian captivity.]

I'll admit that I never liked Ziva like I wanted to. I like the idea of Ziva but the way she was written by the show left me unsatisfied. Sort of like a plate of spaghetti with no sauce. I didn't like her attitude of 'in Mossad' we did everything better. And she was off the reservation more often than not. She was also mean spirited more than I liked. Her attitude toward Tony vacillated between flirty and contemptuous. She led Tim to treat Tony badly too.

Instead of Ziva, I'll bring in various TAD's to play with. Please don't ask for any of them back because that won't happen. I want a different one to fit a story, that's what I get. Sorry. Although, one might last more than one story.


As I was writing, I used a phrase that I've noticed is misquoted with irritating regularity. It's think, not thing. 'If you think [something], you have another THINK coming. Not thing. For God's sake, if you can't get it right, don't quote it.


In case you are wondering. PTSD is one of those things that shows up in all sorts of odd ways. One man I know can't stand the sound of a vacuum sweeper. His wife has to warn him to leave the house before she can run it. He's not even sure why. Another way it shows up is an obsessive need to know things. Tony is into every box, container and drawer in a strange place, because there might be something in there he needs to deal with. Ziva has an obsessive need to know every detail of Tony's life. Why? Because it suits my story.


ASVAB waiver - the only way said person got into the military was because the ASVAB was waived in their favor. (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery)

Since so many people have asked, all the acronyms are posted in my bio. I do understand that googling them is a pain, but posting them at the end of a chapter then making you search for them doesn't seem like a very good idea either.

Another thing I've noticed. People are beginning to get the awful habit of saying things like, "The Army Soldier," or the Navy Soldier.

So not.

Army = Soldier
Navy, Coast Guard = seaman or sailor. (Not sure when the difference kicks in) [As far as I know, the two terms are interchangeable; a difference that makes no difference is no difference]
Air Force = Airman
Marine = Marine
National Guard = Guardsman

And they'll, more or less, politely call you on it if you get it wrong.