|What's Eating Timothy McGee?
Author: Emerald1 PM
Drastic measures are needed but is McGee ready? If he didn't have a phobia before, he sure will now. Prompt: Archaic Medical Treatment. Yeah, that. Already finished, ten chapters.Rated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Family - Tim M. & Leroy Jethro Gibbs - Chapters: 10 - Words: 22,668 - Reviews: 213 - Favs: 101 - Follows: 86 - Updated: 01-17-13 - Published: 01-08-13 - Status: Complete - id: 8888813
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
a/n - Another h/c bingo card story. For this one the prompt was "archaic medical treatment" and it's a tag off Dog Tags so expect hurt McGee with a dose of PapaGibbs. No bashing, but a chance for someone to reevaluate her actions in that episode. Also a more realistic look at what would have happened with the dog because let's face it. Taking an active, highly trained working dog and trying to turn him into an apartment bound couch potato with an owner that works over 60 hours a week was a disaster waiting to happen. Besides, let's face it - not even Gibbs' magic could make the paperwork involved in the early release of a Navy dog just happen overnight.
If the title of the story hasn't already told you, McGee is central to the story. If you're one of those fans that hates the character or thinks we authors have no right to write about anyone but Tony, why are you here? In my stories, the team always works out their problems and the boys have a stronger friendship in the end.
What's Eating Timothy McGee?
Timothy McGee sat nervously on the exam table, trying not to look at his arm. The large lighted magnifying glass showed the infected dog bite in graphic detail as Dr. Malone scraped away at the dying flesh. After almost an hour, Malone finally straightened up and waved his nurse over to bandage the wound.
"We need to be more aggressive, Agent McGee, otherwise we'll have no option but to operate."
He'd already been warned that the surgery would result in a loss of function in his dominate hand, ending his career as a field agent. "What do you suggest? Different antibiotics again?"
"Different and stronger. We'll start IV antibiotics tonight." Dr. Malone filled out the paperwork as he talked, so his nurse could get things started.
"That means being in the hospital, right? Is there any way to do it on an outpatient basis?"
Dr. Malone studied his patient. Something about this injury was haunting the man, much more that an understandable fear of big dogs. He'd become more and more withdrawn as the injury refused to heal, resulting in a deep infection. Not once in the last month had McGee come in with a friend for support. "You really can't hide this any longer."
Tim couldn't quite look him in the eye. "I'm not hiding. I turned in the paperwork and I'm on desk duty. I just don't want to be stuck in the hospital."
"We can do it as overnights in the ER. You get there before 2100, we'll get the IV started and have you ready to leave 0600. Probably not the most comfortable bed you've ever slept in, but it's either that or you spend the days at the hospital. Your choice."
Tim didn't hesitate. "Nights will work."
Malone was still uncomfortable. "Does your team even know how you were injured?"
"Yeah, they were there." Tim's voice trailed off and he shrugged, not knowing how to explain the jokes and the ridicule, let alone the anger from Abby when he turned the dog over to a rescue group instead of taking it home with him. The general opinion was that McGee was playing up the infection to stay out of the reach of the angry goth and he was in no mood to argue.
No matter how much he disapproved of the situation, there was little the doctor could do. "Okay, we'll set it up. Grab yourself some dinner and check in at the reception desk when you're done. Since you're already here, we'll start early tonight."
As promised, Tim was ready to leave the hospital at 0600, giving him time to run home for a quick shower and a change of clothes. McGee was never so grateful to live so close to Bethesda and he was still able to leave in plenty of time to get to work, It hadn't been the most restful night's sleep he'd ever gotten, but after the years on Gibbs' team, it certainly wasn't the worst.
Ten minutes before the official start of the workday, McGee walked into the bullpen. Only Gibbs was there, so McGee dropped the new medical form on his desk without a word.
Over the last few weeks, a growing stack of medical restriction forms had made their way into McGee's file, but the specific restrictions looked different this time, so Gibbs stopped long enough to put his glasses on. In addition to the usual 'restricted to desk duty' was a new note limiting the number of hours McGee could work in a given day.
Curious and concerned, Gibbs walked over and leaned against the corner of McGee's desk. "Your arm's still not healing the way it should?"
Tim didn't look up as he shook his head. "No, it's not." If he had looked up, he'd have seen the concern on Gibbs' face. "Sorry, I know this is an inconvenience."
"We'll manage, but are you sure you don't want to take some medical leave?"
He'd been saving his medical leave in case surgery was the only option. "Not now, if... if this doesn't work, then I'll need it later."
"Why, what would be the next step?"
"Surgery to remove the infected tissue."
"How long would that put you out?" Gibbs studied him closely, realizing how serious this was.
Tim smoothed the tape covering the edge of the gauze wrapped around his arm and hand. "Weeks, maybe months, and I'd be permanently done as a field agent. I wouldn't even medically qualify for cybercrimes."
Gibbs tried to remember exactly where on McGee's arm were the worst of the bites. "You'd lose some function in your hand? How much?"
"Too much." The rest of the team arrived, so Tim shrugged and started booting up his computer. Gibbs didn't push any further, but he kept an eye on DiNozzo and didn't allow any teasing or pranks.
At 1800 hours Gibbs told them to call it a day. Tony and Ziva didn't waste any time in leaving and Tim hoped to be a few minutes behind them, but Gibbs called him over before he could make his escape. "Yeah, Boss?"
"Did you drive this morning?"
He'd barely managed to drive home the day he'd been mauled and hadn't been behind the wheel of his car since. "No, I took the bus."
Gibbs stood, picking up his coat. "Come on, I'll drive you home. We'll stop and get something to eat on the way."
"Umm, okay." He glanced at his watch, planning how much time he had before he had to get to the hospital.
The team leader noted the glance at the time and filed it away. "I'll have you home before curfew."
Unless they were on the road for a case, McGee had never sat down for a meal with his boss and he was nervous. He quickly found something on the menu that didn't require cutting or a great deal of finesse to eat. For his part, Gibbs didn't pry, but he watched closely and noted the swollen fingers that poked out of the thick bandages.
"Guess you're lucky your neck healed all right."
Tim reached up and touched the fresh scars on his throat. "If I'd developed the same infection in my neck as I did in my arm, I'd already be dead, Boss."
"What? You're serious?"
Tim nodded, suddenly fascinated with the fries on his plate as Gibbs sat back, stunned.
When the waitress cleared their plates and brought fresh coffee, Gibbs leaned close. "Do you want some water, or are you okay taking your antibiotics with your coffee?"
McGee almost choked on his drink. "I'm, umm, I'm fine, Boss. I don't have to take anything for a little while."
"Didn't see you take anything at work today either, McGee. Usually you take a couple of pills before the day's over." Gibbs knew exactly what time McGee took the orange and blue antibiotics and how rarely he broke down and took a pain pill while at work.
"Umm, they changed my meds yesterday. I don't take it until tonight." Even as he talked, he couldn't help but look at his watch again, keeping track of when he needed to be at the hospital.
Gibbs watched him closely, noting the increased respiration and how McGee shifted around in his seat. "What antibiotic do they have you on now?"
Feeling like he was on the wrong side of the table in interrogation, Tim didn't look up. "There's been so many, I don't remember the name of this one."
Several things had set off Gibbs' gut that evening, but that confession went to the top of the stack. With his degree in Bioengineering, McGee knew almost as much as Abby about the subject. Gibbs decided to push a little bit more. "With such a bad infection, it seems kind of odd that they'd be giving you a lower dosage right now."
The bouncing of his leg was causing rings to vibrate in his coffee and McGee found it fascinating. "It's not a lower dose, just a different delivery system."
Gibbs frowned, realizing that Tim didn't know how much he'd let slip. Instead, he backed off, giving McGee a chance to change the subject – at least until the car was pulling out of the diner's parking lot. "What time to you have to be at Bethesda?"
Tim froze and didn't say anything at first. Eventually, he dropped his head and sighed. "I need to check in by 2100."
"That's kind of late, what time are you done?"
"All night? You're in the hospital all night?"
"It's not that big of a deal, Boss. Once the IV is started, I just go to sleep and then I'm done in time to go home and get ready for work."
"Yeah, it is a big deal." Nothing further was said on the subject and Gibbs drove him to the hospital. Tim wasn't surprised at all the next morning to find Gibbs freshly showered and changed, waiting to drive him home.
With Gibbs sitting in his living room, McGee took one of his fastest showers and quickly got dressed for work. When he came out of the bedroom, Gibbs was poking around in his kitchen.
"You should eat something, McGee."
Tim made a face as he thought about eating. "I think I'll just wait for lunch, but if you see something you want, Boss, go for it. I don't think there's much food in the kitchen, though. I haven't felt much like eating."
Gibbs' expression reminded Tim of when Kate died. He was nice, he was gentle, he was solicitous. "The antibiotics doing a number on your stomach?"
"Yeah, sorry." His apology didn't get him a head slap, but a supportive hand on his shoulder as they walked out. Gibbs stopped at a diner on their way to work and came back with apple juice and dry toast for the younger man.
Paperwork keep them busy and quiet until lunchtime. Gibbs didn't even look up from the file he was reviewing. "DiNozzo, make the lunch run. Get something healthy and not greasy for a change."
Tony stared at him in shock. "Healthy? What, you want a salad, Boss?"
"Sure, why not. Make sure they've got plenty of protein in them, for all of us."
In all the years he'd known the man, Gibbs had never willingly eaten a dinner salad, let alone asked for one. "You want some wheatgrass juice while I'm at it?" What surprised Tony the most was the fact that Gibbs glanced over at McGee before vetoing the offer.
"No, no wheatgrass, and take Ziva with you. She knows more about healthy food."
The two agents looked at each other in surprise as they walked out of the squad room, but before Gibbs could check on how McGee was faring, a phone call sent him upstairs.
"That was strange."
"Strange? That was weird as hell, Ziva."
Ziva continued to stare at the metal doors in front of her. "Do you suppose that Gibbs has orders from Ducky to improve his eating habits? When was his last physical?"
Reviewing the morning in his head, Tony didn't agree with her theory. "No, it's something to do with McGee. Did you see how the Boss was hovering over him today?"
"Gibbs was at his desk, Tony. I did not see him standing next to McGee at all."
"Not that kind of hovering, Ziva. He was watching him all morning."
Sometimes she thought he did it deliberately. "Then why did you not say that?"
Tony opened his mouth, then thought better of it. "Never mind, let's just go find health food. Does that even taste good?"
"You wanted to see me, Director?"
Jenny looked over her reading glasses at him. "Yes, Jethro, tell me how much longer Agent McGee is going to be restricted to desk duty?"
He immediately bristled. "Until his doctor releases him to resume his full duties. Is that a problem?"
"It's been six weeks since he was injured, a month since he went onto restricted duties." Director Shepard pulled off her glasses and gave him a hard look. "If Agent McGee's injuries were that severe, why did he continue to work those first two weeks after he was attacked? If the medical restriction is a cover for some sort of psychological problem I need to know about it. Is he afraid of going back out in the field?"
"What? No. A secondary infection has set in." A rare flash of emotion crossed his face. "It's bad, Jen, and maybe if we'd taken his original injuries a little more seriously, he wouldn't be facing this now."
She studied him closely. "All right, keep me informed. If his restrictions go on much longer, we'll need to discuss bringing in a TAD to pick up the slack. How soon does McGee see his doctor again?"
"McGee is at the hospital every day for treatment, Director Shepard, and my team is managing just fine."
Watching him dig in his heels, Jenny knew the conversation was over for now. She gave him a nod and resumed her paperwork, silently dismissing him. Two could play at that game.