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Gibbs awoke less than an hour after falling asleep to find Zara trashing uncontrollably in bed. He jumped out of bed, ignored the pain that radiated through his shoulder as he rushed to the door and shouted for Ducky. He returned to the bed and placed a hand on Zara's forehead.
"Oh God! You're burning up." He exclaimed as she moaned and jerked on the bed.
Ducky, Abby, Ziva and Tony were in the room within seconds.
"Do something, Duck!" Gibbs demanded. "Zara, come on you've got to wake up."
"Jethro, step aside and let me look at her." Ducky ordered. But Gibbs seemed not to have heard him. He just stared at Zara as his visibly trembling hand stroked her head.
"Zara, come on… please!" he whispered.
Tony and Ziva exchanged a concerned look. They had never seem Gibbs so terrified.
"Anthony, please." Ducky implored.
"Boss," Tony said as he moved forward. "Let's move to the window and give Ducky some room to work on her," he said as he placed a gentle yet firm hand on Gibbs' good arm. Gibbs made to resist not wanting to leave Zara.
"It's okay Gibbs." Ziva said, nodding at him.
"We'll help Ducky take care of her." Abby said reassuringly.
That seemed to snap him out of his trance.
"Damnit!" he growled but allowed Tony to walk with him to the window. The sun was setting and the mood in the room sizzled with tension.
Abby switched the lights on as Ducky and Ziva moved to either side of the bed and started attending to Zara.
"What's happening to her?" Gibbs asked.
"It's as I feared." Ducky said with concern as Zara stopped jerking on the bed.
"What it is?" Gibbs demanded as he made to move forward but Tony held him back.
"She's just had a fever induced seizure."
"Damnit!" Gibbs growled.
"I'm afraid she's dehydrated and very weak now."
"Should we call the EMT's?" Tony asked keeping his hold on Gibbs as he felt his boss vibrate with emotion.
"Help her Duck!" Gibbs ordered.
"I am Jethro. But I need you to calm down."
"What are you going to do?" Gibbs demanded.
"I am going to adjust her medication and increase her fluids. I'm unfortunately going to have to insert a feeding tube as well. We have to replace the sugars, salts and electrolytes that she's lost and get some sustenance into her so that her body can start to heal. We will also work on reducing her fever by sponging her body to cool it down."
"I'll get some towels and a bowl of water." Abby said as she moved to the bathroom.
Come on Zara! Gibbs prayed.
"Let me help." Gibbs said moving towards the bed despite Tony's best efforts to hold him back.
"No." Ducky replied. "Anthony, take him downstairs while we get all this done."
"No." Gibbs growled.
"And make sure he eats something." Ducky stated as if he had not heard Gibbs' refusal.
"I'm not going anywhere." Gibbs was adamant.
"Jethro," turned to face him. "I need to attend to Zara and do not have time to debate this with you. You will go downstairs and get a bite to eat and by the time you get back we will have Zara comfortably settled." Ducky stated in a tone that broached no argument.
"Damnit Ducky!" Gibbs growled as he and Tony reached the bed. He reached out and stroked Zara's flushed cheek as he whispered, "Don't let anything happen to her Duck. I owe her."
"I won't." Ducky replied and then nodded to Tony who led Gibbs out of the room.
Abby returned from the bathroom and placed the bowl of water and towels on the bed next to Zara. Then she closed the door to the room and said, "I have never seen Gibbs like this. He is so freaked out about Zara."
"He cares about her and feels responsible for her being in this situation." Ducky replied as he syringed two ampoules of medication and plunged the contents into Zara's fresh IV bag. He hooked up two more vials of medication to the IV bag and then set them up for a rapid infusion.
He asked Ziva and Abby to help him position Zara's head appropriately and hold her down so that he could insert the nasogastric tube into her nostril and down into her stomach. She protested but eventually settled down. Ducky connected the feeding formula bag to the tube and secured it. He took all her vitals again as Abby used a wet towel to wipe Zara's face, upper chest and arms.
"What if all of this doesn't work?" Ziva cautiously asked.
"If her condition does not improve within the next 2 hours," Ducky said. "I am afraid we will have no choice but to rush her to the nearest hospital for more evasive treatment."
"Oh I hope she responds. Gibbs won't be able to handle it if she doesn't." Abby worriedly stated.
Downstairs Gibbs paced like a caged animal. Vance and McGee were busy at the dining room table and Vance made eye contact with Tony. Tony indicated that Vance should join him in the kitchen.
"You should sit down Boss and I'll get you something to eat."
"I know, but you know Ducky will skin me alive if I don't get you to eat something. I'll be right back."
Gibbs ignored him and opened the glass double doors that led to the back yard. He felt hot with anger and frustration. The medication that he was on also made him unable to mask his emotions and he didn't like the way everyone was looking at him. He felt like he was going to explode and needed some air. The cool evening breeze slapped him in the face and he took a deep breath.
Pull yourself together Jethro.
Focus on the case.
Focus on finding the bastards that want to hurt her.
Let Ducky take care of her medical needs while you pull yourself together and make sure you remove the threats against her life.
She's a fighter.
She'll pull through this.
She has to pull through this.
He heard Vance walk up behind him.
"Take a seat and let me bring you up to speed." Vance said.
Gibbs took another deep breath and his mask was suddenly back in place. He turned to Vance who indicated he sit down on the patio. As he did so, Tony brought out four plates of food and McGee followed with a few drinks.
"Do we know who they are?" Gibbs asked as he pulled one plate in front of himself and lifted a fork full of food to his mouth.
Everyone seemed to relax slightly and then Vance started filling him in on the details of the case.
That's it for this chapter…
Let me know your thoughts and what you think will happen next…