Tony's Week at Home


He was home.

Tony never thought he'd be so happy to see the inside of his apartment as he was the day they brought him home from Bethesda. His lungs had cleared – mostly, and even though Dr. Pitt had suggested that Tony remain another few days, Tony had improved enough that Pitt wasn't going to push it. Tony was just well enough and just bored enough to start annoying the staff at Bethesda, and they all figured that it might be in everyone's best interests for Tony to go home.

Tony walked up the stairs to his apartment and opened the door. He stood there, just savoring the experience. He was home. He resisted the urge to jump around the living room like a giddy Sigourney Weaver in "Working Girl", but that's kind of how he felt. Happy, giddy, slightly medicated, and home. Had he mentioned that he was home? He was. Home. He sighed.

Gibbs had been the one to actually drive him home, a drive Tony hardly noticed since he tended to doze off at regular intervals, but he didn't remember ever having felt as though he was going to fall out of the car. So that was a definite positive.

"You gonna stand in the doorway forever, DiNozzo?" Gibbs said, with gruffness in his voice but a smile on his face. "There are people behind you, you know."

"Sorry Boss," Tony said, as he walked into the apartment and let Gibbs and Ducky in behind him.

"Go flop on the couch," Gibbs ordered.

Tony did as he was told. His couch, his movies, his TV, his books, his rug, his lamp, his remotes, his stereo. He was happy. Some of it was the drugs, but most of it was just being happy. He was home, he was alive, and he'd beaten the plague. THE PLAGUE. A snippet of Monty Python flitted through his brain, but he ignored it.

It was true that he couldn't really take a deep breath without feeling a little 'ping' somewhere around his diaphragm, and he was so tired of Jell-o that he had already divested any stock he had in Kraft Foods, but his breathing would get better with time and he never had to eat gelatinous substances again, if he didn't want to. Life was good.

Ducky and Gibbs put down what they had been carrying and surveyed the apartment. It wasn't nearly as bad as they had expected. Tony didn't have a maid or a cleaning service, but what they could see from the kitchen certainly wasn't any more of a shambles than Gibbs' place. There were no dead plants hiding in corners, no "science projects" in the fridge. There was order, mostly, and a nice comfortable feel to the place. The two men were almost impressed.

Gibbs had carried in a couple of boxes of gifts Tony had received in the hospital, mostly books and photographs that had been populating his bedside table. They had donated all of the balloons – nearly a dozen – to the children's ward, with the exception of the ones Tony's frat brothers had sent. None of them thought that the large pink balloons in the shape of lips and legs and Playboy bunnies were appropriate for the hospital's playroom. Gibbs put them in a corner in Tony's bedroom, anchored by a small figure of Venus di Milo dressed in a poodle skirt that Abby had given Tony one year for Christmas. It looked appropriate somehow.

About a half-dozen people had sent flowers, but those had all been sent immediately up to the Maternity Ward. The only plant life that Tony had been allowed to keep was the pot of green and gold speckled ivy that had come from his father. Gibbs regarded the sturdy little plant in the dark polished wood planter with a shake of the head and a small smile. Whether his father had done it consciously or not, he was the only one who had sent something with no pollen or spores that could aggravate Tony's lungs.

As nice as the potted mums from the folks down in the Evidence Garage were, Dr. Pitt wouldn't allow them within six feet of Tony; the "all shades of purple" wildflower bouquet that had come from Abby had been admired from afar and then taken away; and even though they were certain that Kate and McGee had spent a fair amount on the bouquet of exotic tropical flowers (apparently hoping they'd remind Tony of Magnum PI), Pitt also had those removed, worried that the exotic plants would carry similarly exotic spores. Gibbs had to admit that the remaining pot of green and gold ivy did certainly fit better into Tony's brown, tan and polished hardwood surroundings than would the ornate vase of birds of paradise. Everyone had understood about the flowers, of course, and they all silently headslapped themselves for not thinking about pollen and spores and their effect on weakened lungs.

Next, Gibbs pulled out a stack of get well cards that was nearly three inches tall when piled on the kitchen table. Everyone at NCIS had sent one, including Director Morrow, Gerald, and someone named "Bobbi" from Personnel, who dotted her "i" with a little heart and hoped that Tony would "Get way better and feel awesome again soon! Kiss kiss." Gibbs rolled his eyes.

Also in the pile were cards from various members of Tony's extended family – a great aunt, two uncles, a couple of cousins, someone who had apparently been Tony's tutor in middle school, and even a family gardener, who hoped that he had made the right choice in steering Tony's father towards green plants rather than flowers, when the old man had come to him for advice on what to send his son. Well … that explained that.

The remnants of the fruit basket that had come from the guys at Baltimore PD were put in a wooden bowl on the kitchen table. Once Tony had graduated back to solid food, he'd eaten his way through several oranges (for the vitamin C), a couple of bananas (for the potassium), and enough apples a day to keep many doctors away. At least, that was the plan.

While Gibbs was unloading the gifts and other "get well" tokens, Ducky was similarly occupied with food and medications. He lined up the meds, with instructions and warnings, on the counter. They'd already gone over with Tony the consequences he would suffer should he choose to not utilize the marvels of modern medicine that had been prescribed and purchased for him. To push the point home, Ducky strode into the living room, where Tony was sitting on the couch not quite zoned out by a NASCAR race on ESPN, and handed him three pills and a cup of water. Tony looked up, opened his mouth to protest, saw Ducky's expression, thought the better of it, and downed the pills without so much as a sigh of protest.

"Nicely done, Tony," Ducky said with a smile.

"Thanks, Duck," Tony responded, with a smile that made him look slightly drunk but wholly and entirely pleased with himself. Ducky chuckled as he returned to the kitchen.

Once there, Ducky and Gibbs unloaded the last of the bags, stocking Tony's fridge and cabinets with enough food to get him through a few days, and probably more, considering how light Tony's appetite had been. Dr. Pitt had told them exactly what to buy, and it was heavy on things like soups and greens and light on things like pizza, pasta and red meat. It was only for a few weeks, everyone had reminded Tony, and Tony had begrudgingly allowed them to plan out his meals.

"I think that's it, Duck," Gibbs said, with a satisfied nod as he stowed the last of the bags and wiped off the countertop.

"Yes, Jethro," the doctor replied. "We seem to have gotten Anthony home in one piece and set him up for a restful week."

The men walked into the living room just in time to see Tony slowly slide sideways on the couch, having fallen asleep watching a rerun of "America's Next Top Model."

"He must be tired," Gibbs chuckled. He walked over to Tony and lightly shook him. "Tony," Gibbs said quietly, "time to go to bed."

"I don't think so, Boss," Tony said with a slight sleep-and-drug-induced slur. "You have to buy me dinner first." Then he giggled and pushed himself into a sitting position. Gibbs smiled down at him with a tolerant expression.

"Come on Tony," Gibbs said again. "Let's get you into bed."

Together, Gibbs and Ducky guided Tony into his room. Ducky helped the younger man out of his sweats and into a t-shirt and pair of pajama bottoms while Gibbs set up the next round of meds along with a glass of water and a box of just-in-case-you-hack-up-something-disgusting tissues on the bedside table. Tony's phone was charged and handy, in case he needed anything – all of his team's numbers had been programmed into the new phone, along with Pitt's, should he need them. Ducky and Gibbs would stick around for a few hours to make sure Tony was okay, but they had been assured that DiNozzo was able to take care of himself and didn't need to be fussed over.

Tony climbed into bed, sighing as he realized that these were his sheets, his pillows, his pajamas, his comforter, his bed.

"Thanks, Gibbs … Ducky," Tony said as he settled into a comfortable position. He coughed once or twice – a wet hacking cough that Pitt had assured them sounded worse than it was – and then made a fairly disgusting "clearing the nasal passages" sound that made both Gibbs and Ducky raise their eyebrows and take a step back, should Tony decide to go projectile.

"Sorry," Tony said with a sheepish grin. He coughed once more, lightly, and spit something out into a tissue. "Gunk," he said, inexplicably pleased with himself for getting said gunk out of his lungs. He dropped the tissue into the waiting waste basket, gave a sloppy salute to Gibbs and Ducky, sighed deeply and fell instantly asleep.

He was home.