Rating: FRT for language
Summary: Post-ep for "Chimera" -- Make jokes, fight it off, throw up the strongest walls you have... sometimes it really is just too much.
AN: This is based around another pot-bunny (spelling intentional) inspired image that wouldn't get out of my head. Ficlet this time. Thanks for your indulgence, guys. lol.
For the last hour, while they all finished paperwork and did small necessary tasks before going home, McGee had been subtly watching Tony, waiting for something. He had no clue what he was expecting, or why he thought it would happen at all, but his stomach was tightening more painfully with every minute that passed and his instincts were screaming at him to be ready to react at a moments notice.
Finally, Tony rose, collected his things and headed for the elevator. Tim gave him a few seconds head start before following suit, stepping up beside the other man just as the car arrived. As he moved inside just behind Tony, the younger man opened his mouth, feeling the need to make some inane comment or joke to relax his friend, but that intangible, inexpressible tension ratcheted up again and his palate instantly went dry, along with his usually bottomless well of vocabulary choices. All he could manage was a tight smile that he wasn't even sure Tony noticed.
When they reached the parking level, Tim grimaced as he watched Tony exit, knowing his "We just happen to be leaving at the same time" cover now had to be abandoned if he was going to be in any position to help when the terrible 'whatever' occurred. Only a few steps beyond the elevator, Tony rounded on McGee and tossed out a creditable impression of a Gibbs growl.
"I... I don't know, Tony. I can't explain it. I just know that my gut says I have to stick close to you for a while."
"Your gut, McGeek? You are not Gibbs and the only thing your gut will ever be good for is returning your last meal when you get around a boat. Back off." He commanded, turning and striding away toward his car. Tim hesitated, but eventually followed, unwilling to give up.
"I'm sorry, Tony... I can't. I know something's gonna happen... something I need to be there for. I can't tell you how I know... I just do." he insisted, stopping a few feet back as the other man reached his vehicle. Tony paused in the act of pulling out his keys, head down, his breathing deep and slow as if he were fighting to stay in control of his anger.
"I'm fine. Life's fine. The universe... is fine. Go home."
"You don't think I want to? The last few hours haven't exactly been easy on me either, you know. I'd love to just go back to my place, drop into bed and sleep for a week, but I can't ignore this... this awful feeling that sometime tonight... you're gonna need me."
Tony laughed darkly, shook his head and started to turn around so he could confront Tim once again, but he never completed the maneuver. Without warning, he began to shake, the tremors erratic at first but swiftly turning violent. His pack dropped to the cement at his feet with a thump, but Tim was there supporting him before Tony could follow it down. With great care, he guided the other man to the floor and shuffled back to lean against the car. For the fifteen minutes or so it took for Tony's emotional seizure to fade away, Tim brutally suppressed his own fear and gave DiNozzo the only thing he could; a strong pair of arms and a constant stream of soothing, random words.
"Easy... easy does it, Tony... shhh, it's okay... it'll get better... hang in there... just hang on... it's okay... I'm here... I'm right here... I'm not letting go 'till it's done... easy... breathe, buddy... breathe..."
When the quaking finally ceased, Tony pulled out the fetal ball he'd been curled into and let his head drop against Tim's shoulder. His voice, when he found the strength to use it, was little more than a croak, but the garage was quiet enough for McGee to clearly understand.
Tim was unsure if the response that came to mind was appropriate, but he thought it might help Tony recover a bit faster, so he spoke it anyway. To his relief, Tony laughed.
"Told you so."
"Yeah... you did."
"You okay now?"
"Better. Ah, God... I can't keep doing this, Timmy. I've been living on second chances for too damn long. The plague, my car, the parking garage, the ship... my teeth are gonna run out of skin any minute now..."
"I've barely dipped into my supply of luck, Tony. You can have as much as you need."
"A luck transfusion? How's that work, Probie?" Tony asked, straightening up slowly and tossing the other man a weary grin.
"I have no idea, but I'm sure we can figure it out over a beer... or ten."