ZIVA: Did you know that he had some tests done recently. And he's been wearing a hospital bracelet on his wrist?

GIBBS: Nope.


Gibbs immediately froze the lift after his conversation with Ziva back in the bullpen. He thought to himself--Did I miss something? Is Tony really having a relapse? No, I did not miss anything. Tony is fine. He is just been busy running errands for the director. That is all.

Gibbs started the lift once more, as he continued to replay the day. Maybe that was Tony sleeping at his desk when the Azeon team arrived, earlier. He has looked really tired. And, why has he started drinking coffee? Gibbs continued to replay Tony's recent behavior or lack of behavior. When was the last time I have had to head slap him? Gibbs was once again overwhelmed with worry about his senior field agent.

The next morning, Gibbs got the call about the murder in Edenvale. After talking with Raines on the monitor in MTAC, Gibbs walked toward the bullpen.

He heard Tony yell "boondocks boss."

"Pack a toothbrush" Gibbs responded to Tony, as Ziva asked what boondocks were. Gibbs walked up and stood next to Tony. He looked him over closely as Tony and McGee were doing their imitation of a banjo. Gibbs made a mental note that Tony wasn't wearing his normal formal suit, and instead was in very casual attire. His hair wasn't gelled. His eyes once again looked slightly bloodshot, and he seemed too subdued. Even Ziva and McGee seemed quiet with not having to argue or deal with the typical DiNozzo impulsive antics.

While riding the lift down, Ziva whispered to Gibbs, "is it all right if I ride with you? I am really getting tired of listening to our two banjos." McGee and Tony let out a quick laugh. Gibbs nodded, but he was hoping to use this opportunity to get information from Tony about the tests that Ziva said he had done.

Then Ducky walked up behind him as they started walking through the lot, which gave Gibbs a better idea.

"Ducky, . . .a word," Gibbs told Ducky what Ziva had said about Tony, and that he wanted Ducky to find out from Tony, if there was any truth to it.

"Jethro, I have been monitoring Anthony's physical examinations very closely over the years. I even talked to Dr. Pitt a few months back. If he was having any type of relapse, I would have known and I would have shared it with you." Ducky explained in a somewhat defensive manner.

"I realize that Duck, but something isn't right with him these days. Ever since I came back, Tony has not acted like Tony. First, he started doing errands for the director, disappearing for hours at a time. He actually went home because he wasn't feeling well. He was actually sleeping at his desk yesterday, when the Azeon team arrived. And, then there are the times he actually says he has an appointment with a doctor. The jokes and the childish humor come few and far between. And, he has completely stopped flirting with women. I have not had to head slapped him in weeks, Ducky"

"How about this Jethro? Once we have the body prepped for transport, simply have Anthony come back with me to headquarters. I will examine him thoroughly." Ducky stated.

Gibbs smiled and let out a mischievous partial laugh.

"He will definitely fight you on this one, Duck." Gibbs smiled and shook his head.

"Oh, well I intend to blame this all on you, Jethro." Ducky smiled back.

"That is fine. Thanks Duck." Gibbs headed for the car that Ziva was sitting in.

Tony and McGee started up one of the company cars and Ducky jumped into the back.

"Hey Duck," Tony said.

"Anthony, Timothy, how are you both doing this morning?" Ducky asked.


"DiNozzo, ride back with Ducky." Gibbs ordered in the Edenvale conference room. Tony's head shot up, not hiding his totally shocked expression. He quickly exited before Gibbs had a chance to change his mind. Ducky and Gibbs exchanged knowing looks as Ducky planned to retrieve the body.

Ducky waited until they had parked in the NCIS lot before telling Tony what Gibbs and he had planned.

"Uh, Tony, I understand that you had some medical tests done recently." Ducky stated.

Tony's face shot a surprised look at Ducky, and then he started to laugh at the realization of what he was referring to. Ducky squinted at him and gave him a very serious look.

"Ducky, I am fine. I swear. I did not have any tests done. I was just messing with Ziva because she is always trying to get very personal information out of me." Tony explained, starting to get a little worried that he took the act too far.

"Well, yes, she was very concerned about this and about you. Jethro found her researching Y-Pestis last night.

"What!" Tony was totally surprised at that and irritated.

"Ziva told him that you had tests done. Then there was that time you actually went home sick, and it seems like you have had many doctors appointments lately. You simply are not acting like our Anthony DiNozzo, Tony." Ducky gave a very concerned look at Tony as he laid all the facts out for him. Ducky continued to stare at Tony, looking very concerned.

"Look Ducky, there is actually a very good explanation for all of this." Tony gave out a partial and nervous laugh. ". . .I just can't tell you what it is right now." Tony let out another nervous laugh. "But I was seriously messing with Ziva about the stool sample." Tony quickly blurted out and added a nervous laugh.

Tony felt like he was already examining him with his eyes. He felt like Ducky could see through him. Oh, am I am trouble. I really shouldn't have messed with Ziva.

"I want to see you in autopsy later" Ducky stated in a very serious tone. He was still looking intently at Tony. Tony kept shifting trying to avoid his gaze, which was impossible. Ducky exited the car when Palmer arrived with a gurney.

"Uh, hey Palmer" Tony said stuttering as he made his escape.

"Don't forget what I said, Anthony." Ducky said but not removing his eyes from the gurney.

Tony turned and nodded but still hurried off. Just then, Ducky was receiving an incoming call from Gibbs.

"Yes Jethro. We just returned. I just informed Anthony of our date. He claims that there is a reasonable explanation for all of the behaviors, but he also claims that he cannot tell us the reason." Ducky stated.

"He can't tell us? What is that supposed to mean? Does he even realize how "out of character" he is acting lately?" Gibbs angrily responded.

"Yes, well, he also said that he was just messing with Ziva because she is always "prying". He did look guilty about that when he found out that she was researching Y-Pestis. That part at least I really believe him on, Jethro. I hope to examine him sometime today. I will call you as soon as I know anything." Ducky continued to explain.

A few hours after working with Abby, Tony contacted Ducky and stated that he was on his way down for his exam. Ducky was ready for him when he arrived and conducted a very thorough physical examination that seemed to go on for eternity.

Feeling confident that he didn't miss anything, Ducky phoned Gibbs.

"Yeah, Gibbs" Gibbs answered.

"He's fine, Jethro. . . in perfect health. His lungs show the same amount of damage that he had during his bout with Y-Pestis, which is not going to change, but at least it isn't any worse, either. His blood pressure was actually lower than normal, and the rest of his blood panel showed regular results. He did admit that he hasn't been getting enough sleep, so I prescribed some sleeping pills for him. Though, he gave me the impression that he would not take them."

"That was good work, Duck. You were very thorough." Gibbs said appreciatively.

"Oh, and there is one other thing. This will definitely shock you. Our boy, Anthony, is actually trying a committed relationship. He has actually been with the same woman for several months. But, that is apparently the reason that he doesn't flirt anymore and that he doesn't talk about women constantly anymore." Ducky added.

"Jethro, are you still there?" Ducky asked.

"I . . .uh. . .I am speechless about that last part, Duck." Gibbs said in a partial laugh while shaking his smiling face side to side.

"Are you sure that it was Anthony DiNozzo that you examined?" Gibbs joked.

"Yes, I am" Ducky said also laughing.

"We should be back tomorrow afternoon. I am looking forward to seeing the expression on DiNozzo's face when I return, after he had to endure this examination." Gibbs continued to joke.

"Actually, I really never had to blame it on you. Tony felt very guilty about making Ziva so worried. He didn't put up a fight at all." Ducky explained.

"See you tomorrow, Duck." Gibbs smiled and hung up.

TBC