Anthony DiNozzo felt like death warmed over. He was achy, flushed, and cold. He was exhausted and his head was pounding like drummers at a cheap bar. He leaned back against the elevator. It felt good not to be holding his own weight up anymore. His nose twitched and he let out a violent sneeze.
"Eww! Tony, cover your mouth, please." McGee rolled his eyes slightly.
"I'm sorry, McGee? Do my germs bother you?" He leaned closer to the younger agent.
"I just don't want to get sick. Just cover your mouth, ok?"
"Don't worry; my germs are too cool to attach to you."
The elevator doors opened with a ding. Tony waved a hand to let his co-worker go first. After McGee exited, Tony followed. And sneezed violently once more.
The whole bull pen looked up. Ignoring them, Tony slung his backpack down besides his desk and lowered himself into his chair with a slight groan.
"Ground radar techs are there, Boss."
Gibbs fixed his senior field agent with an inquiring look that some might call worried. He had left Tim and DiNozzo watching over a grave site last night around eight. A storm had blown in, and by the looks of it, they'd stayed out in it. For all their investigative prowess, those boys had a surprising lack of common sense. At that thought, Gibbs felt a twinge of guilt. The agents could not leave the scene until ground radar techs came and secured the site. Still... Tony really did not need to be out in that weather, not with his plague-damaged lungs. The plague had not left him necessarily more vulnerable to illness, but it had assured that there would be no such thing as a little cold for Anthony DiNozzo. Especially after last year, when Tony had leaped into the water to save him and Maddie. That incident had further taxed Tony's lungs.
Tony coughed. That was enough for Gibbs. His agent deserved some rest, and, besides, taking another look, Gibbs decided that Tony would be of little use to him for the rest of the day.
"DiNozzo." Gibbs crossed the squad room and placed both palms on Tony's desk.
"I got this report to write up and some calls to make..."
"The report can wait until tomorrow. Ziva can make the calls." He glanced sideways to see Ziva nod, her eyes full of telling concern.
"Take DiNozzo home."
"Do I have—uhh, I will do that. Come on, Tony."
Tony headed for the elevator. Tim reluctantly followed.
Gibbs stifled a smile. "Call if you need anything, Tim."
Gibbs laughed. "Get going."
"Do you think that is wise, Gibbs. They will likely kill each other, yes?" Ziva asked as the doors closed behind the two agents.
"Oh, yeah. Now get to work, David. It looks like it will be just the two of us."
The drive back to Tony's apartment seemed to take an eternity to Tim. They had to make more than one stop on the way home. The first was to a pharmacy to get a fever-reducer. The next stop was to fetch tea and juice. At Tony's third suggested stop, McGee smuggled out an over-the-counter sleeping pill, in addition to the requested thermometer.
"Don't you have any of this stuff already, Tony? I mean, everybody has a thermometer."
"Not me, McGrouchy," Tony sniffed.
McGee sighed. He supposed he should be nicer to Tony. He was sick, after if that just made him more of a pain.
By the time they reached Tony's apartment, the agent looked faded. He was even quiet, which truly concerned McGee. After they entered the apartment, Tony dropped dramatically on the couch.
"Hey, crank up the heat, will you, McGee? It's cold."
"It doesn't feel cold to me. Here." McGee opened the thermometer and handed it to Tony.
Tony grunted and stuck the thermometer under his arm, while McGee put away Tony's purchases. He poured a cup of juice and dug about in Tony's pantry. It was gradually getting closer to lunch and the brief breakfast they'd consumed on the way to work had hardly filled him up.
He heard the thermometer beep and a groan from DiNozzo.
"One-hundred point five. That's high isn't it?"
"I'm dieing, Probie." Tony groaned theatrically.
"Tony, you just have a fever. Stop whining and take your medicine."
Tony made a face, but did as he was told.
McGee wandered back into Tony's kitchen, grimacing slightly. Tony gave bachelors everywhere a bad name. Or perhaps he just lived up to their reputation. He had found a (slightly dusty) Hamburger Helper box in the cupboards earlier and now set about making them lunch. In the background, Tony began bequeathing his belongings to his coworkers.
"...And give Abby my..."
McGee turned on the radio to drown him out. By the time lunch was ready, McGee decided a wise course of action might be to knock Tony out for the rest of the afternoon—chemically, not physically—for the latter's own good and the former's sanity.
"Tony, here's some lunch and another med."
Tony took them both, with more feeble groans.
Within the hour, Tony was—blissfully—dead to the world and McGee was typing up his report on his co-worker's computer.
The ring of his cell phone interrupted McGee's flow of thoughts. Annoyed, he ran his hands through his hair.
"How's my baby? Are you taking good care of him?"
"He's fine, Abby. He's sleeping."
"Good, 'cuz you know, with the plague and everything..."
"He's fine. It's just a cold."
"There's no such thing as just a cold for Tony, Tim! Are you sure he's ok?"
"Abby, calm down. He's sleeping and I bet he doesn't even have a fever anymore."
"He has a fever?! Poor baby! Tell him I'm coming over as soon as Gibbs lets me leave."
"Tim! No arguments. I'm coming over later. You take care of him for me, ok?"
Tim sighed in defeat. "Ok, Abby."
McGee got up to sneak a peek at his sleeping charge. Tony was still sleeping, snoring loudly. Tim wondered briefly if he was being too hard on his friend. After all, Tony had ample reason to be afraid of being sick. Not many caught the plague and lived to tell the tale. Even fewer, McGee was sure, survived the plague and a further serious illness. Besides, McGee thought, with impish glee, he could remember this fact the next time Tony was giving him a rough time: the big, tough agent couldn't handle a little cold. The phone rang again. It was probably just Abby again.
"Special Agent McGee, personal nurse to Anthony DiNozzo at your service."
"McGee?" His boss sounded slightly incredulous.
McGee quickly adapted his voice. Perhaps it would have been wise to check his caller id first...
"How's the patient?"
"Sleeping soundly. I slipped him a Tylenol PM."
He thought he heard Gibbs laugh, but maybe it was just a cough...
"Pack up and get back here, then. Ducky's on his way over to check on him over lunch break and Abby'll take over care-giver later. And I've practically had to restrain Ziva to keep her away. So, they've got it covered and I need someone to take over Tony's work-load in addition to yours, unless you'd rather stay and play nurse."
McGee did not have to be told twice.
"On my way, Boss!"
McGee felt strangely tired on his way back to NCIS headquarters. He supposed nursing Tony back to health—or into blissful sleep, anyway—would do that to anyone. He stepped out of the elevator...and sneezed violently.
The whole squad room looked up, staring silently at him in horror.
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