A/N: Story doesn't have any significant point; it was just an outlet to beat up Tony.
Disclaimer: I own nothing
Leroy Jethro Gibbs honestly didn't know what to expect. His mind ran every possible scenario from the agent being slightly injured to being dead on the scene. He did this in the 30 seconds it took him to make the circle. Gibbs honestly didn't know what to expect, but it wasn't this.
"Show me the file on Carlson," Gibbs ordered.
"Gibbs, the only mistake Carlson made was having met a pervert like Jacoby," Tony told his boss.
Gibbs pushed the accelerator down harder.
"I didn't ask for your opinion, I asked for the file."
"I put it in the back seat," Tony said.
"Get it," the boss demanded; two words that would be replayed in his head for some time.
Tony reached his hand in the back seat to get it. Even his long arms couldn't quite grasp the files. With a sigh, he took his seatbelt off and turned himself, so he could grab the files from the back. Gibbs made a sharp turn at the curve. Tony's back hit the door. What should have been an annoyance on DiNozzo's part turned into a catastrophe when the door suddenly swung open and his agent fell out of the car.
After Gibbs was able to process what happened he made a full circle in traffic, not even paying attention to the blaring horns. He didn't know what to expect, but it wasn't this. His agent was standing at the side of the road pretending to hitchhike with one hand and holding the file with the other. Gibbs jumped out of the car and ran to him.
"You heading east?" he tried to jest, his voice coming out shaky.
Gibbs took the file out of his hands and put it in the car. He then carefully removed his agent's shirt being cautious of some blood sticking to it, mostly coming from DiNozzo's back. The boss did a quick visual assessment. The boy was mostly scraped and bruised; there was one small gash on his waist that would need to be tended to.
In an uncharacteristic move Gibbs grabbed Tony in a gentle hug. He let go quickly and looked Tony square in the face.
"Sit down and rest, I'm going to call an ambulance."
"Boss, is that completely…"
Gibbs stopped him with a look. He resigned himself to sitting down carefully on the trunk of the car. After a brief and heated conversation with a dispatcher, Gibbs looked at Tony with despairing eyes.
"There was a tour bus accident. Ambulances are taking victims to both Bethesda and Union hospital. Wait time for an ambulance is about half an hour, wait time at the hospital is well…" he left the sentence hanging.
The boss thought for a moment. "Get in the car," he said and Tony obliged.
Tony carefully got into the back seat and scooted to the middle. He leaned on the seat sideways so that his back wasn't touching the seat. He reached to get the seatbelt, but Gibbs came from behind and put it around him gently. He then put a metallic emergency blanket over his young agent.
"Are you going to put me in the oven until I'm done," Tony commented on the blankets resemblance to aluminum foil.
That got a snort from Gibbs and a quick pat on the head, "I can't have you going into shock."
Tony smiled slightly and rested his head against the seat of the car. Gibbs noted that he was beginning to tremble slightly. He tried to be careful as he shut doors and started the engine. He still drove over the speed limit, but was considerably more careful with his agent in the back seat.
"Ducky, I need your help," Gibbs said on the phone without any preamble.
He wasn't entirely sure how he got to be from the side of the road to the hospital. Time ceased to have any real meaning after he fell. First everything went slowly. He didn't close his eyes. That surprised him. Usually instinct would dictate to close your eyes until everything stops. With his eyes open and time going infinitely slow he could remember how to fall. He first learned during his training for skydiving. That was a failure. He later dated an acrobat. She told him the first thing they learned was how to fall. He told her about his failure. He had her laughing the entire time.
"It's not hard," she told him.
She took his thick quilt, folded it in half and put beside the bed. She demonstrated the proper method falling off the bed and onto the quilt. He practiced by falling off the bed after some encouragement from her. They did that for a short time afterwards, one falling then the next. They stopped when the downstairs neighbor started screaming obscenities; even then they started to laugh.
He tucked himself properly and he rolled. It was only when he got to the small incline did he forget his practice and he went down on his back like he was surfing and his back was the boogey board. At the bottom instead of sitting still and catching his breath, he immediately got up and climbed back to the side of the road. When Tony saw the file on the road he picked it up. That was supposed to be his task anyway.
Tony DiNozzo learned early in life that being sick or injured would not get him cuddled or doted over like most children he knew. In fact, his parents seemed to be more upset with him when he wasn't a hundred percent, as if it was his fault. Instead of running to his parents with his aches, or pains he would pretend they didn't exist so that his parents wouldn't be angry. He remembered a handful of times he would be walking with his dad at the golf field with icepacks carefully strapped to his ribs from playing rough with boys at school. He slept with a heating pad on his shoulder after a football injury he didn't even tell his coach about. He remembered standing at the bottom of the steps trying to figure out how to get up to his room with his leg throbbing after falling out of a tree. He carefully went up three steps and stopped to rest. He would have continued on this way, but the housekeeper took pity on him and carried him to his room. He thanked her in Spanish and English.
He would only try milk sympathy for an injury as a way of annoying his coworkers, but when it really mattered he would much rather pretend it didn't exist then upset his boss, or friends.
After slowing down during his fall, time seemed to quadruple right after it. He had a choppy memory of getting in the car, Gibbs talking to him a bit, and being led into a private hospital. Only now did time seem to go at the correct pace.
Tony was in his boxers sitting on a hospital bed and an MD was looking at him thoughtfully. An IV was hooked to his wrist. He made a move to fiddle with it, but his hand was gently pulled away.
"I'm okay Ducky," he said when he was able to focus on the blue orbs of their doctor.
"I know you are alright DiNozzo, but let me look you over."
He nodded his consent.
"It looks like you protected most of your chest from injury. Do you think you could lie down comfortably on it?"
"Sure thing Doc," Tony carefully got himself to where he was lying face down on a bed. "Not that I mind, but why are you treating me?" he asked.
"You remember Jethro telling you about the tour bus accident? After he called me I called a friend of mine who owed me a favor. He's letting me treat you at his hospital that is a bit out of the way. Me and Doctor Hendrix go way back…"
Get it, the words assaulted his brain. Get it, the words taunted him. If he had not insisted his agent get the file he wouldn't be lying on a hospital bed with Ducky carefully cleaning his wounds. He would be at Carlson's house trying to figure out who the second rapist was that murdered Lt. Sanchez.
He watched as Ducky continued in his story only pausing intermittently to tell DiNozzo what he was doing, so he wouldn't be surprised by any pain.
Gibbs was never one to watch something on the sidelines. He came over to the agent and stood by his head. He carefully started picking rocks and dirt out of his agent's hair. This got a weak smile out of the young man. Tony would only flinch, or gasp when Ducky hit a particularly painful spot. Even when the doctor put staples in his waist, he only grit his teeth then relaxed when it was over. Gibbs knew it had to hurt more, but Tony was trying not to make a big deal out of it.
"Tough kid."He didn't realize he said the words out loud until he heard a soft "thanks boss," as a reply.
"Anthony, I'm going to probe for any injuries I might have missed tell me if anything hurts."
He started at Tony's neck and went carefully down his shoulders and arms. Gibbs noticed he was avoiding touching anything with scratches or the beginnings of a bruise. Some spots he would linger on longer such as his neck and other he would gently rub and move on. All this as he continued on with his story in a soft voice never changing the volume.
Gibbs was about to ask him why he was avoiding areas that looked more serious. He had his mouth open and the questioned formed, but then he realized exactly what Ducky was doing. As a testament to their long friendship Ducky was about to cut off his friend's question, but stopped when it was realized Jethro figured out the answer.
Once Gibbs realized what he was doing he started to help. He gently rubbed Tony's head in the guise of picking out rocks. He never changed spots and he never changed the rhythm he kept stroking the young man's head until he could hear soft even breathing. With some help from Gibbs, Ducky had successfully soothed the boy to sleep. Ducky took the opportunity to fill a syringe and inject the liquid into Tony's IV.
"That was a really nice thing you did there."
"I was hoping he would go into a natural sleep before I had to inject him with painkillers," Ducky said.
Ducky noticed his old friend was in pain. To add insult to injury, McGee and Ziva came back from interviewing Carlson and ruled him out as a suspect. Tony had been right. The guilt was eating Gibbs alive.
"Jethro, why don't you come with me for a little while?" Ducky asked after Ziva and McGee settled in chairs around Tony.
His friend hesitantly got up and followed Ducky to a quiet room nearby.
"I know what you're going to say Duck, but don't. This is my fault."
Gibbs had already given him a very detailed account of what went down.
"I told him to get the file and when he told me it was in the back seat, I yelled at him to get it."
"Jethro, I'm not going to stand here and tell you this wasn't your fault, that it was some cosmic accident that you couldn't have prevented, but you are placing way to much blame on yourself."
"Ducky, I was going well over the speed limit, I ordered him to get a file that he knew we didn't need to go over anyway."
"I understand that, but did you tell him to take off his seatbelt and lean in the back seat?"
"No, but if I were driving within the speed limits the turn wouldn't have knocked him into the door."
"Jethro, this still isn't entirely your fault. Maybe it's just a lesson for you to drive safer," with that Ducky left the room.
Gibbs was closer to Ducky than most anybody, but the problem was Ducky was right. Gibbs hated lessons. Growing up his parents were careful to control what he did so that he wouldn't make a mistake. Sometimes, when it would cause him no physical injury, they would let him make the mistakes. During those times, after he realized his mistake, he would be left to deal with the fallout of his choices. He would learn his lesson. Gibbs hated those times growing up. He would scream for freedom and then be mad when his parents let him be free to make his own mistakes.
But his parents never let him learn a lesson at somebody else's expense. He was a soldier, a husband and a father he learned lessons from his mistakes on others by his own doing. The only problem was when he learned a lesson at someone else's expense the other person usually ended up dead, but the lessons he learned from the mistakes saved countless more lives. He didn't know what to do with this information. It all seemed like one big riddle without an answer.
He was lying in a rowboat watching the cottony clouds and being gently rocked by waves. It was quite peaceful. He looked behind him and saw he was coming closer to the darkness which made him give a sad sigh.
"What are you so upset about," Kate asked on her place beside him.
"I have to wake up soon," He told her.
She looked out of the boat at the darkness that was nearing.
"You could try to row away."
"Fighting it doesn't do anything, but give me a headache from the effort."
"Is this why you were always such a pest when it came to painkillers?"
"It's not the medicated sleep, or even the groggy awake world. It's what happens in between. I wake up confused and unfocused, sometimes scared."
"And don't forget the nausea you never tell anyone about," Kate pointed out.
"You know, for a figment in my dream you are awfully judgmental."
"You're right, what can I do to help?"
"Just what you were doing before."
She laid her head back down close to his and they both looked back up into the sky trying to create the most absurd pictures from the clouds…all the while Tony drifted closer to the waking world.
It took him some time to realize he was in a hospital. It took him a little more to remember why. He quietly studied the faces of all his friends sleeping in chairs around him. Well, most of them were sleeping.
Gibbs put down a book he was reading and pulled his chair next to Tony.
"You going to throw up?" the boss asked.
Tony didn't have the energy to be surprised his boss knew.
"Not yet," he answered
"It's not your fault, I took my seatbelt off and my rock hard body hit the door."
"Nice try, Abby looked at the car. There was something wrong with the locking mechanism. A Girl Scout could have pushed it open."
"It's still not your fault."
Gibbs gave him an incredulous look.
"Why would you think I'm blaming myself?" Gibbs asked.
"You reek of guilt, if there were antiperspirant for guilt I would be telling you to buy some. If there were a body wash for the reek of guilt…" the gentle tap on the head only made him smile. "Sorry boss, those painkillers loosen my lips."
"The painkillers do that, DiNozzo?"
"Boss, I took my seatbelt that same Girl Scout would have known better than that."
"Tony, I was driving too fast…"
"I know, but in our line of work seconds count."
"Tell you what, before I wake Ducky up to give you another dose, I'll promise to be more careful driving if you keep your seatbelt on."
"I promise Gibbs, but you can really just let Ducky sleep, it's well past 3AM I'll probably sleep through the night."
"And wake up in mind numbing pain, I don't think so. I know you hate waking up disoriented and nauseous, you talk in your sleep by the way, but we'll be here when you wake up to help you out. Trust me to take care of you Tony."
"I trust you, Boss."
***A couple weeks later***
"It wasn't like the action movies where you could roll out land on your stomach and pull out a gun. Oh no, it was like I wonder if I should have written Probie into my will scary. So anyway I roll out of the car…"
Gibbs watched as Tony had the other agents laughing as he regaled them with the tale of his accident. One day he would tell DiNozzo that his health was important to him. That he didn't need to use injuries as some sort of stand up bit. Someday he would, but for now, he drove more carefully and Tony kept his seatbelt on (and, consequently, all files up front).
"How did you come to fall out in the first place?" One agent asked.
Tony leaned in closer like he had a secret. Gibbs leaned in from his spot to hear.
"If Agent Gibbs ever tells to stop or he'll throw you out of the car…don't second guess him, stop what you're doing immediately."
Gibbs laughed at that. One day he would tell his agent that his health was important to him. Until then he would be glad in the fact that this lesson didn't cost Tony his life."
A/N: Like I said story doesn't have much of a point, but please do drive safely and stay buckled