Well, here it is--the last chapter. Hope everyone enjoys!!
Tony roused to the disconcerting sensation of someone staring at him. It had happened three types so far since he'd come around in the recovery room and been moved to the ICU. Twice it had been the surgeon; the last a nurse, and it freaked him out each time. He reluctantly pried his eyes open, lethargy still pulling at him with an inviting seduction.
Turning his head, Tony blinked heavily and brought Gibbs into focus. "H-Hey, Boss…" he rasped around a tongue that felt far too thick.
"'Bout damn time, DiNozzo." The words were gruff but there was no mistaking the look of relief in Gibbs' eyes.
The senior field agent cleared throat and winced. "Sorry, Boss."
"Don't make me pull a stealth head slap."
A spoon containing an ice chip appeared in front of his lips, and Tony gratefully accepted the frozen moisture. He relished the cool, wet feel as it soothed his dry mouth and throat. A second ice chip followed the first without him even having to ask. Nodding in thanks, he shifted on the bed, felt the not-so-painful tug of his new incision. "Doesn't hurt—must have me on the good stuff, huh?"
"They do. Enjoy it while it lasts."
"Bad enough. Lacerated spleen. Some major blood vessels too."
DiNozzo sighed out another apology, blearily toyed with the edge of the blanket. "I honestly didn't think it was bad, Boss. 'S not like I haven't tangled with lots of bad guys in my time."
"I know," Jethro conceded, "Things happen. Next time cut the BS afterward."
The pause was infinitesimal but Gibbs heard it and couldn't help but frown. It frustrated him to no end that his senior field agent was stoic to the point of madness when it came to his health. Yet, the former Marine could say little since he honestly was the exact same way. That still didn't mean he had to like it.
Tony's minute store of energy waned and his eyelids began to droop. He yawned. "Guess I can still expect some form of punishment for breaking a rule, huh?"
"Should I be scared?"
DiNozzo winced. Gibbs' so-called "punishments" were legendary. But they got their point across. He fell asleep with the affirmation ringing in his ears.
(NCIS) (NCIS) (NCIS)
Three days later Tony found himself sitting on the edge of his hospital bed awaiting discharge. He'd been dressed—in a pair of comfortable gray sweatpants and a black t-shirt—and ready to go for the better part of an hour but the hospital staff didn't seem to share his sense of expectant urgency. Neither did his ride away from this hated place—one Leroy Jethro Gibbs since he had yet to arrive.
Tony looked at the clock on the wall again and sighed grumpily. He rose with a soft grunt as the movement tugged at his incision and shuffled over to the window where he watched sullen, dark clouds roil and churn in the sky.
"Thinking of making a break for it?" came a gravelly voice from behind him.
DiNozzo startled and turned. "Yeah—I mean no, not through the window, just in general. Kinda wish they would hurry up with the paperwork, ya know Boss."
"Got it right here," Gibbs waved the couple of pieces of paper folded in his hand. "Ran into the nurse on her way toward your room."
The younger man's eyes lit up. "Good! Let's go then." Tony shuffled forward, bent slightly at the waist.
"Not so fast, DiNozzo. She went to get you a wheelchair."
"A wheelchair? I don't need…" Tony stopped mid-protest and sighed, "I know, hospital policy…" He continued to grumble under his breath as he eased down on the edge of the bed.
He handed Tony the papers. "Why don't you look these over while we wait? I already have."
DiNozzo scowled, knowing full well those last three words were a warning that he better not try to pull one over on Gibbs. He scanned the list of post op discharge instructions. His eyes went wide and he purposefully gasped dramatically. "Wait—no sex for six weeks?" he snarked. "So much for my health and wellbeing."
Gibbs rolled his eyes.
Tony continued to grumble. "No jogging, no sit ups, no heavy lifting. No driving for fourteen days. A low-residue diet? Man, I'm gonna go bat-shit crazy!"
A smirk blossomed on Jethro's face. "Well, Ducky would say you've got the low-residue diet down pat already. And, hey, it says you can take a walk every day. That oughta be fun."
It was DiNozzo's turn to roll his eyes. "Not helpin' here, Boss."
A Patient Care Technician arrived at that moment with the wheelchair. Tasting imminent freedom, the soon-to-be ex-patient gratefully stood, grabbed his turquoise-and-white drawstring plastic bag containing all his personal effects, and shambled to the wheelchair. When Gibbs' grabbed the handles and began pushing, Tony chortled, "Onward, Jeeves!" He smiled when he felt the tiniest head slap connect with the back of his skull.
(NCIS) (NCIS) (NCIS)
Tony eased down on his couch just managing to hold back a relieved groan. The drive home and subsequent journey up the stairs to his apartment had tired him out far more than he was willing to admit. He laid his head back and closed his eyes, for the moment luxuriating in all that was familiar. Eventually, he'd probably being going stir-crazy but for now he was beyond content.
DiNozzo's eyes popped open, gaze locking on his mentor. "I would kill for some good coffee! That stuff they make in the hospital is toxic." Tony bent forward preparing to stand. "I can make some."
"Stay. I'll find my way around the kitchen."
Tony nodded. "Coffee's in the cupboard by the fridge."
"You want something to eat?"
"Nah, they made me eat breakfast before they discharged me."
Gibbs strolled out of the living room toward the kitchen. Several minutes later the enticing aroma of freshly brewing coffee filled the apartment. Tony breathed deep, nearly salivating in anticipation. He was just on the edge of dozing off when Gibbs returned with two mugs.
DiNozzo slowly straightened and accepted the mug of coffee, wrapping his fingers around the warm stoneware to absorb its heat. After a few sips, he glanced up only to find Gibbs staring at him intently. He cleared his throat. "Umm…so…I guess you've decided on a punishment, huh?"
Abandoning his still-steaming mug on the coffee table, Tony swallowed hard and said, "Okay, let me have it."
Gibbs drank some more coffee, letting the silence roll on for a minute or two. Finally he spoke. "You know Ducky's orchids?"
"You mean those creepy flowers that look like they're from outer space?"
Gibbs tilted his head. "Those are the ones."
"What about them?"
"When you're completely recovered, you're going to help Dr. Mallard cultivate and grow them for a month."
Tony groaned. "Aw, no, c'mon Gibbs! I hate dirt. And plants. Seriously, I have a black thumb! Ask Abby, she'll tell you about her plant that I killed."
"Uh huh. Well, you better make sure one of your thumbs turns green real quick. Oh, and you know that orchid show Ducky attends every year? It's coming up soon. You're going to go with Ducky and sit at his table for both days of the show and for the final judging."
DiNozzo groaned again. It sounded like torture to him which, of course, was the point. He took a deep breath and let out a gusty sigh. "Okay, fine. Cultivate orchids, go to orchid show. Got it. I can do this."
Gibbs finished his coffee. "Oh, and DiNozzo?"
"I don't want to see anything less than a blue ribbon for first place."
Tony rubbed a hand over his face. Yep, lesson learned. "Got it, Boss. One blue ribbon for Ducky."