Summary: Tony becomes ill and is worried about missing Christmas. Will he be home in time to celebrate?
Author's Notes: I am Tony DiNozzo's keeper. *Gets headslapped* Huh? Was I dreaming again? ...Okay, fine- NCIS and Tony DiNozzo don't belong to me, and I do not own the rights to them sadly. ;) I just like playing with them. ;) ...All ideas belong to Angel Estrada at Stokes Fanficz, so please don't plagerize! This fic was inspired by the Third Watch episode: "The Spirit", and NCIS episodes: "Silent Night" and "Family" (No spoilers lie within though!). ...Oh yeah, and this is completely un-beta'd. :)
He strolled in two hours late. That wasn't like Tony DiNozzo. Last minute? Maybe. Definitely not two hours.
"DiNozzo!" Gibbs snapped the minute Tony exited the elevator. His face was flushed, and deep, dark circles were already formed beneath his eyes.
"I can explain, Boss," he answered, wanting nothing more than to just sit down.
"Well, ya better make it good, DiNozzo. Do you know what time it is?" Gibbs narrowed his eyes at the younger man and that's when he noticed that he just wasn't looking right.
"Yeah," Tony nodded, nauseous, wrapping his arms around his stomach as he lowered his head to his desk. "I've been sick all morning, Boss. Got about an hour of sleep."
"So, why are ya here?"
"It's the day before Christmas, Boss."
"Your point, DiNozzo?"
"Had to bring your gifts." That's when McGee and Ziva perked up.
"What did you buy us, Tony?" McGee teased.
"You know, McGoober, just for that, I shouldn't even give you yours. Don't bother asking me how I'm feeling."
"How are you feeling?" McGee grinned.
"Like I should've stayed home," Tony glared, wincing as another sharp pain jolted through his lower abdominal quadrant.
Gibbs looked him over, concerned, and shook his head. "Maybe you should have Ducky check ya out, DiNozzo."
"I agree," Ziva chimed in, "You're not looking so warm."
"The term is hot, Ziva," Tony replied, "and I'm fine."
A minute later, Gibbs' cell phone rang. "Yeah, Gibbs," he answered, listening, "On our way." He flipped his phone shut before relaying the information ."Got a dead Marine outside of Quantico. Grab your gear!" He grabbed his coffee cup that was sitting on his desk and made his way toward the elevator, tossing the keys to McGee, and waiting for his team to follow.
As Tony went to stand up, the pain forced him back down, and he quickly grabbed the trash can, heaving.
Ziva and McGee turned around, watching him, and Gibbs waved them out. "Start the car, McGee!"
Tony swallowed hard, moaning lightly, laying his head back down on the desk. He knew he should've called off today.
Gibbs crouched down, instinctively rubbing Tony's back, much like he did Kelly's when she was sick, and whispered soothing words into his ear as he softly stroked Tony's hair. "Just breathe, DiNozzo. It's okay." Gibbs hadn't even realized what he was doing. He'd been very nostalgic lately, being that it was the holiday season, and every Christmas was harder than the first with Kelly and Shannon being gone. It was just a good thing that no one but Tony was around to see him this vulnerable.
"I know you're not big on apologies, Boss," Tony paused, wincing, guarding his stomach, "but I'm sorry. Should've stayed home."
"Let's get you downstairs," Gibbs said softly, encouraging the younger man to put his weight on him. Tony obliged without incident and Gibbs supported him.
When they reached the elevator, Tony rested his head on Gibbs' shoulder. "You're burning up, DiNozzo."
When they made it to the bottom floor, Gibbs lead Tony into Autopsy, smiling weakly as he overheard Ducky telling Palmer a story from "back in his day".
"Got a second, Duck?" Gibbs pretty much demanded, rather than questioned, and Ducky nodded, glancing between the other three men.
"Could you excuse us a minute, Mr. Palmer?" Ducky asked, giving him a commanding look.
"Yes, Doctor," Jimmy nodded nervously, much like he always did in Gibbs' presence, "I'll, uhh… I'll go see if Abby has those results ready on that test you wanted her to run."
Ducky smiled with a nod, watching as his assistant exited the room.
"What can I be of assistance with today, Jethro?"
"Well, Duck," Gibbs paused, pointing to Tony who was now leaning over the sink, physically ill again.
"Dear boy," Ducky said aloud. Walking over to Tony, he waited for the man to turn around. "What seems to be ailing you, Anthony?"
"I think I'm dying, Ducky," Tony answered seriously, climbing up to lay down on a cold, metal table.
Gibbs couldn't help but shake his head with a smile. That was just DiNozzo- Always looking for pity.
"Tell him what's wrong, DiNozzo," Gibbs told him firmly.
"I woke up with this pain in my stomach, Ducky," Tony winced again, his face more pale than when he entered this morning. "I've been sick all night."
"Vomiting?" Ducky asked curiously.
"Yeah," Tony nodded.
"How many bouts of emesis have you had?"
"I lost track after five," Tony half-joked.
Ducky offered a reassuring smile and nodded understandingly. "Well," he snapped on a pair of gloves, "I can perform a physical exam with your permission."
"Do it, Duck," Gibbs answered in Tony's place, more concerned about the man than ever after having almost lost him on more than one occasion.
"Don't I have a say in this?" Tony looked up momentarily.
"You did before those elevator doors opened this morning," Gibbs smirked. "I own you now."
"It will be painless, Anthony, I can assure you," Ducky nodded.
"That's what you say now," Tony replied, "and before you know it, I'll become a pin cushion."
Gibbs shook his head. Marines knew pain, and Tony had no reason to complain. "Why don't ya just shut up and do what he says, DiNozzo?"
Tony knew that tone of voice. "I could do that, Boss."
Gibbs nodded, satisfied.
"Where are you having pain, my boy?"
"The question is, 'Where am I not having pain?'"
Gibbs rolled his eyes and Tony continued before he could say anything. "It started right here," Tony pointed to the center of his abdomen. "Now, it radiates here." This time, he pointed to his lower, right quadrant.
Ducky nodded and proceeded to palpate Tony's abdominal area softly, noting rigidity in the right, lower quadrant.
Tony moaned and returned to a guarded position, rolling onto his left side and pulling his knees up to his chest. Gibbs looked at Ducky, concerned, and Ducky continued to ask more questions.
"How long have you been having these symptoms?"
"I was fine until last night, Ducky," Tony responded. "I've had minor pain for about a week, but it was nothing I couldn't handle."
"Have you been eating properly?"
"No," Gibbs interjected, "he even turned down the pizza I brought him two days ago. I should've realized it then, Duck."
"I had just eaten, Boss," Tony replied.
Taking another look at Tony, Ducky decided to assess his temperature, realizing that his skin was warm to the touch when he palpated Tony's abdomen.
"One hundred and two point seven," Ducky informed them. "I think we need to get you to the hospital, my boy." Ducky had an inkling as to what it might be, but without further testing, he couldn't be sure. "I can assure you that it's--," Tony cut him off.
"It's not the plague?"
"No, Anthony," Ducky chuckled, as did Gibbs, "this time, I can safely say that it's not. I regret to inform you that I believe you may have an acute case of appendicitis."
"Appendicitis?" Tony asked worriedly.
"I'm afraid so. You will need to have further testing done to confirm my theory, but from the report you've given, I do believe that may be the problem."
Gibbs sighed softly and moved closer to Tony's side for support. "I'll take him in, Duck."
"What about McGee and Ziva?"
"They were fine without you before, DiNozzo," Gibbs teased, knowing Tony was referring to Gibbs himself.
Tony flashed a hurt look in Gibbs' direction and sighed. "I should've stayed home today," he commented yet again.
"Think he may have some brain damage, too, Duck. Seems to be repeating himself. Mild concussion maybe?"
"That's a possibility, Jethro," Ducky played along after receiving one of Gibbs' looks. "With as many times that he's been hit over the head, it wouldn't surprise me."
Gibbs and Ducky both knew that it was time to get Tony advanced medical help and the two exchanged knowing glances, while Gibbs assisted Tony off of the table and towards the sliding glass doors.
"Hey, Duck," Gibbs called out to him, silently thanking him with his eyes, "Do me a favor and call Ziva's cell phone. Let them know what's going on." He knew he could count on the two to get the job done while he and Tony were preoccupied. "I'll call you when I know more."
Gibbs helped Tony into the car, and Tony opted to lay down, rather than sit up. Gibbs got in the driver's seat and started the engine. "Please, don't drive fast, Boss."
Gibbs chuckled lightly and nodded, watching Tony in the rearview mirror. "You get sick in my car, DiNozzo, you're cleaning it."
"Understood, Boss," Tony nodded, proceeding to close his eyes.
The drive had been quiet. Tony was resting for the time being, though a distressed look was etched on his face. Gibbs pulled into the hospital parking lot, parked, and opened the back passenger door. "We're here, DiNozzo," Gibbs told him softly.
A groggy Tony opened his eyes and sat up slowly, wincing as he moved. Gibbs helped him out put an arm around the man for support.
"Thank you, Boss," Tony said softly.
Gibbs remained quiet, knowing he didn't have to say anything more, and escorted Tony inside.
Flashing his badge, he was able to quickly get Tony a bed. A detailed history and physical exam were taken, a CBC was performed, a urine sample was taken, and an EKG and chest and abdominal X-Rays were taken as well. Tony had gotten through the testing fairly well, and only had one bout of emesis in two hours. They also established an I.V., administering Compazine to help expunge Tony's nausea. He was resting fairly peacefully, despite his severe pain.
Soon, the doctor came in with test results.
Sensing a presence in the room other than Gibbs, who never left his side, Tony opened his eyes.
"Mr. DiNozzo," he smiled, "I'm Doctor Lilly."
"What do I got, Doc?" Tony asked, eager to know.
"I'm afraid that we need to start prepping you for surgery. You have appendicitis."
Tony frowned, closing his eyes. He'd been praying that Ducky was wrong for once. "This isn't how I wanted to spend my Christmas, Boss."
"Hey," Gibbs answered softly, headslapping him gently, looking into his eyes. "We'll worry about Christmas once you're outta that dress, DiNozzo," he teased Tony about his hospital gown, "but right now, we gotta do what we gotta do. Can't have Christmas if you're sick, DiNozzo."
"Okay," Tony nodded sadly, a stray tear trickling slowly from the corner of his eye. He quickly batted it away so that Gibbs wouldn't notice, but Gibbs had already seen it. He knew that Tony wasn't one to share his emotions, so he kept it to himself. Even he cried when no one was around. He also knew just how much Christmas meant to the younger man, being that they weren't all that enjoyable for him as a child. Gibbs knew Tony's life story- He was the only one- and he wasn't about to let Tony be disappointed again this year.
Within two hours, Tony was prepped and heading into the operating room. Gibbs hadn't left Tony's bedside until now, and he needed coffee. He really needed coffee. That's when he made phone calls to inform the team of Tony's status. Ducky was the first person he'd called.
He grabbed a cup of coffee from the cafeteria and made his way outside, dialing Ducky's number.
"Hello, Jethro," Ducky answered. "You have news, I assume?"
"Yeah, Duck, you were right."
"Up in surgery now."
"How was Anthony handling the diagnosis?"
"It's DiNozzo, Duck," Gibbs shrugged as if Ducky could see him. Ducky understood anyway. "Not worried about him." The truth was, Gibbs was worried about Tony, but he wasn't about to admit that. "He'll be fine. Just gotta hear him whining when he gets back to work."
Ducky chuckled lightly on the other end. "You'll keep me updated?"
"Course, Duck. Gonna need your help later."
"My help? With what, Jethro?"
"Christmas," Gibbs stated simply.
Slightly confused, Ducky agreed to help him anyway and Gibbs told him he'd call him once Tony was out of surgery.
Hanging up the phone, he rubbed a hand over his face and sipped more of his coffee, thinking. He needed to do things right. Tony didn't need more disappointment after the last two years he'd had.
Gibbs flipped his phone back open and dialed the only person he knew that could throw something together in a limited amount of time.
"Abby's Lab," she answered with a bounce in her voice.
"Need your help, Abs," Gibbs replied.
"Gibbs! I already bought your present and I know it's something you've been wanting for a long time and I'm not really sure what else you could possibly want because you've really been wanting this and…" Gibbs cut her off.
"Abby!" She was silent. "Abs, listen. DiNozzo's up in surgery right now."
"Oh my God, Gibbs! What happened to Tony? Oh no! He didn't get shot at a scene, did he?"
"Well, that's good. Not like good-good, but it's not as bad as I was expecting. I mean, it's bad, but it's not terribly bad, and…" Gibbs interrupted again.
"Are you going to help me or not, Abby?"
"Wow, someone's edgy today." Gibbs sighed on the other end and Abby smiled, knowing she was pushing his buttons. "What can I be of assistance with today, Captain Gibbs?"
He shook his head before replying. "Gotta bring Christmas to Bethesda, Abs. Need ya to grab a tree, some lights, whatever you can find. Gotta get his room decorated before he gets out of surgery and wakes up. Need ya to round up the team. Case is on hold until after Christmas per my orders. Any questions, they can call my cell." He'd just ignore the director's calls anyway.
"Awwwe, Gibbs! That's so sweet of you! I didn't know you had it in you!" Abby teased.
"Not going to disappoint him, Abs. Kid's been through enough. Would do the same if it were you."
"I know you would, Gibbs. That's why I'm the favorite."
He smiled as he answered, "Get it done and get here, Abs. All of ya. Get Ducky to help ya out."
"You got it, Gibbs!"
When he hung up his phone, he put his phone in his pocket and hurried to his car, knowing he could count on Abby to get the job done. Now, he had to make a quick stop.
It was only a ten-minute drive from his current location, but it felt like an eternity. When he finally pulled in, he grabbed a couple of things from his trunk that he'd placed there for when he made the trip.
He pulled out two small wreaths and two red candles. He walked directly across from where he'd parked and looked down at the gray stones that nearly blended in with the white, snowy grass.
"Ahh, my girls," he sighed, kneeling down to place the wreaths in their respective spots. He sniffled from the cold and shivered lightly before taking a moment to say a prayer, lighting two candles.
Gibbs knelt there in silence for a good fifteen minutes before wiping his eyes with the sleeve of his jacket. "Miss ya, Kel. Daddy loves you," he said aloud as he leaned over and kissed her stone. "Shan," he paused, looking out into the distance, "don't know how I'm surviving without ya both. Need you. Always have. Love you, too." He, then, kissed her stone as well and stood up, brushing the snow from his pants, leaving a damp spot on his knees. Christmas was harder every year, but there was something about this year. The pain wasn't as great as it usually was, and he really wasn't sure why.
Saying another prayer, he finally walked back to his vehicle. Leaving his radio off to think, he drove back to Bethesda in silence.
Once there, he stopped at the cafeteria again, getting a refill on his coffee, and wandered back to Tony's room, slowly. He sat in the corner and leaned back, closing his eyes momentarily.
An hour later, he awoke to the shuffle of the nursing staff, wheeling an unconscious Tony back in. He quickly jumped up, looking for answers.
"How'd it go?" Gibbs questioned anxiously.
"The surgery was successful," the doctor assured him, with a smile, and Gibbs sighed, relieved. "He'll be fine."
"Thanks," Gibbs nodded, extending a hand.
The doctor firmly shook Gibbs' hand and smiled again. "Not a problem at all, Sir. I'm just doing my job."
"How long before he wakes up?"
"That's hard to say. It could be anywhere between ten minutes to an hour, give or take. It all depends how quickly his body expunges the anesthesia."
"Okay," Gibbs nodded, flocking to Tony's side. He studied the man. His color was a lot better and he didn't look like he was in as much pain anymore.
"We'll give you some time."
"Thanks," Gibbs nodded, never taking his eyes off of Tony.
Within five minutes, the team finally made their way in. "Keep your voices down," Gibbs demanded. "Just got out of surgery. Needs his rest."
The team obliged and proceeded to quietly transform Tony's room into a Christmas paradise.
The tree was a small, pre-lit one, but big enough to put presents under, which they did, and Ziva hung the ornaments for them, joining their celebration. McGee hung a couple of stockings and tinsel, and Abby bounced back and forth like a kid in a toy store.
As Ziva and McGee went about their business, Gibbs motioned for Abby to come closer to him. When no one was looking, he pulled her into a hug, softly kissing her cheek. "Thanks, Abs."
"It's for Tony, Gibbs. You don't have to thank me."
"Well, I am. Don't do it enough. You deserve it." That's when he pulled out a small gift from his pocket. "Merry Christmas, Abs."
When she opened the box, she nearly squealed. "Gibbs! These are so cute!" That's when she donned her new earrings.
"Belonged to someone special. Take care of them. Wouldn't want anyone else to have them."
Abby pulled Gibbs into another hug and that's when Tony moved slightly, everyone's attention diverting to him.
"Right here, Son," Gibbs told him softly, protectively, as he pulled away from Abby, not even realizing what he'd said. "You're okay, DiNozzo."
He blinked a couple of times and slowly glanced around the room, not noticing the decorations yet. "I'm alive?" Tony asked with a raspy voice.
"Yeah, DiNozzo," Gibbs chuckled, shaking his head. "Last I checked, ya were."
"Boss?" Gibbs inched closer, fighting everyone off with his eyes. "Did I miss Christmas?"
"You just got out of surgery, DiNozzo. What did I tell ya?"
"You've told me a lot of things, Boss," Tony quietly replied matter-of-factly, his eyes drifting shut again.
"Told ya we'd get ya better first, didn't I? Why don't ya ever listen?"
"It's Christmas," Tony whined.
"Ya think, DiNozzo? How's the stomach?"
"I don't feel anything right now," Tony answered honestly. "Just tired, Boss."
"Get some rest, DiNozzo. We'll be here when you wake up. Not goin' anywhere."
"We?" Tony asked, opening his eyes and looking around, feeling relieved when he saw everyone that was there… and the surprises in his room.
"Merry Christmas, Tony," Ziva smiled, walking closer, gently rubbing his shoulder.
A small smile etched itself on Tony's face and he sighed softly. "Sorry I ruined your Christmas."
"Tony!" Abby exclaimed. "You didn't ruin anything! Stop being such a worrywart and be thankful that we're even here!" Gibbs hung his head as Abby talked to Tony, trying to hide his amusement.
"You guys didn't need to do this," Tony told them, trying to find a more comfortable position. "Wish you didn't have to be here."
"Nowhere else we'd rather be, Tony," McGee admitted, making eye contact with the other three co-workers that weren't in a bed, looking for confirmation.
"Thank you, McStocking Stuffer."
McGee normally would've said something, but he let it slide because it was Christmas. Leave it to Tony, he thought, to be sick and still attempt to be a comedian. He couldn't help but smile.
"He's right, DiNozzo," Gibbs added.
"It's Christmas," Abby chimed in, "and Christmas is a time for families. It wouldn't matter where we were, Tony. Since you couldn't come to us, we brought Christmas to you. Oh, and Ducky sends his best. He's spending Christmas Eve with his mom, but he'll be up to visit tomorrow."
Tony smiled, thankful. This was the most anyone's ever done for him, and Abby was right- They were family, and they were the best one Tony could ever ask for.
He was exhausted though, and fading fast. They'd also brought in a tray of cookies, and planned on ordering dinner from somewhere. Of course, they'd have to find out what Tony could have, but they weren't about to begin their celebration without him. If he slept for a week, they were willing to wait. Ziva nibbled on a cookie that she stole from McGee as Abby talked to Tony, and Gibbs watched his team proudly. He couldn't be more thankful and appreciative to know and lead such wonderful people, all the same, but all unique in their own way.
"Get some rest, DiNozzo," Gibbs finally repeated, knowing they'd all stand idly by as Tony recovered.
"On it, Boss," Tony nodded, closing his eyes.
A minute later, Tony opened his eyes again, "You need a Santa hat, Boss."
"DiNozzo!" Gibbs raised his voice a little, then leaned in to whisper in Tony's ear, "If ya get some rest, I might consider."
Gibbs smiled, satisfied, as Tony finally fell into a light sleep.
Abby sat on Gibbs' lap, swinging her legs over him, putting an arm around his neck, and McGee and Ziva occupied the chairs in the opposite corners of Tony's room. They all watched over Tony in silence before falling asleep themselves, one-by-one.
Well, one-by-one, except for Gibbs. He couldn't sleep. He had everyone he needed with him right now, and he wasn't about to discard the moment. They were all at peace- McGee, Ziva, Abby, Tony, and even Gibbs. Normally, on Christmas Eve, he'd be down his basement, working on his boat, his only company being Bourbon and a work light, but this year was different, and he didn't need to make excuses to bury his problems behind a bottle and hide from the world.
Standing up cautiously, he laid Abby in bed next to Tony, giving them both enough space, and he quietly dimmed the lights so that the only lights illuminating the room were those on the tree.
Abby's earrings sparkled and he knew Shannon and Kelly were watching over them all, because he'd finally found happiness, and it was sitting, and laying, right in front of him.
"Merry Christmas, guys," Gibbs said aloud, sitting down next to the tree, keeping vigil as they all smiled in their sleep.