AN: Thank you all so much for sticking with me through the story! Considering this was my first FanFic, the response I got was super-encouraging. All the reviews really helped keep my confidence up…thank you all so much!
Gibbs stood up from the chair beside Tony's bed and stretched. It had only been a few hours since the doctors had brought Tony back into the room, and he was resting comfortably. Figuring it was a good time for a coffee break, Gibbs walked quietly out of the room.
As tired as he was, Gibbs couldn't help but be overwhelmed with relief. In the past 24 hours, when faced with the mortality of one of his agents, things had surfaced that Gibbs had buried long ago. He'd always known he valued his team, but until today, he could never have guessed how much. Especially DiNozzo. As much as he berated and head-slapped the younger agent, he saw him as family. Today, his paternal instincts had really been put to the test. Though it had been countless years since anyone had been able to access- or even believed in the existence of- Gibbs's vulnerable side, it had truly been exposed in the last few hours. When faced with the possibility of losing his agent forever, Gibbs felt something he hadn't felt in a long time. When he saw Tony, lifeless on the floor of the warehouse, Gibbs felt mind-numbing fear. He had seen Tony hurt before. Hell, earlier that day, he had seen Tony mercilessly tortured. But even through that, Tony had somehow retained his vitality, that spark inside him. There was no spark in the body Gibbs saw on the warehouse floor. Hours and hours had passed since that scene played out, yet Gibbs could not get the image out of his mind.
Settling into one of the breakroom chairs, he grabbed his cell phone out of his pocket. He had turned it off as soon as he got in the ambulance with Tony. He had not been in the mood for interruptions. Gibbs held down the power button, and the screen flashed on. After a few seconds, words appeared on the screen. One new voicemail. Gibbs sighed. It was probably from Abby, before she knew what was going on with Tony. He pressed a button and put the phone to his ear.
As the message played, Gibbs grew still, scarcely breathing. His eyes had a distinct glazed-over look to them as he listened. As the message came to a close, the phone slid out of Gibbs's hand. He made no move to pick it up as it clattered to the floor. His system was in complete shock. No, no, no. This isn't happening. This can NOT be happening…
Gibbs shook his head and took a deep breath. He bent down to pick up the phone. Get it together, Jethro. He put the phone to his ear. The automated voice droned out, "To replay this message, press 1. To delete this message, p-" Gibbs pressed 1 and closed his eyes.
"Gibbs, it's Fornell. My men and I are at the dock. The area was mostly cleaned up when we got here, and the first responders have two men in custody…but Salir isn't here. We found traces of his blood on the floor of the nearest building, which, according to the other officers, is where you knocked him out. But apparently you didn't hit him hard enough, Jethro. He's gone. The strange thing is, his vehicle is still here. He must have run…pretty damn fast…Not much is making sense right now, but we're doing what we can. We radioed all local PD's but he's a crafty son of a bitch, so the odds of it making a difference are slim to none. I know you're with DiNozzo, but you need to call me as soon as possible. This isn't over, Gibbs…He's still out there."