By: Mahiri Chuma
Disclaimer I don't own anything NCIS related – though I really wish I did, and *if* I did, oh the whumpage there would be!
A/N: Because all of us wanted Tony to be tortured a little bit – I know, we're all sick in the head. Obviously, this little torture session isn't too long as I believe Tony couldn't have been left in the room for more than 5-10 minutes before rescue, so, well here we go.
- Peruvian Steel -
"That was purely for your wife's cooperation," the man shrugged off his suit top while Tony watched, blood streaming from mouth to neck, as the man picked up the wicked looking blade, "we like to call them little white lies."
The man walked slowly towards him, turning the blade over in his hands.
"You know, it's funny –" Tony's head snapped back as the man's heavy fist caught him on the jaw.
"I get it, you've got a mouth on you."
Tony blinked rapidly. Well he hadn't been expecting that. The man ground his teeth impatiently, for a moment he considered letting the other man run his mouth but as the knife became heavier in his hands so did the desire to do what he was hired to do.
Ziva wasn't an idiot. She knew exactly that their promise to here was just a way for them to placate her. They thought she was someone she wasn't; Sophie Ranier.
She wondered briefly if Sophie would have understood; as she thought of the baby – a baby that had long since die - something told her that she would have.
Marcos pushed the gun against her back, urging her down the long hallway. They stopped in front of a door and he threw a keycard on the floor.
She knew what was in store for Tony and she only hoped she would be able to get her hands around this man's neck sooner than later.
Tony glanced to the side as the man disappeared behind him. The chair behind him groaned under the weight of the man's knee. His head was pulled back painfully as his captor grabbed a generous amount of his hair – he forced himself not to flinch as he felt a light pressure against his neck.
"Now, where do you think I should start? I could kill you right now …"
Something wet and warm trailed down into his shirt and he knew the man had cut him. Marcos was right. He hadn't felt a thing. Tony could only assume he had only been nicked as he wasn't dead yet.
"Or, we could have some fun. What do you say?" Tony swallowed, feeling the pressure dig in deeper.
"Well, I did go to Ohio State." His voice was low and rough; no doubt a result of the threat of death against his throat.
"Funny. Me too." The man relieved Tony's throat and brought the knife up to his cheekbone. All Tony felt was the coolness of the blade as it bit into his skin and after that, the warmth of the blood that flowed from the cut.
It was so strange. Paper cuts hurt more than this. Once the blade had done it's work however, the sting of the wound became apparent and the swelling began – he felt his cheek get a little puffier and felt a flush of warmth as the cut began to throb and burn.
"Well," Tony gave a small chuckle, "this isn't very fraternal, now is it? Think of what they'll say in the alumni newsletter."
His captor ignored him, clearly uninterested in 'Jean-Paul's wit.
"Studied economics." The man circled him, stopping at his left side, kneeling as he lifted the right arm of his sweater to his elbow, preparing to make a surgeon's incision from elbow to wrist. "Played some baseball."
He dug the knife into the crook of Tony's elbow; Tony flinched involuntary – the incision didn't hurt, sure, but the feeling of fraying muscle and the blades dangerous proximity to the delicate nerves sure did.
"Fucked a few girls." He dragged it slowly to Tony's forearm and Tony forced himself to take deep, steady breaths as waves of dizziness began to blur his vision.
"Really? You sound like quite the charmer." Keep him talking – If Tony was correct, and he sure hoped he was, Ziva would be handling Marcos right about now and the cavalry would arrive any second. "Your wife must be so proud."
Tony's torturer stopped just short of his wrist, looking as though he were thinking deeply about something. He laughed, ceasing his painful administrations.
"You know he's going to kill your wife once she gives him the disk." Tony snorted, wincing as he disturbed his bleeding lips, his nose, his cuffed arms…
"Kill her?" he half laughed half gasped as he fought unconsciousness, "I'd like to see him try. She's Mossad, you know."
He was about to continue his careful administrations when his victim said a most curious thing.
"What?" He chuckled.
"You know, Mossad. Israeli Intelligence. She also goes by Special Agent David, NCIS." The man's face fell, confusion clear in his eyes.
"What the hell are you going on about now?"
"NCIS? No? Well she's my partner. I'm Agent Anthony DiNozzo," he gasped slightly
as the man grabbed his collar and held the knife a little too close to his throat. He wasn't sure he'd survive that particular wound.
"I'm afraid you're under arrest –"
Tony eyed the knife and with all the force he could muster slammed his forehead into the man's nose. Tony got lucky and the knife fell out of the man's hand without even grazing him – he could be thankful for small mercies.
The man clutched his nose in reflex, his eyes watering as he stumbled backwards. Tony took the opportunity to kick the man between the eyes and then again in the crotch as he desperately tried to gain the upper hand.
Tony thrashed out again; only this time the man was ready. He rolled to the side, getting a hand on the knife that had fallen to the ground. Tony pulled on his handcuffs, trying desperately to gain the upper hand but the man was keeping a safe distance. He got to his feet, lifting the chair behind him and swung as hard as he could.
He caught the man on the thigh and both crashed to the ground, Tony lying on his side awkwardly. He looked over to see the man getting up, lifting the knife high above his head.
His mind whirled, trying to formulate a plan in the 1.3 seconds he had to live; just before his captor buried the knife in his throat.
He watched as the knife made a slow descent, the man's face red with blood and anger.
Then, without warning, the man's head flung violently backwards, pink mist exploding from the back of his head. Tony stared, watching as the man's limp body fell forward, landing a mere 2 inches from his face.
He breathed heavily, his breath resonating in his ears as he stared at the dead man's face. His body shook with adrenaline as he tried to comprehend what had just happened. He craned his neck, looking down towards his feet at the door.
There stood his answer.
It was Gibbs, his pistol raised and his eyes scanning the scene in front of him. The door had been shot open, splinters of wood lying on the floor next to his Boss' feet.
Funny, he thought, didn't even hear the gunshots.
Behind Gibbs came McGee and Ziva; the whole damn gang. And here he was, lying on the floor in a puddle of another man's blood strapped to a chair, his best sweater ruined.
"Boss!" He coughed, "I want a divorce." He grinned, or at least tried to as Gibbs approached, removing the cuffs from his bruised wrists.
Gibbs ignored the comment as he carefully helped his agent out of the growing puddle of blood. Tony winced as McGee came around to take the other side, grabbing his injured arm.
"You okay, Tony?" Gibbs knew the answer. Of course he wasn't.
"Yeah, I'm –uh –fine, Boss." Gibbs helped Tony to the edge of the bed, all but forcing him to sit. "You get Marcos?"
"Fine my ass, DiNozzo." Gibbs took in the growing bloodstain on the Agent's left arm, his sweater more of a pinkish-red than gray in most places. The cut on his face had stopped bleeding but made him look like hell in combination with the bloody nose and facial bruising. The shallow cut to the neck didn't help much either.
Before Tony could protest, Gibbs pulled the injured man's left sleeve up and cursed when he saw the still bleeding and painful looking wound.
"About that –" He felt suddenly nauseous as he was reminded of the incessant throbbing. The wound looked a lot deeper than it had felt …
"McGee!" Tim didn't need further instructions as he ran into the bathroom to grab a towel, anything to stem the bleeding.
"Is he okay?" Ziva had appeared on his right, a phone in her hand. He gave her a long-suffering look as she directed her question at Gibbs, and not him.
"Did you call for an ambulance, Ziva?" Ziva nodded and that was all the answer she needed.
Tim returned with a towel and Gibbs pressed he fabric down against the long wound, not failing to notice the deep lines of pain set in his forehead.
"I suppose you could not keep your mouth shut, Tony?" He looked up at her, her face distorting with the quick movement. She was mad at him; that much was clear – she didn't seem to appreciate his methods of distraction, especially ones that got him hurt.
"Hey, I hardly said a word, Zi-va. The guys fist just had a natural attraction to my face," he winced Gibbs turned his face towards his, his eyes scrutinizing every cut and bruise.
"It's not as bad as it looks, Boss."
"Really, DiNozzo? Your damn face is hamburger meat." Not only was Ziva pissed, but so was Gibbs, and for what reason he couldn't guess – though he supposed Gibbs got this way whenever he was hurt.
"Yeah, Tony," McGee muttered, "it looks pretty bad."
"Did anyone ask you, Probie!?" The last thing he needed was a 3:1 assault on his current medical condition; add Ducky and Abby into the equation and a longer than necessary hospital stay was near written in his future.
"How is your arm, Tony?" Tony couldn't imagine it was bleeding anymore. Gibbs hold on it was almost painfully tight. He must really look bad to warrant that kind of death grip.
"You know, he wasn't kidding," Tony said lightly, if it weren't for the blood and terribly pale complexion and the slight hoarseness in his voice you'd never know anything was wrong, "didn't feel a thing."
He had been hoping that would lessen her concern; as he watched her forehead scrunch and her gaze narrow he could have slapped himself – really? That would make it better?
Tony jerked, pitching forward suddenly as the world turned on him.; maybe they were right to have called for one – he wasn't feeling up to a walk through the hotel. It would no doubt end in humiliation somewhere in the lobby.
"DiNozzo! Stay with me." He blinked slowly, Gibbs' hand on his shoulder.
"Maybe you should lay down, Tony." McGee offered as he watched the senior agent sway slightly, his eyes glossy. "You look like you're gonna pass out."
"First of all, DiNozzos do not pass out," he tried to blink the nausea away but was finding it to be a useless gesture – pesky blood loss, "second of all, second of all –"
He suddenly lost track of what he was saying, something both unsettling and a sure way to attract Gibbs' attention.
"Ziva, what's the ETA on that ambulance?"
"They said fifteen minutes. Ducky will meet us there."
"Ducky? Boss, I'm f-"
"Say it one more time, DiNozzo and you'll be on desk duty for a month." Maybe he had lost more blood than he had thought – everything was swimming before his eyes, the lights blurring and voices not quite fitting the movement of their owner's mouths.
"McGee, go down to the lobby and wait for them." McGee nodded, glad to be given some sort of task – just standing there, watching his partner slowly bleed and fight unconsciousness made him feel terribly useless.
"On it Boss."
"It's just – just a scratch, Boss."
"Really, DiNozzo? Well this scratch won't stop bleeding." Tony chanced a look down and could see his blood staining his Boss' hands – as if this couldn't get worse.
"You know, we really should invest in that Peruvian steel or at least get a Peruvian knife set," he blinked away the yellow spots in front of his eyes, "for the break room. Those plastic ones don't – they just don't cut it."
"Tony, you should stop wasting your –"
"Get it, Ziva? Cut it?"
"DiNozzo, do you really want those to be your last words?" Tony felt himself losing his grip, Gibbs arms hands taking more of his weight.
"Shutting up, Boss." He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to fight the urge to pass out.
"DiNozzo, if you pass out …" Tony shook his head though he found himself unable to open his eyes.
"I told you … I'm not passing out." Those were his last words before he promptly lost consciousness.
"Tony!" Gibbs took his Agent's full weight as the man fell forward. He eased the man gently onto the bed, checking his carotid pulse – it was slow but present.
"He must have nicked an artery. He would not be bleeding so much otherwise." Ziva offered as she procured another towel to stack on top of the already soaked one.
"Gibbs, they're here." McGee's head popped into the doorway. He warily eyed the now unconscious Tony before moving aside for the Paramedic team.
"It's about damn time." Gibbs watched the paramedics carefully as they came in; one of the men stopped for a moment, not expecting the dead body in the corner of the room.
One of the paramedics performed the initial assessment while the other pulled out bandages.
"He was stabbed?" The paramedic asked, remembering the small amount of information they had been fed via radio.
"Not exactly." Gibbs said gruffly, nodding his head towards his agents arm. The wound was deep and angry looking; the tissue had been split open and he could clearly see muscle and what might have been bone towards his elbow.
"He has a deep laceration from elbow to wrist."
The paramedic nodded but decided against examining the wound, not wanting to disturb any clotting that was occurring. It was clear the man had lost a large amount of blood and peeling those towels off to have a look would likely do more harm than good.
"He was also," Ziva stopped for a minute not liking the way the words tasted in her mouth, "beaten. I am fairly certain he has suffered a concussion."
You didn't really need to examine Tony to tell that he had a concussion; his face had been beaten to a pulp, if he didn't have one, Gibbs would be astounded – something that rarely, if ever happened.
The paramedics worked quickly, moving the man from the bed to the stretcher all whilst expertly inserting an IV and fixing the makeshift bandages in place.
"McGee, I need you to stay here and process the scene." He said in a low voice. This was as much their case as Fornell's and as soon as Fornell had processed Marcos he would be down here to scoop up the body and take the evidence.
"Got it." Gibbs nodded.
"Good, you're in charge of this crime scene." He reminded as he followed the medical team out of the room, passing one of Fornell's - the asian woman, what was her name? Maya?
"Agent Gibbs, sir."
"What?" He didn't even bother to stop as he blew past the young FBI agent. He didn't have time for this and the most recent developments had put him in a rather sour mood; he didn't have time for the incompetence of the FBI.
She hurried alongside him, glancing at the stretcher as she kept pace. She had heard the "agent in distress" call over the walkie and she knew it would be Agent DiNozzo.
"Fornell needs you at the scene." Gibbs didn't even look at her as he walked.
"Special Agent McGee is in charge of the scene." Maya hesitated; a part of her thought he would say, "oh, right" and turn around and follow her back to where Fornell was waiting – she would have to start ignoring that part of herself.
"Well, I –"
"Tobias knows where to find me."
Gibbs, Ziva and the medical team moved into the elevator for the short trip down. Maya raised a finger to protest. The elevator doors closed without another word from Gibbs.
"Guess the second 'B' is for bastard." She muttered as she made her way back to the crime scene – she guessed Fornell would just have to take his aggressions out on Special Agent McGee.
Much to the relief and annoyance of the medical staff and Gibbs, Tony had regained consciousness upon arrival. He would claim that his own internal spidey-sense alerted him a hospital was near – it was common knowledge that the man despised being in the care of any medical professional and that he rather allow his arm to fall off than head to a hospital.
Tony sat up in the emergency room bed, looking as though he were doing his best not to throw up. The IV in his arm burned and the Cykloapron, a blood clotter that had been quickly introduced into his system during some point during his time spent unconscious, was making him even more nauseous than he had been before.
"It's just a scratch, doc." The fact that it took an unusual amount of effort to talk and sit up was testament to how wrong he might be. His head was swimming; he felt terrible.
"DiNozzo, are you a doctor? Didn't think so."
The doctor raised an eyebrow at the two men. His patient wasn't his sickest or most critically injured patient of the night, but he certainly looked it and the way these two men interacted made him wonder if the older of the two was blind and the younger just plain stupid.
"Jethro, I do apologize –" Ducky paused as he entered the room taking in Tony's appearance. He had butterfly clips on the cut on his face, a thick piece of gauze taped to his neck, his face bruised and split in various places and his arm was swaddled in a bloody mess of cloth, "Oh dear, Anthony. You look absolutely dreadful."
"Gee, thanks, Ducky," He pulled the balled up tissue from his nostril, sniffing loudly, "Just another day at the office."
"I'll say, dear boy. How is he doing Dr. Maynard?"
He bent over Tony's arm as the doctor slowly began peeling away the bandages and towels that had been wrapped around his arm – the younger Agent didn't understand what all the fuss was about until he saw the wound.
"Dr. Mallard always a pleasure. Your agent took quite the beating."
It still oozed slightly – how could it not, the skin's edges had at least half and each between them, the opening wide enough for him to comfortably use as storage.
"Just a scratch, Tony?" Gibbs said gently, watching as his Agent paled slightly, something that didn't seem entirely possible given his already pasty complexion.
"You should know better than to lie to Jethro like that, young man. That is clearly more than a scratch."
"A flesh wound, really." He muttered as Ducky sighed, the Monty Pyhton reference not completely lost on him. Doctor Maynard reached for a needle filled with local anesthetic and Tony did his best not to flinch.
"This is quite deep, Agent DiNozzo. Luckily, whatever it was you cut yourself on was sharp. This should heal somewhat nicely, though you'll have a scar, no doubt."
The wound stop just short of his wrist, an undeniable mine field of life sustaining veins and arteries. The man missed his radial artery by mere centimeters. Tony fought the urge to pull his burning, throbbing arm backwards as the doctor injected the agent directly into the wound, causing needle of pain throughout his forearm.
'Yes, the edges will be well approximated. Peruvian steel, I presume." Gibbs gave the elder ME a look. "Nothing cuts with such precision, nothing short of a scalpel and even then they are challenged."
"You're very lucky, you did nick your median cubital vein," the doctor had a large magnifier and was observing the wound as he waited for the anesthetic to kick in, "Any longer and you would have bled to death."
Tony could feel Gibbs' eyes boring a hole into his head – that's exactly what he wanted his Boss to hear.
"To be honest, I'm surprised your conscious at all. I've ordered 20 Units of blood to help get you back on your feet."
Tony grimaced. He had been hoping to avoid that; the more procedures he was forced to endure the more time he'd be forced to take off.
"Is that really – " He grunted as he felt a light tap on the back of the head. It had no more than one-fiftieth the force of a regular headlslap, more of a light touch, a flick, but still, it was a headslap. Gibbs had just headslapped him.
"If the doctor says it is necessary, than it is." Tony's unfocused eyes caught Gibbs' own. Tony didn't find anger or annoyance in the man's gaze; only what he could assume was concern – or at least he though so, everything was so blurry.
"Did you see that Ducky? I have a concussion." Ducky smiled, patting the boy lightly on the right shoulder.
"Unorthodox to be sure, but very effective."
Gibbs watched his bloodied agent sway slightly before looking back down at his arm. The doctor had begun his careful stitching, closing the wound expertly and quickly.
He couldn't help but feel a surge of anger; not towards Tony but rather himself. Had they been they're earlier this could have been avoided. He was sure Tony had run his mouth and from what Ziva had said during their run down to the hotel room, he had been trying to distract them from hurting her.
Though admirable and one of the reasons he continued to make Gibbs proud, he wished the younger man would watch out for himself. Just once, at the very least. He couldn't even count the amount of times he had been forced to watch Tony struggle through pain and illness – he was long overdue for a break. They both were.
The doctor snipped the final stitch, surveying his work.
"Due to the depth, this will take a bit of time to heal, Agent DiNozzo," He began to carefully bandage the wound and nodded at a nurse who entered the room with a medium sized bag of blood in her hands, "it will be painful no doubt, but that we can take care of. We'll take another look in a week – I do not believe surgery is necessary but you need to take it easy."
Gibbs could see Tony already beginning to plan how not to take the medication unnoticed. Gibbs remembered one particular day in the bullpen when he opened the Agent's drawer looking for something – he couldn't even remember what. The sight that greeted him enraged him to the point of memory loss.
There were enough abandoned and expired pill bottles to relieve the pain of twenty people in agony – that would be a sight. He knew Tony had an issue with painkillers but this was ridiculous – this is what he did when Ducky wasn't forcing them down his throat?
Tony came back to the bullpen, completely unaware of the shitstorm awaiting him.
Gibbs always watched him carefully from then on and Tony had been careful not to bring them to work at all.
"Yes, we'll be sure that Anthony's pain is well managed." Ducky knew what memory was crossing both of the men's minds and he gave them both a long-suffering stare.
The doctor began to observe Tony's face, palpating tender areas causing the man to wince. The doctor checked the butterfly clip while Ducky looked on.
Tony flinched backwards as the man prodded his nose; his eyes were watering incessantly and his sinuses feeling as though they would pop.
"Well, it doesn't look like we have any fractures and I'm fairly certain these cuts will heal nicely on their own."
He lifted the bandage on his neck, making the same inference and appeared, for the moment, satisfied.
"That should do it. We'll set you up with a sling upon discharge. You're going to have to take it easy with that arm." The doctor stood, scribbling something down his chart. The nurse stood beside him, hanging the bag and beginning the transfusion.
"So, I'm being discharged?" Tony smiled hopefully.
"Oh, I should think not dear boy." Ducky eyed the bag of blood that was dripping slowly into the infusion device. Tony still looked terrible. He had hardly regained any color and he looked more and more unsteady with each passing minute.
"You have a concussion and you have lost a great deal of blood. It would be irresponsible to let you go now."
"So," Tony tried, "tomorrow then?"
Ducky hesitated. Technically, there was no reason for them to keep him beyond the night but with Tony, one could never be sure.
"That is at the discretion of your physician, Anthony."
Dr. Maynard finished his notations and gave his patient one last look.
"Assuming the blood transfusion goes well, as I expect it will, we should have you discharged tomorrow afternoon."
Tony gave the man a winning smile; it was somewhat ineffective as his blood stained teeth shone brightly under the examination light.
"How does morning work for you?"
"Right. Tomorrow afternoon, Boss."
Tony didn't remember falling asleep but it was clear that at some point he had. He fought to open his eyes, his eyelids feeling as heavy as lead. He could just barely hear the movement of the nurses outside his room and the beeping of the machines on the floor.
"Hello, my little hairy butt." He flinched, taking a sharp breath as the voice took him by surprise.
"Ziva," He blinked, trying to bring the world into focus, "you trying to give me a heart attack?"
He looked over to see her seated next to him; the prospect of her sitting by his bedside brought him a small amount of satisfaction. The last thing he remembered was Ducky and Gibbs discussing him, over him; something he would never get used to. He remembered making a rather brilliant reference to a James Bond film and Ducky telling him to rest and then nothing – Tony's stomach turned, if Ducky drugged him again …
"Gibbs left an hour ago. I am here to relieve him." She said, watching him carefully as he struggled to push himself up onto his good arm. He looked terrible … "And to see how you are doing."
Tony looked at her, her expression serious. He remembered sitting on the bed in the hotel room and he remembered asking about Marcos …
"Ziva, did he hurt you?" He said quickly, suddenly remembering with clarity Marcos' expression as he left her out of the room.
"No, Tony. McGee and Gibbs took him down before we got to you."
He felt a wave of relief. He had been concerned for Ziva; not that he didn't trust Gibbs. Of course Gibbs would save the day, the man had a knack for it, but there was that small reserved part of him that wondered what would happened if no one was in that room waiting for them.
"Sounds like I missed the party." She didn't smile, she merely sat there watching his every move, his every wince – he exhaled wondering what he had done now to suffer the wrath of Ziva David.
"How are you feeling?" He watched her unwavering expression, unsure of how to answer that. If he lied she would be angry, if he told the truth she probably be even angrier, both with herself and him.
"A little sore," he decided. Sore was good. Sore was non-committal but it acknowledged his injuries, it was a good alternative for 'like hell warmed over.'
"I see." He could feel her eyes lingering on his face. He knew he must look terrible. If the throbbing in his cheekbone, nose and jaw told him anything, it was that his face was a canvas of ugly wounds.
Tony glanced behind him slightly. The blood transfusion had been completed and the bag was nowhere in sight. His body ached and complained but he felt much better than he had earlier, thanks to the IV fluid and the blood, no doubt.
"Gibbs told me you are being discharged later today." Today? What time was it? It had to be early morning, he couldn't have slept that long, he didn't remember being woken up for those terrible concussion checks.
"Yep, the ol' DiNozzo charm is still alive and well." He could feel her eyes lingering over his face and down to his arm. "It looks worse than it is."
That line was as credible as 'I'm fine' or 'I understand computers, Tim.'
Tony licked his chapped lips as Ziva continued to stare at him with that look. Well there was no point in beating around the bush.
"Something bothering you, Ziva?"
Ziva's eyes narrowed for a moment before she leaned forward, her tone serious and stiff.
"Yes, Tony. Something is bothering me." She said mockingly. They sat there silently for a moment, Tony waiting to hear what she had to say and Ziva grinding her teeth as she tried to get a hold of her temper. Tony quirked an eyebrow.
"What were you thinking, Tony?" Tony wasn't going to play dumb – he knew what she was asking. Honestly, he was hoping she wouldn't bring it up.
"Those men were dangerous, Tony, and you just had to provoke them. I have never worked with anyone so stupid, so wreckless …" She shook her head, her words fueling her annoyance, her anger but most of all, her fear, so – so, bull-headed!"
"Pig-headed." He murmured.
"Whatever!" She sat there for a moment, her thoughts and emotions warring within her.
He had scared her. The unshakeable Ziva David. He had seen it in her eyes and had heard it in her voice. She was afraid for him and he knew it, but still he egged them on – anything to keep their attention on him.
"You do not need to protect me. I can handle myself." Tony knew that, she was a tough woman, but it didn't change anything. "You do not need to get yourself killed to protect me."
She took a breath. She was frustrated with his behavior. She was frustrated with his silence. Didn't he know he could have died?
"That man was going to kill you, Tony."
"Better me than you, Ziva." His voice was devoid of its previous lightness; it was the tone he reserved for when he was dead serious, when for once, something wasn't a joke.
For a moment, she hated him. She hated that he could sit there, knowingly take the abuse and as soon as they touched her, lose it, jumping into a poorly formulated plan that would kill him, just to save her from pain.
"You did not have to be a martyr, Tony. I could have taken it."
Before he could stop the words, they flew.
"Well I couldn't have." Tony avoided eye contact, looking down at the hospital sheet for a moment before continuing, "If I didn't do something – anything – I would never have forgiven myself, Ziva."
Tony allowed himself to imagine, for a moment, what it would have been like to watch her suffer, to see a single punch land on her gorgeous features – maybe it was selfish of him, to do what he did, but he didn't care.
"I know you can take care of yourself, but you don't have to."
"Agent DiNozzo?" A nurse knocked lightly on the door and Tony sighed.
The nurse entered the room with an IV bag and a small pill cup in hand.
"Good Morning, Agent DiNozzo," she smiled, nodding at her patient and the woman at his side, "I have your medication. How is your pain?"
"A five." He said, used to the pain scale. There was no point in lying.
She plopped the pills down on the bedside table and changed the IV bag. Tony eyed the pills.
"What are they?" She looked over her shoulder and then down at the two white capsules.
"Pain killers. Hydrocodone." The nurse finished with the IV bag and went to the sink for a small cup of water. Tony glanced over at Ziva who was doing her best to avoid him.
This conversation was clearly over. For once he decided to comply, taking the cup and tossing back the pills, waterless.
"Oh, that was easier than I expected. They told me you have a history of non-compliance." Tony shrugged and smiled.
With her work done, the nurse excused herself and quietly left the room leaving a still speechless Ziva and a soon to be knocked out Tony in silence.
"You might want to leave before this turns ugly," he said holding up the empty pill cup.
"Yes," she cleared her throat, "I have to be getting back anyway. I will see you later then."
Tony nodded, his expression tight as she gathered her jacket. She made her way to the door and stopped for a moment, turning towards her fellow agent. She looked tired and worn and as though she had something to say; something that was wearing a hole in her. Tony waited and then watched as she disappeared out the door without another word.
He lay back, closing his eyes miserably.
Within fifteen minutes the familiar and despised effects of the pills became apparent and no more than ten minutes after that he was asleep, the conversation, for the time being, forgotten.
By the time of his discharge, 11:59, Tony was in a foul mood. The painkillers were wearing off and his body was beginning to ache. His most recent conversation was now fresh and clear in his mind. Gibbs, along with Ducky and to his surprise - Abby, had arrived along with his oversized Ohio State sweater, a plain black t-shirt, sneakers and a pair of jeans.
He gratefully changed out of his over revealing hospital gown and collected the large plastic bag that held his bloodied clothing from the night before – he didn't care what Ducky had said, it would wash out.
"Ah, Anthony," Ducky said warmly as he helped fit the sling on his arm, "you look much better. I have to say, dear boy, you looked an absolute fright."
He can't imagine having looked worse than he did now. He had caught a glance in the mirror and a 'fright' seemed to be an understatement.
"Is this really necessary, Duck?" Tony hated slings and really couldn't see the reason for it at this point – he hadn't broken anything and the heavy bandage seemed to serve its purpose quite well.
"It's just a precaution. Only a few days I should think."
Tony shrugged uncomfortably as the sling dug into his arm. Tony followed Ducky out of the cramped hospital room, happy to be rid of it, and caught sight of Gibbs talking to the doctor that had cared for him the day before.
He fought the urge to groan; Gibbs would no doubt procure his medication and watch him like a hawk while he tried not to take it.
Gibbs turned around, his eyes moving across his face taking in the carious wounds – a frown was set in his features.
"Boss, you miss me?"
"You take your 12:00 meds, Tony?" Damn. Tony opened his mouth but was stopped by Ducky.
"If you are about to lie to Jethro, Tony, I advise you to step out of striking range."
"I've got 'em right here, Boss." He pulled the bottle out of his sweater's front pocket and waved it in the air. Gibbs didn't need to say anything as he stood there, arms crossed. "Right. Taking them now."
Tony took them dry, once again, and grimaced as the pills left a terrible film and an equally horrible chemical taste in his mouth.
"You know dear boy, you remind me of a young marine I worked with in the Sudan in the seventies – he absolutely refused to –"
Tony quickly lost track of the story as they made their way out of the hospital and to Gibbs car that was conveniently parked right outside its doors. The older man had lost him somewhere between 'Leiurus quinquestriatus' and 'a rather chesty prostitute named Delilah'.
"Tony, Tony, Tony, Tony!" She threw her arms around him as they exited the hospital. He groaned slightly causing her to pull back, her expression relieved as she bit her lip tenderly, "Oh, Tony! Ducky was right, you look terrible!"
"Thanks, Abs." He smiled; despite the constant insults to his appearance, he was happy to see her. "You should see the other guy."
"You mean the dead guy?" She smiled wickedly.
By the time he plopped himself down in the car he was exhausted. The night had been sleepless and his body was begging him for rest; he had, more than once, stumbled into Gibbs during their short walk to the car, eliciting a light 'easy, Tony' from Gibbs and concerned glances from Ducky.
He listened to Abby as she regaled him with stories of the previous night – how she could have so much to say for the fifteen hours he had missed was a mystery – and he fought to keep his eyes opened. Hydrocodone was a double-edged sword for him; it made him both loopy and sleepy. Perfect.
As he half-listened to Abby tell him about how Bert had led her to a forensic breakthrough he stared at the back of Gibbs' head, wondering what had the man acting so silent and stoic.
Usually, when he got injured, Gibbs was there with an attitude, whether it was cursing Fornell and the FBI or head-slapping him in his ' 'tough love' technique, he was there. Now he was distant; quiet. Something was bothering the other man and he wanted to know what.
"So, what d'ya think?" Abby was grinning at him, her eyes wild and excited. She would never admit it, but she loved getting the opportunity to bum around on the couch with her best friend, though she'd never wish injury on him, of course.
"What? Did you say something, Abs?" They were pulling into his parking lot and he felt a tingle of disappointment.
"Tony! I only just dropped the biggest, most gargantuan film-aficionado bomb on you! You. Me. Pizza. Every Sean Connery film I could get my hands on!"
"You're right, Abs. It'll be great." Abby gave him a look but decided to let it go as she helped him out of the car. He hated to disappoint her but he didn't think he'd be able to stay awake for much longer.
By the time he got out, Gibbs was at the top of the stairs, unlocking his door. Ducky shared a sympathetic look with him, trailing behind him and Abby as they mounted the stairs. So it wasn't just him – Ducky had noticed as well.
Tony entered his apartment to see that Abby had clearly been there. A stack of what had to be fifteen DVDs lay next to the TV – he didn't know how long Abby thought he would be on desk duty, he expected to be back the next day – she had at least a week's worth of supplies here.
Abby led him to the couch and all but forced him to sit.
Tony sighed, somewhat relieved to be sitting as his legs had taken on a rather heavy quality. From this position he could see Gibbs in the kitchen, filling a closed top pitcher with water. His Boss crossed back into the room, setting the pitcher down on the coffee table along with a glass and a bottle of antibiotics.
"Now, Anthony," Ducky started, "You will take these pills and the ones you have hidden in your sweater –"
"You cheeky monkey, Tony!" interrupted Abby as she dipped her hand into the large pocket, grasping the pill bottle and waving it in the air for Ducky to see.
"You will take those as prescribed. There is no reason to be in that kind of pain." He said, his tone serious and rather solemn.
"Right, gotcha, Duck. I'll even be a good boy and stop into see you in the morning." It was a weak attempt, he knew, but he didn't want to be stuck in his apartment for an hour longer than he had to be – not with all that had happened with Ziva and with the way Gibbs was acting. He just wanted things to go back to normal.
"Two days sick leave, DiNozzo. We'll just have to do without you until Wednesday."
"Boss, I don't need two days," he insisted and he held Gibbs gaze, "I'm –"
"Say it, DiNozzo and I will make it a week. Two days. I don't want to see you anywhere near the building until then."
Tony opened his mouth and shut it; he didn't know what to say. Even when he had had the plague, the medieval freaking plague, Gibbs had let him skip a week of sick leave and now they were debating over one measly day?
"Don't worry, Gibbserooni, er, Gibbs! I'll make sure he serves his time!" In that moment Tony was glad Abby was there to break the tension.
Gibbs nodded, the movement slow and thoughtful.
"Keep me updated, Abby?"
She gave him a mock salute, clicking her heels.
"Sir, yes sir, Gibbs, sir!"
Gibbs seemed satisfied and with one last look at his lead Agent, headed for the door.
"Pizza will be here in fifteen."
And then he left. Ducky patted his shoulder and said goodbye to Abby, reminding her to make sure he remained compliant with his medications. He gave Tony a sad smile.
"Do try to get some rest, dear boy. You've had a busy day." And then he too was gone. Tony listened as their car started up and drove away, the hum of the engine fading into the sounds of the afternoon.
"So," She tried, watching as Tony's expression fell flat, "Dr. No or From Russia With Love?"
"Actually, Abs. I'm kind of tired," He said grinning sheepishly before looking down at his feet, "You don't have to stick around –"
"Oh no you don't mister," She said crossing her arms, a scorned pout apparent on her face, "you never pass up James Bond – Never. Especially Sean Connery Bond."
Tony sighed, knowing she was right – he was tired, bone tired, that much was true, but he doubted he'd be able to sleep.
"So do I have to employ my forensic mastery on you or will you just tell me what's bothering you."
"Your forensic mastery, Abs?"
"I have ways of making you talk." Tony didn't doubt that, not one bit. But he didn't see the point in bringing it up – in a week everything would be back to normal.
"I think I screwed up, Abs."
"Oh, Tony!" She pulled him into a tight hug, careful to avoid his left arm. "This is about our silver-haired fox isn't it …" She paused, biting her lip nervously.
"Abby," Tony said slowly and curiously, "What do you know?"
"Well, I wasn't going to say anything, I mean, I know he doesn't like the attention and well, then you got hurt, you always get hurt –" She had begun wringing the blanket folded next to her.
"Spit it out, Abs!"
"Yesterday was Gibbs' birthday!" Tony paled as he realized the reason behind his Boss' behavior.
"Tony, you could've died on Gibbs' birthday!"
Even in death Tony would fear Gibbs' wrath over his poorly timed death. Gibbs had enough negative associations to apply to days of the year; multiple divorces, Kate, the death of his wife and child, the man clearly wasn't in love with the holidays … to associate his birthday with his agent's death – Tony shuddered at the mere thought of the amount of bourbon the man would force himself to consume.
"He's not mad at you, Tony. He's mad at himself."
"Why didn't you say anything?" He briefly wondered how he could work with the man this long and not know when his birthday is.
"Well, he's not exactly the type to want a surprise party, even if I do make him birthday bat cupcakes every year, just in case." she said raising a confident finger; Tony shook his head.
"But, if I had –"
"If you had known you would have what? Not done the mission? Not gotten hurt?" She was right; it wouldn't have changed anything – doesn't mean he wouldn't have appreciated knowing earlier.
Abby picked up a move – Dr. No – and slid it into the DVD player before settling back down onto the couch. She rested her head on his shoulder
"Gibbs just needs to work on his boat and blame himself for a while and then he'll be back to his old sunny self, or rather, his old kind of hazy, cloud that might or might not be a raincloud … self."
Tony couldn't help but chuckle at Abby's slightly ridiculous vision of Gibbs' 'self'.
"Don't worry, Tony. He'll be head slapping you in no time!"
Abby clicked the screen on and started the movie. Tony sighed and allowed himself to relax for the first time since the undercover op. began. He vaguely heard a doorbell and could detect the heavenly scent of the cheese pizza as he finally permitted the pills to do what they had been trying to do for the past hour and a half. He slept.
He woke up to the smell of bacon.
He struggled against the heaviness of his eyelids as he tried to sit up and figure out who had broken into his apartment to by all appearances cook him breakfast. He finally got his eyes open and scrubbed his face, wincing as he dragged his hand clumsily over his various wounds.
He looked over at the display on the DVD player – 08:22. It had still been daylight when he and Abby had started their movie marathon – something he regrettably missed and he would have to make it up to her. The stack of DVDs and the empty pizza box told him that she had stayed despite his lack of consciousness.
As he sat up Gibbs wandered into the room, placing a plate in front of him along with two pills.
"Eat." Was all he offered while Tony sat there, frozen half due to confusion and half due to an innate fear that lived deep, deep down inside of him – one that only answered to Gibbs.
He had honestly been expecting it to be Abby rummaging around his kitchen, not his Boss. He hadn't even heard him come in – perhaps Abby had called or maybe Ducky had insisted he be check on.
"Boss, uh –" He aimlessly poked at the food as he tried to figure out what to say.
"DiNozzo, don't play with your food. Eat." Gibbs was digging into his own plate, acting as though they were at a diner and not at Tony's home. Like an obedient child, Tony took a bite of hash browns, his mouth watering. He hadn't eaten anything but the gelatinous hospital oatmeal in the past 24 hours and he hadn't realized how hungry he was.
The two men sat there for a moment before Tony decided to break the silence.
"So," he attempted in between a delectable piece of bacon, "what brings you to La Casa Del DiNozzo?"
"Siazon 's on the chopping block – the Director expedited his case," he took a sip of coffee, "He's getting life."
Tony nodded; he didn't have much to say concerning the matter and though he expected that kind of answer, he was slightly disappointed.
"Good. I bet Fornell was thrilled."
"He'll get over it." Gibbs had finished his breakfast and was watching Tony's careful movements.
The younger agent still looked as though he had been through a meat grinder. The bruises had turned a vivid purple and the swelling was just beginning to dissipate. The cut on his cheek stood out harshly on his slightly paled skin and in combination with his disheveled hair he looked a little more than roughed up.
To Gibbs' surprise, Tony was still sporting the sling, though it was likely only due to that fact that he had slept in it rather than deciding to take care of himself for once.
"Any new cases?" Tony said, abandoning his meal for the time being.
"Nope." Tony could barely keep himself from asking what he doing here in his apartment eating breakfast with him.
"You sure your ready to come back, DiNozzo?" Tony nodded emphatically; he must've really looked terrible for Gibbs to ask him that – he supposed losing 28% blood volume was nothing to sniff at.
"Boss, I was ready yesterday. It takes more than a little ass kicking to keep a DiNozzo at bay" The look on Gibbs face told him that it was more than just an 'ass kicking', "besides, you know McGee and Ziva are utterly lost without me."
"They've never been more productive, actually." Tony couldn't help but smile.
"And maybe I should have Duck come back to take a look at you, because if you think that was a mild ass kicking than your concussion is worse than we though."
Though Tony's head had yet to cease it's very incessant throbbing and Gibbs could see that his pupils were still pretty sluggish, the effects were beginning to dissipate.
"Gibbs, I'm fine. Maybe I wasn't before but I am now." Tony hoped that admitting that maybe he hadn't been so 'fine' before would get him a break.
"He almost killed you. He would have if we hadn't gotten there in time." Gibbs fixed him with an uncomfortably serious stare.
First Ziva and now Gibbs? Did they think he didn't know how close it had been? He experienced it first hand and he wanted nothing more than to put it behind him.
"Boss, I got it! I know what could have happened, but it didn't. I don't get – "
"You don't get the value of your own damned life, DiNozzo." Tony was momentarily stunned by the older man's outburst.
"You're wreckless, you're a good agent but damnit, and you're going to get yourself killed." Gibbs knew Tony was an expert at distracting the attention from others onto him; almost always in a negative situation.
Gibbs knew what it was like to be a captive. He had been one too many times to count and he knew from experience that mouthing off, as Tony as prone to dong, was a fantastic way to take a few more hits than necessary.
Seven times. That's how many times his captor had hit him. If Ziva was keeping count it had been disturbing and dangerous enough for her to begin doing it in the first place. Seven times was an awful lot – enough to seriously injure a person.
"I was doing my job." Tony returned the steely glare but far less effectively; his bruised face proved to be far less threatening than he could've hoped for.
"You're job is not about taking unnecessary risks. It's not about fulfilling some damned death wish." Gibbs new Tony had done everything right. That he had got the job done and that he had survived, that there was little he could have done to really change what had happened.
He knew Tony had done all he could and he had no real grounds to be upset but Tony had scared him. He had watched the knife come a mere 6 inches from his throat before he fired his weapon. His heart had been thrumming in his ears and for one millisecond he had frozen.
"Well, I screwed up Boss." Tony said with a hint of contempt. He was angry. He was confused – he didn't have a death wish – he was just under the unfortunate impression that his life was slightly more expendable.
"No, you didn't." Had Gibbs not had a rule against it, sorry wouldn't have been far from his lips, "You did good, Tony. Real good."
Tony shook his head, perfectly confused by now.
"Than what the hell is this all about, Boss?"
And then Gibbs seemed to crack.
"I've already buried one child, I don't need to do it again!"
Tony was stunned as he listened to his Boss' painful admission. Abby was right; Gibbs blamed himself and was taking it hard. Tony hadn't realized this had affected the man so severely – perhaps nearly witnessing his murder was enough to unsettle him or maybe it was the fact that had he been one second too late they wouldn't even be having this conversation.
"Boss, I –" he shut his mouth. He had no idea what to say. What was there to say?
Without warning, Gibbs stood and gathered their plates, walking to the kitchen to deposit them in the sink.
"I want you in 0700 Wednesday. Got it, DiNozzo?" Tony blinked as the conversation did a 180.
"Uh – er, yeah, got it, Boss."
Tony watched Gibbs make his way to the door. The other man's eyes were clouded with thought and Tony would've given anything to hear the man's inner dialogue. It had all been so abrupt and confusing – what was the man thinking now.
"Tony," Gibbs stopped with his hand on the handle of the door and Tony waited, "You made me proud. That was good work."
Tony's throat tightened. For the third time that morning he opened and shut his mouth like a gaping fish. He wanted to say something, anything to the other man but nothing came.
As Gibbs began to exit the apartment, Tony's still searching mind found something.
"Er – Boss. Happy Birthday." Gibbs stopped, his expression unreadable.
Tony hoped that the information wasn't something he guarded with his life or had entrusted only to Abby. He chuckled awkwardly.
"If I had known, I would have gotten you something. A card maybe, a hand sander …"
The corners of Gibbs mouth quirked upwards ever so slightly.
"No need, DiNozzo. You already did."
Though Tony was still a bit worse for wear, nothing felt better than when he sat back in his office chair, his feet on his desk and his arm relinquished from the sling.
It had only been two days, but he had already become restless by the end of the first.
He sat at his desk, probing the small white butterfly bandages before deciding to peel them off. They stuck to his skin momentarily but came off with enough persistence. He tossed the slightly bloody items into his trash can and moved the muscles in his face, feeling the tightness of the wound.
"Glad to see your doing better, Tony." Abby's lab assistance walked by, a friendly smile on his face – what was his name, Chip?
"Uh – thanks." He had literally spoken no more than ten words to the man. He watched him make his way to the elevator and spotted a more familiar face step off into the bullpen.
"McGoo!" He exclaimed as Tim entered the office, a stack of papers in his hands.
"Tony," McGee stopped in front of his desk and gave him a once over, "You look slightly less terrible."
"Thanks, Tim. Nothing says we missed you better than an insult." McGee grinned and promptly dropped the stack of papers on the injured man's desk.
"Yeah, we missed you doing your paperwork," McGee was glad to have the senior agent back. Whenever the man was on sick leave the small – very small – part of him that enjoyed being tortured and insulted missed his presence, "Good to have you back, Tony."
Ten minutes behind McGee was Ziva. Tony watched her approach carefully, unsure of what he would be facing in terms of her mood. He was rewarded when she plopped down a rather fragrant brown bag on his desk.
"Lunch." She offered, continuing to stand there as she smoothed her hair.
"You look well." He nodded. She looked over to her left at McGee and made her way around the desk to face him where there was nothing between them. She slowly opened her mouth as if deciding whether this was the time or place for what she was about to say.
"I just wanted to … apologize for what I said the other night." She looked down for a moment before continuing.
"And to say – "
Tony was tempted to let her finish but he decided to give her a break.
"Anytime, Sweet Cheeks." She smiled and rolled her eyes, dropping down to ear level. He felt the heat of her breath and his hair stood on end.
He grinned and waggled his eyebrows, the movement only slightly painful.
"You know, I was just kidding about the divorce."
Ziva gave him a light headslap and Tony grinned.
It was good to be back.
So, I am back. This story was actually half complete on my hard drive and I spotted it on the plane ride down to Haiti and thought why not. I hope you all enjoyed it, it is the longest thing I've written as a one-shot – 27 pages!
As for my trip to Haiti, it was intense to be sure but there is a lot for good being done down there and the external support is tremendous. I worked in the villages outside of Port-au-Prince as at the time it was too dangerous for the team to be in the capital. Please keep Haiti in your prayers, they still need a tremendous amount of help and it will take a few exhausting years to get them back on track – but we can do it.
Thank you lovely readers for your support and reviews, you are all so wonderful – the NCIS fandom is a special thing!
Piti, piti, wazo fe nich li.