Disclaimer – I don't own NCIS and this isn't May 2005 even though this story is set right after SWAK
AN – AZ Girl wanted to see more of Gibbs looking after Tony post plague and so this is what I came up with.
Shrugging into his jacket Gibbs took a last look around. His kitchen gleaned and the warm woods of the living room shone, as every dust bunny in the vicinity had been forcibly evicted. The covers on the couch were freshly washed, the curtains newly laundered, even the door to the basement was, for once, firmly closed, to keep any stray sawdust at bay. Even though he had already swept up whatever he could find and covered the boat with a tarpaulin.
Better safe than sorry.
It wasn't like he was going to be working on the boat for a while.
The biggest change in the lounge room was the jet black monster lurking in the corner. The damn thing was made of the softest leather and finest craftsmanship. It could assume more positions than the Kama Sutra, or so the young salesman had told Gibbs, right before blanching at the icy glare he had received in return. It was definitely a high end modal, the best that money could buy and the former Marine had signed the four figure check without blinking an eye.
Didn't mean he had to like what it represented.
As Gibbs picked up the small holdall already packed and waiting by the door and folded the long wool dark coat over his arm, he couldn't resist having one last look around to make sure he hadn't forgotten anything important. As he did so, his lips pressed together, caught in a sudden unexpected feeling of déjà vu. This wasn't exactly the same as the day he had first brought Kelly home from the Hospital for the first time. But it wasn't so different either.
The drive to Bethesda had become almost second nature over the last couple of weeks. Gibbs knew that they would be back for check ups and DiNozzo's final fitness evaluation. But he couldn't pretend he would miss the twice daily commute. Nor the way that the nursing staff knew him by name, or the how no-one turned a hair when he turned up any hour of the day or night, bearing coffee and a stack of case files. He'd even tried bringing Pizza in one time but that hadn't ended so well.
Today, of all days, Gibbs wasn't surprised to see Brad Pitt waiting for him. He also fully expected to find Ducky, Abby, Kate and McGee all crowded into DiNozzo's room. However, the way the Doctor's face was furrowed in concern quickly made his gut tighten. He hoped to God there hadn't been some kind of set back he didn't think any of them could take much more, especially not Tony who had already travelled a damned hard road to get even this far. But then when had the fates ever gone easy on his senior field Agent?
"What's wrong?" Gibbs cut to the chase.
"There's no deterioration in his condition," Brad was quick to address what he knew would be the former marine's greatest concern. "He slept most of the morning, then Emma helped him sit in the chair for a bit and he even managed to make it to the bathroom and back."
"He eat anything?" Gibbs noticed the telltale omission.
"He's still complaining that everything tastes like cardboard," Brad admitted. "And that the protein shakes don't come in Pina Colada flavour."
Gibbs gave a rueful grin. That sure sounded like DiNozzo. Still, he needed to get to the bottom of whatever was eating Pitt. Since his senior field Agent had been laid up in here, Gibbs had got to know his primary care doctor pretty well. He trusted the younger man with DiNozzo's life. Hell, he was trusting him with his life, as it was on Pitt's recommendation that Tony was being released today. Or so Gibbs had hoped.
"You want to keep him in a few more days?" He bit the bullet.
"No," Brad met his gaze. "He's still as weak as a kitten and he's going to need both the oxygen and antibiotics for another week at least. But so long as he keeps up with his breathing exercises and has someone to make sure he takes some kind of nourishment and doesn't overdo things too there's no medical reason that he shouldn't be discharged."
"There some other kind of reason?" Gibbs raised a brow.
"We both know Tony's been right up against it this last week," Brad looked at Gibbs, his own eyes still hollow from lack of sleep as he had worked to do everything in his power to keep his patient and friend alive. Gibbs knew he didn't look much better having spent pretty much every night since he had closed the Lowell case at his Agent's beside before heading off to put a full day in at the Navy Yard. "If I'm honest, there were times when I didn't think he was going to make it."
"DiNozzo's a fighter." Gibbs acknowledged proudly.
"Can't argue with you there, beating odds of 15% is pretty impressive. Even so, he came about as close to dying as its possible to do and still come back from the brink," Brad pointed out. "That's not an easy thing for anyone to have to deal with."
"Tony's a Federal Agent," Gibbs didn't see a problem. "And before that he was a cop. He's faced death before, comes with the territory."
"He's used to confronting death," Brad agreed. "But generally, there's something he can do about it. He's got his skill, his experience, his teammates, sometimes even just pure dumb luck, to fall back on. This time he couldn't do anything but fight for each breath and wait to see if the scales would tip in his favour."
"You worried he won't be cleared for field duty?" Gibbs wasn't sure where this was heading. "I thought you said the damage to his lungs wasn't going to be a major issue?"
"It's not his lungs, I'm worried about," Brad looked awkward. "The thing is I've seen this kind of behaviour before in people who have received high dependency care or sometimes from the long term sick but I have to admit I didn't expect to see it from Tony. You know him better than I do. How does he usually deal with being hospitalised?"
"Badly," Gibbs snorted. After four years he knew exactly how much DiNozzo hated being cooped up in a Hospital bed. His Agent might complain endlessly about the food, being jabbed with needles, the lack of decent TV channels, the Hospital gowns, pretty much everything really, but Gibbs had caught on pretty quickly that what he really couldn't bear was being so helpless and vulnerable in front of strangers. "I've lost count of the times I've had to threaten to handcuff him to the bed to stop him signing himself out AMA."
Gibbs frowned. Although, now he came to think about it, DiNozzo had been pretty much a modal patient this time around. Much of that could likely be explained away by the fact that for the last week the kid hadn't been able to string together more than a few words without setting off a vicious coughing fit and any kind of exasperation, irritation, alliteration, hell, even making a bad joke, was likely to set off a chain of events which could be nigh on suicidal as the former athlete wheezed and gasped for sufficient breath. And no-one could blame the younger man for sleeping far more than the norm after the mill his body had been through these past seven days. Except, Gibbs outght to have know better than to beleive a quiet DiNozzo was ever a good thing.
He would head slap himself later. Now he had an Agent to worry about.
"You think he's got some kind of PTSD?"
That would make sense. DiNozzo had the darnedest knack for finding trouble and then beating himself up for things that weren't even his fault. As soon as he was strong enough Gibbs had already been planning to have a serious talk with his senior field Agent. Sure, Tony had acted like an ass when he had snatched the envelope from McGee but if there was any blame to be handed out there were a lot of other people in line before DiNozzo, starting with Hannah Lowell and not excluding Gibbs himself. It was his responsibility to ensure that his team followed proceedure.
"Maybe," Brad hedged. "Look, I know Tony likes to put on a good show for his friends but he's usually pretty straight with you, right?"
At first, Brad had to admit he had been frankly sceptical when Gibbs had swept into isolation and simply ordered DiNozzo to live. But in the days and crucially the long nights that followed he had felt privileged to witness the obviously strong bond between the two men. Gibbs was the big guns, pulled out to be the voice of dire consequences when Tony was doing too much, like trying to take himself to the bathroom when he could barely stand, or to threaten a kick in the ass when he was doing too little, such as when he was reluctant to complete the full cycle of painful breathing exercises. But Gibbs had also been the only non-medical personnel Tony had permitted to support him through the worst of his coughing jags.
"Yeah, he is." Gibbs nodded.
"Then can you please have a talk with him and see what you think? Lord knows, I've tried but he keeps stonewalling me and when Dr Mallard spoke to him, Tony started coughing so badly that we still didn't get any answers. Abby won't even attempt it because she thinks the idea is 'totally un-Tony', we can't let Kate near him whilst there's still a risk he might catch her cold and this isn't the kind of thing DiNozzo's going to discuss with McGee."
"Still haven't told me what 'this' is." Gibbs pointed out.
Brad sighed softly, before looking up to meet the former marine's gaze. It was obvious to the older man that he was uncomfortable about what he was about to share. It was also equally apparent that he was deadly serious about this.
"I think Tony is afraid to leave the Hospital."