A/N: This is my entry for Round 4 of NCIS-LFWS Challenge at LiveJournal. I've survived another one!
By Lizabeth S. Tucker
The search of the suspected bomber's house was a slow operation, but Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo didn't want his team to rush it. Their suspect, Devon McKenzie, was known to booby-trap his various hiding places, so the presumption was that he would do the same with his house.
There were five buildings on the large acreage to be searched. Each member of Gibbs' team was leading a mingled group of federal agents through each building, including FBI, ATF, and a local police bomb squad expert. Uncertain regarding the manner of ignition, no one was carrying or using any type of radio or cell phone.
FBI agent Lorraine Brady had been put with Tony's team after she refused to follow the directions of former Mossad officer Ziva David. She wasn't much better with Tony, but at least admitted that the NCIS special agent might be more experienced based on her three years with the Bureau.
ATF agent Ihraim Pierce was discussing possibilities with Sergeant Gary Brumburgh just inside the door leading to the back of the house. Brady, disgusted with the snail's pace of the search, squeezed by the two men, heading up the stairs.
"Lorraine, slow down!" Tony called. He hurried to the staircase just as she came to the second floor landing.
"Stop being a worrywart. There's nothing up here."
"I'm telling you, I'm ordering you to stay exactly where you are until I get there." He slowly and carefully made his way up the stairs, checking for wires or suspicious weak spots. Once he was on the same landing as Lorraine, he grabbed her arm. "You don't do squat without checking it out first, understand?"
She huffed impatiently, but when Tony continued glaring at her, she gave a quick nod. At first, Lorraine was willing to continue the search per Tony's explicit instructions. But as bedroom after bedroom was cleared, she began to speed up.
It wasn't until Lorraine was pulling open the medicine cabinet that Tony knew they were in trouble. A whiff of burnt wires hit his sensitive nose. He slapped the cabinet door shut, barely avoiding smashing the FBI agent's fingers.
"What the hell?"
"You've triggered a bomb. Get out. Take the others with you."
Blinking in shock, she hesitated. "What about you?"
"I can run faster than you." Tony was suddenly overcome with a vision of Kate, but shook it off. He needed all his senses focused on the problem at hand. "Go, Lorraine!"
She nodded, tearing off down the hallway, shouting for the others on the way.
Once he was alone, Tony used his exceptional eyesight in search of the actual bomb. A small spark got his attention from the back of the toilet. A quick curse slipped out. The connection had already been made. There was no time to run out of the house. He had just one chance to live.
Tony uttered a quick prayer before flinging his body toward the large bedroom window. The explosion pushed him through the glass, shattering it into a million pieces. Surrounded by a light brighter than the sun and a noise that seemed to drill deep into his brain, Tony never saw the ground rushing up at him. The impact was a momentary blast of pain, then nothingness.
As Tony floated back to consciousness, he couldn't remember where he was or what had happened. He felt as if he was encased in a cotton cocoon. He tried to listen for tell-tale noises so he could determine where he was and why, but there wasn't anything. Despite his best efforts, his eyes refused to open. He reached up to his face, surprised to find cloth wrapped around his face from his forehead down to over the bridge of nose. He started to pull at it, only to have his hands grabbed by someone he hadn't realized was there.
He fought back, but was soon overwhelmed by the mysterious hands. Terrified by the silence, he began to hyperventilate when his wrists were enclosed in some sort of restraint.
He continued to struggle, taking momentary satisfaction when his desperate kicks connected with what felt like a body. All too soon his ankles were captured and locked into place. All of the air expelled from his lungs in one wild gasp at the flare of pain from his right leg. He knew immediately that it was broken.
He tried to protest, but couldn't tell if anyone could hear him. Leaning against the snug restraints, Tony refused to give in to his captors. With his eyes covered and his hearing on the fritz, he was a severe disadvantage. But Tony DiNozzo had been stubborn his entire life, unwilling to give in or give up no matter how bad the odds.
Tony yanked and twisted his left wrist in a determined effort to get loose. His frantic pulling began to rip up the tender skin, letting lubricating blood ooze out. He jumped when a hand closed over his, the feel of calluses signaling the gender of the individual.
The whisper of breath on his cheek incited more panic in Tony, causing him to resume his struggle to escape. The agony from whatever injuries he suffered from were ignored. Then a sharp smack on the top of his head had Tony collapsing back onto the mattress.
The hand that gripped his shoulder helped to anchor him. He felt the fingers dig lightly into his tense muscles. Then there were hands releasing him from his confinement, further settling his minor claustrophobia.
His shoulder was released, giving Tony a pang of distress before his hand was gently lifted from the bed. A rough finger began to trace out letters, slowly and carefully, in the palm of his hand, explaining what was going on.
"Geez, Tony, that must've been so scary," Abby Sciuto said as she leaned against his hospital bed, doodling on his cast with a black Sharpie.
He was resigned to having bats on once pristine surface covering his leg, just pleased to be able to see them once again. It was blurry, but he now trusted that the doctors hadn't been lying to him. His sight would soon return, just as his hearing had.
"It wasn't a lot of fun."
She looked carefully at him. "What was it like?"
"Like I was encased in a cocoon."
"Oooh, like a butterfly?"
"More like some kind of parasite," Tim McGee teased.
Tony frowned. "I thought only butterflies and moths used cocoons."
"Nope, there are all sorts of insects who make them." He grinned at his partner. "Even fleas!"
"Fleas? It wasn't anything like that!" He would never admit just how terrifying those first few moments of consciousness had been to anyone, especially to his friends. He was just thankful that Gibbs had quickly caught on to the situation, staying with him every step of the way back to normalcy.
"McGee! Why aren't you at your desk working?" Their boss came striding into the hospital room, quickly scanning the lead agent's face for signs of distress. He nodded in satisfaction when he saw none.
"Uh, Abby wanted to visit Tony."
"And I needed a ride, Gibbs. But now that you're here to give me a ride back, Timmy can leave." The warmth of Abby's smile echoed in her voice.
"Nope, you can ride back with McGee. I need those Hopkins' results completed today."
A sharp glare soon had Abby sighing deeply and dramatically, before grabbing McGee's arm and dragging him out of the room. She waved enthusiastically to Tony as they left. "See ya later, Tony!"
"Sure, Abs. Thanks for the balloons." Tony waved at the brightly colored shapes floating in the corner. "She thought it would help sharpen my eyesight," he explained to Gibbs.
"Yeah, I guess. Docs say I should be back to full strength in a month at most."
"Boss? I wanna thank you…"
"No, I've gotta do this. You don't know how frightening it was. I couldn't tell who was the enemy, or even if there was an enemy. If you hadn't have been there, I think I would've gone crazy."
"No, you wouldn't have." Gibbs took the chair vacated by Abby, looking seriously into his agent's worried green eyes. "You were doing what you always do. Survive. You saved those other agents. You saved yourself. You did what you needed to do to live. I told you once before that I was proud of you. That hasn't changed, Tony."
A warm glow swept through the injured agent as he changed the subject, starting a convoluted conversation about movies that involved death-defying escapes from bombs while Gibbs leaned back in the chair and listened.