AN: I don't know anything about drugs… I've researched and tried to be accurate.
I still own nothing… I make no money from writing about my favourite show. I do have fun, though.
The two tiny furrows between the Probie's eyebrows suggested that whatever state he was officially in, unconscious, sleeping, drugged sedation, coma – no, he knew it wasn't that – well, whatever, somewhere down under there McGee was still in pain. That bothered Tony. It bothered him because Ducky had told him that the junior agent needed complete rest. And then they'd stuck him in here, with him, where the comings and goings were like Grand Central.
Any other time, Tony would have been grateful for the continual stream of visitors, because they'd be keeping his mind off the one person who wasn't visiting. The person who hadn't told him… who'd told his friend to tell him. She couldn't love him, right. Meaning she could, if she wanted to. He could love her… and she knew it. But she didn't stick around for him to argue. Hell, she didn't stick around until he woke up, let alone to say goodbye.
He resolutely pushed Paula out of his mind; right now he had McGee to think about. He missed the banter… the Probie was beginning to come out of his shell and answer back… had got in a few good put downs of his own lately, but he wasn't going to be fit to return to the battle if he never got the peace and quiet he needed to recover. People crashing in and then lowering their voices to affected whispers didn't count as either peace or quiet. Tony happened to think, after sharing a pretty hairy evening with him two nights ago, that the kid deserved a bit better than that, and he was starting to get irritable. For that matter, he wouldn't have minded a bit of rest himself… He didn't want to upset anybody, honestly, but dumped by Paula or not, he wished everyone would just go away.
Abby had caught the mood, and misunderstood. "Are you in pain, Tony?" she asked, her voice getting higher, and louder with anxiety. Well, yes, he was, but that wasn't the point.
"Sssh… no, it's not that. We have to be quiet for McGee…" and, because his tone was a bit snarky he guessed, Abby misunderstood again.
"Tony! You should be looking after Tim, not wishing he wasn't in here!"
"Fine, I'll shush." She went off in a huff, boots clomping. Tony leaned back, banged his head on his pile of pillows, and sighed.
"You can't do right for doing wrong…" a soft, gravelly voice said from his right.
"I'm sorry, McGee," the SFA said, his voice low from concern and exhaustion. "I'm not trying to get rid of you… I just can't understand why they put you in here in the first place. Ducky said you needed complete rest. If I'm not getting any peace, then sure as hell, you're not. How's your head?" He opened his eyes, and rolled his own fuzzy head on the pillow to look across at McGee. Poor Probie looked like a panda, even if the swelling was going down.
"I'd say it's fine… but it's not… but hey, compared to what it was like last night… I'm not complaining, Tony. How's your shoulder? Fine, I suppose? Hey… stay where you are!"
"It's fine. I made them take all the tubes out this morning; told them I'd take them out myself and go AMA if they didn't. And would you believe it was two nights ago?"
"Oh." Long pause. "I can see a lot better now."
The SFA wobbled across the space between the two beds, blessing Ducky for the sweats he'd brought. Whilst he thought the DiNozzo ass was a pretty fine example of such things, he didn't want to show it to the world out of the back of a hideous hospital man-nightie. "That's good. D'you need a drink? There are some ice cubes here… or shall I just go away and leave you in peace?"
"Ice… would be nice."
Tony proffered one on a spoon, and McGee sighed with pleasure. "Thank you, nurse," he whispered, and Tony chuckled, and fed him another one, before he could remember that he should be offended.
"Hey…" he hissed, "Just who teases who around here?"
"What'll you do? Superglue my backside to the bed?"
"Probie, I am not going anywhere near your backside, let that be perfectly understood."
"Glad to hear it, DiNozzo," a familiar voice rumbled loudly from the doorway, and the pain lines came back to McGee's face. The SFA shot a warning glance at the Boss over his shoulder, and turned back to his 'patient'.
"D'you want me to call a nurse? Up your pain meds?"
"Am I a wimp if I say yes?"
Gibbs watched the interchange with a mixture of amusement and pride. As the nurse came in, he said, much more quietly than before, "Well, McGee, I can see you're in good hands."
"Course he is, Boss. You 'n me, let's talk outside."
"There's a day-room. With a balcony. Fresh air. Give Probie a bit of probiepeace. You've come to tell me they're letting me out of here, haven't you."
Gibbs observed the slight wobble and pulled Tony's good arm over his shoulder. Probiepeace… Clearly Abby had got the wrong end of the stick; he'd suspected as much. He answered obliquely. "They want to keep McGee for twelve hours after his eyesight's returned to normal."
Tony lowered himself carefully into a dayroom chair, and raised his eyebrows at his Boss. "And you want me to stay with him."
Gibbs nodded. "It can't do any harm."
"Yes, it can. I'm such a fine example to follow."
"Yeah, I heard about the tubes."
"I didn't need them, Boss."
Gibbs studied him for a moment. The eyes were hooded, trying not to give anything away, and the way the long, elegant frame was draped casually over the chair that was too small and inadequate to contain it, shouted ease and relaxation. DiNozzo could lie in his teeth without saying a word. And did, every time he was cooped up in a hospital.
"I know. But you need the rest as much as he does. Are you so determined to forget that you had surgery less than forty-eight hours ago? Look…you've already appointed yourself his personal protector… tough it out for another twenty-four hours. If you try to leave, he will too."
Tony sighed. "Like I said, I'm such a fine example to follow."
"Usually," Gibbs said easily. "You wouldn't be teaching him anything about being an agent otherwise. And you wouldn't be on my team." The green eyes flashed, but DiNozzo said nothing. "If you won't do it for yourself, do it for him. Keep the hordes away, let him get the rest he needs."
Tony nodded slowly, reluctant to agree. "He did good, Boss."
"So did you. Tony-" oh-oh, first name – "I know how you hate hospitals…Indulge me… rest a little longer, and you'll both be back on duty sooner. You know I'm right."
"I don't have to like it… yeah, I'll stop with McConked…"
Gibbs grinned shamelessly. "Right." He paused, then said gently, "Cassidy been back?" Tony met his eyes, and simply pulled a wry face in reply. The Boss nodded regretfully and pushed himself to his feet. "I need coffee. I'll bring you back some tea." He went off towards the vending machines, leaving Tony to reflect on being suckered… he hated it when the Boss was right.
He closed his eyes for a moment and took stock. He didn't feel too bad, except that he got tired very quickly, but he'd expect that. He was disposing of painkillers as soon as their backs were turned; he could do without, and he'd rather stay in control of his brain. Yep, Gibbs was right. Rest, if he could only get it, was all he needed, and he was going to hang on to that twenty-four hours that the Boss had mentioned, and torture him with it if it turned out not to be an accurate estimate. This time tomorrow he'd blow this popsicle stand…
"Nice to see you with a smile on your face." Kent Fuller's voice was quiet but amused.
Tony opened his eyes and grinned more broadly. "I was redesigning nurse's uniforms," he began, but Kent cut him off.
"Sure you were… I just met Gibbs, he says you want out. You're more likely to have been planning where to dig the tunnel." He paused and looked at his friend closely. "Things have been happening," he said. "You feel up to hearing about it?"
"I was only resting my eyes," Tony protested. "I'm up to it… but Gibbs'll be back in a minute."
"I know. He'll want to hear it too." Moments later, after Gibbs had passed round the hot drinks, Kent began a detailed account of events.
"I imagine Izzy's told you, she and Inez are staying with Miz Howard across the road – their house is a crime scene, and they're not keen to be there anyway."
Tony nodded. "It's generated plenty of interest from prospective buyers though."
"She's had two definite offers already," Kent agreed. "No understanding people sometimes. Inez will go back to Philadelphia as soon as all the statements and information are assembled, to prepare for going to UCLA. Starling's under arrest; no chance of witness protection for him this time. Gigli and that young hick from Kansas likewise. Nickless is in a coma in Washington Hospital Center, no telling if or when he'll stand trial. The three bodies are in the care of your Doctor Mallard."
"Did you get my Sig back? And McGees?"
"Relax, DiNozzo, they're in my desk," Gibbs said.
"Yesterday morning, my team started to track down the missing stash; even if it had gone in a landfill, we had to know. The contractors told us that isn't what happens; there are regulations, and since it was all building stuff it went to a recycling centre, so that's where we went. Isabella came with us, and we located the remains of her shed. Blossom indicated some contamination, but there was nothing there. We searched through all the reclaimed sand, all the cement, rubble and powder. We had a real fun day… and the point is, we found nothing. Nada…"
"Wonderful," Tony said. "It's still out there. Some other dirtbag's found it."
"I went to see Starling, and persuaded him to tell me all about it." He smiled thinly at how easy it had been. 'Adam Power' took very little leaning on… "Ten kilos, in one kilo packs, strong transparent plastic, airtight seals. Hidden in a pale brown and blue sack of Duffy's brown building sand, at the back of the shed. So… I went back to the contractors… yes, they said, they remembered throwing that into the dumpster. Blossom had a sniff, but there was nothing, so it didn't burst open at that point."
He sighed. "Most likely, the contractors are in the clear… although if any of their workers suddenly start dealing, we'll know different – but off we trudged to the recycling plant. Everyone there; that's four men and two women who do the handling, one woman and one man in the office, and the lady boss of the site – everyone denied any sort of knowledge. It wasn't there, and nobody had seen it, touched it, remembered it. They have regular break-ins from people who want to do a bit of reclaiming on their own accounts, they said, but no-one had any idea if there'd been one lately. All very woolly. Did they have CCTV? Well, yes, but they didn't know what areas… Never mind, I said, give me everything you've got."
"It sounds," Tony said thoughtfully, "as if they've got some sort of a low-level fiddle going on. Stuff disappears, they can explain it by break-ins… but they're probably selling stuff cheap to their mates. Which would mean that they pick through everything that comes in."
Kent nodded. "Blossom sniffed their hands, and their cars, nothing. So whether it was them or someone who –" he did air quotes – "broke in, the stuff left there intact, and so far we've no leads on where it's gone. I've got young Alex looking at the CCTV footage, but you can bet that if there's a fiddle going on they'll have made sure it won't have been filmed."
"This is your jurisdiction now," Gibbs said. "Our involvement's over apart from the trials. But you've got our input if you need it. Would you like Abby Sciuto to take a look at the film?"
Kent grinned. "I'll have it sent over right away," he said with alacrity. His phone buzzed; he looked round guiltily and stepped out onto the balcony to answer it. When he came back in, his face was as thoughtful as Tony's had been earlier, and somewhat grim.
"Well," he said, "That didn't take long."
"It's on the streets already?" Tony asked.
"We have a few very brave young volunteers… ex users, who buy for us to track with. One of them bought some speedballing this morning. The heroin we know the source of, we're reeling them in gradually – but the cocaine… that's our Starling signature stuff."
"What else?" Tony asked, reading the DEA chief's concern.
Kent swore softly. "It's bad enough dealing with the pros… but these bloody amateurs… greedy opportunists… they don't know enough about what they found to realise it was uncut. I'm thinking that probably, cuz it does feel like a crime of opportunity, they wouldn't have heroin available. They seem to have sold it on to someone who didn't bother to check, so until they realise their mistake, people are going to shoot heroin and pure coke – the rush'll be colossal, but short, and then when it goes, they risk respiratory arrest from the opiate. The poison's poisoned, and sooner or later, someone's going to die."
AN: It seemed as if there were some loose ends after Blossom got her revenge, so off we go again.