AN: Here's the last chapter. To Sam, HUGE thanks for the help.
Nat, nebbyjen and ncisfan, you weren't signed in so I couldn't reply to you personally, but thank you for your kind reviews.
Very small mention of events from another of my stories, but you don't have to have read it to understand the reference.
SMALL SECTION RE-WRITTEN. I REALISED AFTER I POSTED THAT THE INJURY I FOISTED ON TONY AT THE LAST MINUTE WOLD HAVE BEEN FAR TOO SERIOUS FOR HIM TO HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO WHAT HE DID, SO PLEASE NOTE THE SMALL CHANGE. IT'S STILL SAPPY!
Although his borrowed helmet insulated him from most of the noise, and although the S76 was one of the quietest and smoothest helicopters around, Tim was aware of the thrum and the strong vibration, and kept the snarky thought to himself that if he ever needed a medevac, he hoped it wasn't a chopper.
The team had given him more information about themselves; Sam said he'd been RAAF, and didn't know the first thing about medicine, but he knew how to hold an IV bag.
"He has his uses," Sonja said. "He can fly into a hose-pipe and out the other end, and he can land on a mushroom without breaking the stalk."
Sam made deprecating noises. "Oh," he said, "I did get stuck in a hose-pipe once." Tim smiled to himself. He'd remember Sonja's colourful description and use it one day; in the mean time, it was a ringing endorsement of the pilot's abilities. The cheerful camaraderie reminded him of his own team, and he squashed down the anxiety.
Sonja went on, "The thing is, ol' Flyboy only has to dish out the odd band-aid… doesn't have to do the medic bit. We, on the other hand, have to double as flyers. Gino's the navigator. I have to operate the Nightsun, and the cameras."
"I didn't know a medical helicopter carried them," Tim said.
"Not the big things like the police crews use, but they're useful. We've got a small FLIR… if someone's injured out in woodland, say, it's sometimes the only way to find them."
Tim nodded, remembering the hunt they'd made for Owen Saxon, the toddler abandoned in the woods a while back, and thought of how that case had almost broken Tony's heart. His stomach lurched. "If Tony and Mrs. Hastings didn't get back as far as the house, we may need it ourselves," he mused.
He was wound up with anxiety for both of them. Much as he and Tony respected each other, (little as they'd ever say so,) he seriously doubted that the SFA knew the first thing about delivering a baby. He was well aware of the guy's ability to blag when the situation called for it, and since yelling for help couldn't have got it there any quicker, he guessed that he'd told Gibbs that stunner to stop him from worrying. To be fair on Tim, he hadn't heard the utter calmness in Tony's voice when he'd said it.
He was also aware of Tony's legendary ability to hide the truth where his own health was concerned, and his equally famed habit of ignoring it. He thought of his own Mom, and her uncanny way of knowing when he or Sarah were simply trying to get a day off school, or when to hug, or even call the doctor. He thought that Tony had gone most of his life without anybody to even notice how he was feeling, and wondered how long it would take before his friend realised that these days there were people who really did care – who he didn't have to pretend to. He realised he'd spaced out for a moment, and Sam was trying to get his attention.
"Hey, Tim… don't worry. Gino's drawn a simply lovely straight line here… reckon we're only about ten minutes out now. Got your Miss Sciuto on the horn, wants a word."
"Tim… I've been trying to reach Mrs. Hastings on her house landline… Gibbs said you might want to talk to Tony to let him know when you were near, or he might need the medics to tell him what to do, because Gibbs said he was delivering a baby, but he already knew the baby's name, so that can't be right, and I rang and rang but there's no answer. But Tony's cell locator says they're there…"
"Why not just ring Tony's cell?"
"The land line's more stable, especially for trying to connect with you in the aircraft. But I'm about to try now, Tim, so I needed to let you know."
"OK, Abs, thanks. Go ahead… I'm listening."
They waited… the ring tone sounded in their head sets; a lonely beacon in the night. They waited, and waited. Abby was just saying, "Shall I stop, Tim?" when there came a crackle, and a woman's voice said, "Hello… er… McGee?"
Two beautiful cornflower blue eyes were regarding him solemnly. He had to take some time to figure that out. Someone was stroking his hair very gently, but it couldn't be the owner of the lovely blue eyes… He worked it out. He seemed to have fallen on his right side, thank heaven for that, and he was lying alongside Polly. Lucy, lying peacefully across her mother's lap, had her head turned towards him. He knew that new-born babies couldn't focus their eyes yet, but at least it looked as if she were watching him. And her eyes truly were the most beautiful shade of blue.
"Hello, Miss Hastings… pleased to meet you," he rasped faintly, immediately paying the price for speaking in stabbing pain.
"Tony?" The hand stroking his hair stilled, and he eased his head round so he cold look up into Polly's face. "How are you?"
He thought about it. "I'll be OK," he said finally, and smiled because he knew he would, and there was no point in talking about just how much he wasn't OK at that moment.
He began to sit up, but she said softly, "No," and put the hand that had been in his hair on his chest. She waited to see if he'd subside, because she didn't know just where his injuries were, and she didn't want to push. In the end, he did, lowering himself back with a sigh. "You don't need to move, everything's fine. We don't need anything. Just rest, Tony. God knows you've earned it."
"She'll be hungry soon…" he said vaguely.
"I've thought of that… but I've no milk yet because she's early… there's some emergency formula in the kitchen –"
"Yes, well," Polly said with some asperity, "We tried to think of everything… like an emergency midwife who was hit by a car while saving me from a bunch of crazy drug-stealing crooks… we had that one covered. If Lucy starts to squawk, I'll get up and fetch it."
"Oh, yes. I'm far better off than you, fact." She looked wonderingly at her brand new daughter, who snuffled contentedly. "Irrelevant anyway, until Lucy tells us it's not."
"Mmm…" Now it was Tony's turn to look at the little miracle. "How long was I out?"
"I saw you were going to pass out – I did manage to slow you down a bit so you didn't hit the floor too hard… but I could only use one arm… You started to come round again as soon as you were lying down and still. Which is why I want you to stay there. Broken arm my ass… broken arm and how many ribs?" The hand that was still holding him down took hold of a fistful of his shirt on the left side, before he could protest, and pulled it out of the waistband of his trousers. She hauled it up, and swore. "Sorry, Lucy… got to watch my language now…" She hid behind levity, but her eyes were shocked and mad.
"What's up? You should have said! There's a wing-mirror shaped dent in you… it's as clear as if I'd drawn it on with a sharpie. And it's black and blue. Tony, you don't move from there until the medics say you can."
"Couldn't tell you, Pol… you'd only have worried. What else?"
The house phone rang, and Polly closed her eyes momentarily in relief. She didn't have to answer. She made a move to get up, hugging Lucy in close, but this time Tony said "No. If it's Mrs. Obama ringing up to chat about lunch on the White House lawn, she'll call back. Where's my cell phone?"
Polly reached up to his jacket, lying on the sofa. "It's here. If it's your friends, they'll call it next?"
"Right. Now, Pol, what else?"
"Swelling, hard to the touch, internal bleeding I'd say… broken end of rib - or ribs - doing something nasty?"
She touched his face gently. "I don't know how you even drove! Damn it all, I don't know how you walked here, I don't know how you fetched the towels, I don't know how you delivered Lucy…" Tears ran down her face. Tony put his hand down very gingerly to touch the area… and grimaced. He reached up to touch her tears, and Lucy snuffled close to his face. His cell rang. Polly snatched it up with a glare. She read the caller ID. "Hello…er… McGee?"
"Oh… er, Mrs. Hastings? Yes, I'm Special Agent Tim McGee. Mrs. Hastings, how are you?"
"I'm doing fine, Special Agent McGee –"
"Tim. I have a team of paramedics with me, we're pretty close now… how advanced is your labour?"
He was getting this all wrong, he knew… he needed to talk to Tony first… anxiety was making him think sideways.
"It's OK, Tim… I'm not in labour any more." Tim's eyebrows went up. "But –" He heard a murmur, and Polly went on, "Tony says shush and I should start at the beginning." The stumbling voice on the other end of the airwaves went quiet as she told the story so far, and as she got to the end of reassuring the riders in the approaching helicopter that she and her baby were fine, Tony attempted to reach for the phone.
"Oh, no you don't, DiNozzo. I'll tell him." Again, up in the air, Tim heard that murmur, but Polly Hastings' voice continued. "Can the EMTs hear me?" Three affirmatives winged their way together. "Right. Tony has a broken arm, which he did confess to, and at least one broken rib and internal bleeding –" There was a murmur of alarm from the medics, and Tim bit his lip. With Tony's history that wasn't good – "Which he didn't mention."
Tim heard his SFA's voice again, and this time the words were clear enough. "I didn't know!" The protest was followed by a yelp of pain, and Polly Hastings' voice came back very sharply.
Down on the ground, she had laid the phone on the sofa by her head, so she could cuddle Lucy with one arm, and hold Tony's hand with the other, as his head twisted in pain. "I can hear the helicopter, Agent McGee… you just need to get down here quickly. Lucy's fine, I'm fine; Tony's getting worse. I need to go."
She didn't bother to switch the phone off, but turned all her attention to her rescuer, by now sorely in need of rescue himself. Her movement was restricted, as Lucy was still attached to the placenta which was wrapped in the towel by her knees, but she turned halfway onto her side, and leaned over to put her hand against the section of ribs that were loose. She didn't want to press on it, for fear of hurting him more, or pushing the broken end further in. As far as she could tell his laboured breathing was because of the pain; she didn't think the lung was compromised. Lord, she hoped not.
"Thanks, Pol…" She saw rather than heard what he said; the clatter of the approaching helicopter had grown deafening, and a bright light swept over them; it seemed only moments later that a young man and two people in green flying suits ran in.
They went to Tony first, and he waved them away irritably. "Look after the girls first…" The EMTs weren't happy, but Tim had warned them, so they did, leaving Tim to drop to his friend's side and splint his ribs with the palms of both hands.
"Knew you'd say that," Tim almost snapped at his friend.
Tony just gave a wry shrug. "Would you have put yourself before that cute little scrap? Course not."
"Yeah… OK. I'll stop snarking, you stop talking."
Tony shook his head. "One thing. Tell me…"
"The whole story. You want to hear how I punched a sweet old lady and stole her car…."
Tony's eyes lit up. "Oh, yeah, McTearaway. The whole story."
Tim smiled. The Probiegut was quiet at last. "Well…"
There was even an argument about the journey back. Local LEOs arrived with a Glenelg MD and a road ambulance; and it was agreed that Polly and her daughter should go to Bethesda in that, with the doctor to look after them. Tony dug his heels in. He didn't think his need for medical help was more urgent than Polly's, and anyway, she'd want to be reunited with her husband.
Everyone seemed to be talking at once, until Polly took over. About to be lifted onto one gurney, she wobbled to her feet, still cuddling Lucy, and marched over to where Tony lay on the one that belonged to the air ambulance. She glared down at him. "Just quit it, DiNozzo! I hate helicopters, you won't get me in one! D'you want to go by road, and bleed all the way to Bethesda? End of debate. Now stop arguing and get gone!"
The green eyes regarded her with astonishment, then he grinned lazily. "OK, sweetheart. Race you there."
She leaned down and kissed his cheek. "Look after yourself, Tony."
He woke up with the usual collection of tubes and wires, and wrinkled his nose in disgust. Ah… ow! Chest drain. Lovely. Well… no nasty piece of plastic shoved down his throat at least. He could smell vanilla and flowers, and said "Ziva", before he opened his eyes. She smiled.
"I will tell the others you are awake," she said.
"They're all here? That's nice."
Ziva looked back with a wicked grin as she reached the door.
"The whole of NCIS is waiting to hear about Sister DiNozzo, the midwife, Tony." He rolled his eyes, but as she left he smiled to himself. It had been worth it. Tim would call him 'nurse', and he'd call him 'McMachoman' back, and it had all been worth it.
The next morning he had a visitor. Well, three. The entire Hastings family were being discharged together. Tony was both glad and sad that he hadn't been there to witness the Lieutenant Commander's reunion with his family. Patch Hastings shook his hand, and couldn't seem to find the words beyond a sincere 'thank you', but that wasn't a problem. Anything more would have been seriously embarrassing.
Polly put her daughter on the undamaged side of Tony's chest, and he cradled her with his good arm, fighting the huge lump in his throat at being able to hold her properly. She blew bubbles, and listened gravely to the nonsense he whispered to her. He studied her tiny face as she lay in the circle of his arm, and the tug at his heart was indescribable. He'd fought for this little girl's life, and he knew he was going to have to put aside very firmly the bond he felt with both her and her mother. He wasn't entitled to either. And then, as they were leaving, Polly floored him.
"I just thought you might like to know… we were going to call her Lucy Estelle… bright star… but we changed our minds. She's Lucy Aiden Antonia. Bright little fire, beyond price. And when she's older, we'll tell her why. Beyond price, Tony… because that's what you are."
When Tim came in to see him later, he could have sworn his friend had been crying.
AN: And there she finished, on another wave of sappiness. Sometimes I just can't help myself. Thank you all for sticking with me. You're real pals.