Chapter Sixteen: Forget Your Troubles, Come On, Get Happy

Gibbs was sitting on a hospital bed getting stitched up.

The bullet had only grazed him on his left side, a few inches down from his ribs. After twelve neat little stitches, Dr. Martinez put a sterile square of gauze over the wound, securing it in place with medical tape.

"You're all set, Agent Gibbs." The doctor told him, "You're lucky, this could have been a lot worse."

Gibbs knew it was true, he was lucky, McGee too. Tony was the one who had taken the brunt of this whole situation along with Ziva.

Gibbs got off the gurney and pulled on his shirt. He winces slightly as the movement pulled on his side.

On the way back to ICU-07, he met McGee coming towards him.

"Boss, Tony's waking up."

Gibbs rushed into the room with McGee right behind him. Dr. Martinez had gotten there first and was standing at the head of Tony's bed; he was shining a penlight in Tony's eyes.

"Agent DiNozzo, if you can hear me, squeeze my hand." Tony must have complied because Dr. Martinez looked relieved.

"Good, now, can you open your eyes for me?" Gibbs walked closer. Tony was obviously struggling hard to obey the request.

Gibbs noticed that the room had been cleaned of the mess when he was getting stitched up. Now, the floor was clear of all blood. The dead woman was gone, and the suspect had been taken into custody.

Finally, after a little bit more coercing, Tony eyes fluttered open.

"Agent DiNozzo, you're on a…" The doctor was cut off when Tony grunted around the ventilator tube.

"He wants you to call him Tony." Gibbs said for his mute agent. Tony nodded.

"All right, Tony, you have a tube down your throat that's helping you breathe. The reason you can't move your arms is because we don't want you to pull it out again so you are in soft restraints." Tony just rolled his eyes.

Tony shifted his gaze over to Gibbs; he could see the pain in those eyes and knew what Tony wanted to ask but couldn't.

"Can you take the tube out, now?" Gibbs asked.

"No, I'm sorry Tony, but your lungs need to rest and the only way to let them is to let the machine do the work. What I need you to do is try to relax and breathe with the machine, do not try to fight it."

Tony closed his eyes and concentrated, soon his breathing matched the ventilator perfectly.

"That's it, just keep it up and you'll be breathing on your own in no time." Tony nodded again.

When he noticed Ziva he turned his head slightly and smiled around the tube in his mouth. Ziva smiled back but it didn't reach her eyes. She still felt so guilty over everything that had happened.

Dr. Martinez checked everything one more time before turning to Gibbs.

"Can I speak to you outside?" Gibbs nodded and followed the doctor out of the room.

McGee came out with them and informed the two men that he was going to go to the cafeteria to try and find some coffee.

Once he was gone the doctor began, "Agent Gibbs, as you know Tony has many injuries. He's awake, and that's a good thing, but his blood pressure is still low and his heart beat is sluggish. I didn't want to say this in front of him but he's solely relying on the ventilator to breathe right now. He's on the road to recovery, but I have to warn you, he's still not completely out of the woods. Not by a long shot."

"Doctor, Tony survived the Pneumonic Plague with a fifteen percent chance of recovery. If anyone can survive what Tony has gone through it would be him. I don't doubt for a second that he has a long road ahead of him and he's probably going to have to deal with a lot of pain, but we're his team and we will be there for him every step of the way. I know Tony will be all right, and we have you to thank for that."

"I don't know about that," Dr. Martinez said, "But I trust you, I believe Tony will be just fine. He's lucky to have such a good family."

With that Dr. Martinez's pager went off. "I have another patient to attend to, but if you need anything, just call." Gibbs nodded and went back into Tony and Ziva's room.

ONE WEEK LATER

"DiNozzo, you've been off the ventilator for three days. You almost died. You cannot go home yet." Gibbs informed his stir crazy, yet still healing, agent.

"I feel fine." Tony said dejectedly.

"You're not fine, DiNozzo, not yet. Give your body time to heal."

"Then why does Ziva get to be discharged?" Tony whined.

"She let her body heal without rushing it." Gibbs stated, matter-of-factly.

Gibbs left the room, leaving behind a sulking senior field agent. Tony had been trying to talk them into discharging him for two and a half days now. On the second day, Tony had signed himself out AMA while Gibbs was getting coffee, or what they tried to pass for coffee, and Dr. Martinez was busy with a coding patient. He didn't make it that far, though; Gibbs found him passed out in the elevator in a puddle of blood after ripping his stitches. That little stunt had given him three more days in a hospital bed, on top of the remaining week he had to stay.

Gibbs walked to the counter to stand next to Ziva who was filling out the necessary paperwork to be discharged. When she was done she turned to Gibbs.

"I am going back to Mossad." She informed Gibbs. "I already made the necessary arrangements; my flight to Tel Aviv leaves in five hours."

Gibbs didn't know what to say so he just stayed quiet, letting her talk.

"It is obvious my father does not want me here. I have put you all, especially Tony, in danger. I've talked to Director Vance and he has agreed to send me back. Please tell Tony I am sorry, for everything."

"This is a mistake, Ziva, he needs you here. We all do." Gibbs said.

"No, things will be better if I am not here. I am sorry, Gibbs."

And with that, she was gone.

THE END

This is actually not a cliffhanger; this is just how I think she would have gone back if things had worked out this way instead of how they worked out in the show.

Thank you all so much for your patients and kind words. I would have never gotten through this story if it hadn't been for all of you.

Please review and let me know what you thought!

Disclaimer: I have not, in any way, profited from the story and all creative rights to the characters belong to their original creator.