Tony thought he was handling himself pretty well during this attack on…he wasn't even sure who they were attacking, just that one second he was involved in a swordfight that would make Errol Flynn proud and the next he was narrowly escaping the point of a bloody cutlass that had suddenly appeared in through the chest of his opponent. After a quick step backward to avoid a spurt of red spittle, he gathered himself enough to feel indignant. "Ziva, what the hell?"

"You looked as if you could use some help," she replied, casually propping her foot on the dying man's back as she yanked her sword back through his writhing body.

"I was doing just fine. You could have stabbed me!"

"If I were going to stab you, you would not see it coming." The man at her feet certainly saw it coming as she gave him a final slash across the throat. "I can finish up here. Get below decks and help transfer the cargo. Captain Blackstache wants the booty aboard the Invader before sundown."

He took a moment to appreciate some unseized booty as she turned and scrambled up a ladder to an upper deck, much to the chagrin of several sailors who immediately surrendered. She seemed miffed by the development and swatted the parrot off one of their shoulders. Tony shrugged and headed below decks, toward the sound of Mr. Gibbs barking orders. "Heave! Are ye expecting the chest to grow legs and walk itself out? Are ye man or mouse, boy?"

McGee struggled around the corner with a large trunk. "Oh, DiNozzo, could you…?"

A shout came from the room he had just exited, "Precept the seventh!"

"But I have my cutlass!" McGee protested.

"That's the ninth," Tony said, pushing past without offering the cabin boy any assistance with his burden. Maybe the more things changed the more they did stay the same. "Pirate rule seven is something about doing your own work."

"Your own damn work, Mr. DiNozzo!" Mr. Gibbs corrected, knocking the wind out of Tony as he shoved a barrel that sloshed with liquid into his stomach. "Now get this rum to the ship and be quick about it!"

He was halfway up the ladder with the heavy cask when the scene started to shimmer. For a few seconds, he could feel a breeze on his bare behind and cold tile beneath his feet. Ziva had a firm grip on his elbow and was saying, You need to get back in bed. Then, he stepped into the sunlight topside and the moment and feeling were gone. He set the barrel down and made sure he was wearing pants before calling out, "Ziva!"

He jumped as her voice came from directly behind him. "What?"

"Did you say something to me just now? Something about going to bed?" She looked at him as if he had sprouted tentacles from his face. "Never mind."

"Mr. Gibbs must have hit you harder this time. Here, take this." He flinched as she reached toward his head, but rather than a slap, he felt a light weight settle on his hair. "It doesn't seem to like me."

His finger received a nip as he reached up to find out what she'd put on his head. "Ow! Is that the parrot you punched?"

"I did not punch it." She reached down and hefted the cask of rum onto her shoulder. "Go and get something else before Mr. Gibbs has to smack you again."

"I don't think he ever has to…" The world shimmered again before he finished the sentence. Ziva was standing behind a curtain, talking to herself – no talking on a cell phone, It shouldn't be much longer before all of the drug is out of his system. He tried to ask, "What drug?"

He was met by a slap to the head from Mr. Gibbs. "No opium in this cargo. Just take another cask of rum and we're done here."

"Yeah. Sure."

"And Mr. DiNozzo?"

His head was a muddle of images, itchiness, and what he suspected might be parrot poop. "What?"

"Nice bird."

As it tried to peck at his eyes, Tony wondered if the thing might at least eat some of his lice. "Bad Polly."

The thing whistled directly into his ear and repeated, "Bad Polly! Bad Polly!" before trying to get at his eyes again. He wasn't sure if this latest shimmer was another time travelling hallucination or the bird getting lucky. He sank to the floor, finding the rocking of the ship more comforting than usual.

Tony opened his eyes slowly, just in case the parrot was still plotting against him. He waved a hand over his head. No bird. In fact, it wasn't even itchy. So far, so good. Even his hammock was oddly comfortable, almost like…he stiffened as he realized he was in a real bed. He was wearing a hospital gown! The room was dimly lit with fluorescent lights! He could smell disinfectant!

He laughed and yelled, just to hear his own voice, "I'm not infested with vermin!"

Another voice replied from nearby, "Thankfully."

He glanced fearfully toward the window, though the lighted nighttime panorama of DC was surprisingly comforting. Ziva, in jeans and a sweater, was in a chair, reading The Right Stuff with her feet propped on the plastic guardrail of his bed. He watched her suspiciously for a moment, but she continued to read. "You don't have a sword do you?"

She didn't even look up from her book. "No, Tony."

"And there's not a parrot sitting on my head trying to drink my sweet eye juices?"


"You didn't even look."

"I doubt a parrot would be in the hospital."

"So…" He looked around the room for confirmation. "I'm in a hospital."


His whoops of joy drew a crowd of nurses in from the hallway. "I'm not a pirate! I'm not a pirate anymore!"

A particularly severe looking woman pressed his shoulder down into his mattress. "Mr. DiNozzo, if you could calm down…"

"Hell no! I've been on a freaking ship for the past few weeks and I'm gonna enjoy being in the right time and place again! Turn on the TV! Bring me a pizza!"

"Sir, we need to…"

"I think he will be fine," Ziva interrupted, motioning the few lingering nurses toward the door as she pulled on her coat. "Have a good night, Tony. I will let everyone know you are back to…well, normal."

"Wait, you're just gonna leave?" He put on his best pleading face. "Didn't you miss me the past month and a half? You're just gonna abandon me after I've been in a coma?"

"What coma? You have been playing pirate for the past three days."

"I've been…conscious?"

"And active. It was only this morning they were able to take off the soft restraints."

"But I was on that ship for weeks!"

"I think maybe you should get some rest. We can talk about this tomorrow."

Tony shook his head. "I…I swear, I was on a pirate ship for, like, over a month. I had swordfights and parasites and drinking binges!"

Ziva shook her head. "Hospital. Three days."

"But…" To his surprise, she leaned down and kissed his cheek. "You smell so much better now."

"Thank you. Sleep well."

Her lack of questions was beginning to disconcert him. "Um, how much did I say while I was…um, out?"

Her grin was scarier than anything pirate-Ziva had done. "Goodnight, Tony."

As she sauntered out of his room, he wondered if waking up in the real world had been the best idea.

The End

Thank you to all for reading.