Tony opened his eyes, when his alarm clock started ringing. He immediately felt something was off as his world was spinning and his vision was blurry. His head was throbbing like someone was making music by hitting his head with rocks. His throat was dry and when he tried to sit up, he realized that his muscles were giving aching and apparently giving his hell. Still he managed to stand up and get out of the bed, he made to the bathroom by holding onto the walls. The first thing he did was throw up the contents of his last night's dinner, he sat on the floor and leaned over the toilet bowl for seemingly eternity until he finally was certain, that he was done with vomiting. He was shaking, when he stood up again and rinsed his mouth thoroughly, then he brushed his teeth to get the taste of vomit out of his mouth, still it was unsuccessful.
He stripped of his clothes and stepped into a shower, though he spent most of the time just standing there and feeling the warm water soak him than washing himself.
He was feeling a little better after the shower, but he was still feeling somewhat uneasy. He went to the kitchen and took out his coffee to make himself a cup, but after smelling it, he decided to have a cup of mint tea instead. While the water was boiling, he went back to the bedroom and got dressed. He picked out his gray suit and light blue shirt with dark blue tie. Then he went back to kitchen poured hot water to his cup, and put teabag into the water. He opened his fridge and took out his leftover pizza, but one look at it and he felt a lump in his throat, so he put the box back in the fridge.
He enjoyed the tea while watching the news from his giant screen, but in the end, he poured more than half of the warm liquid down the sink.
He was surprised, when he managed to get to work without crashing his car or getting pulled over, because he was at times seeing double, most of the time everything was just blurry.
The bullpen was empty, when Tony arrived, but he saw a fresh cup of coffee on Gibbs' desk, so he knew the silver haired agent was in the building, probably with Vance or going on another coffee run. Tony was glad to have arrived, when others weren't around, because that gave him more time to pull himself together and make himself look presentable. He knew that Gibbs would practically murder him, if he wasn't focused and active enough for him. Ziva and McGee would probably tease him endlessly and never let him forget the one day, when he was feeling slightly under the weather and not on top of his game. For that he had to be strong, he couldn't give them the satisfaction.
The elevator stopped and the doors opened, Tony looked up and saw Gibbs coming out with usual stern look on his face and a fresh cup of coffee in his hands. He walked past some half-asleep agents on the floor, past Tony's desk and stopped at his workplace.
"Good morning, boss," Tony greeted, while ignoring the spinning of his head.
"Morning, DiNozzo," Gibbs said and sat down behind his desk. He pushed the cup already on his desk to the trash can and placed fresh one on the corner of his desk. He took his jacket off and turned on his computer. While the computer screen was starting up, he sipped his coffee and looked around the bullpen, his eyes settling on Tony, who was drinking water, while his eyes were on the table in front of him. He thought something was off with his senior agent, but then his computer screen lighted up and his focus was pulled. Tony on the other hand was glad that Gibbs had decided to ignore him this time.
Tony opened his drawer and looked for his painkillers, he took out two pills and drank water to get them down in hopes to ease the throbbing of his pain.
Tony looked up and saw McGee and Ziva getting off the elevator. They were deep in conversation for once Tony wanted to know nothing about.
"Good morning," Ziva and McGee greeted in unison.
"Morning," Tony mumbled in return, Gibbs seemed to be ignoring them.
Both McGee and Ziva took seat behind their desks and observed their surroundings, while their computers were turning on. They took off their jackets, McGee checked his mail, which had been placed on his table at early morning.
"What's wrong with this picture?" Ziva asked as he was looking around.
McGee raised his head and looked around, something was indeed unusual, but he couldn't quite place it.
"We don't have a case," Gibbs snapped.
"No, it's not that," McGee said.
Ziva and McGee turned their eyes towards Tony, who had opened a case file in front of him and was trying to type his report on the case. When he felt his coworkers eyes on him, he lifted his head – big mistake as his head started spinning worse than before.
"What?" he snapped.
"You went out last night and now you're having a hangover," Ziva said knowingly and flashed a smile. She looked over at McGee, who was wearing a mischievous smirk, and she raised her eyebrows.
"I don't drink on school nights," Tony said and fought the nausea that suddenly hit him, successfully.
"That's a lie, Tony," Ziva said victoriously.
McGee smiled the and kept on looking at Tony – it was only the matter of time, before he would confess. He always did, when he was under interrogation, specially if their Mossad officer was leading it.
Gibbs seemed to be in his own world and didn't hear nor see anything, and even if he did, he chose to ignore it and not get involved in the childish acts of his agents.
"I have to go," Tony said quickly, not feeling like they needed any sort of explanation, but also his morning tea wanted to come out. He stood and walked – almost ran – to the restrooms. He managed to close the cabin door behind him before throwing up, again. He felt like he was stuck in burning hell, something out of Dante's nine circles.
After he finished, Tony splashed some cold water in his face and rinsed his mouth, he also drank the water until he had almost gotten rid of the bad taste in his mouth. He looked at his reflection in the mirror and realized how pale he looked. He realized that he looked just as crappy as he felt inside. He splashed some more water on his face to refresh himself further. He closed his eyes, placed his hands on the sink and stood there for a moment, until he was ready to go back
When Tony went back to bullpen, there was a pile of files on his desk with a note letting him know that he had to work through them before others come back. They had a new case, a dead marine in his home, but came out that Tony took his time in the restroom and others didn't want to disrupt him. Tony recognized Ziva's handwriting and slouched down on his chair. He really didn't need Ziva thinking he was satisfying himself in the bathroom, but he was certain that he was going to hear about it, when the others got back.
Since he couldn't do anything else, he figured he might as well try to work, so he opened the first file on his desk and started reading. He had to. He tried to read the words on the paper, but his vision was blurry as well as somewhat doubled. He blinked to clear his vision, but that only got tears in his eyes, but didn't fix his eyes. He cursed himself under his breath. Finally, he realized that if he closed one eye and really focused, the words would make sense and that's what he decided to do.
Sometime Tony managed to fall asleep behind his desk, his legs were up on the desk and the file he had been reading on his lap. He looked peaceful and relaxed for once. Even though the team was still out in the field, Tony was not alone in the bullpen – director Leon Vance had decided to go out for a lunch and on his way, he found Anthony DiNozzo sleeping behind his desk.
In fact Vance had been looking for a reason to send Tony on another assignment, away from the headquarters and MCRS team, but up until the moment, he hadn't found a good reason and Gibbs was very keen on Tony. That's why finding Tony asleep instead of working seemed like a blessing.
"DiNozzo!" Vance shouted.
Tony shook visibly, his legs fell to the ground, the case file along and his eyes flew wide open.
"Yes, boss," Tony said automatically, "Director," he corrected himself, when he saw Vance standing in front of him instead of Gibbs.
"Do you have too little work, so you can sleep instead of working?" Vance asked, he was angry.
Vance's loud voice made Tony's head hurt even worse, he felt like the director was shouting in his ear while banging at his head.
"I'm sorry director, I must have fallen asleep while working. It won't happen again," Tony tried to explain, he only hoped Vance hadn't been planning on punishing him for that mistake.
"No, it won't. Take it as warning, if you can't work through these papers today, don't bother coming back," Vance threatened.
"Yes, sir," Tony replied.
Vance sent Tony a serious look and walked away to have his lunch, hopefully with his lovely wife.
Tony waited until Vance was in the elevator, before he dared to let out a breath. He knew he was screwed, he cursed his immunity system and the blasted cold in his mind. Gibbs, Ziva and McGee were thinking that he had been drinking the night before, and then Vance was threatening to fire him, Tony didn't even want to know what went on in the director's head. If he thought his morning was bad, then it was only getting worse and he couldn't wait for the night to come, so he could go home, back to his comfortable bed with no interruptions.
The elevator announced Gibbs' and Ziva's arrival, Tony saw them from the corner of his eye, when he picked the folder from the floor and tried to find where he stopped reading before. He realized that he hadn't finished even a single case and he doubted Gibbs was too pleased about that.
"How was your reading Tony?" Ziva asked with a smirk. She dropped his bag on the floor and took a seat on her chair, she leaned back and looked at Tony with clever smile.
"Very interesting. How was your dead marine?" Tony asked.
"Dead," Gibbs snapped and ended the conversation. Ziva sat upright on her chair and started working in case Gibbs wanted to rip someone's head off.
"Oh..." was all Tony managed to say. He grabbed the bottle of water from his desk and emptied it.
"This time you're not using your traditional hangover remedy?" Ziva mocked.
"I don't have a hangover," Tony was pissed and turned his attention back to the case in front of him, hoping Ziva would let it go, knowing she'd never do it.
Gibbs' phone rang.
"Ziva, Abby has something," Gibbs said to the Mossad officer. He was already on his way to the elevator, when Ziva finally realized she had to leave.
"Coming," Ziva said and jumped from her desk.
She followed Gibbs to the elevators and took a ride to Abby's floor.
Tony sighed. At least Gibbs had decided to ignore him, which for once was a good thing. He didn't need his boss making fun of him as well, maybe it was one good thing about the day. He then realized, that maybe he should have stayed at home and taken the response while he was well again.
He made a couple of attempts to read, but those ended with blinking his eyes open again. Somehow his eyelids seemed to be extremely heavy that day. Without even noticing his head fell to the desk on the file and his eyes fell close: Tony was asleep. This time it was not as peaceful and relaxing like before, instead it was exhausting and infuriating. He saw Vance kicking him out of NCIS, and his team laughing, except Ducky and Abby, Gibbs giving Vance the nod and promoting McGee to his position. Suddenly images of Jenny and Kate appeared, they looked sympathetic at the corner, but they had a sign over them, saying their deaths were his fault. And then someone slapped him on the back of his head, which made him open his eyes. The headslap was real – Gibbs' hand crashed with his head, making his headache even worse, if it was possible.
"If you wanna sleep, then you should go home," Gibbs said firmly. He didn't sound angry, but he certainly wasn't pleased either.
"I'm sorry boss, it won't happen again, I don't need to go home," Tony said and gave Gibbs a look.
"It won't," Gibbs said and sat down behind his desk.
Ziva and McGee wore faces of amusement.
"Abby wants to see you," Gibbs said to Tony.
"Going," Tony said and stood up. He first thought that he was going to fall, but he held onto his desk and walked to the elevator, his feet somewhat unsteady, but they didn't fail him. He heard Ziva and McGee laughing, until Gibbs snapped, then came silence and Tony was grateful.
Elevator fell like his savior, when it arrived and Tony stepped in to escape his team mates. He pressed Abby's floor and leaned on the back of the elevator, he pressed his forehead against the cool metal and even though it sent cold shivers through his body, it felt soothing. The elevator came to a stop and Tony had to leave the cool sensation behind as he stepped off to Abby's lab, he could hear the music from lab already. Tony took a deep breath and entered the lab, where a cheerful goth greeted him.
"Tony," she said.
"Abs. You wanted to see me?" Tony asked and sat down on a chair behind Abby's back.
"Ziva and Timmy were making jokes about you going out last night and having a hangover. I didn't believe them, but they were convincing and I had to see it for myself," Abby said and turned around. She saw Tony, who looked like he had indeed been out the last night and was suffering from a hangover.
"I'm fine. I wasn't out last night, and I don't have a hangover" he said, but Abby wasn't buying it and Tony was aware of that.
She walked over to him and wrapped her arms around him and gave him one of her famous bone-crushing hugs. She buried her face in his neck and felt that it was warm, hot even. Tony had always been warm, but definitely not that warm. Abby pulled away from the hug with curiosity, then placed her palm against his forehead and confirmed what she already suspected from the moment he walked into her lab.
"Tony, are you sick?" she asked with worry.
"No, I'm fine," he said casually.
"I don't think so. Then again I'm not a doctor, but I know someone who is and we're going to visit him right this instance," Abby said and dragged Tony to the elevator. He kept on protesting and insisting that he was fine, but he was powerless against the forensic specialist.
They entered the elevator, Abby pressed the right floor and Tony leaned heavily against the metal.
"If you're fine, then Ducky will confirm it, if not then you're going home," Abby was firm.
The elevator doors opened and they entered morgue, where their latest victim was open on one of the tables and Jimmy was taking notes beside it.
"I don't need Ducky's confirmation," Tony protested, but Abby ignored it.
"What Ducky confirm?" Ducky interrupted as he was on his way to Abby's lab, but she reached him first.
"Tony is sick," Abby announced.
"I'm not sick. I don't get sick," Tony argued.
"My dear boy, let me be the judge of that. Sit down," Ducky said and pointed to a table, where Tony gladly hopped on then got down on his back. Ducky motioned to Jimmy to get the thermometer along with his medical bag. The autopsy gremlin was there with equipment instantly, but didn't stay to hang around.
Ducky gave Tony a small smile before placing the thermometer in his mouth. Tony tried to protest, but he realized that he didn't have a choice and he figured it would be nice to know if he was really sick. Abby stood beside him and held his hand, while Ducky was standing in front of Tony. Ducky had felt Tony's forehead and he was certain that Tony had a fever, but he was unsure how high – Abby had been right, Tony was indeed sick.
The thermometer beeped – the moment of truth. Ducky took it and shook his head.
"What is it Ducky?" Abby asked with worry.
"Anthony has very high fever. It's up to 103 already," Ducky said seriously.
Tony closed his eyes and breathed heavily, he was so screwed.
"I'll give you some pills to lower you fever and then Abby will drive you home. You will need a lot of fluids preferably water or tea. And you'll have to rest. I'll talk to Gibbs and the director," Ducky said and took the right medicine from his bag.
"I knew Timmy and Ziva were wrong, Tony is not having an hangover," Abby said with great disappointment towards two people she liked.
"I can't go home, I have work to do. Vance promised to fire me if I don't finish my cases today," Tony said and sat up on the table.
"I'll talk to him, because under no circumstance are you supposed to be working today. I'll make sure he understands that and then I'll go have a talk with the team for not sending you down here or home sooner," Ducky assured Tony and handed him glass of water with pills for his fever.
Tony took the pills and drank the water.
"My keys and stuff are upstairs, I need to get them," Tony said.
"I'll come with you," Ducky said. Then he turned to Jimmy. "Finish the autopsy and sew the poor fellow up. I'll be back in a moment. Oh, and get the samples to Abby's lab," he instructed.
"Of course, doctor," Jimmy said and got back to work, while Ducky left with Tony and Abby.
Abby, Tony and Ducky went to the elevator and took a ride to Tony's floor. Abby let Tony lean against her, while both Ducky and Abby had serious faces and Tony had a feeling they'd have some words to say to Gibbs and possibly Vance. When the elevator came to a stop and they got out, they noticed that Vance was also there, having a conversation with Gibbs, from their faces, one could assume it was rather serious.
"I thought we had an understanding DiNozzo, no more slacking," Vance said, when he saw Tony coming. He abandoned his conversation with Gibbs and walked over to Tony.
"Yes, we had," Tony said neutrally. He went to his desk and started putting his things back in his bag, then grabbed his coat.
"Tony?" Gibbs asked. He too had looked up and looked curiously at his senior field agent.
"I had a little chat with DiNozzo before and I believe we came to an understanding. If Tony decided it was better to sleep at work, then he's an agent NCIS doesn't need. I believe he's made a choice," Vance said seriously, even though a slight grin could be seen on his face.
"I guess even Tony can't work with a hangover," McGee smirked.
"Director and Timothy, I think you might reconsider your thoughts and think carefully before you say anything else," Ducky said and caught everybody's attention. The smirk fell from McGee's face and Vance was rather curious to hear the explanations Ducky was about to made.
"Anthony probably has the flue, so he is going home on my orders. Also he won't be in for like a week and if you still want to fire him, director, then you might wanna start looking for another job as well, because having a flue is not a reason enough to fire someone. Anthony's temperature was over 103 and I'd say it's still rising, so I'm surprised that he came to work and tried to do some work," Ducky said. His voice was louder than usually and it was filled with anger.
He then turned to Gibbs. "Jethro, you're a trained agent, you should have seen it and sent him to me first thing in the morning. As for Ziva and Timothy, joking about Tony was the worst thing you could do, I hope you're ashamed of yourselves," he added and crossed his hands on his chest.
During Ducky's speech, Tony and Abby had left as planned, Tony didn't want to hear what others had to say, he just hoped he'd still have the job once he got better. Plus, he really wanted to lie down and get away from NCIS for the day.
"I'm sorry Ducky, he didn't say anything and we didn't know. You expect Tony to be out drinking and not at home sick," Ziva explained after a short pause.
"Don't apologize to me, you have done absolutely nothing to me. Abigail is driving Tony home as we speak, I also expect all of you to leave him alone until he gets back, you've done enough already. No-one is expected to be working with 103 fever and the punishment for doing that under no circumstance should be mockery and threats of being fired. Take a moment and think about it, so the next time you'd act a little nicer. I believe Jethro and Timothy remember well the last time Anthony was sick and how he almost died, I don't remember you making fun of him then. Now take that minute, think about your actions and then get back to work," Ducky finished and left the bullpen – he'd had enough.
Ducky didn't give anyone chance to give him a reply, but he doubted anyone had anything wise to say anyway. He had a feeling they'd feel somewhat embarrassed about their actions. Ducky smiled to himself as he waited for the elevator. Yes, he worked with special agents, who have been shot at and bombed, but they forgot sometimes that they were also humans and occasionally they get sick, and viruses should be taken seriously. He just hoped that Tony could get well soon and then he'd be back to solve the crimes, until then the team had to survive without him.
Ducky stepped into the elevator with a smile on his face. He got a glimpse of the faces in the bullpen, they were serious and regretful enough for his liking, so he was pleased with his work and could go back to the morgue with content.