Title: It is the Small Things in Life that Can Kill You
Disclaimer: The premise, the show and the characters are not mine...Really?
"What is it Doc?" Tony asked as he buttoned up his shirt, awaiting for the forensic pathologist to say it wasn't anything but a rash, a simple allergic reaction to some unknown allergen.
"Not so quick there Anthony, I want to get a biopsy of one of the pustules." Ducky was concerned, his friend had presented with fever the day before and today he had a blistering, itchy, red rash. If he was correct, then Tony was contagious, but he wanted to make sure of his diagnosis first.
" Needle or knife?" he asked with trepidation, he hated both, but needles seemed to win his aversion award.
"Unfortunately Anthony, it will be a needle biopsy." Ducky answered as he prepared to take the small needle and place it into one of the numerous sores on Tony's torso.
Tony stood as if he were about to run, he hated needles since his plague days and today was not a good day to bring back memories of the plague. He felt more like a leper but whatever the problem he wasn't going down that easily back into his morbid plagued memory past.
"I do understand that you have a case of aichmophobia since your hospitalization for the plague Anthony which is quiet understandable give the multiple needle sticks you had to endure. But this is necessary and quiet painless." Ducky continued to conjole his patient, wanting him to understand the importance of a correct diagnosis so he could receive proper treatment.
"Well Doc it isn't going to happen, see I have several phobias and the one that really seems to cause me problems is Friggatriskaidekaphobia." Tony stated as he finished buttoning his shirt.
"Fear of Friday the 13th? Today is Saturday the 13th, so quit stalling and allow me to diagnose you properly." Ducky 's voice took on a more concerned tone.
"Over my dead body Ducky." Tony replied and was about to leave when the voice of his boss spoke from behind him.
"That can be arranged DiNozzo. Do what the doc says or don't report to work until the rash is gone. Your choice." Gibbs stood blocking the door, his facial expression told Tony he was not kidding around.
"Damn!" Tony resigned himself to getting the biopsy but it was not going to be easy, he was petrified of needles now, and chances were that he would totally pass out when he actually saw it, his phobia had reached that level. It was a difficult thing to admit.
Ducky knew what Tony had endured during his ten weeks of hospitalization and had witnessed the actual birth of the phobia. Blood gases, blood draws, multiple IV restarts and even the dreaded central line that got infected. Tony had endured more than most do in a lifetime in just a month and a half.
"Have a seat Tony." Ducky pointed towards the metal table, knowing full well that he would be lying on it soon. McGee had told him how well he held up during Saleem's torture and the injection of truth serum but how he had fought the medic upon delivery to safety , refusing to give any blood to make sure he wasn't poisoned, it took an injection of ativan and two strong Marines to hold him down just to get a vial of blood.
Tony reluctantly removed his shirt again and took a seat, he gave his boss a DiNozzo glare and looked toward the sink, he knew if he saw the needle he would be out cold, history repeating itself, it would not be the first time.
Ducky approached with his instrument but Tony could not resist to see what the man was doing, he was an investigator after all, so as the needle hit raw skin Tony's eyes went down to the area and then eyes rolled and all went dark. Ducky eased his unconscious body down on the table and proceeded.
20 Minutes later
"This happen before?" Gibbs asked suddenly feeling a lot of guilt regarding blood drives.
"Unfortunately our Anthony went through a literal hell during his bout with the plague. He is fortunate to have only come out with just one phobia." Ducky replied as he sealed the container and readied it to be sent to Abby.
Tony looked pale underneath the autopsy lights but it was underneath these lights that Gibbs got a better look at the rash and knew immediately what his senior's diagnosis would be, Chicken Pox.
"Ducky, he has the Chicken Pox. Isn't that a kid's disease?" Gibbs asked as he watched Tony for any sign of waking.
"Unfortunately Jethro, anybody can get Varicella, but it is most definitely worse in adults, and even more so in someone who has experienced the plague." he raised his eyesbrows with concern and started to walk towards the sliding doors. "I do hope you had them as a child Jethro, if not, you have now been exposed."
Gibbs nodded, he was only five but he remembered having the evil rash from hell and he had sevreal scars to prove it. He pulled over a chair and watched Tony's eyes move underneath closed lids, wondering if he was dreaming of beautiful women or having nightmares of things that should never be spoken out loud.
He looked down at Tony's arm and saw the angiocath, Tony was going to the hospital. He then wondered if the doctor had medicated him with something to keep his agent calm for the ride to the Emergency Room because Tony was never this still.
Within minutes Ducky returned with a medics at his side, the question of sedation now confirmed. They were taking him now tp Bethesda Hospital.
"Tony's going to be pissed, Duck." Gibbs spoke it in a low voice so as the medics were unable to hear him.
"It is only out of severe concern for our Anthony's health that I would do as I am doing. Given his history of the plague he is more susceptible to complications, including meningoencephalitis, varicella pneumonia, acute cerebellar ataxia, and a whole list of other infections and complications. I am doing this for Anthony's own good." he reached over and grabbed his coat and hat.
He paused at the autopsy door as the medics wheeled Tony out on the gurney and before Gibbs could say another word he spoke again, "And I am going to do my damnedest to prevent any complications Jethro, I am officially taking an extended leave of absence."
Gibbs mouth was agape, he didn't know what to say and he had never seen Ducky so worried about Tony before, and that is why he did not respond but followed the two out of the door into the ambulance bay.
Two hours later
Tony was in an isolation bed hooked up to several monitors, including a heart ,pulse oximetry and an EEG. Ducky and Dr Pitt were taking no chances with Tony's health. The nurses and medical staff were taking extra precautions due to his medical history and were awaiting for a very angry DiNozzo to awaken, Ducky at his side, ready to explain his motives.
Abby had called and verified the diagnosis, Tony had the Chicken Pox.
It didn't take long for Tony's eyes to open, for him to take in his surroundings and to sit up in the bed. His throat was now sore and he felt as if he had been drugged. He looked around the room and knew that Ducky had done the deed, had drugged him and dragged him into another hospital.
"Not staying Ducky. If Gibbs put you up to this then I am turning in my resignation." he was pushing back the blankets and disconnecting wires.
"I did it Anthony, I brought you here and you will stop removing our hard work." Ducky's voice was firm and had a don't mess with me attitude behind it, he was serious.
The motion stopped and he looked over to his friend with questioning eyes, "What do I have?" his mind suddenly flooding with thoughts of another bout with the plague, he couldn't do that again.
"You have the Chicken Pox, Anthony," Ducky stood and started to gather the wires that had been disconnected and fixing them back where they belonged, "Yes. I said the Chicken Pox my dear lad."
"I have a kid disease?" he asked incredulously.
"It's more than a kid disease, in adults it can cause some serious problems and given your medical history we are edging towards the utmost precaution." Ducky finished attaching the last wire and reclaimed his seat by Tony's bed.
"I have a fever." It was a statement more than a question.
"You do Anthony and you are showing some signs of having focal seizures, a symptom of a neurological complication of Varicella." Ducky was attempting to give Tony the facts without scaring him.
"Seizures?" he asked, his cracking voice betraying him, his fear evident.
"It is a symptom of meningoencephalitis, a complication of Chicken Pox in adults. Unfortunately the symptoms will get worse before they get better, you are in for a difficult seventy-two hours my lad." Ducky was being gentle but honest as he laid his hand on top of Tony's giving it a soft pat.
Tony couldn't tell the older man that he was scared but he was, actually he was terrified. He noted the dimmed lights, the monitors, the ventilator by his bed, he was definitely terrified.
"I will not leave you Anthony." Ducky assured as he reached over and readjusted the blankets around Tony, his patient's shivers evident even in the darkened room.
"Thanks Ducky." his sore throat now taking on a new heightened pain, his eyes feeling dry, his body achy, his neck stiff.
"You are quiet welcome Anthony." he had held back the worst possibility, the chance of Tony developing varicella pneumonia would take it one day at a time, one symptom at a time, that is how he could handle the situation, how they would handle the virus.
Six Hours Later
Tony had experienced his third seizure and his fever was elevating to the point of requiring a cooling blanket. Tony's body shivered underneath the sheet as the sweat dripped down his reddened face. The rash had reached a crescendo of pustules, he had over 200 red, itchy blistering pustules over his entire body. Tony was miserable and now when he was awake his speech was so slurred that Ducky could only guess at what his charge was saying.
"Anthony, just calm down, it will be okay, we are going to give you something for the pain." he soothed, as he stroked Tony's forehead with a cooling cloth.
"Can do tis no mor." Tony slurred, unable to open his eyes, unable to move his stiff neck, and too photophobic, light sensitive, to be able to see that Gibbs was now in the room. His delirium causing him to see and hear things that weren't there, his fears were being exhibited for all to hear.
"You will do this DiNozzo." Gibbs voice rang out in the room, he too had now taken up watch in Tony's room, his resolve was also to not leave Tony alone. He too was afraid for his agent.
The other team members had taken up residence in the waiting area, they too were not leaving, especially Abby, worried Abby.
"Daddy, pease don weave." Tony again slurred, writhing in pain, pain that seemed to be unrelieved by any meds given so far.
Ducky automatically reached down to hold onto to Tony's hand, to give it a reassuring squeeze, to let him know that he was there even though Senior had been a no show after multiple calls from Gibbs.
"I'm going to kill that son of a bitch when I see him again." Gibbs swore softly as he took the warm cloth from Tony's head and wet it again with cold, ice water.
Ducky knew to whom Gibbs was regarding his remarks, he knew that the next time Senior came to visit Tony he better be wearing a bullet proof vest and some running shoes.
"Nah nice to cus Dad." glassy eyes now looking up towards Gibbs.
"Sorry son, I will do better." Gibbs replied, not missing a beat, Tony had always been like the son he had never had, but had always wanted.
"My hea hurs." Tony slurred again, his voice just above a whisper.
"I will get the nurse to give you something for your head Anthony." Ducky assured him as he left the room.
" Grandpa is nicz." Tony slurred again, " I gotta go pee." he suddenly sat up in bed and threw back the sheet."Gotta go."
"You have a catheter Tony, it's fine." Gibbs assured him but Tony was having no part of what he was saying.
"No, got ta pee." he was delirious and unable to comprehend facts, his fever too high.
Just as he thought he would have to physically restrain Tony on the bed a nurse appeared with soft wrist restraints and a lapbelt.
"Tony, my name is Sara Jane. I am your nurse. You aren't thinking well right now so I need to assist you in keeping safe." her hands gently guiding her patient back into the bed as she slid the restraints on his wrists and a lapbelt around his waist.
"You perty." he flirted with the buxom strawberry blonde, his fevered eyes were unfocused.
"You are quite handsome yourself." she smiled down at her patient as she secured the restraints."Now, I am going to give you something in your IV to assist you in resting then I expect you to close your eyes and sleep for me so we can take these things off when you calm down." she gave him a big smile and patted his cheek after she inserted the medication into his IV.
"I don wana seep." his eyes drooped, then closed. His breathing seemed a little fast so the nurse called for respiratory to give him a breathing treatment, more out of precaution than necessity but they were all worried, their patient who had survived the plague needed to be watched closely.
Twelve Hours later
Tony let out a scream that would make even the most veteran medical professional startle. He then went onto a seizure that the staff thought would never end and when it did their patient was left spent, his breathing shallow and rapid. Gibbs and Ducky watched as they laid him on his left side, as they maintained his airway and as they worried over his fever.
Hours were passing like days, slowly. Gibbs rubbed his hand over his stubbled face, he was exhausted already and Ducky seemed to be fairing even less than he, the worry evident on his face as each new symptom developed.
Dr Pitt was also concerned, his makeshift sleep area was just across the hall from Tony's room, he was ready to pounce on any problem if needed. He was currently at Tony's side, wondering if he should take his patient to ICU, whether he should place him on a Ativan drip along with his other intravenous meds, antibiotics, acyclovir and the Keppra for his seizures. He was worried.
"Is he going to be able to come through this Ducky?" Gibbs asked his friend, now wondering if he had the stamina to continue to watch Tony's condition slide.
"He survived the plague, Jethro. My bet is on Anthony." he stated it with faith, his voice filled with a strength he didn't know he still had left.
Gibbs nodded and watched the drama of Tony's condition continue, Dr Pitt was taking him to NICU (Neuro intensive care).
Four Days later
Seventy- two hours had come and gone and Tony was doing no better. His condition was listed as critical and the team still stayed, their clothing rumpled, their deodorant long expired, their stamina gone. Gibbs was now asleep in a lounger, Abby at his side, Ziva and McGee were laying on the long couches, covered with white, lint filled blankets. Ducky though, still sat at Tony's bed, he was a medical doctor so he had privileges and he took advantage of those privileges.
Tony had been taken off the Ativan drip the day before, but he remained unconscious. Dr Pitt stated it was due to the neurological overload on his system, he was in a coma.
Ducky continued to talk to Tony though, telling him tales of his NCIS days and his adventures with Jethro, he hoped that somehow he could reach through the dense fog and figuratively shake the younger man, that he might awaken.
The blisters were starting to fade, the fever was at reasonable number, though still elevated, and the cough that had started after the grand mal seizure was actually sounding much better after several breathing treatments. Tony now sported a feeding tube in his left nostril and a new central line in the right side of his neck. But the good news was that he had not been placed on the ventilator, he was breathing fine, he just needed to wake up.
Ducky pulled off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, he was exhausted but he had made a promise and he was one to keep a promise. He would not leave his charge, he would not leave Tony.
Ducky was shaken suddenly by a low groan, and he quickly placed his glasses back on his face just in time to see Tony open his eyes. The younger man looked around for a few seconds, attempting to acclimate himself to the room, sudden recognition of where he was caused him to slam his eyes back shut.
Tony opened his mouth to talk but the pain of the feeding tube rubbing against the back of his throat along with the combination of the pox was too painful and he just gave up, it would be useless to even try.
He suddenly seemed to realize that Ducky was still at his side, a large grin spread across his face and his hand found Ducky's, he patted it gently, his eyes showing his gratitude that the man had kept his promise of not leaving.
"You are going to be just fine Anthony. Just fine." Ducky smiled, "I'm going to give the good news to the others that you have finally decided to join us and I will allow the nurses to check you out. You gave us quite the scare young man."
Tony was at first reluctant to let go of Ducky's hand but the assurance that he would return gave him the ability to finally ease his grip and allow the nurse and Dr Pitt to examine him.
Ducky walked out of the ICU area with tears streaming down his face, another close call for his friend. How many more could Anthony take? He knew too well that it is the small things in life that can kill you, and for Anthony it almost had.
He wiped his face then gathered himself and headed for the waiting area, he had good news to deliver.