As he opened his eyes the first thing he noticed was that he was still in his condo, the smells and the sight of his personal belongings almost made him feel giddy, they had not taken him to a hospital.

As he started to roll over in his comfortable bed he noticed a tug on his arm, then he saw the tubing and the IV bag hanging above on a coat rack. At least they are getting imaginative, he thought to himself as he attempted to sit up, his head was still sore but didn't have that pulsating pain stabbing through it like last night.

Then he noted the empty coffee cups, the filled trash can, the empty leather chair and he knew that Gibbs had been there, he should remember that but the memory was gray, not totally a memory but an image.

He disconnected the IV from the adapter, years of experience at doing this task had taught him to reach up and cut off the fluid first so it wouldn't keep seeping out on his expensive comforter. He then stood, taking a moment to get his balance before proceeding to the bathroom. He still felt like hell but a better version of hell than last night.

Within seconds after Tony had gotten into the bathroom he heard someone call his name and suddenly a face appeared behind him, it was Abby.

"Do you mind, Abs?" he was embarrassed that the goth stood at the door, looking as if she was sizing him up, the Cheshire grin on her face made him blush as he finished his business.

"You would think that I've never seen you naked Tony." she smiled and walked over to the sink where he stood washing his hands.

"Okay, once. Okay, maybe twice." he seemed to be trying to remember just how many times when Abby interrupted his thoughts.

" How are you feeling this morning?" she gave him a crooked smile as she stood there in just a t-shirt and a pair of underwear, she looked sexy cute.

Tony gave her a small grin and looked over at her," Like my head is actually human again. Guess that won't last long though." he glanced back towards the mirror, he couldn't help but to ponder his possible fate once he had the surgery, would he be a raw vegetable or half a man, neither seemed palatable to him. Maybe a gun, a bullet and a lonely motel room would actually be more preferable. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, it was going to a long day.

"You need to get ready Tony, Gibbs went home to change his clothes, Ducky and Agent Andrews are in the kitchen having a up of coffee, well actually, Agent Andrews is drinking coffee, Ducky is sipping on his tea.

" No McGee or Ziva?" He couldn't help but to wonder why Gibbs would choose a stranger over his own team, but he figured it was a act of respect for what he wanted, at least a part of his privacy had been left intact.

" No, they still don't know and they won't until you tell them Tony." she reached around his waist with both arms, which seemed so much thinner than months before, and gave him a strong hug, he returned the gesture, grateful for understanding friends.

Two hours later

All four stood in the hospital waiting area, Abby, Ducky, Agent Andrews and Aunt Cici. Each worried for their friend, Cici's nephew. Tony was getting his first radiation treatment, and they knew he was nervous.

Tony had taken at least an hour to get ready for his first visit, he seemed apprehensive, scared.

"It doesn't hurt does it? Abby asked Ducky already knowing the answer would be no, but she was still nervous for her friend.

"In Anthony's case I would say the answer in a 'yes', he really does hate being in a hospital." the ME gave her a gentle pat on the shoulder and stood, he suddenly felt the need to check up on Anthony and Jethro.

Ducky made his way down the hallway to find the two men, inwardly contemplating what Tony must be going through and so hoping that his friend was being cooperative..

Tony hated needles, he hated hospitals and today he was getting plenty of both and his patience was almost completely gone. If it hadn't been for Gibbs standing guard at the door he would have escaped long ago, right after the ill effects of being poked and gorged with IV dye that felt like the fires of hell as it raced through his veins and the after effects of vomiting and shaking so hard that he thought he might just crack a tooth or worse. He had just wanted it to stop, he felt t hat he was actually ready to accept his fate of death, but he couldn't do that with Gibbs starring down at him with such a compassionate gaze, one that would have even made Charles Manson cringe.

They had done an MRI, then an MRA followed by a CT angiogram. Now they were finally doing his radiation treatment, the marks on his head were done so that they would be easily erased at the end of the treatment. He hated looking at the marks, he hated that the radiation didn't hurt, he hated that he felt like death would be more welcomed than lying on the steel bed with beams of radioactive material being shot into a damned piece of cancerous cells. He was tired, very tired and his battle had just begun. He honestly didn't know if he would be able to get through this fight,

Gibbs watched his charge from across the room. A feeling of helplessness filled his being as he watched Tony start to fight the disease that had been working on destroying his body for months now, a disease that had claimed the life of his agent's mother.

He wondered how Tony would make it through the next few months, that had been what the doctor said, it would take months of repeated treatments to shrink the tumor enough to be able to remove it without causing life altering changes in his health. He would have to watch over Tony, he wanted to watch over Tony. Tony was his first real friend other than Ducky since Shannon's death. He had a job to do, well, it was not really a job but in actuality, it was more like a journey to take with his friend. He would not fail his friend.

"We're done." the radiologist announced as he pushed a button that caused the machine to slide back and away from his patient. Tony appeared to be sleeping but Gibbs would not be fooled, he saw Tony's tear stained face, and his quiet demeanor and that was all that he needed to see to convince him that his second was having a difficult time.

After a few minutes Tony sat up on the table and turned towards the man who had given his treatment, "How many more?"

"This is your first of eight in a series of five, up will need seven more for the first round but it won't take as long since all the preliminary work was done today." He slid the machine back a little bit further and left the room, he wanted to give his patient a few minutes to deal with the news, to deal with his first treatment, the first was always the worst for patients, it was a reality check.

Gibbs stood still for a few minutes at the door, it took all he had to not go over to Tony and give him a hug, but he knew down deep inside that's not what his friend needed right now, it would be saved for later. Actually, right now, what Tony needed the most was to be alone with his decision, his decision to fight the cancerous tumor in his head, it had to be difficult for a man who seemed to have been beaten down a lot as of late. Tony had experienced a lot of difficult moments in the past few months.

Tony sat on the table a little bit longer, he would need to make a decision regarding treatments and what he wanted to do with the tumor that had grown substantially from his first visit according to his oncologist. Sometimes he wished that he could just board a boat and sail off towards no where in particular, he just wanted to be free of decisions, life and death moments, just be able to leave the world behind for a while.

Tony stood and grabbed his clothes, he had to get dressed, he had things to get done, one was to see if he could get the doctor to give him an antibiotic for the fever, he seemed to be developing a cough. He had to get to feeling more like himself, be able to work again, it was the only thing that was going to ensure his sanity.

"Ready to go Tony?" Gibbs walked over to assist his friend with his shirt.

"Yeah, ready to go Boss." Gibbs assisted Tony into his jacket and walked him towards the door.

"You okay?" Gibbs asked as he placed a steady hand on Tony's shoulder.

"Honestly?" he asked as continued through the door.

"Well, yeah, that would be nice DiNozzo." he answered, wanting Tony to tell him the truth.

" Scared shitless." He answered, giving Gibbs the opportunity to know that he was having a difficult time without actually saying those words.

" Me too Tony, me too." Gibbs guided Tony down the hallway, it was going to be a difficult year.