Hello all, thanks for the reviews, I'm new to this so I apologise;) Since posting this first story as a one-shot I realised that I had forgot to click complete! Given how many people put it on story update alert I felt compelled to write a little more. So here it is – complete for sure now, but I have had to re-structure the first chapter slightly, adding some (no taking away). So cheers for reading and thanks for the encouragement, I've had fun.
Disclaimer: not mine (except any mistakes) damn shame, maybe Santa will be good to me this year.
Gibbs sat on the step at the back of the ambulance, oxygen mask on, breathing in and out, watching the mask steam up and clear before repeating the process over again. He was still sopping wet, a tin foil blanket caked over his shoulders doing an ineffectual job of keeping in the warmth. Not the medics fault by any stretch. They tried to treat him, but gave up. Quickly. In the end they left Gibbs alone to watch his team work. He saw McGee had the camera and Ziva was interviewing… he didn't know who exactly, could be witnesses who saw his car take that dive into the River, could be anyone. Gibbs was frustrated, he wanted to know what was going on, but lacked the required energy to stand, let alone walk about. So Gibbs contented himself with sitting and glaring at everyone in the near vicinity, giving the look of being in charge if nothing else, he sure as hell wasn't going to be thought of as the victim.
The sound of doors shutting and engine starting brought his attention to the second ambulance as it pulled away, carrying Maddy to Bethesda. No lights, good sign. As it drove off Gibbs was afforded a broader view of the carnage he had caused. A team were working on extracting the car from the water, before it sunk and stayed that way, it was evidence after all. The bodies lying 100 yards back where also evidence. Ducky was back there somewhere with palmer doing his thing, just like McGee, Ziva and Tony were doing theirs. Gibbs skimmed back. Tony was stood watching the extraction team, still and unwavering. He had been behind the ambulance, out of Gibbs' sight.
Wearing a matching tin foil blanket, he stood out amongst the other agents and workers who were, in contrast, not dripping wet. Gibbs expression didn't change, he continued to glare and to breathe in and out making the mask steam with each newly released breath. Then, as he was watching Tony took a dive, silent and quick he hit the floor in a heap. Gibbs didn't think, he jumped up, threw the mask over his head and ran on shaky legs. A paramedic arrived at DiNozzo's side and assessed Tony just as Gibbs was turning him over.
"He's struggling to breathe" the medic pronounced, Gibbs glared a harder angrier glare, this one aimed solely at the idiot stating the obvious. "Is he asthmatic?"
Gibbs was briefly struck dumb that the cause of Tony's collapse wasn't clear, too aware of guilt and other mixed feelings he wanted to push away at the moment. Then he gave himself a mental head slap. "It's not asthma, it's the damn plague."
Gibbs nudged the medic aside, hoisting Tony up from under his arms to a sitting position. He was like a rag doll, limb arms and head flopping around with the movement, legs not moving to assist. Gibbs pulled him in close so he could feel the rise and fall of Tony's chest against his own. "Breath with me, in and out, steady…"
Gibbs knew Tony could and would relate this to a movie if he were in any state to talk, but DiNozzo was still pushing out short ragged breaths that were no doubt filling his lungs with more unwanted fluid. They had been through this before, which is why this time he knew exactly what he needed to do to help. Gibbs muttered the same few words over and over again, encouraging Tony to regulate his breathing. All the time aware of the pain and guilt he felt about the whole sorry mess, Tony should never have had to jump in the damn river.
With his head supported on his shoulder, Gibbs covered Tony's ear with his palm, "McGee! Ziva! Get over here!"
The bellow resonated out and his team came running, Ziva making it to them first. Gibbs, voice still raw from his own fluid filled lung experience, indicated what was needed.
Ziva turned, "McGee! The nebulizer now!"
McGee about faced and ran back towards the car.
"Anything I can do?" She asked crouching down next to them.
Gibbs' held Tony tightly to him, feeling him begin to breathe in and out, not quite in time with his own breathing, but getting there. He shook his head, this would pass eventually.
McGee appeared with the nebulizer, and Ducky.
"My dear boy what have we gotten ourselves into this time?" Ducky grabbed a stethoscope from his bag. "May I?" Ducky asked Gibbs, hands out stretched.
Gibbs was slow to react, mostly due to his sheer exhaustion, but eventually nodded and scooted back so Ducky could work. Tony sat slumped, McGee supporting him from behind and Gibbs still assisting from the front. Gibbs could see he was awake now if not fully alert, worried unfocused eyes looking at everyone around him. Ducky unbuckled Tony's belt and lifted his shirt, placing the cold round metal end of the stethoscope over his chest and then moving round to his back, never saying a word. Gibbs took the nebulizer from McGee, checked it was ready to use and handed it to Tony who took plenty of deep breaths.
"He going to be okay?" McGee asked.
"That depends, Timothy, how long was he underwater?"
Gibbs, being Gibbs, knew Ducky was looking to him, but he really couldn't tell him anything.
"It presented like an asthma attack." The paramedic spoke into the silence.
"Well yes I suppose it would, though he is not asthmatic. Anthony is a rather unique case, thanks to a very serious illness a couple of years ago. Jumping into a river was probably not a wise choice for him." Ducky said, watching Tony very closely for signs of improvement.
"The Plague?" The medic asked surreptitiously.
"Quite." Ducky nodded, clearly surprised at the strangers knowledge, he put the stethoscope away and took hold of the nebulizer.
"These two need to get to hospital." The medic addressed Ducky.
Tony's breathing had returned to almost normal, the nebulizer having helped open his airway. One sharp look at Gibbs from Tony was all that he needed.
"No." Gibbs declared.
"Gibbs you did almost drown." Ziva spoke up, not missing a beat.
"I said no, and the same goes for him." Gibbs stood and reached down, indicating McGee to do the same on the other side. They hauled Tony up between them. "We're riding with you Duck."
Ducky apologised and thanked the paramedic, explaining there was no point in arguing. Gibbs didn't hear the response as he walked away but didn't care either. He ordered Ziva and McGee to get on with processing the scene. Quickly.
DiNozzo's condition had improved on the journey back to the Navy yard, enough so that by the time they pulled into the garage Ducky allowed them both to go shower and change before being checked over in autopsy.
"So Jethro?" Ducky left the sentence hanging.
Gibbs slid off the table, Ducky having declared him fit enough, although the silence that lasted throughout the exam told him that Ducky was not impressed he hadn't gone to Bethesda.
"You got something to say Duck?" Gibbs asked when it was clear he wouldn't be allowed to simply walk out. He had changed into his spare suit, but the only spare footwear he had were his gym pumps, not office attire but they were going to have to do for now.
"No I was more than hoping you did." Ducky responded.
Gibbs glared. "Well I don't"
"Do you have any idea what everyone went through after you took off alone?" Ducky's tone took on a harsher note.
Gibbs felt the heat and didn't want to continue this conversation. "Don't beat around the bush Doctor." He quipped walking away.
"That boy could suffer a serious relapse." Ducky shouted after him as he left autopsy.
"He was doing his job Duck." Gibbs spoke before getting on the elevator.
The doors closed, and Gibbs' stern masked slipped. Tony could have a relapse. And it would be all his fault.