The team was finally able to wrap up the Krivitsky case, it had taken them over a month to finally put it to rest, and they were exhausted. They had spent every week day and every weekend working the case They had actually spent more late nights working than anytime in their history at NCIS, and that included Leroy Jethro Gibbs' time too.
"That is the last paragraph!" Ziva exclaimed as she hit the print button, then turned to retrieve the document from the printer that sat behind her desk.
" Finished mine thirty minutes ago, now all I have to do is finish checking my emails and I will be on my way home." Tim announced, excited to finally get to go home on time.
Tony continued to type away, his skills on the computer so much better, faster, than he had when he first started working for Gibbs. He knew he would be there late again though, he still had to review his colleagues work, submit their collective reports to Gibbs, then wait for Gibbs, then the Director to approve the completed documents. Being the SFA sometimes was a pain in the ass.
Tony looked up from his keyboard to see that his boss was nowhere around though, the man had went out for coffee hours ago. Tony shook his head, Gibbs probably drove home to work on his latest woodwork project and to grab a bite to eat. He silently wished he could do that, sometimes taking a break helped.
His thoughts were interrupted by his teammates who were delivering their finished work to his desk, their backpacks already on their shoulders and their coats on. They were leaving for the day.
"Leaving without me?" he asked, already knowing the answer but feeling rather sad that they would.
" We have finished our reports, we deserve to finally leave at a decent hour." Ziva responded in somewhat of a harsh tone. The past few weeks had taken a toll on her sleep and she just wanted to go home, take a bath and crawl underneath her comforter in her comfortable bed.
"Have a good night guys." He meant it, his voice was sincere, with no hint of sarcasm intertwined into his statement. "Go home and get some rest, you guys deserve it."
Ziva looked at her partner , suddely hit with a wave of guilt. She took a moment to notice his appearance for the first time in weeks, his pale complexion and the dark circles underneath his eyes.
"You need some rest too Tony. You look pale. Are you coming down with something?" she wanted to convey her concern, attempt to erase her harsh tone of moments ago.
" I'm fine Ziva. You guys go, I've got this covered." he gave them a tired smile and started typing again, he needed to be accurate and thorough, he didn't want to do the report again.
Tim looked over at his partner, seeing something familiar but unable to pull it forward in his brain, something about the way Tony looked, his pale skin, his dark eyes, his bright red cheeks, and his quiet manner. Then it occurred to him, this is how Tony looked after he came back from the plague. He hesitated, he felt suddenly as though he needed to talk to Gibbs, he would know what to do, how to handle Tony if he were getting ill.
Tony looked back up and noticed that they were still standing there, staring at him, with looks of concern. He knew he had to get them moving, get them out of there before Gibbs returned and wanted more details in their reports or found another case to work on into the night.
" I could keep you both here until Director Vance reviews your reports, but that could be hours from now. If I were you guys I would scat." he stopped typing and stood up, stretching tired muscles and finding suddenly that he felt a little light headed. He quickly recovered though, his colleagues not any the wiser to his condition and he pointed towards the elevator. "Go!"
"See you in the morning Tony." Tim said it with a little hesitation in his voice, not really wanting to leave until Gibbs arrived, wanting to talk to his boss regarding his concerns. As he walked towards the elevator he knew he would be giving Abby a call.
Ziva seemed more reluctant to leave than Tim, sensing something also unsettling about her partner's appearance and it was really bothering her too, especially Tony's brief bout with dizziness. Might he actually think she didn't catch that moment? Ziva didn't want to leave him alone, not without Gibbs to make sure he actually looked after himself, that he actually got some sleep.
Gibbs had a way of making sure that his second took care of himself, threats worked with Tony. She turned to leave but knew she would be calling Ducky on her way out.
2 Hours later
Tony looked at his watch and noted the time, it was late and he wanted to just go home, go to bed and sleep. It had been a while since he had been able to even have that thought given the nights on stake out and searching leads. Tonight there was at least some hope that he might get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. He may even tell Gibbs for the first time in nine years that he would take a Friday off. He was tired, very tired.
" Vance said that the reports were fine. You can go home DiNozzo." Gibbs voice rang out from the staircase he was descending.
The man actually looked more rested than all of them. How does he do that? Tony thought to himself as he opened the drawer and withdrew his gun and holster.
He let out a breath that he didn't even remember holding, he was going home. He stood a bit slowly, not wanting another dizzy spell to hit and gathered his coat and backpack. " See you Monday boss." he said it casually, hoping not to get an argument.
" Monday, DiNozzo?" Gibbs gave him a look of confusion.
"Taking tomorrow off boss, I need a personal day." he stated as he made his way towards the stairs, not wanting to wait on the elevator, not wanting to hear Gibbs deny his request.
Instead Gibbs nodded in agreement, " See you Monday Tony."
It was not lost on him when Gibbs called him by his name, his regular name, it meant that he understood, he was giving his permission for his second to take a day off.
" Thanks boss." his last words as he entered the stairway, but his decent downwards was met with two concerned individuals, Ducky and Abby.
" Where do you think you are going buddy?" Abby asked, her arms were across her chest, her face serious. Ducky too had a concerned look in his facial expression.
"Home to get some sleep and I am taking off tomorrow so that I can sleep in for the first time in over a month." he answered, but his voice was steady, non-threatening, nor was he upset, but he was tired and didn't want any more delays but if he became defensive then he would be guaranteed a physical exam and probably a call to Gibbs.
" I would like to give you a quick look over Tony, you do look rather run down, I promise it won't take but a few minutes and I will personally drive you home if you would like." the medical examiner gave Tony his hundred watt smile and motioned him to follow him down the stairs.
" Make it quick, I have a date with my bed." He knew if he fought them he would regret it so he followed them, even allowing a now more jovial Abby to hold onto his arm, she was just being a friend.
She started relegating him with stories of Sister Rosetta and her fellow nun friends but most of it was strung together sentences that his brain was attempting to piece together but her words were too fast, too frantic and so he just followed, and accepted that his brain was on shut down mode.
Ducky flipped the light on in the autopsy room, and it suddenly dawned on him why Ziva had called, Tony looked sick, and it was more that his usual run down appearance. " Sit down on the table Anthony, I just want to listen to your lungs and do a brief physical assessment."
Tony let out a big yawn and did what his friend wanted him to do, Abby assisted by taking his coat, his suit jacket and his backpack.
Ducky raised his stethoscope to listen to Tony's scarred lungs, expecting to find something untoward but his lungs were clear, but he did notice that his patient's skin was rather warm to touch so he pulled out the thermometer and started to stick into Tony's ear, the aural theremometer always was a better method for Tony than a regular theremometer.
" I don't have a fever Ducky." He started to pull away but his eyes met Abby's concerned look and he relinquished access to his ear to the doctor.
" How long have you had a fever Anthony?" Ducky asked as he walked over to his desk and pulled out a bottle of acetominophen.
" Fever? I don't have a fever." he felt as though he was telling the truth. He didn't feel good, hadn't in days, but he really didn't think he had a fever.
"101.8 to be exact Anthony." Ducky stated the numbers as he grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and poured out two of the 500 milligram pills from the pill bottle. " Take these, while I gather a few things." he handed Tony the pills and water.
Tony rolled his eyes, he knew that this wasn't a good idea, he was just tired, his body was exhausted, he wanted to go home and sleep. He popped the pills into his mouth and washed them down with half of bottle of the cold liquid. He started to stand to leave when Ducky reappeared with a few blood vials and a syringe to take blood.
" You guys know I have a phobia of needles, so, no thank you, I will take tylenol and rest, I don't think this is necessary." he pointed to the sharp object and started to argue his case, but the swish of the double doors and the voice behind him made him retake his seat.
" It is if you want to keep working for me." Gibbs announced as he rounded the table.
" Really boss. I'm fine, nothing that a good night's rest and a day off won't cure." he continued to argue as he was guided to a lying position and his arm prepped to take the needed blood.
" Not working DiNozzo, do what Duck says or you will be going to Bethesda." Gibbs tone was that of a father who cared about his child, with a little boss on the side.
Abby took Tony's opposite hand and held it tight, she would be running the blood, she hated to see her friend sick.
The sting of the needle almost made him react but he just closed his eyes and attempted not to faint, DiNozzo men don't faint he thought to himself.
"All done Anthony. Abby if you would take these and run them, I need a CBC with differential, a BMP and a liver profile, also let's do a blood culture and if Tony would so kindly get us a urine specimen I want a urinalysis and culture." Ducky handed the labeled blood vials to Abby.
" Tony, I need urine, get to it." she ordered, then gave her friend a hug, then disappeared out of the autopsy room.
" Guess I need to go to the head to get your specimen, wouldn't want a catheter added to my list of fun things to do with Ducky." He sat up, the lightheadedness returned and he almost took a header off the side of the table. Gibbs and Ducky grabbing a shoulder.
" How long?" Ducky asked, knowing that Tony would understand the question.
" Started today, after we got back from Virginia." he mumbled, hoping the spell of dizziness would pass, he kept his eyes were closed tightly.
"And when were you going to tell us DiNozzo?" Gibbs asked, concerned about his second in command.
"Wasn't. Didn't think much of it, thought I was just tired." He opened his eyes back up, the room had stopped spinning."Finally, the room is still now. See, I'm just tired." he then attempted to get up again, he wanted to go home, right after he gave the urine speicmen to Ducky.
"Whoa, where do you think you're going?" Gibbs asked as he held on to Tony's arm, he was worried about the man whose skin color was a shade lighter than the dead man in the vault.
Tony looked over to his boss, "To take a leak. I'll be fine. Promise." He held up the specimen cup and wiggled it, wanting Gibbs to allow him his privacy.
"I would feel better if someone went with you, for precaution sake." he wanted to make sure his charge was not going to fall and give himself another concussion, one in a year was more than enough.
"I'll go with him." Another voice announced from behind them, Tim had entered through the back door.
"Is this a party?" Tony rolled his eyes, and stood. "Okay, McPotty come with me. By the way, I thought you left hours ago."
"Couldn't sleep. Guess I was a little worried about my partner." he gave Tony a smile which was almost the man's undoing.
Tony felt overwhelmed by his friends concern, so he patted Tim on the back and allowed him to assist him to the small bathroom, leaving the door open enough that if he needed help then Tim would be able to enter.
It didn't take long for Abby to run the needed tests and she was glad it didn't. Tony's white count was really elevated and his electrolytes were all out of wack, "Tony, you are so lucky my equipment loves you." she printed the results and called Ducky.
" Dr Mallard." the examiner answered his phone right away.
"Ducky I have Tony's results, I sent you a copy but I did want to let you know that I ran the CBC twice and came up with the same results, 18.7. That's really high."
"Indeed, I am afraid our Anthony might be getting septic. I am going to send him to Bethesda, you might want to come down, this won't be easy." he hung up the phone and walked over to his patient, who had returned from the bathroom, specimen in hand. The urine in the cup had a rust color to it, a sure sign of dehydration. He knew he had to get Tony medical assistance soon, if he was correct, Tony would really be sick in the next few hours.
Tony was always able to read people, even better than Kate had, and he immediately knew that the news that Ducky was about to give him wasn't going to be the best news he could have received in a while.
"What, I have the Chicken Pox?" he asked, his clown mask in place, he did not want to show the others that he was scared.
"I wish it were that simple, I do believe you are getting septic, I can't be for sure until I get some more blood work and some cultures done. Regardless, I need to send you to Bethesda for intravenous antibiotics and antivirals." Ducky watched as Tony's face grew even paler than earlier noted.
" Sepsis?" Is that fatal too?' he asked, not wanting anymore bad news in his life, the plague had been enough suffering for a lifetime.
" Anthony, unfortunately if sepsis is left untreated,it can be fatal. It would be in your best interest to get you to the hospital and start you on some high powered antibiotics." Ducky walked back over to the phone, took the copy of lab tests and started calling Dr Walden, the doctor who had taken care of him when he had his concussion just weeks before, actually the head injury was months before but Tony had just returned to acting like himself just weeks before the case they had just finished.
" I'll get my car." Gibbs looked at Tony and gave him a nod, he wanted to convey that he would be there for his second. Tony gave him a small grin as he watched his boss exit the room. He really couldn't argue with Gibbs, it would be like hittng one's head against a wall, useless.
Tim now sit across the room in silence, again, afraid that he might lose his friend to some unknown fatal disease.
Abby entered with her coat on, ready to take her best friend to the hospital, they all were ready, it was then that Ziva entered, taking in the sullen looks of her friends.
"Tony, are you okay?" she asked as she neared his side, she was worried.
" Sepsis." was all he could utter, the word seemed to burn his tongue.
Ziva looked at the others and knew that whatever was going on was serious. She gave her partner a smile. "We, will go through this together. Yes?"
Tony stood with their assistance and nodded, "I hate being sick."
It had not taken them very long to get Tony in a bed and settled, he was exhausted. The fever had returned with a vengeance and his blood pressure was having a difficult time staying within a normal range, instead it kept dropping and fluids had to be pushed in fast. Tony was fighting for his life.
It took several hours to stabilize him and to get his fever and blood pressure to acceptable levels, but all the medical staff knew it would be a battle for the man who had won a fight just years ago with the deadliest of diseases, the plague. They would have to watch his lungs, and hope that he didn't develop Pneumonia.
Ziva quietly set at his side, the others had left to get some coffee, they all were exhausted from dealing with fevered nightmares and hallucinations. Tony's fever was still elevated and he was drenched in sweat for the umpteenth time that day. Unfortunately everytime Tony broke his fever, he would sweat only for the shivers to send it soaring upwards again.
"Thirsty." his voice croaked, his eyes looked glazed over, a side effect of the fever and exhaustion.
Ziva immediately stood and poured a cup of cool water, placed a straw inside and spoke in a low voice, not wanting to upset his already aching head as she held hte cup up to his mouth, "Here you go Tony. Go slowly."
He drank the liquid a little too fast though, almost choking as it made its way down his sore throat. He quickly became too exhausted to drink anymore and his head collapsed back down to the bed, "Thank you." he whispered, his sore, dry throat was too irritated to speak too much.
Ziva sat the cup back on the table, she was worried, her partner was never one to ask for help, it was a sure sign that Tony was very sick. "How's the ache in your head?" she asked, knowing that he had to have a spinal tap in the Emergency Room and that his head had hurt ever since.
" It quit being a jackhammer a while ago, now it's just a steady rhythmic beat, like the music in Abby's lab." he gave her a small smile, not opening his eyes, the light hurt too much.
" That bad, well, I will get the nurse to give you something else for pain if it's time, I'm sure it is." she reached over to hit the call light but Tony caught her hand.
"I like being awake, let's wait a little bit." He gave her hand a small pat and attempted to sit up some but his head hurt too much for that movement so he turned over in the bed to face her.
"You had us worried." her voice was still low, as she brushed sweat drenched hair away from his face.
" Ahh, I knew you cared." he gave her a small Tony grin, and again he attempted to open his eyes but the light was too darn bright and his pupils burned at the effort.
" Just lie still Tony, rest." Ziva wanted her partner to sleep, and she attempted to comfort him as she rubbbed his forehead with her free hand, Tony was still holding on to her other hand, giving it a slight squeeze. She was concerned about her partner, her best friend, she had never seen him so vulnerable.
Ziva could tell by the creases in Tony's forehead and the way he guarded his head that he was hurting, his heartrate on the monitor was still too high, a combination of the fever and pain. The doctor wanted to move him to ICU earlier that night but had changed his mind when Tony fought it, it would be better that he be amongst those who he deemed his family.
Her thoughts were interrupted by Gibbs entering the room, "How's he doing?" he was holding two cups of coffee, one for him, one for Ziva, the rest of the team followed behind him.
" Doing better boss." Tony's lopsided grin made Gibbs smile.
"I'll be the judge of that. How's your head?" he asked as he handed off the cup of coffee to Ziva and took his seat at the head of Tony's Bed, " Has the nurse given him his pain medication yet?"
"He wanted to hold off, stay awake a little bit longer." Ziva answered for Tony, wanting to give him a break from talking, she knew his throat was hurting.
Gibbs nodded but pressed the call button anyways, his second was stubborn at best, he would have to watch him a little bit closer if he was already giving excuses for not wanting to take his medication.
The nurse entered with the medication and went straight to work, asking medical questions and clearing the room long enough to change Tony's gown and his bed, with a free bath thrown in between.
When the group finally reentered the room Tony was sleeping again, but he looked a lot less pale against the sheets. Still his cheeks were a bright red from the fever and a sheen of sweat dotted his brow.
Ziva took her seat beside him, taking his hand into hers, giving it a gentle squeeze, she wanted him to know that she was there, Abby took the other side and leaned over to give him a kiss to his forehead, and somewhere inside his fevered mind he knew and he whispered, "Love you too Abs."
Gibbs and Tim took seats near the window, Ducky had texted Gibbs that he would be there soon, and that Tony's blood and urine cultures were growing both gram negative rods and Staph, Tony had a long road ahead of Ducky didn't text would stun them all when they found out that Tony's situation was more serious than just an infection that could be treated by antibiotics.
It wasn't long before Ducky entered the room, the deep lines on his face and his serious tone as he entered gave away that Tony was going to be going through more than the serious infection.
"Jethro, may I see you outside." Ducky waved Gibbs towards the door, his voice too low for Tony to hear.
Gibbs stood and walked over to his charge's bed and gave Tony's should a firm squeeze, " I'll be back in a few minutees DiNozzo, don't do anything to get a head slap while I'm gone." he spoke it in his Gibbs' tone but Tony was sleeping soundly with the pain medication coursing thorugh his system, he never heard his boss's words.
Ducky stood outside of Tony's room as Gibbs made his way out to hear what he had to say about Tony's condition. "What's wrong now?" he asked, just wanting to be given the newest bad news,
" Jethro, Tony's doctor wants to do a needle biospy. Tony's left kidney on the CT scan we did on admission is atrophied, which be an indication of many things but I can think of one thing in particular that is most likely." Ducky started as he watched Gibbs reaction to the bad news.
"The plague?" Gibbs asked and answered, he had always knew that the plague would come back and bite Tony in the ass, it was inevitable given Tony's propensity for bad luck.
"I do believe so Jethro, and unfortunately we will need to do other biopsies of other major organs to see if the Y Pestis effected them also. This could be the beginning of some very difficult times for our young Anthony." he reached up and removed his glasses and rubbed at his eyes, it had been a long night and morning.
"What the hell? I thought the virus died." Gibbs voice raised, he was pissed.
"It isn't the viurs itself but the effects of the virus on major organs. Y Pestis is made up of of gram negative rods, and they can attack the organs leaving them atrophied, and basically can cause a slow death in the tissue. Hence, Tony is now ill, his kidney has probably been dessimated by the organisms left behind from the plague." Ducky placed his glasses back on his face and gave Gibbs a grave stare, " Let's just hope our dear Anthony's problem is just one bad kideny."
" It could have effected his heart, his lungs? What the hell? Is he going to have to have surgery to remove the kidney?" he shook his head and started to pace, this is definitely not the news he expected to hear, his thoughts racing back to when Tony fought so hard for his life.
" Yes, and the sooner we get the test results the sooner we will know what we'll be facing as far as treatment." Ducky spotted Tony's doctor at the desk and started to leave but wanted to give his friend some glimmer of hope, " We will be there for him Jethro, Tony is a fighter."
Gibbs nodded and turned to reenter the small room, he knew what he had to do for his agent.
Two days later
Tony had just returned from surgery, his abdomen covered with a thick gauze and secured with a white, blood stained abdominal binder, the surgery had taken a toll on the fevered man in the bed.
Gibbs and Abby sat at Tony's side in the small ICU cubicle, the results of biopsies of Tony's heart, liver and other major organs were still pending but all were thinking the same thing, would Tony survive the first round of the Y Pestis attack on his body? Tony's condition was critical at best.
Chapter two on its way in three days. Hope you like ...this will be a part of the Plague series I want to write. Hang in there... I think I am getting motivated to start writing again.