Tony DiNozzo was far more selfless than people realized. Snatching that letter away from McGee and opening it before Gibbs could was a calculated move. Even if the older man had never been sick, there was no way that he could survive an attack. Not that the younger field agent knew that the letter was contaminated. Not even with his stronger-than-your-average-human senses could he tell that there was something dangerous in the letter. He just lived by the creed of 'it's better to ask forgiveness than permission'; Gibbs' rule number eighteen. Since Gibbs didn't believe in apologies, all he thought he'd be punished with was a head slap and a 'don't do it again DiNozzo.' before his boss worked his ass into the ground. Which was likely where people would think he belonged if they knew the truth about what he was.
Instead he wound up contracting one of the few human diseases that could weaken his kind so badly that they would be unable to hunt and thusly easier to kill. It could even make him so weak and starved for so long that his blood content would run low enough that it turned to sludge in his veins. After that happened only a specialized healer could reverse the damage and it wasn't always successful. But he couldn't ask for a special healer or even a pack of blood unless he wanted to out himself as inhuman. He knew Abby would be ecstatic, but it was the rest of the team that he'd have to worry about. It would be just his luck if someone was a descendant of a hunter. That was a profession just as instinctual as his needs were. Maybe it would be Kate. She never liked him all that much. Her being a hunter would explain so much about that.
Still, he knew she wasn't sick, and yet she stayed. It was easy to tell. She wasn't hacking her lungs up like he was, her lips and fingers weren't turning blue. She was doing this for him. How noble. He tried to give her his best shit eating grins whenever he could but he couldn't deny that trying to fend off this sickness was eating at his energy reserves faster than he had thought possible. From what he knew about vampire metabolism, the blood was stored in his stomach which had been modified by the change to produce enzymes to break the blood apart and transfer the proteins that made them to his bone marrow where they would be rebuilt and used. However if he was sick like this then those proteins would be used to build white cells and help fight the germs instead of creating red cells. He still didn't know what happened to food and water with his stomach's function changed, but at the moment he was too thankful that he had fed right before coming into work that morning.
He had just come to terms with the fact that his odds were slim when Gibbs came storming in like some kind of wrathful angel, all business. He had always looked up to the man, with bursts of lust mixed in at random intervals. Usually when he was almost dead, or hadn't gotten any recently. Or when he was starving, he'd keep flashing over to thoughts of having the man pinned against a wall wanting to be bitten and ravish him afterward just as much as Tony wanted to do the biting and be ravished. Alas he was certain that was just a fantasy, even if the headslap that he got from Gibbs was gentler this time, more of a caress than anything else. Being ordered not to die was the thing that sealed his fate for him. If it was an order from Gibbs, then he'd do everything in his power to comply.
His focus kept cutting in and out, but he was anchored to reality more firmly when he felt Gibbs press something into his hand. His fingers closed around it, trapping his boss' warm hand in his icy grip as well, letting the warmth of that calloused flesh soothe him as he half listened to what Gibbs was saying about women and someone named Spankie. He parroted the name weakly, hazel orbs seeking out, then locking onto the bright blue ones. They stood like that for what must have been an eternity before Gibbs pulled away with a frown on his face, eyebrows knit together and just the slightest hesitation in his movements. He stood like that for a moment or two more, before turning and walking back to presumably work on the case. Tony swallowed, before closing his eyes and focusing as best he could on his breathing, still clutching the phone that Gibbs had left. He heard Kate come back in so he figured the worst must be over.
He had never been so wrong.
"Gibbs, you can't keep me here forever!" It had been three days since Tony DiNozzo had been released from the hospital and he was half pacing, half stumbling back and forth in front of his boss, before stopping to lean on a chair, nearly gasping for breath. "As much as I appreciate you watching over me like I'm a frail invalid, I'm going stir crazy in this house of yours boss!" It also went without saying that he was starving and hadn't been able to sneak out for a quick bite since the day he had gotten sick. He was dangerously low in his blood supply, but staying moving kept it from coagulating in his veins. He knew that Gibbs would be more than willing to lend him a wrist ('or a neck, or a thigh', his mind supplied unhelpfully) if he asked, that was just the type of guy his boss was, but that would also lead to questions. Questions that Tony did not want to answer.
"I am not letting you out of this house. Especially at this time of night and in your condition! What part of 'recovery' don't you get DiNozzo?" Gibbs was being firm, something that he really should have expected. A thought came into his head, and it was worth a shot.
"Well boss how about this, you give me an hour. Sixty minutes. And if I'm not back here in that time you can have McGeek-squad trace the gps in my phone and give me all the headslaps you can handle." Tony watched him consider it, on the brink of shaking his head, denying the request for a bit of fresh air. But eventually he nodded, face mottled into a scowl.
"One hour." Tony launched himself from where he was leaning and enveloped Gibbs in a tight hug before he could think about it. Practically jumping back and heading for the door as soon as he realized what he was doing.
"Thanks boss! Be back soon!"
"And you better keep that damn phone on DiNozzo!" Gibbs called as he shut the door firmly behind him. He walked a block before having to stop to take a breather. At this rate he was never going to make it to the nearest vampire friendly bar and back in time. There was only one thing left to do, call in a favor. He started walking again, towards where he knew there would be an ATM that he could get some cash out of. Pulling out his phone he called the one guy that he knew would be able to help him.
"You've reached Night Delight, this is the best bartender in the world speaking, what can I do for you?" Tony couldn't help the grin that appeared when he heard that voice. It was just the person he had wanted to talk to.
"Nis? It's Tony, I have one hell of a story to tell you, it's practically medieval. But first I need a favor. My boss is having me on a pretty tight leash through my recovery, hell I wouldn't be surprised if he was following me now, but I need three feeders out to the corner of Ninth and Cypress. Is that at all possible?"
"I hope that leash is literal!" he could feel the leering through the phone and couldn't help joining in the laughter, though his petered off to a wheeze causing Nis to make a worried sound. "I'll be there soon Tony, just hang tight." The phone call clicked off with a blown kiss, and Tony smiled, retreating back to the shadows, to watch for the telltale signs of Gibbs following him. So far there were none, but knowing Gibbs he was willing to sit a block or two back and watch him through a sniper's scope. Well, if he found out, Tony would deal with the fallout like a man.
Minutes ticked by and Tony watched his phone, letting the time pass him by effortlessly. After fifteen minutes, a silver car pulled up to the curb near him, four people piled into the small sedan. The doors opened almost simultaneously, but a blonde head was the first one out, a lime green and pink glow stick necklace around his neck. Of course Nis had come along, the wiry, but still lightly muscular blonde was such a gossip, there was no doubt that he'd show up. Electric blue eyes locked immediately onto Tony's own hazel ones as the vampire practically skipped closer, placing his hands on Tony's knees and leaning close to him.
"You look like death warmed over, baby." he tipped his neck, perching on Tony's lap in offering. "Let's get something warm into your system then you can tell Nissy-boy everything." DiNozzo nodded, pressing his lips to the blonde's neck seeking out the best place to bite, before sinking his fangs deep. Adonis' breath caught in a gasp before relaxing into a soft moan. the blood was hot and sweet on his tongue, like fresh hot chocolate, only far more satisfying. All too soon a hand pressed to his cheek gently moving his head away from the wound. "Not too much now baby, there are three others waiting to help you, I just wanted the edge to be taken off before you got some humans." Nis let Tony close the wound with his tongue, lightly pressing against the small holes.
"Where would I be without you man? I really owe you now." The blonde laughed and hopped off Tony's lap, straightening the thin lime green tank top and skin tight jeans with hot pink paint smears. nobody else took the place on his lap, instead opting to sit next to him and offer their wrist or neck that way. There were two brunettes, one a standoffish male that reminded him too much of a young Gibbs, and a giggling girl who just melted into a puddle of mush when he smiled and winked at her. There was also a pale blonde who gave him a shy smile and kept his head down.
Unlike vampire blood, human blood tasted more like the broth of a rich stew, packed with meat and vegetables. It warmed him to the bones and made him content and ready to stretch out in front of a warm fireplace. "So now what did my big bad fed catch this time hmmm?" Nis asked reaching out and running his fingers through Tony's hair lightly.
"Well I just saved my team from the pneumonic plague. Not a big deal. How much do I owe you for dinner?" he asked, licking his lips like a satisfied cat.
"DiNozzo! I said an hour!" Tony's head snapped up and Nis stepped back, the humans already snuggled up in the back seat of the car, ready to be paid and get boozed up.
"Don't worry about it Tony, you can get the next round." Another wink and Nis disappeared into the car, before driving away.
"Yes you did, and you're early boss."
"I'm not early DiNozzo you're late, who the hell were they?" Gibbs came closer as Tony stood, gesturing with this left hand at the fading lights.
"Who? Them? Oh they're just some friends from way back. I was gonna pay him back for a dinner he bought me a while back, but once he found out that I nearly died, he told me we were square."
"And the red junk on the corner of your mouth?" Tony had the sudden sinking feeling of being in the interrogation room again, only on a much more damning scale. He reached up and felt the offending substance, wiping it away with a fingertip, grinning and brushing it onto his pants.
"Cherry crush lipstick. That hot little brunette was wearing it and insisted she kiss me for my troubles. Nothing to worry about boss." Tony stated with a carefree shrug, getting up from where he was perched and heading back towards the way he had come, past Gibbs.
"DiNozzo!" The voice following him was harsher than normal, perhaps tinged with a bit of worry. He stopped and turned to face the owner, an eyebrow quirking in question.
"I brought the car." He stated gesturing in a way that suggested he was riding back whether he wanted to or not. Damn, he was feeling better from the fresh blood in his system even though it wasn't 100% yet. Still he got into the car without much fuss.
"Thanks for the ride back, sorry for worrying you."
"Never apologize Tony." The vampire couldn't help but chuckle, of course Gibbs would quote rule six. It seemed to be one of his favorites. Still, he couldn't help but notice that there was a softer note to his voice, not the hard edge he was used to.
"I know, it's a sign of weakness." He thought he heard Gibbs make a little hum of affirmation, but he hadn't been paying that much attention. He was too busy realizing how much he liked the sound of his first name on Gibbs' tongue when there wasn't an emergency. He could get used to that. Even if he knew that he'd eventually have to go back to the isolation of his shitty apartment.
He'd be back at work soon enough too, and then Kate, Abby, Ducky, Palmer, and McGee would help at taking the edge off of his loneliness.