McGee sighed and looked in the mirror, combing his hair and straightening his black tie. He attempted a smile, but it was impossible, so he gave up. He went to the car and sat in the seat, his hands on the steering wheel. He took a few minutes to steel himself, and then pulled out of his drive.

He reached the familiar building and got out. He walked in slowly, taking his time.

"Tim McGee?" one of the workers asked. Tim nodded. "He's in 208. Go ahead and have some time with him."

McGee thanked her and walked quietly to 208.

Tony was lying still, his face gray. McGee looked at his cold body and felt a swell of emotion overtake him. He sat in a plastic chair and folded his hands in front of him and hung his head.

"Tim. You look like you're dressed for a funeral."

McGee looked up, and his face cracked with a grin, the first real smile he'd managed in weeks. "Tony! They told me you probably wouldn't wake up for a few hours, but I wanted to see you."

Tony smiled, a little weakly. "Well, it's good to see you. Is it cold in here to you? I always did hate hospitals."

McGee laughed. Just like his senior partner to start complaining right off the bat. "How're you feeling?"

"Honestly? I just want to get out of here, but-" He looked down at his chest. "-I still have some healing to do."

"Yeah, you cut it pretty close on this one, DiNozzo."

Tony shrugged. "What can I say? I'm like a cat; I have nine lives. What is with the outfit, though? Seriously!"

Tim looked down at his suit. "What? A guy can't dress up once in a while?"

"And wear a black tie? No. It makes you look like you're in mourning."

McGee shook his head. "And to think I missed hearing your voice," he muttered.

Tony raised an eyebrow. "Did you? Wow, Tim, I'm flattered."

McGee rolled his eyes. "Even a bullet to the chest couldn't dampen that ego of yours."

The door of the hospital room opened, and Gibbs came into the room. He saw Tony and smiled. "Good to see you awake again, DiNozzo." He nodded at Tim. "McGee."

Tony smiled. "What, no flowers?"

Abby pushed into the room. "I have flowers!" she cried. She rushed to put them by his bed and then gave Tony a hug.

Tony grunted in pain and Abby pulled back, horrified. "Oh! Oh! I'm so sorry! I didn't mean-"

Tony held up a hand and laughed tightly. "Naw. It's okay, don't worry about it."

Gibbs sat beside McGee as Abby pulled his chair up to her bedside and chattered happily about God-knows-what. Tony smiled and nodded politely, casting a desperate look at Gibbs, who just smirked and shrugged.

Finally, Abby ran out of things to say and left, and Tony closed his eyes with a sigh.

"You look pretty tired. I'm gonna go," Gibbs said, standing.

"Be back tomorrow, or I'll die of boredom," Tony said. "And bring me a burger or something. Hospital food sucks."

Gibbs smiled. "I'll see what I can do."

McGee stood, too. "I'd better get going, too," he said. "I'll come again soon, though."

Tony nodded. "See ya, Tim."

The two filed out, and Tony was alone again. He closed his eyes. There was a small tap on the door and he opened them again.

Ziva entered the room and sat in the chair by his bed. "Hey," she said.


"You look like hell."

"Thanks. Good to see you, too," Tony said. He looked over at Ziva and was surprised to see she had tears in her eyes. "Hey, hey. What's up?" he asked.

She sniffled and rubbed furiously at her eyes. "Nothing! I am absolutely fine," she insisted.


"You almost died, Tony."

"Yeah, almost. But I didn't. It's okay."

"No, it isn't okay. What if next time, they aren't after your father, they're after you? What if next time, we can't find you in time? What if-"

"What if the sky falls?" Tony interrupted. "If you always think up possible terrible things that could maybe happen at some point in time, you'll forget to appreciate the good things that do happen. Ziva, I'm alive. You're alive. Embrace life!"

Ziva nodded. "I guess you're right."

"Of course I'm right." He winced. "I'm also in pain." And hit the button that would pump pain meds into his blood. He sighed a little in relief and his eyes slipped shut as the drugs went through him.

When Ziva was sure he was out, she kissed him gently on the cheek and laid her head on his shoulder. She thought about what he'd said, and though she would never admit it, he was right. He was alive, She was alive. It was time to embrace it.



Ziva awoke and snapped her head up. Tony was looking at her with a bemused expression.

"I think you fell asleep, there Probie."

Ziva's face burned and she stood up quickly. "I have to go. I'll come by again sometime," she said quickly.

Tony laughed. "Okay. Make sure you get a good night's sleep before you come, though."

Ziva shook her head as she walked out of the door. Maybe she'd embrace it sometime. But now was obviously not the right time.