Notes: A little snippet I've had posted over on the NFA for a while. Originally written for the "Color Me_" challenge. Enjoy!
As he rolled over at 0600, Tim felt a wave of nausea hit him like never before. He rolled onto his back, clutching his stomach. He willed himself not to vomit as he forced himself to get out of bed and go take a shower. Once he'd showered and dressed, he was feeling a little better, and decided to take a chance and head into the office. He staggered out the door at 0640, hoping he'd make it there on time.
Tim stepped off the elevator at 0710. Gibbs is going to kill me, he thought as he headed for his desk. He didn't make it all the way there before he was intercepted by his Boss.
"You're late, McGee."
The head slap made him shake, and the nausea came back for a few seconds. Tim shook it off before Gibbs noticed.
"Don't apologize, McGee. Don't be late again."
Tim escaped his Boss' glare and sank into his chair. He sat back as his computer booted up and tried to push the nausea from his body. Then he saw it. He'd never given it a second thought before, but as he tried to get rid of his queasiness, the putrid orange color of the walls became blatantly obvious, and did not seem to be helping. He sat forward in his chair and tried to focus on his computer screen, but his eyes kept diverting to those orange walls. He wondered who in their right mind had chosen that color when the area was painted, but he was sure he wanted to punch that person out right about now. He felt a sharp pang in his stomach, and put his head down on his desk and closed his eyes.
He wasn't sure how long he'd had his head down until Gibbs head slapped him.
"Let's go, McGee! We've got a dead body!"
Tim brought his head up from his desk. Again, the head slap did not help.
"You all right, McGee?" Gibbs asked, hesitating before he walked out ahead of his Junior agent.
"Yeah Boss, just a little tired."
"Well get a move on then," Gibbs said, hiking his bag on his shoulder and boarding the elevator.
Tim grabbed his bag and followed.
Tim tried to focus on the elevator walls on the way down, to forget about the nausea that was coming back with the movement of the elevator. It wasn't helping. The walls in the elevator were painted the same orange color as the squad room. He was thankful when the elevator reached the garage level. The next step was to survive the drive to the crime scene without vomiting in Gibbs' car.
Tim survived the car ride, barely. Gibbs always drove like a maniac. When they got to the crime scene, Gibbs yelled at him to start taking photos. The scene was a gory mess. The body was that of a Lt. Commander. His throat was slashed and he was dumped face down in Rock Creek Park, behind some bushes.
Tim quietly nodded his acknowledgment of the order and stumbled out of the car, bag in hand. He squatted next to his bag rather than bend over, fearing he'd keel over, and he wasn't ready to explain himself to Gibbs. He produced his camera and checked for the SD card, and started to snap pictures of the crime scene.
Under normal circumstances, a dead body would not bother him. However, as he leaned in closer to get a photograph of the neck wound, the blood started to bother him. He felt as if he had tunnel vision at the moment. All he could see was the red staining the grass. The mixture of colors turned the bloodstain a disgusting brown color.
Tim could feel the nausea again as he snapped the picture, only this time it was followed by a sharp abdominal pain. Losing his balance, he fell forward onto his knees, narrowly missing hitting the body he was squatting over. He was hoping no one had noticed, until he felt a presence at his side.
"Are you all right, Probie?"
Tony. It had to be Tony.
"F-fine, Tony. Fine."
"Whatever, McQueasy. Just hurry up with those pictures before Gibbs blows a gasket."
"Right." Tim tried to push himself to his feet, but the pain returned, more intense than the last time. He opted to stay on his knees. "Damn it," he cursed to himself, and pushed himself through the pain to stand up. This time, Gibbs had noticed his struggle, and made his way over.
"What's the matter, McGee?" Gibbs asked, concern in his voice.
"Nothing, I'm fine..." Tim trailed off as the pain took over. Gibbs caught him as he collapsed, easing him to the ground.
"Like hell you're fine," Gibbs muttered. He turned his head toward the rest of his team. "Ziva, call the paramedics!" he shouted. Ziva dropped the evidence bag she was holding and pulled out her cell phone to make the call.
"Jethro!" came Ducky's voice as the ME made his way across the yard. "What on Earth has happened here?" Ducky kneeled before Gibbs could answer.
"It's his stomach, Ducky. He clutched it just before he fell. He wasn't looking good earlier, either."
"Timothy," Ducky said gently, placing his hand on Tim's stomach. "You must tell me where the pain is."
Tim put his hand on his abdomen, just below his breastbone. Recognition washed over Ducky's face.
"I think it's his appendix, Jethro. Has anyone called the paramedics?"
"I have just called them," Ziva announced, joining them. "They are on their way. Is Tim all right?"
"It's too soon to be sure, Ziva," Gibbs said quickly. "Ducky thinks it's his appendix."
"It hurts, Boss..." Tim said, trying to push away the pain.
"I know it does, McGee. Try to relax. Paramedics are on the way."
"I tried to ignore the pain, Boss. Didn't want to disappoint you-" Tim stopped as a shout of pain escaped his lips.
"I'm not upset, Tim," Gibbs said as gently as he could.
The paramedics arrived six minutes after Ziva called them. She took over the crime scene photos as Tim was loaded into the ambulance. Gibbs instructed Tony and Ziva to take the truck back, and followed the ambulance to the hospital.
Tim was admitted soon after the ambulance brought him in. Gibbs was forced to stay in the waiting room while the Doctor examined Tim. He hated hospitals. The walls were always so freakishly white. After about an hour of waiting, a tall, thin man in green scrubs came out into the waiting room.
"Who is waiting for Timothy McGee?"
"That's me," Gibbs said, practically jumping out of his chair. "Jethro Gibbs. Is Tim going to be all right?"
"His appendix nealy ruptured, but we got it in time. If he'd waited any longer, he could have died."
Gibbs nodded his thanks and sat back down. Why hadn't McGee just told him earlier that morning that he wasn't feeling well? Gibbs rested his hands on his knees and cradled his head in his hands. He couldn't believe he hadn't noticed this sooner. Now McGee was in the hospital, and it was his fault. It was going to be a long day.
After he'd been settled in the room, Tim tried to take his focus from his emergency surgery, and the pain, by doing something his Mother used to do when he was little. He tried to focus on the different colors around him. The walls were ridiculously white, and it gave him a headache to look at them. He tried to focus on a painting hanging on the wall opposite his bed – a Van Gogh knockoff, it looked like. There were magnificent brush strokes of blues, yellows and oranges. At the sight of the orange, his mind immediately went to the orange walls at NCIS. Why couldn't he stop thinking about those horrid orange walls?
As the drugs in his IV kicked in, Tim fell into sleep, thinking of the orange brush strokes in the painting.
When he woke up, he was back in his room. Gibbs was sitting by his bed.
"Boss..." he muttered with a dry throat. Gibbs got up and forced him to lay back down. He found the bed controls and moved Tim's bed into a more comfortable sitting position.
"Don't try to move, McGee," Gibbs scolded.
"Thanks for staying," McGee said hoarsly.
"Never leave a man behind, McGee."
Tim lay back and closed his eyes. It didn't last long.
"Don't try to hide something like this from me. You could have died. Do you understand that?"
"Good. The next time you come into work sick, you'd better be prepared to see Ducky before you do anything. No more collapsing on dead bodies."
"Don't worry, I'm not planning on doing that again anytime soon."
Tim pointed to the cup of ice chips on his table. Gibbs handed him the cup and he sucked them down gratefully. His eyes darted to the Van Gogh again, and the orange paint drew him in again. Curious, he turned his head to face Gibbs.
"Do you think we can get Director Vance to sign off on repainting the squad room?"
Gibbs gave Tim a confused look.
"That orange... it's just so, nauseating..."
Gibbs laughed at the odd observation Tim had made about the walls in the squad room. Maybe he could get Vance to do it. After all, it was an ugly color...