NCIS Missing Scene for the episode Twilight after the car explodes and Tony comes crawling up the hill barely holding onto consciousness.

A Matter of Life Or Death

"Hey . . . Boss . . . 'member this morning when I said I never felt better?" ~ pause ~ "I lied." Then he collapsed completely - landing right on top of the police tape that barricaded the area. His collapse was the result of several contributing factors: The shock and pain from being thrown roughly against the hillside as the rigged vehicle exploded behind him - the seemingly endless climb up a steep hill that seemed like Mt Everest to him - and the lack of sufficient oxygen due to lungs that hadn't even begun to heal from their near fatal battle against the Pneumonic Plague.

Within seconds Gibbs, Ducky and the rest of the team had shaken off their own shock at seeing Tony come crawling up onto the top of the roadside, having survived a blast that would probably have killed a normal man. Kate was always the first to point out even to Tony himself, that he was not a normal man. But all joking aside, she would have been the first to admit when it came right down to it, that she didn't want anyone else watching her six, other than Gibbs of course.

Ducky was yelling to Palmer to bring him his Medical Bag which wasn't your typical every day First Aid kit, it was more like a First Aid Kit on steroids. It contained items that most kits didn't have such as IV kit with Saline Solution, Morphine, a heart defibrillator, a full scale Suture kit and more.

Gibbs reached Tony's side before anyone else, Tim and Kate were in awe of how fast the older man moved to get there, while they were still just pulling themselves up from the ground. Gibbs could see that Tony's eyes were still open, though glassy in appearance. He was conscious which was the good news. The bad news was that he could still have internal injuries if the car exploded while he was still in close enough proximity to the powerful blast.

"Tony, I'm saving up a major head slap for you for later - for lying to me about something as critical as your health! Now lay still, I am just going to roll you over onto your back so Ducky can check you for injuries - and so help me God DiNozzo, if you even start to argue with me, I promise you - I will push you right back down that hill!" he threatened.

Gibbs' normally foul mood, tended to become even more harsh when one of his team was in jeopardy. He did show some occasional moments of tenderness - although those moments usually only occurred when he knew that no witnesses were in earshot of the injured party.

Tony had no intention of arguing with his boss and mentor, he just didn't have the energy, his lungs on fire from the exertion of trying to out run a bomb. He really was the fastest runner out of the team, or at least he used to be he thought. But he had forgotten, he had earned that title before the plague had wreaked havoc on his lungs, scarring him for life. Would he ever regain his former status as the fastest runner on Gibb's team? Right now, he wasn't sure, it seemed like he would never feel 100% again, but he always tried to remain hopeful.

By the time Gibbs, with the help of Ducky, had Tony carefully repositioned on his back, he started to unzip his Senior Agent's black NCIS jacket and remove the man's latex gloves that were now ripped and filthy, very similar to the state Gibbs' own gloves were in from the way he himself had been thrown to the ground from the impact of the explosion. He had been shocked by how strong the shock waves from the blast had been – extending all the way up to the top of the road.

He could only imagine the impact it had on Tony, who must have only been a matter of feet from the car when it exploded.

Ducky was kneeling down directly across from Jethro, with Tim, Kate and Palmer all lingering close behind, staring down at their fallen Senior teammate, lines of worry evident on all of their faces.

Kate couldn't wait any longer, "How is he Duck? Is he going to be okay?" then before waiting for the ME to answer, she shocked everyone when she turned and started yelling at her ailing partner, just as she had when he was laying in a Hospital bed having just been told he tested positive for Y-Pestis. It was her own fear that caused her outburst, fear that had all but taken over her normally calm brain, "DiNozzo, why do you always have to play hero?! Huh?! Why do you insist on constantly - " her words were immediately ceased by Gibb's own loud voice "KATE!" His single word silenced her instantly.

Tony was finally starting to gain more control over his breathing, having closed his eyes to calm the headache that was building, he felt the elastic of an oxygen mask being placed over his mouth and nose. His eyes flashed back open as he tried to push it away telling Ducky that he was already feeling much better, while at the same time attempting to pull himself up to a seated position. But, after seeing the evil glare of warning coming from his boss's face, he immediately decided to reject that idea.

Dr. Mallard was listening to Tony's heart and lungs using his stethoscope, then asking the downed agent a series of questions pertaining to his levels of pain. He palpitated his abdomen looking for any spots where the stomach was too hard - a sure sign of bleeding from within. He was trying to determine how severely the young man had been injured by the explosion itself, perhaps hit by shrapnel or injured more from the actual impact of being traumatically thrown against the side of the hill as he started his running ascent. Also asking him the typical head injury questions such as the current date and year, his name and other questions of that same nature.

Tony rolled his eyes as he answered, now feeling embarrassed over all of the unwanted attention that was being forced upon him. After all, he had an image to protect as the fearless Senior Field Agent, the last thing he needed was to look weak in front his peers, especially his Probie! But he hadn't taken the time to notice that not one of his peers were looking down at him with any kind of pity or disappointment, only worry and fear that their friend, part of their family, was hurting. Just how bad? That was all that was running through their minds, that and nothing else.

Ducky never wasted a second as he continued his thorough inspection, flashing his penlight into Tony's eyes then peaking, poking and prodding his chest, stomach, back and ribcage after having quickly unbuttoned the man's expensive black shirt with Gibb's assistance. None of them missed the obvious signs of moderate bruising already making their presence known on his torso - mainly from hitting the hillside with such brutal force.

Ducky finally broke the awkward silence that had come over all of them since the mask was placed over their most talkative Agent's mouth, "Well Anthony my dear boy, I'm not entirely convinced that a visit to the Emergency room is out of the question. Though I do not detect any immediate signs of internal injuries, a CT scan just to be safe may be a good idea."

Pulling the mask completely off his head upon hearing Ducky's last suggestion, Tony responded quickly, "Aww come on Ducky, I told you I'm f-" he attempted to argue while again trying to lift himself up from his horizontal position on the ground. But once again to his dismay, two sets of hands restrained his movements.

It was Gibbs who spoke, cutting his Agent off mid-sentence, "So help me God Tony, if you say your FINE one more time, I swear that if Ducky isn't sure you have a serious head injury now, the head slap I will give you will remove all doubt! Now, shut up and let Ducky finish checking you over - ya got that?!."

"Shutting up boss." came Tony's slightly mumbled reply as he laid back down.

Ducky jumped in, knowing that Gibbs' rather loud form of discipline could either calm the injured man down, or raise his blood pressure even further. "Now Anthony I don't believe I said you were by means well. But if you are that dead set against another trip to Bethesda, then I will have to insist that you come see me periodically so I can monitor your vital signs and blood pressure over the next several hours since I am still concerned about the amount of bruising forming on your torso. That can still suggest internal injuries are a possibility. They don't always show up right away." he continued, "One can have a small bleed that can go undetected for hours or even days after an accident - or in your case, an ex-plo-sion."

Ducky looked up and caught the way his friend Jethro was staring at Tony's battered chest and ribs with eyes that were filled obvious worry. "Well, I suppose I can just as easily monitor you back at my Autopsy lab. But the moment we detect any signs of bleeding, you will be dragged to the hospital even if I have to drug you to get you there, understood?!" the ME warned.

Although Tony was actually feeling worse with every passing moment, now that the initial shock of the whole event was wearing off, but he would never let any of them know that.

"Great, okay Ducky fine, whatever you say. Now could someone help me up, we've got a crime scene to process." he was unable to stop his body as it started to betray his feigned wellness - causing him to pitch sideways as dizziness and pain suddenly washed over him. It was the strong and shockingly fast hands of his boss that had kept him from hitting the ground for the third time that day.

"Whoa there DiNozzo, just what the hell do you think you are doing?! Did I give you permission to get up?" Gibbs warned him. Gibbs did allow Tony to at least remain in a seated position on the ground, but prevented him from rising up any further by keeping a firm grip on both of his Agent's shoulders, steadying him until he regained his equilibrium. If anyone knew how it felt to be blown up, it was Leroy Jethro Gibbs!

"Uuhh riiighht, got-cha boss." he replied in a sluggish tone - grateful to find that his dizziness seemed to be fading - comforted by and grateful for, the strong arms that held him from falling all the way back down.

"Alright the rest of you, McGee, Palmer, Kate – Tony's right about one thing, we do have a crime scene still in need of processing!" Gibbs shouted, causing Tony to flinch as the loud booming voice right next to his ear only exacerbated his already painful concussion. Gibbs, feeling the jerking of Tony's shoulders, realized he was pretty much shouting in his Agent's ear and reduced his voice to a more hushed tone.

"McGee – get the Fire Department out here and tell them to roll an EMT unit as well just to be on the safe side.

Kate – re-secure the scene, I believe the area we taped off will have to be expanded due to how far the debris from the car was thrown.

Palmer – get whatever you need so you are ready when the charred remains from inside the car are recovered. Chances are we will be finding pieces of what's left of their bodies spread out from here to China!"

"DiNozzo."

"Yes Boss!" the overeager Agent answered all to quickly, trying too hard to seem fully recovered, something that did not escape his mentor's notice.

"DiNozzo - you will do whatever Ducky here tells you to do, you got that?!"

"Yes Boss." came the dejected reply.

"Good, now c'mon, let's get you over the the truck. You are to take it eea-sy in case what Ducky said is true, that your colorful abdomen is signaling something worse. If it is, then moving around is only going to make it worse, faster." Gibbs nodded his head at Ducky, signaling the ME to grab Tony under one of his arms, while Gibbs took a hold of him from the other side. Together they carefully brought the Agent up to a standing position, stopping for a minute to make sure any further dizziness was under control. Tony felt ridiculous, he hated being treated as though he were three. He admittedly made a mistake by coming back to work earlier than Dr. Brad had recommended.

But as he was being half carried to the ME truck, he glanced back over his shoulder looking at all of the debris covering what seemed to be every square foot of the roadway.

Seeing Kate and McGee, it suddenly hit him - almost with as much power as the physical explosion - that had he not come in today, McGee would have opened the booby trapped trunk and . . . - Tony's body then physically shuddered and he had to all but force his mind not to go there.

His mind so preoccupied by the horror of this sudden realization, that he hadn't noticed he was now seated at open tail end of the ME's truck, a blanket had been wrapped around his shoulder's as both his boss and their ME had felt his obvious shiver – mistakingly thinking it was due to a worsening of his previous symptoms of shock - and in a way, it was. But not the physical shock from his own traumatic near-death experience, but rather from the mental shock of knowing that his fateful decision to come in to work today, made the difference between life - or the tragic death of his two teammates.

The End :-)

Please take a second to let me know what you thought. Especially since I debated posting it since I wrote it for my own satisfaction after being frustrated at the missing of this scene in the actual epi.

Thanks for reading and reviewing!

BnB