Final Scene From Chapter I . . .
Gibbs felt anger at the fact that he knew Tim well enough to know that wasn't what he was initially starting to say. He knew Tim was now back tracking since he usually stuttered the worst when he was trying to cover up something or knowing his words would invoke the wrath of his boss.
Yet he also felt proud in knowing how close his two male Agents had become of later. He would have done the same thing for his own partners in the past, or any of his Marine comrades. But at the same time, someone's health and well being – especially one of HIS team, was not something Gibbs took lightly and was nothing to mess around with. He would get to the bottom of this when they landed. Unless Tony's condition deteriorated any further before then.
Consequences Of The Truth
Tony once again allowed his head to fall back against the inner wall of the chopper again. Closing his eyes, willing the dizziness and throbbing of his face and head to subside. Dizziness that had been slowly building from the second Tim freed him from that dreaded chair. A nauseating vertigo that became further aggravated by raising his voice like he did, to stifle the word 'injected' that was about to spill from his worried partner's dry, chapped lips.
All Tony knew is that he had to immediately halt his partner before he exposed the secret about the toxic mixture that consisted of mostly unknown drugs that were now fully embedded in his system. An unrevealed fact of the mission that he had hoped would remain hidden. Thankful that he had been able to stop the Junior Agent before he completed his original sentence, and even more grateful that so far, he had also been able to refrain from talking – other than one word here and there.
However, even with how poorly he was feeling and through closed eyes - he could still sense Gibbs staring at him. He had worked with the man long enough to be able to detect that - even if his back was turned or his eyes were closed. It took all of Tony's might to not let the truth serum effects allow him to come right out and tell his Boss that he knew he was staring at him. He always had a big mouth but this – this urge to babble endlessly - was ridiculous!
All he could do was try hard to not visibly sway, cringe or grimace until he sensed that his Boss had turned away to study Ziva's and McGee's conditions.
Tony eventually opened his eyes to look over at Ziva, he was still having a hard time believing they had actually found her – Alive! He was relieved to find that her eyes were closed now and she was most likely dozing from relief and exhaustion. Even with taking in her healing bruises, her fatigued and pale features and her gaunt appearance – he never felt more enamored by her beauty.
Having been forced to soldier through months of not seeing her, not talking to her and worst of all, grieving for her, he hadn't realized just how deeply he had missed her – until he had her back.
Tim McGee – he was too busy berating himself silently within his own head, to notice Gibbs staring at each of them at length. Or Ziva as she cast sly worried glances in Tony's direction and Tony doing the same to her when she wasn't looking.
On one hand he was mad at himself for almost betraying Tony's situation knowing full well that his partner would most likely kill him. But on the other hand he was mad at himself for not exposing the truth of what was done to Tony, possibly endangering his health even further if there ended up being more risks to the unknown concoction of potent drugs. Especially considering the fact that Tony already had the added disadvantage of having very scarred lungs from the Plague that could be fatal if any of the drugs coursing through him right now, depressed the respiratory system in any way.
He hated to think how angry Gibbs would be when the Medics that they were getting closer to by every minute, detected Tony's dilated pupils, high blood pressure and other obvious physical symptoms of having been drugged.
Tony was absorbing every inch of Ziva making sure that she was alright, much in the same way Gibbs had been analyzing his own well being. Tony was sure that Gibbs was also concerned about Ziva – more so than Tony - since they had such a unique relationship. Everyone knew the silver haired Marine had a soft spot in his heart for the Israeli Officer, almost like that of a Daughter.
What Tony didn't realize, was that his Boss looked at Tony very much in the same regard – like that of the Son he never had. Finally after what only seemed like minutes, the foursome felt the descent as the chopper lowered itself towards the landing pad at the Airstrip. There was a plane already awaiting them - fueled and ready to take the reunited team home.
Tony had hoped he would feel better by the time the Medics looked them all over, surprised to see he still felt like crap! He finally felt like the need to speak freely and honestly had thankfully subsided for the most part – but not knowing how this drug concoction worked, he had to be on guard in case it came in waves.
Ziva had pretty much dosed the entire short trip even though she had no intention of doing that originally. What her body and mind had been through these past months, along with the shock of seeing Tony's handsome face in front of her the very moment the bag was yanked off her head, and letting it sink in that they were truly there to rescue her, had zapped what little strength she had left.
She started to look in the direction of Tony and McGee to assess their injuries, but before completing the task she closed her eyes just to rest them for a moment. But her body had other plans, keeping her eyes closed, causing her to slip into the first peaceful slumber she had in months. Peaceful from knowing her NCIS family had NOT betrayed her - they loved her and they came for her!
Military Airfield . . .
After landing, the team remained strapped in while awaiting instructions from the Pilot that it was safe to exit the chopper. They were still in dangerous territory and on Foreign soil so the Soldiers on-site had to make sure the area was secure of enemies or snipers, before escorting the team to the awaiting Medical Unit.
As Tony sat up straighter to remove the straps that secured him to the seat, he moved all too gingerly and slow due to the pain that had set into the cracked ribs that he had recieved from when Salim's men had overtaken his and McGee's vehicle. They had used the rifle butt to take him down by smashing it once into his ribcage, once in his face and one final blow on to the back of his head as he fell forward near the Hummer. Tony felt additional bruising and stiffness leading him to believe they may have gotten in some additional kicks after he was down and out.
Gibbs and McGee were both watching Tony out of the corner of their eyes. McGee had been pounded a couple of times as well when they were overtaken, but as far as he could tell, nothing was broken.
McGee's concern wasn't in regard to Tony's physical damage from the beating they took – but concerned more so about the unseen damage from the injection he was given.
Tony was oblivious to the watchful eyes of his Boss and Partner – he thought they had all been just as preoccupied with freeing themselves of the restraining seat belts and preparing to move out. So he wasn't aware that they had seen him as he nearly passed out once he attempted to stand. He immediately grabbed onto some of the thick strap-like netting above him hanging from the ceiling for paratroopers to hold onto before a jump. He closed his eyes and shook his head to clear the cobwebs and control the vertigo.
His nausea was still there - if not worse than before, clearly a sign his body was trying to expel itself of the nasty unknown substances. He wasn't sure which urge was more severe, the urge to retch all over the floor, or the urge to completely pass out in front of his team. Neither of which was acceptable so he fought hard to will his body to control the urges, focusing on deep breathing exercises that were known to help calm nausea and anxiety – not realizing that everyone could hear him breathing through his obviously clenched teeth.
Gibbs had had enough, he could no longer sit back and wait for one of his team to tell him what happened and what was wrong with each of them. DiNozzo and McGee had obviously forgotten that Gibbs had been watching much of their experience in the interrogation room, through the high powered scope of his sniper rifle. Though his scope limited his view, he was still able to move it around to carefully scope out every inch of the room so he could make sure he had several angles from which to take down the target, Salim.
He had to make sure he would be able to fire off a shot without injuring one of his team, his family. He was just getting set up and situated when Tony was injected with the drug so Gibbs hadn't seen the actual injection. But he was able to see the un-zippered pouch that was left on a table against the wall to Tony's right. The pouch that held the obvious paraphernalia – a used syringe, rubber tubing, a vial of unknown substances, etc. In hindsight he wished he had forced his way past Tony, Ziva and McGee in the hall way, to grab the vial before retreating. That way Abby and Ducky could analyze the compound.
'Dammit!' he thought, 'how could I have neglected to do that!'
He wasn't 100% sure the injection was indeed given to Tony, or if it had been laying there from a previous interrogation including Ziva's. But now seeing the clear signs of something wrong with his Senior Agent, he easily deduced that his gut feeling about Tony being the one injected, was as always – right on the money.
"DiNo-" Gibbs started to yell, having had enough of his team's macho bullshit, even though he seemed to forget that he was worse than all of them put together. His holler was cut off as the side door was hauled open and one of the Soldier's outside yelled in that it was all clear for them to exit.
To Be Continued . . .
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