Here's my new fic and this one means a lot to me as I'm actually writing this especially for my friend Laine3112. She's going through a rough time right now, dealing with cancer and all the "fun" that goes along with it - chemotherapy, dialysis, blood transfusions and the like. When I found out that she was going through all that and STLL managing to write some absolutely wonderful stuff, I was so inspired I wanted to try and return the favor.
So here's a special little story, set during the holiday season and featuring all our favorite NCIS characters. As with most of my stories, it will focus mostly on a Hurt!Tony and PapaGibbs, but the rest of the team will have their parts to play as well.
This one's for you, Laine. Happy Holidays!
"I don't know…."
Thursday – 3:43am….
Get up, moron.
Interesting how the voice inside his head sometimes sounded less like himself and more like his boss. Though Gibbs would probably not use so many words, it was more likely that he'd just smack him on the back of the head. That would prove his point more than a few words ever could.
I said get up. You're not gonna lay here forever. What would the boss say if he found your body and everyone could tell that you never even bothered to TRY and get off your ass?
Okay that time it kind of sounded more like McGee.
Tony struggled to open his eyes, his lids feeling heavy and sticky. In point of fact they were sticky, but since he couldn't exactly remember why that was, he ignored that for a minute. He felt moisture under his face - not water, something else. It was warm, whatever it was.
Deep down he knew what it was. Somewhere in the cobwebs there was an image of blood. Lots of blood. Once again he chose to ignore the obvious. Instead moving on to the most important thing on his list of "to do's" right then – open his eyes.
With a groan that ended up sounding more like a hiss, Tony finally managed to crack open reluctant lids. It was too dark to see anything except the faint glow of light above his head. As his head currently felt like it weighed about 400 pounds, he kept it right where it was.
With his forehead still plastered against the wooden floor (somewhere in his mind, Tony celebrated that he either remembered that the floor was made of wood, or was at least coherent enough to feel the planks under his skin), Tony did the next thing on his "to do" list. He looked for his phone. He may not be aware of much at the moment, but even he knew that he was seriously screwed.
Thanking his lucky stars that his phone was not only on him, but somehow getting a strong signal (which he knew shouldn't be possible, he just couldn't remember why), Tony pressed a few buttons. He was in trouble and there was only one person he trusted who would be able to get him out of it.
As he heard ringing over the line, the agent tried once again to raise his head. After a few seconds he gave up, his breath coming in short blasts from the feeble effort. When a voice answered on the other end, he found that he couldn't speak for a minute. All that came out was a painful cough.
Taking a few moments to catch his breath, Tony finally was able to speak to the man on the other end.
A lot of words followed that simple phrase, not all of them registering in Tony's foggy mind. He soon found that the tenuous hold he had on consciousness, reality, whatever, was going in and out. Like someone changing channels on an old tv.
The voice on the other end became a little more insistent and Tony discovered some more words to say.
He tried to say more, but his body betrayed him, instituting a strict "no speaking" policy before he could explain further. Then the voice on the other end became insistent again and Tony's brain defogged enough for him to catch the query coming through loud and clear. He was being asked where he was. Not as simple a question as one would think. In a brief moment of clarity, Tony tried looking around him (no easy task when your head refused to leave the floor), but saw nothing more than blackness and the same glow he'd noticed a few minutes earlier.
Realizing that he just might be in bigger trouble than he thought, Tony found the strength to answer sadly.
"I don't know…."
The ringing of a phone is not ever the preferred way one likes to wake up. When your phone rings in the early hours of the morning, it's never good news. People don't call before dawn to tell you that you've won a million dollars or a new car. No, a pre-dawn call only meant one thing, bad news.
Especially if you were one Leroy Jethro Gibbs.
Getting up to the insistent ringing of a phone had become a part of the ex Marine's life a long time ago. Dead Petty Officers, kidnapped Lieutenants, they all seemed to get into trouble in the wee hours of the morning. Over the years it meant many interrupted nights of sleep for the team leader and his crew. No matter how many times it happened, you never really got used to it.
This morning was especially a kick in the gut. If you didn't enjoy getting woken up by a squawking phone, getting woken up by one on Christmas Eve morning was even worse. Cursing the fact that his team had drawn the short straw and were working the Thursday to Sunday shift (which included Christmas and Christmas Eve this year), Gibbs rolled over with a groan. Grabbing the phone in the dark, he flipped it open and put it to his ear.
"Yeah...Gibbs," he mumbled, rubbing his eyes with one hand.
Any other person may have heard what was coming through the other end of the line and immediately hung up. It wasn't often that people got crank calls these days, but those old enough to remember the day when picking up your phone to hear heavy breathing was fairly commonplace, might have assumed that's what they were hearing.
Gibbs' gut knew in a second that the sounds he was hearing were not from someone attempting to get their jollies on at 4:00am. They were the sounds of someone struggling to breathe. Shaking his head and blinking his eyes, Gibbs sat up straight and pulled the phone away from his head. The number displayed on the screen had too many digits, none of which he recognized, so he quickly put the thing back to his ear.
"Hello? Who is this?"
More breathing, followed by a wet cough, the person on the other end obviously trying to get enough breath to speak. It was the cough that Gibbs recognized, as strange as it was to say one could "recognize" a cough. The thing was though, if you'd heard that cough a thousand times, remembered the way the person looked under the blue lights, had ordered them not to die – you'd know who it was.
A few more painful breaths and Gibbs heard a whisper finally.
"Tony, where are you?" Gibbs was confused. Last he'd seen, DiNozzo had been walking cheerfully out of the squad room the previous night.
Hoping that their weekend duty just might turn out to be light, the movie buff had arranged for viewings of some classic holiday flicks. He'd brought a whole stack of DVDs to be shown on the huge screen in MTAC. Gibbs had turned a blind eye to the proceedings, content to let the others have their fun while he conveniently didn't notice how they were using expensive government equipment for entertainment purposes. He had intended to simply stay at his desk, but Abby had spotted him on her way up the stairs and proceeded to haul him into the room and forced him into the chair next to her. He'd accepted the bowl of popcorn and cup off eggnog, but had drawn the line at wearing the proffered Santa hat (despite the fact that everyone else had one on, even the one Jewish person in the room, Ziva).
Last night they had watched Tony's first picks, "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" (the original) followed by the Jim Carrey remake. Tonight (cases permitting) they were going to watch something else and all of it was to culminate tomorrow night (Christmas) with Tony's favorite, "It's A Wonderful Life."
Now, sitting in his darkened room with Tony's voice cracking through his phone, Gibbs could hardly believe he was speaking to the same man. The one who had ended the evening by making them all sing the "Welcome Christmas" song from the end of the Grinch. How could so much have changed in just a few hours?
Gibbs put his head in his hand. The last time he'd heard Tony say that, he'd lost the man to a crazed kidnapper and for a short while, Gibbs hadn't been sure if he'd ever see him again. It hurt him not just because it meant Tony was in trouble again. DiNozzo in trouble was a way of life. He'd learned to deal with that pretty often from his second in command. Tony got in trouble and Gibbs got him out. It was what they did.
Hearing the younger man blame himself for what was happening, that was the part Gibbs hated more. While Tony had a tendency to get himself into trouble, he never did it with malice. He did it as part of his job. He did it trying to help people. The worse he got himself into, the more you could bet he'd just helped (or at least attempted to help) someone else out of it. When another person's safety was on the line, DiNozzo's self preservation instinct flew right out the window. Diving into cold water, stepping in front of a knife, taking a bullet – nothing was out of ordinary if Tony was around someone he felt was in danger.
Gibbs wondered what kind of trouble Tony was in now….and just who had he tried to save to get there.
"Tony, what do you mean? Where are you?"
Tony coughed again and Gibbs bit his lip to hear it.
"Tony? Where are you? Tell me where you are, agent DiNozzo," Gibbs ordered. No matter how weak or injured the other man was, Gibbs knew that Tony always listened to an order. But when there was still no answer, Gibbs cranked it up a notch.
"You tell me where you right now, agent DiNozzo!"
Another long pause and Gibbs heard Tony catch his breath to speak again.
"I don't know…."