BEEP SOB BEEP SOB BEEP SOB BEEP SOB BEEP SOB BEEP SOB BEEP SOB BEEP SOB BEEP SOB “Please, Tony, just……wake up. I need to talk to you. It was all a misunderstanding. Please baby wake up and talk to me, so I can explain why I did what I did.”
“SO IT’S TRUE!!! You had a hand in putting this boy into this condition. At first I couldn’t believe the rumors. Not Gibbs. No, he loves Tony and Tony loves him. For God’s sake man, what could this boy have done for you to put him in a coma?”
Jethro dropped his chin to his chest, the perfect picture of dejection. “He did nothing, Ducky. It was me. I thought he was cheating on me. You know, like Marsha was with Will while I was deployed.”
“Good God! Anthony would rather cut it off than cheat on you, and you should know that.” Ducky looked at him with disgust evident in his eyes. “I will tell you this Jethro Leroy Gibbs, if this boy dies or is permanently damaged because of your stupidity, WE ARE THROUGH.” After this little emotion-charged speech, Dr. Donald Mallard turned and walked away from one of the best friends he’d ever had.
All Gibbs could do was curl up on the chair and cry and pray for a miracle.
“Come to kick me while I’m down?”
“No. Well actually, yes Sir,” Kate said grimly. “I have been elected to be the voice of the department. If Agent DiNozzo dies or is damaged in any way because of this, we will all either resign or go to the Director and demand that you be removed. We refuse to work with someone who could put one of us into a coma.”
“I understand completely, Agent Todd.” Gibbs nodded his agreement with her statement. “But you won’t have to worry. If Agent… if Tony dies, he won’t be making that trip alone, never alone again.”
Shocked, she backed out and quickly walked back to where the group was assembled in the waiting room.
“Guys, we may have a bigger problem than we think. He didn’t even bat an eye over our little ultimatum. He just said that if Tony were to die he’d not be going alone. Damn, I never thought I’d hear words like this from Gibbs of all people. Do you really think he’d kill himself to stay with Tony?”
Soft gasps were heard from the people in the waiting room. Abby and McGee just stared at each other, unable to believe that Gibbs could actually feel so strongly about anyone to actually be talking of suicide. Kate was grim in her determination to keep them both on this plane of existence and Ducky was quite obviously shaken by the pronouncement.
Ducky sighed dramatically and ran a trembling hand over his face. “Damn it, I didn’t think he was that far gone already. What led up to all of this was that he thought Anthony was cheating on him like his second wife, Marsha.”
Kate started to laugh. “Tony cheat? That boy will go to his grave loving Gibbs. I mean, he even took a bullet for the old s.o.b. to prove how much he loves him. Where did Gibbs get the idea that Tony was cheating on him?”
“I think I can give you that answer,” a young man said as he walked up to the group, nursing a swollen jaw. “Hi, I’m Dr. Craig Peters. My specialty is Therapist - - or Councilor, if you prefer. I primarily work with patients with life threatening tumors and cancer victims.”
“You mean to tell us that Tony has a tumor or cancer?”
“Actually, I can’t confirm or deny that statement. All I will say is that Tony is a patient of mine.”
Kate watched the young physician closely before turning back to the small group waiting for news of Tony. “One more thing; we need to figure out what really happened to Tony. Gibbs thinks he put him here but we all know he wouldn’t lift a finger to harm him. We need to move quickly. Gibbs is too distraught to be of much help but I will say this; if we don’t find out exactly what happened and do it quickly, Gibbs will be arrested - - and then where will Tony get the strength he needs to pull through this?” She turned back to the therapist and smiled gently. “Now, doctor. Just what can you tell us about what is going on with Tony - - and Gibbs?”
8 months ago
NCIS Office Building
Agent Anthony “Tony” DiNozzo was popping aspirin like candy and rubbing his forehead. He kept squinting his eyes to keep the light to a minimum, because it was aggravating his pounding headache. Gibbs, his lover of 16 months, stopped by Tony’s desk when he noticed that he was in distress.
Gibbs leaned down and whispered, “You’re still having those headaches?”
Tony looked up, “Yeah, and now I am having trouble breathing. Walking up the stairs - - just two flights, two flights, I sound like I ran a marathon.”
“That’s it, I’m calling our doctor and getting you in to see her in the morning. And you will not talk back. You will go or no more sex.”
Sticking his tongue out at his lover, Tony whispered, “Meanie.”
“Yeah, I am a such a meanie that I am sending you home to rest, and sleep. I’m bringing dinner home too - - I think Thai tonight, so go home and sleep.”
“All right, all right. But you get to handle the fall-out of sending your lover home early, not me.”
“I’ll just tell the other two I owe them a half of a day each to make it fair.” Gibbs smiled down at Tony.
With that, Tony staggered out of the department.
Doctor’s office 1000
“Good morning, Tony. Now what seems to be the problem?”
“Well, I seem to be having these killer headaches that nothing touches, not even the OTC migraine pills. And lately, I have been having trouble with my breathing. I don’t think the two are connected though, because I can have one without the other.”
The doctor pulled her stethoscope from her lab coat pocket. “Well, let me listen ... breathe … again … again … and one more time. Everything sounds all right, but that doesn’t mean that nothing is wrong. Why don’t you get dressed and I will be right back.”
Outside exam room 3
“Chrissie, get me John Gust over at Mary Mercy. Tell him I need a cat scan and reading today. In fact, once you get him on the line, transfer it to exam room three. I’ll talk to him in person.”
After knocking on the door, the doctor reentered the exam room and pulled up a chair. “Now, Tony, I don’t want you to get alarmed. We are just doing this to rule out any problems that might be causing your headaches. I am trying to get you in for a CAT scan today with a stat reading of the films. Because of your contention that your headaches are affected by none of the normal medications, I just want to make sure there is no underlying condition we need to worry about. I will also give you script for some strong pain relievers for those headaches.”
As the doctor was talking with Tony the phone started glowing and flashing. She smiled at the comical look on his face. “It does that instead of ringing.” The doctor excused herself to answer the call.
“Yes John, I need a favor. I have a patient who is complaining of debilitating headaches and intermittent breathing problems. I want to rule out anything going on upstairs, so to speak. Is there a way for you to squeeze him in today, and get someone to read it and send me a report? There is. Great. I’ll send him right over then.” She quickly hung up the phone and turned to Tony.
“Tony, you have to leave right away. You need to get to Mary Mercy in the next 45 minutes and report to the radiology department. As long as you can get there in this time frame they’ll fit you in today’s schedule and be able to read the report today as well. So go.”
Tony barely made it to Mary Mercy and down to the radiology department on time. When he arrived a man with a nametag that read ‘John’ was waiting for him.
He smiled at Tony. “By the way you’re breathing you must be Tony. Hi, I’m John. If you could fill in these forms quickly and then sign them we can get you scanned and get it up to the radiologist so he can get a report back to your Doctor as soon as possible.”
Tony quickly filled out the needed forms and signed them. He had barely handed them to the nurse when John was back and he was led into the CAT scan room. He was asked to change into a hospital gown for the procedure and then they laid him down on his back on the narrow scanning table. A blanket was thrown over his legs and an IV started for the contrasting fluid. They were going to do both a color and a contrasting scan on Tony today. The procedure would take some time and Tony would need to lay perfectly still during that time.
Tony was more than a little nervous about what they might find. He’d never told anyone before, but when it came to his health he was slightly paranoid about it.
Sometime later, after Tony a fallen into a light doze, the tech woke him up with a gentle shake to his shoulder. “Okay, we’re all done here and the films are on the way to the radiologist. Your Doctor should be calling in a day or two with the results.”
Tony got up, waited patiently as the tech removed the IV and listened to the warning about the possibility of a reaction to the contrasting dye and what to do if that should happen. He promptly disregarded the warnings as he got dressed again and left the hospital.
A Week Later
Tony was still having the headaches and attacks, but he figured at least it wasn’t something in his head that was causing the problem; otherwise the Doctor would have called by now, right?
Ring Ring Ring
“Agent DiNozzo’s Desk, Tony speaking.”
“Tony, this is Cassie from your Doctor’s office. She was wondering if you could come in around three-thirty so she can speak with you?”
“Hang on let me check with my Boss.”
Tony put his hand over the mouthpiece of his phone and looked over to where Gibbs was working at his computer. “Hey, Boss?”
Gibbs looked at Tony with a ‘What the hell do you want? Can’t you see I’m busy here?’ look.
“Doc’s on the phone. She wants to see me at 1530 today. Is that alright?”
“Yeah, as long as it gets you cured, go,” Gibbs waved him off. Inwardly he was glad something was being done to help his lover, because he was getting worried.
Tony arrived at the doctor’s office right on time and was quickly ushered into her office, which immediately gave him a clue that something was wrong. Once in the office, he noticed that there was another man in there as well.
His Doctor stood up, shook his hand and said, “Let me introduce Dr. Craig Peters, a therapist/councilor.” Tony turned to leave and the doctor reached out to stop him. “No, before you go off and panic or yell about not needing one just listen to what I have to say first. Okay?”
Tony nodded and took the proffered seat in front of the doctor’s desk. The therapist was seated next to him, which made him a little uncomfortable. He looked back at the doctor when she started speaking again, silently dismissing the man next to him.
“I could have called you in sooner, but this was the first day Craig had free and I felt he needed to be here as he is the best in his field. The CAT scan shows that you have a small tumor. Whether it is cancerous or not, we don’t know yet. What we do know is that it is causing pressure in certain areas of your brain, affecting your involuntary systems, like your breathing and heart muscles, thus the shortness of breath and weird heart rhythms. If this keeps up, other systems will be affected as well.”
Tony just stared at her as she smiled gently at him, trying to project calm and caring.
“I have contacted the best oncologist at the Bethesda Naval Hospital. This is where the President would go if he were sick or hurt. This physician has agreed to take a look at your case. Right now I couldn’t continue to treat this even if I wanted to. I just don’t have the necessary skills to help you.
“The tumor is also putting pressure on other areas of the brain, causing the headaches. I am afraid there is not much we can do about those and still have you mobile. They will only get worse as the tumor grows.
“Now, do you have any questions before we go any further, Tony?”
Tony was stunned and more than a little upset. “No, no I think you signing my death certificate basically covers it, Doc,” Tony said bitterly.
The doctor sat back in her chair and smiled sadly. “Okay, that is why Craig is here. He deals with patients with tumors or cancers that are life threatening. He has agreed to take you on as a personal favor to me. Now for the hard part…”
“HARD PART? Like telling me that I might die was the easy part,” yelled Tony.
“Easy Tony, she is not the bad guy here,” Craig said soothingly.
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry I yelled, but this is hitting all at once, and I’m not taking it very well.”
“Actually Tony, you are. I have had to redecorate my office before after telling someone that either they or a loved one has this kind of disease.” Craig’s voice was soothing and Tony could feel himself begin to calm down. “Well, what I was going to say is that I have to take you out of the field. I must insist that you turn in your gun. If you have an attack while trying to fire your gun, you could hit the victim or a fellow NCIS agent - - or even Gibbs.”
At that proclamation, Tony blanched and nodded his agreement. He took the paperwork from his Doctor to give to Gibbs, noticing that it did not say why but just listed the restrictions.
“As you can see, I left it up to you to decide what to tell him. And when to tell him.”
“Now, before we leave, I need to set up an appointment with you Tony,” Craig said.
As they haggled over their schedules, no one noticed a tear sliding down the face of one very sad Doctor across the desk from them, and only the angels heard the silent prayer on its way up about watching over this young man.
“Come on Tony, please wake up before they come to take me away. I just want to say I how sorry I am,” pleaded a heart broken Gibbs, just as a nurse walked in. She gave Gibbs a disgusted look as she took down the numbers and checked connections.
Gibbs didn’t say anything about her attitude feeling that it was justified after all he did to the man he loved, and who loved him back. He should have known better than to think that Tony would cheat on him.
Gibbs silently followed his lover through the park. DiNozzo left work at the exact same time twice a week but never went home. Wherever he went he always came home looking like he had been crying and wouldn’t talk about it. He woouldn’t let Gibbs touch him, except at night, and that was only to snuggle. Thanks to the twenty-four hours access rule, he saw that there was no obvious physical reason for the tears, so it must be something else.
He had tried to follow Tony before and had lost him, but not today. As he followed him, he noticed that he carried a large brown bag, larger than a single person would need for lunch.
He soon understood why. Gibbs watched in horror as Tony sat down at a picnic table with another man, gave him a hug, and started to hand out lunch. From where he stood, it looked like leftovers from the night before.
Seeing red, Gibbs just turned around stiffly walked back to his car.
“I’m sorry. As for Agent DiNozzo, I’m unable to confirm or deny anything. And as for Agent Gibbs, it seems he thinks I’m the other man in Tony’s life, thus the bruised jaw.”
A few hours earlier…
Dr. Peters came rushing in to the ICU looking for the head nurse, “Excuse me, but you paged me about one of my…”
“YOU, you’re the cause of all this,” growled Gibbs as he swung fist and made contact with Peters’ jaw knocking the doctor down. “I hold the medical power of attorney for Agent DiNozzo, and I don’t want that man anywhere near him, doctor or not,” Gibbs ordered before stepping back into DiNozzo’s room, only to breakdown again, crying for him to wake up, and please talk to him.
The shocked staff of the ICU helped the doctor up, checked him for damage and, finding none, had no choice but to lead him out of the unit, as per orders from Agent Gibbs. He would only be allowed back in if Agent DiNozzo woke up and changed the orders himself.
“So Tony is one of your patients, then,” observed Kate.
“Ya, well, yes he is, but I’m only a therapist,” Dr. Peters told everyone. “Tony and I are not having a relationship outside of a professional one. Tony preferred to be outside because he felt better talking about his problems there rather than in a confined office. So we usually had lunch together. Sometimes we bought our lunches, and other times one of us would bring leftovers from home.”
“Was there any gesture of informality that one could misconstrue as being a lovers gesture?” McGee asked.
“Nothing that I can think of. Oh wait, when we meet we always hug. If he saw that or if whoever reported to him saw that, then that could be a reason for him to think that Tony was involved with me,” Peters supplied.