"Ducky, do I have to?" Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo whined as Dr. Donald Mallard prepared a syringe filled with a strange colored liquid.
"Now Anthony, you know better than anyone that this medicine is important in preventing pneumonia." Dr. Mallard, chastised in his deep Scottish brogue.
Tony cringed as Ducky put the needle, alcohol wipes and cotton balls on a metal tray with a loud clang.
Ducky looked over to the startled agent and walked over to Tony speaking in calm, soothing tones.
"Anthony, you know this is needed for your continued good health. It is going to be okay. Shall I fetch Jimmy to stay by your side?" Ducky put his hand on Tony’s shaking shoulder and noticed when he mentioned Jimmy, Tony froze beneath his warm hand.
"NO!" Tony shouted in response. "I mean, that’s not necessary Ducky. I’m fine, promise." Tony flashed a bright smile at the genial doctor.
Ducky hummed in disbelief, but let it slide as he once again went back to his task of getting things ready.
"Uhhh, Duck...do you think I could get a glass of water?" Dr. Mallard looked towards the pale agent and nodded his head in agreement, some water would do the young man some good.
"Why yes, that does seem like a good idea. I will be right back." Ducky moved to his inner office to grab a glass, in doing so he no longer had vision of Tony.
"Sorry Ducky..." Tony DiNozzo quietly jumped from the metal table in which he sat and bolted out of the room.
DiNozzo was down the hall in a matter of seconds and jabbing the elevator button with more force than was necessary with each press.
"Come on...come on! I gotta get out of here!" Tony swung his head making sure no one was around and took a deep gulp of air. He had to get control of himself. What was there to be afraid of...he was a big bad scary NCIS agent! Not a twelve year old! What was so terrifying about getting a sh- dull blue lights flashed in his mind, which stirred up more memories in a sightless blur. Needles and IV bags everywhere he looked, glowing in the blue lights, he couldn’t breathe, his mother pale and ashen, Gibbs hooked up to numerous machines after the explosion, hot wet tears when he heard the doctor say in soft tones that they couldn’t do anything more for his mother. Numerous occasions of him or others that he cared about being admitted to the hospital blinded him.
He pushed the thoughts out of his mind and made a mad rush to the stairs. He couldn’t stay and wait for the elevator, he had to get away from Ducky’s room and now!
"Jethro have you seen your wayward agent?" Dr. Mallard entered the bullpen from the elevator to stand in front of the lead agent’s desk.
"Duck, he’s supposed to be down with you getting the yearly flu shot." Gibbs looked up from his desk covered in paperwork and saw the worry on the older man’s face which instantly put him on alert.
"Yes, well it seems I may have lost him. He was beginning to go into a panic attack, which I was able to calm him down some, however he was still pale. So, when he asked for a drink, I could not turn the young lad down." Ducky looked down at Jethro not knowing what to do.
"McGee call DiNozzo's cell, c'mon Duck lets go track him down." Gibbs got up from his seat just as Tim McGee called the cell, only for them to all hear loud music coming from the senior field agent’s desk.
"Damnit of all the times he carried his cell, he chooses today to leave it behind. Okay, McGee."
"Yes boss?" The probie turned concerned eyes on his fearless leader.
"Go over the security tapes and when Kate comes back from her late lunch, have her help. Call me when you have something. Let's go Duck."
Tony didn’t know where he ended up and he didn’t care, as long as he was far away from sharp needles and the horrible medical supplies. He could breathe again. The panic had subsided into a small throbbing headache that refused to go away. He followed the dark hallway leading further into the building. His lungs burned as he took deep breaths of dust filled oxygen. When Tony got his bearings, he looked around, he didn’t recognize this side of the building, and he thought he knew his work like the back of his hand. The tiled flooring reverberated his footsteps deafening him and the eerie dull light filtering in casted figured shadows on the walls.
Tony finally stopped in front of a door on his right, he knew he had to find his way out, to get back to his desk before anyone found out that he wasn’t with Ducky. Then maybe he could just tell Gibbs that he had gotten his shot and they could get back to work like any other day.
His hand paused on the doorknob, his brain screaming at him to not open the door. If he was in one of McGee’s horror video games, this is where the scary boss music would come in. Tony laughed softly at his paranoia and shook off the feeling, grabbing hold of the door and pushing it open with a loud clang.
What was on the other side of that door had shot his blood pressure up through the roof so fast that he felt dizzy. ‘I really didn’t need to see this. It would be just my luck.’ Tony groaned and bent over putting his hands on his knees, breathing in deeply.
The room was filled with all sorts of dust covered medical paraphernalia, ranging from spare doctor’s coats and cots, to sterile materials such as needles, scalpels, and test tubes. Tony cursed himself as he turned around opening another door to his left containing the same materials. Having the fear of anything medical, he would be the one to come across the one floor being used for medical storage.
“It’s okay Anthony, there’s nothing in there that you haven’t seen before, so pull yourself together.” The agent scowled angry at his own weakness. He had to beat this damn phobia. It was ruining his life. Tony DiNozzo marched into the small darkened room determined to conquer his fear.
“It’s not so bad…” Tony mumbled aloud as he made his way further in to the room heading towards the metal looking cot, gently fingering the rough cotton sheet on top the makeshift bed.
A loud bang and shadowy movements by the door startled Tony, ramming into a storage shelf containing old sheets and a few buckets. The items fell to the ground with a clang as the door slammed shut with a deafening snap.
Tony heard slight squeaking sounds and instantly knew his fears were coming to bite him in the ass.
"Rats...always fucking rats..." That’s what the shadows he must have seen by the door.
The slamming from the door rang in his ear and he rushed to it chanting.
"No no no no no no!" He grabbed ahold of the old knob, twisting and pulling praying for it to open and lead him to his freedom. Tony gave a shout when the door refused to budge as he banged on the door. His breathing quickened when he realized he was trapped in the small storage room filled with medical tools and rats.
"This can’t be happening, it can’t!" Tony grasped at his throat trying to stop it from closing off his airway.
The distraught agent backed away from the door, his back hitting the stained off-white wall.
He removed his hands from his throat to search his pockets desperately. He should have thought of that. He’s never away from his phone, it’s practically glued to his hip. The search became more frantic and hurried the longer he couldn’t find his cell, his breathing growing faster.
“Just great…” Tony rasped, voice rough, as his throat felt like it was slowly closing, depriving him of air, and choking him. He whacked the back of his head against the wall with a loud ‘thud’, sliding down to sit on his butt as he did so.
“Okay, don’t panic, everything’s fine. You’re just trapped in a small room, with no way out surrounded by rats and instruments of torture. Fucking great.” Tony threw his gaze around the area quickly running his eyes over as panic took over. His breaths came faster than before as he hugged his legs tightly, trying to reclaim his lost breath.
His vision began to swim and black spots started to obstruct his view of the surrounding room and thankfully the rats as they circled the edges of the walls. Tony just knew it was the paranoia talking, but he could swear the rats were looking at him like they found the holy grail of food, ripe for the picking and that made his skin crawl as he thought he felt a tail flick by his leg.
His quick breathing didn’t seem to be a problem when everything seemed to just freeze, the graze of the tail turned his lungs to ice and everything burned.
He was getting more exhausted by the second as his breath was leaving his body, gasping like a fish on land. Tony knew he had to start his breathing back up to a regular rhythm, to stay awake and alert. He had to think of a way out and keep the hungry looking rats at bay, but his strength was weaning and the black spots were getting bigger.
His last conscious thought floated through his mind as he blacked out, his breathing almost non-existent. “Gibbs…please……..help…”
A half hour had past when Gibbs looked down at his phone as the chirping sounded, alerting him and Dr. Mallard to McGee calling.
“Tell me you found something.” Gibbs growled as Ducky looked up from talking with another agent, and perked up when he heard Tim’s muffled voice answer in the affirmative. Ducky continued to listen as he gestured the right motions to the still talking agent, eventually outright ignoring him as he heard Kate’s higher pitched voice come through the phone as Gibbs grunted his response. He figured Kate had returned from lunch and she and McGee had gone down to security to review the tapes and backtrack the missing agent.
Gibbs looked over to him and he politely excused himself from the chatty agent as Gibbs hung up the phone and took off towards the hallway and elevator.
“They saw him leave your autopsy like a bat out of hell and rush to the elevator, he was pale, breathing hard, murmuring to himself, and looking around like he was being followed.” Ducky caught up to the lead agent and followed Gibbs as they went past the elevator and went towards the back stairs.
“Sounds like a panic attack paired with paranoia, Jethro.” Ducky assessed the symptoms described as they continued down 2 flights of stairs, going towards the old storage floors that were phased out of use.
“Jethro, why would he come down here? The bullpen is up, surely he would know that, even if he was in a panicked state.” Ducky breathed out trying to keep up with the fast-moving Gibbs.
“According to Kate and McGee, it didn’t seem like he was thinking too clearly, could be he just wanted to get away from whatever that was frightening him. You said that you were about to give him the shot? It’s possible that, knowing his aversion to hospitals, he probably panicked when he saw the needle.” Ducky could count on one hand the number of times Jethro had spoken so much, but with regards to the circumstance, he decided not to comment. He figured that it just showed how worried he was for the younger man.
Gibbs and Ducky reached the floor the others tracked him to, but when they looked, all they saw were tons and tons of the same old wooden doors and sighed. Tony could be anywhere on this floor. Gibbs let out a huff and went to the first door he saw and grabbed the handle and turned. The door opened easily and he moved onto the next one. Ducky saw what his friend was doing and took the other side and started opening doors. Each door after the next gave way to their search, and with it Ducky could hear the frustrated growls of his close friend increase.
Fifteen minutes later and it seemed the doors would never end, the quiet except the screeching of doors opening surrounded them. Suddenly, the pair heard a blood curdling scream, freezing them both on the spot. Gibbs had reached the door first with Ducky shortly behind.
“Tony! Hey! Tony, you hear me?!” Gibbs grabbed the doorknob and tried to open the door like the others but it wouldn’t budge. Inside Gibbs could hear stuttered gasping mixed with slight shouts and then muffled movement. “Tony! Listen to me! We’re gunna get you out, you just hold on.”
“Gibbs? The door…it’s stuck…please…please get me out…there’s rats…” The quiet, defeated voice plagued with sharp intakes of air tugged at the marine’s heart and he doubled his efforts to unstick the door.
“Is there anything in front of the door?” Gibbs stretched getting ready to bust the door down any way he could. When nothing but quiet answered, Gibbs demanded again louder.
“Duck, get back. I’m going to get him out of there. Then, you’re going to look him over and when you tell me that he is fine, I’m going to beat him.”
“Now, now Jethro, the poor lad has already been-” Ducky cut himself off as he saw the deep frown and Gibbs usually calm blue eyes, go stormy. “You are quite right Jethro, let’s get our boy out of there.”
Gibbs stood a bit away from the wooden door facing the front. Ducky heard the grunt as Gibbs foot collided with the door to the side of the doorknob, it didn’t give way, the door barely starting to bend. Gibbs took a deep breath and tried once more as the door started to crack. The third kick saw the door frame splinter and the door fell in on the fourth.
Gibbs rushed into the dark room, momentarily blinded, and found Tony in the corner unconscious. He didn’t seem to have anything broken, though Gibbs could see bites and blood on his exposed arms and clothes. Gibbs cringed as he realized the younger man would need a tetanus and a few rabies shots. This was going to be hell for Tony.
Gibbs shooed away the remaining rats that didn’t get spooked from the door bursting in and kneeled next to Tony who’s breathing was even with random stutters.
“Tony, come on, wake up. You’re okay. Come on.” Gibbs patted Tony’s cheek softly and saw his eyelids flutter. Tony sat up with a gasp and jerked forward wrapping his arms around the older man.
“Gibbs.” Gibbs felt, rather than heard the muffled name, when Tony crushed his head into his neck.
“Come on Tony, let’s get you on your feet and over to Ducky.” Gibbs rubbed the shaking back and continued calmly when he felt Tony freeze at the mention of the doctor.
“Hey, it’s okay. You know Ducky won’t hurt you and I’ll be right here with you the whole time.” Tony eventually nodded clinging to Gibbs as they got up and was walked to Ducky who was standing by the door with a very concerned expression on his face.
Ducky looked over the injured agent and tsked over the status. Instead of needing just one flu shot, Tony would now need multiple shots and some over a period of time. He would make sure Gibbs escorted Anthony, to not make this incident a common occurrence.
“Jethro, we need to get him away from this floor and my office would just hinder the situation more.” Ducky spoke gently, keeping Tony from panicking even more.
“Well, what do you suggest?” Gibbs looked up from comforting Tony to see the slight glimmer that spelled trouble in the doctor’s eyes.
“When he came by to get his shot the work day was already almost over. There’s an hour or so left, why don’t you take the poor lad home and I’ll be by once I get all the necessary preparations. His breathing seems fine now, though he may have some lingering side effects from this little escapade, like a migraine or a burning sensation in his chest. You know he considers your home as a haven of sorts.” Gibbs looked at Ducky, an uncertain expression flitting on his face which was quickly replaced a second later with determination.
“Okay, but you better come by soon, and tell McGee and Kate that we found him, and they are to go home for the rest of the day.” Gibbs secured his arm around Tony and guided him to the stairs, this would be slow going, but once they hit the elevator they couldn’t get to Gibbs’s car fast enough. Ducky helped support Tony on his other side until they got back to the autopsy floor.
He watched as Gibbs and Anthony left into the elevator as he diverted to his office to grab the needed items. He made a checklist in his head, the first thing being a sedative. Next he grabbed more alcohol pads, the original flu shot, tetanus vaccine vial, the first in a rabies dosage as well as a dosage of Rabies Immune Globulin to help support the vaccine. Ducky put everything inside his black bag and made his way up to the bullpen to alert Timothy and Caitlin.
“Is he okay Ducky?” Kate asked as soon as she saw the doctor enter the bullpen. Ducky saw Kate had gotten up to meet him, worry and frustration in her light brown eyes, McGee not too far behind her.
“He is fine and on the way to a quiet place as we speak. Jethro had wanted me to tell you two, that you guys have done a wonderful job and that you can go home for the rest of the day. I expect you two will get a call from Jethro later this evening that both Jethro and Tony will be taking a few days off, and you will probably have the option of cold cases or taking vacation days as well. You all work so hard, I worry so.” Ducky noticed the flash of disbelief in their eyes but was soon placated at knowing that Tony was okay and the thought of vacations flew in their minds.
“As long as the big oaf is safe and sound.” Kate played up the slight insult, still worried for her friend as McGee let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding.
“Thank you Ducky.” Tim McGee looked into the older man’s eyes and saw no hint of a lie, so he relaxed a bit and made his way to his desk grabbing his bag.
“Night Ducky, and tell Tony the next time you see him, that it’s perfectly natural to be afraid of shots.” Ducky could see through Kate’s bickering comment to see what it really was. Her fear of losing one of her closest friends. With their kinds of jobs, safety wasn’t guaranteed, and to lose him, or anyone, to something that can be controlled, would kill her.
“Night Ducky.” McGee stepped into the elevator beside Kate making dinner plans that brought a smile to the old gentleman’s face. They would make quite a cute pair.
Ducky made his way down to his car and drove the familiar streets to Jethro’s house. He saw the lights on as he parked his car behind Gibbs’s. He opened the door quietly as to not disturb anyone and heard fragmented talking, coming from the living room and kitchen. One in a subdued tone, the other in a more calming and comforting one.
Ducky peeked in and saw Gibbs with 2 mugs in his hand, from the smells mixing, he assumed the one made for Tony was hot chocolate. The white fluffy marshmallows gave it away as Gibbs handed him his mug, telling him to drink it, that it would make him feel better. Ducky felt a little startled at the scene, it looked so domestic, with Anthony, shirt and shoes off, wearing some of Gibbs’s spare clothes and looking nice and clean from a shower. He was surrounded by blankets and his quiet tones seemed to appear more relaxed than afraid. With Gibbs wearing his usual casual clothes, talking to a shirtless Anthony like it was an everyday occurrence was enlightening for the older man.
Ducky made a little coughing sound as he entered the room and watched as Tony covered himself even more tightly with the blankets. He didn’t take offence to the gesture as he knew what his presence forebodes.
Gibbs threw him a look and Ducky guessed that he had just gotten Tony to the point where he was calm enough to try to drink something. Ducky shot him back a look saying ‘Sorry but it had to be done.’
Gibbs went and sat across from Tony, on the coffee table, and put his hand on Tony’s knee and started to massage it gently. Tony started to drink more of his hot beverage and threw a tentative smile to the silver haired man.
“Now Anthony, how are you feeling?” Ducky asked cheerfully as he looked over the few rat bites that he could see. Ducky retrieved the antibiotic cream from his bag and unscrewed the lid, putting on a pair of rubber gloves. Tony shrugged in reply, but a look from Gibbs and another squeeze of the knee, brought out a quiet and fully expected, “I’m fine.”
Ducky wanted to rebut the answer, but given who he was talking to, sometimes it was like talking to a brick wall. Ducky sent him a look and Tony looked down and sighed refusing to give in.
“Can you remove the blankets and the cream will be applied painlessly and quickly, I promise.” Tony removed the soft blankets and revealed more bites than Ducky had seen previously. Gibbs’s face going dark at the numerous bites on the angered flesh. Ducky gave a soft click of his tongue, applying the medicinal cream on all the wounds, being careful of the pressure applied.
“Are these all the bites that you have sustained, Anthony?” At the question, Tony blushed his whole body going red to match and mesh with the abused skin. Ducky surmised where his other bites were and gave Tony a knowing look.
“Okay, come on now, drop the pants. We need to get the bites medicated and disinfected, so not to cause infection to set in.” Ducky stated matter of factly as Tony squeaked in denial grabbing onto his pants tighter. Tony refused to budge and shook his head vehemently. Gibbs sighed and took the vial of cream from Ducky’s hand and in a reserved tone said that he would take care of it later. He knew what to do, from watching Ducky so many times before; applying ointment to others as well as the times when he himself had needed some. Ducky gave a small nod in acceptance, trusting Gibbs to apply the medicine.
Tony released a breath in relief but sucked it back in when he saw Gibbs’s look. He knew what that look meant, he would get that cream on him whether he liked it or not. Tony gulped suddenly worried if being in Gibbs’s house was the safest place for him to stay.
“Now, since we know your aversion to needles, would you like to take a sedative before I give them to you?” Ducky held out a small pill, and even though he usually refused medicine of any kind, he would prefer to be knocked out when the shots are administered. Tony took the pill from Ducky’s hand and popped it into his mouth and washed it down with some of the warmed hot chocolate.
He listened to Gibbs and Ducky talk while they waited for the pill to take effect, everything ranging from his treatments, to weather, to at one point he could have sworn they were talking about going to the zoo to see a rainbow unicorn, it was at this point that he couldn’t keep track of their absurd conversation. He decided that counting the tiles on the floor, starting with the one with the smudge by his left foot, would be a better use of his time.
The two older men looked over to see Tony’s eyes glazed over his head bobbing up and down like he was trying to keep from falling asleep. Ducky nodded and pulled the syringes, the disinfectant pads and some cotton balls from his black medical bag.
Ducky cleaned a spot on Tony’s upper arm with the alcohol pad and retrieved the first needle as Gibbs watched on unfazed. Ducky applied the flu shot, not even getting a flinch from the drugged-out man. He repeated the process of sanitizing an area and administering a shot. He did this for the tetanus, rabies and the Immune Globulin. He sighed as he finished injecting the last one. Gibbs looked at him, eyebrow raised, waiting to hear what was eating at his usually calm friend.
“This whole thing could have been avoided Jethro. Instead of having to get 1 shot, he now had to receive 4, as well as having to go through a frankly terrifying experience. You need to talk to the lad Jethro, maybe you can help him figure out how to conquer that medical phobia of his.” Ducky patted Tony’s head gently and Tony butted his hand like a cat would, as he started to stretch on the couch, the drugs finally putting him to sleep. Ducky caught a glimpse of Jethro’s scowl and he didn’t know if it was because he was giving affection to Tony or if it was the thought of having to have an in-depth discussion that would probably cause a lot of headaches for both men involved, but he removed his hand with one last pat, just in case.
Ducky got up to leave and Gibbs stood to walk him out wanting to say goodbye. Ducky brushed him off saying he could walk to his own car and that he wasn’t a first date that had to be escorted. The last thing Ducky saw as he was leaving the house was Gibbs telling an exhausted and obedient Tony to stretch out more, as he carefully covered the younger man with the blankets, his hand resting lovingly on Tony’s cheek with a half-smile playing on Gibbs’s lips.