Binnacle List - Tony

by Juli

February 2009


A binnacle list is Marine slang for list of Marines excused from duty due to illness


Intellectually, Tony knew he wasn't going to die. He was just really, really hoping that he would.

A hand started stroking his head, as though the man it belonged to could read Tony's mind. Tony ached all over, even his hair hurt, but the petting didn't increase the pain. In fact, it felt damn good.

"Just hang in there, Tony," Gibbs' voice was a soft rumble. "Shouldn't be too much longer."

It already felt like forever, but Tony knew his sense of time was off. He'd started feeling sick the day before and had soon been in bad enough shape that Gibbs had sent him home. Being a man down during an active case meant more work for the rest of the team, so Gibbs hadn't followed until the next morning. By then, Tony had been in really bad shape. Gibbs had taken one look at him and bundled Tony off to the emergency room. They'd been there ever since, in what Tony was certain was an urban version of hell.

The stomach flu wasn't as sexy as having the plague, but it was still miserable. Tony had noxious fluids coming out of what felt like every orifice he had, the world wouldn't stop spinning, and he was certain he was as unattractive as it was possible for a person to be. No way would Gibbs want him after this.

"Tony, come on, I want you to try drinking something for me."

Gibbs had commandeered a couch for them and Tony had been lying on it with his head on the older man's lap. His world teetered as Gibbs didn't wait for an answer, just lifted him slowly to a sitting position. The motion made the world spin even faster and Tony squeezed his eyes shut. He should have known better; that didn't help at all. In fact, the world spun faster and Tony blinked them open again.

"Tony?"

Gibbs' voice came from very close up and Tony realized he was clutching Gibbs with a white-knuckled grasp. Reluctantly, he loosened his grip. "Sorry."

"It's okay, don't worry about it," Gibbs shifted so that he was propping Tony up. "I know you don't want to move around a lot right now, but we need to get some fluids in you."

Tony eyed the water bottle Gibbs held out to him warily. He gave a fleeting thought to where it came from, since Gibbs hadn't had any water when they'd come in to the ER, but quickly decided it was pointless to wonder. Gibbs was Gibbs; if he thought Tony needed water, then he'd get water, no matter what it took.

"It'll come back up," Tony warned.

"Maybe," Gibbs conceded, "but maybe not. Try."

It was as close to a request, rather than an order, that he'd ever heard from Gibbs. Even so, Tony was obedient and took a few cautious swallows. He had a feeling that it wouldn't stay down long, but denying Gibbs anything was beyond Tony, even when he was feeling well. When he felt like crap, it was impossible.

He handed the bottle back to Gibbs and laid his head on the older man's shoulder. Gibbs started rubbing his back and, for a few moments, Tony almost felt like he wanted to live after all.

"That wasn't so bad," Gibbs encouraged. "Let's try some more."

His lover's comment jinxed them. Even as Tony reached for the plastic bottle, he felt the original water demanding to make a reappearance. He flailed and managed to get a little distance between him and Gibbs, but both of them got wet as he coughed the fluid up. Gibbs managed to get the blue plastic bag contraption under Tony for the last of it, but Tony hadn't drank much and it was mostly over by that point.

Tony wiped at Gibbs' wet shirt. "Sorry, boss."

"Not your fault," Gibbs grabbed his hand and used it to pull Tony close. "Besides, it's just a little water."

"Yeah, but it was in my stomach," Tony shuddered.

Gibbs put a finger over Tony's mouth, as though to stop another bout of vomiting. "Don't think about it."

It took a couple of swallows, but Tony got his rebellious stomach under control. At Gibbs' urging, he laid back down. The noise of the crowded waiting room diminished to a dull roar as Tony focused on the warmth of Gibbs' thighs pillowing his head and the rhythmic stroking of the hand that resumed running through his hair.

An indeterminate amount of time later, Tony became vaguely aware of male voices talking a little stridently near him. One of them may have had an English accent, but as he stirred himself to look, pressure from Gibbs' hand kept him where he was.

"Shush, Tony," Gibbs told him. "It's nothing that you need to take care of."

Tony took Gibbs at his word and settled back down. It wasn't long afterwards, though, that Gibbs was getting him to stand and assisting him to walk. The exam cubicle that they were taken to was very bright and, despite the dizziness, Tony mostly kept his eyes shut and let Gibbs handle everything. He remained docile as Gibbs helped him change into a hospital gown and didn't stir much even as blood was taken or an IV inserted. After that, activity died down and Tony drifted off to sleep.

When Tony next opened his eyes, it was to see Gibbs sitting in a plastic chair next to him. The older man was sipping from a Styrofoam cup of coffee and was watching TV with the sound muted. From what Tony could tell, the channel was airing a woodworking show.

"So what's the verdict?" Tony asked. He was surprised at how raspy his voice sounded. "Am I gonna make it?"

Gibbs immediately switched his attention to Tony. "You've got the flu."

"And we had to come to a hospital to figure that out?" Tony whined.

"I wasn't finished," Gibbs rose to stand next to Tony's bed. "You've got the flu and you're badly dehydrated. We're waiting until Radiology has an opening and you can go down to get a chest x-ray."

"But I thought you said it was the flu?" Tony was confused.

"It is," Gibbs told him. "But Ducky's worried that you might have breathed something in while you were vomiting. With the lung scarring from the plague, we have to be extra careful about stuff like that."

The use of 'we' warmed Tony, but something else Gibbs said caught his attention too. "Ducky? I thought I remembered him being here." He frowned. "Was he yelling at somebody?"

Gibbs smiled. "He ripped the triage nurse a new one for leaving you out in the waiting room for so long."

Tony lifted one eyebrow. "I thought intimidating people was your job."

His comment made Gibbs chuckle. "I leave it to Ducky for the medical stuff." He brushed Tony's hair off of his sweaty forehead. "Get some more sleep."

Smiling despite feeling like warmed over crap, Tony closed his eyes again. With the possible exception of Abby, no one would believe him if he tried to tell them how good Gibbs was as a nursemaid. He hadn't been at Tony's side much during the Y. pestis scare, but that was because he'd been busy ferreting out the information to save Tony's life. Besides, Gibb had been most attentive afterwards.

Tony's smile faded as the memories of the plague brought up memories of Kate.

"You feelin' worse, Tony?" Gibbs asked.

He started to shake his head, but Tony quickly aborted that movement as a very bad idea. "No, just thinking." He opened his eyes. "I miss Kate."

His sudden change in topic didn't throw Gibbs; Jethro was used to it. "Yeah, I know. Me too."

Tony immediately felt guilty, thinking of his current partner. Ziva was a good friend in her own right. His mind was bouncing around even more than usual, something he blamed on being sick, and he couldn't help but ask, "Do you think Kate would like Ziva?"

For a fleeting moment, a strange expression crossed Gibbs' face, but it was soon gone. "The way Ziva watches your back? Yeah, I think Kate would like her a lot."

They lapsed into a comfortable silence and Tony was relieved that his stomach seemed to be behaving itself. He was feeling marginally better by the time the x-ray technician came to fetch him, but by then he'd had half a bag of IV fluids. Gibbs made as if to accompany him, but Tony waved him off.

"I think I've got this one, boss."

Gibbs looked almost forlorn as Tony's bed was wheeled away.

It wasn't long before Tony was regretting his glib assurances. Turned out they expected him to stand for the x-ray and he kept listing to the side. Finally they put him back in the bed and managed to do it from a sitting position. Tony felt like a wuss, but it was either that or yack on the someone and that would have been even worse.

When he was returned to his room, another discomfort was making itself known. The bitch about getting fluids was that some of them were bound to come out, one way or another.

"Your bed that uncomfortable, Tony?" Gibbs asked. "You're squirming."

"I gotta go," Tony explained.

Gibbs frowned. "You're not going anywhere until all of your tests are back."

"Not that," Tony groaned. "I gotta GO."

Comprehension dawned and Gibbs grinned. "That's good, because they dropped off a little cup for you to use." He held up a urine specimen container.

"Oh, hell no," Tony complained. "I have a hard enough time hitting those when I'm not dizzy.

"I'll help you," Gibbs told him.

And to his extreme embarrassment, Gibbs did help him and, what was worse, Tony needed the assistance. By the time he was back in his bed, Tony was flushed from embarrassment and close to losing the contents of his stomach. Again.

"Don't worry about it, Tony," Gibbs tried to reassure him.

"If Ziva or McGee find out about that, I'll never hear the end of it," Tony muttered. Actually, the other two agents were the furthest thing from his mind, but it made a good cover for his real apprehension; that Gibbs would think of him as weak.

"Who's going to tell them?" Gibbs asked. He leaned over until he was right in Tony's face. "You think I will?"

"No," Tony was quick to answer and his haste made Gibbs smile.

"It's nothing to be ashamed of, Tony." Gibbs said. "I've had to have a helping hand before when I got shot in the shoulder."

"But being shot's a lot more manly than having an upset tummy," Tony pointed out.

Gibbs laughed softly. "I'd rather be shot than have the flu."

His lover's genuine reaction went a long way towards mitigating Tony's embarrassment. "Yeah, me too."

They lapsed into a comfortable silence. Tony closed his eyes again, Gibbs' hand on his arm anchoring him through the dizziness. A little while later, Ducky's voice roused him.

"There you are, my boy," Ducky called out cheerfully as he entered the cubicle. "I must say, that IV is doing you good."

"Yeah, he's fish belly white instead of gray," Gibbs replied. "What's the word, Duck?"

Ducky beamed. "There is no sign of pneumonia and his blood work came back fine as well." He looked at Tony. "You have the flu."

"I could have told you that," Tony grumbled. Ducky patted him on the leg.

"Look at it this way, Tony," Ducky told him. "We may have overreacted, but by doing so, we've demonstrated how much we care. Besides, you really did need the fluids. You scared poor Jethro to death."

"I was concerned," Gibbs said. Tony was gratified to hear a hint of defensiveness in the older man's tone.

"You were right to be," Ducky replied. "Tony's electrolytes were all off, but now that he's had a bag of fluids, he'll be right as rain in no time."

Tony felt too bad to do a full puppy dog expression, but he tried to put as much pleading into his eyes as he could. "Does that mean I get to go home?"

"That it does," Ducky patted his leg.

Immediately, Tony started to pull the cotton blanket covering his lower body back so that he could get up.

"Hold your horses, Tony," Gibbs ordered. He put his hands over Tony's and stopped him. "You still have an IV in."

Ducky made a sound of disgust. "I've seen glaciers move faster than the staff at this hospital; if we wait for them, Tony might as well be admitted."

Being in an unfamiliar hospital didn't slow Ducky down. He deftly gathered supplies and was back at Tony's bedside. As he prepared to remove the IV, though, Tony withdrew his hand.

"Don't you usually work on dead people?" Tony asked. "I only look dead; I'm still breathing." Gibbs smacked him on the back of the head and Tony looked at him with wounded eyes. "Hey, you're not supposed to hit me when I'm sick."

Gibbs smiled. "I think you're on the mend."

Despite Tony's concern, Ducky got the IV out with no fuss or pain. Tony did feel better than when he'd arrived at the hospital; the fluids must have helped. Even so, getting dressed was interesting and he needed Gibbs' help again. Ducky stepped out of the room while that was going on and when he came back, he had a nervous-looking nurse in tow and she was pushing a wheelchair.

"Dr. Mallard helped us to expedite your release papers," the nurse told them, giving Ducky a wary glance.

Ducky looked smug and Tony resolved never to piss the elderly doctor off. Ducky was the epitome of civilized behavior, until someone's incompetence negatively impacted one the people that Ducky cared about. When that happened, Ducky could be an implacable as any Marine.

"You're to force as many fluids as you can," the nurse went on to instruct Tony. "It's important that you not let yourself get that dehydrated again."

"He won't," Gibbs promised. He was standing behind Tony, who was sitting on the bed, and had one hand on the back of Tony's neck. Tony shivered a little at the protective growl in Gibbs' voice.

The nurse smiled at Gibbs' determination. "This flu strain seems to run about 48 hours, so hang in there, Mr. DiNozzo. The worst of it should be behind you."

In short order, Tony was seated in the wheelchair and was being pushed by Gibbs towards the entrance. Ducky paced next to them as they made their way back through the waiting room. It was just as crowded as Tony remembered. He almost felt guilty, seeing the number of listless eyes watching him as Gibbs wheeled him by. The other patients were just as miserable as he'd been.

Gibbs put a hand on Tony's shoulder. "Won't be long now, Tony." They reached the door and Gibbs wagged a finger at Tony. "I'm gonna get the car. Don't move."

"He won't," Ducky answered for Tony. "I'll wait with Tony until you're ready."

"It wasn't like I was going to waltz through the waiting room," Tony muttered as Gibbs strode away from them.

Ducky chuckled. "Don't take it personally, Tony. Jethro likes to take care of people; he just usually doesn't get to be so obvious about it."

Tony thought about it. Gibbs had been kind of hovering. "He doesn't want people knowing he's a big softy."

"He doesn't mind you knowing it or me," Ducky pointed out.

"Or Abby," Tony added as he realized that Ducky was right.

"Or Abby," Ducky agreed. "The people that Jethro trusts."

Tony frowned as he thought of a downside of Gibbs taking such good care of him. "I hope I don't give him the flu too."

"Jethro?" Ducky snorted. "He has an iron constitution. Timothy and Ziva, however, do not. I'm off to check their status when I'm done here." He gave Tony a scolding look. "I don't want them to end up in the ER as well."

"Man, I suck," Tony loved to tease both of his colleagues, but getting them genuinely sick was not something he would inflict on them.

"You've all been working so closely on that case that I'm sure you were exposed at the same time," Ducky reassured him. "You probably came down with it first; being more susceptible due to the aftermath of the plague. And, if not, you were contagious long before you were symptomatic."

They'd been chatting long enough for Gibbs to get the car. He pulled it up and hopped out. "You ready, Tony?"

Gibbs reached to help Tony out of the wheelchair. Tony started to shrug out of the grip, but stopped himself as he remembered what Ducky had said. After Gibbs helped settle him into the car and went back to get into the driver's side, Ducky came to the window.

"Take care of him, Jethro," Ducky instructed Gibbs, winking at Tony as he did.

"Will do, Duck," Gibbs nodded as he put the car into drive. "Let me know how Ziva and McGee are doing."

Tony may have felt better in the hospital, but in the car, it was another story. As Gibbs pulled them out into traffic, seeing the scenery fly by got Tony's stomach doing flips again. Swallowing heavily, Tony told his belly to wait until they got home.

"Put your head down, Tony," Gibbs suggested. "Come on, right here."

Gibbs didn't have to say it twice. Tony folded his long body down on the seat, until his head was pillowed on Gibbs' thigh again. The rhythm of the car was soothing and without seeing movement out the window, Tony's queasiness settled down. He didn't fall asleep again, but Tony spent the ride in a nice mellow state that made the miles seem to go by faster. It helped that Gibbs was driving a lot more conservatively than he normally did.

Tony felt Gibbs pull the car into the driveway and sat up with a groan. He fumbled with the door and by the time he got it open, Gibbs was at his side. Tony made it into the house mostly under his own steam, but he was glad of Jethro's support. When they made it inside, Tony expected to go straight to the bedroom, but to his surprise, Gibbs deposited him on the couch.

"Wait here," Gibbs instructed before heading off deeper into the house.

It was hard not to feel neglected by the abrupt abandonment, but Tony was wiped out anyway. He'd only sat around a hospital all day, but he felt as tired as though he'd done a hard day's labor. He laid his head against the back of the sofa, trusting that, whatever Jethro was doing, it was with Tony's best interests in mind.

"Don't fall asleep, DiNozzo," Gibbs' voice roused Tony. "You're not done yet."

Tony resisted opening his eyes. "But I'm sick, boss."

"You'll like this, trust me."

Since Tony did trust Gibbs, he stopped whining and let Gibbs help him off the couch. The two went down the hall to the bathroom. The shower was already going.

"I thought a hot shower might help those aching muscles of yours," Gibbs explained.

Tony couldn't disagree. Not only would if feel good, but it occurred to him that if he felt as grimy as a bus depot urinal, then he probably smelled as good as one too.

It was mostly Gibbs' doing that got them undressed and into the shower. For once, Tony didn't feel any desire while being naked with Gibbs. He felt too shitty for that to be possible and that lack was yet another reason to hate being sick.

Once they were under the warm spray, Tony moaned and relaxed into the water. "That feels good."

"I knew it would," Gibbs sounded smug. "Here, let me do the work."

Tony took Gibbs at his word and leaned against the older man as Gibbs worked on getting him clean. His skin was still sensitive from having a fever, but Gibbs didn't use a wash cloth and so there was no scraping from the nubby fabric to hurt. Instead, Gibbs used his hands to soap Tony down, using long sweeping strokes against Tony's limbs that were almost reverent.

It was over too soon, even though by then Tony was exhausted. He remained docile as Gibbs reached behind the shower curtain for a bath sheet-sized towel and then used it to dry both of them off. Like with the washing itself, Gibbs didn't use his normal brisk movements. Instead, he was gentle, but thorough. Afterwards, he helped Tony into a pair of sweats before donning a set himself.

The distance from the bathroom to the bed seemed longer than normal, but Gibbs' hand under his elbow helped Tony make it. Somehow Gibbs had found the time to make the bed. Tony wasn't sure how, but he was grateful as he slid between the pristine sheets. Between the remnants of his fever and the hot shower, the coolness of them was a balm.

So was Gibbs climbing in next to him.

Gibbs curled up behind Tony with his arms around him, resting his hands on Tony's belly. Tony sighed in appreciation.

"You're gonna regret all of this, you know," Tony warned Gibbs. "When you catch the flu from me and spend the next couple of days worshiping the porcelain god."

"Not gonna happen."

Tony couldn't see Gibbs' face, but he could hear the utter conviction in the other man's voice. "Gibbs, even you get sick once in a while."

Gibbs' arms tightened around him. "Wasn't talkin' about that, was talking about not regretting. I would never regret taking care of you."

"Careful," Tony said after a moment. It took him that long to get his voice under control. "I might make you put your money where your mouth is on something like that."

Gibbs kissed his shoulder. "Try me." Gibbs' voice was full of confidence, making Tony believe that he meant want he said. Then again, Gibbs was Gibbs. He always meant what he said. "I have a feeling no one's taken care of you before. It's overdue."

"I'm an awful lot of trouble," Tony warned. His stomach was roiling and this time it had nothing to do with the flu. "Immature, incorrigible. . . ."

"I know what you are," Gibbs' voice was a growl. "Mine." One hand came up to grip Tony's hip possessively.

Tony relaxed. "Yours."

His easy agreement pleased Gibbs, who kissed his shoulder again. "Get some sleep, Tony You'll feel better when you wake up."

Safe in Gibbs' arms, Tony did just that, never doubting for a moment that his lover was right.

~the end~

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