Binnacle List - Gibbs

by Juli

February 2009

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

Tony was awakened to the dulcet sound of retching. He immediately knew who was doing the vomiting and his own stomach clenched in sympathy. He was all too familiar with how that felt and sympathized. That wasn't the only reason, though, that he felt bad.

It was his fault that Gibbs was sick.

Getting up quickly, Tony padded barefoot to the bathroom that was connected to his apartment's master bedroom. The door was shut and he opened it a crack. "Gibbs?"

He saw Gibbs kneeling on the floor. The older man spit into the toilet and snapped at Tony without turning around. "Go away, DiNozzo."

Tony blinked. He hadn't exactly expected to be welcomed with open arms, but neither had he anticipated being verbally decapitated. He backed up and shut the door carefully before heading back to the bedroom.

Burying his hurt feelings was hard, but Tony had been given strict instructions to follow if this scenario happened. Even though it was the middle of the night, Tony picked up his cell phone and called Ducky. After seeing Ducky in action at the hospital during his own bout of the flu, Tony wasn't about to cross the other man, elderly or not.

Ducky picked up on the third ring.

"Sorry, Ducky, I know it's late," Tony ran a hand through his hair. He already had a serious case of bed head and the gesture just made it worse, but he didn't care. "Gibbs is puking a lung out."

Tony could hear Ducky sigh. "I was afraid of that. Jethro is only human, after all, no matter how hard he drives himself."

"So what do I do?" Tony asked. "I already tried to help."

"Let me guess, you got your head handed to you on a platter," Ducky sighed again.

"Something like that," Tony admitted. "Although it might have been my ass instead." He chuckled bitterly. "Some people might say it would be hard to tell one from the other."

"Don't take Jethro's attitude personally, Tony," Ducky advised him. "Jethro isn't angry at you, he's angry at himself. He doesn't like it when his body fails him and tends to take it out on the nearest available target."

"Great," Tony muttered. He'd hoped that Gibbs wouldn't get sick, but if it had to happen, it would have been nice to take care of the older man, the way that Gibbs had taken care of him earlier. "How do I help him?"

"Don't let Jethro drive you away," Ducky instructed. "I don't think he's in any true danger, but we want to avoid any dehydration issues, like you experienced. You'll have to make sure he takes in fluids, even if he's actively dispelling them too."

Tony remembered how truly crappy he'd felt when he was ill and ended up in the ER. No, he didn't want Gibbs to go through that. "How do I manage that? Gibbs isn't exactly known for doing anything he doesn't want to do."

"You'll have to match him, growl for growl," Ducky suggested. Tony could hear the hint of a smile in the older man's voice. "Besides, Jethro has a particular soft spot where you're concerned. I think you'll find he'll do more for you than he would anyone else."

"Except for Abby," Tony pointed out.

"Jethro is indeed fond of our Abigail," Ducky admitted. "But don't discount how much he loves you, Tony. Jethro would do far more than drink a glass of water if you asked it of him."

Ducky gave Tony a few more instructions and, by the time the conversation was over, Tony felt a bit better about the situation. He wasn't sure that Ducky was right about Gibbs doing just about anything for Tony, but felt particularly warmed by the fact that Ducky even thought it was true.

Tony heard the toilet flush and hopped off the bed. He straightened the covers and pulled them back, so the bed would be more comfortable when Gibbs came back to it. He next went and got a bucket, as well as a glass. When he returned to the room, Gibbs was huddled under the covers. Tony put the bucket on the floor so that it was nearby and then perched on the edge of the mattress.

"You have the flu," Tony stated.

"I do not," one blue eye opened to glare balefully at him.

Tony got up and went into the bathroom, returning with the glass, now filled with water. He wrinkled his nose and waved his hand in front of his face. "Well, then something crawled up your ass and died, by the smell coming out of there."

Gibbs grunted. "What does it matter?"

"Drink this," Tony held the glass out to Gibbs.

"No. Get that thing out of my face."

Tony leaned down so that he was in Gibbs' face. "You listen to me, soldier, because this is the way it's going to be. Every time you puke or squirt, I'm bringing you a glass of water. You're going to drink it. You can snarl at me all you want, but you are not ending up in the hospital with dehydration."

The response Tony's ultimatum prompted was not the ass-chewing that he expected. Instead, the look Gibbs gave him was oddly vulnerable. "You should leave, Tony. Go stay with Abby or Ducky. I get mean when I'm sick."

"Yeah?" Tony smiled. The way Gibbs had said that made the hardened Marine sound like a little boy caught with a hand in the cookie jar. "I hadn't noticed."

"I'm serious, Tony."

"I am too," Tony refused to back down. "Look, I promise I won't hover too much. Ducky says you're like a grouchy bear when you're sick. If you want to be left alone, I'll leave you alone as much as I can, but I still need to keep an eye on you and make sure you're okay. I'll camp out on the couch and promise I won't try to wipe your fevered brow, but I am staying and I am going to take care of you."

Gibbs blinked. "Okay."

Tony tried not to feel too cocky about his triumph, knowing it was short-lived. Once Gibbs was feeling up to his usual self, Tony's time in charge would be over. "Okay."

He went to the closet and grabbed an extra blanket and pillow. "I'll be out on the couch. Holler if you need anything."

In a way, Tony was glad that they'd been in his apartment when the flu hit Gibbs. If they'd been at Gibbs' house, then Tony would have had a guest bedroom to retreat to. That would have been more comfortable, but would have made it harder to monitor his patient. Tony had fallen asleep many a night on the couch, anyway, usually during a classic movie marathon.

Neither man got much rest. Gibbs was up and down to the bathroom and, true to his word, Tony brought him a glass of water to drink every time. Gibbs glared at him, but he drank it. Tony would have thought Gibbs' obedience had everything to do with Tony's commanding presence, but he had a feeling that his lver's cooperation had more to do with common sense. No doubt Gibbs had experienced dehydration before during his military career and had no interest in going through it again.

Tony spent the time taking cat naps or watching television. Unlike most people, he loved daytime TV. The best of the classic re-runs aired during the day and soap operas were hoot. Actually, soap operas were full of hooters; he couldn't believe some of the soft prn they were able to get away with. When he needed mental stimulation, he switched to game shows, but it wasn't much fun playing by himself.

By dinnertime, Tony was lonely and a little bored. He was sure to make his supper something that didn't cause a lot of aromas to waft through the house. If Gibbs was queasy, the last thing he'd want would be to smell food. Tony ended up with a grilled cheese sandwich and wished that Gibbs was up to eating some comfort food. Ducky arrived shortly thereafter and Tony was very glad to see him.

"Come on in, Ducky," Tony said as he opened the door for the older man. "Welcome to Hospital DiNozzo."

"And how is our patient?" Ducky asked as he entered the apartment. Ever the gentleman, he removed his hat as he stepped inside.

Tony grimaced. "Our patient isn't exactly being patient, but at least he's drinking. Not sure how much is actually staying in him, though."

"Well, I shall see if I can find out," Ducky smiled at Tony from the bedroom's entrance. "Wish me luck as I enter the fray."

Standing nearby, Tony shamelessly tried to listen in to the conversation. He could hear two sets of voices, but unfortunately his was an older apartment building and too well built; the walls were too thick for much to come through. Soon enough, though, the volume of the voices rose and Tony heard Ducky clearly.

"Just remember, Jethro, that I have a rectal thermometer at my disposal and I'm not afraid to use it."

Things got quiet after that.

A few minutes later, Ducky came out of the bedroom. "You're doing a wonderful job with him, my boy. He looks splendid, given the circumstances."

"He does?" Tony asked, relieved but doubting. "I think he looks like crap."

"And so he does," Ducky chuckled. "But he's hydrated and not very feverish. That's about as good as one can expect will this particular stomach malady. He's very lucky that you're here to make him behave. There will be no trips to the ER for Jethro, not with the excellent care you're giving him."

Tony snorted. "I should get a big thank you card from every doctor and nurse there; Gibbs would not have been a happy camper."

"I see that your head is still attached," Ducky commented. "Is Jethro behaving himself?"

"Given that he's sick, he's doing okay," Tony shrugged. "As long as I give him space."

Ducky patted him on the arm. "And as long as you don't take anything personally. Keep that in mind; it's very important."

"Will do, Ducky," Tony promised.

"And keep up the good work," Ducky instructed as he took his leave. "I'll be back tomorrow, but don't hesitate to call if Jethro's condition takes a turn for the worse."

Gibbs didn't get worse, that Tony could tell. In fact, the evening remained very quiet, with the interruptions for Gibbs' bathroom breaks coming farther and farther apart. Eventually, Tony woke up, realizing that he'd fallen asleep. From the time, it had been some hours. He couldn't figure out what had awakened him, but then he heard the shower running.

If Gibbs felt good enough to shower, then he must be on the mend.

Yawning, Tony went into the bedroom. It smelled a little stale, so he took time to change the sheets on the bed. By the time he was done, Gibbs was stumbling out of the bathroom. He looked like ten miles of bad road, but something in his posture made Tony believe that the worst of the flu was over.

"You gonna run out of here again?" Gibbs asked as he shuffled towards the bed.

"I dunno," Tony watched as Gibbs climbed in. "You gonna chase me out?"

Gibbs actually smiled, if faintly. "No." He lifted the covers up. "Get in here."

Tony willingly went. Soon they were curled up together, although Tony was careful to lay next to Gibbs instead of on top of him. He also made sure that the other man had a clear shot if he needed to make any sudden bathroom runs.

"My ass hurts," Gibbs muttered.

"I bet," Tony sympathized. "And not even for a fun reason."

Gibbs snorted. "No, the last 24 hours have not been fun at all."

"At least you stayed out of the hospital," Tony pointed out. "You're the ever-stoic Marine, not like some people, who need babying."

Most of their team had gotten sick, but Tony was the only one who'd needed medical intervention. Compared to the way Gibbs handled being sick, Tony felt like a wuss.

Gibbs comforted him in typical Gibbs fashion; he wacked Tony on the back of the head.

"Ow, what was that for?" Tony complained. He rubbed the sore spot while he glared at his lover.

"Do you really think I'd have someone on my team that I couldn't respect?" Gibbs demanded. "Let alone sleeping with him?"

"Well, when you put it like that. . . ."

"You're plenty tough," Gibbs growled. "You wouldn't be here otherwise."

"Oh," Tony put on his best nonchalant face. "You thought I was talking about me being a baby when I was sick. I was totally talking about McWimpy."

"Right," Gibbs smiled. "As long as we're clear on that."

"We're clear, boss," Tony said, settling back down against Gibbs.

"Good," Gibbs closed his eyes. "Now get some shut-eye, you've had a busy day, taking care of me."

Tony obediently closed his eyes. It felt good laying with Gibbs and the loneliness he'd been feeling earlier was a thing of the past. Before he could fall asleep, though, Gibbs nudged him.

"Thank you, Tony," Gibbs stated quietly.

"You took care of me," Tony pointed out. "It was the least I could do."

Gibbs shook his head. "Not just for that, but understanding that I'm a mean sick and steer clear as much as possible."

Tony shrugged. "Your bark is worse than your bite, I've always known that. Besides, Ducky explained things to me."

His claim made Gibbs frown. "If you think you can get away ordering me around like that in the office, though. . . ."

"I would never dream of it, boss," Tony assured him. He couldn't help adding, though, "As long as you keep hydrated."

Gibbs growled. "Go to sleep, Tony."

And with things back to their natural order in his world, Tony did and gladly too.

~the end~


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