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Germ Warfare

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“Vance wants to see you,” Ziva said as Tony came in.

He’d had court that morning, but they’d thankfully gotten his deposition out of the way early and he’d gotten back to the office a little before ten. He looked around the bullpen. “Where’s Gibbs?”

McGee shrugged from behind his computer. “He was here when I got in at eight, but left again around nine.”


Tony looked up to see Vance leaning over the banister.

“What’d I do?” he whispered to Ziva as he tossed his overcoat on his desk.

Ziva just shrugged. McGee didn’t respond at all.

Tony jogged up the stairs and followed Vance into his office. Four minutes later he jogged back down the stairs and picked his coat back up. “I’m going out. McGee, if we get anything, you call me, not Gibbs. I should be back after lunch.” He didn’t wait to see if he’d been heard or if Ziva had anything pithy to say.

Tony shouldered his way through Gibbs’ front door with two plastic grocery bags in one hand and a smaller one from the local drug store in the other.

“Gibbs?!” he hollered as he kicked the door shut behind him. He waited and listened. He couldn’t hear the t.v. or the sounds of woodwork from the basement, but he peeked down the stairs anyway.

“Damn, you actually followed orders?” Tony said to himself as he dropped the groceries on the kitchen table. He grabbed a glass and poured some of the orange juice he’d bought into it. Taking that and the pharmacy bag he jogged up the stairs to Gibbs’ bedroom.

He sighed at what he saw. “You were not this sick last night,” he said mostly to himself.

He set everything in his hands on top of the dresser and sat on the edge of the bed. Gibbs had the blankets pulled up around his ears even though the room was reasonably warm. Tony noticed that he was both sweating and shivering. He pressed the back of his hand to Gibbs’ forehead. “Don’t need a thermometer to tell me you have a fever,” he said as Gibbs cracked open his eyes.

“What are you doing here? You have court today! Wait, you left when I left…” Gibbs looked confused and he fumbled with the blanket and Tony had a flashback to the only other time he could remember seeing Gibbs uncoordinated and confused – when he’d been dosed with that BZ gas and had floundered on a bathroom floor like a landed trout.

“Been there, done that,” Tony told him gently as he straightened the blankets a little and helped Gibbs roll onto his back. “It’s almost eleven. I was done at ten. Then Vance told me that you were sent home with the flu. I said I needed to see it to believe it.” Tony got up and grabbed the white paper bag. He opened the new digital thermometer he’d bought and pressed the button to turn it on. “Actually he said you were supposed to go to a doctor, but I ran into Ducky on my way out and he said he hadn’t seen you all day, so I figured…”

When Gibbs opened his mouth to argue, Tony stuck the thermometer in it and gave Gibbs a stern look. Gibbs frowned, but obediently closed his mouth. A few seconds later it beeped and he let Tony take it back, without even checking to see what it said. “I’m pretty sure Vance didn’t send you over here to babysit me.”

“It’s a really boring day in the office, boss. And McGee has strict orders to call me if that changes.” Tony glanced down at the thermometer and fished his cell phone out of his pocket. “What are your other symptoms?” Tony asked. “And don’t try to bullshit me.”

Gibbs was clearly too tired to argue. “Sore throat, congestion, body aches, cough and a senior field agent who doesn’t understand that when I’m not at work he damn well should be.”

“Uh-huh,” Tony mumbled, ignoring the dig. He stabbed at his phone, “Hey Ducky,” he said before juggling the phone in one hand and activating the speakerphone. “I’m at Gibbs’ place. Vance sent him home. He has a fever of 102.4, body aches, sore throat, all that. And he actually left work, so you know…”

“Oh dear,” Ducky’s voice sounded tinny through the speaker. “Sounds like there’s finally a flu willing to take on Leroy Jethro Gibbs. You know, it’s awfully late in the year to get the regular flu. Odds are good he’s looking at H1N1, which from all accounts is absolutely miserable.”

“I don’t have the damn swine flu, Duck!” Gibbs yelled into the phone, but ended in a coughing fit that had Tony tossing the phone down and helping Gibbs to sit up, his own experience having taught him that it was easier to cough upright.

When he could breathe again, Gibbs sighed, his head resting on Tony’s shoulder. It was going to be hard to argue with Ducky now. He didn’t even try to lay back down; it felt too good to lean on Tony and let him rub his back while he rested.

“You know,” Ducky said calmly, “Perhaps it’s best that I come over and see for myself. Jethro, I’m ordering Anthony to give you a couple of aspirin and if you have any cold or flu medicine in the house, take that too. That’s an order from your doctor. Anthony, he needs lots of fluids and the medications. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid coming into contact with anything that might have germs on it.”

Tony paled, grateful Ducky couldn’t see him. “Um, Ducky… I think that ship has sailed.”

“You can’t have been there that long, Tony. You were in the office not an hour ago,” Ducky replied, confusion clear in his voice.

“Oh, no… that’s not… I think that ship sailed last night, I mean, there’s an incubation period to consider, right?” Tony said carefully. His relationship with Gibbs wasn’t news to Ducky, but clearly he wasn’t thinking of it now.

Ducky’s familiar, “Oh-hh,” made Tony smile despite himself. “Guess I’ll be picking up two prescriptions for Tamiflu. See you both soon.”

The line clicked off and Tony hung up. He lay Gibbs back against the pillows and got NyQuil and aspirin from the bag and handed the dosages to Gibbs with the orange juice. “I kind figured it was something like this. Bought out, like, half the drug store.”

Gibbs obediently took the pills and then lay back down. This flu was pure evil. He couldn’t remember ever being this worn out from a bug.

Tony shucked his overcoat, jacket and shoes and crawled up to spoon behind Gibbs on top of the blankets. Gibbs turned, his face clearly saying that he was afraid Tony would get whatever he had, but before he could say it Tony said, “If I didn’t get whatever germs you have last night, I’m not so worried about getting them now. If I did, it’s too late anyway.”

Ducky might argue, but to Gibbs that made perfect sense. Besides, there was nothing Tony could get from the drugstore or Ducky could bring from the pharmacy that would make him feel better than his lover curled up around him stroking his hair as he drifted back to sleep.