Ducky heard them long before he saw them. He hadn't needed to stay, but he'd developed a habit of staying when Gibbs' team was still out. The body from the plane would be delivered soon and he'd left orders that it be stored until he came in in the morning. With the case essentially closed, there was no rush. He was heading up to the bullpen to see if everything was wrapped up when he heard Tony's voice from around the corner.
"Look, Boss, as you all love to tease me about, I was a P.E. major. Which means lots of first aid and sports medicine courses. I also played a few sports and saw – hell even had - a few dislocations. So quit being an ass and let Ducky do it. Because if you don't, when Vance sees you he's gonna send you to Bethesda."
"When the hell did you get to be so damn demanding, DiNozzo?"
"Well," Tony said glibly, "I've been working for you about nine years and seven months…so…"
As the pair of them rounded the corner, Ducky could immediately see the source of Tony's concern. Gibbs was cradling his left arm against his chest and his left shoulder dropped off at an alarming angle.
Gibbs sighed as he saw Ducky waiting for them. "It's not as bad as it looks, Duck."
Ducky strolled up and glared up at Gibbs through his glasses. "I think I'll be the one to determine that." He shifted his glare to DiNozzo who put his hands in the air in surrender; he wasn't the one arguing. "And if I determine that you do, in fact, need to be treated at Bethesda, Anthony here will make sure you get there and get treated."
Tony nodded from his position behind Gibbs where his boss couldn't see him. He really couldn't think of a place he wanted to be less at that point. In the middle of a showdown between Gibbs and Ducky? There was no way that ended well for him.
Ducky softened his features and took Gibbs by the good elbow and steered him into his workspace, which was, fortunately, devoid of any cadavers. "What did you do to yourself this time, Jethro?" he asked as he steered Gibbs to a table and nodded for Tony to help him up onto it.
"Kept McGee from becoming road pizza," Gibbs murmured as he reluctantly took Tony's hand for leverage and got himself seated on the cold, metal table.
"Next time try keeping yourself from becoming a hood ornament in the process," Tony scolded, keeping himself out of smacking range by moving around to stand behind Gibbs.
Ducky nodded, understanding. He took a cursory look at the clearly dislocated shoulder before heading for a cabinet in the back – the one with supplies for his infrequent live patients. "Anthony, see if you can't help him out of his coat and sweater. I'm going to get some morphine."
"I don't need morphine, Duck! It's just a dislocation, just shove it back in, I'll be fine!" Gibbs growled.
"Spoken like a man who's never dislocated his shoulder before," Tony quipped as he moved around to do as Ducky asked.
By the time Tony had maneuvered Gibbs just enough to get the overcoat off, Gibbs had wisely decided to shut up and accept the needle Ducky had in hand when he returned to the table.
"We'll have you feeling no pain in no time at all, Jethro," Ducky said as he took a pair of scissors to Gibbs' sweater and t-shirt. There was no way that was coming off the normal way before that shoulder was reset. "Hope you aren't too attached to this sweater," Ducky said apologetically as he began to cut.
Gibbs was still gritting his teeth, trying to pretend that having Tony remove his coat wasn't both a little embarrassing and excruciatingly painful, so he didn't answer Ducky, just nodded minutely before realizing that that wasn't a good option either.
Ducky tsked and clucked as he took a look at Gibbs' injury. After taking stock of the situation he held up the syringe. "I promise you; you do want this," Ducky assured Gibbs.
Having already decided morphine was the better part of dignity, Gibbs just sighed his consent. He bit his lip as Ducky pressed the needle in, gasping at the sharp pain added to his already growing greater pain. This was getting old fast. But before he could let out the breath, he felt the meds kick in. First there was a rush of warmth and relief. Then his head started feeling light and his vision narrowed significantly. "What the hell was in that?" he slurred as he felt himself list.
If Ducky answered him, he didn't hear him. He was pretty sure it was Tony's arm that went around his chest holding him up as he started losing coordination enough to stay upright.
"I got ya, Boss."
He thought about answering Tony, but it seemed like far too much work.
There was a discussion going on around him, but it was too hard to distinguish who was speaking. This struck him as odd, since he knew both Tony and Ducky's voices intimately and they sounded not at all like each other, but he really couldn't muster up the concentration to care until he felt himself being moved and repositioned. Tony's arm was gone from around his chest, and he was pretty sure it was Ducky who had one hand on his good arm and the other on his opposite ribs, keeping him from face planting off the table and onto the autopsy floor.
Then Tony's arm was back around his chest, and the other was around his stomach. Gibbs gathered the shreds of his attention and realized that the only way Tony could be holding him like that, the way he was sitting, was to be sitting on the same table, right behind him. He had to be all but in Tony's lap. "DiNozzo? Wha' the hell are ya doin'?" Damn, talking was difficult. He was getting concerned that Ducky had given him something other than morphine. His eyes had closed and he couldn't find the coordination or strength to open them again.
"Countertraction, Jethro," Tony answered right in his ear. "Now sit still, because even as looped as you are right now, this is still probably going to hurt like a bitch, especially if you try to pull away."
That was all the warning he got before he felt his left arm being pulled away from his middle and twisted, turned and shoved in ways he hoped it was never manipulated again. He felt his eyes roll back and was briefly glad that he didn't have the energy or strength to scream, because fuck that hurt.
Dimly he was aware that the torture was over and the pain was fading. And he was exhausted. Tony was still holding him up and that was probably a good thing. After a few deep breaths he was able to mumble, "Tell me you're done with that."
"All done, Jethro," Ducky said patting him on the good arm. "I'm going to get you a sling. You should probably lie down until the drugs wear off. Then I'm sure Anthony here will make sure you get home safely."
Gibbs let out a sigh. He was pretty sure getting injured in Kuwait hurt worse, but he wasn't sure any injury he'd had since compared. Even getting shot in Central America half a dozen years ago had really been more of an annoying flesh wound.
He felt himself starting to tip to the side and tried to catch himself.
"Relax, Boss, I've got you."
Tony… Gibbs supposed if Tony said it was okay, it was okay. He trusted him. A few seconds later he found himself laying on his right side, someone, presumably Ducky, had swung his legs up onto the autopsy table. He expected to feel the cold steel of the table under his cheek, but instead encountered warm wool over a yielding surface. He was lying on Tony's lap. Oh, hell. He tried to gather up the energy to tell Tony that really, this wasn't the time or place and he'd planned to – eventually – tell Ducky about the two of them himself, but the right time for that discussion never seemed to present itself. But the energy and the clarity just weren't there. What little energy he'd had trying to hold himself together against the pain had fled with most of the pain. The drugs were taking care of the fact that he should probably be mortified, but really wasn't. But then again, it was Ducky and Tony and if he couldn't trust them to get his back when he wasn't up to getting his own, who could he, really? And Tony was a hell of a lot more comfortable than the metal table or those foam blocks Ducky used to hold up the neck of a dead body. He briefly entertained the idea of what would happen if McGee would happen to walk in and see Gibbs, drugged to the point of breathing shallowly - imperceptibly, laying on one of Ducky's tables, with his head on the foam block, looking for all the world like one of Ducky's more typical patients. He decided that if anyone asked about the somewhat twisted grin on his face, he'd just blame the drugs.
Between the pain being severely reduced and the meds knocking him into orbit, Gibbs knew he wasn't going to be able to keep himself awake for much longer. He tried to rally himself enough to get Tony to take him home before he fell asleep right there in autopsy. He wasn't sure why, but it was one thing for him to hop up on a table and lay down while he waited for Ducky or Abby to do their thing, but it was another to be drugged into a helpless oblivion and being laid out in a morgue. He shivered at the idea that Palmer might come in and try and shove him in a drawer. "Help me up, Tony," he whispered into the fabric of DiNozzo's suit pants. He tried to explain why, but there wasn't enough energy.
"In about two hours, Jethro. Ducky says you need to sleep this off right here, for now."
"Not gonna sleep in autopsy. McGee'll think I died. Palmer will shove me in a drawer." Gibbs knew that there should probably be a lot more explanation behind that, but decided it could wait.
"McGee's busy with about eight days of paperwork that I said he had to finish before I uncuffed him from his computer. Palmer's off this week." Tony said quietly, as he began to stroke Jethro's hair.
"You may want to explain… this…" Gibbs' right arm flopped around for a second, theoretically indicating himself and Tony, "to Ducky."
"I'm pretty sure our friendly neighborhood medical examiner has pretty well figured it out for himself," Tony promised.
"Oh, Jethro," Ducky put in from where he was cleaning up after himself, "I had some pretty strong suspicions when your father had to stay on the sofa because the guest room was 'occupied'."
Tony fidgeted a little under Gibbs' head. "I'm not exactly staying in the guest room any more, Ducky."
"I didn't think you were, Anthony," Ducky said kindly. "It's nice to know I don't need to go looking for someone to stay with you while you're recovering."
Gibbs could feel Tony shrug. "I owe him a few. When I broke my arm last year…"
"I didn't realize it had started that long ago," Ducky said. Gibbs could tell by the way his voice got more distant that he was moving around, probably heading for his desk.
Tony let out a long sigh. "You could say it started then. You could say it started almost ten years ago." Another minor jolt that meant another shrug. Gibbs grunted, hoping Tony would sit still.
"If you're going to continue to act as his pillow until that shot wears off, you might want to sit as still as you can," Ducky said conversationally.
"Right. Sorry, Boss," Tony said with a gentle pat on Gibbs' head. "Hey Ducky, you leaving us here?"
Gibbs was actually in favor of that. Without someone to talk to, Tony would eventually settle down.
"I'm going to run to the Bethesda pharmacy and get some pain pills and muscle relaxers for him to take at home. I'm sure I can trust you to ensure that he does, in fact, swallow them."
Gibbs felt Tony ruffle his hair playfully. "Oh yeah. I'm a big believer in turn about is fair play. And I have six weeks of him hovering over a broken arm and a plaster cast to make up for."
Gibbs could hear Ducky laughing as the autopsy doors whooshed open and shut. His last thought as he finally drifted off was that he was going to have to find any number of out-of-town assignments for Tony. As soon as he had the strength to open his mouth and give the order.