Gibbs sighed as Tony shrugged off his ready hand and stumbled to the bathroom. "You should have called."
"I'm a big boy, Boss. I can take care of myself."
Biting back a sarcastic challenge, Gibbs began stripping the bed. The sheets were damp, reeking with a sweaty funk and the stench of stale vomit. He winced in sympathy at the sound of Tony’s retching. When it was over, he asked, "How long have you been throwing up?"
"A couple days. I think it was the Szechuan Chicken that did me in."
"Damn, DiNozzo. That was Thursday. You've been puking for three days straight?"
Tony reappeared even more wobbly, and paler than Gibbs thought possible. This time he didn't resist the support offered. "Three days? I thought it was Saturday."
"Try Sunday afternoon." Gibbs steered Tony around the freshly made bed. "I'm taking you to the hospital."
Tony’s distaste for hospitals had become a near-phobia after his bout with the plague. "Boss, no! I don‘t need a doctor to tell me I‘ve got the flu." Tony struggled ineffectually to free himself from Gibbs’ grasp, until he found himself thrust up against the wall with Gibbs’ face six inches from his.
“You. Are going. To the hospital. Understood?“
Tony’s attempt at stony silence more closely resembled a sulky pout. Gibbs hid his amusement behind a glare. “If I have to deck you to get you there, I will.”
Before Tony could formulate a protest, his body apparently decided resistance really was futile. His knees buckled and as Gibbs slung Tony’s arm over his shoulder, Tony had a fuzzy thought about Saint Bernards, brandy, snow, and snuggling to keep warm.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
One anti-emetic, two bags of IV fluids, assorted drugs, and several hours in the emergency room saw Tony back home. He was surprised how tiring walking to and from a car could be. He didn’t even pretend to refuse help.
When Gibbs sat him in a chair and began stripping him down, all he could do was mumble, “Um, yellow light, Boss.“ The tap on the back of his head was reassuring, despite the resulting vertigo. It also left him with an odd sense of disappointment.
Gibbs was surprising efficient at peeling clothing off limp bodies. Tony’s fevered brain wondered if he’d been practicing on Ducky’s guests. He chuckled at the image, drawing a questioning glance from Gibbs. Tony stifled the chuckle, leaned back and closed his eyes. If Gibbs didn’t get him into bed soon, he was going to fall asleep right there.
He must have dozed off, because the next thing he knew, a warm washcloth was gently scrubbing his chest. Tony’s eyes popped open and he was looking into Gibbs’. They were unreadable, as they always were.
The man in question nonchalantly ran the washcloth under Tony’s arms. “You stink,” he said. “After this, I’m doing your back. You feel up to doing the rest?” He nodded at the towel draped across Tony’s lap.
“Yeah,” Tony stammered. “I think I can manage.”
“Good.” Gibbs patted Tony’s chest dry and took fresh washcloths from a bowl on the dresser. He handed one to Tony. “Work fast. I want you in bed in five minutes.”
Ten minutes later, Tony lay in the darkened room listening to Gibbs quietly moving around in the bathroom. “Boss? You staying here tonight?”
“Won’t be the first time I’ve slept on your sofa.” Gibbs came and stood by the bed. “How’s the nausea?”
“Better. As long as I don‘t think of food.”
“I’ll be glad if you can manage to keep liquids down. Get some sleep.”
Tony sighed and snuggled deeper into the bed. “On it, Boss.”