Gibbs knew that Palmer had enough of a head start on him that the team would know what had happened. Still, he wasn't expecting Tony to be practically leaning against the elevator doors when they opened. "DiNozzo."
"Boss, how is he? How could he get hurt that bad and us not notice?"
"He's going to be fine and we'll just have to start paying more attention. "You want to go see him?"
"Yes." Tony tried to get in the elevator, but Gibbs was blocking his path. "Boss..."
"Find Jackson's supplier. We've narrowed it down to two likely suspects. You and Ziva each take one and run a deep background. Then you two can take a long lunch and go see McGee."
"He didn't tell any of us because he didn't want to disrupt the case. Don't throw that back in his face. Ducky is taking Abby in a few minutes, he won't be alone."
Tony looked like he was going to argue, but he finally turned on his heel and marched back to his desk, eager to find the link necessary so he could visit his partner. Ziva had been listening and was already working.
As Gibbs entered their section of the bullpen, Keating arrived from the other direction. He went immediately to McGee's desk, only to find his way blocked by the Team Leader. Gibbs leaned into Keating's personal space as he laid down the law.
"This is McGee's desk and he's not going to be out long. That means you don't change anything. You don't move his stuff around, you don't mess with the adjustments on his chair and you don't change the settings on his computer. Got it?"
Keating opened his mouth to argue and Gibbs' eyes narrowed. "Got it?"
"Abigail, my dear, slow down." Ducky was getting dizzy watching her spin around the lab, getting every machine in her lab running at the same time.
She shook her head as she loaded samples into the mass spec. "No, I have to hurry. I have to have the lab so busy that there's nothing for me to do but wait so I can go see McGee. That way the Director won't be mad about my leaving."
Ducky waited until the tray slid shut before taking her hand. "Abby, the Director knows you're going to visit Timothy. The man is planning on stopping by the hospital later today, himself. Now, are you ready?"
Looking around the lab she nodded, then shook her head before rushing into her office. Ducky wasn't surprised when she came back with her stuffed hippo. "Now I'm ready."
"Hey, McGee." If Ducky had been worried about her normal over-exuberance, he would have been surprised by her gentleness as she crept up to the bed. Her whispered greeting didn't seem to wake him, but when she sat next to the bed and laid her head next to his, his eyes slowly opened.
He sounded sleepy and she raised up enough to look directly into his face, looking for any sign of pain or discomfort. She didn't find any, but he looked loopy. "They've got you on the good stuff, don't they?"
"Yeah." Tim tried hard to keep his eyes open, but the finger she was stroking across his hairline wasn't helping. "Tried to tell them I didn't need it, but..."
"Why not? You had some pretty major surgery, McGee." The incision had been finally bandaged, but the bulk under his hospital gown was apparent, especially with the gown's shoulder still unsnapped.
"Can't do anything this doped up."
"Then let us do it for you."
"Absolutely, young man." Ducky's arrival surprised them both. "Your doctor tells me that your surgery went remarkably well, considering the amount of damage he found, but you need to allow yourself time to heal, Timothy." He'd been quite pleased and relieved that McGee had already listed both he and Gibbs to have complete access and he shared Dr. Yang's concern that Tim's stubbornness might impede his recovery.
"Luckily, your surgeon and I are just as stubborn as you. Your meds will be decreased this afternoon, not before, because being in pain is stressful to the body and that is a stress you do not need."
"I thought I was going home this afternoon?"
Ducky just shook his head. He'd already heard from Dr. Yang how much the post-surgical exam had taken out of McGee. "Plan on one more night, especially since you were too nauseous to eat more than a few bites of your breakfast this morning."
Busted, Tim nodded glumly without looking at either of them.
Abby sat on the edge of the bed and leaned over to snuggle up against him before tucking Bert in next to him. "Don't worry, we're going to take such good care of you."
"Absolutely. You will be staying with me when you are released and Mr. Palmer or I will be with you every day until you can function on your own."
Tim hadn't been expecting that. "Ducky, thank you, but that's not necessary."
"Nonsense, dear boy. The house is quite lonely with Mother settled in at the nursing home. It's no bother at all. Now I realize Jethro had been planning on you staying at his home, but, as I reminded him, he's not prepared for an invalid. It's all settled, so there is no use worrying about it." Ducky checked his watch and gave Abby an apologetic look. "I am sorry, my dear, but we do need to get back. I believe you have some tests results to check."
After a flurry of hugs and kisses from Abby and a pat on his good shoulder from Ducky, McGee was left to rest, Bert on guard hippo duty next to him.
Tony was practically vibrating and Ziva was edging toward the elevator as Gibbs reviewed what they'd found that morning. Finally, Gibbs took pity on them. "Go, make sure he has some decent food while you're at it." They didn't have to be told twice and within seconds Gibbs was alone with Keating who kept his nose to his work.
From up on the balcony Vance laughed before coming downstairs. "Don't think I've seen anyone move that fast when it didn't include gunfire. How's McGee doing?"
Gibbs leaned back and tossed his pen on the desk. "His doctor seemed pleased with the surgery. Biggest concern he has right now is that McGee's going to push himself too hard and re-injure his shoulder. McGee is worried about his position on the team, and he shouldn't be."
"You're right, he shouldn't, and I'll be sure to mention that when I see him later today."
If Gibbs was surprised at that, he didn't show it. "Appreciate it, Leon."
"Your team works, Gibbs. I may not totally understand the dynamics, but I'm not going to mess with success. You'll have Keating until McGee is ready for full time desk duty and then you'll have whatever TAD's you need to cover for him out in the field. Might even use the opportunity to run a few trainees through your team, show them what it's really like out in the field." Vance laughed at the look on Gibbs' face, rapped his knuckles on the corner of the desk and walked away.
"Is he awake?"
"Perhaps, although his breathing is quite steady. Shall I poke him? I have a paperclip."
"Ziva, no." At the louder voice, McGee's eyes started to flutter open.
"See, now he is awake. How do you feel, McGee?" She smiled down sweetly at the injured man before Tony pushed her away.
"Hey, Probie, don't worry, I've got your back, I won't let her hurt you."
"Hey, Tony." Tim blinked heavily, trying to fully wake up as he felt around for the bed control. Tony found it tangled in the blankets and raised the bed slightly for Tim to see them better.
"Thanks." Tim reached up to try and adjust his pillow one-handed and Tony immediately saw the problem and fixed it for him.
"It's not a crime to ask for help, Tim."
The comment, the expression and the use of his first name told McGee that Tony was talking about more than the bed adjustments. "I'm sorry, Tony. My head knows that, but...
"But why, McGee? What have we done to make you think we wouldn't care?"
Ziva didn't like the confrontation that seemed to be brewing. "Tony."
"We're a team, Ziva, and if our partner doesn't feel he can even mention the fact that he just got his shoulder dislocated by a suspect, we've got a problem. If we've got a problem, we need to fix it."
"It's not you guys, really."
"The old, 'it's not you, it's me', Probie, really? Come on, you can do better than that. I mean, I know we're not your 'family' family, but we're trying here." There was a flicker of something that crossed McGee's face at Tony's words. Tony wasn't sure what it was, but he latched onto it. "Talk to us, man."
The steady stream of worried faces since he'd awaken from the anesthesia had already worn away most of McGee's resistance. "I guess I'm just used to being on my own when I'm in the hospital."
Tony knew of only one other time his friend had been admitted into the hospital. "Your car wreck? When you were sixteen? You must have been swimming in relatives when you were in the hospital that time."
"Dad shipped out from Norfolk before I got out of intensive care."
"And your mom?"
"Already on her way to California to his next duty station, and my grandparents were in Europe." Tim gave a one sided shrug, trying to make light of it. "I mean, I was already in college, it wasn't that big of a deal. I was too busy trying to keep up on my classes to really worry about it and I just learned to do it all on my own."
"Damn, McGee, that's really... wow." Dozens of little moments over the years were falling into place and suddenly making sense and Tony looked at his friend in a whole new light. Tossing the hippo onto a chair, Tony perched on the bed and started unpacking the food they'd brought. "That's not the way it is for you any more and we're going to keep reminding you until you remember."This entry was originally posted at http://emerald-green37.dreamwidth.org/25