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With a Little Help From My Friends (Sequel to 'Help, I Need Somebody')

by: BuffyAngel68 (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #2
Chapters: 065 Word Count: 103164
Rating: ADULT
Warning(s): Disturbing Imagery or Content, Violence
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Abby Sciuto, Timothy McGee, Ensemble, Caitlyn (Kate) Todd, Tobias Fornell, Gerald, Kelly Gibbs, Jeanne Benoit
Category(ies): Action/Adventure, Angst/Drama, Established Relationship, Humor, Hurt/Comfort, New Character, Romance
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo, Abby/McGee, Ducky/Gerald
Episode(s): 3-12 Boxed In
Summary: As Gibbs and Tony grow closer, an outside force is working to destroy the younger man. Meanwhile the rest of the team find their joy in varied and interesting places...

Chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65

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41

With A Little Help 41/?

-------------------------

LOCAL HOSPITAL: 1 HOUR LATER:

Perched on the edge of Tony's E.R. bed, Gibbs struggled with the exhaustion he could no longer beat back. The adrenaline that had held him up and moved him forward since those first terrifying, shocking moments on the roadside had finally dried up, leaving him barely able to keep his eyes open. Still he had refused every attempt to coax, reason or pull him away from the spot he'd claimed. Even Ducky's gentle logic and a firm, empathetic hand on Gibbs' shoulder garnered no immediate response.

"Jethro. Please..."

"Not 'till I can touch him. I told you that before. You know how bad he needs contact... to steady him, to boost him, to focus him... "

"Hmmm, indeed. So much so that he perceives a shuddering clout to the back of skull as a form of affection."

"It is... sometimes. It's discipline, mostly, but not always. He knows the difference."

"Yes, well, right now..."

"Right now there's hardly a spot I dare lay a finger on... If there's nowhere I can touch without him hurting, then he at least needs my presence... needs to know I'm here. Why can't you understand that and just let me be?"

"What I understand is that you are on the verge of becoming ill yourself. Without a few hours of solid rest and a good meal or two, you'll soon be claiming not only a bed of your own, but an IV pole and a bag of reviving fluids to hang on it."

"Damn it, Duck..."

"You and Anthony are too close for a short separation to do any damage. Your bond is more than strong enough to survive you taking a bit of time away to care for yourself. The next few days and weeks will be so difficult, Jethro... how will you ever even get him started on his journey back if you aren't at your absolute best? I agree that he needs you... but he needs you at one hundred percent."

Gibbs heaved a quiet sigh.

"Tell me again what we're facing."

"Jethro..."

"Just remind me once more. Then... then I'll go. Okay?"

"I'm holding you to that bargain, my friend. Firstly, the muscles in his arms, chest and back have been severely damaged. There may also be nerve involvement... at this early stage it's not easy to tell. The cuts and welts should heal well, now that he's on antibiotics. A few of the ones on his back and legs may scar. Time will tell. The doctors don't think there will be any tooth loss or permanent damage from the blows to his face, however bad the bruising may look at the moment. Once the swelling recedes..."

"His feet, Ducky. What about his feet?" Gibbs interrupted, his voice low and harsh.

"Ah... yes. There, too, a reduction in swelling needs to happen before a true assessment can be made... but in time, and with physical therapy, I believe he'll walk normally. His lungs, of course, are the biggest concern. Hours in a damp cold environment, with so much additional stress on his body and immune system... they'll be watching his breathing very, very closely."

"When can he be transferred?"

"Transferred? Oh, no. He shouldn't be moved..."

"He needs to be in Bethesda Naval with a doctor he knows and trusts. Otherwise when he's conscious he'll fight everything they try to do for him."

"The boy is likely to do that no matter what facility he's placed in... still, you may be right. I'll speak to his current doctors in the morning about the possibility. Now I believe you made me a promise..."

"Did you call Jimmy and let him know the score? He and Tony... they've gotten pretty close lately. The kid's probably sitting around your office chewing his nails down to the cuticle..."

"I phoned just before I came to see the two of you. Dennis Lewiston was with him and assured me that he'd see Jimmy got home safely."

"The others..."

"... are tucked up behind locked doors at Abigail's and require no reassurance from either of us. No more excuses, Jethro."

Gibbs reached out shaking fingers and lightly traced around the edge of the oxygen mask obscuring half of Tony's face.

"I can't. I just got him back... he'll be pissed if I leave him so soon. And don't try and tell me he won't realize anything's changed. I know better..."

"He'll be even more furious with me if I don't make you care for yourself. I won't risk that. Come, my friend... please."

Though he continued to shake his head, Gibbs allowed Ducky to assist him up and onto his feet. Leaning in, he dropped the gentlest possible kiss he could manage near the spot he'd smacked in that long ago isolation unit, hoping with all his heart that the same message would somehow find its way through the drugs and injury.

"A few hours of sleep, a sandwich and I'm back here." Gibbs insisted as he was guided out of the room.

"We'll see."

"Hey, I'm still a Marine. I can kick your ass a hundred different ways, old man... "

"And I am a Medical Examiner. I can flay you open, remove all your organs, sew you back up and leave only the slightest sign that I was ever there at all."

"You win."

"Never a doubt, my friend. Never a doubt."

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TWO HOURS LATER:

Max paused in the middle of finishing the last slice of pizza then cautiously dropped it back to her plate, focusing intently on Abby. Tim had concluded his version of the events at the warehouse only moments before and the younger woman was now glaring at him furiously. Swiftly wiping grease and crumbs from her hands, Max prepared to intervene and defend the man she considered a hero from the third member of the group, who clearly didn't agree.

"You did what?!"

"Abs, come on..."

"No! He said he'd shoot you and torture you... if Gibbs hadn't shown up just in time who knows what could've happened?! Why would you *do* something like that?!" she demanded, flailing at him with both hands. Max leaned in and firmly grabbed her wrists, effectively immobilizing her.

"What else could he do, Abby? It was the only way. He saved Dino's life... Tim stood up to a brutal psychopath and saved his brother's life."

"I *know*! *That's* why I wanna hit him!"

Struck by an idea to defuse the situation, Max smiled lightly and countered Abby's statement. ""Ohhhh, no. Dad put me in charge tonight and if either one of you are banged up when he gets home, I'm the one who'll end up grounded. No bloody lips or bruises on my watch. Got it?"

The younger woman simply stared, temporarily unsure how to reply, prompting her new colleague to release her grip. Max's final edict snapped her out of the stupor and left Abby and Tim gasping with laughter. I'll send you to your room if I have to. No triple ripple ice cream, no movie."

Once she recovered her breath, Abby posed a question.

"Triple Ripple? Never heard of it, but I'm willing to try just about anything with the words ice cream on the package."

"No package. I make my own. This one's got a vanilla bean base with swirls of chocolate, peanut butter and raspberry running through it. Thus the name."

Abby's eyes widened.

"Oooooh. I bet it's fantastic."

"You bet your ass. Best in town, including what you can get in the stores."

"Can we have some now? Like... now, now?"

"No more trying to claw poor Tim's eyes out?"

"Scout's honor."

Max chuckled and rose to her feet, gathering up the pizza boxes and other trash.

"I'm trusting you. I'll go fill up three bowls, you and Tim pick a DVD, okay?"

Abby nodded enthusiastically. The minute Max vanished into her kitchen, however, her smile softened and she turned to Tim.

"Did you hear that?"

"What?"

"She's decided what her place is gonna be."

"Her place? You mean..."

"Yeah. In the family."

Tim became silent and deeply contemplative for a few minutes.

"Big sister. Just a little younger than Tony. Is she still adopted?"

"Oh yeah, but it doesn't matter so much anymore 'cause she couldn't care less. It's like Director Mackenzie is step-mom, but she's a really good one, so who cares, right?"

"Right."

"She really was good to you today? She really helped you?"

"I wouldn't have made it without her. Once I knew Gibbs had the guy, I sorta... went to pieces. Just a little."

Abby squeezed his hand.

"You didn't say that before."

"It was embarrassing. After what I found it in myself to do for Tony, to just crash like that..."

"Are you crazy? I've seen it happen to him a hundred times."

"No... not possible."

"The day after that undercover case, the one where you stood up to that witch and told her to stick it? Tony showed up at my place and fell apart like somebody karate kicked a Lego castle. He never cried... don't know why, exactly, but that's something he just doesn't do... but he shook like he was having seizures. I held him and talked him down for like... three hours, until it was out of his system. If you're not human, Timmy, you aren't a good agent. Crashing post-stress is *totally* human."

Max,.who had been lingering in the background and silently absorbing the conversation between her new pseudo-siblings, now cleared her throat and pretended to cough.

"French roast, anyone?"

"Mmm, yeah!" Abby agreed. "Microwave popcorn?"

"What? You ate two thirds of a pizza all by yourself." Max chuckled.

"Trust me," Tim offered in rebuttal. "... she could inhale two *whole* pizzas and still want dessert, popcorn with the movie and a snack before bed. She'll never gain a pound, either, unlike some of us." He groused faintly. Abby couldn't decide whether to punch him in the arm for the first statement or kiss him on the cheek for the second one, so she did both, one after the other.

"Hey, I said no bruises, remember?"

---------------------

GERALD AND DUCKYS HOME: 11:15 P.M.

"Jimmy? What're you doing here so late?"

"Gerald. I'm sorry. I... you were probably just heading to bed. I'll go..."

"Hang on, now. You wouldn't have come all the way here if it wasn't important. Come on in and talk to me."

Slowly, hesitantly, Jimmy made his way inside and allowed Gerald to guide him to a seat on the sofa.

"Did Dr. Mallard call you?"

"Not since this afternoon. I'm assuming between overseeing Tony's care and dealing with Gibbs, he's run off his feet."

"I thought it would get better when he called to let me know everything was alright... that they'd found Tony alive. It just got worse..."

"What did?" Gerald inquired gently.

"The tension, how I'm feeling. I never had any brothers or sisters... but I had a friend. He was a couple years older... Sophmore to Senior, you know? I looked up to him so much. He said he wished he had a little brother like me... said he cared, and I knew he meant it. Then... then without a-a sign or a warning or anything... he wasn't there anymore."

"Wasn't there... how?"

"What Tony tried to do... my friend succeeded. My mom told me... and all of a sudden I felt like I was falling and falling... and it would never stop. I couldn't make it stop..."

"So when you found out about Tony... oh, buddy, I'm so sorry." Gerald murmured, reaching out to lay a comforting hand on Jimmy's bent shoulders. To his surprise, the young man flinched, jumped up and moved away a step or two.

"Don't. Please... don't call me that, okay? Brandon called me that all the time."

"I hear you. Jimmy... what is it you need? How can I help?"

"Dr. Mallard... he told me once about your basement... what you set up down there to fix dark stuff inside... make you feel better. I want... could I use it?"

"Yeah, of course. C'mon..."

Both men took the elevator down and Jimmy paced while Gerald got the lights on. Once he had his soon to be assistant geared up for safety and he'd explained what to do, the older man stepped back and let Palmer go at it. Though he began in silence, soon Jimmy was murmuring, growling and spitting words born of grief, fear and intense anger; at his friend, at Tony and at himself for what he perceived as a second failure to intervene quickly enough. A failure that almost lost him a second big brother.

It took some time for his emotional roller coaster to wind down and run out of fuel, but when it finally did, Gerald was there to support the exhausted youngster, get him back upstairs and tuck him into bed in one of their two guest rooms. As he left, shutting off all but one small, dim light next to the bed, he made a silent promise to God that every member of his family would survive the turmoil they were struggling with, no matter what he might have to do to make it happen.

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TBC............

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