“Um, Boss,” McGee stood up behind his desk, “we got a tip on the Portsmouth Medical Center drug ring.”
“What’s the tip?” Gibbs asked as he walked past over to his own desk.
“There’s a buy going down in about two hours,” McGee replied.
“Is the tip trustworthy?” Tony asked. “Where’d it come from?”
“I can’t be sure but the guy said he’s a nurse at the hospital and he’s been in on stealing the drugs and handing them over to be sold. Said he they’re he wants to make a deal and get out,” McGee said.
“Why does he want to get out now?” Ziva asked, walking over to lean against McGee’s desk.
McGee shrugged. “Maybe he’s worried he’s gonna get caught eventually so he might as well make a deal with us while he can.”
“Gear up,” Gibbs called, getting his own weapon out of the drawer of his desk and leading the way to the elevator. “Where we meeting him?” he asked McGee as they entered the elevator.
“Warehouse near the hospital. They use it for storing sterilized equipment, linen, stuff like that,” McGee replied, squeezing into the elevator next to Tony, jostling him against the wall.
Tony hissed sub vocally as his hand hit the wall next to him and saw McGee look at him with a raised eyebrow. Tony ignored him and stepped out behind Gibbs as they landed on the garage floor. “Shotgun!” he said quickly before Ziva could and he couldn’t help but grin as he saw her poke her tongue out at him as she opened the rear door of the car and climb in. If he kept up his usual behaviour nobody would think anything was wrong, nobody would ask any awkward questions.
“We know anything else about this tipster, McGee?” Tony asked over his shoulder as he tried to settle his throbbing hand inside his jacket pocket more comfortably. “His name, his age, whether he likes ketchup on his fries,” he rattled on, doing anything he could to keep his mind off the sullen, unrelenting pain.
“Refused to give a name,” McGee said. “He said he’d meet us there and then he’d fill us in.”
At the warehouse, all was quiet. Gibbs shook his head as he prowled the perimeter. “Looks like your info was wrong, McGee,” he called across the vast echoing space.
“Maybe,” McGee replied. “He seemed pretty genuine though. Sorry, Boss.”
“Give it one last check and then we’ll move out for now, set up surveillance in case your guy got the time wrong,” Gibbs said. “Tony, you and McGee take a look around outside. Ziva, with me.”
Ziva shot a smug grin across at Tony that he ignored as he walked outside the warehouse, McGee at his heels.
“Listen, Tony,” McGee grabbed at his arm and pulled him to a halt, “I’m sorry about what happened with Jason. I didn’t want to turn him in but-“
“Forget it,” Tony replied easily, trying for casual and hoping he succeeded. He shrugged a shoulder. “Jason knew the rules. He broke them. He’ll get some help and sort it out. It’s fine.” He frowned at a small red mark on McGee’s jacket then suddenly realization set in as it moved and he hauled McGee to the ground, behind the car. “It’s a set up!” he yelled, just as gunfire rang out and a bullet clipped the concrete a few inches away.
McGee had his gun up and firing while Tony struggled to pull his free of the holster. He finally succeeded, cursing aloud as his injured hand spasmed in agony and the weapon dropped to the ground in front of him.
He was vaguely aware of Gibbs and Ziva firing from the shelter of the warehouse. “He’s on the roof,” Gibbs called, pointing across to the neighboring warehouse where Tony could just make out a man sprawled full length, his rifle poking out over the abutment. “Can you get a shot at him, DiNozzo?” Gibbs yelled.
Tony knew he had a clearer line of sight than Gibbs or Ziva. He managed to get his weapon into his hand and bit down on his lip at the pain that screamed through it as he clenched his fingers around it and brought it shakily to bear on the sniper. A shot rang out right next to him and he flinched as the sound echoed through his head. By the time he looked up, Ziva and McGee were heading for the other warehouse and Gibbs was standing in front of Tony, a deep frown etching his forehead.
“What the hell was that about?” Gibbs asked, hunkering down so his eyes were level with Tony’s. He reached out and took the gun from Tony’s hand then grasped his wrist gently, holding it still. “You didn’t tell me you were injured.”
“Sorry,” Tony murmured, sweat beading on his forehead and trickling coldly down his neck as his hand began to throb doubletime. “I thought it’d be okay.”
Gibbs leaned into his space then released his hand. “It’s not okay,” he said flatly. “Hospital now. I’ll drive you. Wait here while I talk to McGee and David.”
Tony was sitting in the passenger seat when Gibbs came back. “Sniper dead?” he asked.
“No thanks to you. They found the informant’s body, shot through the head. Hit must have gone down just before we got there,” Gibbs replied tersely, getting into the car and starting it up.
“So it wasn’t a set up for us. They found out he’d informed on them,” Tony replied, trying to focus past the pain that was gradually becoming all consuming. He glanced down at his hand, surprised to see how swollen and bruised it was now.
Gibbs turned and followed his gaze then fixed him with a firm look, one that brooked no argument. “This stops now or you find yourself another job,” he said.
“I left him,” Tony said. “Too little, too late, I know but-“
“Good. Make sure you don’t go back because if you do I’ll headslap you from here to Australia,” Gibbs replied. He pulled the car out of the yard and onto the street.
Tony closed his eyes against the censure in Gibbs’ voice and this time let the pain take control. It was better concentrating on that than on feeling the disappointment in Gibbs’s voice. By the time they reached the hospital he felt sick, both from the pain and the reaction to what had happened at the warehouse and he stumbled getting out of the car.
Gibbs grabbed him around the waist before he could fall. “Hang onto me, Tony. I’ll get you there.”
Tony nodded, closing his eyes momentarily as the ground undulated beneath his unsteady feet. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.
Gibbs didn’t reply, just hauled him along and into the ER.
Tony winced as the doctor wrapped another layer of gauze around his hand.
“You’re lucky you only have fractures of a couple of the small bones in your hand,” the doctor said.
Tony smiled wanly up at him. Truth be told, he didn’t feel lucky at all. What he did feel was sore and tired and scared shitless about what Jason was going to do when he found out Tony had left and wasn’t going back. “Thanks, Doc,” he said as the doctor patted him on the arm and let him sit up.
“Let’s go, DiNozzo.” Gibbs poked his head around the curtain and Tony swore in his head. He’d been kind of hoping Gibbs had gone back to the office and left him here to make his own way home.
“Take the painkillers,” the doctor said, handing him a prescription for Percocet. “Believe me, you’ll need them.”
“I’ll make sure he takes them,” Gibbs said and Tony sighed inwardly, knowing he would too. He hated taking anything stronger than aspirin, hated the feeling that he was out of control.
“So,” Gibbs said as he fastened Tony’s seatbelt for him in the car, “where to?”
“My old place,” Tony replied. “Jason won’t think to look for me there. It’s too obvious.”
“So he did do this?” Gibbs gaze encompassed Tony’s hand and Tony simply nodded. “You should have come to me before, Tony.”
“I know. I just… I just couldn’t. I thought I could handle things-“
Gibbs placed a gentle hand across his mouth. “Don’t worry about it now. Now you go back to your place, you take the meds, you get some sleep and tonight I’ll come see you and you can tell me the real story of what’s been going on. Okay?”
“Okay, Boss.” Tony closed his eyes as Gibbs started up the car. He drifted into a light doze and didn’t wake up till Gibbs shook him awake outside his apartment.
“You going to be okay here tonight?” Gibbs asked, handing over the package with the Percocet that they’d had filled at the hospital pharmacy.
Tony gave him a weary smile. “I’ll be fine. Like I said this’ll be the last place Jason will think I’d be.”
“You are going to press charges against this asshole, DiNozzo?” Gibbs asked though Tony got the impression it was more a statement of fact than a question.
He shrugged as he climbed out of the car. “I’ll think about it. I’m just glad to have him out of my life for now. Can we just leave it at that for now?”
Gibbs gave him a brief nod in response. “Take a few days off then we’ll talk about you coming back to work.”
Tony ducked his head back into the car. “I’ll be fine by tomorrow, Boss-“
“Good, get a doctor’s clearance by tomorrow and you can come back to work,” Gibbs said blandly, revving the engine.
Tony got the hint, backed out of the door and closed it then watched Gibbs speed away. He was upstairs at the door of his apartment before he realized he had no food there. “Shit!” he muttered as he keyed the lock and stepped inside. He’d just have to go do some shopping later.
An arm around his throat made him drop his keys. He yelped in surprise as he was pulled back against the man behind him.
“Oh Tony,” Jason whispered into his ear. “You are so damn obvious. Did you really think I wouldn’t come looking for you here? I thought your precious Gibbs had taught you better than that.”