mrwubbles: (NCIS Team NCIS)
[personal profile] mrwubbles




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3. "Considering the smell, I will think that a blessing."

Spoilers: 2X22 "SWAK"

When Ziva saw what Tony held in his hand, she almost didn't let him back in the car.

McGee, on the other hand, flipped the locks open, and Tony yanked open the passenger door, scrambling inside with a wheeze as icy vapors rushed in from the drizzle outside.

"Tony," Ziva hissed. Even though it was an American car, Tony's long legs still needed some careful maneuvering before he could fold himself into the backseat.

"I don't know how the Fonz fits in here with his dates," Tony grumbled as he nearly hit Ziva with his sacks reeking of salt and grease.

"Because it's usually a Cadillac," Gibbs growled from the driver's seat. "DiNozzo, either you're in or out. Make up your mind."

"Tony, it's freezing," McGee complained as Tony swore under his breath and whacked McGee on the head with their lunches (Ziva doubted his claim that it was an accident) before finally settling down.

"Ah," Tony sighed. "Better." He pulled at the door, slamming it shut and sealing them against the winter's icy rain.

"Speak for yourself," Ziva snapped as she elbowed him. His thigh was crowding her into the car door on the other side.

"Ow. Watch it, Ziva, or you're not getting your food."

"Considering the smell, I will think that a blessing," Ziva shot back.

Tony snorted before he tugged open the bags and circulated its contents. "With what little money you guys gave me, be glad I didn't just get you bread and water."

To Ziva's surprise though, Tony had gotten her and McGee grilled chicken wraps and side salads. The sandwiches were wrapped in unblemished wax paper; the salad was crisp, green confetti in a clear clamshell box.

She was no longer impressed, however, when Gibbs received a pulled pork burrito smothered in a spicy smelling sauce and Tony happily attacked a bacon Swiss double burger.

"Wish we could have gotten the surveillance van, Boss," Tony said, his cheeks puffed out like Taya's childhood hamsters when he took another bite. He showed Ziva the half-eaten burger dripping with ketchup, oozing cheese, and escaping shredded lettuce. "Want?"

"No, thank you." Ziva made a face. She took a more restrained bite of her wrap. She savored the chicken dressed with the sweet tangy vinaigrette Tony had chosen for her. She was thankful Tony did not ruin her lunch by slathering it in ketchup or hot sauce. "I must agree, Gibbs. A van would have been more—" She jabbed Tony with another elbow when Tony wiggled too close in order to distribute the water bottles.

"Watch it!" Tony yelped.

"Tony!" McGee complained when Tony inadvertently kicked the back of his seat with his knee.

"Hey!" Gibbs barked and Tony slumped back in his seat.

"Comfortable," she finished darkly.

"You need twenty-four hours to requisition a van and we didn't have twenty-four hours," Tony spoke up. He wiped his mouth with a napkin, grimacing when he realized his fingers were stained with ketchup as well.

Ziva made a face when Tony popped one red-tipped finger in his mouth.

"If the lieutenant is going to run, he's going to do it as soon as this rain lets up." Tony tossed a wad of paper napkins over McGee's shoulder when he wiggled a hand for them. McGee grumbled as white tissue rained onto his lap. "Am I right?"

Gibbs grunted as he finished the first half of his burrito. When he held his hand out from behind, palm up, Tony promptly placed a neat stack of napkins on it.

Ziva bit back a smile when McGee glowered at Tony in the rearview mirror. She raised an eyebrow at the sight of Tony gingerly lifting up a cardboard cup out of the last sack, a tiny paper tag spinning on a string pinned under the lid.

"Tea, Tony?" Ziva remarked as she watched Tony took its lid off to blow on the amber liquid within. She leaned in and gave it a careful sniff. "With honey?"

"Don't sneeze in it," Tony warned. He pulled the cup away and held it to his chin.

Ziva scoffed as she sank back into her side. "I, at least, cover my mouth."

"Come on, that room was dusty and I wasn't expecting it!" Tony quickly capped his tea and used the cup to cover his mouth as a cough erupted.

Gibbs never wavered from his scrutiny of their target through the front windshield but Ziva thought she caught his eyes flickering up briefly to the rearview mirror. As well McGee’s, she noted.

"You called Pitt?" Gibbs said sharply.

Ziva blinked. "Pitt? Is he an agent?" she asked, but before anyone could answer, Tony slotted his tea into a cup holder and smashed his face into a bent elbow.

"I take it that's a no," Gibbs bit out.

Tony rolled his red-rimmed eyes when he raised his head. "No, I didn't call him because it's just a tickle in my throat." He gave a few more sharp hacks into his sleeve.

Ziva's eyes widened as a brief mention teased the back of her memory.

"Gross," McGee said before he pulled open the glove compartment and rummaged around inside. He pulled out a packet of cherry lozenges and, without turning, tossed them over his shoulder. The bag of medicated candy bounced off Tony's head.

"Thanks a lot, Probie. Give me a concussion instead," Tony groused.

"Better than the plague," Ziva pointed out. She knew she guessed correctly when everyone in the vehicle stilled. McGee lowered his food to his lap. Gibbs hesitated before he continued eating with renewed fervor.

"It's not the plague," Tony said tightly. He tore into his food, finishing the rest of his burger in three bites. He wadded up the wax paper and dropped it into one of the bags. "It's just a tickle in my throat with a side of paranoia." He retrieved his tea from the receptacle and drank noisily from it. He jerked the cup away and fanned his gaping mouth.

"Pitt, he was your physician?" Ziva considered what she remembered from the background checks she had ordered two years ago. She nodded. "Yes, from Bethesda. Did he say there was a chance the plague would return?"

"It's not likely, Ziva," McGee answered too quickly. He twisted around in his seat and nodded toward Tony. "But he has to be careful of pneumonia and chest colds—"

"And of germaphobic probies," Tony bit out. He glared at McGee until the younger agent squirmed around to face front. Tony then turned his gaze to Ziva, jaw set.

"Not the plague." Tony popped a lozenge into his mouth. He punctuated the declaration by loudly crunching the candy before washing it down with a more careful sip of tea. He screwed up his face, shoved the tea back into the cup holder again, and coughed into his hands.

No one said anything as Tony coughed and coughed. Ziva had a feeling a helpful pound of her hand on his bowed back would not be welcomed right now. But watching Tony try to suck in a deep breath, fail, and cough again was surprisingly painful. In the back of her mind, she wondered if this was what the others must have felt back then.

Finally done, Tony sat back, winded as he wiped his mouth with a napkin McGee threw at him in a loose ball.

"Tickle," Tony stressed in a hoarse voice.

Ziva cleared her throat and gave Tony a reproachful frown. "Just as well. You should see this Doctor Pitt—"

"It's not the plague," Tony gritted out, his voice sharpening to an edge that made Ziva blink. Gibbs didn't try to hide his gaze up to the rear mirror this time.

Ziva fidgeted, feeling a pang at the surreptitious looks McGee kept giving Tony through the side mirror, at how Tony pretended not to notice, how Gibbs was not completely successful in hiding his own hooded scowls that reflected off the windshield. The reports on Tony's illness had been sterile in description; lacking details, giving only facts.

The food on her lap was warm. She cradled it and thought how it easily could have been a messy, greasy burrito.

Tony's hand trembled a little as he reached for the tea, jaw clenching as he held back another cough.

"Seriously, Tony, maybe you should call Dr. Pitt."

"Seriously, McNag, maybe you need to eat your food," Tony growled, his voice growing raspier with each syllable.

McGee must have felt braver in the front seat with Gibbs. "I think it's a good idea to see him before it gets worse."

Thinking quickly, Ziva covered her mouth with her hand and leaned away. "Yes, before you infect us all with your booties."

Startled, Tony sputtered into his tea. McGee burst out laughing before he corrected her with "cooties." Chuckling, barely able to keep his voice steady, Tony genially agreed to let McGee drive him tomorrow to see the doctor about his "booties."

While Ziva pretended to wave Tony's germs away from her with a hand, she caught Gibbs looking at her in the rearview mirror and giving her a brief nod.

Ziva nodded back.



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