“Come on Tim, no sleeping on the job. I…I think I’m in trouble.” Tony risked another glance at the once pristine white shirt he’d had made to measure and which he was never going to wear again. It looked even worse than the last time he’d steeled himself to focus on the dark red stain, he knew what he should do, but try as he might he couldn’t apply enough pressure to stem the bleeding.
The day had gone wrong so fast. Tony couldn’t figure out how he’d ended up on the floor of a storage unit with Tim lying still and quiet, just out of his reach, an ugly gash on his forehead illuminated by the harsh light of a single overhead bulb.
They’d been questioning…what was his name? No…they never got to talk with him, they were at a house…the door, it was open; he remembered they were cautious, careful…they had their guns ready but…they came from nowhere. Next thing he knew was pain, hot, searing pain in his chest. When he opened his eyes it wasn’t the plaster walls of a house he saw, it was the metal walls of a container or storage unit. He’d panicked then, not just for his own predicament, he couldn’t see Tim, didn’t know what had happened.
When he managed to focus, when the fog of pain lifted briefly he saw him, Tim wasn’t moving and Tony’s breath hitched in his throat because he knew, with a clarity he wouldn’t have believed possible, he knew he wouldn’t get out of here alive unless he had help. His jacket and phone were gone, Gibbs would come looking, but would he find them before…Tony had no idea how long he’d been lying here, couldn’t be too long or he’d already have bled out.
“Hey buddy, time to…wake up.” Tony’s voice was low, breathy, every syllable took more out of him than he had to give. Was Tim badly hurt? He was breathing, Tony could see the shallow rise and fall of his chest, the only blood was on his forehead, but he wouldn’t wake up. Another spasm had Tony clutching weakly at his chest, gasping for air…he wasn’t cold, had been, yet now…he knew enough first aid to know that wasn’t a good sign. He was going into shock and pretty soon…no, he mustn’t think that way, he still had one lifeline. “Tim…please…”
A quiet groan was enough to have Tony reach out a trembling, blood-soaked hand to his friend. Slowly, agonisingly slowly, Tim’s eyes opened; Tony willed him to turn his way and see him, he couldn’t speak, not now, his strength was waning…
“T…Tony…what happened? Tony! Oh God, no…” Tim staggered to his feet, swaying as a wave of nausea swept over him; he breathed through it…couldn’t waste a second, by instinct he reached for his phone, his jacket was gone. Tim took a faltering step and dropped to his knees beside Tony; there was blood everywhere, no, not everywhere, his chest…so much blood, was it too much? Find out, he took a steadying breath, put two fingers to Tony’s neck…nothing, no wait, it was there, so faint he’d almost missed it, thready, irregular…
“I have to stop the bleeding Tony, I need…” He took his eyes off Tony for a moment, there had to be something he could use, wait…their jackets, over in the corner. “Hold on Tony, one second, hold on.” He got up quickly, hurried to the other side of the unit, leaning against the wall as his head spun. “Move McGee, come on!” He picked up both jackets, took the three strides that had him beside Tony again only this time he had to kneel on Tony’s right side, in the blood. “Are you ready Tony? This is going to hurt.” He bundled up a jacket, pressed it to Tony’s chest, no reaction, that had to be a bad sign. Maybe more padding would help, he folded up the other jacket, gasping as a phone dropped to the ground. He could get help.
Holding down both jackets as firmly as he could with one hand he hit Gibbs’ number on the menu, it was Tony’s phone, no matter, so long as it worked.
“DiNozzo, you missed your check in, where are you?”
“Boss, it’s me. Tony…he’s been shot, it’s bad. Get Abby to trace this call, he needs an ambulance, now!”
“Bishop’s on it Tim, you stay on the phone; where’s he hit?”
Tim put the phone on speaker and set it on the floor so he could apply more pressure. “Chest, can’t tell how many…too much blood. Boss…”
“He’s not going to die, not while you’re there…Tim, do you hear me?”
“Yeah, hurry Boss, you have to…” He was too still, something had changed. “Tony…” Tim checked for a pulse, this time there wasn’t a flicker of movement, nothing.
“NO! Tony, don’t do this!” Tim didn’t have time to think about Gibbs or anyone else who was listening, and the effect his outburst might be having on them; right here, right now, it was DiNozzo and McGee, no one else mattered.
Tim emptied his mind of everything but the numerous mandatory first aid training sessions they’d all attended. He ran his fingers down Tony’s breastbone and found the centre spot, laid the heel of his hand there, put his other hand on top, interlaced the fingers and started compressions, the beat of the Bee Gees Stayin’ Alive echoing in his head. He had to do this right, failure…he couldn’t bear to think about it; thirty compressions done, time for two breaths, then back to compressions. This was so much harder than working on the dummy back at NCIS with Jimmy or Ducky checking they were doing it right, This was real, oh so real.
“Am I hurting you? Maybe I’m doing more harm than good, tell me Tony.” Tim wasn’t expecting a response and none came, but he was worried, he’d heard of people having ribs broken by CPR…Tony’s chest was already damaged, if he was making things worse…Worse, he’s not breathing, his heart’s not beating, doesn’t get any worse than that.
How long had he been doing this? Didn’t matter, he’d keep going until help came. “I’m not giving up on you Tony, you are getting out of here alive, you hear me?”
“Medics are on the way Tim, Tim!”
Gibbs…where…? The phone. “Boss, how long?”
“Five minutes, the ambulance is en route.”
“The door…I can’t…”
“There’s a Metro PD patrol car on the way, they’re ready to break in if they have to.”
“Thanks Boss…I…I have to do breaths.”
“Go Tim, you’re doing great work.”
As Tim blew into Tony’s mouth he prayed to God Gibbs was right, how could he tell if he was doing any good, when would he know? He kept up the compressions, the rescue breaths, time ceased to have any meaning, five minutes could just as easily be five hours. He was getting weaker, wasn’t even sure the compressions were strong enough any longer, was he helping? He had to be…if he could keep the oxygen flowing to Tony’s brain, if he could keep the blood pumping…no ifs, no buts, he had to do it, however long it took.
“Did you hear Tony? The boss says help’s coming; we can do this, you and me, we can hold on until they get here, I promise…I won’t let you down,” He reached for Tony’s neck again and held his breath as he felt it…was it his imagination? Faint and erratic it may be, but the pulse was mercifully real. “Great work Tony, I knew you could do it. Any minute now, they’ll be here, any minute…”
24 hours later
He watched Tony’s chest rise and fall, the regular pattern of his heartbeat on the monitor, the fluids being delivered intravenously…any other time seeing Tony this way would be terrifying, but after what he’d been watching yesterday…
He’d breathed a huge sigh of relief when the Metro officers had burst through the door followed immediately by two EMTs who had quickly relieved him of his CPR duties. Gibbs had arrived soon after to find Tim sitting in the corner staring at the blood-stained floor; he’d pulled him to his feet and driven him to the hospital where he ended up being admitted and observed overnight.
A seemingly constant stream of people were in and out of his room, yet none of them could tell him how Tony was doing until Ducky had sneaked into his room just before midnight. “It’s the best possible news Timothy, one bullet nicked his ribcage, lots of blood but thankfully no internal damage, the other one…was more problematic, there was a liver laceration, bullet fragments caused numerous smaller bleeds but the surgery has been remarkably successful. As ever, there’s a worry over infection or further internal bleeding, but he’s in very capable hands and as we know, Anthony is a very hard man to kill.”
“I thought…this time I thought he was gone.”
“He would have been, without you.”
They’d all tried to tell him the same thing, but Tim wouldn’t accept any credit, he’d done what any of them would had they been faced with the same set of circumstances. Most likely they’d have done a much better job; he’d almost lost him, if he had how could he have carried on, with everyone watching him, certain they’d have kept Tony alive? He couldn’t shake the image that came every time he closed his eyes…Tony lying on a metal slab in autopsy. He rubbed his eyes, trying to erase the image. Tony is alive, Tim was tempted to repeat those three words over and over until the other frightening pictures faded.
Maybe if Tony would wake up, Tim knew he’d already regained consciousness and had talked briefly with the others, only he’d been confined to his own room and had missed out.
“Come on Tony, they’ll be kicking me out soon.” He leaned forward, was there movement? Yes…at last his eyes were opening.
“Hey…McLifesaver, you look like…crap.”
“You’re no oil painting yourself.” Tim was smiling for the first time since things had turned so sour yesterday. “You know Tony, you’ve never looked better.”