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Title: (re) Death
Warnings: angst, violence, bloodplay
Summary: Someone kills Tony, but it doesn't stick.
Jethro looked down at the body with numbness and a sense of dislocation. On Ducky's exam table, the body looked cool and motionless, the face expressionless. The sheet draped over the body hid the two gaping wounds in the chest that had come from fifty caliber bullets. Even if there'd been a vest in place when it had gone down, there was the distinct possibility they would have pierced the Kevlar.
The blood had been cleaned and the trace evidence taken, all meticulously done and then sent to Abby's lab. Not that Abby was there; Abby had been sedated and was resting in the infirmary.
Ducky's voice sounded as defeated as Jethro had ever heard it, but it didn't pull his gaze from the body that had once been Anthony DiNozzo.
"Jethro, you shouldn't be here."
Finally shifting to meet Ducky's gaze, Jethro found a bleak sorrow in the older man's eyes that almost broke through the numbness. It took a couple of tries before he managed to ask, "Official COD exsanguination?"
"Jethro, you need to let someone else handle this," Ducky said, compassion mingling with the sorrow in his tone. "None of us should be here. This is a dark day for us all."
The coldness where his heart had been made it easier to handle what should have been impossible to do: go on living. He'd felt this once before, when Shannon and Kelly had been killed. It seemed like he was cursed to love and have violence take those he loved. There hadn't been any warning the first time this had happened, but Jethro had always known this was a possibility where Tony was concerned. They were federal agents, after all, and dying in the line of duty was always there, in the back of the mind. They'd lost Kate that way.
"I'm going to find his killer, Ducky. Do you want to help me, or not?" Jethro finally said.
Ducky let out a long, slow sigh and responded, "I haven't performed the actual autopsy, but yes, exsanguination due to gunshot wounds will likely be the official COD. The bullets went straight through him. The poor boy didn't stand a chance, wouldn't have even if you'd been with him, Jethro. With no one there to apply pressure, he died within two, three minutes."
"And if someone had been there to apply pressure?"
"Jethro, don't do this to yourself."
"Answer the question."
Ducky sighed again. "He might have lived five, ten minutes at a maximum, depending on how fast and firmly pressure was applied. He still would have died, Jethro, that's what I'm trying to tell you."
Jethro nodded and ordered, "Don't let Abby see him until he's completely patched up."
"Of course," Ducky agreed. "And how is young Timothy holding up? And Ziva?"
Thinking about his remaining team members, Jethro replied, "McGee's with Abby in the infirmary and Ziva...she's waiting for me. Thanks, Ducky."
Because knowing that the fucker who'd killed Tony had meant for Tony to die regardless of what heroic measures might have been used gave Jethro carte blanche to return the favor.
* * * *
Ziva was waiting for him with a terrible silence when he got back from the morgue. Jethro knew she hadn't been to see Tony since he'd bled out only half a block from where she'd been chasing the Lieutenant's partner. She'd heard the gunfire as a vague echo, Ziva had told him at the scene, and known something was very wrong. She hadn't said anything else since then.
There wasn't anything to say, really. They would find Lt. Mark Randell and kill him. Jethro might even let her torture the man, he wasn't sure yet. Using sniper fire to kill the drug dealer who'd murdered his wife and daughter had been too fast on both ends of the spectrum; Jethro should have made him suffer.
They left NCIS and drove back to the crime scene, each taking an end of the alley to go over. They might have been trained differently, but the end results were the same; within ten minutes they'd found the trail and reversed it. A half hour later found Jethro and Ziva outside a club that was still packed to overflowing. He motioned her to go inside and then took the back for himself.
Jethro didn't expect to find anything, but even so kept his gun out and at the ready. He picked out the blood trail from the wound that Tony had managed to deliver before being shot and followed it deeper into the shadows. The numbness didn't make him careless. It seemed as though the complete lack of caring if he survived had put his senses in overdrive. No one would be able to sneak up on him in this mode.
He walked down the alley slowly, his gaze flickering into the darkness as he went. It was only because he was so focused that he heard the soft snick of a gun hammer move into place. Jethro couldn't tell from which direction the noise had come and so froze in place, listening intently. He saw the flash from the muzzle before he heard the abnormally loud report of the gun firing. Something slammed him backwards into the wall and he fell abruptly to the pavement.
It was a full three seconds later that he felt the fire burst in his chest and struggled to draw in air. He vaguely heard the roar of something unnatural and then snarling like the fight of animals. It was only a few seconds after that, seconds that felt like an eternity between staggering, impossible breaths, that Tony crouched over him.
"Christ, Gibbs, what the hell did you d this for?" Tony demanded, agony replete in his voice. "You're the one who taught me never to go alone. Where's Ziva?"
The questions were pointless since Tony was a hallucination. Offering a faint smile, his breath now wet with blood, Jethro coughed and answered, "Never took you for the, the angelic type, DiNozzo."
Tony's eyebrows lifted and then he shook his head, sadness marring the handsome features. "I'm about as far from an angel as you can get, Gibbs. Look, you're dying."
"I figured," Jethro agreed, coughing again
Palming his hand across Jethro's forehead, Tony said, "I can save you, but...shit. Gibbs...Jethro...I'm a vampire."
It was growing harder to stay conscious. Had it been a minute? Two? Was he bleeding out already? He had to be.
"Listen," Tony ordered, suddenly in his face, glaring at him. "I can save you, but it means you won't be human again. You have to decide. I won't do this unless you ask me to."
Did he want to live? Hadn't he spent years wanting to rejoin Kelly and Shannon? Could he go on as something else? It didn't seem strange to believe Tony's claim since the man had been brutally dead not an hour ago. There was no other explanation. That and the way his eyes glittered in the dark, the green a fierce, glowing emerald.
Dragging his attention to the rapidly dwindling ability to breathe and the faintness, the dizziness that signaled his blood seeping onto the pavement, Jethro stared into Tony's eyes. Eyes that had been dead and motionless not long ago. Eyes that held no compulsion beyond that which they'd always held. There was his answer. He finally wheezed, "Yes."
"Yes you want to live?" Tony prompted urgently.
Jethro nodded raggedly, gasping, "Yes," with what felt like his last breath.
Instantly, strong arms yanked him off the ground and Tony pressed Jethro's face to a cut on the bare throat that bled sluggishly. "It's just like the movies, Jethro, drink the blood and do it fast before it's too late."
Jethro put his mouth against the seeping blood and pressed his tongue to it. The flavor of it was metallic, as expected, but there was something...different. He'd tasted blood before, by accident; standing too close when someone got shot, stabbing someone in a fight, even his own blood from countless bloody lips or cut cheeks over the years. This blood that so slowly filled his mouth and slid over his tongue and down his throat to mingle with his own tasted...sweet...addictive...
"Christ that's good," Tony moaned, his arms now wrapped completely around him. "I didn't believe the stories, but fuck, this is so good."
The weakness that flowed through him began to reverse its tide, strength rising.
"Get away from him! Gibbs!"
Jethro would have responded to Ziva's panicked demand but for the need to continue drinking from Tony. She said something in Hebrew that he didn't understand, though the tone was one of horror and shock. She must have caught sight of their clench, identified Tony.
"Tony? H-how?" she whispered.
Tony stood up, not letting go of Jethro, holding him as easily as if he weighed nothing at all. When he spoke, his voice was hypnotic. "Ziva, you don't see anyone here. I'm not here, Gibbs isn't here, and in fact, you're not here. Today was the end to a really hard case. You got the guy and he's dead. He shot me, but you and Gibbs both took him out with a shot each to the chest. That's who's in the morgue, not me. I was just grazed. I'm fine. Lt. Randell is dead. Do you understand?"
"Lt. Randell's dead. I shot him, as did Gibbs. You were grazed and will be impossible to deal with for the next few days," she echoed, a hint of annoyance in her otherwise blank tone.
A chuckle shook through Tony and he confirmed, "I will. Go home and go to sleep."
Jethro was too engrossed in keeping hold of Tony to pay attention to where Ziva went. The world passed by in flashes of lights and traffic and bitter cold air, but all he could focus on was the slow slide of blood into him and the impossibly strong arms holding him. Then they were somewhere warm and enclosed and he stood instead of being held. The position felt strange to him and he protested wordlessly when Tony gently disentangled them.
The smile on Tony's face was brilliant as he said, "You look like hell with all that blood on you, but damn, it's a sexy hell."
Jethro felt a lot more like himself even though he didn't want to even risk looking down at his chest with the gaping bullet wound. So he looked at Tony, instead. He was mostly naked, with only a pair of what looked like Ducky's spare scrubs on, and barefoot. There were holes in his chest, but they were neat ones now, not ragged and impossible like before. There was a gash on his throat from where Jethro had been drinking, but it was closing up even as he watched.
"So I know you've got questions, but this isn't the time," Tony informed him. "In about five minutes, your body's going to die, so let's get you comfortable."
The moment that Tony came into range, Jethro grabbed him by the back of the neck and hauled him in for a hard, desperate kiss. Tony reacted instantly, opening to it and then thrusting his tongue into Jethro's mouth. Jethro held fast to him and devoured Tony as he'd wanted to do for years, the pleasure of it running right down into his soul.
It seemed to be one sensation too many for his body to handle in such a short time because agony struck without warning. He collapsed against Tony, unable to breathe, unable to move, unable to do a damn thing except stare at the other man who lowered him carefully to the floor that he couldn't even feel under his back, all his muscles locked rigid in pain.
Cupping his face, Tony promised, "It's okay, Jethro, you're going to be fine just as soon as you die."
Not the most reassuring words as darkness took him.
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