He hadn't eaten or slept in days. Tony's undercover assignment had gone very wrong and he was missing. Presumed dead. Most likely tortured like the three petty officers. What had he been thinking, letting Tony go undercover like that? Even if Vance made the rules, Gibbs should have vetoed it. But his gut hadn't so much as twitched or whimpered.
They'd lost contact with him three days ago, the surveillance equipment, his phone GPS and the tracking device in his necklace and ring all going dead. Now he was at the mercy of "The Carver" a serial killer who had killed Petty Officers Martin, Yeates, and Blumenthal.
"Got anything?" Gibbs barked to McGee. The team had been working nonstop and had called in a team from the Pentagon to help. The seven agents were assisted by Ducky, Abby, and even Vance. Even now McGee sat with a laptop console bolted to the dash of the car and another one on his lap.
They were closing in on The Carver, having cracked the three aliases he operated under just twenty minutes ago. McGee was chasing downs some classified ad posting he'd made and tracking that computer IP number to this neighborhood. Gibbs couldn't get a handle on it and wasn't interested. He just needed results. He just needed Tony.
He'd know if Tony was gone, wouldn't he? There would be a sense of loss like there had been when he'd lost Shannon. Tony was more than a coworker, more even than his secret lover. And he couldn't lose him. Not and keep his soul intact.
"Got it, Boss," McGee said, but Gibbs had thrown the brakes on and jumped out of the car. There was a slumped form...
"TONY!" He hadn't uttered the sound but his soul was feeling it. Ziva began running toward him but Gibbs cut her off, probably causing her to trip but he didn't care.
God, there was so much blood pooling under him! "Ziva, ambulance. McGee..." He just waved toward the small crowd gathering. How could Tony have been dumped on a street like he was trash? He tried to breathe, to assess Tony's injuries.
"Hey, DiNozzo," he said in a stern voice. "No lying down on the job."
A couple of people gasped, but Gibbs tried to ignore them. "Come on, DiNozzo."
"B-Boss?" The voice was so weak.
"Yeah, Tony. Yeah ... it's me. You're gonna be okay now." Tony's hand, slippery with blood, started to rise. Gibbs pressed it down lightly with a soothing sound."
"N-No. Not okay. Got me bad. My back."
"Your back?" Gibbs was doing the best assessment he could. Tony had multiple slashes and stab wounds, some deep, but he'd be okay. He had to be okay. The major blood loss wasn't from the front wounds, Gibbs realized.
"Cut me right open. Base of my neck right down," Tony said softly. Gibbs looked at the bloodstain on the ground and he knew. He'd been pushing this away since he saw Tony, but he knew what mortal injuries looked like.
"Ah God, Tony. I..." Tears choked his voice, his hand settling on Tony's head.
"It's okay. You came," Tony said simply, a shudder running through him. "Finished him, Boss. He's in there." Tony's bloody hand came up and he pointed to a rundown building. "C-c-cold, Gibbs. Hold me?"
"Of course but don't wanna hurt you, Tony..." He took off his overcoat, trying to figure out the best way to do this and not add to Tony's pain. He finally wrapped the other man's torso in his overcoat gently before gathering Tonyt close as tenderly as he could. Tony's ruined back was covered by the coat and even though blood was starting to moisten the fabric, even though Gibbs had felt the jagged edges of the torn skin, Gibbs wanted to believe...
Tony sank into the embrace, burrowing close in weakened movements that broke Gibbs' heart. "No more pain. Getting close, Gibbs." Tony's voice sounded so tired and Gibbs stroked his hair.
"Tell me if I'm hurting you, okay?"
"Tony!" McGee had obviously found the body and moved the crowd back while Gibbs' focus had been on Tony. Now, McGee looked at him in shock. "Boss ... his ... his back. All torn up..." The look of bleak horror in McGee's eyes drove more emotions to the surface.
"P-probie. Damn good agent ... take care. Teams gonna ... need you."