Breathless

Status:
  • Complete
Content Rating:
  • PG-13
Fandom(s):
NCIS

Relationship(s):
N/A

Warning(s):
  • Dark Themes
  • Discussion - Other Trigger Topics
  • Disturbing Imagery
  • No Beta
  • Permanent Injury
  • Violence - Canon-Level
Genre(s):
  • Action Adventure
  • Alternate Universe
  • Angst
  • Canon Divergence
  • Challenge Response
  • Crime Drama
  • Episode Related
  • Hurt/Comfort
  • Rule 63
Word Count:
1,599

Author's Note:
This is written for the 2019 Gen Angst Week Challenge for the Writer's Guild Community over at discord. The challenge word today is: Weakness. It always annoyed me that we never got to see more of the consequences of Tony's brush with the plague. His lungs were clearly scarred and I have a family member scarred lungs, it is not something you simply brush off.

Summary:
Post plague Toni was a different creature than pre plague Toni. Season 2 SWAK AU. Not dead Kate. Gen. Friendship. Always Female Antonia "Toni" DiNozzo.


*O*O*O*

They ran. 

Perps took one look at them, at their jackets and caps very subtly proclaiming them NCIS, a.k.a., federal agents, a.k.a., law enforcement, a.k.a. the man, and they ran. Toni bit back a groan. Hit McGee on the shoulder, who was staring after them with the look of a bunny in the headlights of an eighteen wheeler. 

Toni didn’t blame him. Toni kind of wanted to crawl under a table and hide there. The sky was a thick, ugly grey. A blanket of dark clouds frequently pierced with ribbons of lightning. Thunder roared. Then there was the sleet. An entire arctic ocean pouring over their heads and the perps had ran right into that. 

The Lincoln Memorial south food kiosk was a nice spot to grab a bite to eat if crazy expensive for what they serve. There was just no way Toni would never, ever pay $7 for a garden salad in anything with less than four Michelin stars. It was also the jurisdiction of the USPP. Why the hell was NCIS even involved was something Toni wanted to know. At the moment, however, there were two teenagers, who got the brilliant idea of robbing a food kiosk at the National Mall, and were Toni’s responsibility. 

“C’mon McGoo, let’s put the pedal to the mettle.” She said with enough cheerful sweetness to give an entire kindergarten cavities. She wrestle the door open, the wind and ice-rain nearly knocked her back inside. Right. When she didn’t feel McGee behind her, she glanced back. McGee had turned her horrified bunny look to her. Saucer eyes and twitching cheek. It made him seem all of twelve years old. Kind of cute in a pathetic, pudgy geek sort of way. “Gird your loins, McGeek, and let slip the dogs of war!”

She grinned, probably a little manically and launched herself at the door and into hell. She didn’t stop to check McGee was at her six. He would be. She might make fun of him, well, a lot. He was an easy, squishy marshmallow with a hidden core of steel. He just needed a push. A lot of pushes and pokes and head-smacks for it to finally assert itself. 

The kid was way too soft for the life they led. He needed to toughen up or else everyone and their mother was going to eat him alive. And Toni was more than happy to help with that. She was a nice gal like that. Maybe she should put some itching power on his keyboard. If he rubbed his eyes, put them in his face, well, the possibilities were endless. 

Red hoodie, also therefor named perp number one was going north on 23rd. Perp number two, green hoodie, and really, what was with all these hoodies, went into the grass and around the back of the kiosk. She motioned for McGee to follow green hoodie and went after red hoodie. 

The kid was fast. Toni was no slouch, running full out with shoes made for this kind of weather and still was barely keeping up. They passed a couple in colorful ponchos. The perp slipped and skated but it wasn’t until he took a sharp turn, jumped over a bench and into a muddy patch that he finally went down. Face first. Toni was on him like white on bread. Or a lion on a tattered gazelle. Either way, Toni had the perp on the ground, handcuffed and whining in less than a minute. 

“I didn’t do nothin’” He shouted and begged and sent mud over every inch of Toni’s new Armani sweater under the NCIS windbreaker. Toni pulled his arm behind his back. The little shit turned his head and spit at her then bit at her neckline, nearly ripping it. The little shit. A kick to the knee, she slammed him down hard and in the process finished coating her in mud. 

She want going to kill the little shit. She really was. And Abby was going to help. Because Abby was an awesome friend and because Abby had forced her to get a whole new winter wardrobe. Went with her, dragging grumpy, frumpy Kate behind. Because Toni, and Toni’s body, post plague, was a pathetic, delicate princess that needed warmer everything when before a thin sweater or light jacket would have done the job. 

“Yeah, well, you have the right to remain silent, you probably want to do that.” Two National Park cops appeared as if by magic, taking the perp. “Great timing.” She threw out and ignored their offhand thanks as they took over reading of the miranda. 

Toni stopped, braced herself on her knees. Took a moment to breathe in and out. Let it even it. The recovery was longer than it used to be. Took effort to stop her lungs from seizing and needing the inhaler she now had to carry with her. To breathe after an all out run like that when before it’d been nothing. Ten miles, fifteen, it used to be rote instead of a struggle to even get past five on her daily runs. 

She walked over the grounds. The sleeting had eased up to a sprinkling. Fat flurries swinging down to melt into the ground. Behind the kiosk, a disgruntled Swamp Thing McGee was handing over his own perp to the USPP. He was covered head-to-head in mud. Sticks and grass making tender, loving care to every square inch of him. Green hoodie, who was now brown hoodie was cussing out some impressive expletives. Toni made note of some truly inspired ones to pass along. 

“They’re taking our prisoners.” McGee said as he spat out mud, bugs and things Toni didn’t want to look too closely at. 

“It’s just like with the feebies, McGoo. Little brother NCIS does all the work, everyone else gets all the credit.” She wasn’t even annoyed about it anymore. Frankly, other than wanting to wring the little shit’s neck for her dry cleaning bill, she was very much done for the day. The week. The month. “C’mon. Gibbs is probably somewhere warm and dry and is waiting to mock us for not getting out of this merry-go-chase without looking like extras for Swamp Thing.” 

“Swamp Thing?” 

“Look in the mirror and you’ll get the gist of it, McCreature from the Black Lagoon.” She breathed a little deeper. A stitch starting in her chest. Great, yay, wonderful. Awesomeness. A perfect end to a sucky week. 

Grumbling, McGee followed her to their car. A hard, violent shiver ran through her back. Her breath hitched. With a practiced ease, Toni shallowed her breathing. Thinning her intake until it was a sliver of air coming through her mouth. It still pulled at her lungs and didn’t prevent the coughing fit that came. 

It hurt. Like it always did. 

Felt like bits and pieces of matter were being ripped out from her insides. She coughed, forced herself to remain calm, to stop the panic that wanted to set its nasty, ugly claws in. To let it ease on its own without throwing up everything she’s eaten in the last twenty-four hours. Not to curl in the wet, disgusting ground as her legs trembled from the strain. 

Relax, easy, relax. Don’t fight it. Easy, easy. 

Toni rode it out. When she was able to breathe without losing a lung, McGee’s hand was on her elbow. The grip surprisingly strong as he guided her into the car. His pale face was set in deep furrows. Creases at the corner of his eyes. Mouth set into a sharp, thin line. He dumped her into the passenger side, made to take off his NCIS jacket. Only belatedly realizing that it was soaked through and a muddy mess. Not to mention the kind of jacket for this kind of weather. What they needed was thick, deceptively warm and soft as a baby owl.

Sweet, this kid, stupid, too, but Toni would make allowances since they both probably had the beginnings of hyperthermia. His hands were shaking, which was good. Toni’s weren’t, which wasn’t. 

She padded his hand or tried to since he couldn’t feel her hands or his. Or pretty much anything other than this sharp, piercing ache in her chest. Not good but not the worst she’s had. “I’m good.” 

McGee gave her a long look. The kind he usually gave his screen when he was doing his elf lord hacking geek magic. “Okay, Toni.” McGee nodded, muttering under his breath something about a pit before he closed the door and went around to the trunk, pulled something out before he got into the driver’s side. A moment later one of their emergency blankets was dropped on her lap as McGeek blasted the heat at full. 

Toni bit back a smile. No need to showcase her own soft, gooey underbelly. As they drove out of the National Mall, the sleet was back with a vengeance, limiting visibility. She really hated today. This entire week was a wash. First with Fornell stealing three suspects in three different cases. Then Madam Director lending Toni out to Metro for what turned out to be a Vice sting. And now this, also curtesy of their new director.

Toni rubbed at her face. She didn’t want to think about what she looked like. Today sucked and if her post plague held, she was really going to hate the weekend. With a breathy sigh, she closed her eyes, popped her neck and didn’t react when McGee gently tucked the blanket around her. 

- - - -

No posts found





About WaterSoter

Fanfiction writer since 2002; finally back after a long hiatus. Primary gen (friendship/family/team) author though I also do het with genderbent characters, usually for the sentinel/guide au. Lover of all things Cyclops (X-Men All Verses), Tony DiNozzo (NCIS) and many more.

One Comment

  1. Nice. I’m really enjoying all of these small vignettes.

Don't be an asshole!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.