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The soft cadence of McGee and Ziva’s conversation washes over Tony as he sits in the hospital waiting room, Abby curled into his side as they wait for news on Gibbs. He was conscious and responsive when the EMTs loaded him into the ambulance alongside Maddie but that’s the last the team has seen or heard of him.

An hour ago Abby had dragged Tony into the unisex bathroom and forced him to change into the spare outfit from the overnight kit he keeps in the trunk of his car. The fine cloth of his suit was irreparably damaged by the salt water, material stiff and covered in a coating of unknown sludge. Tony simply tossed the whole ensemble into the garbage can next to the tiny sink and haphazardly wiped himself down with the damp paper towels Abby passed to him. The John Lobb dress shoes were beyond ruined but he always keeps a pair of comfortable old sneakers in the kit so those eventually get tossed as well. He figures he’s going to bill Gibbs for those. Or at least start keeping clothing receipts and submitting them to HR for compensation.

It’s amazing how changing into clean jeans and a simple sweater does so much to make him feel more human.

Another half hour passes and Ducky is walking through a side door way into the waiting room, a bedraggled Gibbs at his side. “Honestly Jethro, signing yourself out against medical advice is highly dangerous. There are many complications associated with Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation which you well know. Rib fractures, lung contusions, a sternal fracture, upper airway complications that might not currently be apparent -" “No lectures Duck, ‘m fine,” Gibbs interrupts, running fingers through silver hair that has dried and clumped together unattractively. “Just need to get home. Have a hot drink. Sleep.”

Something at the sight of his boss walking, talking and acting endearingly like his grumpy self allows a muscle deep in Tony’s chest unclench. Gibbs is alive. Breathing. Still here to be grouchy and demanding and pigheaded. Still here to be strong and unshakeable and always loyal.

The relief begins receding to more manageable levels as a rush of hot, self-righteous anger crests in its place, leaving Tony shaking. He’s standing before he realizes it, jostling Abby to the side as he strides away from the entire fucked up situation. Away from the man he has practically dedicated the last seven years of his life to. Before he loses control of his mouth and says something that can’t be taken back.

If anyone calls after him he can’t hear it over the soundtrack of gunshots and a car crashing into a river that’s stuck on repeat in his head.