Disclaimer: While I don't own them, I'm perfectly willing to purloin them for my own unscrupulous purposes. (Insert evil laugh here)
Spoilers: Sandblast, specifically. The, uh, entire rest of the season if you want to get picky.
Summary: One-shot. Sharif is bomb-happy and the team doesn't enjoy it. Who would?
As she hit the ground, all Ziva could think was that Sharif's timing had vastly improved. She and Tony had barely exited the dockside warehouse when it exploded with the kind of concussive force she'd hoped never to feel again. She lay on the ground, stunned by an anonymous piece of debris that had struck the side of her head. Suddenly, Tony was dragging her up by her arm, pulling her further from the building.
She resisted, wishing she could just lie back down on the ground. "It's exploded. It can't explode any more."
He turned to look at her with an expression filled with concern. "Ziva, the gas tanks?"
"Oh." Her thoughts were muddled. How could she have forgotten the two diesel tanks under the warehouse floor? Gibbs had noticed them when they'd first… "What about Gibbs and McGee?" She tried to twist out of Tony's grip to go back to the fiery mass of wood and metal.
He tightened his grasp on her upper arm, pulling her with more urgency. "I think they went out the other side."
"You think?" She planted her feet, swaying slightly as her vision blurred momentarily. "We have to go back for them."
"What we have to do is find cover, now."
Even if she couldn't find a justification for the reason at the moment, she knew he was right. Her legs moved reluctantly as she followed him. She tried to look around for something to shelter behind, but the movement of her head was too much. She staggered. "Tony?"
His arm encircled her waist as he drew hers over his shoulder. "C'mon. We came out on the waterside and we have to get off this dock if we're gonna find something that will shield us."
Everything was getting heavy: her arms, her legs, even her eyelids felt like too much to be supported. She tried to sink to the ground. "Just let me sit for a minute."
"Ziva, we don't have time." He was holding her tighter, supporting almost all her weight as he tried to run.
Her head cleared for an instant. "I'm not worth dying over, remember?"
"No one's gonna die." She rested her head on his shoulder, watching him scan their surroundings. "And I never said you weren't."
"You did. I was there." Things were getting fuzzy again. She wasn't even sure what they were talking about anymore.
The ghost of a smile crossed his face as he changed direction, heading toward a dark mass on the edge of the pier. "I actually said that I wasn't sure staring at your cleavage was worth dying over."
Her head lolled as she let it drop from his shoulder. "Why would I kill you for staring at my breasts? What do I care? Stare all you want!"
"You weren't going to kill me. There was a bomb. You were disarming it." He was dragging her now.
"Guess I didn't do a very good job," she mumbled.
"On that one you did. And the next one. I bet you could have done this one, too, if we'd had time."
"Mmm…pfft buh." She hoped she was saying actual words. She honestly couldn't tell. Her body suddenly shifted as Tony lifted her into his arms.
"Ziva, I need you to stay awake. Can you do that for me?"
"Unghh." He smelled like smoke and cologne. Her nose rubbed against his neck. She moved it back and forth, concentrating on the little prickles his stubble was causing on her skin. "Shave?"
"Yes, I need to shave. I'll do that first thing when…"
He was cut off as a burst of light filled her field of vision. The shock of cold brought her back to her senses a moment later. She was in the water. The gas tanks must have exploded. She kicked her legs furiously, her head breaking the surface amid burning wreckage. She gulped the hot air. The night was full of sound. She could hear roaring, crackling, popping, but she couldn't hear the one thing she needed. No one was calling her name.
She yelled his. "Tony!" She spun in place, rapidly scanning the area surrounding her. The spin was a mistake. She was dizzy again. It only got worse as she tried to focus on a stationary object. Treading got harder. Her legs churned desperately, each kick becoming more taxing than the last. "Tony!" She couldn't recall why she was yelling for him so earnestly; she just knew she needed him.
Water closed in over her head. She managed to bob above the surface once, twice before the effort required was too great. The taste of brine stung her mouth. The flickering lights on the surface were receding. Don't inhale. Don't inhale. If you try to breathe, you die. You can't breathe. Don't breathe. Instinct would win this battle, but she fought it with her remaining strength and consciousness, both of which were fading fast. Don't breathe. Don't…
"Breathe, dammit! You can't do this to me! Breathe, Ziva!"
Her eyes shot open at the sound of his voice. She tried to say his name, but could only gurgle. She could feel his hands on her, rolling her. She brought up warm seawater with each cough.
He patted her back, spoke close to her ear, "You're gonna be okay. Everything's gonna be okay."
Voices were approaching them. "Tony! Ziva! They're over here, boss!"
"McGee, get the paramedics."
She felt lightheaded from coughing. "T-Tony?" She nearly choked on his name.
"I'm here. I won't leave you."
It was enough. She stopped struggling against the weight in her head and allowed her eyes to close.
Director Shepard was disconcerted by the echoing click of her heels on the cold, sterile tile of the hospital hallway. It was late, or early, and the building felt empty. She hadn't seen anyone since the janitor who had directed her to the ER. She passed through a set of double doors into a waiting room where several men in fatigues loitered beside a nurses' station. "Excuse me, but I'm looking for…"
"This way, Jen." Gibbs was poking his head through a set of doors behind the station.
The nurse behind the desk nodded and she followed him into the ER. "What happened, Jethro?"
"We got there just in time for the bomb to go off. Two of Mann's CID guys were injured in the initial explosion…"
"Initial explosion?" she interrupted.
"Yeah, the bomb itself was only first part. The fire burned down to a couple of gas tanks. They took out most of the pier when they blew. The Fire Chief doesn't think they'll have the flames out for a day or two, at least. I doubt we'll find anything, but we'll get back to that warehouse as soon as they clear it."
"Good." She inhaled deeply, preparing for the worst. "And are our people okay?"
"McGee exited the building with me, and we had good cover behind a concrete wall. Tony and Ziva had to go out the back. They ended up getting blown into the water with the second explosion."
"Are they all right?"
"The doctors think Ziva will be awake in a few hours at the very most. She sustained a concussion before she went in the drink, and near-drowning is never recommended, but they say she'll be fine."
"Gash on his forearm. They stitched him up. I'm sure he'll feel better once she wakes up." Gibbs gently pulled back the curtain around one of the ER beds. Shepard's breath caught in her throat. Ziva David was one of the few people she'd never been able to imagine incapacitated, yet there she was, lying unconscious in a hospital bed, hooked to a number of monitors. Tony and McGee sat on opposite sides of her bed; Tony's good arm was resting on the bed, his fingers interlaced with hers. Neither man noticed the presence of their superiors.
"I'm just saying she's going to hold it against you."
"That doesn't make any sense, McGee."
"You broke her ribs."
"Okay, first off, I did not break her ribs, I bruised them. Second, I was performing CPR, and if you can find one person who'd prefer being dead to a few weeks of sore ribs…"
Shepard cleared her throat.
"Director…" Tony's hand rapidly relocated to the arm of his chair. "She's, uh, not awake yet. Obviously. But they say any time."
"Good. That's good. How's your arm?"
"Can't even feel it. They gave me a local and some pills, so…" he trailed off. Shepard noted that his good hand had moved back to the bed, seeking Ziva's again.
"You should all really go home and get some rest." She raised her hand as all three protested. "You've all been awake for almost fifty hours straight. You've been through a traumatic experience and need time to recover. I've had more than catnaps the past three days so I'll stay here and call you the minute she wakes up." The agents still looked wary. She pulled rank. "I'll order you all to take vacation time if I have to."
Gibbs seemed to think better of staring her down. "C'mon, McGee." The junior agent looked curiously at Gibbs before following him.
Shepard sat down in the chair McGee had just vacated. "Didn't I just tell you to go home, Tony?"
"I'm a patient and I haven't been discharged yet, so unless you're Dr. Director, you don't get to give me orders right now." He grinned childishly before turning serious. "I wouldn't leave, anyway."
"I know. I'm surprised I got Gibbs and McGee to go without a fight." She shook her head. "They're sitting in the waiting room, aren't they?"
"I doubt it." She looked at him in disbelief. He smiled slyly in response. "The cafeteria is at least a five minute walk, so it'll take a little more time for them to get coffee and come back."
Shepard leaned back in her chair with a smile as they fell silent. She closed her eyes, feeling more tired than she felt she had any right to. The beeping of the machines was almost hypnotic.
Tony looked up to find Director Shepard dozing in her chair. He readjusted his position; his arm hurt more than he'd said. He winced as he endured a short-lived but stabbing pain, inadvertently squeezing Ziva's hand. To his surprise, she squeezed back. His head snapped around. "Ziva?" he whispered. Her eyelids fluttered, but did not open. He stood and leaned close to her face, whispering her name again.
This time her eyes did open. She blinked several times. "Tony?"
Despite his compulsion to shout for joy, he kept his voice quiet. "Yeah, it's me. How do you feel?"
"My head hurts. And my chest hurts. What happened?"
"You don't remember?"
"We were on our way to a…a warehouse?"
"That's right." He nodded, maintaining eye contact with her. He'd never realized how much time they spent staring at each other until they couldn't.
She lightly touched her forehead with the hand he wasn't holding. "Were we in a car accident?"
"You really don't know what happened?"
"I know I wasn't driving, so don't even try to blame it on me." She laughed weakly.
"It wasn't a car accident. We'll, uh, we'll have time to talk about it later." He reluctantly stood upright. "I should probably let someone know you're awake."
"Jen's right there."
"Yeah, let's start with her."
"Tony…wait. I may not remember exactly what happened, but I do remember that you were there. Thank you."
He looked away sheepishly. "How do you know I wasn't there doing something stupid?"
She waited until his gaze drifted back to her. "Because I'm not dead." Her voice contained no hint of a joke. "I would be if not for you."
He leaned down again. "You'd have done the same for me." He hesitated before kissing her lips softly. It ended sooner than he would have liked.