"I swear, next time we're sent out to uncover some weapons-smuggling, they'll have to step on my dead body before I accept." Ziva said, firing three shots, then withdrew behind the corner, back smoothed against a wall, holding her gun firmly as she peered out of her hiding place, ready to shoot again. Compressed next to her in the same position, Tony smirked.

"Kinda déjà vu, isn't it?"

They backed away when the machine-gun started blasting bullets in their direction. Ziva clinched her teeth impatiently.

"I'm going to kill him with my own hands."

"Easy, princess, I don't want to have to tell your daddy his little girl was murdered by a smuggling freak."

Not listening to a word, Ziva sneaked a peek again as soon as the noise stopped, just in time to see the guy slinking into one of the open containers.

"He's run out of munitions." She stated, charging her gun. "It's the right moment to-"

"No way, don't even think about that!" Tony anticipated, horrified. "I'm not stepping into one of those boxes again."

"Okay," Ziva said, and he relaxed. "You wait here, I'll go and get him."

He grabbed her arm one second before she could slip away like a cat in the night.

"Ziva, be sensible for once… We don't even know what he's got in there."

"That thing wouldn't be open if something dangerous or important was stored in it." She insisted, breaking free from him. "I promise you I won't hurt him… Too much. You can stay here and cover me, in case someone else shows up."

"I hate it when you do that." Tony groaned.

"Do what?" asked Ziva blankly.

"Use those little subtle Ziva tricks to convince me. It's mean and rather annoying."

Ziva gave him her back, unfussed.

"I wasn't trying to convince you. The last thing I need is a yelping puppy wrapped around my ankles."

"See? You're doing it again!" Tony protested, however leaving her definitely indifferent.

"Are you staying or coming, Tony?" she hissed, driven to exasperation. He held his gun up next to his face and lifted a brow.

"What do you think?"

She moved too quickly for him to waste precious seconds in further evaluations, so he cursed under his breath and cautiously followed her through the yard, taking a mental note to chew her out properly as soon as they would be done.

"Stay behind me." she muttered when they got a few metres from the container. Not even the lightest noise was audible, which could only bode nothing good.

"What did I tell you about our respective roles, sweetcheeks?" snapped Tony. "I am the man, you are the woman. I protect you."

"Shush!" She presses her free hand onto his mouth and froze him with her look. There was some magic in her eyes that is just impossible to fight.

A clanging sound came from the inside of the container, and she stepped very carefully toward the entrance, not neglecting to keep an eye around. Tony followed suit, more for habit than else. He knew chivalry was bullshit when it came to certain things, and in this case he couldn't possibly deny Ziva was much more apt than him at leading operations.

Another metallic sound came to their ears, this time clearer and louder.

"He's trapped." Ziva murmured. "I'll cross to the other side and we'll break in together. He'll have no way out."

"I would like to remind you he has a machine-gun, sweetheart." He said with a not so convinced tone. "We make a move, he fires. We die, he runs."

"Give me a little credit, Tony, I know what I do."

She felt the warmth of his breath on the nape of her neck.

"Last time I indulged you I ended up tied to a chair and beaten by a not exactly gentle-mannered guy."

Ziva shut her eyes, inhaling to keep herself from yelling at him.

"I should have left you there." She huffed.

"Don't you even go there, Miss Manipulator. You thinged me into this."

She turned around with her brows furrowed.

"I… What?"

Tony sighed.

"Never mind."

"Okay," She positioned herself as close as possible to the half open door and took a deep breath. "I'll count to three, then we go."

Tony gulped, nodding.

"Roger."

"One… Two…" Ziva's fingers clutched at the gun, the barrel expertly pointed forward. "Three!"

They jumped in, back against back, hearts racing, but nothing happened. They looked around bewildered, only to see empty boxes and a couple of dead rats. Their man, however, seemed to have vanished.

"What the heck…"

Before Tony could complete the sentence, the light inside the container disappeared all of a sudden, and a loud slamming noise made them turn back to the doors, that shut heavily right under their noses.

Ziva groped beseechingly in that direction, her eyes not yet used to the sudden murkiness that had fallen upon them. She hit her wrists against the rusty metal surface and kicked it violently with a furious snarl.

"Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!"

Tony's face fell, shifting colours.

"Please, say it ain't so."

Ziva smacked another series of kicks against the unmoving door and cursed in Hebrew.

"It's locked." She declared defeatedly.

"Shit." Tony overrode the dead rats and went by her side, trying to peep through the thin line of light between the two shutters. "Told ya it was better to wait."

Ziva snorted, wrenching at the handle so brusquely that for a moment he thought she would actually break it.

"This is not the moment to spite me, Tony." She panted. "We are-"

"Please, don't say that."

"- Struck inside here."

"Thank you for making me feel better." He rolled his eyes, mopping some sweat off his forehead with the hem of his sleeve. "It's pretty hot in here, uh? Unlike the first time…"

"We're so in trouble…" Ziva ignored him completely. "We were not supposed to be here. When Gibbs finds out we disobeyed his orders-"

"We're dead."

Ziva brushed her hair back with both her hands and leaned back against one of the wooden boxes.

"Yeah."

"If we don't die before." He bent toward the thin yet solid wall and randomly tapped on it. "And this time, instead of risking to turn into human icicles, we'll likely end up steamed by the heat."

She got rid of her hat and shirt and tied her hair up in a loose bun.

"Optimism is your greatest trait, isn't it?" She replied ironically. Tony shrugged in mock modesty.

"Guess so…" He eyed her appreciatively, silently praising that heavenly white and transparent tank top. "You're not wearing a bra."

"As if it was big news to you." She glanced at him with a warning look. "Not that I want to cook your duck, but I'm not in the mood to be eye-undressed."

"Goose." He precised. She shrugged. "You know, I've always wished to try extreme danger sex."

"Oh, please," She clacked her tongue in disapproval. "We're caged in a bunker and you can only think about that."

"It's not like there's much to think about in here." He defended himself, then cast her an allusive grin. "It'd be the very last thing we do before dying… Wouldn't it be sweet?"

"It would be sweaty." She jumped sitting upon a closed box as a drop of sweat crept down her face. "It feels like burning in hell's flames in this place."

Tony dropped a quick look around, scratching the back of his head.

"Maybe you're right… There's not even room for sex."

"Oh, trust me," Ziva took her cell-phone from her pocket and flipped it open. No signal, and the battery wouldn't last much longer. "I've done it in much worse conditions." This time their hope to make it was – if possible – dangerously slimmer than the first time. "Not the greatest experiences of my life, though. Wrong men, I suppose."

Tony chuckled, intrigued by the peculiar anecdote. Despite the situation, he couldn't help feeling flirtatious around her. It was in his nature. Or perhaps it was in her nature to have people feeling like that.

"I'll take it as an invitation." He said audaciously, climbing up the box to sit by her.

"Hands off, Tony." She warned him, holding her forefinger up. "It's that period of the month, I'm irritable and mentally unstable. Do or say the wrong thing and I'll make you sexually neutral."

"Threatens fuel my viciousness, so you'd better cut it before I jump you." He jokingly placed a finger under her chin. "Unless it's precisely your intention."

"Oh, god, kill me now, please!" She repeatedly hit her forehead against his shoulder, a hidden smile on her lips that Tony couldn't notice.

"Look, I'm as anxious as you and maybe even more frustrated." He said apologetically. "Bear with me, it's not all my fault."

Ziva pulled up, a disbelieving expression painted on her sweaty face.

"And would it be my fault, then?"

Tony put on an innocent face and played numb.

"It's not me the temptingly hot looking one here… Well, I am, too, but-"

With a dashing movement she gripped his throat and faced him closely, conveying him how particularly dangerous she was today.

"Why don't you just shut up while I try to think of a way to get us out of here?" she suggested, her voice throaty and low, much to his pleasure. The look he gave her was a mixture of sensuality and mischief. Ziva didn't know how they could be so childishly tantalizing to each other in a situation like that.

"Why don't you shut me up yourself?" he cheekily suggested. Ziva looked him square in the eye and raised an eyebrow. She needed to think, and she obviously wouldn't be able to do that with Tony verbally molesting her. If that was the price for some silence, then she was willing to pay it. After all, they had done it before.

"Fine."

She leaned forward and her lips came into brief contact with his. Not in a real kiss, just in the angle of his mouth, and she was sure he would accuse her of cheating, but she wasn't going to give him that kind of satisfaction.

When she pulled away, Tony was staring at her, seemingly at a loss for words. It had been a joke, he hadn't believed she would do it for real.

"You really did that." He faltered, brushing the spot where she had kissed him with his fingers. Ziva didn't squabble at all.

"So it seems." He hated her when she used that couldn't-care-less tone. "Will you kindly shut up, now?"

His dazed expression wouldn't fade. The gesture itself hadn't been so shocking, after all, but the nonchalance she had put in it had been rather disorienting. She had done it just like it was something she did every day, like she knew exactly how to do it to have him like it.

"Ziva you… Kissed me."

She clenched her fists, fuming. Another five minutes with him, and one of then would be dead.

"Holy shit, Tony, I need to concentrate! Just shut that damn mouth, would you?"

He remained silent for a short while, listening to the faint noises and sounds coming from the outside and feeling the heat steadily increasing. They were locked into a heating metal prison under the August sun. How long would it take for them to reach their endurance limit?

"I get overtalkative when I am shocked by unexpected events." He began again after the pause, but Ziva was not very inclined toward paying attention to him.

"I get overharmful when I am bothered by overtalkative people." She said tiredly, her head resting back on the side of another box. A couple of drops of sweat crawled down her neck and along her chest, dying in the soft line between her breasts.

Mirroring her position, Tony loosened the collar of his shirt and let his eyes flutter closed.

"I'll shut up."

"Great." Moaned Ziva contentedly, and rolled her head to one side.

She had to come up with something to let Gibbs localize their position. The only matter was that they were about three sections away from where they were supposed to be, where their car was. Translated into numbers that meant about half a mile, giving or taking a few feet.

She had to find a way out, and quickly, because Tony wasn't being much cooperative and soon the sun would reach the zenith, and she didn't want to be in their own shoes when that would happen.


TBC...