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For Thing-a-Thon V on LiveJournal, Prompt: Tony, Mistake
Even Monkeys Fall From Trees
Okay, now this was a mistake. He thought as the ice beneath his feet shifted and a loud crack echoed across the large pond he was running across. This whole thing was a mistake. Nearly slipping, he stopped abruptly with a flail of his arms, windmilling them until he came to a complete halt. He dare not move as the ice groaned and creaked some more, knowing that if he did he just might break the frozen surface of the water all of the way. But on the other hand, his only chance to make it before he fell in might be to run as fast as possible back to the shore. It was your classic catch-22. He was damned it he moved and damned if he didn't.
"Stop!" He yelled out to the fleeing suspect, keeping his weapon trained on him. "The ice is breaking!"
The man either didn't hear him or didn't care as he put more and more space between the two of them. Dashing at full speed with little thought for his own safety, he continued his escape until half way across the pond, he suddenly disappeared with a yelp and a splash. The ice finally giving way under the weight of the man's footfalls.
"Shit!" Tony cursed loudly with a groan. "You dumbass! Now I have to save you."
Forgetting his own personal peril, he ran across the slippery surface, ignoring the cracking noises emanating from the protesting ice. Coming close to the hole his suspect had fallen through, he stopped, holstered his weapon and dropped to his knees. The man thrashed about in the icy water, trying to yell for help between breaths.
Tony held out his hand for the man to take, but panic and terror had the man in its clutches as he continued to splash about fruitlessly, breaking more of the ice around him and widening the hole.
"Take my hand Goddammit!" Tony yelled. He stretched out further, laying fully onto his stomach, the cold water, splashing onto his perch and soaking his coat and shirt underneath.
"C'mon! I'm right here!" He yelled, shaking his hand out. "Look at me!"
In a moment of lucidity, the man finally realized that Tony was trying to help him out of the water, but he was tiring and too cold to come any closer. Nearly into the water himself, Tony reached further out for the man once again and this time was able to grab hold one of his thrashing arms. His hold was tenuous at best, but he had him.
Tony pulled, but the man was too heavy, too waterlogged and too frightened for him and he offered no help to get himself out of the water. In his panic and addled by hypothermia, the man grabbed onto Tony's coat sleeve and would not release him. Tony fought to pull him out, but found himself being dragged ever closer to the edge of the water instead.
Before he could truly register what had happened, Tony was underwater, splashing into it's frozen depths, fighting to make it to the surface for air. Nearing the top of the water, he grabbed a breath when he surfaced, the biting air shocking his lungs, leaving him gasping. It was colder than anything he had ever experienced before, his chest constricted painfully, desperately attempting to pull in air while his feet and fingers became instantly numb. He swam to the suspect and tried to grab him around the waist with his now useless hands so he could swim him back to the ice. Continuing to splash about, the man was impossible to help and rather than allow Tony to assist him back to the edge, he pressed down on Tony's head and pushed him under the water yet again.
Fighting the man's flailing arms and legs, Tony disentangled himself and surfaced, gobbling oxygen into his strained lungs as he came up. The man was beginning to fade and grow weak, his head frequently going underwater a little longer each time before he came up again. Unable to watch the man drown, Tony swam to him just as his head slipped under the water for the last time. He dove after him, ignoring the painful bite of the icy water. Surging to him and employing the last of his reserve strength, he grabbed hold around the man's chest and gritted his teeth pulling him back to the top, dragging him to the edge and rolling him to safety on the ice with a final grunt and a push.
Now that the man was out of immediate danger, Tony grabbed for the edge of the ice himself. Unable to make out a purchase on its slippery surface, he desperately tried to pull himself out of the water and onto the ice. However his hands were too numb, his arms refused to work properly and he was so tired. He couldn't catch his breath, it hurt too much to breath. He called out for the man on the ice but received no response. Tony wasn't sure if the man was just unconscious or dead, but either way he was on his own to get out of the water.
He held onto the edge until his fingers could no longer maintain their grasp. Then he took to treading water, but he tired quickly and had to fight to keep his head above water. He knew no one was coming, Ziva had gone in an opposite direction and could be miles away. He really regretted now that they had split up. Another mistake that Gibbs would no doubt chew him out for. If he survived, that is.
His head slipped under the water one last time and he realized he had no more strength left to swim back to the top. As he sank, he had only one thing on his mind. Gibbs is going to be so pissed off at me. He might have cared more at the time if his brain hadn't been shutting down from the cold. He was surprised by a feeling a peace descending upon him. He became numb to the cold, to pain and to much of anything else, really.
Somehow, this isn't how he imagined what drowning nor how his death would be. He had kinda hoped that his last moments would have been a little more...interesting. Maybe a heart attack during sex or in a blaze of glory while in a firefight with terrorists. Not like this. Not in a frozen pond, inches away from safety. This had to definitely be one of the stupidest way he could conceive of dying. Gibbs would definitely be disappointed in this failure. However, there was little he could do about it now.
The light from the surface grew farther and farther away as he fell deeper into the murky water, he wanted to swim to the top, but he just couldn't find the will nor the strength to fight anymore. Letting go, he stopped struggling and watched as the light faded, growing dimmer and dimmer until it was no more and only darkness remained.
Ziva would never admit that she was lost. Mossad operatives never got lost. She hated that they had split up, But Tony thought they could cover more ground if they went their separate ways . Ziva had made it clear what she thought of the idea, using words such as idiotic and foolish several times, but Tony had been stubborn as always. Reluctantly she finally gave in to his plan and while he had gone east, she had gone west searching for the suspect that was last seen in this forest. But now she was completely turned around and had just past the same tree for the third time. It couldn't be the same tree, she thought, but footprints in the snow told her a different story. Okay, she was lost.
Just as she contemplated biting the bullet and calling Abby to get a fix on her location, she heard a yell echo from the distance. It came from the direction Tony had gone, but how far away, she could not determine. Perhaps Tony had found their man. She took off at a run towards the shout.
She picked up a brutal pace, glad for her early morning runs that had allowed her such endurance. While she still despised running in the snow for it was way too cold for her middle eastern tastes, she derived a great satisfaction at being able to cover such distances faster than most men she knew, Tony included. A fact she loved to rub in his face.
The noise grew louder as she ran onward. It sounded like splashing to her as she came out of a copse of trees and neared a what she thought at first was a clearing. But was instead it was a large body of frozen water. Near the center of the pond was a man laying on the ice. Next to him all she could see were hands bobbing up and down in the water. It had to be either Tony or the suspect in the water, but she was too far away to tell.
"Tony!" She called out, but got no answer.
Without a second thought, she ran to the ice and dashed across its frozen surface. Then she too heard the cracking noise. She slowed and cautiously continued onward, moving as fast as possible without letting the ice make that alarming sound. As she neared, she recognized the man lying on the ice as their suspect. He was still with his eyes closed, but that meant that Tony had to be the one in the water. She already had her phone out and was speaking quickly with a dispatcher, telling her to hurry with a chopper until she realized she could no longer see Tony above the surface.
Forgetting the instability of the ice, she ran for the hole, tossing her phone to the side before diving in without a second thought. The water was a shock to her system, but she was determined to find Tony. She dove deep, kicking her legs to speed her descent until she made contact with a solid object. It was Tony's head. He had made it all the way to the bottom of the pond, but thankfully it could be no deeper than ten feet. She reached around his waist and was able to push off against the mucky bottom and shoot them quickly up to the surface before she ran out of air. Coming to the top, she hauled with all of her might, Tony's shockingly blue and unmoving body towards the edge of the hole. Somehow, most likely thanks to the adrenaline coursing through her veins, she managed to push him out of the water and onto the ice next to the other man and then pull herself out of the water as well.
She shivered uncontrollably, but thought little of the pain and numbness the icy water caused her. She could see the breath of the man, but Tony had no such steam coming through his mouth or nose. She quickly rolled him onto his back and checked for a pulse. There was none. Her training and instincts took over. She needed to perform CPR, but given the nature of the weak ice, she knew she would need to move him first to the stable shore or they all might fall through again.
Then there was the man she had to deal with as well. Since their suspect was at least still breathing, she made the snap decision to haul Tony to the shore first and perform CPR, leaving the man behind until help could come and rescue him. She may catch flak for leaving a civilian behind on the weak ice, but she just couldn't care less.
Grabbing both of Tony's hands over his head, she pulled and pulled, slowly but surely bringing them nearer to the shore. The ice continued its groaning and creaking while she labored, but it held until she got him to solid ground. She breathed a sigh of relief when they were finally safe but, looking at Tony's slack features and blue skin, she wasted little time getting to work, opening his coat up and starting CPR.
She said a silent prayer as she pounded on his chest, willing the chopper to come quickly. With numb hands and quaking arms she shivered uncontrollably, she began to lose hope that she could bring him back. His lips were so cold against hers as she breathed into his lungs, he looked dead. He was dead. No! He couldn't be, she wouldn't let that happen.
Unsure of how much time passed since she started CPR, she looked up to see a helicopter fly over their position. She didn't stop. Not even after the chopper landed in a nearby clearing and not even as the paramedics asked her to step aside. She had to be physically removed from his body and dragged towards the waiting helicopter.
A blanket was wrapped around her and she resisted as she was shuffled quickly away by strong hands to the helicopter, but moments later Tony joined her on a backboard, the paramedics still performing CPR as they loaded him. Not long after that, their suspect was loaded along with them, a thermal blanket covering him, but he lived. She didn't want to hate the man, but she couldn't help it. He was alive and still breathing while Tony was.....She pushed that thought out and watched grimly as they grabbed a defibrillator and tried to start his heart, shouting instructions to one another. Before she realized it, they were airborne and she shook all of the way to the hospital, not only because of the cold.
"You're one lucky sonuvabitch." He heard being softly spoken, accompanied by a light tap to the top of his head. Confusion reigned, but the voice was familiar. Other sounds invaded his senses, an annoying beeping noise and the sound of footsteps approaching. He fought to open his eyes, but they refused to obey his mind's sluggish commands.
"Yes, Jethro. He is lucky indeed. A few more minutes and he might have permanent brain damage. As it is, his core temperature had fallen so low that it actually prevented his brain cells from dying. You know, this reminds me of a patient I had back during my days in Edinburgh......"
"Ducky, I think he's waking up." The voice interrupted. Tony finally managed to crack his eyes open a slit and groaned, recognizing the fuzzy face before him and recalling the events that had landed him in this position. He willed his tongue and mouth to work, but his lips quivered when he tried to speak. He was just so cold. Could he ever be warm again?
"Tony. How you doing?" Gibbs took a sip of coffee while eying Tony and gauging his responses.
"Cold." Tony replied with a shiver.
"That's not a surprise coming from someone who fell into freezing water."
"I'm in...deep shit.. aren't I?"
"What makes you say that?"
"You mean running across a pond without any thought about how stable the ice might have been?"
"Yeah....Somethin' like that. "
"Well, yeah I'm kinda pissed about that."
"I...split us up....Shouldn't 'uv."
"No you shouldn't have. But what's done is done and we'll talk about that later."
A sudden question came to his head and he had to know the answer right away.
"We catch 'im?"
"Yeah, we got him. He's here in the hospital. Looks like you saved his life." Gibbs explained before asking. "How'd you find him?"
"He's an arsonist, right?.... I saw the smoke...... from the fire he started to keep warm." Tony shivered, but smiled at Gibbs' approving smirk as he pulled the blanket further up Tony's chest. He didn't think he could ever be warm enough again but he continued his story.
"I caught him by surprise.....he took off....just wish... he had decided to run around the pond...rather than across, boss." Tony tried to joke and smile, but his shaky voice made it difficult to deliver it successfully and convincingly.
"You and me both." Gibbs agreed.
"How did?.....How did I get out?....I remember falling in but not....getting out."
"Ziva got you. Dove in and pulled you out. Had to do CPR. You know, you were technically dead for nearly fifteen minutes." Gibbs took another sip of coffee. Tony's eyebrows shot up, he was shocked to hear that but more worried about the first part of Gibbs' narrative.
"Ziva? She...okay?" Tony asked guiltily. What if she had fallen through as well and couldn't get out? He'd never forgive himself if anything had happened to her. This was all his fault, she had her misgivings and he should have listened and never split them up. Now his mistake could have hurt Ziva.
"She is going to be." A female voice sounded from the door. Gibbs and Ducky turned to see Ziva walk in. Tony breathed a sigh of relief. She had changed into a dry pair of pajamas and a thick terrycloth bathrobe, she still had a blanket wrapped around her, but she looked fine otherwise.
"Ziva, you should not be out of bed." Ducky chastised.
"I was told it would be alright to visit" She replied and Ducky shook his head, but allowed her to take his spot next to Tony's side. Gibbs got up and walked to Ducky's side taking the older man by the shoulder and leading him out of the room, giving Ziva and Tony a few moments to talk alone.
"You okay?" Tony asked, his previous worries allayed, but still concerned for his partner and feeling increasing guilt for putting her in harms way.
"I am fine. You?" He caught a hint of something in her eyes, a fear perhaps from seeing him near death. It was a subject he would never broach with her as it was an unspoken agreement between the two of them that they could never truly speak what was in their heart to each other. The walls between them firmly in place, protecting them from the knowledge that one of them could lose the other at any time. It was just a fact of life for them, a consequence that came with the job. But for now, it was enough for them to communicate with their eyes how much they cared if not with their mouths.
"Sorry..." He started.
"Shouldn't have separated us.....Was a mistake."
"Well, even monkeys fall from trees."
"What? Are you calling me a monkey?"
"Besides the fact that you are hairy enough to be one, it is a Korean expression. It means everyone makes mistakes; it is only human."
He gave her a weak smile, not completely convinced. She smiled slyly.
"Besides." She continued, trying to cheer him and patting his shoulder. " Some good has come from this. Now we know, we should never be apart." He grinned at that, finally starting to feel warm once again.
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