Title: When I Crash

Characters: Tony

Genres: Angst, Hurt/Comfort (emphasis on the hurt…no real comfort to speak of)

Episodes: none in particular…set in first season

He crawled out of the overturned car, moving as quickly as he could, yet painfully slowly. The blood in his eyes made it difficult to see, and numerous broken bones made it difficult to move. Even when he could move, the head injury made it difficult to decide where to go…not that he had a lot of choice.

It had started out as such a great Friday. They had been in West Virginia all week, tracking down a suspected drug-dealer and murderer of two petty officers. Tony hated being in the 'the sticks', so there was no one happier than he when they closed their case. Tony had wanted nothing more than to head back to Washington right away, but it was late, and Gibbs decided they should stay at the motel one more night and start out fresh in the morning.

"Oh come on, boss! I'm too geared up to sleep anyway. I'll drive and you can sleep on the way!" Tony offered.

"Like I would ever sleep while you drove, DiNozzo!"

"I like the idea of getting a good night's rest first, Tony," McGee had joined in.

"Well, of course you do, McSleepy, but I'm wired! There is no way I'm going to get to sleep for hours, and when I do crash, I'd like it to be in my own bed."

Tony chuckled at his memories. 'This isn't exactly what I meant by crashing,' he thought. When he started giggling somewhat uncontrollably, he began to wonder just how much of a concussion he actually had. He couldn't think about it for long though, since a sharp pain shot up his left leg as he tried to pull it through the ruined passenger-side window.

"Come on, McFly-in-the-ointment. There has to be some nightlife in this godforsaken town. Let's go find it."

"Ask Kate, Tony." Tim replied. "I'm beat."

"I already asked Kate and she said she needed her beauty rest…which, of course, I wholeheartedly agreed with, but I'm not sure why she needed to get it tonight!"

"Then ask Gibbs!"

Tony paused a moment, gave Tim his most pleading 'puppy-dog' look, and when it became evident that he wouldn't cave, answered. "Okay, alone it is then….Not that I'll be alone for long mind you…once the ladies of this 'burg get an eyeful of…"

"Goodnight Tony." McGee just narrowly missed closing the door literally into DiNozzo's face.

'Didn't know what he was missing…' Tony slurred out loud as he paused to collect himself. He tried to wipe the blood out of his eyes again, ('Second time?' he wondered, 'Third?') but his coordination was getting more and more…well, uncoordinated… and it was all he could do to ineffectually swipe his ruined hand over his cheek. His leg throbbed…he was sure it was broken in several places… and his ribs hurt like a son-of-a-bitch. His main concern however, when he could think clearly enough to be concerned, was his head injury. He was sure he had hit it on the windshield during the initial impact and god only knows how many other times he hit it on god knows what else as the car tumbled down the embankment.

'Should have just stayed at the bar,' he muttered to himself before slipping once again into unconsciousness.

He had driven around for a while, in what passed for the main part of town, trying to find an all night bar or something. He finally found one…not the liveliest establishment he'd ever been in, but then it was 12AM in Hicksville, West Virginia. At least it was open. Tony ordered a beer (the only one he'd have for the night, since he was driving) and sat at the bar nursing it, while eyeing one of only two nice-looking females in the place. She finally decided to join him at the bar, and they talked for a while. She would have left with him if he'd asked, but he couldn't exactly take her back to the motel room he shared with McStraight-laced, and Gibbs would gut him and mount him on one of the local's pickups if he wasn't there, at the motel, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at O-pre-sunrise in the morning. So, he passed up the opportunity, and settled with a quick kiss and a 'nice talking to you' before heading back 'home.'

That was when the trouble started. Tony was watching the road and driving the speed-limit, unfamiliar as he was with the roads here, but the pickup came out of nowhere! It zigged and zagged all over the road and Tony had come to a near stop, as 'off the road' as it was possible to get on this stretch of rural thoroughfare. That didn't stop the inevitable, though. The truck continued to weave erratically all over the road, at high speeds until it slammed nearly headlong into the car where Tony sat, helplessly, as his possible demise approached him in slow motion. The initial impact slammed Tony's head into the windshield, but also broke the half-rotted piece of wood pretending to be a guardrail and started the car down an extremely steep embankment. The pickup truck followed and the two vehicles played a crazy game of tag as they rolled haphazardly down the three story drop… not that Tony had been awake to watch it.

He finally regained consciousness…again… and tried to edge forward once more. He'd now lost count of how many times he had passed out since initially waking up to find his car upside down against a tree near the bottom of a cliff that would be impossible to climb. Fortunately, the truck that had started this whole mess had had a slightly different trajectory coming down the hill and had not just plowed Tony's car…and Tony…through the tree that had stopped his descent. The truck was farther down the hill, crumpled even more than Tony's car was. Tony thought briefly about trying to get down to it to check on the occupant, but when he glanced at his watch (whose face was broken, but which seemed to still be running) and found that it had taken over a half hour to just get out of the car, he thought better of it.

He looked up the hill, and didn't readily see a way up. He was on a small flat area here, but he shouldn't stay here…should he? He suddenly wasn't sure. The pain was getting so great, that he didn't want to move. When he finally did convince himself that he should move, and reached out to grab a nearby branch, not only did pain shoot up from his mangled hand, through his broken arm ('I didn't even know my arm was broken' he thought), but his ribs made themselves known again with a sharp pain added to the steady throb he had almost gotten used to. Breathing became more difficult, and he felt himself passing out again. 'Well, I guess that decides it. I'm staying here,' he thought as darkness claimed him.

He opened his eyes a slit to find out what was making the noise. There was a loud wail splitting through his skull and he wanted nothing more than to tell it to stop, but when he opened his eyes, he saw a confusion of lights and people and couldn't remember what he wanted to say.

"Hang in there Tony,"

'Was that Gibbs?' Tony wondered.

"We found the broken guardrail when we came looking for you when you weren't back by dawn."

'That's McGee.' Tony decided. 'I think.'

He tried to say something, made a sound that sounded more like a baby bear asking mom for just two more weeks of hibernation, and decided that going back to sleep (with or without permission) was a really good idea.

He woke again, after who knew how long, to movement and that dreadful sound again. He really wished he could just get out a coherent 'shut up' or 'stop it' but nothing seemed to come out at all. Breathing was still difficult, but he figured that had something to do with the fact that there was something on his face. He tried to bring his hand up to swipe it off, but he really just didn't have the energy.

It was hours before he surfaced again.

'Well,' he thought, 'At least this time there's no noise…well, not the same noise. Beeps this time' He tried to open his eyes again, and this time actually succeeded. He didn't feel any more blood running into his eyes. 'Did that mean it has all dried?' he wondered. But it didn't feel like there was any dried blood on his face. He tried to move his arm and found it to be heavier than he remembered. When he looked down to see why, he saw that it was now in a cast up to the elbow. He was vaguely aware of casts on his leg and bandages on his torso, but he really wasn't computing much of anything right now.

'Beeps? Cast?" He thought fussily. 'Hospital' he decided.

As he looked around a little more, trying to confirm his suspicion, he noticed a silver head lying by his other hand.

'Gibbs?' Tony wondered to himself. 'Well, that makes sense. He's always there on my adrenaline highs…make sense he should be there when I crash.'

And on that note, he decided to go back to sleep one more time.