A/N: So, this is a lot of dialogue and sort of fragmented. I don't really know why, except it came out that way. I hope you'll give it a chance – it's a little different, I know. The title is from the Explosions in the Sky song of the same name. Review and all that jazz.
"You know, this reminds me of a movie I saw once."
The words break the heavy silence that had begun to fall, echoing loudly in the space around them. He's not sure why he feels the need to say anything at all, but the only thing he can hear is the constant drip of water that they can't reach, and it's beginning to drive him crazy.
"Tony, if this is to be the last memory I have of you, please do not ruin it by talking about one of your movies."
He can't see her in the dark, but he can picture perfectly the look of annoyance he's sure she's wearing. "Fine. In that case, I'll start talking about how you should drink the rest of my water."
"As I have already to you, that is a moo point. You need the water more than I do."
"A moot point, Ziva." He sighs exaggeratedly. She had been doing so much better since she'd become a citizen, too. "It's not a phrase about cows."
"Whatever. The meaning is the same – you should be the one to finish the water."
"Like I said before, I'm not going to." Tony waits a beat before adding, "So, back to that movie."
The silence is back, and it's making him nervous. They're both too tired to keep up a running conversation, but Tony still can't stand that damn drip of the water that's somewhere above them, tantalizingly out of reach. He wishes he could at least see Ziva – that would help calm him down a little. All he knows is that she's sitting somewhere across from him, and that if he moves his leg to the right, it brushes against hers. (It hurts to move that much, though, so he's been keeping all his limbs to himself like a good boy. Mostly, at least.)
"Ziva?" He breaks finally, casting his voice into the darkness once again.
"I'm just checking. It's been a while since you've said anything."
"I am trying to conserve my energy," she says, not unkindly. "I would suggest you do the same."
"Okay," he agrees. "But try to make a noise every so often so I don't think you're dead, or something."
"That would defeat the point of conserving energy." She sounds amused, but he's not entirely sure.
"Yeah, well, it would save me the energy I'd spend trying to figure out if you've gone and died before we've been rescued." He shuts his eyes tightly – not that it matters in the darkness – and tries not to think about being stuck alone down here with her lifeless body.
"I –" Ziva sighs and trails off.
"Never mind. It is nothing."
"Come on, it's never nothing with you."
"It is just that I – I do not think we are going to be rescued, Tony."
He musters up a teasing tone from somewhere. "Your optimism is blinding."
"I am only trying to be realistic."
"Well, realistically, Gibbs and the rest of the team are probably looking for us right now."
"Yes, I am sure they are," Ziva says after a moment, and Tony has the distinct impression she is saying this for his benefit alone.
"But?" he prompts.
She sighs again. "But I do not think they will find us in time. We went off grid a long time before we ended up down here."
"Well, we still have some water, and you have that power bar thing." The positive attitude and unfailing faith in Gibbs feel more like habit at this point; if he's being honest, he knows Ziva is probably right. He refuses to admit this to her, of course.
"That is true," she concedes. "I am more concerned about your injury, though."
"It's nothing." (It's not nothing, and they both know it.) "Besides, you're just as banged up as I am."
"I do not have broken ribs and quite possibly internal bleeding."
"You have that cut on your head, though. That looked pretty gruesome." It really does, too – jagged and trailing all the way from her temple to her chin.
"How would you know that? It is too dark to tell."
"It happened before we got stuck, Ziva. I watched him hit you. And I think you got some of the blood on me." Tony thinks she probably has a concussion, too, but there's not much to do about that, and she'll just deny it if he asks.
"And let's not forget about your ankle."
"That, at least, does not matter, since I doubt we are going to be running any time soon."
"I guess being stuck in a mineshaft has its perks."
Ziva chuckles darkly. "I do not know if I would call them perks, Tony."
The silence returns once more.
"You should really let me look at your ribs. I might be able to help."
He tries to ignore how tired she sounds and how tired he feels. Joke, he tells himself. Make a joke; it's what you do. "So you can work your Mossad voodoo on me in the pitch blackness?" he says finally, after a beat too long. "I don't think so, Ziva."
He lost track of how long they've been down here a forever ago. He bets Ziva would know down to the second, but he's almost afraid to ask. The power bar is gone, split between them both, and they're going to have to drink the water soon. That façade of optimism he's been trying to keep up is slipping for longer and longer stretches of time.
"I was wrong," he says before he can stop himself.
"You are wrong about many things, Tony, so you will have to be more specific."
"About getting out of here."
"There is still time."
He laughs, but he's not really sure that any of this is funny anymore. "Don't tell me you're getting soft in your old age, Ziva."
"Now it is you who is being the Debbie Donor."
"Downer," he corrects. "Debbie Downer."
Ziva's voice is sharp, and it pulls him immediately from whatever sorry state of sleep or oblivion he'd fallen into. She's sitting beside him now, and he has no idea when that happened, but she's warm and a nice distraction from the constant presence of pain.
"Tony, you need to stay awake. Please, you need to stay–" She breaks off, uncharacteristic emotion coloring her voice, and he can hear the words she doesn't want to say aloud.
"I'm awake," he mumbles, and he doesn't think he's imagining the quick brush of her lips on his cheek.
You need to stay alive.
When Ziva finally makes him drink the water, he doesn't protest. He won't say it out loud, but Tony thinks it doesn't matter anymore. They're both going to die in this abandoned mineshaft, and whoever gets the last two inches of water from his canteen won't make a difference. His ribs are on fire, and if there had ever been any doubt that he was bleeding internally, it's pretty much gone now. There's no way a few cracked bones could hurt this much.
"I'm sorry," he rasps, the words nearly choking him on their way out.
"For what?" She is still by his side, and he can tell that she's rewrapped his ribs and wound without him really being aware of what was going on. That, he thinks, is probably a very bad sign.
"For getting us stuck."
"It is not your fault, Tony. Davenport is the one to blame."
"But if I hadn't suggested we follow him down here–"
Ziva scoffs. "Tony, there is no way you could have known that he had planned to trap us the entire time. The entrance caving in was not our fault."
He doesn't really believe her, so he doesn't say anything. Instead, he wonders if this is the point in the movie where he's supposed to tell Ziva everything he's never told her. There's a lot of it, he knows, so he might want to get started before he kicks the bucket.
"Ziva, I–" he begins, but a horrible, wracking cough cuts him off, and he gets another metallic taste of the blood he's been hacking up for the past however long.
"Hush, Tony," she says softly, in the gentlest tone he's ever heard her use. "You can tell me later."
The next thing he is aware of is a light so blindingly bright that he's sure he's dying. He can't see anything but the vaguest outline of someone hovering above him. Everything else is a white blur, until a wave of pain washes him over, sending black dots into his vision.
He doesn't think death is supposed to hurt, so maybe he's still alive after all.
His voice seems to have taken a vacation, because no matter what words he tries to say, nothing will come out. He's lying down, but he thinks he's being moved, because the outlines that he is starting to see are flickering by.
Then, there is a small hand smoothing his hair back from his eyes, and he recognizes the touch. Ziva. It has to be Ziva.
He wants to say something, anything, but all he can do is stare into the white light as the outline of her becomes just a little clearer.
"You are going to be fine, Tony. We both are," she says, her voice fuzzy and distant. "It looks like you were right, after all." She laughs softly, and it sounds like bells. "I will not admit that again, so I hope you can hear me."
Tony shuts his eyes in response, wondering if she will know that he means he doesn't plan to forget that. The darkness that replaces the white is not much better, and he doesn't like that he can't see Ziva anymore, so he opens his eyes again.
This time, he can see her with a little more clarity; her hair is wild, and the cut seems worse than he remembers. She looks beyond exhausted.
She has also never looked more beautiful.
When he wakes up again, he is in a hospital bed. The team is all in his room, breaking what must be about ten hospital regulations.
"Tony?" Ziva finally breaks the silence from her spot in the chair closest to his bed. He would bet his movie collection that her doctor doesn't know she's left her own room.
"Yes?" He barely manages the one word, his voice cracked and barely there.
"I am just checking."