TITLE: Breathe for Me
SEASON: Two (tag to Twilight)
DISCLAIMER: NCIS, its characters and situations, are copyright Bellisarius Productions and CBS Television. No infringement on, or challenge to, their status is intended. This piece of fiction was written strictly for the entertainment of other fans, and I am gaining no form of compensation for it.
ANOTHER DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or actual places and locations, is purely coincidental.
He didn't really know where he was.
He knew that he'd been somewhere, and it hadn't been that long ago, and he hadn't been alone. There'd been people there with him, too – people he cared about, people who cared about him. He couldn't remember what they'd been doing, but he knew it had been important, because the things they did were always important.
Beyond that, he had no idea.
He didn't know where those people had gone, or how they'd done it so fast. It hadn't been more than a minute, maybe two, maybe less, since they'd both been standing beside him. They couldn't have gone far, but he couldn't hear them. At least, not above the raging roar of whatever that was in his ears. And he couldn't see them, either. But then again, now that he was paying attention, he realized that he wasn't seeing much of anything. There was a yellowish glow that might have been the sun, gray blocks that might have been buildings, and random drops and splashes of bright red.
He had no idea what that was, or how he'd gotten it on his hands. Or his shirt. Or why he could feel the sticky wetness of it sliding down his face.
His lungs screamed and his chest seized, and suddenly he was in a room filled with blue lights, drowning in his own bed, his body and mind both starved for oxygen. He started fighting, struggling toward the surface of an ocean that he didn't remember diving into but couldn't deny he was sinking beneath. He couldn't breathe, but he didn't know why that mattered, because he was absolutely sure that if he tried, he'd die. He saw a hand reaching out toward him, and he grabbed it, hoping that it would drag him out before he lost himself completely.
"Breathe, Dinozzo," a familiar but strange voice said. "Come on. Breathe for me."
He tried, he really did, but his lungs just didn't want to work. The blues and yellows and grays that his eyes had been seeing faded into black, and the only color that remained was the red – so much red. His heart was broken, shattered into a million pieces, and every beat sent another stabbing pain through his chest. The hand was still there, still wrapped around his arm and squeezing tightly, but he could feel himself slipping further and further away, down, into the nothingness beneath the waves.
"Breathe, damn it! That's an order!"
The sharp smack to the back of his head crashed through his body like a bolt of lightning. His eyes shot open and he drew in a massive breath. His tortured lungs rebelled, spasmed, and the breath mutated into a ragged cough that doubled him over. The hand that had pulled him out never left his arm, but another rested against his back, rubbing circles that both calmed and anchored him.
"Atta boy, Anthony." The voice, so caring and gentle, was starting to scare him. It wasn't supposed to sound like that. "Just keep breathing. You're okay."
His voice was rough, weak, and sounded wrong to his own ears. He sounded lost.
He was lost.
He felt tears mixing with the sticky mess on his face and running down it.
Gibbs was still there, still holding tight to his arm, still making circles on his back. He wasn't alone, and he couldn't be that lost, because Gibbs was there.
"I've gotcha, kid," Gibbs said softly. "Got your six. We'll take care of it. I promise. But for now, you just breathe."
He sank to his knees, closed his eyes, and breathed.