Time seemed to stand still.
In reality she guessed it had only been an hour or so, maybe less than that.
But could have been days for all she knew. The way the elevator had fallen into a deathly silence, the last scraps of debris having fallen from the top of the elevator shaft.
The only sound that rattled around the metal prison now was the sound of her breathing, as she continued to lie across Tony, one hand stroking his face, the other pressing two fingers into his neck feeling the steady drum of his pulse. The firm beat the only thing that could keep her from hysteria right now.
She knew that the medics must be on site by this point, that there would be rescue attempts underway and that the chaos would have started to see some order.
But she also knew that they were likely not to be seen too until last, in fact she doubted anyone would even think to look in here for quite some time. What idiots took the elevator after all?
It was ironic she thought that throughout both of their lives they had faced death on so many occasions, staring down the barrel of a gun, being overpowered in a fist fight, being at the wrong place at the wrong time. All things that you would associate with the types of bad ass action movies Tony loved so much, yet currently they were trapped in a elevator swinging precariously with no real means of viable escape.
She wondered then if this was like fates way of metaphorically kicking her in the gut.
Nothing good ever came from this elevator. Words left unspoken, tension thick in the air, spats unresolved due to a lack of time.
So of course should a time come when she and Tony could actually talk uninterrupted - without the doors opening, without someone else joining on another floor, without either of them being able to deflect and run, the guy was unconscious?
Seriously someone up there must really have it in for her because she could seriously not get a break.
Though what would she even do with it should she actually get one?
She wasn't exactly the most forthcoming person with her feelings, never wore her heart on her sleeve, but maybe just maybe, this was what this was about, to get her to face up to what was right in front of her, what she had been denying for so long.
And as she stared down as the man beneath her, who thankfully had had some colour return to his face, and did she just see his nose twitch slightly there? She knew with absolute certainty what that thing was.
"I am tired of pretending" she whispered as she stroked her hand through his hair, the other moving from his neck – though instantly missing the comfort she found there – gripping his hand tightly, feeling the press of their fingers together, the feel of his warmth even though not so long ago he bared more resemblance to a dead body than a man.
And she was. She was ridiculously tired, of this game they played.
This back and forth, the refusal to give in to what had been bubbling between them since the first time they met, refusing to give into something that would make them happy.
She had tried. They had both tried so hard to find someone else; to find someone where the spark would even just marginally register against the amount there was with them. But they had never found it.
Instead jumping from one failed relationship to the next, missing their opportunity.
How easily this could have been, still could be the worst missed opportunity of all.
Because had Tony been worse injured, or should he fail to wake up at all – and god she didn't even want to consider that possibility – then there would just be her, left alone, with nothing but her memories and her regrets of what could have been. What they could have had.
That wasn't going to happen.
Because she loved him, there she had finally admitted it to herself.
She loved him more than what could be considered a brother – she had to admit having those sorts of dreams about your brother would have been very weird – she loved him more than a friend, cared more for him than a co worker.
She really shouldn't, she wasn't even allowed to, yet she did, and she sure as hell wasn't letting anything else stand in the way of that.
Gibb's rule be damned, she wasn't standing by, pretending that her feelings didn't exist, when things like this could happen.
They happened more often than she was even comfortable with.
She didn't want to have to be in this position again, to have Tony lying motionless, unable to hear her, and her having to shout and scream at him to stay awake. It had been a bang to the head this time, and she was an absolute wreck, what happens if next time it were to be a bullet?
A bullet that she was to slow to take, a bullet that lodged itself in his chest, causing him to bleed out right in front of her eyes, no amount of pressure or work from her being able to stop it, the truth and words that had festered for seven years now remaining unspoken, unheard.
He would die without knowing the truth.
Die thinking she didn't care, or didn't care enough to take the risk.
It wasn't going to be like that.
She was going to make sure he knew, even if he turned her down, even if he broke her heart, he needed to know.
"I really love you" she said with more determination than necessary, it was as if she was trying to prove it to herself rather than anyone else."You hear that Tony, I am tired of this game that we play, I am so tired of pretending not to feel the way I do, so please, please wake up, I need you to wake up, so I can actually tell you this in person"
She was aware that she was babbling now, the tears beginning to fall down her cheeks again, so much was her desperation for him to wake up. For him to wake up and assure her that she wasn't alone.
"You win ok? You protected me this time, but you are never allowed to do it again you hear? Because Tony I can't see you like this, I am going crazy right now, and just please wake up so I know you are fine" she waited to see the flicker of his features, for him to twitch, for him to make comment on how sappy she was being, but nothing came.
Instead he lay silent, as she give in to the tears, laying her head on his chest as the sobs wracked her body, convinced that he was never going to wake up again, that she had missed her chance.
It was only when she felt the slight tightening of fingers around her own, that her head snapped up.