Tony had been cracked on the head more times than he could count. He knew the difference between a bump and a concussion, and figured that he knew the latter well enough that he could probably tell the difference between a concussion and brain damage if he had to. Lying on his back in the elevator, his head almost certainly bleeding (on the outside, he hoped) from its impact with the floor and the closed doors, the wind knocked out of him by the fall and Ziva landing on top of him, Tony was certain he was concussed. He might also have been in shock. And then there was the on-going adrenaline rush he was experiencing -knowing that there was (had been) a bomb about to explode and that he had to get everyone to safety - to take into account.
Yes, there were many excuses Tony could choose from to explain the conversation he was about to have.
Once debris has stopped punching through the ceiling of the elevator car and after checking himself over mentally (taking stock of the aforementioned concussion and shortness of breath, as well as what he was certain were no less than three broken or bruised ribs), his thoughts turned to Ziva. Though he couldn't see her in the dark, he could feel her breath on his neck.
"You okay?" Ziva was quiet for a beat too long and he knew the answer before she replied.
"I think so. My head-" she stopped for a moment and he felt her shift her weight, probably raising a hand to whatever injury she felt. The movement stopped quickly as she collapses back onto his chest, knocking the wind out of him all over again. For a moment the only sound either of them made were the short, sharp pants of people trying to breathe through pain. "Tony," she whispered, once she got her breath under control again, "I can't feel my hand."
"This one?" Tony asked, squeezing the palm he felt in his right hand.
"No, the other one. I think my arm is broken."
Tony swore, but he wasn't sure if he said it out loud or not. God, he was dizzy. It reminded him a little of Somalia and the truth serum Saleem had given him.
Silence filled the car for a few moments as each of them took measured breaths and tried to stop the spinning in their heads. Tony tightened his grip on Ziva's waist and found that his mouth was talking without his prior consent. "Hey Ziva? What's a tuba-thingy?"
His partner's confused silence dragged out until he was beginning to think she hadn't heard him. Finally she replied with "A what?"
"A tuba-majig. You said something about it last night. Vows, ring, kiss, tuba-thingy." He paused, trying to remember where that sentence was going. "What's a tuba got to do with a wedding?"
"Oh. Oh! A ketubah, Tony." Concussed though he was, Tony could practically hear the annoyed expression on Ziva's face as she rolled her eyes at him. "It-" she paused again "-it is a Jewish thing. A marriage contract. People sign it. It is beautiful."
Tony wrinkled his nose. "How can a contract be beautiful?"
"It is not just a contract, Tony." Ziva fell silent again and it occurred to Tony that if it was taking him a long time to assemble sentences in his first language, Ziva might be translating everything she thought in Hebrew into English. He filed that thought away for consideration later, if he remembered. In the mean time, Ziva was talking again.
"A ketubah is like… like a prenut."
It took Tony a moment to catch the mistake. "Prenup, Ziva."
"Whatever," his partner replied, waving their joined hands. "It is a promise that the groom will take care of his bride. It promises other things too, like...nedunya – oh, what do you call it? – a dowry. And the thing where a man pays his bride's family. But my cousin and her husband added things to their ketubah; made it more equal, like their vows. And you get your friends and family to sign it, as witnesses. It is an honour. And they are beautiful –" she said, going back to Tony's original question "- they are beautiful because artists draw them."
They both lay in silence for a while after Ziva finished. Tony couldn't help but wonder who Ziva would get to witness her ketubah. Gibbs, probably. Maybe she would choose Tony, too? That would be nice. It would be a bit like giving her away, he figured. Then again, he didn't really want to give her away. In fact, he would rather be the guy helping her choose witnesses for their ketubah. That would be amazing. But it might not happen. Probably not, really. But then again, there had been that conversation about marriage last night that lead to the tuba question in the first place. Maybe there was hope. Tony decided to find out with typical DiNozzo subtlety, which is to say through a movie reference.
"Yes, Tony," she replied, sounding tired now.
"Have you ever seen My Best Friend's Wedding, with Julia Roberts?"
Ziva heaved a sigh, which had both of them wincing as their battered ribs shifted. "No, Tony, I have not. Why?"
"Well, I was just thinking. Julia Robert's character promised her best friend that if neither of them was married by a certain time, then they would marry each other, just so they wouldn't die alone. It was a joke, but then she falls in love with him right when he gets engaged to someone else." Tony stopped. He'd lost track of his story again. "Anyway, I was thinking. We've both come kind of close to marrying other people, so obviously we both want to get married. But with this job and your love of guns and my blinding awesomeness, we might never find other people who get us, you know? So, say in five years – no, make it ten – in ten years, if we're both still single, we could get married. You could have your tuba-thing and I could get my honeymoon in Hawaii." He blinked as his brain slowly caught up to what he'd been saying. That story definitely hadn't been a marriage proposal when it started. "Or we could elope, like you said," he finished weakly in a last ditch attempt at damage control.
The ensuing pause was longer than any of the others, including the time between when the elevator crashed (oh yeah, they were stuck in an elevator weren't they?) and when they had woken up and started talking. Through the dizziness that still filled his head, Tony began to think of ways to get away from Ziva before she could kill him with her one functioning hand.
"Are you… proposing to me?"
The question was quiet, hesitant, but Tony caught it. He debated answering, but figured that staying quiet would only result in a more painful death.
"Oh." She sounded almost hurt. Certainly disappointed.
Tony backpedalled as fast as he could. "I mean, not if you don't want me to. But, you know, if you did want me to… it'd be kinda nice to know someone always has your six, right?" Now he was the one sounding hesitant.
The answer knocked the air out of Tony all over again. That couldn't be good for his lungs. And his heart was doing a spectacular tap routine in his chest, which probably wasn't too healthy either. While he was thinking about that, though, his newly independent mouth was trying to get him some clarification. "Huh?"
Ziva's face shifted on his chest and he could almost feel her serious expression. "I do have your six, Tony. Always."
The arm around Ziva's waist tightened its hold, bruised ribs be damned. Tony tried to work out what to say to that. It was true, of course. They always had each other's backs and that certainly wouldn't change if this whole conversation was just a product of shock and mild brain injury. But if she was serious, like he was beginning to think he might be…
"So you agree, then? Ten years, no other candidates, we get married?"
Ziva laughed. "You do realize that neither of us will remember this by the time we are out of the hospital, yes?"
Tony shrugged and regretted it immediately as his neck twinged. "So what? Still sounds like a good plan to me."
On his chest, Ziva's head shook back and forth, possibly not believing the words coming out of her mouth. "Alright. Why not? Ten years, DiNozzo. But first, we need to get out of this elevator."
Heaving another rib-killing sigh, Tony nodded. "Yeah, alright. Do we yell for help first, or just ninja our way out?"
A/N: Well, there you are, my first foray into NCIS fanfiction! Like most of my writing, this was done very late at night, so if you spot any errors, please point them out to me. Also beta writers: I need one (or two, or a dozen). I hope you enjoyed reading!
Update: Holy cow you guys! I leave you alone for 10 hours and you blow up my inbox! Thank you! Also, I forgot my disclaimer, so here we go.
Disclaimer: I do not own NCIS, its characters or its settings, nor do I own My Best Friend's Wedding.