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His head was pounding and his lungs felt as if they were on fire. His mind attempted to awaken to the new sensations that were attacking his body, his fog filled mind was attempting to find a reason for all the discomfort that he was feeling. Suddenly, it was as if his brain cells got some oxygen, because the events that had led to his feeling like crap hit him like a bomb, a car bomb to be exact.
His eyes flew open but it only found darkness, and at first he thought he might have been blinded by the explosion but then his vision improved and he caught a glimpse of light, possibly from a cell phone or a dim flash light. His mind was still attempting to put together the events of the day, he was still feeling as though some things were missing from his memory, like a puzzle he felt he needed to put together.
He attempted to move from his prone position only to be firmly pushed back into place and a soft voice chiding him to "Lie still, Tony".
He blinked a few times and thought about the events that occurred prior to him being here, wherever here was, and he could only draw a blank.
" Where am I?" he asked as her rolled over, his voice sounding rather strange, even to himself. It was scratchy and weak, and he couldn't help but to wonder what had caused the change.
"Tony, you hit your head, you've been out for hours." Ziva explained, her own voice filled with exhaustion and fragile emotion.
Finally, his brain registered the voice and matched it to the person he called his partner and friend, "Ziva?"
A firm hand gripped his own and he couldn't help feeling relieved that she was fine, that she wasn't in distress. He blinked his eyes, trying to focus in the dark place, his mind still trying to figure out just where he was though, and how in the hell had they gotten there.
"The elevator fell Tony. We've been here for hours, you've been out for hours." He could hear the emotion in her weak voice.
" Dearing set off the bomb." she continued. " I wonder if the others made it out."
Suddenly Tony realized what had happened, it was still pretty much a blur but he knew they had decided to take the elevator after realizing that the bomb was just outside of Abby's lab, they had to get to her in a hurry and the stairwells were too crowded with people.
"Abby?" His damaged throat asked, the fear of losing his friend evident in his voice as it cracked with emotion. " Did we get Abby? Is she dead?"
Ziva took her dying cell phone and held it over Tony's face, she needed to see that he was okay, he didn't sound as if he was doing very well. She was worried, he had hit his head against the doors when they fell to the floor, his arm had secured her fall, keeping her from getting hurt, and as he protected her he had taken the brunt of the fall and the force of the elevator falling was placed onto his own body. She knew he had to be hurting. She felt he needed the truth though; that he deserved the truth.
"We never made it to the lab, Tony." She could tell that her words had devastated the man lying across her lap, she could feel his body tense with emotion.
It was quiet for a few moments before he spoke again but when he did the overwhelming response of possibly losing a dear friend was there, raw emotion mixed with the pain of his injuries, "Do you think she's dead?"
Ziva quickly answered, she desperately wanted her friend and partner not to be worried but she knew that there was no way she could prevent it, " I believe Gibbs did everything he could to save her, he would have known, just like we did that she was the one in the most danger given the location of Vance's vehicle."
Tony nodded, feeling a wave of dizziness hit along with the urge to puke. He tilted his head, which was now lying on a very soft pillow, or was it Ziva's lap, wherever it was it was about to get soaked with the contents of his stomach.
He retched for several minutes , the acrid smell added to the already staleness of the air and when he had finished he felt the comforting hand of his partner stroking his back and giving him a small amount of hope." It's going to be okay Tony, just hang on."
He pulled in a deep breath followed by a round of hacking coughs, his throat was now on fire and he felt as if any movement would send him back into darkness, he definitely had a concussion. He hated concussions and he hated feeling helpless.
She was worried for her friend, his ragged breaths, his confusion, and his newest symptom, vomiting, was causing her to get even more nervous. She had never lost consciousness, she had been alone for hours in the now suffocating metal box and she worried. She had worried that the building might be burning, that their friends were dead and that her partner might never awaken. It was just too much now to see or at least hear him suffering, the darkness of the elevator limiting her ability to do any real assessment of his injures, though she could feel the lump on the back of his head, his fevered skin, and she could hear the raspy cough he developed over the past hour.
She had thought about using his phone earlier but had been too damaged with the fall, it wouldn't even emit a small light, she knew there had to be a bruise where the phone had been in Tony's right jacket pocket, the phone had been demolished.
She felt an overwhelming guilt for his injuries and it was mostly due to the fact that it had been her idea to use the elevator and against his better judgment he had entered, arguing all the way that it was not a good idea with a bomb sitting just outside of the building but she had insisted, she had guilted him into entering with her and now he was the injured one. She had escaped with only a few scratches and a slightly sprained wrist, which really didn't hurt all that bad. Now all she had was guilt, and it felt as though it would suffocate her.
"Dammit Tony!" she cursed loudly, a result of the exasperation she felt over the current situation.
"Did I do something to tick off the Ninja Chick?" he asked with a hint of humor in his strained voice. "I promise I will get your pants dry cleaned, no biggy."
" It's not about the pants Tony, I goofed up, I got us into this situation and..." she hesitated and then with great emotion in her voice she continued,"I got you hurt, again."
" Hold on for a second, I know I have a pretty significant concussion, I can tell by the pain in my head but if I remember correctly, you didn't make me get on the elevator and it was Dearing who set off the bomb and not you, Ziva." He stopped for a few seconds, attempting to put his thoughts together and then he continued, "But I did find it strange that you did not insist on going with Gibbs to find the bomb, especially with your bomb disarming skills. Why didn't you go with Gibbs? " The question was there now, would she answer it, or avoid giving him a truth that they both avoided, like the plague.
Ziva looked down with the small light in her free hand, her other hand holding onto Tony's shoulder with a tight grip, and she saw the look in her partner's eyes, it was the look of confusion and pain. She felt as though she should give him an answer, the truth probably wouldn't hurt since they were apparently going to die in this damned metal box. She also knew if she actually spoke the truth that she could never go back to denying her feelings for the man, he would know that she cared him more than like a partner, but more as a lover.
She cleared her throat and spoke softly, "It seems when we are not together then one of us gets hurt. I didn't want you harmed, you do have a knack Tony for getting into trouble." She looked down and gave her partner a sad smile, though he couldn't see it in the dimly lit space. That answer would have to do, she was not ready to admit her feelings for him, not now, not in an elevator, not facing death.
He was quiet for several minutes and Ziva even thought for a second that her partner had drifted back off to the land of the unconscious, but then his voice, sounding more damaged from the bout of retching and vomiting, echoed in the small container, " Remember the time you were talking about soul-mates Ziva?"
She looked down at her partner wondering now if his head injury was worsening, " That was a very long time ago Tony." she placed her hand on his forehead, the fever definitely increasing, she wondered if his lungs were the cause.
" I wasn't very good at expressing things back then, some people, Gibbs, thought I was childish, others, like Tim, thought I was too much a frat boy. I guess, considering my propensity for failed relationships I would say that it would take a soul-mate to settle me down, make me serious about life." He stopped to let out a series of coughs. After he caught his breath he continued, " Maybe you, Ziva, are my..." his words got cut off when the elevator shifted suddenly, their bodies slid violently towards the metal doors.
" Tony, hold on to my hand!" Ziva yelled as a loud crashing sound could be heard from above them. It was then suddenly silent .
Both of the team members were brought back to the reality that the event was far from over and then all hell broke loose again, the elevator took a quick jolt to the right, their bodies shifted again and more of the ceiling fell to the floor and onto the two victims of the mad man's revenge.
Ziva's cell light flickered out and now they were alone, scared and in total darkness. They still held on to each others hands, each of them clinging to some kind of dim hope that they would be rescued but time was running out, the cables were starting to wear and their chances for survival were slimming.
"Ziva?" Tony called out her name nervously, wanting to make sure she was not harmed any more than she already had been.
" I am fine, Tony." She felt for any pieces that might have fallen on Tony and removed them quickly, not wanting him to be cut or injured by any of the loose sharp pieces, she tossed the remnants of the ceiling to the other side of the elevator. She suddenly realized that the air in the tiny room was getting thick with heat and dust; at least she hoped that it was dust, smoke would be bad, really bad.
Tony knew they had to try to get out, even if Ziva could get out she would have at least have a chance at survival and suddenly he knew what he had to do, what he had to force his injured body to do to get her to safety.
After just a few simple movements he started realizing that not only his head was injured but his right arm and his leg had taken a beating too, they were at worst probably broken and at best badly sprained, but he had a new mission and that was to get Ziva out of the damned box. He would grin and bare whatever pain he had to endure to achieve that task.
" Okay, I have a plan." he pushed past the dizziness and the nausea making himself sit up in the lopsided container and after a few more seconds he pushed himself up to an almost standing position.
"Tony, what the hell are you doing? You need to lie back down!" she reprimanded her injured partner.
"We are going to get you out of here, someone has to go for help before this bucket falls to the basement floor killing us both." he stated emphatically as he reached up and carefully felt for the escape hatch, which he knew no longer was covered by the thick plastic shield, the broken thick plate was definitely underneath his feet, he had enough cuts and bruises to provide that clue.
" I will not leave you here Tony!" Her voice a mixture of fear and anger.
"You want to live?" he asked, his hands still searching the top for a handle, his fingers gathering small cuts from the sharp edges left behind from the broken plastic and also from the lights that had shattered.
"I want both of us to live but I will not leave you behind, you are clearly injured Tony and I just can't leave you here." She argued, not wanting to leave Tony.
He stopped and steadied himself for the argument he knew he had to win, he would have to get her to understand, to make her feel that she needed to try to find help, there was no way he would be able to leave, his body was just too injured. "Then we will both die Ziva, this elevator is on it's last cable, when it gives, we will fall, at least we will have a chance if you can get out and get us help."
She got quiet, very quiet as if she was giving it some thought, then she spoke, " I have heard nothing in all the hours since the explosion, it is if they have given up before they even started to search. I doubt anyone will be out there."
Tony smiled to himself, she was thinking, at least he had gotten her to that point with only one argument, his head was splitting and he didn't know how much longer he would be able to stand, then finally his long fingers found the handle and he pulled , the door fell open and the ladder came down.
"Ziva, take the ladder and crawl out onto the top, see where we are." Tony directed, his senior agent status kicking in, he had to take charge, it was his job.
Ziva hesitated for only a second, but she knew she had to do something because if she didn't it would be as Tony had stated, their lives would end today, in this box.
She turned and felt for his chest and gave him a firm hug and a soft kiss to his cheek, and after she let go she felt him lean his exhausted body against the wall, " I will be back for you Tony." She felt his head nod, no more words were spoken.
Ziva then lifted her leg and started to climb the shaky rope ladder to the top of the box, and that is when she noticed that there was a small amount of light outside of one of the doors above her, probably the blast had caused the door to implode, remnants of the metal frame were littered on top of the elevator. She then noticed that she would be able to climb up to the door, but she would have to be very careful as to not cause any extra stress on the cable that still kept the container dangling in place.
"I think I can make it to the next floor Tony, I can see better up here." she wanted to keep Tony informed, wanted to make sure he knew that things were going well. She hated that the battery had died in her cell, it might have worked now that she was out of the box. She moved quickly, she had to get some help for her partner.
Tony slid back to the floor, his eyes flitted upwards and his body slumped to the side, his breathing shallowed, and his body seized due to the injury to his head, but Ziva was unaware, she was making her way towards the blown out door, she had a mission and that was to save her partner.
Several minutes later
She finally reached the opening to the bullpen area, and she was shocked at what she saw as she crawled through the missing doors. There were bodies that still littered the floor along with broken glass and furniture, the smell of smoke and fire more evident in the open room than in the elevator, and she wondered silently why there were no rescue teams around.
She turned as she stood and yelled back down towards the elevator, " I made it Tony. I will get help!" Ziva noted that Tony didn't respond and that worried her even more than the silence of the building.
She looked towards the area of their desks and noted a familiar backpack lying on top a non-moving body, "McGee!" she screamed as she made her way over to his still form, " McGee, are you okay?" she asked as she busied her hands removing glass and large pieces of wood from his body.
She couldn't help but to worry that her friend was dead, the way his pale, cool skin looked in the dimly lit room was frightening and another wave of guilt hit her for not being injured due to Tony's unselfish sacrifice in the elevator.
"Ziva?" McGee moaned, his eyes still closed, his face bloody due to the multiple cuts from shattered glass.
"I am here McGee. I will get you help." she stated as she started to search for his cell phone. Then as she pulled it out she noted that it too had been destroyed by the blast.
She knew she could not move him, he could have a more serious injury than she could assess. " Lie still McGee, I will get you and Tony help." she stood and looked around, there had to be a way to help her friends, and she could not get the feeling out of her gut that things were only going to get worse.
She noted that Gibbs desk was still pretty much intact and as she made her way over to it she hoped inwardly that she would find his cell still in his desk drawer.
Her hands fumbled in the desk until her fingers met the cool metal, she pulled immediately pulled it out and opened it, the light came on strong.'He never uses this thing, the battery is still fully charged.' she thought to herself as she scrolled through the numbers.
She quickly found Vance's number and hit the green button, it had been a long time since using a basic cell phone. The ringing continued until it went to voice mail, she cursed silently and looked for another number, Fornell's. Again she hit the green button and it began to ring.
" Gibbs?" A bewildered Fornell answered.
" Fornell, this is Ziva David. I am at NCIS, our building was bombed and Tony and McGee are hurt and nobody is rescuing them." She spoke the words fast and furiously, her mind racing, both of her partners were in trouble.
" I know Agent David, I am standing outside of the building, we thought you were dead." He answered, she could hear others in the background and Fornell attempting to cover the phone and give orders to hurry with the bomb sweep because there were survivors inside, injured survivors.
Ziva walked back over to McGee and laid a gentle hand on his shoulder, " Please hurry, they are not doing well." she stopped and knew she had to ask the next question, but dreaded the answer, " Is Gibbs alive?"
Fornell took a few seconds to answer, " I wish I knew Ziva, there is chaos all around us, the dead and living are intermixed and I just don't know, it like 9/11 over again." his voice trembled with emotion, his hands were visibly shaking, he was surprised that there were survivors inside, the damage on the outside was tremendous and the fires that had ensued, things were bad.
" My partners are really in bad shape, I need help. Whatever you have to do, just do it. Tony is in the elevator, McGee is in the bullpen. They are both too injured to move on their own and if Gibbs is here, he has Abby, I am sure of it. Please hurry."
The phone suddenly went dead and she tucked it away, at least she could use the light when darkness covered the room, it would soon.
She crawled back over to Gibbs broken desk, avoiding cutting herself on the mountain of glass and searched in the fading light for the first aide kit that he kept in the bottom drawer, her hands found it and she made her way back to Tim, who seemed to be more alert now, he still had not opened his eyes, but he seemed to be moving more, reacting more to his pain.
"McGee, where are you hurt other than the cuts?" she asked as she tore open the 4x4 packages of gauze.
"My hands, my chest, and my ass." he spoke as he reached for Ziva's hand. " I heard you say something about Tony. Is he okay?"
" He is in the elevator, he was too injured to get out. He has a head injury and I think his arm and leg are broken. He's having problems with his breathing and he has a fever." She didn't even realize it but she was crying as she spoke of her partner, her voice quivering with emotion.
Tim pawed at the air until he felt her arm, he then gripped it firmly and spoke, "Tony is the toughest man I know. He will make it, he would be way too afraid he might piss off Gibbs if he doesn't." he smiled at the woman who was now dressing some of his wounds, her hands now placing the gauze over his damaged eyes, hoping that Tim had not suffered any permanent damage.
It got really quiet for several minutes as Ziva quickly bandaged his hands and a lot of the open wounds that scattered across his body, the glass had cut through his clothing. Suddenly Gibbs' phone rang and Ziva quickly opened it, hoping for good news and glad the phone was working again. "This is Ziva David."
" Ziva, this is Fornell. I need you to listen very closely to what I am about to say. There is another bomb, we just located it in another vehicle on the opposite side of the building, it belongs to Colonel Fallon, he has been out of town for a couple of weeks. We have a signal blocker right now near the bomb but it could blow if Dearing has equipped it with a secondary device. What I need you to do is get as close to the front of the building possible and find cover until we can defuse the bomb."
She thought she was dreaming, another bomb, her friends were in no shape to move and they had found another damned bomb.
" I am afraid that is impossible Agent Fornell, we are having some major problems initiating that response. Because Tony is trapped in a damned elevator that is already hanging by one cable and Tim has been blinded by shattered glass. I can not get them to safety. I would strongly suggest that you find a way to get to us before the bomb explodes. That is what Gibbs would do and WE do not want to piss off Gibbs, do we?" Ziva yelled into the phone.
Fornell understood, they all understood, " Listen, we will do our best, and I mean our very best to get to you and your team Agent David. But, I do need you to assist us, get near a window and flag us to your location, use something to show us where you are and maybe we can get a truck close enough to get you. Tony is still in the elevator shaft?"
" He is still in the elevator, yes." she stood and started towards the window, removing her blood stained jacket as she approached, passing obviously dead bodies along the way.
" Is there anyway McGee could assist in getting him out?" Fornell asked, hoping for a positive answer.
" He is unable." she simply answered as she started waving her jacket out of the fractured window.
" We see you Ziva, we're on our way. Hang in there and tell your partners to hang in there too." Fornell hung up the phone and started to work on rescuing Gibbs' team.
Tears streamed down her face as she looked over to Tim, he looked so helpless so much like a little boy in need his father, or surrogate father, Gibbs.
Tony's body had stopped seizing and he lay lifeless on the floor of the metal box when suddenly the box moved downward as if the building's electricity had been turned back on and the elevator had regained its ability to operate again. Though, in actuality, it was slipping, the cable was losing its ability to hold the cart up any longer and it slid, a slow descent to the bottom floor, the floor where Abby's lab still smoldered.
The doors cracked open, though not totally all the way due to the damage inflicted on the cart, but enough for the man sitting in the hallway with a very unconscious Abby at his side to see the contents. " Tony?"
Gibbs stood on wobbly feet and made his way over to the cart that held his second in command, and he wondered how the man had managed to survive, the metal box was severely damaged. He saw the large amount of blood on the floor and he knew Tony was badly hurt.
Ignoring his own injuries he reached inside and grabbed Tony underneath his arms and pulled him out to safety. The lab doors had closed prior to the electricity going out, smothering out the fire, now only smoke came out from underneath the door.
"Dammit DiNozzo, what the hell happened to you?" he asked his silent second. He noticed the head wound and the wheezing sounds eminating from the man's lungs, a flash of DiNozzo struggling to stay alive years ago flashed into his head, " Not again Tony." he whispered to the struggling form of his friend.
He quickly assessed his second's injuries and made sure that Tony wasn't having too much difficulty breathing, he was breathing, but he wouldn't be for long, not with those damaged lungs. Gibbs knew he would need to get Abby and Tony out. He wondered silently if the others had made it out. He was worried, the chances of all of his team surviving was getting less and less. The explosion had occurred hours ago and they were still inside, he wondered if they had found another bomb, the threat still had to be there. That would be the only explanation given the lack of any rescue teams.
Gibbs' hearing had been greatly effected by the blast, it had been too close to the lab. He looked around and saw that Abby was stirring some, he needed her to be able to move on her own, so that he could carry DiNozzo out of the building. He wondered if they could use the loading dock door if they were able to get to it. The location of the door was to the back of the building and his gut churned that something wasn't right, he knew that both of his charges were running out of time though and he needed to get them out of the building.
Vance rolled over on his side, the force of the blast had broken the side windows and now he was covered in bullet resistent glass, ' Guess it wasn't bomb proof.' he said to nobody, the room was empty other than himself.
He used his desk that seemed to be still intact to assist him into a standing position. He looked out the window, the sun was going down. The lawn was scattered with bodies and military personel, it was like a war zone. "How long have I been out?" The director spoke the words out loud again but there was nobody there to give an answer.
He turned towards the door and hurriedly started to make his way towards it, he wondered silently how many people may have been killed, it looked bad from his view, he needed to get out, assist in anyway he could. A bout of dizziness stopped him, he held onto the wall to regain his equilibrium, it took several seconds then he was on his way towards the door again.
His hand touched the door first, checking for fire, it was cool so he opened it up, the secretary had been evacuated, her desk empty, the room a mess. He continued to make his way out when he was stopped by what appeared to be a lack of a floor, the damned floor was missing where there use to be a hallway, and he knew he had to change directions. He would have to go out the window, he searched for his cell and found it.
As he dialed the only number he knew would possibly answer, the person picked up on cue, " Jackie."
Outside of NCIS
Fornell saw the jacket flying out of the second story window and hurriedly got a ladder truck over to it, the ladder raised too slow for his liking but when it finally reached the window, the firefighters quickly went into action.
Ziva waved them over to McGee, who seemed to have drifted off again. He was unable to assist in getting out of the building. She watched as the two men went to work, the first went to McGee and the second she waved over to the elevator but as she looked down the shaft the box was gone and her heart sank. It must have fallen, the weakened cable must have broken.
"It's gone. He's gone." Her voice was just above a whisper, an overwhelming urge to cry hit her and she fell to her knees, assisted by the firefighter, and her only thought was that Tony was dead.