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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 7:05 am 
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Hanging By a Moment
By EmyPink

Disclaimer: NCIS is not mine
Rating: FR13
Parings: McGiva
Genres: Drama, Het, Friendship, Suspense
Warnings: None
Summary: “I told you not to look down.”

A/N The Prologue and Chapter One was betaed by my beta, Kandon Kuuson. Thanks, Jems. Chapter Two onwards was betaed by Sherry. Thanks so much, Sherry, you're fantastic.

Discussion thread here.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 7:07 am 
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“Heroism consists of hanging on one minute longer.” - Norwegian Proverb

~*~*~*~

Prologue: Hanging

Thump.

Crack.

“McGee.”

Whoosh.

Crack.

“McGee.”

“…”

“Tim!”


The first thing I notice is a familiar female voice calling out to me desperately. I try to picture her face, but find this task an impossible feat.

“McGee!”

There it is again. I struggle to open my eyes, but it’s like they’re glued shut. Tony? Has he somehow glued part of my anatomy … again? No … that doesn’t explain the persistent cracks and thumps that bounce around my head.

“McGee! Can you hear me?”

Of course, I can hear … her. Whoever she is. It’s my eyes that don’t work. Suddenly, I feel myself lurch forwards. What? Am I on a ship? It feels like there are waves underneath, rocking the boat? … back and forth. No, I was in a car. Yes, a car.

I feel a hand grip my arm … hard and sharp gasp. The car lurches forward again and the grip increases. There is another moan and I start to worry.

“Tim!”

There it is again. It sounds strange, like the voice is unfamiliar … unaccustomed to calling me Tim. Timothy McGee, that’s me. At least I remember that much.

“McGee, if you do not open your eyes, I will tell Tony about what happened after work yesterday.”

Beneath the sentence, there is some odd unlay of a threat, but it doesn’t sound threatening. There is a slight overture of … concern and worry? Now I’m making no sense.

Yesterday? What happened yesterday? I rack my brain, trying to remember. Something about … computers … and, oh god, porn … and a terribly inappropriate comment. Ziva!

“Ziva,” I repeat hoarsely. My throat feels like sandpaper. What happened?

I hear her sign with relief. “McGee, can you look at me.”

My eyelids flicker open and slowly a shadowy figure turns into a feminine figure. Ziva.

“Ziva,” I repeat for the second time as her normally emotionless eyes, now filled with concern, appear in my vision.

She mutters something in Hebrew. “McGee, look at me.”

Her hair starts to form; I have always like those dark curls. She’d probably kill me if I told her that … Ziva can be one scary lady at times.

Finally, my vision starts to clear and Ziva becomes the woman I have grown to know over these past two years. I see her look down at me, a concerned smile on her face.

“Mmmm … what happened,” I ask as I notice a thin trail of blood trickling down her face. I instinctively reach out to wipe it away, but she jerks backwards before I can reach her. “You’re … you’re hurt.”

“I’m fine, McGee,” she says stiffly, quickly removing her hand from my arm as if she had been electrocuted. “It is you that I am worried about. We … we walked off the road, yes?”

Walked off the road. What is she talking about? Concussion? Car … injuries … oh, we crashed? We ran off the road.

“Ran, Ziva,” I say weakly, knowing that it is Tony that usually does this. “Ran off the road.”

“Same difference,” she mutters. “Yes, we crashed the car.”

I know it’s neither the time nor the place, but I cannot say I’m surprised. With Ziva driving, as harsh as it may seem, I’m amazed we haven’t crashed earlier.

“Oh,” I don’t what to say. My arm is starting to hurt … a lot. I can’t help myself as I moan in pain.

“I think your arm is broken, McGee,” she confirms what I already suspect. Tony wouldn’t have broken his arm. Hell, he would have had Ziva out of the car now and be calling Gibbs. Gibbs would have had her out too, but I’m here with my broken arm while Ziva is trying to save me. I shouldn’t have let this happen.

“Ah, McGee,” she says hesitantly, debating whether or not to tell me.

“Mmmm …” is all I can manage as the pain in my arms shoots towards my shoulder and my neck.

“Whatever you do, don’t look down,” she mumbles reluctantly.

Don’t look down … oh. Too late. As I look down, my chest tightens and my breathing increases sharply. I gasp in shock and surprise and horror. No wonder I heard the sounds of rocks falling. No wonder I thought we were on a boat as the car lurched forwards. Below us is a fifty-metre odd drop. Not only did we just run off the road, we ended up half hanging off a cliff.

“No …” I am too stunned to say anything else.

Ziva looks at me sadly. “I told you not to look down.”

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 7:08 am 
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Chapter One: How Did This Happen?

One Hour Earlier

“Are you sure you didn’t see anything out of the ordinary?” Ziva asks, a little more forcefully than she should.

I can tell she’s frustrated. We’ve been door knocking for two hours and it is getting us no where. No one saw or heard anything relating the death of Petty Officer Percy Gates. I’ve tried running his credit card bills, phone records and any other records I could access … but nothing. Luckily, Abby and Ducky managed to find a cause of death, poisoning, or we would have nothing to go on.

“You are one hundred percent sure,” Ziva tries again, the frustration clearly showing in her voice.

“Yes,” the elderly woman snaps. I guess she’s getting frustrated with Ziva too. That’s the fourth time she’s asked and the answer has always been no.

Ziva glares at the woman for a moment before turning abruptly and storming off down the front path. I shoot Mrs Kendell an apologetic smile before following Ziva down the path.

“You okay, Ziva?” I ask as we reach the gate. She stops so I place my hand on her shoulder, stupidly, I must add.

She immediately shrugs off my hand and swings around to glare at me. I recoil unintentionally; I don’t know how she does it.

“I am fine,” she snaps, she looks at me with an apathetic face for a moment longer before swiftly walking down the street towards the next house.

Her abrupt exit forces me to blink twice. Okay, something is definitely wrong. I may not understand women as well as Tony, but I’m not clueless … despite what Tony might say.

“Ziva, wait,” I call out to her. I am going to find the underlying cause of this. Ziva is not just a co-worker, but my friend as well.

“What, McGee,” she snipes as she comes to a sudden halt, her hand resting on the gate latch of the next house.

“What’s wrong?” I ask, knowing that I’m playing with fire.

“Nothing,” she replied curtly, shooting me the same glare as before. Unlike last time, I don’t back down.

“You expect me to believe that?” I say, returning her glare with a perplexed look. She studies my face for a moment, as if she doesn’t quite believe that I’m not concerned.

“Yes,” she mutters darkly, “as I can kill you without a mark on your body.”

“Ziva,” I say patiently. Her empty threats don’t scare me … well, I think they are empty … hopefully.

“What?” she snaps again, glaring angrily at me. “We have a case to solve, yes?”

“Forget about the case…for a second” I say as I think. Luckily, Gibbs isn’t here or I would have been slapped from here to eternity.

Ziva rolls her eyes. “Oh, the case …” Finally, a change of tone in her voice, it’s not so snippy or snappy this time as it was before. It must be the case, I deduce.

“Is the case getting to you?” I ask, but immediately Gibbslapped myself for that comment. That was definitely playing with fire, and Ziva was a fire-breathing dragon.

She looks at me blankly. “No,” she says, trying quite successfully to keep the emotion out of her voice.

However, I notice it just the teeniest little bit. I may not know women like Tony, but I did grow up with a sister and living in a house with Sarah for many years certainly tuned my ears into noticing subtle emotional hints.

I give her my best ‘I don’t believe you look’, but all that achieves is a smirk from her.

“Nice try, McGee,” she smirks as she unlatches the gate, “but I am fine.” She turns away from me and proceeds to walk up the bricked path.

“Wait.” I hurry after her. She stops again and sighs as she turns to face me.

“Yes,” she sighs impatiently, staring at me intently.

Her dark eyes sparkle in the sunlight, making her look more youthful than she is … not that she’s old or anything … not that it would matter … Ziva is gorgeous, everyone can see that … I’m not blind … I … I curse myself and shake my head. I feel the heat rise to my face and she smirks again, as if she did it intentionally and knows exactly what I’m thinking.

“I … erm …” I try. Damn, she is good. I swallow heavily and continue, “Talk to me Ziva, please?”

She softens, but only slightly, the impassive mask is still in place. “Just drip it, McGee.”

“Drop it,” I correct automatically. I don’t like to tease like Tony does.

“Same difference,” she replies with a small smile, but then that smile fades. “Thank you, McGee, for your concern, but it really is okay.” She looks at me darkly, but then she brightens.

Suddenly, her hand whips out and she slaps me lightly on the cheek. Then she grins impishly at me. “You are all red, McGee. We would not want … Hannah Gray … thinking you are all hot and bothered, yes?”

My response is for the heat to creep up my face even more.

~*~*~*~

After speaking to Hannah Gray, the last household on the street, who, unsurprisingly, didn’t know anything, Ziva and I walk back to the car. Ziva is quiet, and I can’t help but wonder if I pushed the whole emotion thing too hard.

“Ziva,” I start hesitantly. I do not want to make things worse, she seems riled, even if she’s quiet, up enough as it is.

“Yes,” she answers, but never slows her pace.

“I’m … I’m sorry if before I made you uncomfortable,” I mutter weakly.

“Never apologise,” she begins, “it’s a sign of weakness.” She offers me a flirtatious smile that would make any man melt. She certainly knows how to get off topic smoothly and quickly.

“Ah, I’m sorry …” I trail off and hope the ground opens up and swallows me whole.

Ziva smiles again, but says nothing, which is just as unnerving as saying something. She reaches for the driver’s side door handle, but I quickly reach out and grab it before her hand meets the metal. I, in an odd sort of way, can’t help but feel a little proud of myself as I grab the door handle before Ziva. Unfortunately, this is short lived.

Within moments, Ziva had grabbed my wrists and used her body to pin me against the car. The heat on my face is rising steadily, and she knows it. She grins at me.

“I’m driving, McGee,” she breathes into my ear. Her warm breathe tickles my earlobe and I’m rendered temporarily speechless.

When she sees that she has me all flustered, she’s smirks and pulls away. While I’m still in my daze, she slips into the driver’s seat and revs the engine, making me jump.

She smiles sweetly at me. “Am I to leave you here all day, yes?” She adjusts the gears on the car before looking back at me.

“McGee,” she barks, in a very Gibbs-like manner. “Get in the car.”

“Yes, boss,” I reply automatically, two seconds later realising what I had said. My eyes widen as Ziva gazes at me with a smile.

“Boss, am I now?” she smiles wickedly.

“I … erm …” She doesn’t usually get me this tongue-tied, so what is so special about today. “Slip of the tongue?”

I sigh. I’ve called boss boss, Tony boss and now Ziva boss. Soon you’ll have me calling Ducky or Abby boss, and that’s not good.

“Just get in the car, McGee,” she repeats when she notices that I haven’t moved. “Or I really will leave you here.”

“Right, bo … erm … Ziva,” I stutter, quickly changing my first train of thought.

I stumble over a rock as I attempt to reach the passenger’s side. Ziva snickers and watches me amusedly. I finally make it to the passenger seat, but before I can open the door, Ziva leans over and opens it from the inside. She flashes me a smile.

“Ah, thanks?” I say as I climb into the car.

“I just did not want you tripping up as you open the door,” she smirks before pressing her foot down on the accelerator. “I think it would be best if you held on,” she says with a wide grin.

~*~*~*~

“Ziva … err … you might want to slow down,” I suggest as Ziva speeds around a corner.

“Now why would I want to do that,” she shakes her head, a cheerful grin on her face. Only Ziva, and, okay, Gibbs would enjoy this kind of driving.

“The speed limit is 60,” I state as I grip the handle above my head tighter, knuckles whitening.

“It is?” Ziva says and she, I believe, is deadly serious, or we can add acting to her list of things she’s good at. “So?”

“So … so,” I start to get a bit agitated and my shoulders tense up. “The rules are there for a reason, Ziva.”

“So?” she calmly says again.

I sigh in frustration and run my hands over my hair. I am starting to feel a little green so I rest my head against the window. The car slows down a little and I see Ziva look over at me, but she does not say anything. The car slows down even more and I can feel the tension leave my shoulders.

I sigh with relief and offer her a small smile in return. “Thanks.”

“What for,” she asks as if she has no clue. Nevertheless, she does not speed up, so I thank her again in my head.

It is silent for a moment before she asks, “So about last night …?” She grins cheekily at me.

I groan, and stare out the window, hoping that she takes my silence as a ‘do not go there’ silence. She doesn’t.

“Come on, McGee,” she chuckles, “it wasn’t so bad.”

Yes, it was and unfortunately, it seems that Ziva is going to hold it over my head for a while. Does she know what blackmail is a federal offence?

I open my mouth to hopefully give a dignified reply, but a flash of movement catches the corner of my eye. A trick of the light … no … I don’t think so …

“Deer!” I yell loudly and point to the blur that is about to make its way across the road.

“What?” she utters in confusion and takes her eyes off the road to look at me. “Dear what …?”

“No! Deer!” I scream and point furiously at the road. “Deer on the road!”

Her eyes immediately flicker back towards the road and for a brief second, I see a flash of panic and fear wash over her face. Almost as quickly as it comes, it disappears and Ziva yanks on the wheel, driving me into her shoulder.

My head bangs onto her shoulder, but I am unceremoniously flung back the other way as Ziva swerves rapidly to a avoid hitting the deer. She jerks to the side again and my head bangs onto the window. My vision is momentarily blurred as black dots start forming in front of me. If there was any time for a prayer, it was now.

I hear Ziva’s strangled yelp and that brings me out of my near state of unconsciousness. I blink and the scene in front of me clears. It would seem that we have left the road and now fighting our way through scrubland. As much as it hurts, I glance over at Ziva who has gone pale and is jerking the steering wheel left and right, trying to keep us steady. I feel my stomach lurch forward as I realise we are rapidly descending a hill.

Ziva lets out a small gasp as the car skids sideways. The steering wheel is totally out of control and Ziva knows it … the car is completely out of control. As we continue spiralling downwards, the car slips again and I once again find myself on Ziva’s shoulder.

As the car slides sideways, Ziva stifles a shriek. Okay, if Ziva is starting to freak out, than this is defiantly time for a prayer. Ziva is still trying to get the car under control again, but it is no use. We are going downhill … fast. I know we must soon come to a stop so I immediately thrust out my hand and fling it over Ziva’s chest, a reflex action that just might offer her some more protection. Subconsciously, I know that the combined force of the crash and Ziva could quite possibly break my arm … but my arm is better than Ziva’s skull in the long run.

As the car comes to a shrieking and sudden halt, I am flung forwards. I manage to keep my arm over Ziva’s chest as my head slams into the windshield. The last thing I hear is Ziva’s unintentional scream as my world goes dark.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 7:10 am 
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Chapter Two: Falling

Now

The sounds of the rocks tumbling and falling below ring though my ears. This cannot be happening. My breathing becomes erratic as the continuous sound of falling rock becomes almost rhythmic . . . thump . . . crack . . . bang . . . thump . . . crack . . . bang. I try not to think about what might happen if the car moves . . . but it’s hard not to when the constant thump . . . crack . . . bang is constantly repeated, like a song stuck on repeat. I close my eyes with a frown. I wish for the rhythm-like sounds to dissipate into thin air and be replaced by the sounds of . . . Abby’s lab, Tony’s teasing, Gibbs’ yelling, Ducky’s stories, Ziva’s idioms . . . anything but this.

“I told you not to look down,” Ziva says sadly.

Her voice is soft and far away, yet I know in my head that she’s sitting next to me. I wonder if she’s hearing the repeated sounds like I am . . . probably not. She’s trained for situations like these. Mossad probably has Cliff Hanging 101, though I know it sounds absurd. But still, Mossad has trained her for all kinds of situations. Me? I’m just a . . . a McGeek as Tony has put it eloquently so many time. I am just a computer technician. If it were some computer related problem, then that’s another story. But as it is, we are hanging off a cliff . . . there is nothing in the NCIS handbook that prepares us for this.

“McGee.”

There’s that voice again, sweet, feminine and far away. But if I answer, that means opening my eyes and I do not want to face what is down there.

“McGee!”

The voice sounds concerned. Why? I am not sure.

“McGee!”

I can hear Ziva becoming more frantic. I’m not sure what is happening. Am I doing something wrong?

“Tim, open your eyes and look at me, please.”

Ziva sounds like she’s pleading with me. The desperation is evident in her voice, but I’m right here. There is no need to worry. I open my mouth to reassure her that I’m okay, it hurts me to hear her like this, but as soon as I do, I gasp heavily. My lungs feel like someone is slowly squeezing the life out of them. I realise I have been hyperventilating.

“McGee, talk to me.”

I crack open one eye and see Ziva’s concerned face looking back at me.

“Mmmm,” I groan and hear Ziva’s immediate sigh of relief. I slowly open my other eye and find that Ziva’s face has now returned to its impassive state.

“You with me, McGee,” she asks.

“Yes,” I manage to get out between gasps.

“Just breathe, McGee,” Ziva says in a calm and controlled voice. “Breathe slowly, it is not as bad as it seems.”

Easy for the Mossad agent to say that, she’s not the one with the fear of heights.

“Trying,” I gasp weakly. And I am trying; it’s just a little hard as I know we’re hanging off the face of a cliff.

“That is good, McGee,” I hear her say encouragingly and then she says, “Do not look down, look at me, yes?”

I try to concentrate on my breathing, matching it to the dreaded rhythm of the falling rocks. It helps a bit as I feel the invisible hand on my lungs relent. I slowly begin to lift my head, but it feels like someone has filled it with bricks.

“Come on, McGee,” she coxes, like she’s talking to a little child who doesn’t want to eat his dinner.

I raise my head the rest of the way and I meet her gaze. She is looking at me blankly. I sigh softly. Just looking at her, even as blank as she is, has calmed me. I am not alone in this. She is in the car too, fearing for her life. Yet, she is not showing it like I am. I frown and feel my cheeks heat up. I am embarrassed by my reaction to this situation. I’m sure Tony or Gibbs would have reacted in a much more dignified manner.

“You do not have to be embarrassed, McGee,” Ziva says, as if she can see right through me. “It does not make you any less of a man if you . . . spazzed out just a little.”

“Spazzed out?” I question weakly, not sure what she is trying to say. “Do you mean, spaced out or freaked out?”

“Yes, them too,” Ziva replies promptly and then smiles gently. “It is okay, McGee. You will get out of here.”

I don’t answer. I am not sure what to say. How are we going to get out of this? Any sudden movement could send the car over. As if to illustrate the point, the car lurches forward an inch. I gasp sharply and immediately reach for the nearest object to steady myself. Unfortunately for me, it’s Ziva’s arm.

“Ah, I’m sorry,” I say awkwardly, releasing Ziva’s arm as if I had been electrocuted. I blush again.

“It is all right, McGee,” she says. “I do not mind. It is nice to know that I can provide some kind of support.”

“You support very nicely, Ziva,” I say flustered, mentally slapping myself for the idiotic response.

She smirks at me. “That’s nice to know, McGee.”

I see her eyes flicker from my face, down to the edge of the seat, and then to my legs. She looks up at me seriously. “McGee, do you trust me?”

“Ye-yeah,” I stutter, thrown off guard. “You know I do, Ziva.”

“Are you sure?” Ziva asks, cocking her head to the side. “Would you put your life in my hands?”

“Of . . . of course,” I say, confused. I look deeply into her eyes. “I trust you, Ziva.” I say this with conviction. I do trust her with my life; I’d trust anyone on my team with my life.

She nods slowly, returning my gaze. “Good, I am glad,” she says finally, “because I need you to do exactly as I say, yes?”

“Yes, okay, I guess.” I am not sure what she is getting at.

She nods again. “Okay, McGee, listen to me. I want you to slowly and carefully undo your seatbelt,” she orders gently.

“Undo my belt,” I repeat dumbly.

“Yes, reach over and release it,” she instructs firmly, but calmly.

“Are . . . are you sure,” I ask worriedly. I am not sure if this is a good idea, maybe we should just wait for help.

She glares at me, freakishly like Gibbs. I nod obediently and carefully extend my arm down to the button that would release my seatbelt. I press the red button, and the bottom of it pops out with a click. I hold onto the end, not sure about my next move.

“Now, I want you to slowly let it go so that it returns to its normal position,” Ziva says in the calmest voice I have heard.

The instruction is a little odd, but I understand. I release the seatbelt and I guide it slowly as it snakes up to just behind the door.

Ziva offers me a smile. “Good, McGee, that is good. I want you now to very slowly open the door …”

My eyes widen as I hear these words. Opening the car door will definitely disrupt the car’s currently peaceful state. It will likely throw everything off balance and will possibly be enough to send the car over the edge. Even if I make it out of the car, what about Ziva? I am not about to go and abandon her.

“What? Ziva, no,” I try to say with conviction, but I fail. “I won’t . . . it’s too dangerous. The car . . .” I trail off helplessly.

“McGee, you must,” Ziva says defiantly, looking me directly in the eye. “You said you trust me, so I need you to do as I say.”

“But . . .” I start to voice my concerns.

“But nothing, McGee,” Ziva snaps for the first time. “You will do as I say if you want to get out of here alive. Open. The. Car. Door.” I look at her, but she senses my readiness to protest.

“The door, now,” she hissed in a low voice. Swiftly, she reaches out and wacks me on the back of my head. “Now, McGee!”

I nod as she is giving me death looks. I’d rather not enrage the Mossad Officer if I can help it. I slowly reach for the door handle. This is going against all my better judgements, but something about Ziva’s voice has spurred me into action.

“That is it, McGee.” Ziva has now adopted the calm tone of voice again. It’s quite lulling, actually.

I hesitate; I am about five inches away from the car handle. I’m not sure if I’m strong enough to handle the consequences that may occur if I open the door.

“Go on, McGee,” she says soothingly. “I know you can do it.”

I close the gap between me and the handle, grasping it firmly. Nodding, Ziva gives me a look of encouragement so I carefully twist the handle. So far, so good. Nothing major has happened and the car is still in one piece.

“Now, push it open,” Ziva instructs firmly. She sees me hesitate. “Do it for me . . . Tim.” She seems unsure about the choice of using my first name instead of my commonly used last name.

But it is enough for me, and as I hold my breath, I shove open the door and squeeze my eyes shut. I am waiting for the inevitable feel of the car falling forwards to our death, but it doesn’t come. I open my eyes slowly. The car hasn’t even moved. I let my breath out slowly.

“What did I tell you, McGee,” Ziva smiles, half triumphantly, at me. “I told you it would be okay.” She pauses. “I want you to get out of the car, McGee.”

What!?! She can’t be serious . . . no. That will definitely disrupt the car’s balance. If I move, it is more than likely the car will go over the edge.

“Ziva, no,” I say aghast. “If . . . if I get out, the-then the car will probably go over.”

Ziva looks at me sadly and a devastatingly realisation hits me. She knows that if I get out, the car will most likely topple over the edge. She knows, and is willing for that to happen, if it means I get out. My eyes start to water. I will not let Ziva sacrifice herself for me.

“No. No. No!” I am aware that the pitch of my voice jumps a few octaves, but I do not care. I am not letting Ziva die at my expense. “Ziva, no . . .”

Her eyes start to glisten, but she looks at me determinately. “You will get out the car, Tim.” There it is again, my first name. I look down at my lap.

“But . . .” My voice breaks as a lone tear trickles down my face. I’m not even embarrassed about it, and quite frankly, I don’t care.

“Tim, look at me,” she says softly and I feel her warm hands guide my face up so that I’m eye to eye with her. She reaches out and gently brushes the tear off my cheek with her thumb.

“McGee, it is okay,” she says calmly, her hands still on either side of my face.

Ziva looks into my eyes. Small, yet visible tears are forming and I am quite amazed at how well she can keep them from falling. She looks down at her legs, and for the first time, I notice that the spot above her right knee is stained with blood.

“I am stuck, McGee,” she says finally. “My leg . . .” She gestures to it. “. . . I am stuck. I cannot move, but you can, and you have to.”

“But,” I whimper, she cuts me off.

“No buts, McGee,” she says strongly. “You must get out of the car and call for help. It is our only option.”

“I’m not leaving you here,” I say hoarsely. “I will not watch you die.”

“I have made my peace with death many years ago,” Ziva replies softly, still managing to keep the tears from falling. “It does not scare me. After all, ‘to the well organised mind, death is but the next great adventure'."

I smile weakly at the reference. “I think Tony’s been rubbing off on you,” I say, trying to make a bad situation better.

“Not Tony, you,” she amends quietly, before raising her voice and saying, “Now, McGee, please. Get out of the car.”

She looks at me with a face full of fierce determination, hope, peace, and sadness, but most of all, a look of pure trust.
“I know you can do this, you have to do this . . . for me,” she finishes in a tone of voice I have never heard before.

“No,” I refuse adamantly and Ziva sighs. “I won’t . . .”

“Yes, you will. Unless you want me to tell everyone what you said last night . . .” She lets the threat dangle in the air.

“I don’t care,” I say fiercely. “Tell the whole world for all I care.”

“Damnit, McGee, just do it!” she yells angrily at me. I wince at her words.

“Or are you too gutless to do that,” Ziva says mockingly. She glares at me with hatred.

“I . . .”

“Don’t make excuses, Agent McGee,” she says hotly. “Either you are a NCIS Special Agent or you are not.”

I know what she is trying to do. She is trying to get me angry so I’ll get out the car and leave her. It won’t work. I will make sure it doesn’t work.

“Get out the car, McGee,” she barks, sounding more and more like Gibbs. “NOW!”

Ziva says that last word so loudly and with such force, that I’m halfway out the car before I realise what I’m doing. I stop and turn back to re-enter the car, but a sudden force pushes me the rest of the way.

I hit the grass just as I register that the hands that pushed me are no longer there. I pant heavily, trying to get myself under control. I twist my body on the ground and look back at the car. I see Ziva looking at me with unrestricted relief, pure sadness, yet total peace. I hear her sigh contently as I scramble to my feat.

“Ziva . . .”
~*~*~*~

The car lurches forward, and as if it were a slow motion movie, topples over the side of the cliff. The impact with the ground and rocks below is resounding and then . . . nothing.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 7:11 am 
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Chapter Three: One Moment In Time

The car lurches forward and, as if it were in a slow motion movie, topples over the side of the cliff. The impact with the ground and rocks below is resounding and then . . . nothing.

Ten Minutes Earlier

“Get out the car, McGee,” she barks, sounding more and more like Gibbs. “NOW!”

Ziva says that last word so loudly and with such force, I’m halfway out of the car before I realise what I’m doing. I stop and turn back to re-enter the car, but a sudden force pushes me the rest of the way.

I hit the grass just as I register the now gone-warm hands on my back. I pant heavily, trying to get myself under control. I twist my body on the ground and look back at the car. I see Ziva looking at me with unrestricted relief, pure sadness, yet total peace. I hear her sigh contently as I scramble to my feet.

“Ziva . . .” I yell, turning back to the car. Oh, oh, oh, this is not happening. Any minute now, I am going to wake up and this will all be a terrible nightmare. Yes, just a nightmare.

“McGee!” Ziva’s shout snaps me out of my reverie. I can see her trying to hide the pain she’s in. She’s doing a pretty good job, but I can still see the faintest trace of a pained grimace on her face. Her leg must be killing her - literally, I laugh humourlessly to myself.

“McGee, you need to call for help,” she orders briskly, her voice showing no signs of wavering.

I don’t reply, but instead finish scrambling to my feet and order them to move forwards. They don’t seem to want to comply. Move . . . move . . . move, I order my feet. They don’t. This is not the time for freezing up. Ziva needs me; I’m the only chance she has of getting out of this alive. Come on, Tim, I berate myself. Just move . . . please just move . . .

“McGee!” Ziva is yelling again. “McGee, look at me.” She sounds worried again and I’m not sure why.

Finally my left foot seems to unfreeze, but as I move it forwards, black spots dance in front of my eyes and I stumble. I’m wheezing again. It feels like the invisible hand is back, squeezing, squeezing, squeezing . . .

“McGee, just breathe slowly,” Ziva orders from the car, déjà vu all over again. “Breathe, McGee . . .” Easier said then done, Ziva, I snap to myself.

I try to concentrate on regulating my breathing, but it’s worse than before. Why is this happening to me? If it were Tony or Gibbs, it would be different. But it’s me, plain old McGee, who’s too terrified to move. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out, I continue to repeat to myself. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. It doesn’t seem to be working. I’m trying, honestly I’m trying . . .

“You are safe, Tim,” Ziva calls out to me in a soothing voice. “You are safe. It is okay.”

It’s not okay. Ziva . . . Ziva is stuck in the car . . . the car that is hanging off the cliff. Ziva . . . I gasp and realise that I need to get Ziva out . . .

“Ziva,” I croak through hurried breaths. I try harder than ever to slow down my breathing.

“I am okay,” she reassures me. “Get help, McGee. Get help.”

Help . . . help . . . I’ll need a phone. But our cells are in the car . . . the car where Ziva is. I slow down my breathing and force my left foot forwards. I take a step, stumble, but manage to right myself with a little grace. I drag my other foot behind it, taking a full step. That wasn’t hard, now was it? I take another step and before I know it, I’m running around the boot of the car to the driver’s side where Ziva is stuck.

“Ziva,” I say breathlessly, coming to an abrupt halt in front of the closed door. My breathing is still a little uneven, but there are bigger concerns to worry about.”We . . . we need to get . . . get you out . . .” I say loudly to her through the closed window.

“No, McGee,” she says firmly, looking me straight in the eye. “You are going to take the cell phone, yes, and call Gibbs.”

“But . . .” I start to object.

“There is no time for objections,” she hisses. She grips down around the side of her leg and produces her cell phone. She hesitates and there is a flash of panic in her eyes, but she slowly opens the door of the car. She breathes a sigh of relief when the car doesn’t move. Ziva thrusts the cell towards me and I take a hold of it, staring at the thing as if I didn’t know how to work it.

She sees me staring at it, so she starts to say, “Mc . . .” But she is cut off as the car makes a rumbling noise and lurches forwards.

She lets out an involuntary yelp as the car slides forward. Blindly, I grab onto the door frame, as if my strength would be strong enough to stop it going over. I dig my heels into the ground, but the car keeps on sliding. After what seems like decades, the car stops precariously on the edge of the cliff. It hasn’t gone over - yet, but I’m not sure how long that will last. In some warped way, I feel that I have helped stop the car from toppling over, but I know that can’t be true. I could never take the weight of a car.

I hear Ziva let out a shaky cry, but it's cut off abruptly as Ziva clamps her hand over her mouth. Why doesn’t she realise it’s okay to be scared? Anyone would be in her position; she doesn’t always have to be the brave Mossad officer. I let go of the car slowly. My knuckles are white as I uncurl my fingers.

“McGee,” Ziva says shakily. I can hear that the car’s sudden movement has left her shaken. “McGee, call Gibbs,” she says determinedly.

I look down for the cell phone, but realise I dropped it as I blindly tried to stop the car from going over the cliff. I bend over to pick up the phone, but it suddenly occurs to me that calling Gibbs would be useless. Why does she want me to call Gibbs? By the time Gibbs got here, or the rescue team got here, the car could be over the cliff. It is obvious that it’s not hanging around for very much longer. I stop and straighten myself up. I leave the cell lying carelessly on the ground.

“McGee, what . . .” Ziva mumbles as I stand up without the phone. “Where is the cell?”

“The cell isn’t important,” I say, surprised at how authoritative I sound. I am no longer gasping for breath. The shock of the car moving and Ziva’s impending mortality has helped me regain my control, oddly enough. “I am not calling Gibbs. I’m getting you out of there,” I finish with conviction.

“No, McGee,” she gasps as a grimace of pain flashes over her face. Up close, Ziva is going very pale and I fear that she may soon pass out from blood loss. “It is too . . . risky,” she says weakly.

“I don’t care,” I say firmly. “I’m going to help you. Gibbs . . . Gibbs will have my head if I let you die.”

“Have your head?” Ziva mutters, looking at me in confusion. Her eyes show that she’s in pain, even if she tries to mask it on her face.

“Kill me,” I say bluntly. But if Gibbs doesn’t kill me for not saving Ziva, then I will most certainly kill me for not saving Ziva.

“Oh,” she says, blinking rapidly. “What do you plan to do, McGee?”

“Get you out of here,” I say curtly, taking in the sight of the steering wheel jammed against her leg.

For the first time, I see mangled bits of flesh and the raw white of bone amidst the splotches of red. My stomach churns; I have never been good at the gore. This is not the time for being grossed . . . I can’t help myself as my lunch makes a flying reappearance as I drop to my knees. I cough; the aftertaste in my mouth is enough to set me off again. But I can’t let it; Ziva needs me to control myself. I struggle to my feet, take a deep breath and turn back to Ziva.

“I am sorry,” she apologises, looking at me sympathetically.

“Don’t apologise, it’s a sign of weakness,” I snap, wondering where on earth that comment came from and where that tone of voice came from. This isn’t like me. Even Ziva looks a little taken aback at this little outburst.

“Channelling your inner Gibbs, yes,” she tries to joke, but her voice is weak and hoarse.

I ignore her comment and look frantically for something that I can use to slow the bleeding down with. I sigh, frustrated, as I finish my sweep and don’t see anything useful.

“I need something to stop the bleeding,” I say, just as much to myself as to Ziva. “I . . .” I trail off as my thumb hooks into the edge of the cuff of my jacket. Without hesitating, I slip off the jacket and gather it into my arms. Now for the problematic part - getting it to Ziva’s wound without rocking the car.

“Ziva,” I say sharply as I notice her eyes fluttering shut. The pool of blood has gotten larger. Damnit, Ziva. You do not get to die like this. “Ziva,” I say again.

Her eyes fly open and she looks at me blankly. “What?” she moans weakly.

“I have something to stop the bleeding,” I say quickly, thrusting out my jacket.

“Your jacket?” she questions, looking at the grey material.

“Yes, now I need you to hold it in place, okay?” Now I am the one giving orders. It’s strange how the shift of power can happen so quickly. “I would do it, but I don’t want to rock the car.” I tentatively extend the jacket so that it is hovering over her lap.

Ziva hesitates before taking the jacket and pressing it to her bleeding leg. “Toda, Tim.” She offers me a small smile and a nod of her head.

“Okay, now, we get you out,” I say, my brain churning out idea after idea as to how to get Ziva out of that death-trap. However, none seem to be appropriate. They are either completely absurd or would push the car over the edge . . .

“McGee!” Ziva yells painfully as I hear the car lurch forward again. “McGee!” She sounds desperate and despite everything she said and did to get me to safety, it is obvious she does not want to die, even if she said she was at peace with what was about to happen. Her cries are like a knife slicing into my heart . . . Bugger the safe options; if I want to save Ziva, I have to do it now.
“Ziva!” I return the yell as the car comes dangerously close to toppling over the edge. It’s stopped, for now, but the telltale sign of falling rocks is never far away. “I am getting you out - now!”

I lurch forward and grab hold of the steering wheel with both hands and pull. It doesn’t budge, but I expected that.

“McGee, what are you doing?” Ziva whispers weakly, eyes closing.

“Getting. You. Out,” I say through gritted teeth as I continue to tug on the steering wheel. Come on, come on . . . move! I keep pulling; I’m gripping the wheel so tightly and pulling so hard that I can feel blisters forming on my hands.

“Tim, no,” she mutters weakly, trying to push me away with one hand while the other holds the jacket. “Get out of the car.”

“No!” I say forcefully. “Not without you. Ziva, please . . . fight for your life. I need you to . . .”

“No,” Ziva says sadly, trying to get a grip on my hands. “It is over.”

“Don’t say that!” I cry, almost hysterically. “It’s not over.” My hands are working furiously at the steering wheel. I’m pushing, I’m pulling, I’m grabbing, I’m shoving, I am trying everything . . .

“Tim, do not make it hard for either of us,” she whispers, using her free hand to raise my chin so that I am looking at her. “Please . . . tell the others I will miss them . . . and that I have never had friends as good as them . . .”

“No, Ziva, no . . .” I know I am crying; the tears are trickling down my face. She uses her thumb to gently wipe them away as the car lurches forwards again, quite possibly for the last time.

“Shalom, Tim,” she says in a voice of absolution as her dark brown eyes stare into my green ones.

“NO!” I yell desperately and Ziva flinches at the rawness of my yell. I. Am. Not. Giving. Up. Until. The. Last. Second. Dies. I have never been a really religious man, but I send up a last minute prayer to the heavens above. I muster up all the strength, courage and hope I could ever manage and pull on the steering wheel one last, desperate time as the car continues to roll.

To my complete and utter surprise, the wheel moves and slips away from Ziva’s bloody leg. I gasp and Ziva echoes my sentiment.

“Oh, my,” I breathe, staring in amazement at the wheel which has now come away.

“Tim!” Ziva’s shriek snaps me out of my amazement and I see the back wheels of the car tethering dangerously on the edge of the cliff. Instantly, my hand lashes out, latches onto her upper arm and I pull her as hard as I can. I pull . . . and I topple backwards onto my back as a lithe figure crashes down upon me.

As the car shudders one last time, I instinctively place a protective arm over Ziva’s head and pull her close to me. I honestly do not want to let go, in case this turns out to be a figment of my imagination and Ziva is still stuck in the car.

I hear pieces of rock tumble and fall down the cliff as the car lurches forward, and as if it were in a slow motion movie, topples over the side of the cliff. The impact with the ground and rocks below is resounding and then . . . nothing.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 7:12 am 
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Epilogue: A Date?

That Night

I pad down the well-lit corridor of Bethesda Naval Hospital. I can’t believe that it was only this afternoon that Ziva and I were hanging off that infernal cliff. It feels like a lifetime away, not just mere hours. Luckily, my injuries weren’t too bad. Mild concussion, a few cuts, bruises and a particularly nasty gash on my thigh that I didn’t even notice, but other than that, I am fine. The doctor has finally discharged me and despite Abby’s offers to drive me home, there is somewhere else I must be.

I reach the room whose number I managed to con out of an over-tired nurse and knock quietly on the door.

“Come in,” the soft, feminine voice says from the other side. I hesitate, but only for a fraction of a second. Does she really want to see me? But then it passes. I push open the door and stick my head in.

“Hey, Ziva,” I say warily, taking in the sight before me. Ziva is propped up with pillows and is reading a magazine. Her leg is bandaged and in a traction, and her left arm is casually supported by a sling. I am so grateful that when the car went over the cliff, I was holding Ziva in my arms. A second longer, and Ziva wouldn’t be here in front of me right now.

“You can come in, McGee. I do not bite,” she says, but then flashes me one of her smiles, “hard . . . or much . . . ” I feel my face heat up again – she’s half incapacitated and still making me blush.

“Ah, you feeling better?” I ask weakly, cursing myself for the lame question.

“I feel good, thank you.” Ziva smiles at me.

“Um, good?” I hover in the doorway, now feeling unsure of myself. And as if Ziva can read my mind, she gestures towards a chair sitting next to her bed.

“Sit down, McGee,” she invites sweetly. “I am sure the chair is fine, even if Tony just spent an hour on it.” She flashes me another smile.

“Err, thanks,” I say awkwardly as I sit gently on the chair. One of the bruises I acquired makes it slightly painful to sit down.

“Your butt is achy, yes?” Ziva asks seriously.

What? What did she just say? “Wha-at,” I splutter ungracefully.

“You just sat down and winced,” she explains. “You have a bruised butt, yes?”

“Ah, yes,” I mutter. I’m not sure if my face can get any redder. Suddenly, it occurs to me. “Ziva, are you on drugs?”

“Mmmm, yes.” She gestures to the drip in her arm. “Morphine . . . Would you like some?”

“N-no?” I stammer. Who knew Ziva would be so . . . flighty while on drugs?

“Are you sure?” she pouts. “It makes every thing much bigger and brighter . . .”

“I’ll bet it does,” I mutter to myself. Why, oh why, did I have to pick the moment when Ziva is all drugged up?

“You sure?” She offers me a flirtatious smile that makes me flinch.

“I’m sure,” I say firmly. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

“I am fine,” she says brightly, but then turns slightly more sombre. “No thanks to you. You dislocated my shoulder!”

I flinch again. I was waiting for this to come up. Yes, I dislocated her shoulder because I pulled too hard on her arm as I was dragging her out the car.

“I’m really, really sorry,” I apologise sincerely, hoping that she’ll forgive me. “I . . . I didn’t mean to pull you so hard. I’m so, so . . .” I want to continue, but Ziva puts up her good hand to silence me.

“You do not have to apologise,” she says seriously. “You saved my life . . . if it were not for you; I would be in lots of itty, bitty pieces, yes?” She smiles lopsidedly at me.

“I guess,” I mumble, staring down at my lap, “but it doesn’t excuse . . .”

“You saved my life, Tim. I am eternally grateful,” she cuts me off, placing her good hand on my arm. She looks at me for a moment, before cocking her head to the side. “Eternally . . . that’s a strange word . . .”

For some unknown reason, I burst out into laughter. All of the panic and fear I felt earlier that day evaporate because of a simple comment from a drugged-up Ziva. She looks at me weirdly for a moment, before joining in. It feels good to laugh, like the horrors of our car accident were just a small moment in time.

“Seriously, McGee,” Ziva says as her laugher subsides. Unfortunately, it’s hard to take her seriously as her fingers wander up and down my arm. “You really must let me make it up to you.” She smiles seductively and my eyes nearly pop out of me head.

“What!?!?” I exclaim. Did she just suggest what I think she just . . .

Ziva shakes her head and laughs again. “Get your mind out of the drain, Tim. Seriously, you are more like Tony every day.” I fail to register the use of my first name and the misuse of the idiom; I’m still focusing on the previous suggestion.

“Let me cook you dinner?” she offers.

“Dinner?” I repeat dumbly.

“Yes, the meal at the end of the day,” she confirms, looking at me oddly. “Ah, McGee, are you sure you do not want any of my morphine?”

“What?” I ask, distracted. I mustn’t let comments like that get to me. “Oh, morphine . . . err, no.”

“Oh, too bad,” Ziva smirks. “I have plenty to go around. See?” She presses the button to what I assume controls morphine doses. Great, just great, I sigh.

“So dinner, yes?” Ziva repeats, looking content.

“Ah, yeah, I guess,” I manage to get out. Why does Ziva always make me flustered? How does Ziva always make me flustered?

“Goodie,” she says happily. “It is a date.”

“Date?” Nobody said anything about a date.

“You bring the flowers and the wine . . . it is a date, yes?” Ziva asks me with a flirtatious smile.

“I guess,” I mutter. “A date.” Ziva looks positively thrilled and I am certain that it is the morphine talking. Nevertheless, what have I gotten myself into? A date? A date with the Mossad Officer? I don’t know whether I should be happy or horrified . . . I guess only time will tell . . .

Finis

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