I helped the man sit up and he gratefully thanked me. I nodded in response but I felt disconnected. I wasn't paying attention to him at all, only thinking about Tony. The man had a few scratches and bruises but was otherwise unscathed. He would be okay for me to leave him there, but I kept thinking about what Gibbs had said. I knew it was possible and even maybe probable that the man was a terrorist. Protocol would tell me to stay with him and handcuff him, but I really needed to find Tony. I decided to settle for simply handcuffing him and then continuing my search, but a quick search of my belt revealed I did not have my handcuffs. Then I remembered that I had given my handcuffs to Tony because he had forgotten his. Well this just keeps getting better, I thought sarcastically. I considered my options and found they were extremely limited. I could stay here with him or I could take him with me looking for Tony. "Can you stand?' I asked.
"Yeah." he replied steadily.
"Okay, my friend was in here when the building collapsed. Can you help me find him?" I asked the question in a way that made it sound like a statement, and deliberately left out my suspicions of him.
I stuck out my hand to help him up and he grasped it with unexpected strength. He looked lightweight and gangly but was actually sturdy and rather muscular. His hands were calloused, rough, and they radiated no warmth. This raised my suspicions a bit, but I dismissed my doubt. A man can work out, right? I thought. And it was a slightly chilly in the building, no doubt the heater had broken. Yet I couldn't shake that pang in my stomach that seemed to be appearing more and more often.
We started searching through the rubble and found multiple gruesome sights of people who had not survived. I found myself praying that Tony was not destined to the same fate. Part of me wanted to stop looking, knowing that the next body we could find could be his. But I pushed away those thoughts, focusing on the fact that the next survivor we find could be him.
I declared another region clear of bodies and survivors and moved on. I shouted out Tony's name and was alarmed when I heard how desperate it sounded. I glanced over to see what the other man was doing. He was calling out for survivors as well, and also pushing away some debris to the side. Suddenly I heard a quiet noise. I hushed the man and listened, but was meet only with the eerie silence. I went over to the area where I thought I had heard the sound and started digging like a maniac. Fresh blood sprouted from my fingers and trailed down my arms but I didn't even register the discomfort. I must look insane I thought, but I didn't really care. I observed another pair of hands helping me and I was thankful for them. Even with my near superhuman strength some of the pieces were nearly impossible to move. I drew in a sharp breath when I realized what that could mean. If I could barely move it, how could someone breathe underneath that? My hands started to shake so badly I was having increasing trouble moving the chunks of ceiling. A single tear escaped against my will and I knew my hope was dwindling.
I heard movement above me, but I still wasn't able to form words. My tongue felt thick in my mouth, and my head felt like it was filled with cotton and rocks at the same time. I focused on inhaling and exhaling. Rise then fall I thought. My fight for consciousness was losing and I could feel myself slipping away. I tried to focus on the pain, anything to stay awake. I knew Ziva was almost on top of me, and suddenly pressure was released of my stomach. I gratefully gasped in the air, and my lunges relaxed. I heard something else get moved and I saw my first crack of light. I had never thought I would be so happy to see something as simple as light. Knowing that Ziva would find me a let myself slip into the dark.