The town of Landmark might as well have been called "The Middle of Nowhere," for all their medical system had to offer. The town's EMTs had arrived quickly and done their jobs well, but it was only a basic ambulance. The hospital's ER was barely more than an urgent care center. It felt to Ziva as if Petrov had been trying to make sure that if they survived the bomb, the wait for treatment would have killed them.
Ziva was impatiently waiting for an intern to arrive to stitch up the cut on her arm – that, they could do, and they insisted on keeping Ziva locked up in an exam room until it was done. All she knew about Tony's condition so far was that based on initial scans, the surgery he needed was too complicated to do it at Landmark Hospital. The plan was to transfer him to the trauma center in Fairfax, but that was a two-hour drive. Tony didn't have that long, so a medivac helicopter had been called. Ziva wanted to see Tony again before the helicopter left. If he was still aware of anything, she wanted him to know that she hadn't left him intentionally.
Tony had regained consciousness on the way to the hospital, but he was confused, trying to grab at the glass in his neck and pull it out himself. That would have been disastrous, so Ziva had taken hold of his hands and held them herself so that the EMTs could work. He had fought her for a few minutes – and he was strong – but eventually Ziva had been able to calm him down. The small victory made it that much harder to let the ER staff take Tony away when they arrived.
The hospital staff had seen the blood soaking Ziva's sleeve and insisted upon stitching her up right away. She had tried to argue that they could do that just as well and let her stay with Tony, but no one seemed to think that was a good idea except her. They told her that he had been sedated, and he probably wouldn't even know she was there, but Ziva knew they were wrong. Tony had crossed continents to save her. He had thrown himself over her to protect her – and this wasn't the first time, but it was the first time it had ended so badly.
Ziva's patience had long since run out by the time the intern was finished putting the four required stitches in her arm, and she was out the door and to the main desk within seconds. Apparently, she had earned herself a reputation already, because the receptionist at the desk smiled and nodded toward a row of uncomfortable-looking chairs. "If you'd just have a seat, we'll let you know as soon as the medivac arrives for your partner."
"When will I be able to see him?" Ziva asked.
"It'll take the flight medics a few minutes to get downstairs after they land," the receptionist said.
"So why is it that I cannot see him now?" Ziva demanded. "The nurse before told me that there is nothing they can do here but keep him stable and sedated."
The receptionist shrugged. "I'm sorry, ma'am, it's hospital policy."
"Your policy stinks," Ziva growled before stalking over to the chairs. She sat down, then bounced right back up, heading back to the desk. She didn't expect to hear anything she'd like. "I already know there will be no room for me in the helicopter. The car I came down in has been confiscated as part of a crime scene." She'd already called to check on that, right after she had called NCIS to let them know what was going on. No one seemed to know where Gibbs was at the moment – not that this was cause for concern – but after a few minutes, the agent who answered the phone had managed to get Timothy McGee on the line. He had been a little shaken by the news, judging by his voice, but he had carried on, promising to get in touch with Ziva as soon as he talked to Gibbs. She had arranged for an NCIS courier to come pick her up and take her to Fairfax, but a two-hour drive was a two-hour drive. It still meant it would be hours before she got to the hospital once Tony had been transferred.
"Do you need me to call a cab for you?" the receptionist offered, a little too helpfully.
"No." Ziva crossed her arms. "I need to see my partner. That is all."
"Ma'am, I'm sorry, but-" The receptionist broke off as the phone rang. "Hang on one second. That's an internal call."
Ziva wanted to snap that she had been hanging on for quite some time now, but she gestured impatiently toward the phone instead. It might have been useful news.
"All right. Thank you." The receptionist smiled at Ziva. "That's the medics. They just landed. Did you want to-"
Ziva didn't wait for her to finish the question; it was a question that didn't need asking. "Yes. I will see him now."
The receptionist got up and led Ziva back to Tony's room. He was awake, but heavily sedated; it took a minute for his eyes to trail over to Ziva when she touched his arm. He was on an oxygen mask, but still struggling for breath, and Ziva knew he needed to be somewhere he could be properly treated soon. She feared for what the delay had done to him already. "I would have seen you sooner, but hospital policy has been particularly difficult." She felt the need to justify her absence. "We will be out of this backwards place soon."
Within the next few minutes, the flight medics came in, and switched Tony to all of their equipment so he could be properly monitored for the journey. Ziva forced herself to smile for Tony's benefit. "Have a good flight." It was the corny sort of thing she thought he might have told her, struggling to keep things light.
One of the medics smiled at her. "We'll take good care of him."
"Thank you." Ziva looked back at Tony. "I will see you again." She might have been the one making the promise, but she was going to hold him to it. She grabbed at her Star of David necklace as she walked out of the room, whispering a Hebrew prayer for the sick. She might not have been particularly observant, but Ziva was willing to do anything that might help.
When Agent Harris arrived an hour later to take Ziva to Fairfax, he used the excuse that Ziva had lost a lot of blood as the reason she shouldn't drive. Privately, Ziva suspected word about her driving habits had gotten around. It was silly, really. Americans didn't know what crazy driving really was.