Chapter 8 - What Did You Do With the Sun?
"Think you could pass me another bit of sandpaper? This one's all used up." I squint into the light of the tropical sun above my head and hand him his sandpaper along with another beer to replace the one he finishes off in one long gulp to throw over the side of the boat to join the other empties in a pile on the sand.
It's one of those perfect Mexico days complete with spotless blue sky, empty white beach stretching out to either side of us as far as the eye can see and the ocean rolling in and out behind us with waves so perfect I can hardly believe they're real. We've got our latest find upside down and half buried in the sand, but it's too lazy a day to expend the energy to try and dig it back out. Besides, she's not even sea worthy yet and the ocean sets a gentle rhythm Tony matches with his sanding and the silence is all we need to keep up the work.
"I'm really glad you let me come here with you," he says after a while (I never could get Tony DiNozzo to stay quiet for long) and I smile at him but don't say anything back and he seems content with that... for a while at least.
"You know, after everything that happened, I wasn't sure if you'd want to see me again."
Oh here we go.
"You were only a few hours late, DiNozzo. I know what the traffic around DC can be like."
He goes back to his sanding but I know he's not done yet.
"Think McGee will be mad he wasn't invited?"
"I don't know, DiNozzo! Just finish your sanding. You're starting to make me regret bringing you here."
"Alright, but one more question and then I promise I'll leave you alone."
I let out an exasperated sigh at this because I know Tony is far from finished but I let him ask his 'one more question'.
"I was just wondering why didn't you stay awake. I mean, if you would have stayed awake we both would have made it out of there, you know."
"What are you talking about?"
The breeze coming off the ocean is picking up and a rumble of thunder has me turning away from him to look out to sea where I can tell a storm is brewing and marring the pristine blue sky with a band of grey at its horizon. When I look back to Tony the sun ducks behind one of the gathering clouds and I'm almost cold from its loss.
"What's goin' on, Tony. What did you do with the sun?"
Tony surprises me when he throws his head back and laughs up at the sky and flings both hands in the air.
"Oh Jethro, there never was any sun!" he yells still looking up at the sky.
The way he says my name just then is familiar and it stirs something in me that I just can't pin down. He looks back over at me but keeps his arms up, a shit eating grin on his face.
"Tony, what are you doing?" This is getting really weird.
"I'm dying Boss! What does it look like I'm doing?"
"Bring back the sun, this isn't funny anymore."
"Well, dying never is."
"Come on, Tony!"
"No YOU come on Gibbs. Think about it for a minute. Think about what you have to do.
You build boats... so wake and keep me afloat. Bring back the son so we all can go home and call it a day.
DC's burning, Gibbs." he taunts
"And only you can put out the fire."
"Cut it out, DiNozzo. I'm serious."
"Oh they'll cut it out alright. Question is: are you going to be there to see it?
Now wake up and save my ass!"
Tony brings his hands down in front of my face and claps them so hard that I feel the air on my face when his palms come together and just like that my quiet little sandy beach disappears and I'm staring down at a dust covered stone floor with no recollection of how to breathe.
It takes my lungs a second to remember what they were made for, like they're in the process of rebooting after having shut down, but even once they come back to life, I'm finding it impossible to draw in enough oxygen to make the whole breathing thing worth my time. It occurs to me that the giant piece of ceiling pining me over DiNozzo might have something to do with it and I push up with all my might to try and buck it off. I don't know where I get the strength: I'm oxygen deprived and half out of my mind with shock, but I manage to somehow get the impossibly heavy piece of ceiling off my back and fill my poor shriveled lungs with enough oxygen to keep me alive.
I sputter and cough and for who knows how many minutes, I sit back on my haunches and just try not to die. My body is one big ache, I can't see straight and every time I try to clear my vision, the space I'm in spins then shifts on its axis and I think I get sick to my stomach more than once in the process. It's a constant battle not to lapse back into unconsciousness but when I think I have enough of a hold on the here and now to focus on something else besides myself, I shift my attention over to DiNozzo and try to get that dream out of my head.
"Tony, what are you doing?"
"I'm dying Boss! What does it look like I'm doing?
He's lying in the same place I left him before succumbing to the blackness but this time the blood on his face is in the process of drying on his lips rather than spraying out into his palm and no more of it looks to be flowing from the rebar wound at his side. My oxygen starved brain tries to tell me that this is a bad thing, but I'm still having trouble focusing on anything other than keeping myself upright.
Tony still hasn't woken up and I find myself looking at him stupidly as if I expect any minute he'll wake up of his own accord and comment on our lack of rescue up to this point. He doesn't though and he's completely covered in dust except for where I was draped over him and my fingers leave two little clean places on his neck when I take them away after having checked for his pulse.
There's nothing there and for the first time in my life I want to cry because I don't think I have the strength left in me to give him CPR.
CPR takes endurance and it's hard to pull off for long even for people who are in good shape. But I have no endurance left in me and I'm sure has hell not in anything that could be described as 'good shape'. I can barely keep myself vertical so how is it that I'm supposed to get his heart beating again and force air into his lungs when I can barely manage that in myself?
"DC's burning Gibbs and only you can put out the fire."
I sigh at the remembered dream and know that there is no way I can just sit here and let DiNozzo die on me so I make myself get back up onto my knees, clasp my hands together like they taught in the class after finding the place on his sternum I need with a quick slide of my finger along his rib-cage, and push down with everything I have left.
I fall into a rhythm of compressions and breaths I'm too far gone to really make sure I get right, stopping every so often to clear off more dust from his neck trying to find a pulse, only to restart my efforts every time my searching fingers come back empty. I keep on like this until I'm drenched in sweat and my arms shake so badly that I don't even think I'm managing to compress his chest anymore and I collapse into a heap at his side when I suddenly lose the ability to keep myself up any longer.
I feel the detached fuzziness I know proceeds unconsciousness but I look over to DiNozzo and don't let it carry me away just yet. I have so much I want to say to him before I go but find that I've come to the end of everything I own: my air, my strength, my ability to form coherent words... so I just look over at him and hope he can hear what I'm thinking because my mind still works and in it I rage at the unfairness of how this all ends. We have so much more to do, Tony and I, and to come to the end of things with him bleeding out and me bleeding in, seems like we're both getting the short end of the stick.
I had plans to go out in a blaze of glory, not knee deep in another man's blood and my own sick. And yet, if I were to go out with anyone by my side, I'm glad it's DiNozzo, and with the last of me I reach over and take his hand in mine.
"I stayed, buddy," I think as the blackness sneaks in around my vision.
"...and I tried...I really did try."