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trapped in a box (i'm not alone)

by: Bether (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 2650
Rating: CHILD
Character(s): Ziva David, Timothy McGee
Category(ies): Character Study, Episode Related, Friendship, Vignette
Pairing(s): - No Pairing -
Episode(s): 7-08 Power Down
Summary: Just what happened to McGee and Ziva during their nine hour and twenty-one minute elevator ride anyway? Aside from watch destruction and excessive complaining that is. Missing scenes from Power Down that include mentions of DiNozzo, Abby and Gibbs and do not include romance of any kind.

Author Notes: Takes place exclusively during "Power Down"; missing scenes between McGee and Ziva in the elevator plus one after their rescue. (There is a small bit of dialogue taken directly from that episode, as well.) Just some thoughts on how they may have spent those nine hours and twenty-one minutes-I mean, it can't have been that bad if they were both conscious and still speaking by the end of it. ;) Title comes from the No Doubt song Trapped in a Box. Un-beta'd, so I apologize for any errors (grammatical or otherwise), they are mine alone. Cheers!

Disclaimer: Characters mentioned are used without permission and are trademarks of CBS/DPB. I am simply borrowing them for my purposes. Please don't sue.

Chapters: 1

Timothy McGee doesn't realize it's almost eleven until he hears Ziva David groan from across the bullpen. He looks up to see her leaning back in her chair with a frown on her face. "I do not understand why there is so much paperwork."

"Because that's what the U.S. government runs on?" is all Tim can think to say in response. She laughs sharply and he smiles a little; no one will die tonight.

He looks back at his computer screen but the code he's been slaving over for the better part of the day has begun swimming across it. Tim sighs. It's long past time to call it a night. He start shutting things down and turning off lights. When he looks up again, he sees Ziva has finished doing the same. "Walk you to your car?" he offers.

Ziva quirks a brow. "I believe it would be more fitting if I were to walk you to yours."

Chuckling, Tim shrugs. "Hey, it's the twenty-first century—I'm all for reversing gender roles." Although, quite honestly, she is much better at cooking and maintaining a clean space than him.

Tim gives his area one last check as he clips his gun and badge to his belt. He meets the amused Ziva at her desk and together they walk to the elevator. "Did you see when Gibbs left?" he asks curiously. It's rare for anyone to stay later than their boss.

"I am not certain he has," Ziva replies, glancing behind them toward MTAC. "But you know Gibbs…"

Nodding his agreement, Tim smiles as the elevator arrives. "That I do." Which means the disappearing boss act? Par for the course. He rolls his shoulders absently as he presses the lobby button. "So how goes the quest for citizenship?"

The elevator doors close as Ziva opens her mouth to answer. "Well—" They only move maybe a foot down when the world goes black and everything stops.

When the generator kicks the back-up lighting on, Tim can see Ziva frowning. They share a look, then turn as one toward the panel of buttons. Tim flicks the emergency stop a few times—nothing. Ziva presses all the different floors—no movement. They try the call-for-help button a half dozen times each but there is no response.

Tim gives the doors a few half-hearted kicks and bangs but they both know they were the last ones on their floor that night. Ziva has her phone open and he follows suit. He sees exactly zero bars of service and no matter what he presses or where he moves, nothing changes that. Based on the vigor with which his companion is punching her own phone's buttons, he deduces she's not having any better luck than him.

This does not bode well for them, Tim thinks. He's starting to feel anxious—not the least bit because he's in a tiny, confined space with a visibly irritated assassin. "So… this is bad."

Ziva only nods as she takes a seat. Her back is flush with the elevator wall and her legs are crossed lotus-style. She looks almost like she's about to start meditating. "Yes."

Tim does not particularly care for small spaces and he begins to pace. "Right." He hates that he can barely fit a stride and a half before he has to turn around. "Right."

"Relax, McGee," Ziva advises from where she is sitting so very calmly that it actually makes him more nervous. "There is nothing we can do from here now. Someone will realize the elevator is stuck soon enough and then we can alert them to our presence here."

That is incredibly sensible. Tim is not feeling sensible right then. However, he is feeling like it would be a bad idea to argue with Ziva right then. He glances at his watch absently. Fifteen minutes. They've only been in there for fifteen minutes. He cannot help but predict that this is going to be a very long night.

It takes more effort than it probably ought to for Tim to stop pacing. He inhales slowly and realizes that he is actually pretty tired. He takes in the size of the elevator (it can't be more than six feet wide which means he'll have to curl some just to fit) and Ziva sitting stoically against the back wall. "Are you going to sit there all night?" An unnerving prospect, to say the least.

"I do not need to lay to rest." Ziva seems to think this is a fair answer; Tim's not quite so certain.

He lies down all the same, though his movements betray his hesitation. His back is to her and his legs are bent. "This is really gross," he mutters mostly to himself as he pillows his arms underneath his head and wishes for a blanket.

Ziva snickers from where she's seated and Tim pretends he doesn't feel her eyes on his back. (He's probably imagining it, anyway—although he's not going to be testing that theory because he likes living, thanks.)

Even though he's convinced he won't be able to sleep, Tim is out like the lights before he's even counted ten sheep.


It's nearly three in the morning and Ziva is snoring. Tim knows this without looking at her because it echoes through the tiny space they're occupying loudly and persistently. He's been hoping she'd stop for a good ten minutes but she's not showing any signs of quieting.

Sighing, Tim rolls over and glares half-heartedly at Ziva, who is still sitting even as she sleeps. "Shhhh…" he encourages quietly. "Ziva, shhh."

Her response is another loud snore. Tim has no idea how she can be so noisy when she's not even laying down. He wonders if Tony experienced this during their stint undercover as husband and wife. Then he makes a face—he really doesn't need the mental image of the pair of them sharing a bed.

Letting out a small groan, Tim resists the urge to check his watch yet again. "Come on, Ziva—have a heart," he mutters under his breath. He'd consider waking her up or speaking louder if not for the idiom coined by Tony: let sleeping assassins lie. Tim's well aware that in addition to her service gun, she has at least three other weapons on her person.

He rolls back over and moves one arm from acting as make-shift pillow to the ear he has pointed outward. Hopefully that will help…


Fitful sleep only lasts until shortly after six am. Tim knows Ziva's been awake for over an hour because the snoring ceased sometime between four and five in the morning. He gives up any pretenses of being unconscious by sitting up and scooting so his back is against one of the side walls. He lets his legs stretch out in front of him in a vain effort to loosen up the cramps he's earned from being curled all night.

Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he turns to Ziva who is still sitting very calmly. "Morning."

"Yes, it is," she agrees. Neither of them pretends it's a good one.

Tim yawns. "You're not sore, staying in the same position for so long?"

Ziva shrugs and it is too nonchalant. "My body became accustomed to it." Tim hears the words she doesn't say. During the summer. Imagine how they held me captive in Somalia. When you thought I was dead. He's still not sure how he feels about that—about everything that happened to her and to them and just… everything.

Instead of commenting on that, he simply smiles a bit awkwardly. "Well, I missed my bed last night." He leaves it at that and checks his watch for the hundredth time since they'd been trapped. "It's after six now—I hope someone arrives soon, so we can get out of here."

There is a small quirk to her mouth that might be generously called a smile. "As do I."


Seven-thirty rolls around and Tim is now frustrated and antsy. He's pacing again mostly to do something with his body. (Although he does not appreciate the reminder of how small the space they inhabit is; he's not claustrophobic but this is ridiculous. He wants his freedom! Enough room to move. Something.)

When they'd started to hear the sounds of life in their office, the pair of them had pounded on the doors and hollered until they got someone's attention. From there, maintenance people are called and they finally get a sit-rep through the doors. Apparently the entire building is without power and it isn't the only one—phones are down, the internet is down, heat is out and, as of now, no one has any explanation to give them. There are back-up generators but only for the most basic things, which do not include the elevators. Of course.

Because of the aforementioned communications breakdown, everything is taking an incredibly long time. Never mind that Tim is tired and bored—"What is keeping them?" Maintenance has still not arrived.

Ziva sighs and he knows it's because this is the third time he's asked since they spoke with Vance's secretary through the door. "I do not know." She's since returned to that same cross-legged meditative position she maintained during the night.

"Sorry." Tim apologizes mostly because he hears the irritation in her voice and doesn't want to further annoy the assassin he's been unwillingly trapped with. Well, not any more than she's already feeling thanks to their bad luck, anyway. "I'm just—" here his stomach growls—"hungry; I missed dinner yesterday."

Ziva's brows furrow. "You did not share the pizza?"

Laughing dryly, he shakes his head. "I was saving my appetite for some leftovers." It's then that he wonders if the power is out at his place, too. If so, consider that dream dead; his food will probably start spoiling before he ever makes it home.

There is a sympathetic expression on Ziva's face as she watches him pace. "Well, it should not be much longer now."

"Yeah…"


One hour later, Tim is pretty sure he's officially going crazy. "Argh! Why is it taking them so long?" He knows he shouldn't keep complaining but all his usual self-preservation instincts have apparently abandoned him.

"I do not know." It's the same response Ziva has given each time he's asked that and the handful of other questions that she cannot possibly know the answer to. He knows he should probably be counting his blessings that she hasn't cut out his eyeballs (or something equally terrible) but that's just the last in a long list of things he cannot be bothered to care about right then.

Tim glares at his watch, which he's now holding in his hand because he checks it so frequently. "Nine hours and ten minutes! That's how long we've been trapped here!" He groans and resists the urge to hit the paneling. (It would only end with him hurt and still annoyed, anyway.)

This time Ziva does not reply other than to give him a look that says, I suggest you shut up before I shut you up.

Despite his negative attitude, Tim acquiesces for the time being and settles for pacing more fervently. He has so much angry energy and such a small area to exert it. He doesn't understand how Ziva can just sit there all calm-like. It's gone from unnerving to irritating just like everything else in this damned elevator.

Ten minutes pass between them as Tim seethes and paces, while Ziva sits and breathes evenly. Then, like a rubber band pulled taut, he snaps again. (That's what he gets for incessantly checking his watch.) "Nine hours and twenty-one minutes!"

"Has it been that long?" There is a brief moment of stillness and then Ziva officially loses her cool. She snatches his watch from his hand and smashes it to pieces against the side of the elevator.

Tim stares at her, visibly surprised. "Why did you do that?" It never even occurs that he may be next. (See: loss of self-preservation.)

Ziva scowls in return. "It was either you or the watch."

Tim is not so far gone that he does not realize it's him that has finally pushed her over the edge. He stops pacing momentarily to apologize: "Sorry. It's just—what is taking so long, y'know?" And she ought to for the number of times he's brought it up.

There is resignation mixed in with her aggravation as she snaps at him. But when Ziva brings up Tony (who, of course, has to appear the moment his name is mentioned), Tim thinks that their partner would've probably made her lose her cool much faster than he did. That's enough to cheer him up momentarily as there is a loud update and then, finally, freedom.

Tim takes gasping breaths in his relief only to have the wind knocked out of him by one Leroy Jethro Gibbs. (Typical.) He allows himself a moment to be stunned and then they're off—onto a crime scene, apparently.


Even though they've been in the dark for three long days and his cell phone died partway through day one, Tim still finds himself checking it periodically as if the blank screen will magically come to life and tell him how many voicemails, emails and texts he's received. Of course, since Ziva destroyed his watch during their overnighter in the elevator, he'd be willing to settle for it telling him the time.

But no. That too requires power.

Tim sighs and tells himself he is definitely not sulking as he drags his weary body back into the office with the team after discovering the dead commander's sanctuary container. He knows someone will be dispatched to alert Paxton's husband that they need to speak with him again but it probably won't happen until morning. (Things are still moving so very slowly without normal lines of communication; it's hard not to be frustrated.)

It's tempting to just collapse into his chair but Tim knows Abby will want to see the evidence they've collected and it isn't like he can just call to let her know they've returned. So he simply drops his gun and badge into his desk and spins on his heels to head out again.

This action leaves him very nearly crashing into Ziva who has invaded his personal space with her silent ninja skills—something he dearly wishes she'd stop doing. "Ziva!" Tim stumbles back a step.

Her expression is apologetic as she reaches out to steady him. "I wanted to give you this." She extends her free hand and he sees she's holding a watch. His gaze flicks back up to her face and he doesn't bother trying to hide his confusion. "I felt badly about breaking yours and could see you missed it." He figures this is a nice way of saying she's noticed him checking his empty wrist continuously—in addition to the doe eyes he keeps making at his dead cell phone.

Tim smiles for what feels like the first time in days. (Maybe it is—he did spend an inordinate amount of time following Commander Paxton's financial paper trail.) "Thank you." He takes the watch from her and puts it on. It isn't anything like his old one, but it fits all the same and he feels better for it. Like he's been missing it all along.

There is a warm smile on Ziva's face. "It is waterproof," she informs him. "I am certain this is not as nice as the other one was but I—"

"Ziva, it's great," he assures her, giving her shoulder a warm squeeze. "Seriously. Just what I needed." And maybe it's strange, Tim thinks as he heads to Abby's lab by way of the staircase, but he actually feels that way. Like maybe he can survive this low-tech nightmare, after all.

Chapters: 1

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