(photo source: sexual-passion)
*Quoted lyrics from: Treacherous by Taylor Swift*
Episode Tag to S8E23 Swan Song
This slope is treacherous
For her, it’s his hand on her back tightening into a fist around the blue, cotton fabric of her jacket. It’s his close proximity and the smell of his cologne muddling with those too familiar scents of death and crime scene. It’s the authoritative yet understanding register of his voice as he says “bring it in,” and the flip in her stomach as his lips brush ever so lightly against her hairline.
For him, like always it takes much less. It’s the moment she turns to him, with those same sad, pleading eyes that let slip every heartbreak, every sin, and every hurt. It’s the flick of her gaze from his eyes, across his face, and to his lips. Without fail to his lips. It’s the bow of her head as she leans into him, all vulnerability and loss. It’s how her life is the most remarkable tragedy, but she is a wonder in kind.
This path is reckless
She’s sitting at her desk, staring at the blank screen of her computer when he picks up her bag and slings it over his shoulder. In the half darkness of the bullpen, the shadows cross her face with derision as a weight settles in his chest. Looking at her tonight is just more painful than usual. It takes her a moment to gather herself; a deep breath in and she’s rising from her chair. He says nothing. She falls into step beside him.
When the elevator doors close in front of them, her face crumples for a moment. Her eyes are rimmed red. There’s a puff to her cheeks not normally present; and he would know mostly because he’s her partner, but also because he spends so much time looking at her. He’s always looking at her, always seeing her.
And all we are is skin and bone
He reaches for her then. A steadying hand placed on her should, a friendly touch for a dark moment. His eyes widen minutely when she brushes her cheek across his knuckles. The elevator comes to a stop, doors opening before them with a ding. She is the first to break away, stepping out into the garage and toward her car. He doesn’t hesitate. Being alone tonight is not an option, in the same way that Ray and EJ are not options. Because tonight they are their only option.
Trained to get along
He reaches to take the keys from her hand, and if this were any other night, he would surely chide her for giving in so easily. But this is not any other night. Mike Franks is dead. Another team member, friend, life. Another shout into the void.
The car ride to her apartment is silent. Her head is turned to look out the passenger window; but from the corner of his eye he watches as she blinks, then wipes tears with the back of her hand. He waits two beats, just enough time to reconsider before reaching out and covering her hand with his. She doesn’t turn to look at him, but her fingers grip his tightly.
Forever going with the flow
When they reach her place, he pulls into a spot a few spaces from her door and kills the engine. As he’s reaching to open his door, she stops him with a tug to his coat sleeve.
He turns back toward her and reads the wordless question in her expression. He stares back hard. I’m not going anywhere.
Her eyelids close heavily, a curtain call. One beat. Two beats. Three beats. A ragged breath in. Eyes open. Ok.
Their walk to her door is short, but his steps feel heavy. Picking up his feet is a challenge because he’s carrying her weight, too. The emotional baggage of traumatic experience heard in each shuffle of her shoes on the pavement.
But you’re friction
He turns the keys in the lock, deadbolt first, without having to think. He knew the ins and outs of her previous apartment from those sweaty summer nights together. But that was a different lifetime, when Gibbs was on a siesta and having sex with a super spy assassin was a notch on his belt. He shakes his head at the thought now, internally cursing his younger self’s arrogant stupidity.
When she passes by him into the foyer, he catches the scent of her lavender shampoo. He’s overwhelmed by the urge – no, the need – to smell her skin, run his nose along the curve of her neck and trace the path with his lips. He turns to shut the door and leans both hands against it to settle himself, then throws the locks, deadbolt first, into place.
I can’t decide if it’s a choice
She’s turning on lights while making her way to the kitchen. Her jacket is thrown onto the back of the couch, shoes left in the entranceway, and the only care taken to stow her gun and badge in the safe, which she left open for him. Again, he follows her lead and discards his jacket, shoes, and clicks the safe closed with his gun and badge beside hers.
The water is running as he steps tentatively into the kitchen. She’s standing before the sink, filing a glass then downing it quickly. He leans back against the opposite counter, arms folded across his chest, and waits for her. The knuckles of her left hand are clenched white against the sink. Shutting off the water, she turns to offer the glass to him. He shakes his head no just slightly, and she dumps the water into the sink before clinking down the glass.
Getting swept away
He pushes off the counter and steps forward until he’s less than a foot from her. He watches her breathe, the rise and fall of her chest. For the first time tonight, he remembers Ray exists. How many nights has that man spent watching her breathe? Does he fall asleep before her? Does he turn away from her in the dark? Does he reach for her or does he wait for her to reach for him? Only a complete idiot would fall asleep first. So, that’s a yes.
I hear the sound of my own voice
She can’t look anywhere but his mouth. She remembers in every detail the silken of his lips, the rough of his tongue against the underside of her breast, the nip of his teeth on her inner thigh. And as much as she wants to have those moments with him again, tonight Mike Franks is dead. Her brother, sister, and mother are dead. Jenny is dead. Distraction is what she wants, but Tony is what she needs.
Asking you to stay
Like in the elevator hours earlier, he reaches up a hand to brush errant strands of hair from her face then cups her cheek. She meets his gaze as a fresh round of tears rim her eyes. Leaning forward and filling the space between them as she rests her forehead against his, she releases a heavy breath. He does the same. In and out, over and over. They are breathing together now, his hand wrapping around her head to hold her close. There is an intimacy in this moment that neither can nor want to deny. Her free hand finds his, interlocking their fingers as he whispers her name across her cheek.
“Stay.” Her voice is small and sad. He had no intention of leaving, and doesn’t need to hear her ask. But he swallows hard when she follows with “please,” as though there was ever another option.
And I’ll do anything you say
She leads him to her bedroom, fingers still clasped together tightly. When she stops in front of the bed, he brushes his lips against her shoulder from behind. Her skin tingles even through the fabric of her shirt. She turns just her face to him and without thinking, presses a hard kiss to his cheek. She lingers for only a moment as she can still smell the traces of aftershave in the sweet spot where his jaw and ear meet. But she moves away, releases his grip, and crosses to the bathroom. He watches her disappear behind the door and can’t help the shudder that runs through him from the warmth he can still feel on his skin.
If you say it with your hands
She tries and fails to avoid the bathroom mirror. It’s worse than she thought. Her eyes are rubbed red with streaks of mascara in the small creases making the circles under her eyes even darker. She fills the sink with hot water, drenching a hand towel then pressing it over her face. Once, twice, until she starts to feel the warmth from the cloth seep into her skin. When she looks up again, the face staring back at her is more recognizable save for an intense shade of hot water-induced pink flush.
She shed her pants the moment she stepped into the bathroom, and her shirt comes off after she’s finished washing up. When she reaches for a brush, she locks eyes on a bottle of gel that belongs to a man she hasn’t given much thought to tonight. Her eyes widen. She blinks hard and bites her lip. She reaches for the bottle of gel, flicking the cap open, and bringing it up to her nose. She makes a face as she sniffs then puts the bottle down quickly. Why he uses that I will never understand. It smells like pine disinfectant. She brushes her hair out with calming strokes; but before she leaves the bathroom, she glances back at the bottle of gel. There is a moment of guilt to acknowledge here, and she nods once to the bottle as if it understands.
And I’d be smart to walk away
EJ is fun. EJ is smart, beautiful, and independent. EJ doesn’t need him. He’s not even that sure she wants him other than on the nights when he’s sure she wants him. Sitting on the edge of the bed wearing only his boxer-briefs, waiting for his partner to emerge from the sauna he’s sure she’s created in the bathroom, he’s positive he should feel guilty. But he doesn’t. When it comes to Ziva, he never will. EJ doesn’t need him. More than that, he doesn’t need her.
But you’re quicksand
When the bathroom door opens, it breaks his train of thought and returns his focus to what matters. Mike Franks is dead. His mother, Paula, and Danny are dead. Jenny is dead. But Ziva is here, pulling down the covers and climbing into bed. She reaches out a hand, and he turns to crawl in beside her.
Put your lips close to mine
Her arms are open to him, and he goes willingly. He wraps her in a tight hug. Her arms comes up around him, hand in his hair. She strokes his scalp more for her own soothing than his, not that he would notice or care. He buries his face into her neck and breathes deep. She smells of lavender and soap, better than he remembered. Her breath over his ear tickles slightly; and even though he knows it’s stupid and not the right moment, he smiles into her skin because he loves her. Mike Franks is dead. And he loves her.
As long as they don’t touch
She can hear her heartbeat loudly in her ears, drowning any ambient noise. He is her sole focus. The light brushing of his lips back and forth like a metronome against the curve of her neck is maddening. She moves her leg to wrap around his waist and pull him closer. He is so warm and familiar that her eyes start to water for a wholly different reason. She grips him tighter.
He will hold her as long as it takes. He will hold her until she falls asleep. He will hold her until she wakes, the sun breaking through her bedroom curtains to warn them of a new day beginning. He will hold her even when she pushes him away.
She will hold him until her resolve is gone. She will hold him when he realizes what she is asking of him. She will hold him even after he leaves this bed and her arms because the grip she has on him is more than physical.
Out of focus, eye to eye
She shifts in his arms until her head is resting on the pillow, his hand splayed over her back, and fingers creeping under the hem of her tank top. She draws lazy circles across his clavicle as he watches her intently, interrupting occasionally to press his lips to her forehead, eyebrow, tip of her nose. Their grief is still a heavy weight between them. How many more? How long can we do this?
“I don’t know,” he whispers. He pulls her hand to his lips and kisses the tip of each finger. She realizes then she voiced those thoughts aloud.
“Tony.” The sadness has crept back into her throat, and his eyes dart to hers when he hears his name break over her lips.
‘Til the gravity’s too much
His mouth is on hers before she can continue. Warm and sweet and so much more than she remembered. She inches closer to him. Her nails scratch lightly along the five o’clock shadow of his jaw. She rests her palm against his cheek, pulling him in. His tongue runs along her upper lip, and she parts them without protests. When he splays a hand over her rib cage, she is momentarily distracted by the natural fit of his palm and fingers in the dips and curves of her side.
He breaks away first, with two quick pecks to her lips and a slow press of his mouth to her forehead. She sighs heavily before placing a final, wet kiss to his neck. His returning laugh earns the only, albeit small smile of the evening.
This hope is treacherous
He rests his head on the pillow beside hers, getting lost for a moment in the uncertainty in her features. “I think,” he starts then stops. She says nothing, only watches his lips as he purses them trying to find the right words.
“I think,” he starts again, “we should sleep.” He exhales regretfully, but she answers with a tight nod.
“Yes.” Her voice is stronger than before, and he sees some of the Israeli steel return to her eyes. “Tomorrow…”
“Yeah, tomorrow.” Solemn doesn’t suit him, but she’s grateful for his understanding. Tomorrow they will hunt down the man who killed Mike Franks. Tomorrow they will be Federal Agents in search of an enemy of the State. Tomorrow they will seek vengeance. Tomorrow they will bury their dead.
But tonight, they will sleep.
“Come here.” His voice is rough; and even though she is wrapped around him, limbs intertwined, she knows what he means. She turns in his arms, her back to his chest, and head resting on his shoulder. He wraps an arm tight around her waist, and the other across her chest. She slips a leg between his as she settles against him.
His warm breath fans over her neck, and he reaches up just slightly to ghost his lips over the shell of her ear. She laces her fingers through his hand clasped at her waist before closing her eyes to sleep. Her breathing evens out in record time, and when he’s sure she’s asleep he whispers I love you on to her skin hoping she’ll remember.