|i never knew daylight could be so violent
Author: thegothandthegeek PM
This is the closest to an R-word that you're ever going to have with anybody, and it's all because you're scared. / eric&nell.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Angst - Eric B. & Nell J. - Words: 4,959 - Reviews: 23 - Favs: 37 - Follows: 3 - Published: 01-02-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7702308
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
title comes from "no light, no light" by florence + the machine.
Sometimes, you like to pretend that you have no idea how you let yourself fall into this. To act like you don't remember that night, like you don't remember how it went from stifled laughs to stifled moans within minutes and you could've stopped but you didn't. To act like this is really enough for you, because it is. It has to be.
One night, when you're curled up against his chest in the shadows of his bedroom, his voice finds its way into the air. Tilting your head a fraction to look at him, you can tell that his eyes are closed, but his breathing isn't nearly slow enough for him to be asleep. You don't know whether he thinks you can hear him or not, but you don't stop him either way. "I wish you weren't so afraid." he mumbles into your hair, and you hope he can't feel your heart beating against his ribcage. Then, so quietly you can barely hear, "I wish you loved me."
And suddenly it's the only thing you can hear and you know that he isn't the one holding this back. It's you. It's always been you. This is the closest to an R-word that you're ever going to have with anybody, and it's all because you're scared.
"Eric, that's cheating!"
"Last time I checked, there was no rulebook for Mario Kart, Nell." he laughs as his Yoshi darts in front of your Princess Peach, flipping your cart over and dragging you down to last place. He passes the finish line before you even make your first lap, but he has a beautiful laugh. (The time has long come and gone for you to try to push back your feelings for him. At least within your own head).
"That's not fair!" you yell, trying to choke down a laugh because his laugh makes you laugh and you really don't care enough to be mad about it. You don't have it in you to ever be mad at him, really, and sooner or later that's probably going to get you into trouble.
Eric smirks in your direction, and if he weren't so cute all the time, you might find yourself a bit annoyed. "Guess you aren't the World Champion anymore." he grins as his shoulder bumps into yours and you only shake your head and try not to smile in return. It's more difficult than it seems.
"But you cheated. That doesn't even count." you try your hardest to sound mad, but you know he sees right through that. He always does, and you find that you don't really mind it too much.
"Maybe you're just jealous."
His words are light but his voice is heavy and it's only now that you realize how incredibly close his face is to yours. And it's funny, you think, that if you were to just move forward slightly, his lips would be on your lips. And maybe he notices the same thing at the same time, or maybe he doesn't, all you know is that you're kissing Tech Operator Eric Beale in his living room at one in the morning and you really don't want this to stop even though it probably should.
It's a wonder that this hasn't happened before because this is more perfect that you ever thought it would be and his mouth is insistent against yours but maybe it's you tearing at his shirt and there are just hands and mouths and barely-human noises and you aren't quite sure what's going on anymore but you don't care, because it's Eric and you and this could be a really, really good thing. You don't care that you could possibly regret this later. You won't. You couldn't possibly.
(The world is rapidly shifting around you and things can't be the same after this. You just didn't think that wouldn't be a good thing. But it's you who leaves after he falls asleep and you might not ever know why).
You like the way you work with him. The way it sounds when you're sitting side by side, typing at your computers and sometimes breaking codes and just working. It's always been like this, you think, since the day you told him you have problems and he didn't mind because he's just like that. But things are different now.
The sound of his fingers against his keyboard is like music to you but you can't quite harmonize anymore. It's all dissonance and you hate it. So you sit, and you bear through the cacophony blaring in your ears and you try your hardest to act like you're fine with this until you just can't. Your hands slam against the desk and it startles him, he nearly jumps out of his chair, and he turns to look at you.
The silences between you and your partner have never been uncomfortable but you need to get out of here before the words you aren't saying come pouring out of your eyes.
"What's wrong?" he looks so concerned and you can't handle it. You used to love it when he looked at you like that, it made you feel loved, like somebody actually cared about you but he doesn't really and you turn your eyes downwards.
You know that you're like cellophane to him, you can't hide a thing, but you still try as hard as you can to not let him see this. He can't know what he means to you. (Because this is only physical and at least you're something to him if he doesn't want you as more than a best friend and occasional lover and you're okay with that).
"Nothing," you say, and the words taste like poison against your tongue. "I just…" your stomach twists at the impending lie and you shut your eyes, clenching your fists as you wait for it to pass. You can feel his fingertips brushing against your cheek and it hurts.
"Nell. What's wrong?" he whispers and forces your eyes to meet his and it makes this so much harder on you, you don't want to lie to him but you have to because you need to stop hoping and you're only his partner and that's it. That's it.
"I think I'm going to be sick." you mumble, and at least it's not a complete lie now. Slowly pushing yourself out of your chair, you walk as steadily as you can across Ops and down the hall and you can still feel his eyes on you and you lock yourself in one of the bathroom stalls because you just can't handle this anymore. But you have to. This is how it works, Nell. This is what you get, and you take it, and you hold on to it because it's better than nothing. It's this or nothing. And you'd rather sit here and listen to your bones splitting open because of all this self-hatred than lose him. (Why do you always have to fall for the ones that don't want you?)
You sink to the floor when the room starts spinning, and your head drops into your hands. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. It would be nice if you could have just this one thing but you can't because it takes two people not just one. You can't have him and you're going to have to deal. You're getting something. Something. Better than nothing, which is what you'll have if you don't stop this. If your hands don't stop shaking.
Faintly, you hear the door sweep open, followed by gentle footsteps. "Nell?"
"Are you alright?"
No. But you have to be. You are. Yes, you are.
You blink your green eyes shut for just a moment, taking a deep breath and pushing yourself up off the ground. You're okay. You're fine. Fumbling with the lock on the door, you finally nudge it open, coming face to face with the agent.
"Eric sent me in to check on you." she says softly, searching your face for a lack of color (which she'll probably find) and you get the feeling that she knows something you don't. For a brief moment, you consider telling her everything. Would she believe you? Would she understand? She's had to have gone through something like this before, right? She's had to have seen the concern in her partner's eyes and repeatedly tell herself that it's just a partner thing. Right?
Her mismatched eyes meet yours and you decide no, she wouldn't, she couldn't. You aren't going to drag her into this because it's your problem but it's not a problem. It's just sex. Just casual sex. With your partner, with your best friend. With Eric. That's all. It's not a problem that you aren't dragging her into.
"I'm fine." you mutter, releasing a shaky smile, and you brush past her as you leave. You don't take the time to notice the look on her face, the look that knows better than I'm fine because that's her signature move. But she also knows what it's like to be pestered to within an inch of your sanity, and she's better than doing that to you.
And she's going to let this one slide, but still, she knows.
You're fine. And that means you're really not fine at all.
This time, it starts with a bit of flour thrown across your kitchen.
It was just a handful, and it wouldn't have even been a big deal if you weren't trying to bake with it. But you were. So it is.
"Eric, I'm this close to being out of flour!" you pout, attempting to get it out of your hair even though you know you're failing. And he tries to hide his amusement at getting a rise out of you (you're surprised you still give him the satisfaction of a reaction but you can't help it), but he doesn't do it very well. Half laughing, half still pouting, you grab the measuring cup full of flour sitting on the counter and toss its contents in his direction, grinning when it lands right in his face and he just stares at you. You know that stare. This means war.
Eric is just a hiccup faster than you in getting to the last of the flour, so you grab the bag of brown sugar sitting next to you instead, and half of it ends up in his hair while your dress is no longer covered in flowers but smeared with white. He tries to grab you by the waist to drag you away from the eggs, but you're smaller than him and use the advantage to duck under his arm and swiftly smash one against his chest.
And that's how you end up pinned to the counter, because you didn't think about how he was moving in the same direction that you were, and you managed to jump in front of him with no warning and there was too much inertia and you really need to start thinking before you do things.
And his head just happens to tilt down right when yours tilts up and you just sort of meet in the middle. He tastes like brown sugar and honey and cake batter and it's perfect and you swear, you had no idea that this was going to happen again.
You've never spoken of what happened last time you kissed him or he kissed you or whichever and you were thinking that maybe things would just go back to normal. But normal isn't his body trapping yours against your kitchen counter. Normal isn't the noise that just came out of your mouth. Normal isn't his fingers working at the buttons on your dress and normal isn't you tugging at his shirt like this is a life or death matter and some part of you knew that things were going to change then. Just not like this.
(Because whatever's between you is only physical, Nell, and any hopes for anything besides that need to be extinguished right now. This is only physical. This is only physical. This is how it's going to be).
Occasionally, you wonder what it'd be like to be able to kiss him in the middle of the day. To kiss him good morning and good night and all the times in-between, whenever he makes you smile, whenever he makes you laugh. It'd probably be really nice, you think, and you'd probably be really happy. Not that you aren't now. No, you're fine with the small piece of him that you have, because this is just a physical attraction, nothing more. It's nothing more.
"Whatcha thinking about, Rockstar?"
You turn to the left and he's standing beside you, his eyes are watching you carefully, almost studying your small movements and your facial expressions and things that just-a-lover shouldn't know but a partner should. That's where the lines blur and it makes your head hurt.
Because sometimes he's your partner. Here, in Ops, he's your partner. And then sometimes, when you're at his apartment or vice versa, or out at the street market or at the beach, he's your friend. He's your best friend. Until he isn't and there's so much more than just what your friendship used to be, he's opened you up into this new little facet of his life. But you've been sleeping together for months now and you've never spoken about it because it just happens and you aren't sure why.
There's always been this spark. You know that. This small flicker of physical attraction that burned slowly within your workplace, within your homes, within yourselves. What you also know is that this is all there is for him. Just a small spark that's grown into a hot, blazing wildfire. Nothing more, nothing less. But not for you.
You've always had that spark and just a bit more because you just want him. You don't just want him sometimes, you want all of him, you want everything, you want his mornings and his nights and his afternoons and then you want to go home with him and just do things that couples do just because you can. But you can't. You get the spark, and you get his friendship, and that's all you're ever going to get because he's too good for you and you're not good enough for him. He's too laid back to be able to handle you (but he can handle you just fine, Nell, and you should know that). And this is more than enough.
Until you realize that he's still watching you, and God all of that must have been dancing right across your eyes because you're just so tired of hiding this. Not that there's really anything to hide.
"Nothing, just…" you say softly, looking up at him and wondering how horrible your life would be without him. Would it really hurt to just…
"Just what?" he asks, brow furrowing and you love that look. The one that he always has on when he's trying to figure you out.
And you press your lips to his just because you can even though you can't, not really, and this is what it would be like, you could have this only you can't. And it hurts. Until he kisses you back and you aren't quite sure what this means because he's kissing you back in the middle of the afternoon and you never thought you'd get the chance to do this (but just this once, Nell, just this once).
It doesn't occur to you that maybe he's kissing you back because he wants to kiss you in the middle of the day and at work and at the street market and at the beach when he's trying to teach you how to surf because you're just so perfect to him and he couldn't imagine ever being with anyone else. Because maybe he wants you too.
Count the moments, Nell. This is a onetime thing and it won't happen again. (He doesn't love you he doesn't love you he doesn't love you and you need to stop hoping).
He reaches towards you uncertainly, hands finally sliding around your waist with agonizing tenderness. Like he's going to break you if he holds you too tight.
You smile against his lips, fingers threading through his hair and you can just feel how happy you would be if things were always like this and maybe just maybe…
Slowly, he's pulling you towards him and somehow you end up pinned against the island and all that you can focus on is his body plastered to yours and he's still kissing you and this has to mean something.
You're trying your hardest to make mental notes of every single detail, the way his hands feel against your hips, the slant of his lips against yours, the fire burning behind your eyes.
He bites your lip and you can't even remember your own name, everything is just Eric and there's no way that this means nothing to him because this is Ops and this is a sacred place and this partnership is a sacred thing.
One of your hands is fisted in his shirt and the other is holding his face to yours and you don't know why this means so much more than it would if you were trying to tear each other out of your clothes but it does.
You feel like floating but there are footsteps in the hall and he jumps away from you just as the doors slide open.
"What have you got for us, Miss Jones, Mister Beale?" Hetty glances between the two of you and you fumble in search of your tablet, trying to catch your breath because two seconds ago you were kissing Eric because you wanted to and it didn't just happen, you knew what you were doing and it wasn't gravity this time it was you.
"Petty Officer Anderson was caught pushing drugs through Pendleton, but the report was hidden in an encrypted file when he offered his supervising officer a cut of the deal." Eric says, and your breath sticks in your throat for a second.
There's a catch to his voice that nobody else would probably notice, but you do. You're his partner, you know his voice, and this is one you've never heard before, and there's no way that doesn't mean something.
You're too distracted to realize how swollen your lips are, how messy Eric's hair is, how wrinkled your clothes are. But the team notices. They don't say anything, but they notice.
Kensi is smirking because she noticed this a long time ago and Deeks keeps quiet because he likes the both of you too much to rat you out to Hetty (but Hetty has known since the very beginning hasn't she). Sam and Callen exchange glances because they noticed as soon as they stepped through the door that something was off. They notice, but you don't.
"His name is Davis. Jonathan Davis." your voice is unusually steady and you hope no one can tell. Glancing across the room at Eric, though, his eyes are trained on the floor and the corner of his mouth is turned upwards. It only makes sense that he knows you just as well as you know him, and something is going to give soon. It has to.
When your eyes open, there's sunlight filtering in through the curtains and a warm body wrapped around yours. Eric. His arms are holding you against him in a way that makes it nearly impossible for you to move without waking him.
For a brief moment, you think that this is what it could be like every day, and for the first time it's actually maybe possibly within reach. "I wish you loved me." Shifting just slightly, you turn so your forehead is pressed against his. He really is one of the most beautiful people you've ever known.
You've never gotten the chance to study him like this before. Up close. In the hazy light of the morning. The sheer intimacy of it shocks you, and you take the chance to trace the planes of his face with your eyes before he wakes and this is broken.
Sleepily, his fingertips trail across your bare skin and a shiver rolls down your spine. His eyes flutter open and they're marvelously blue first thing in the morning. (Maybe you can do this again sometime because you've decided that this is your new favorite color). "Hey," you whisper, and you can't help but smile when he smiles, pulling you closer into him than you already were.
"Hey," he mumbles in return, blinking his eyes closed for a second before opening them again. His voice is laden in sleep and it's one of the most gorgeous things you've ever heard and how have you lived this long without this to wake up to? (His voice is like honey in tea and it's perfection and it's almost better than the sound of your keyboard symphony but not quite).
"This is a pleasant surprise." the corner of his lips turns upward in one of his usual half smiles and he presses a kiss to your forehead. It's a strangely familiar gesture and you love everything about this. "I've never woken up with such a beautiful girl in my arms."
Almost afraid of the emotion in his voice, you close your eyes, knowing that actually seeing it would bring up a slew of things that you aren't ready to process yet and a fresh wave of hope for the maybe-not-so-impossible. Instead, you default to your natural response and say the first thing that comes to your mind. "If I'm the best you can do, you need to rethink your life choices."
He's still too good for you and the fact that he thinks you're beautiful doesn't change that. It doesn't change anything because it's just a statement, just a statement or an opinion or something that means nothing other than that he thinks you're beautiful.
"Hey." he says, gently pushing your haphazard bangs out of your eyes. You turn so you're laying on your back and there's a bit more space between you. Perspective, you think. Too much change too fast and you aren't used to this but you want to be but first you just want everything to make sense.
"Hey. Nell." Eric's voice is what draws your eyes open and you turn your head so you're meeting him eye to eye. You fell asleep last night to the sound of the gears in your mind grinding themselves to dust, but he's staring at you like he loves you but he doesn't he can't but maybe he does, you don't really know anymore. "You are the best that anyone could do."
"I wish you loved me" and "you are the best that anyone could do" and you aren't a stupid woman, you know how to interpret the facts and find the truth but you aren't sure if you trust yourself anymore. Uncertainly, you think it's safe enough to believe that he cares enough about you to give you such intense compliments so early in the day, and that must mean something. But not that.
Without breathing a word, you lean over and kiss him gently because you can and he deserves that much for lying so honestly to your face.
"Come on. I'll make you breakfast." he says, reaching down and tossing his shirt at you before clambering out of his bed. Breakfast. He's going to make you breakfast. Is this what it would've been like that first morning after if you hadn't left? Is this what it would be like every day? (And suddenly you can't breathe and you just need to get out of here before this all falls apart).
"I, umm… I really should be getting home. To… get ready for work and stuff." you stumble over your words but the excuse is believable enough, and he nods in understanding even though he looks just the slightest bit disappointed. You're probably just imagining it.
As quickly as you can, you pull on your clothes and you're out the door without uttering so much as a goodbye. You try not to notice the look on his face when you pass him in the doorway but you do. (And honestly, Nell, if you haven't stopped kidding yourself by now it might never happen. He loves you Nell and you're the scared one).
You barely make it through your front door before you feel the tears finally leaking out of your eyes. You're so lost.
(List what you know, Nell. Just list what you know and maybe this will make sense).
He wants your love and the Eric you know wouldn't wish unrequited love on anybody.
He kissed you back in Ops that afternoon and he didn't have to.
He was glad to see you when he woke this morning.
He wanted to make you breakfast. Just because you were there and it was morning time.
Really, there's only one possible conclusion but you can't believe that you've spent all these months agonizing over this only to find that exactly the opposite is true. But then again, he's never actually said…
There's a knock at your door and you hasten to wipe the tears from your eyes. Nell Jones doesn't cry over anything. Much less herself. But it's only 7 in the morning and who would possibly be at your apartment so early. You open the door to reveal Eric, pacing and tapping his fingers and really he just looks restless when he looked fine an hour ago.
"Eric." you say, slightly surprised and you really don't know what else to say because he looks about as distressed as you feel right now and you don't really know what to do.
"Can we… can we talk, Nell?" he stutters, walking through the door without being invited because he knows you don't mind. Finally looking up at you, he frowns and reaches out to wipe at the tear tracks on your face, not asking a single question but waiting for your response to his.
"Of course, we talk all the time, Eric." you reply gently, knowing what he meant but unable to take it into full context just yet. You're more distracted by the tenderness of his thumb against your cheek.
"Nell." the urgency in his voice is something new to you and you frown, watching him pace across your living room and back. You've never seen him so high-strung and it's starting to worry you. What worries you even more is that this might be about you. "It's just… we've been… and you…"
"Eric, I don't understand what you're trying to say." you say firmly, drawing his eyes to meet yours and his are still that same shade of blue, only less bright and more broken.
None of anything makes sense anymore.
"Nell, we've been in this thing and do you ever want more than this? God, Nell, I just – "
And suddenly this is his lips colliding into yours and he's loved you this whole time, hasn't he? And you're falling into each other like crashing cars because he couldn't hide this anymore and really you weren't the only one were you and finally, finally things are perfect and you can wake up in his arms and kiss him in the afternoon and hold his hand whenever you want because he loves you too.
"I'm sorry, Nell, I just couldn't pretend anymore." he whispers against your lips and you shake your head, kissing him again and cradling his face in your hands. (List what you know, Nell). So you haven't been imagining things. You've been dying in the daylight but so has he and really you were both just wasting time.
You can't even bring yourself to care.
"You aren't the only one."