I'm sorry it's been so long since I updated, but I've been away for a month and as I return I notice a ridiculously large mountain of homework on my desk that I had conveniently forgotten all about. If anyone wants to prepare me a profile on Milton, do a presentation (in French) about the May 68 Paris happenings, or write an essay about the impact of the 1911 Government Act (or whatever it was called) I would be mighty grateful.

Anyway, I've kept you waiting long enough. It's just a one-shot about the summer between Season 3 and Seaon 4 - the infamous Gibbs free summer where everyone is CONVINCED Ziva and Tony 'did' it (haha, I accidentally wrote Gibbs and Tony for a second...eurgh, soooo wrong). Anyway, enjoy!

It all started innocently enough. He would bring a movie and she would order food. They would smile, and occasionally laugh, and then she would stretch sleepily and moan low, and he would jump up from the couch with newfound energy, and bid her goodnight. She would clear up after him and pretend she did not live alone.

They would sleep in empty beds.

And then one day he brought popcorn and turned all the lights out. He asked her if she wanted it cooked in golden syrup. But she made a face and asked for butter or salt.

He made a bowl of each.

And then they collapsed, half giggling, on the sofa and moulded to fit round each other. She frowned and tried to bat his feet away from her face, and he pinned her down and made her endure it.

He was an ex-cop and she was a trained assassin. And yet he won the fight. She lay there underneath him and wondered what it would be like if, when the credits rolled, they cleaned up and went to bed together. She flicked a glance at him, cautious and fond, and found him staring at her with that unreadable, half angry gaze.

The popcorn spilled to the floor, and they did not clean it up. The movie flickered across the screen, bathing their desperate movements and breathless moans in a cold blind light. The popcorn reclined on the rug and waited. It did not pass judgement.

Her mouth was hot and tasted of butter and salt. His fingers ripped at her clothing, at her skin, and she closed her eyes and sank into the curious embrace. Lover, colleague. Friend. His hands were callused and scratched, almost plaintive, at her sensitive flesh. Tiny crescent moon dents in his shoulder from her nails. She writhed and arched as his lips bit into her. Words spilled from swollen lips and spiralled down to the floorboards. Pooled.

When it was over, he retreated, a wounded animal, back to his end of the couch, and stared numbly at the screen. They did not say a word. She tried to rescue to popcorn to have something to do. Flashed him a wide and frightened glance. Bit her lip and observed what she had broken.

She did not expect him to return for another evening, but the same time next week he stood outside her door and presented her with a curly smile and a James Bond. She laughed, rolled her eyes and let him in. Normality was sweet on her skin.

They were tense and strangers, at first, but as the movie bore into them, they lulled into a comforting ease. Rested on each other and smiled. She batted his hand away from her bowl of ice-cream, but he still managed an audacious fingerful, and raised it, triumphant, to his mouth. Victory tasted like vanilla. And so did her lips.

This time, their movements were languid and meticulous. Eyes gazed down, deep and full of meaning, and his fingers were heavy with trust. He lay over her afterwards, unable or unwilling to let empty air swoop in and mock the flesh that she had warmed. After a while, her fingertips stopped playing on his back and her breathing grew flat and slow. Her kissed her forehead and whispered goodnight into the spirals of her hair.

He replaced himself with a blanket and braved the cold black night.

The third time, he almost said I love you but choked it back at the last minute. Her dark eyes questioned him, strange in their patience, but he feigned innocence. Poked her nose instead and chuckled as she frowned and threw a cushion at him. She asked him if he wanted to stay the night, and he told her that it was OK, but thanks for the offer. Her eyes were desperately brave as she pretended that it did not hurt. His breath was shaky as he leaned against her closed door.

The final time was savage and heavy and threatened tears. Gibbs had returned and timing was ruthless. His omniscient eyes were hard and blue and full of warning.

They sobbed unsaid beauty into the night and he clung to her waist when it was time to let go. She would not prise him off. He stayed the night, and said goodbye.

Oh, how life carries on, how brutally easy it is to return to once was. Paper darts and flicking ink and a painful lack of want in his eyes. A French name and pretty eyes is all it takes for her to be forgotten. It never stung so much as it did with him. She was utterly used to being the choice that was not made. She was beautiful, and she was dangerous, but perhaps you could not adore her. Perhaps you could only fear and desire.

He watched her crumble a little each day, and it killed him far more than he knew.

Yeah, it's short, but it's kinda sweet, right?