Living the Dream
Spoilers for spoilers for Jetlag! So, from what I've heard, the events of Jetlag take place as Tony and Ziva fly back from Paris. Here's my imagined version of that vacation. Sexual references, but nothing graphic.
Tony slides into his seat, buckling his seatbelt and leaning past Ziva to open the window.
She gives him a glare as his elbow grazes her collarbone, but Tony returns it with a smile and an affectionate stroke.
"Sorry, honey," he murmurs.
Her eyes widen for a split second before Ziva smiles back, slightly forced.
A few hours later, their flying companions mostly asleep, Tony watches as Ziva pulls their fake passports from her backpack and inspects them. Sara Andrews and Matt Weathersby. She runs a finger over their faces, checking that they're real enough to fool customs. Their assignment will begin with two days of pretending to be tourists so no one will suspect them on the way back while they protect the target.
"So what's the story?" Tony murmurs as the third passenger in their row rises to go to the bathroom.
Ziva glances at him out of the corner of her eye and shrugs slightly. "They've known each other for five or six years," she offers, beginning the story. Their story. "They were friends for a year before anything came of it."
"But he knew," Tony interjects. "He knew as soon as he met her."
She shifts in her seat to face him, to gauge whether he is serious before softly answering, "So did she."
That admission garnered, Tony expounds. "They were both pretty screwed up as kids, it's a wonder they successfully got together."
"You wouldn't think they'd be nearly so open about their feelings. But then again," Ziva points out, "they're not married. Not committed to one another."
Tony shrugs, arching an eyebrow. "Don't tell her, but he's thinking of proposing in Paris. He wants her forever."
A smile flashes across Ziva's face and Tony glows inside.
Their companion returns and Tony grimaces for her amusement.
She smiles again, this one lingering, then pillows her cheek on his shoulder.
"Scootch, Matt," Ziva yawns.
He lifts his arm, letting her shift against him before wrapping it around her. For the next two hours, he watches her sleep. It's amazing.
In customs, she slips her hand into his, softly says, "We made it, Matt." She lets her eyes fill with the love of a woman for the man who has been beside her for five long years.
Tony looks into her eyes and finds agreement: for once their work is demanding from them exactly what they want to give. He dips his head toward hers, claims her lips hungrily, feels her press back eagerly.
"We made it, Sara."
They make it to their hotel as evening is falling and dash out again at once to the Eiffel tower. Standing under it, looking up in wonder, she tells a story about her childhood dream of kissing in this exact spot. A stranger takes their picture as he dips her back and kisses her again. The line between reality and make-believe is ever harder to find.
And as they relax into their covers, their characters, she finds that it is such a relief, for now, to be this other woman, to not be herself. To be Sara who doesn't have to explain away scars or remember the last time she let a man get this close. Who laughs easily, who can say the words I love you without hesitation.
On they way back to the hotel, she darts into a pharmacy while he takes in the city—it's Matt's first visit. He raises his eyebrows as she exits and she extends the bags.
"Preservatifs," she says softly.
He looks confused until he peers inside at the box of condoms. Her intentions couldn't be clearer and suddenly there's only one thing on his mind.
Even though Sara and Matt have done this thousands of times, he wants to ask if she's alright, but she doesn't give him an opening, continues the charade into their room, kissing him fiercely as she pulls at their clothes. They're just another couple enjoying the city and the moment, and the way she screams as they come together, wordless syllables and Oh God—he is lost.
She rests her head on his chest as their breathing slows and feels the pounding of his heart, this muscle on the other side of his skin without which he would be lost. And so would she. She turns her head to kiss him there, then meets his eyes.
"I love you, Sara," he whispers.
They take in the city the next day, and while he has pretended, before, to be the kind of man who is affectionate and doting—pretended in order to get into a girls pants, or to convince Jeanne—he is startled to find it feels exactly right to slip his fingers into hers as they walk along the Seine, to slip an arm around her shoulders as they gaze up at the original statue of liberty while Sara tells a story about her father showing her the one in New York when she was a little girl and recites its poem from memory. They pretend he is holding her against him merely to fight the cold.
There is a moment over lunch when someone at the next table loudly says, "Sophie!" and their eyes meet, remembering. Those other characters feel worlds away. There is no faking this time, or rather the entire weekend is fake yet completely intimate. They don't wake without reaching for each other.
Back in the line for customs, he flinches when her fingers in his are suddenly painfully tight on his and he looks over, finds Ziva's eyes agonized for a split second as she looks at the gate ahead of them.
"Sara," he whispers.
She meets his eyes diffidently, trying to hide her emotions for the first time all weekend. She's lost her touch.
This kiss is not so different from the first. Except that he can feel her jaw trembling and it takes all Tony's willpower to remember that they're just happy tourists heading home together, not lovers saying a silent farewell.
She pulls away and they board the flight, back to work, leaving the dream behind.