I stare blankly down at the book laying open on my desk, only vaguely paying attention to the words printed on the pages. After brushing my brown bangs out of my face for the fiftieth time, I finally slip an elastic off my wrist and tie it all back, none-too-elegantly might I add.
"Tripp, just go! Get the hell out of my house!"
I shake my head and try to actually read the novel, doing my best not to replay the events from last night.
"You don't tell me what to do, you bitch!" His alcohol-tainted breath practically hits me in the face. "You think just 'cause you got a gun, you call the shots!"
With a sigh, I give in and fold my arms on my desk, then hide my face in them. I close my eyes and watch everything unfold again.
A harsh stinging sensation radiates from where he's gripping my wrist. "Let go of me!" I yell, trying to retaliate, only to have him grab my other wrist and pin me to the wall.
"Shut up!" Tripp yells, getting in my face again. Once he has both my wrists in one hand, he gets a hold of my chin and forces me to look at him. "What're you gonna do, huh? Put me in jail?" He laughs humorlessly. "Good luck, babe..."
Gritting my teeth, I kick him hard in the shin and wrench one hand free to punch him in the nose. With him stunned, I scramble into the kitchen and grab my gun off the counter, then return to the living room in time to see the door slam behind him. My heart beating in my ears, I go to the window and see him peel out of the driveway and down the street.
Hair a mess, clothes wrinkled, and red-faced, I replace the gun and start wiping at my welling eyes. Out of anger and frustration, I throw the door open and start grabbing at anything of his. After nearly fifteen minutes, all of the few belongings he'd left here are strewn across the pavement, and my dark brown eyes are completely drained of tears.
I wince, biting back an annoyed sigh at Tony's cheery greeting.
"What's the matter, Kris? Rough night?" He sounds like he's smirking from right in front of my desk. "...Or was it rough in a good way?"
Not in the mood for his perverted humor on top of last night's events, I grudgingly pick my head up from my desk to stare at him blankly. "How much do I have to pay you to make you go away?"
His cheshire grin disappears instantly. "Whoa, what happened to you? Your eyes are red like a teenaged pothead's. Go a little crazy with the booze last night?"
I sigh, running my hands over my face. "I'll give you twenty bucks, Tony."
He looks up at the ceiling, pretending to be in thought. "Tempting, but no. I'd much rather hear about your evening. Judging by your hangover-like appearance, it was either really good or reeeaaaally bad."
I stare blankly again, "Thirty."
He eyes me for a few more seconds, then chuckles with a smirk. "I get it. Had some fun with the boyfriend? Woke up late and rushed to get here?"
"Shut it, DiNozzo," I mutter against my better judgment.
"I must be getting warmer... Hmm..." He trails off, then gasps dramatically. "Oh no, Kristen. Don't tell me it wasn't with your boyfriend..." he says, sounding like a gossiping schoolgirl. "Ooh, you are in SO much trouble!"
I stop bothering to respond and cover my face with my hand, praying he'll leave it alone eventually. My blood's starting to pulse painfully through my body.
"Ease up or you'll be the one in trouble, DiNozzo."
I silently thank the higher forces for Gibbs' perfect timing.
Tony immediately straightens up and loses his smirk. "Sorry, Boss."
Gibbs sips his coffee as he sets his things down at his desk. "Where's McGee?"
"In the lab with Abby," I pipe up.
He nods. "Callaghan."
I look up at him, "Yeah, Boss?"
Without a word, he nods for me to follow him and starts for the elevator again.
Shaken slightly, I tail him, waving to McGee as he steps through the doors and heads for his desk. I stand next to Gibbs as the doors slide shut almost ominously.
I stare after Kristen and Gibbs until the doors close, and McGoogle feels the need to state the obvious.
"Kristen seemed... out of sorts."
"Ya think, Probie?" I retort sharply.
He instantly morphs into McGee the Mother Hen. "What happened? Is she okay?"
I shrug and sit back at my desk, logging into my computer as usual. "Dunno. Maybe you should ask 'er when they come back from... wherever."
"You mean she didn't say anything to you?" He sounds genuinely surprised.
That fact stings a little more than I'd thought it would. I give him a deadpanned stare. "Since when does she tell me anything, McMuffin? Do I look like one of her girlfriends?"
"That depends on which ones you're talking about. She has more than a couple of gay friends," he throws back.
The only response he gets is a paper ball bouncing off his head.
The car starts down, but only for a few seconds before Gibbs presses the "Emergency Stop" button, throwing the lights out and halting our descent. He turns his calculating stare on me. "What are you doing here?"
Of all the things he could've said, I expected that the least. "Working?"
"You should be at home, cleaning up the mess in your living room."
Any normal person would be surprised that their boss had found out about something like this. But this is Gibbs; "normal" is just a word around here. "How did you find out?"
He glances around absently. "Someone named Jessica Levy called your desk phone last night. Said she was your neighbor and that she could hear crashing from inside your house. Then a guy came stumbling out to his car and drove off." He pauses only for a second, then asks, "Who was it?"
I look him in the eye. "Tripp Geoffrey, my ex-boyfriend as of last night. He came to my place drunk and started screaming about how I'm never around or some B.S. When he got violent, I grabbed my gun and he ran out. ...I'm fine, Gibbs."
"Really?" he asks sarcastically. "Because you look like Hell, Kris. Go home, wash up, and get some sleep."
Thinking about how inviting that sounds, I feebly argue, "Who's gonna baby-sit DiNozzo?"
He smirks at my response, starting the elevator again. "Let's see how he does without a leash."
I smile faintly and retort, "Get it on camera for me."
My head snaps up at the "bing" of the elevator stopping; Gibbs and Kristen step out and go straight to their desks. I glance at McGee and see that his expression's about the same as mine: curious. I'm confused, though, when Kristen turns her computer off and grabs her coat. "Going somewhere?"
She doesn't even look up. "Ya know, last night was just so intense. I'm gonna go home and invite the guy over for round two before my boyfriend calls."
I flinch when she slams a drawer shut and all but storms back onto the elevator.
As soon as the doors close, McGee's leering at me. "What did you do?"
I look at him with a blank face. "I've only been here for ten minutes, Probie. Even I'm not that good."
"Then what did you say?"
I hesitate, remembering the jokes I'd made a few minutes earlier. "Oh, you know. The usual witty banter that women swoon over."
He rolls his eyes, "That explains it."
After sending him an annoyed glare, I let my eyes wander back to the elevator, a huge part of my brain obsessing over why she really left.
Kristen's P.O.V. (10:30 that evening)
I sigh, clutching the hot mug of coffee in my hands. The living room is finally clean, and I no longer look like I just fell off a bad high. My hair is loose again, the wavy strands falling down over my shoulders, and the redness in my eyes is almost completely gone.
I curl up on the sofa in a light blue tank top and gray, form-fitting sweats that flair a little at the ankle. Sipping at my coffee, I feel myself relax for the first time in the past twenty-four hours or so, but it feels like it's been much longer. Tripp's things still litter the driveway, but I try not to think about it. It only makes me worry that he's going to come back.
The doorbell rings, causing me to jump about a foot and barely save my coffee from spilling. Groaning in frustration, I glance at the clock and glare at the blaring digits that read, "10:34". With another sigh, this one annoyed, I force myself off the couch and set my mug down before padding barefoot to the door. "Who is it?"
"It's me. Open up."
I blink and eye the door as though it was the one who'd spoken. 'Why is he here?' Curious and confused, I unlock the door and pull it open. "Tony?"
He shrugs, hands in his pockets. "Were you expecting someone else?"
"I wasn't expecting anyone," I reply, gesturing to my wardrobe. "...What are you doing here?"
He stares at my face for a moment before asking if he can come inside.
Deciding I'm too tired to argue with him, I open the door a little wider, allowing him to enter.
Tony slips his jacket off and hangs it on the coat rack, leaving him in a dark gray, almost black sweater, worn jeans, and a pair of beat-up sneakers.
I look him over briefly, then shut the door and resume my position on the sofa, motioning to the space next to me.
He sits beside me and waits a minute before talking again. "You okay?"
"Been better," I answer honestly, looking anywhere but at him. "Want some coffee?" I ignore the fact that his gaze is practically burning into my face.
"If you don't mind..."
With a faint nod, I get up again and waltz into the kitchen to pour him a cup. I make an attempt to remember what he puts in it and do my best to replicate it, figuring I owe him that much for stopping by. Satisfied with my work, I return to my spot and hand him the mug. "I think I got it right."
A ghost of his Tony-esque smile passes across his face. "Thanks."
Picking my own cup off the small table, I continue my quiet sipping. "...Are you going to tell me why you're here, or do I have to guess?"
The smile grows a little for a brief second. "Checking on you. Gibbs wouldn't tell us why you left, and... well, you seemed pretty ticked."
"Worrying about me?" I joke with almost no humor.
"Would it surprise you if I was?"
A small, very quiet laugh escapes me. "Not really. Even though you're a perverted jerk most of the time, I know you're not heartless."
He seems surprised at my remark. "Jeez, Kris, tell me how you really feel."
Another small laugh. Finally feeling up to it, I meet his eyes. "You want to know what happened?"
He sips his coffee sheepishly. "Would be nice..."
I stare into my mug, running my thumb over the lip subconsciously. "Well, to make a long story short, my boyfriend is now my ex."
"Ah. ...Well, that explains the driveway," he jokes halfheartedly. "...I take it there was a fight?"
I nod. "He got smashed and came here screaming about how I'm never here when he needs me because of my job. He broke a few things, yelled some more, then got even madder when I told him to leave. He grabbed me and... I don't really know what he was going to do. He bolted when I went for my gun." I put my mug back down and place my hands in my lap, trying to stop fidgeting.
Tony seems to be taking the story in. "He... grabbed you?" His eyes travel over my body until he spots my bruised wrists. "Kris..."
"I'm fine, alright? They're just bruises," I argue as he sets down the coffee and takes my hand to get a look at the marks. I barely manage to keep from shivering at how warm he is.
"Your hand's freezing," he says, looking at my face again.
I shrug, "That's probably why I don't feel any pain in my wrists."
Frowning slightly, he eyes the bruises, being careful not to hurt me. I'm more than a little surprised; I had no idea Tony could be this gentle. "You must've been scared," he murmurs, glancing at me again, but only for a second this time.
The simple statement jolts me, bringing everything back in front of me. Tripp's yelling, his vice-grip on my wrists, being pinned to the wall, cornered like I was his prey. I hadn't thought about it much, but to be treated so badly by someone I cared about... I realize that he's right.
I try to say something, but my voice has failed me. In my thoughts, I hadn't noticed the tears clouding my vision or my throat locking up. I cover my eyes with my free hand, trying desperately to keep my tears from being seen. I don't want to cry in front of Tony, of all people.
"Kris?" he tries, and I feel his grip tighten slightly on my hand. "Kristen, look at me."
I take a shaky breath and wipe my eyes once, praying I don't look too bad, before complying.
His expression is, to my shock, genuinely concerned. "What's wrong?"
The only thing I can manage without my voice breaking is, "I was scared."
Realization hits him when he hears my short statement. He sighs quietly when I turn away again. "I'm sorry... I wasn't trying to make you-"
"I know, Tony. It's okay," I just about whisper. After a few seconds, I laugh faintly and wipe at my eyes again. "I'm just sorry you have to see me like this. I've been a wreck since last night, but... I was hoping to put it behind me before anyone noticed."
He glances away at the floor. "I hate to be the one to tell you this, but it was pretty noticeable. McGeek was worrying about you all day."
I crack a small smile at the comment. "So were you, I bet."
His gaze snaps back to me, "How would you know?"
"If you weren't worried, you wouldn't be here right now." I pause, then add with a sly smirk, "And you probably wouldn't still be holding my hand."
Tony's eyes widen just slightly before he lets go, a mildly embarrassed look on his face. "Sorry. ...Again."
I can't keep myself from laughing a little at his actions. "Well, if your goal was to make me feel better, mission accomplished."
That grin I've come to love springs back onto his face. "Good. But you know, that was only one part of it."
"Then what's the other part?" I inquire, going along with it for curiosity's sake.
He stares at me for a few seconds before he answers. "I wanted to apologize for what I said this morning."
My smile doesn't waver. "Tony, you make jokes all the time. You don't have to apologize for it. I could've told you what happened if it upset me that much."
"Yeah, but I should've known something was wrong as soon as you offered to pay me," he admits. "That was just... not normal for you."
I tilt my head, one eyebrow arched and my smile becoming a smirk. "Oh? And what would've been the 'normal' response?"
He looks up as he thinks. "Hmm... Well I think you would've asked me whether I was jealous or interested. If I'd said either one, you'd probably say to make an appointment. If I'd said neither, you'd most likely ask if I was gay."
What shocks me the most is that his suggestions really sound like things I would say. "And how do you know that?" I ask teasingly, hiding my surprise rather well.
He shrugs, "I just know a lot of things." He's obviously baiting me.
Not really caring to hide my curiosity, I take the bait and ask disbelievingly, "Like what?"
Tony folds his hands in his lap, staring down at them and locking his fingers together. "Like how you can fight Jiu-Jitsu and Muay-Thai, but trip over air. Like the fact that you argue a lot, even when you're wrong, just because you're stubborn. How you don't let people know something's wrong because you don't want them to worry. Even that you mouth the words to every song that comes on when you're listening to your iPod during lunch." He looks at me with a little smirk and a mischievous gleam in his eyes. "Good agents are observant."
All I can do is blink and try to fight off the shock; I'd never even noticed the thing about my music. Staring in what could be considered awe, I feel like I have to ask. "...When did you start paying so much attention to me?"
After taking in my expression, his eyes lock with mine, and his smirk has shifted back into the smallest of sheepish smiles. "When you stepped off the elevator on your first day of work."
If I was surprised before, it was nothing compared to how I feel now. I'm sure that a burning blush has spread over my face while I stare slack-jawed at the man next to me. "Tony... do you-"
"Feel kind of like a stalker right now? Yeah," he says with a laugh, like it's nothing.
Composing myself, I narrow my eyes at him slightly. "That wasn't what I was going to ask."
"Oh. Well, the answer to that question's 'yes', too. But I knew it'd be stupid to tell you that."
Before I can ask why, the light bulb goes off in my head. 'He never asked me out because he knew about Tripp... and now that he's gone...' I smirk, "Oh, I get it. It's okay to tell me now because my boyfriend's out of the picture, right?"
His eyes go wide again. "Kris, that's not-"
"Please, I know you well enough, Mr. Ladies' Man..." I tease, not meaning a word of it.
He almost looks like he's been slapped in the face. "You think I'd do that to you after what you just went through?"
I shake my head. "No. But the notion made for a nice payback." I flash him a playful smile, "Consider that revenge for this morning."
Tony's eyes narrow instantly as he pouts childishly. "That wasn't nice. Especially after how good I've been this evening."
I laugh at his expression. "What, you want a reward for not being a pervert?"
"That's a huge accomplishment for me, you know. I think I deserve a little something for it," he decides, grinning in that way that only he can.
I pretend to think it over. "You've got a point, I guess. So, what do you feel you've earned for this feat?"
"I get to pick?" Now he looks like a kid in a candy store. "That's easy." He shows off his pearly whites with another of his cheshire cat grins. "How about a kiss from a pretty lady?"
Despite the rush of heat that flies through me, I keep up a pensive look. "Hmm... I guess that's doable. I have a few very pretty girlfriends who would just love to meet you."
He chuckles, moving closer to me. "Unless one of them is your twin sister, they're not the same kind of pretty I'm talking about."
Feeling like a lovesick schoolgirl, I inch towards him with a smile. I don't protest when he reaches behind me and rests his hands on the small of my back, then tugs me over so I'm practically in his lap.
He eyes me carefully and says, "You don't have to if you don't want to, Kristen. You're probably still a little... shaken up."
I lay my hands on his shoulders and meet his eyes again. "If I didn't want to do this, you wouldn't be conscious. Now, if you want that reward, you should stop talking."
He grins at that. "Yes, ma'am."
Satisfied, I lean in and press my lips to his, nearly smiling again when he instantly responds. I wind my arms around his shoulders as he pulls me against him, welcoming the warmth. One of my hands works its way into his hair, while his hold me in place against his chest. A chill runs through me when his tongue slips into my mouth, but I do nothing to stop him. The next thing I know, Tony's leaned back on the couch with me on top of him.
He pulls away to smirk up at me. "Wow ...Maybe I should learn to behave better if that's what I'll get for it."
I smirk right back. "Or you could just ask me out and get it without reforming."
"Ooh, I like that idea much better."
"Good, because you just wouldn't be Tony without the perverted jokes," I remark.
He looks up at the ceiling, turning the thought over. "Yeah... That'd be like McGee forgetting Geek Speak." He laughs at the notion for a second or two, then turns his attention back to me. "Well then, Miss Callaghan, will you be my girlfriend?"
"Are you going to stop flirting with every girl you see?" I tease.
He sighs and, as though it pains him to say it, replies with a drawn out, "Yes..."
I smile as sweetly as possible. "Well, there you have it, Mr. DiNozzo."