A Monday post is a rarity but hopefully worth the read.


Flawed Men Shielding Angels

It's the kick in the shin that alerts him to the impropriety of his hand. The conference table hides it, assisted by the stone from which her common expressions are carved. She is neither welcoming of his wickedness nor making any attempt to hinder it. At first. Eventually her hand stills his progress but allows a wayward thumb to stray, rubbing until the rock squirms. She'll rebuke him later and he'll summon false contriteness as he is made to pay. Punishment is something to savor.

Forty minutes into the briefing and he hasn't registered a word.

Because what's hidden by denim holds more immediate interest than the droned information meant to keep him alive in the field. There are a number of absolutes reborn this day; a sniper will always shoot, Gibbs will always frown, McGee will always take notes. But inducing a crack in Ziva's façade is the daily uncertainty for which Tony breathes.

It's a condemnable sin to want this much. And want. And want.

…..

The plaza features the sort of redundancy that likes to breed in cities. The sameness of every wall, the purposed unoriginality of architectural palate makes pinpointing locations difficult. When the ground crew says shots are being fired from the gray building, every set of eyes scans a different direction, vision swimming in similarities.

They're all gray and so is she.

He gets there first because that's his job. Already he's failed the other one; to keep her safe. A body so graceful shouldn't slump and he chides for her the bad posture while the hand that woke on her breast, that spent a meeting on her thigh, now presses to the exodus of red. It's colder than it should be, the vibrant stain leaching into his skin, dulling his vision.

Perfection is desecrated, an unholy treason. When they push him away, take her away, he cannot move for falling apart.

…..

Her fingers are warm, so blessedly warm and he thinks prayer is no longer reserved for saints. His lips pour through petitions in silent recitation. Any observer would assume he's talking quietly to the sleeping woman, would never expect a pleading with a heaven he knows he'll never see.

Until she opens her eyes.

This is what angels look like, all dark curls and shallow breaths. And when he kisses her hand reverently, there might be tears in his eyes. Might be such rich longing in his heart that defies ordinary language. Giving emotion this raw a voice is a blasphemy, yet he feels everything too strongly to keep his lips from brushing benedictions upon her knuckles.

She sighs and then slips away but his fear is tamped down by each breath she takes of her own will. Every inhalation is a promise to return, restoration gained piece by aching piece by the same air he breathes. He exhales hope into it, just in case.

Those eyes will open again and he'll be ready.

…..

His hands have never appreciated stillness. A tactile man made curious by profession, Tony's fingertips crave contact with each inch of her marred skin. Constant acquaintance makes new textures familiar. There's comfort in the process, that he can map her secret places, unlock her mysteries, by blind touch alone. That he thinks he can invest himself in this is a sign. That he already has is the revelation.

Through possessing her, she has come to own him.

Ziva's been home for three days, two fresh scars in her collection healing slowly under her attentiveness. They don't speak about bullets until the black of night permits him a place to hide. Then he tells her of a wound that won't heal. Of flawed men charged with shielding angels and failing. Though she scoffs at the analogy, she does not reprimand him.

Too well she knows that he's easily broken and while insisting no reason exists, Ziva bestows forgiveness. She appeases his need to hear absolution by breathing it onto his skin, marking him with it before the world can intrude again with its meetings and snipers and frowns and stains. Ans she teaches him a secret behind one of life's profound mysteries.

Angels were the first to employ devilish hands