A/N: Because I have a bit of a reputation for NC-17, I feel that I should point out up front that although this story is all about the kissing, it is not a smut-fest. (Actually, I lie. One bit will be a teeny bit dirty. But it'll be clearly signposted.)
Tony sometimes thought of the progress in his relationship with Ziva in tectonic terms. The plates they were each on seemed to move towards each other with agonizing slowness, save for unexpected bursts of seismic activity each year that either smashed them together or ripped them apart. Every year Tony thought he'd be able to predict the moment their plates were due to slam together and he tried to pack a survival kit to help him through it. Every year he ended up being taken by surprise and then struggled to deal with the aftermath. A wise man would have learned by now to stop trying to predict things and remain prepared for disaster year-round. But Tony was not a wise man, at least not when it came to his relationship with Ziva.
His inability to accept that he had as much control over the relationship as he did over volcanoes and hurricanes meant that Tony had managed to convince himself that they were due for a seismic event. It had been months since the last significant tremor between them (an argument about his maturity that was really a front for an argument about her dating a 25-year-old barista), and he was sure that there would soon be an explosive release of pent-up energy that would alter the landscape between them. Given his luck, Tony assumed they were heading towards something catastrophic, devastating and gutting. But predicting their relationship was not an exact science. Although he ended up being right about the earthquake, his Theory of Mass Destruction was proven spectacularly wrong by a series of kisses that left him quaking in the best way possible.
Hey, he'd been a phys ed major. What the hell did he know about science anyway?
The first kiss wasn't their actual first kiss, but it was the one that gave their relationship the kick it needed to move beyond unresolved sexual tension. It happened by accident, of course. When given even a moment of time to actually think about whether their drift towards each other was a good or bad thing, Tony and Ziva always erred on the side of Deny All To Survive. So their first kiss ended up being a sneak attack on both of them that neither even registered as having happened at all until it was well and truly over.
It was the Friday before a long weekend that Team Gibbs had rostered off. McGee had left the office at 1500 to get on a plane to Vermont for a writers' festival, and Gibbs had been cranky enough about the early mark to make Tony and Ziva both stay back an hour to make up for the two McGee missed. Tony had tried to make an escape at 1700, but a steely gaze from the boss had him relinquishing his grip on his backpack and dropping his butt onto his chair again before firing off a terse text message to the probie. He'd cast a look in Ziva's direction, silently requesting her thoughts on an estimated departure time, but his partner in suffering had shaken her head back at him. There was no predicting Gibbs when he was cranky, and attempting to do so would only lead to frustration and then madness.
It was 1800 and Tony was deep in an email to McGee's private account that spoke of breaking into his apartment and stealing the heads from all his action figures before Gibbs suddenly stood, clipped his gun to his belt and strode towards the elevator.
"What're you two still doing here?" he drawled as he passed between their desks. "It's a long weekend. You don't have a better place to be?"
In his joy at being effectively dismissed for three days, Tony ignored the smug smirk on their boss' face. As Gibbs got in the elevator and left Tony's life for the next 85 hours, Tony sent his email off to McGee and once again started collecting his trash to take home. He pulled his gun out of his top drawer and stood to shove it into his shoulder holster and then grabbed his suit jacked from the back of his chair.
"I thought he was going to keep us here all night," he said to Ziva.
His partner slung her backpack over her shoulder and winced slightly as she freed a chunk of her hair from under the strap. "Not even Gibbs wants to stay here on the night before a long weekend."
"Why not? It's not like he's going to spend the weekend doing anything different to what he normally does." He shouldered his backpack and walked around his desk to meet her. "Basement, bourbon and boat."
Ziva narrowed her eyes briefly, displaying her 'how can a trained investigator be so dense?' expression. "Tony, he is going down to Mexico to see Mike Franks," she told him.
Tony frowned as he hit the button for the elevator. "He is?"
She shrugged. "He mentioned something on Tuesday."
Tony tried to remember back that far. He couldn't. "Why?"
"Why's he going to see Franks?" he asked. "What's going on?"
Tony shook his head as his thoughts ran wild. "No, it's gotta be something. Gibbs only goes to see Franks when he feels like retiring or when something hinky's going on."
She eyed him levelly as the doors opened. "You sound like Abby."
Tony ignored the comment. "Trust me. When Tuesday morning rolls around, we're either going to find ourselves involved in some cold case with shadowy witnesses, or I'm going to be sitting in Gibbs' chair." He hit the button for the ground floor, and then crossed his arms as he leant back against the wall. He didn't like the stink of this. Thoughts of Gibbs in Mexico always gave Tony the sweats, and he devoted a moment's thought to where his passport was the last time he saw it.
"Why do you assume the chair will be yours?" Ziva asked, but he read the tease in her eyes and in her tone. "McGee is a very capable agent—"
"Who skipped out early and made us pay for his crime," Tony cut in. "Want to help me break into his apartment and move all his crap around?"
Her brows drew together. "Why?"
"To mess with his head."
Ziva's frown disappeared to be replaced with something akin to pride in him. "That is very devious, Tony."
"I know," he replied with a wink. "I thought you'd like it."
The elevator stopped on the ground floor and they headed across the foyer and out the main doors. The tree-lined path to their right took them towards the parking lot where Tony could see Gibbs' truck making a left turn out towards the base exit. He checked his gut for any rumblings that could be interpreted as bad news or foreshadowing, but all he found was a hankerin' for pizza and beer. Maybe Ziva was right. Maybe nothing was going on.
"How many movies do you think you will get through this weekend?" Ziva asked him.
"Depends on how much of a hangover I have on Sunday," he replied.
Ziva put a thoughtful finger to her lips. "Ah, yes. Ritualistic male bonding from eight 'till late on Saturday."
Tony smirked at her description of his plans to meet up with his buddies. "I don't know how ritualistic it'll be. The cow we'll roast then eat will probably already be dead and drained by the time we get our hands on it."
Ziva grimaced. "Dead and drained."
Tony stopped walking and grabbed her arm to turn her to face him. "I swear to God, Ziva," he began, pointing a stern finger at her. "If you become one of the Lentil Brigade I will kick your ass. And I will succeed in doing that because you will no longer possess the energy to stand up under your own steam, let alone punch me."
Ziva smiled up at him. "And you prefer it when I have enough energy to get rough?"
He leaned in towards her and played along. "It always puts a smile on your face afterwards."
She scrunched her nose at him and resumed walking. Tony followed her with a grin. They'd almost reached the bumper of her car when Tony's cell phone in his pocket beeped with a text message. He pulled it out and slowly and distractedly thumbed in his PIN as he brought up the Gibbs thing one more time.
"You know, if Gibbs doesn't turn up on Tuesday you have to buy me dinner at the I Told You So Bistro."
Ziva glanced up at him as she felt around in her bag for her keys. "That is the new restaurant, yes? In the Delusional District?"
Tony faked a laugh as he opened the text message from his buddy. "How long have you been holding on to that one?"
She liberated her keys. "About two seconds."
"Very bitchy," he assured her.
As Ziva unlocked her car and tossed her bag into the passenger seat, Tony read his text message.
Starting early. Ribs & OSU v Wolverines Chris'. NOW
Tony gasped as a happy little rush went through him. "Oh, that's great," he murmured as he sent a quick reply.
"Something to do with food?" Ziva guessed.
"It sounds like a glorious weekend of meat," she commented. "Promise you will stop if you experience chest pains."
Tony weighed that up and then shook his head. "No, I don't think I can."
"Then promise me that Abby will be the one you call if you are sent to the emergency department."
He sent her a wounded look. "Why? You're not going out of town. You wouldn't even make the effort to rush to my bedside if I was dying?"
She looked him up and down thoughtfully. "If it were from a situation out of your control? Absolutely. For death by meat?" She shook her head. "I think Abby will be able to offer more of the type of sympathy you will be looking for."
Tony shrugged. "That's a good point. You'll come to my funeral though, right?"
Ziva smiled her Mona Lisa smile and stepped in close enough so that her chest brushed against his. "I will wear stockings with suspenders and a low-cut dress in your honor," she purred.
Tony's head dropped to the side and her sent her a look of utter affection. "You do care about me."
She winked at him. "I will not let you down."
He grinned and then looked down at his phone as it beeped again. Another message from his buddy.
Poker game starts in 20
Tony let out another short gasp of joy. "Oh! I gotta go," he told Ziva quickly. And then, without the slightest bit of thought, he leant in and pressed a kiss to her soft pink lips as if it was something that they did every single day of the week. "See you Tuesday," he said, and then turned and walked towards his car.
He was 10 steps away before his brain caught up and he realized what he'd done: he'd just kissed Ziva goodbye, right on the mouth without warning. His body had seized control of his actions from his head for just a few seconds and used the time to abolish all pre-existing farewell customs and possibly mark himself for death.
He was so surprised with himself that he almost dropped his cell phone. He desperately wanted to turn around to see the look on her face and gauge how Ziva had taken it, but there was no way in hell his brain was going to allow that now that it was back in control of his body. Instead, it was crafting a plan wherein he wouldn't look back, wouldn't acknowledge it, and would just hope that Ziva would never bring it up or acknowledge it either. This situation would be handled like every other 'almost' situation they'd ever found themselves in: silent denial. If they didn't talk about it then it never happened, and nothing had to change.
He heard the engine of her Mini turn over just as he got to his car, and by the time he'd opened his door she'd reversed out of her space and was heading out of the lot. He listened to the squeal of her tires to try to determine her mood, but the sound was the same as always; fast, urgent and reckless. It never changed, whether she was happy, angry or laughing her ass off at her partner's momentary surrender to the Gods of Tired of Pretending.
Tony sat in the driver's seat of his Mustang and took a moment to give himself a solid head slap before starting the engine. He honestly didn't know how she would handle the latest tremor to hit their relationship, or how the landscape would change. The only thing he could be sure of was that he'd never been happier to have a three-day break from work.