A bit of fun for the holiday...

Landing Gear

She's not as stealth as the brochure promises.

True, Mossad training as elevated Ziva's natural skills to an epic of Beowulf proportions. But such blatant glancing cannot be advertised as covert. Covers are blown this way, as any nervous rookie faking through an arms deal will testify. And while Tony is a happy crouton in the soup of female attention, the current mastery level being displayed is worrisome. This visual mugging ranks somewhere between the 'you have a stain' stare and the 'you have a growth' gaze.

Her eyes, which literary saps like McGee would compare to twin puddles of chocolate, run laps between the ground, the sky and him in a cycle he's prepared to bodily step away from. Because they're on a public sidewalk next to a man who is only growing colder and even McBlivious will notice in a minute.

To be precise, Tony's ass is under surveillance.

Which is why he tempers the bend of his body when he crouches, downplays the lean and stretch as he photographs. Her study would be better tolerated, encouraged even, if her face would announce more appreciation for the view. But what hovers on the curve of pursed lips is too analytical to be flattering. It's the kind of expression that wrings men with complexes like sponges.

He blames the flash mob.

DC is known for its rallies, cherry blossoms and now, synchronized streakers. Thirteen people, ranging in age and physical desirability, had shed overcoats on cue and the truth of human nature surges is such moments. Being horrified is not necessarily a prompt to look away, like a child passing roadkill. That primal batch of repulsion and fascination had the team peering from behind the police tape and fighting jaws that veered groundward.

Picturing women stripped of clothing is a routine reflex for Tony, the product of a juvenile hormones meeting a very adult imagination. But the habit does not extend to elderly men. Society's new entertainment is a call to gather and shock and in this way, mankind will be returned to the biblical nakedness in which it began. Would it have killed them to invite a bit of cotton to their party?

He's never mourned the lack of a fig leaf. Until now.

What isn't springing to mind is the patented DiNozzo riff that will defuse, deflect and disgust. That he keeps catching the seemingly unrepentant gazer should generate a dozen responses to evoke either a blush or deadly ire. But it must stop because he's stumbled over an uneven curb in the process of mapping the trajectory of her eyes. Just below them a grin is wreathing her lips. And from a wealth of backlogged statements, Tony produces a garbled, "What?"

"Oh," she shrugs, hair mottled on the sticky breeze. "Just wondering."


McGee wisely occupies himself with the organization of his kit, within earshot but out of striking range. The sedan door is swung open, her small frame folding gracefully inside but the exit is paused, a goddess in partial sunlight deigning to glance at the mere mortal of her partner. And Tony considers that Superman's x-ray vision might have plopped into her cereal bowl this morning since he's fairly sure every inch of innard is on display.

"If you go Schwarzenegger."

On a crumbling pavement beside an expensive government vehicle and a sniggering coworker, it requires six point two seconds to make the connection. Ciphering through her lapses of English when coupled with a rare movie reference is difficult work for the overwhelmed.

"You mean... Commando?" Dear God, is she asking that?

"I mean, what lies under your overcoat Agent DiNozzo?"

Which is beyond McGee's capacity for resistance. "Hopefully something latex."

Here's where the comeback is supposed to land. Tony's got consent, capability and a clear runway but the damned landing gear is stuck on 'she's checking for boxer lines?'

He knew when they'd met that his plane was barreling toward the ground. He'd just assumed it would be more fun on the way down.

Sliding into the driver's seat, Tony straps himself in and grips the wheel like it's the last beer on Earth. Finally, the retort arrives. Unfortunately, two bridges and one irate jaywalker have passed since his response had an opening. Now the others are chattering about the case and Tony's trying to stop the evidence of what her query has raised. Partially because she's still tossing glances down there but mostly because the only barrier between the world and Lil' Tony is a pair of jeans which could only benefit from some cotton shielding. Or silk. Or a convenient folder. Or maybe there's enough room in the trunk for him to ride separately?

He shouldn't have gone Schwarzenegger today.

What's needed is a restroom and five minutes but traffic wraps him in a rush hour cuddle. And it suddenly seems wholesome to embrace the image of prunish men with sagging... everything. Disturbing, but currently the only hope. Meanwhile, it chafes, it rubs and it grows.

And curse the amused woman, she knows it.