Origine Di Uvetta

Second Helping

He is not speaking to me.

His mouth is operational and words occasionally depart but I have learned that this is not the same thing. Even in anger (especially in anger), Tony is rarely silent. The strange state of reflection must be jarring to his DNA. He's launching a deliberate silence at me and while it leaves no bruises, there is impact.

I saved a designer suit. And the body in it. We have split this apparent source of irritation like a bitter sandwich among the starved.

What we share is dry going down.

I should have seen it sooner, the barrel peering out from behind the shed. By the adjectives my coworkers assign me, I am expected to pick up the vibrations of a moving object behind my back with some manner of inherent sonar. Mossad grants much knowledge, but sadly no superpowers. It had been a chance sweep of the eyes that caught the midday sun glinting off the metal, giving the suspect's location away. Tony, tackling the difficult task of photographing a descending splatter of red droplets on a n unpainted brick wall, had been standing in the gunman's range.

It is my job to watch his six and every other position on the clock.

The bullet's ungraceful arc resembled a cannonball that had already met its apex, diving into a mound of something fresh and potent that we made McGee dig into later. The shell was found by disgruntled hands now raw from vigorous and repeated scrubbing.

When my partner is in danger, I do not postulate on the possible insult to his maleness.

He is not speaking to me, preferring to poach over this. Or is that simmer? He's willing to accept bullets from strangers since the alternative feels like castration. This is not playacting to achieve a reaction. I am familiar with his methods of obtaining attention but all I see is genuine disappointment.

Apparently I should consult his ego when determining whether to save his life.

I'd like to tell him that next time I will not stand in the way of him expressing his masculinity by dying without my interference. But I know I will lack the choice. Instinct will see to that.

It is difficult to gauge the logic that propels an impulse and I find myself questioning internal motives that care little for my tone. What has preserved me all these years now seeks to protect him, the one I used to threaten with inventive harm and mean it. I'd have done it for any member of the team. I think. Perhaps. He is not special. This conscience is like a child, nagging at the sound of my lies until I must issue a time-in. Or out. Or whatever.

See, this is why he needs to talk to me.

I seek no parade but would acknowledgment kill him? Some tiny sign that my willingness to place myself in the path of harm did not inconvenience him.

He is speaking to McGee, though the latter may wish otherwise. I have experienced the phrase 'third wheel' but today Tim has hollowed it out and made a nest inside it. The trajectory of Tony's mocking statements is directed to another while he counts on deflection to peg me with it. That he says I cannot live without him should not hurt. But...

That sentiment crossed his cracked lips not so long ago, back when he saved me. Had I been less destroyed, I'd have taken advantage of that serum, seemingly the only force on earth that can extract truth from the man.

Aside from the taste of betrayal following him into cramped elevators. We could give PSA's on pretending.

Which brings me to the issue; why am I not permitted to act on his behalf when he is free to act on mine? It must be more than chauvinism that drives him to dismiss my right. I've done it before without incurring such telescoping anger. He is allowed to abandon his career, relinquish his freedom and I am not able to abandon my post, renounce my safety, regardless of how minuscule the actual danger.

Truly, the suspect might as well have pointed a water gun.

He is not speaking to me because I have overstepped some invented boundary. The map we draw for each other is restructured daily; here a new line, there the latest wall. We take a step forward and trigger a trip wire, but stepping back, we find a land mine. No direction is without injury. I cannot win. I sometimes forget why I try.

Until someone tries to take his life. Then Mossad reflexes scare bullets right off their route. To have missed from such a close range is scientifically impossible. I will credit the ninja that Tony has bestowed on me (for I have no other explanation for the tragic attempt at aim). What Tony grants me now is a sideways gaze that says he's pondering me just as studiously and coming up equally blank. As if my reason for jumping in front of him is beyond his present understanding. And there's a shift of green, two shades darker than the human eye should achieve in the five seconds of this glance. And I think maybe I have his objection completely wrong.

And for that, my fingers itch for a box of staples and a sling shot.

Does he think it should have been the other way around? That he should be the one saving me? Or that he alone deserves to take a bullet? I trace the contours of his thoughts and now, in the moment before he stands to leave, I nearly catch the inner monologue. It makes me chase him, which pleases my own ego not at all.

In the elevator, we are alone with this rescue enmity between us. I almost understand and he'll never explain. And our history in confined spaces does not encourage me to start a conversation. Floors pass, silence grows and I wonder if this is truly a matter of weighing worth.

Do I come out ahead on his scale?

He is not speaking to me, but I no longer require that. Often our communication needs only the appropriate body part. I am debating which to utilize. There's equal attraction in the pieces of me that are currently volunteering.

I settle for the course of greater satisfaction.