For those who believe I've forgotten how to write chipper shippy...

But mostly for KYTivaFan, who is even more delightful in person than she is online. The privilege was all mine!



It's one of the first English adjectives that had made her laugh. So much of the lips and tongue are involved in its pronunciation. Something in the syllables induces a raised eyebrow. Like now, when she's faced with the living definition.

His hand should not be there.

Semantics say a few inches are negotiable and true, the location could be considered faintly innocent. Almost. But camaraderie in the solid dark of an unmarked sedan in an unnamed alley on an unsafe night doesn't usually include a palm pressing. Just. Short. Of. There.

Whether to curse his advance or the stall thereof, she's presently undecided. She can't remember the last time she'd lived the 'it's getting warm in here' cliché. Snow may be congregating in disorganized lumps outside but there's the first hint of breathless, heated fog on her window. Wiping it away to better conduct vital surveillance would only call attention to its existence. And its source.

The weight on her thigh feels like an insult wrapped in pretty paper.

Removing the hand altogether is the proper course, roughly five minutes overdue. He'll mention, question, tease, the fact that she's delayed the dislocation of his elbow this long. And too many hours with too little coffee produce a Ziva incapable of lying successfully. To him at least. She'll falter and he'll prevail.

In a car increasingly buried in snowdrift, her partner has chosen to mold his midnight in mischief. Because now his fingers are moving so slightly as to escape notice were they kneading anywhere else. He does this without looking, hasn't glanced her way in hours. Like the logistics of her body are contained on a blueprint in his head. Swallowing the moan does not keep her secret. The harsh working of her throat brings his eyes, previously dedicated to the suspect's lit window, to her face.

And he knows and he knows and he knows.

The right pinky is designated the adventurous one, inching away from the pack to brush lightly where it holds no invitation. Except for that Yes sign she must be broadcasting.

The language in her brain is growing violent. Scriptures about impropriety, her mother's discord and Gibbs' rules bounce around a mass of gray matter which tries to shove the varied verbage of No out of her ears. The part in charge, the one that endures the sexual harassment lawsuit on the thin grounds of the late hour, the few minutes of slumber and the urge to make very specific demands, bullies the reasonable thoughts into hiding. It wants.

Outrage is mounting, which is all the lie she can muster.

Something else mounts too and if the suspect doesn't make an appearance soon, she will have no choice but to take him by force. And then go after the perp.

That Tony is operating on such presumption isn't what bothers her. That it's directed at her isn't surprising. It's the way he carries it out, like he's bought her leg and intends to make use of the purchase. She feels owned. She feels obligated.

She feels ready.

They can't do this here, anywhere, ever. Now. Right now. This minute.

She's contemplating how much leverage can be achieved with one foot on the dashboard. There is all this trapping snow, after all. Another hour and they'll be plowed into the dark haven.

Or she could just break that frisky hand, which would teach him to play on her terms. Having avoided visual confirmation of his passenger for some time, he is now blatantly fixated on the rather crucial juncture of her inseam. He's left the work of observation to her, testing her level of forgiveness with what is forbidden. She hates when he pulls rank like that. The man simply has no impulse control.

Incensed, indignant and possibly in lust, Ziva lifts the offending appendage from her thigh and rearranges his fingers. The wattage of glistening snow falls short of his smile.

To the hurried traveler, it's not the journey but the destination.

**Line connecting points of equal winter temperature