What is it? Hmm. Good question, because I have no idea. It's pretty much a collection of random, out-of-sequence drabbles involving the rain, which I wrote while totally zonked on this really strong medication. So sorry if it's vague or rambly or just plain doesn't make sense. At least I can plead insanity, right?
Disclaimer - The words belong to the dictionary, and the characters belong to CBS, but this disclaimer belongs to me. Say otherwise and I will see you in court!
On the day that Tony DiNozzo turns seven, it rains and it rains and it rains until the grass turns into mud and the sky changes into a smeary, runny mural of gray, like a watercolor picture with all the paints run together.
Tony sits at the window with his own brand new set of paints from his Auntie Rosa and tries to replicate the sky.
He spills water all over himself and the paper turns to a sodden mass of a color that he doesn't know a name for, and Dad's mouth gets tight at the stains on his pants.
He hides in the closet for half an hour, breathing in the smells of Mom's perfume and something musty and rich and intoxicating, like how he imagines an old treasure map might smell. He tears the closet apart looking for the frayed yellow scroll that will lead him to riches beyond measure, and the excitement makes him feel charitable enough to consider giving Dad a share of the loot, to make up for the stained pants.
But he never finds anything except a ragged pair of slippers and a shoebox full of his own handiwork, seven year's worth of artwork bundled together in a rainbow sheaf of colored paper and waxy crayon.
So he goes outside and stomps in puddles until his hair sticks to his forehead and water droplets run down the strands like electric pulses through his nerves. The murky water is the same color as milky tea and it slides off the shiny surface of his new black rain boots like water off a duck's back.
His family, congregated for an adult party to celebrate a seven-year-old's birthday, watches from the window with a sort of wistful, disapproving amusement that twists and contorts their mouths like the ripples in the puddles.
Tony stands as the rain pours down with his mouth open and his eyes shut and laughs.
The airplane circles the runway for a full three hours in a rain that pounds and smears and runs down the thick, slightly distorted glass of the airplane windows until the ground below is no longer land but a stretch of greenish-gray wasteland that is not home.
Ziva puts her feverish forehead against the ice of the glass and squints, trying to discern a sense of familiarity through the raindrops.
Instead she is met with a sky so slippery with rain that it is slowly but surely sliding, inching its way lower and lower, ready to squash unsuspecting airplanes and their passengers.
A rough patch of air causes the entire plane to jolt, and her head jerks backwards, then forwards, slamming against the glass and temporarily making her vision as foggy as the windowpane.
She leans backwards, wincing, to massage her temples and lets her vision readjust. She does not return to the window, but lets her gaze run over the faces of her fellow passengers, a mosaic of irritation and exhaustion, fear and impatience.
Her own reflection in the mirror is surprisingly blank, considering that she can literally feel the flashing neon sign on her forehead that proclaims her guilty, guilty, guilty.
Guilty of what, she wonders, because one way or another she was following orders.
And her father will be proud, and her co-workers will be envious, and Michael will tease her with a lopsided grin that crooks at one corner like the head of a snake.
And a family will have closure, and a steely-souled Marine will have vengeance, and a green-eyed man can have fantasies about his partner minus a bullet-hole in the forehead.
She remembers from a time when religion was part of reality, and not just a last resort to turn to in hours of captivity, the story of Cain and Abel, of Cain who lost himself in his attempts to gain favor in the eyes of the Father.
She remembers just as abruptly the symbol of Cain, and it is enough to have her lurching for the complimentary barf bag that is stowed in the pocket of the seat in front of her.
The pilot's voice blares through the rasp of her dry heaves, apologizing for inconvenience and announcing with a weary attempt at optimism that they should be landing at any time.
It is two hours later before she stands in the gray-green-brown smear that isn't home, but the rain still pours down and her mind is still somewhere up in the clouds, whirling and circling in the blinding rain.
The rain runs down her face and into her eyes until she can't see anything but a perfect circle in the center of smooth brown skin that never had the chance to be marred by the years.
She doesn't know whether to cry or to laugh, so she performs a combination of both, her body silently shaking in slightly hysteric mirth as tears course down her cheeks like rain until she is bundled into the sleek black car that is waiting for her.
The window blots with crystalline raindrops until she cannot see anything at all.
The day after Gibbs shatters his world with a few brusque words that fall like stones into water and sink and sink and sink, the sky rips open in a slash of heat lightning and unleashes torrents of rain onto the streets of a world that no longer holds any meaning.
The sky is not gray, but blindingly blue, and it sears Tony's pupils until they sting with tears that have nothing to do with her.
Because she hates him - hated him - and right now she is probably looking down on him and sneering, gnashing her pearly little angel teeth and devising seventy-two ways to kill him with her halo.
But that isn't right, because Ziva was a killer and Ziva was a liar and Ziva was cold-eyed and white never was her color.
But the idea of Ziva in pain, Ziva suffering the retribution of a million deeds done for a purpose that was not really her own, doesn't make any sense either, because superheroes don't die, even if they are villains-in-disguise.
Tony sits on the park bench and lets the boiling hot water sear his skin and wonders how the sky could be this clear in a world where nothing is as it seems.
He wonders why, in the movies, heroes never fall for the villains.
And he starts to wonder who he is, because he left her with a cold-eyed man who was not a father, with a broken heart and very little will to live.
He is certainly not the hero in this story.
He doesn't know who he is, on or off the set, and he's not sure who she is - was - but he knows that he fell for her just as rapidly and randomly as the boiling hot raindrops that are pelting his skin.
The rain stops just as suddenly as it began, and it leaves Tony feeling cold and shivery and parched for something - someone - that he is never going to see again.
The hospital room is like an industrial-sized freezer, closed in and cold and echoey.
The rain beats down rapidly, too fast to be able to discern the noise of an individual droplet hitting the roof above, but the sounds mingle with the steady beeeep of the heart monitor, which never fails to jolt Ziva out of the uneasy doze she has fallen into.
The ventilator rasps and whooshes until the noise is painful, because it doesn't stop, but it might at any second, and Ziva isn't sure which option is the better one.
Tali is crying again, with her knees pulled to her chin and her shoulders hunched until she is little more than a tear-stained ball whose perpetual sniffles set her older sister's teeth on edge.
Ziva turns away, pressing her ear to the window until the hollow echo of rain on the glass drowns out the sniffles and the rasps and the beeeeps that might cease at any second.
Eventually little Tali falls asleep, but Ziva herself cannot, because she waits with bated breath for a beeeep that may never be coming, and each second is another second of not knowing.
Eventually Abba sends them home, and Tali hunches up in the corner of the car and cries until there are raindrops running down both sides of the tinted pane of bullet-resistant glass.
The noise, like the rain, doesn't go away, and eventually Ziva breaks into her mother's extensive medicine cabinet and swallows sleeping pills, because the heap of pillows she is burying herself under, like an ostrich in the sand, can't seem to block out the rasp and the whoosh and the beeeep and the rain.
She wakes up the next morning to silence in her ears, even though Tali is rocking back and forth on the other bed as she sobs like the eight-year-old she is and even though there is thunder crashing directly above the rooftop like the world is ending.
She no longer can hear the beeeep in her head.
Just the rain.
The rain is cold and it pelts Tony's skin like frozen silver bullets, icy and hard and painful. The blood under his fingers is so sickly warm that he can't help but wonder why the icy chill that lingers on his skin won't go away.
Some of the blood is his, he thinks, because he's relatively confident in his laundry skills, or at least confident enough in his dry-cleaner's skills, and he doesn't think his shirt had a wine-colored rosette blooming on it this morning.
After all, a real man might be able to pull off pink, but floral patterns are decidedly lacking in the macho department.
He wonders why, if flowers are considered so feminine, Ziva has put up with the three rich swirls of color on her own white t-shirt with the neckline that he has always appreciated. The fabric is rain-soaked, slightly sheer.
He wonders if he has enough time before he has to deliver his Oscar-worthy famous-last-words to crack an innuendo or two.
The rain keeps falling into his face, and into his eyes, and it stings - more so than the loose chunks of old gravel that jut into the back of his neck, even more so than shrapnel imbedded in his shoulder. He decides maybe it'd be better for the movie-rights if he keeps his most-quotable lines PG-rated. A wider range of audience and all that.
He blinks and opens his mouth to deliver some pithy quote worthy of engraving on his white marble headstone - which he can't actually afford, though he's sure he's got an old flame somewhere or another with enough fond memories and enough pocket change to erect a testament to his awesomeness - and instead he chokes on the rain, a decidedly undignified gargle that makes Ziva's mouth quirk in a smile. He wonders when she started using makeup that makes her lips glitter like a poisoned apple or a blood red ruby.
"So," he croaks finally, because the silence makes his mind want to contemplate things like floral patterns and Ziva's sudden interest in blood red lipstick, both of which suggest something is wrong . . . That, or he's gay.
"This is your fault," Ziva declares calmly through shiny, candied-apple lips.
He sputters in protest and chokes on more raindrops that run down his throat like spiders and itch and tingle and sting. "Care to elaborate, my lady?"
She tries to shift and makes a little gasping noise that might have been appealing if he didn't have gravel stuck in his neck and raindrops in his eyes. "If you had not been so fixated on my shirt . . ."
Lest his reputation be marred by a faulty call in the blame-game, Tony protests despite the ever-increasing throb of his shoulder. "It wasn't the shirt that I was fixated on so much as the lack thereof. Which is entirely your fault."
There are raindrops glistening on her eyelashes like diamonds or stars or some pretty metaphor to that extent. He wonders when Ziva got so interested in bedazzlement. First flowers, then lipstick, now bling?
Maybe the world really is ending.
The scene around him seems eager to supply supporting evidence for this observation, helpfully volunteering bullet casings and shrapnel and a motionless body or two. Sirens wail nearby in a sort of faint, detached way that doesn't really seem real.
"If you had not" - Ziva moans again and makes a little gurgle of her own, choking on something thicker and redder than rainwater - "insisted that the weatherman would be wrong, I would have worn a windbreaker."
More signs of the imminent apocalypse - a correct call on the weatherman's part.
"You should stop buying such low-necked shirts," he argues, closing his eyes to stop more rain from getting in. The world is starting to go fuzzy, like his eyeballs are drowning in skuzzy, murky water or television static.
"Would you prefer I wear a turtle-neck?"
He shakes his head fervently and then regrets it. "I take it back. This was entirely my fault. May I offer my compliments on your choice of attire and suggest a tasteful string bikini for tomorrow?"
She laughs, which scares him a little. This was supposed to be a heart-rending scene of pain and death. If this were a movie theater, he would be indignantly shushing his partner and possibly even throwing popcorn at her.
"Just so we are clear," she says slowly, taking labored gasps of breath between her words like she is beginning to drown in the raindrops. The sirens are closer now, but the sound is distorted, like the ambulance took a wrong turn and ended up in Bikini Bottom.
He scrabbles his hot-and-cold hand around in the gritty puddle of gravel and blood until he finds her own slender digits.
Her fingers are alarmingly cool, but she grips his hand fiercely until he begins to fear for his circulation.
There are voices now, loud and urgent and sharp and tense, but he doesn't really hear them, and there are blurred, distorted reflections of faces bouncing around on the surface of the rain, but mostly he just sees the raindrops.
They look like stars.
Passionate kisses in furious sun showers eventually fade into misty, surreal rainbows that are a testament to the intangibility of the entire scenario, though normally the movie has already cut to credits at this point and people are shuffling out, discarding emptied barrels of popcorn kernels.
Ziva supposes she can expect nothing less of Tony DiNozzo, who hides the soul of a hopeless romantic behind a cynical grin that crooks at both sides and teeth white enough to reflect mini-rainbows all their own.
He asks her to go for a walk, and at first she is puzzled, because her shirt is not thin enough for a mere rainstorm to render see-through.
His objective is of yet unknown, so she sets about being an investigator, trying to negotiate her way into some answers without the help of her Sig.
"What do you want, Tony?"
He looks at her in amusement as raindrops race down his face, leaving almost transparent streaks in their wake. "Subtle."
But she will not be deterred, even if he does mock her diplomatic approach with his sparkly eyes and rainbow-inducing grin. "Tony."
He blinks at her innocently, shaking loose a couple of raindrops to plummet to a concrete death far below. "Ziva?"
"It is wet."
He smirks at her. "Your investigative skills will never cease to astound me."
She glares at the contorted, rippled reflection of his face in the puddle that is fast reducing her shoes to sopping masses of leather and tries again. "Was there some goal you were hoping in achieving by bringing me out here? Other than giving me the opportunity to contract my death by pneumonia?"
Tony manages to look both earnest and offended, while never quite losing his grin that verges on a smirk. "I would never do that," he says seriously. "Lung-related illnesses suck."
She crosses her arms. He smiles innocently. She glares. He smiles all the more angelically. She shivers in her wet shirt and then it is his turn to cross his arms like he is waiting for something.
"You cannot win," Ziva warns him, because victory will be hers, regardless of its inconvenient anonymity.
He grins and follows a raindrop with his eyes as it traces a strand of her hair, runs down her forehead, and dangles like a soap bubble on the tip of her nose. "I wasn't aware we were playing a game."
"I would expect nothing less of you."
Tony raises his hands defensively. "I think you've got me and the McGeek mixed up here. I'm not exactly the Friday-night-game-night guy."
It is her turn to blink innocently, dispelling raindrops from her lashes and trying not to undermine her look of confidence by shivering. "Tony-"
"Although," her partner muses, "if you're up for a game of strip poker, I would never say no . . ."
He looks up and he smiles like his grin alone is enough to part the sea of gray clouds that churns overhead. "Ziva?"
The rain doesn't slow, but the sun creeps out in the facets of his white, white teeth before being trapped in a vacuum of lips meeting lips.
He kisses her as the rain pours down, and there's nothing cliché about it. It's not terribly romantic, because she is wet and cold and her lips are a bit too blue to be particularly nimble, and when he pulls back the sky is as cloudy as ever.
There's no insubstantial rainbows, just Tony's obnoxiously perfect, crooked grin as he whispers, "I win!" and darts away.
She takes a minute to blink the rain out of her eyes and shake the shock out of her chest before taking off running after him.
Her feet splash through the puddles and the rain courses down her face as she laughs, because she may have lost the battle, but the war is yet to be won.
The raindrops on the pavement sound like victory drums.
Is it random? Yes. Is it pointless? Yes. Is it bad? That's up to you to decide. Drop me a line and let me know, please! Which little chunk of randomness was your favorite? Least favorite?