Lets call this a Merry Christmas, slightly AU, completely random piece. My gift to you, which cannot be returned and offers no refunds. PEACE!

The Daily Eulogy

The moon wisely hides at the hour of two am. It cowers behind a veil of clouds because the stars have already pronounced destiny on the tangle below. Even Orion's belt wouldn't bet on the outcome. In that unlit, unpredictable world, a key tumbles the lock's mechanism and even as the door pushes into darkness, the hair on his arms points forward toward the woman sucking the life out of shadows. Ziva steps out from the dim, hands pressed to her sides like a frozen nutcracker. Safer for him.

The years have formulated a system of communication that Tony employs now. Back off. In the gloom of post-midnight, the tilt of her head denotes a negative reply.

His backpack is tossed on the couch, the smooth brush of canvas on leather disturbs the quiet, which reforms around the pair, sickly, regurgitated. They tend to leave hush to solitude, a demon on the shoulder whispering what the other would never admit. But when together, noise is the angel that saves their souls. Sound is the other weapon in their holsters.

Next to the abandoned pack lays a crumpled heap of blanket. She's been waiting for him. Waits still.

Words are never their issue but he'll withhold them as he switches on every light in the space. Lending evidence to the idea that he has nothing to hide. As if either of them lived by that sort of truth. Cheap wine is reserved for the easy moments, thus an expensive red is poured from an imported bottle. He's in that mood again so she'll resign the floor. A portion is downed and after the sigh, the warning is delivered.

"Don't ask me."

Settling onto an island bar stool, Ziva considers the alcohol he pushes toward her. "Because you'll have to explain?"

"Because I'll have to lie."

Her finger traces the rim of the thin glass, a pleasant hum vibrating the contents she will otherwise leave untouched. Points are won by the retention of faculties.

"One question." Her bargain is spun into a presumption of compliance. "How long?"

"That I've been in or until I'm out?"

"Either. Both."

"That's two questions." But Tony's too tired to be merciless. "Three weeks and I don't know."

Since his eyes haven't veered from hers yet, something he'll remedy soon enough, she presses. "Rank of target? Quality of intel? Prospect of total immersion?"

"Low, high and zero."

"I do not believe you."

Smarmy now has a poster child. "Told you I'd have to lie."

"Then tell me one truth tonight."

Their bylaws forbid it but he's willing to entertain it because she's close to dropping the initial subject.

"About what?"


The shift in his eyes resembles a Hollywood special effect; an adjustment of color, a shuffling of available emotions. Settling on the appropriate glint is a talent of his. The remnant of Tony's glass is drained before he leans across the table.

"You are so beautiful."

"That is the wine's opinion," she notes even as the comment dials her face to glow setting.

"Can't talk about the job. So let's talk about your legs."

The mentioned appendages cross under his appreciation. "Let's talk about your bruise."

A newborn purple is taking its first steps across his jaw. It hadn't been there earlier when they'd booked a killer and parted for the day. But between that case and this conversation lives a second life, three weeks old and already sprinting.

"There are penalties," Ziva reminds him, "for assaulting a federal agent."

"If I'm doing my job, they won't know that. Yet."

"And who do they think you are?"

Tony's not immune to her dark eyes, so it's unfortunate that he's not noticing them. Too eager to touch what resides just a few inches away. The slow arc of her swinging foot, the flex of her exposed knee, has him momentarily transfixed. When he blinks away, there's remorse for the loss. So often there are a matched set of mourners where they converge, the daily quota of disappointment met.

And so he offers a eulogy to her pendulous body. "Nice try. But one glass does not a drunk Tony make."

"Answer and these legs might be available for inspection."

"Their value has already been appraised. Which doesn't mean I shouldn't test for quality."

Because banter is no form of interrogation, Ziva drowns the instinct with a mighty sip.

"I thought you were done with undercover."

"They asked," which is meant to explain the universe.

"And you like that they still ask." Her empty glass is returned to the table. "You like the notoriety."

"Better than my other reputations."

"It is a cracked fountain of youth."

"Nothing wrong with being useful."

And because the irritation rises, Ziva pulls out fortune cookie wisdom. "Vanity's use is fleeting."

He's pouring a second glass, occupying his hands. "Hope the same's true of your judgment."

"They ask because you're an accomplished liar."

"Told you one truth, didn't I?" It's the innocence he places in segments around his face that infuriates.

"I am not beautiful. I am angry."

"That's because you didn't drink enough."

"And you've lost the right to my legs." Said limbs uncross, stretching from hip to moving feet. The doorknob is in her grasp when she turns back to the watching man. "A fictitious life has your own by the throat. When you're tired of choking..."

The closed door snaps off the edge of the sentence. Abrupt and unfinished, like their conjoined existence. But while there are many things amiss with his psyche, there's nothing wrong with his hearing.