Disclaimer: I don't own 24 or its characters…

Author's note: Was attracted to the drama of these two the first time 'round (practically marathoning myself into a brain aneurysm -they should probably put a warning as the excessively addictive nature of 24). But the second time around for some reason inspired me to play with them a bit. Cannot deny the wealth of potential from the drama of their meeting to the ending of Day 6 for Nadia and Doyle.

This is just a straight up Nadia/Doyle ship, some time post-Day 6, a moment when the nature of their relationship changes…


The satisfying crack of skin on skin did not come. Instead, Nadia Yassir found herself staring incomprehensibly at her hand frozen in mid-air. Almost immediately she realized what had happened. Her strike had been blocked. It was the last thing she had expected Mike Doyle to do. Not because she believed he wanted her to slap him across the face. The shock over his reaction was more to the fact that he shouldn't have seen it coming, not even with his stupidly perceptive, badass, covert ops, spidey senses. Mike Doyle could not have seen it coming. He could not see anything coming. Or going. Or remaining where it was. He could never see anything again.

And it was all Nadia's fault.

Suddenly, whatever had caused her to make the attempt to strike the man fled her mind. If either of them should be hurting the other, it was he who should be taking some out of her. He had been blinded because of her. Because of her stupid order. Because of her stupid pride. She was such a dumb, heartless bitch. How could she have possibly wanted to cause him more pain?

Oh, right.

Mike Doyle could be a real jerk sometimes. A lot of the time. It was almost as if he worked her up into a rage on purpose.

"Why do you always do that?" Nadia asked, now more curious than angry, but apparently not sounding calm enough to convince the man to release her wrist. She had to give him credit, catching her hand like that displayed some seriously impressive reflexes for a legally blind man.

"Do what?" he asked. Nadia wasn't buying 'Naive Doyle' but she played along in the hopes to reach the point before she wanted to cause him bodily harm again.

"Make me want to slap you across the face."

He chuckled. It was a genuine, hearty sound that made her smile automatically in response.

"Because at least when you're pissed at me, you forget to feel guilty."

She didn't ask what he thought she felt guilty for. It was apparent to anyone who knew her. It lurked between the two of them every second they were in each other's company, thankfully deeply in the shadows much of the time. Except -admittedly as Mike had just pointed out- she seemed to entirely forget to feel guilty when she wanted to murder him. Well, maybe not murder, just maim. Well, maybe not maim, just punch him. Hard. In the stomach. Tackle him to the ground and pin him there. See how amusing he thought pissing her off was when she had him entirely at her mercy. Would she hurt him? Or would she… do something else…?

Nadia shook off the unwelcome thought and tried to pull her wrist free. Leaving. She had been leaving when he barred her way, not allowing her to flee with her flared temper, and rightly earning him a slap he had not quite received. All her attempt at freeing her hand gained her was a tightening of fingers about her wrist and a strong tug in the opposite direction.

Rather unexpectedly, she found herself pressed up tightly against the man who so easily infuriated her. Mike Doyle pissed her off like it was his job, yet she did not avoid him even though there was nothing requiring her to interact with him. In fact, she actually sought out his company. He could be very perceptive and had good advice, in those instances when he wasn't being a complete ass.

And then there was this... this whatever it was she was currently experiencing.

Nadia's initial reaction to being held so close to such a solid, warm presence was to melt into the embrace. The man tended to do that to her, damn him. She had this stupid, disgustingly female response to his presence. It was likely instinctive. Yes, that was all it was. Instinct. He was so typically male. The classic archetype, now that she considered it. Mike Doyle had physical prowess, a survivor's abilities, was insanely strong of character to the point of stubbornness, and variably cold and hot tempered in that eminently controlled and frustrating manner. Oh, he could work up a good rage, almost as good as Nadia herself could conjure, but she never doubted his self-control. The fact that she hadn't walked away long ago and did not have broken ribs and a bruised face were proof enough of his stolid nature. Stolid, terse, protective.

Nadia buried her face in the warm strength of his chest.

He would make a great horse opera protagonist; the lonesome stranger, the righteous marshal, or the hardened cowboy. Doubtless, she'd be the perfect swooning bit of calico with her corset stays done up too tight if she followed her instinctive reaction of turning to mush. But then she invariably fell to the second wave of emotion Mike stirred up in her. Anger. She hated herself for wanting to be nothing more than a soft, submissive girl for him. She hated him for making her feel that way.

But oh, he was so warm. And smelled so good. And his arms felt so wonderfully supportive and comforting wrapped about her as they were. And his heartbeat...

She looked up at his generally unreadable face, alarmed by the quickened pace of his heart. A man in such good physical condition should not be taxed simply by standing still. Why in the world was his heart beating so... Oh. She felt something flutter in her stomach as realization dawned. Nadia wasn't the only one suffering an instinctual physical reaction. Mike's testosterone driven side had apparently kicked in, responding to her misleadingly soft, and seemingly frail, feminine figure.

And that was bad.

Her being bothered by hormonal stupidity was one thing. His physical reaction created an entirely different set of issues. That rapid thudding in his chest, strong and excited, combined with the heat flooding her veins meant they were attracted to one another on a much more severe level than she had ever imagined.

But if he didn't know she had discovered his feelings, perhaps himself only vaguely suspecting hers, then all was not lost. No need to panic. So what if the man who'd somehow become her best friend was holding her tightly against him? That was fine. As long as she didn't let her alarm show, then there was nothing to be alarmed about.

Besides, he smelled great.

Perhaps she shouldn't have, but she nuzzled further into his chest. Did his grip on her just tighten in response? Was that a suppressed growl low in his throat?

It was so easy to forget, encompassed in his solid embrace as she was, that he had been so badly injured, effectively disabled and destroyed. No. Untrue. He was no less the man he ever was, filled with an incredible strength that oft crossed into obstinacy. His poise, his demeanor, the way he addressed the world, it was all with an edge of unwavering confidence. He had adapted to his situation, suffering frustration and anger along the way, but never self-doubt. He was a man that exuded power and strength. Doubtless it was more terrifying to see him now as a blind man (something he legitimately was), to initially underestimate the power of him until it was too late and you were too close when he let loose his roar. How apt a comparison. He was very much like a wounded lion. And Nadia only wanted to pull the thorn from his paw, tend the injury and nurse him back to health. Had she forgotten how dangerous he was by succumbing to sympathy for him?

She could not believe that was the case. True, he was physically strong -she could feel the hard muscle beneath his clothes- and possessing of that cold ruthlessness developed through his line of work. Yet, she knew, knew the only threat he posed to her was to her pathetic little heart.

Was she falling for him?

What if she was? Would she be mauled for getting too close, for ignoring the danger?

Nadia smiled. No, she wasn't like some good-intentioned, blissfully or purposefully ignorant handler. If anything, she was like his lioness. Tough, battle-scarred, he had done his job of protection, becoming injured in the process. And so she provided him with companionship, support, sustenance.. Quite literally. No matter how awesome his spidey senses had become, Mike Doyle could never defeat the baffling smooth paper labels of the uniformly canned goods in the grocery store. Nadia had insisted on taking him home from the hospital upon his release, since he had no family in the area, and upon discovering bare cupboards and desolate fridge, she had done the shopping for him. And had continued to do so ever since, though now he refused to let her do it for him and she merely did it with him.

God help her, she loved spending that time with him. Never regretted any of the time she spent with him. Even when she was so mad she wanted to hit him or storm out, or both. And how did he smell so damn delicious?

Her fingers involuntarily curled into his shirt and she buried her face even deeper into him. Was that oddly fresh, and simultaneously subtly musky, odor his deodorant, soap, or just the scent of his skin? Would it linger on her body, in her hair if she spent the night in his arms?

"Nadia?"

She started. How long had they been standing there like that, her mind wandering aimlessly in and out of revelations, emotions, fantasies?

She looked up into Mike's face. Apparently, thirty plus years of habit did not disappear so easily, for he had tilted his head towards her to look at the person he was conversing with. The milky unseeing eyes broke her heart anew, as she recalled the steely gaze she had come to know that first day they met. So penetrating, so expressive. What would those eyes have been revealing, or hiding, at this moment?

"I know you're going to be mad if I'm misreading this," he said. "But I can't quite read facial expressions like I used to." Ouch. "So I'm just going to say it." He'd be looking straight into her soul if he still could see. "I think you want me to kiss you."

Her heart leapt into her throat, and for the first time she was glad he was blind. She was certain the blush that heated her skin was obvious even through her olive complexion. And was she seriously trembling?

She had to leave. The moment, her desperateness for closeness (she hadn't been touched in such a long time) had overwhelmed her. She tried to pull away and failed. Mike's arms held her even more firmly to him. She squirmed. His hold tightened and her nipples stiffened as her breasts were crushed against his unyielding muscular torso. She squirmed some more.

"Don't."

It was an old, forceful tone she had not heard pass his lips for quite some time, not even during some of their more heated conversations when he tried to tell her what to do with her life (or how to correctly perform simple tasks) and she outright refused to listen to him. This time, she obeyed without even realizing her submission.

"I want to kiss you," he said after she had stilled. His voice was low and rough and sent a shiver down her spine.

She opened her mouth but had no words, so she closed it again. Blood was pounding in her ears so loudly she couldn't even think. There was a rabble of madly fluttering butterflies in her stomach.

"If I can even find your lips."

He smiled as his hand that somehow had come to rest at the small of her back crept slowly upward, over her shoulder, resting hot on the skin of her neck momentarily before cupping her face. Adept fingers massaged the sensitive spot behind her ear and she barely managed not to purr like a kitten. And then the rough calloused pad of his thumb pressed against the soft flesh of her cheek, wandering just above her top lip, a teasingly close miss. Mike Doyle never missed twice in a row. The second pass scraped sensually over her lips, rough over smooth, leaving them tingling. When it made yet another pass, it was by grace that she did not succumb to the urge to grab his hand and suck his thumb into her mouth, to feel the torturous, teasing digit slide over her tastebuds, to sample the flavor of his body. Maybe to bite him in vengeance for what he was doing to her.

"People close their eyes when they kiss anyway," she said, inviting him, wanting the cruel game to end as his thumb continued to work her lips into a swollen, heated frenzy of buzzing nerves. Just kiss me, Mike. Please. Now. She had already closed her eyes but opened them to find the simultaneously amused and intently concentrating expression on her tormentor's face.

Duh.

She had to lead. He was trying to show her this because with his pride he could never say it. And all the while, the bastard was maintaining his dominance by being the one to drive her crazy with the need to kiss him. She placed a hand over his, the other on his stubbly jaw (time to visit the barber again, not that he wouldn't be scruffy by the end of the day anyway), and brushed her lips against his.

With that faintest contact, Mike Doyle came alive, kissing her soundly, fervently. And every hesitation, doubt, and reservation in Nadia Yassir died.

There was no hope.

Supposedly, Love was as blind as the man she was currently passionately embracing. And apparently, it could be ignored just as much. Which was to say, not at all.

No. Nadia could not fight it, could not deny it or pretend it did not exist. Even if it was not wise, prudent, or appropriate.

He drove her crazy. They were both heavily burdened with emotional baggage. Yet...

She was hopelessly in love with Mike Doyle.


A/N: Was going to be a one-shot, but sort of feeling the scene from Doyle's perspective…

A/N2: Am I the only one that finds it odd that Doyle isn't in the list of parameters for a character search?