This is a companion piece to my story A Life. That one was just a series of 27 snippets of no more than a paragraph that told the story of Tony's life from now-ish until his death. This piece will expand each paragraph to a short chapter. Is that cheating? I'm not sure. But here it is anyway. I'm using the summer of season 10 as a convenient jumping off point. And it obviously goes extremely AU.
Warning for several major character deaths. Let's see if I can get you all the bawl your eyes out again. Also, some character-related info has changed in canon since I wrote
A Life. Please excuse discrepancies between this story and canon.


He doesn't know what lust is until he finally gives in to it. Foolishly, be believes the act will scratch the itch that's been plaguing him for years. The reality is more like a hit of meth—he's addicted and dependent from the moment his hands first touch her bare skin. He takes her down the rabbit hole with him, and she goes willingly. It's a moment of weakness that sets him up for life.

In the absence of employment they take to meeting over meat. The Sunday roast dinner becomes a tradition in the months that Gibbs is on assignment and three of them have no reason to return to the Navy Yard. Tony, Ziva, McGee and Abby gather without fail to keep an eye on each other, wonder where Gibbs is, and support each other when they begin to fear the worst. Sometimes Ducky and Palmer join them and bring snippets of vague information they have overheard between the orange walls. But mostly they gather for the company. Because they are family. And because they miss each other.

There are nights when Tony, Ziva and McGee linger long after the others have departed at what the employed consider to be a sensible hour. They drink wine, lounge around, laugh and sometimes argue. And without fail, McGee is first to bow out and leave the other two alone to talk, heal and rebuild. Tony and Ziva assign the task the importance it deserves, and for the first time since they met they start talking openly. Honestly. As if they are truly in it together, working towards the same goal. Their statements of affection and desire become more brazen, but remain on the vague side of commitment for no other reason than habit. They bury hatchets, explain themselves, forgive and move on. They move closer emotionally. Physically, they remain apart. After all these years the barrier feels too heavy to remove. It's the one thing they don't talk about, but after months in each other's cozy company the silence begins to squeeze Tony's heart like never before. He feels desperate for change.

It's on a Sunday in August that he breaks. She has hosted the Sunday roast, and after the others have left to prepare for the working week or to spend a few hours with their significant others, he ends up making a move on his. All it takes is for them to accidentally bump into each other while cleaning up the kitchen. He walks into her while he's not looking where he's going, and she chuckles and holds onto the front of t-shirt for balance as she bounces back against the counter. Eyes meet, breath catches, and suddenly he can't think of anything else but how much he wants to touch her.

So he does.

His hands move to touch her hips before sliding up to her waist, and while he expects her to pull back and say it's not the right time, she doesn't. Either she is as weak as him or a hundred times braver, because her response is to grip his shirt tighter and arch her back, swaying her chest closer to his. The arch in particular targets his male instinct, and his hand skims around to the curve in her spine to press her even closer to him. She lifts her chin and tilts her head, and it doesn't matter if it is an invitation or a demand. The outcome is the same. They become hopelessly, blissfully tangled in a matter of moments as the lust they've kept on a leash for years is finally given the freedom to overtake everything else. It swallows both of them whole.

There is nothing tender about the first time. It is raw and desperate. Hard and demanding. Above all else, it is drugging. He finds addiction in her body and cries. The texture of her skin is made for his hands. The smell of her in bliss sends him soaring. The taste of her is divine. He accepts it as fact that he will never get enough of her. The moment that she falls apart will be etched in his memory. And she looks so beautiful that he can't help but follow her.

He stays the night. They don't talk much—and definitely not about 'what this means'—but they touch and laugh and breathe together. She seems as unwilling to let go of him as he is of her, and as he falls asleep he can only hope it will last.

He knows he can't live without her.