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NCIS: "Too Far Down" (Tony/Ziva)

Title: Too Far Down
Author/Artist: Koren M. (cybermathwitch)
Disclaimer: Not mine. If they were, there'd already be a Black Widow/Hawkeye movie.
Pairing: Tony/Ziva
Rating: 15+
Warnings: none
Spoilers: it's vague enough not to need any - takes place anytime after season 7's premier (but still isn't spoilery if you haven't see that one yet.
Type: Vignette / Summer Bingo 2013
Word Count: 1323
Summary: Revenge is a slippery slope and they're already too far down.

Author's Notes:
A big thank you to Mandy for looking this one over for me. :)

One of my prompts was the Decemberist's song "O Valencia!". (More about that in the end notes.)

This deals with the ideas and themes (for lack of a better word) of season ten, and references events in season seven (but only if you know what you're looking for). That said, it isn't really spoiler-y at all. So... it's AU-ish, but that's mostly deliberate, since kadollan hasn't seen anything beyond about half of season 6.

What I'm saying is, don't try to slot it into the timeline anywhere in particular, other than "after Somalia" and let's leave it at that, shall we?

(More notes at the end.)




It was a sudden and overwhelming realization.

This is not worth it.

Hammers and nails.

Guns and bullets.

The price and payment of revenge.

It's a slippery slope and they're already too far down.

****

He can hear Gibbs barking orders in the background, but he's not listening to them anymore. It occurs to him dimly, in the midst of the sound of gunfire, that they shouldn't even be in this parking garage, shouldn't still be standing here and not paying attention to everything around them, too damn caught up in their own drama of the moment to miss the guy with the gun coming around the corner.

*****

It happened on a Wednesday, after work and in between pizza and beers and a movie neither of them were paying any attention to.

They were on his couch, and then they weren't, hands wrestling with clothing and seeking desperately for bare skin, mouths meeting briefly but repeatedly, shifting to explore other areas but always coming back for the kind of kissing that burned them both alive.

True to her words from years ago, she arched above him when he first thrust inside her, lean and strong and devastatingly perfect, but later she let him roll her over and pin her down when they did it again.

They didn't have to agree not to talk about it. They were never really good at talking about things, anyway.

*****

Abby figured it out, just after McGee did. She probably wouldn't have, if McBigMouth hadn't told her there was something going on. Tony didn't say anything when she confronted him with it, but the look on his face was confirmation enough.

She didn't mean to tell him..

Tony knows that, but still. She told. (Abby's always been a terrible liar, and Gibbs is good at dragging things out of her.)

Of course Gibbs doesn't approve. Not just because of Rule # 12, but Tony doesn't realize that until later.

*****

It might've gone much differently, if they hadn't already been at one another's throats.

That doesn't mean it might've gone better.

(It probably would've been worse.)

There are a lot of maybes in this equation.

Maybe, if they hadn't started sleeping together, everything would've kept going like before. (But something had to give.)

Maybe, if they hadn't been lovers, she wouldn't have tried to protect him. (Yeah, right.)

Maybe, if he hadn't been sick and tired of toeing the damn line and still getting slapped down for it, if he hadn't been chaffing under the pressure of following Gibbs' gut no matter what his own was telling him, he wouldn't have been in that garage. (But it was a long time coming. If not now, if not this, it would've been something else. Maybe not this soon.)

Maybe, if any one of any number of things had gone differently, he wouldn't be on the floor, with Ziva bleeding in his arms because of someone's damn vendetta.

Maybe.


*****

"What do you think you're doing? Could you be any more stupid?"

For the first time, the hand against the back of his head doesn't feel like a sign of affection anymore.

And that's only part of it.

He's tired, really fucking tired, of being the court jester. Because he's proven himself when they need him to, every. Single. Time. It's a good mask, it's his mask, but someone as close to him as Gibbs is, he should've figured out it was just a mask a hell of a long time ago.

"You're apparently not nearly as observant as you give yourself credit for," Tony finds himself saying. It's a little like he's watching the whole conversation (argument) from the other side of the glass. It would be more appropriate if they were in Interrogation, with the tone that this is taking. Or in Gibbs' basement. That's the way this normally works. He goes for advice, or he gets read the riot act.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean, DiNozzo?"

"How long do you think this has been going on? If it's causing so much of a problem, when did it start?"

Gibbs's jaw clenches even tighter and Tony watches him struggle for just a minute. Then "I don't know! Is that what you want to hear? That you two did a good job sneaking around behind my back?"

"Your back isn't involved! There was no 'sneaking'. We weren't hiding it." Objectively, this is true. They weren't volunteering information, they were careful not to be "inappropriate" while at the office, but they never directly lied about it. There was no guilty jumping apart at the wrong moment or hedging around questions or denying implications. It just never came up.

"Sure as hell coulda fooled me."

"Not hiding something, and not announcing it to everyone around you are two very different things."

Gibbs doesn't look like he believes that, but Tony can see that he's trying to rein himself in. It's awkward, it's downright weird because this isn't how these conversations go. "How long?" he finally asks, still seething around the edges but holding on to his control with both hands.

"I have no idea," Tony answers honestly, quietly. And it's the truth. He couldn't say when he first fell in love with her. He isn't sure when it happened, or when he realized it, or when she realized it, if she even has, yet. Gibbs wants to know when they started having sex, but that's really not the important question here.

"Last month, or before Somalia. Depends on how you mean the question," he finally says, and there, right there through the confusion and the anger, he suddenly sees what's really going on in Gibbs' head.

He thinks he's watching his family fall apart all over again. Tony's always known in the abstract that Gibbs whole-heartedly believes in Rule #12, but for the first time, he wonders how much of that is a belief that Tony can't make a relationship work long term, and how much of it is a belief that no one can.

And there's no way to reassure him otherwise.

Tony is tired of being defined by someone else's insecurities. He's got enough of his own.

*****

Ziva gets there after the shouting has throttled back to tense, angry words. She walks towards them from the evidence garage, so Tony sees her first and is the only one to see her eyes narrow as she takes in their body language (combative, strained). He sees her come up behind Gibbs' shoulder, sees Gibbs react to her presence and turn. He doesn't see the shadow that comes around from his other side, but he sees her lunge, and she tackles him to the ground, putting herself between him and the gun.

He's dimly aware of Gibbs drawing his gun, turning and opening fire. He's more aware of struggling for air because Ziva is solid and with her full weight behind the tackle she's knocked the wind out of him. There's one crystal clear moment where the combination of not being able to breathe and the warm wet on his chest makes him think that he's been shot. Then Ziva makes a faint, soft sound of pain, and the moment shatters. He lets Gibbs deal with the shooter, because Ziva's still mostly conscious and he can finally see that the bullet went clean through her shoulder - they were luckier than they have any right to be. He looks her in the eye and wonders if they'll be as lucky next time.

*****

Their life is ruled by revenge.

He's not sure when it happened, or why. He can't tell if it was because of a choice Gibbs made a lifetime ago, or if it was inevitable. Fate.

He remembers that if all you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail, and that the only thing vengeance accomplishes is more vengeance.

Saleem's little brother.

Revenge.

It's always about revenge.

*****

Notes:
So, kadollan prompted me the Decemberists "O Valencia!" (lyrics here), and it was tricky, because the song in and of itself is already a pretty complete narrative, with its own internal characters. A couple lines and images jumped out at me though, and the overriding idea of revenge, and the price of grudges and being caught up in the mechanics of other people's feuds got to me and made me think of NCIS. So I worked through some of my post-season 10 feels here (in vague terms so as not to spoil Kade) and in particular it turned into a "defense of Tony" piece. Because I have all kinds of feels about him and how everyone sees him, and what's really going on behind the face he tends to wear in public. It's an odd little fic overall, but I think I like the end result.


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