Title: Red Salamander
Characters: Various, Kate/Tony
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: I hold my hand open for him to go.
Notes: Set mid-S2
i. fire in leaf and grass
It's close to midnight, and the office is almost empty, though Gibbs can hear movement in the hallways above. Aside from a few desk lamps and the glow of his computer monitor, the main floor is dark.
He maneuvers through the database slowly, closely perusing each option before clicking to the next screen. During the day, he has other agents do this, but it's late, and just because he can't sleep doesn't mean they shouldn't.
There isn't any urgency, anyway. Lacking an active case, he's been reviewing past files, and checking the status of other investigations.
Suddenly, he hears a door swing open, and two familiar voices, interspersed with laughter. The noise is coming from down the corridor, so he's well prepared by the time Kate and Abby stumble, giggling, by his desk.
"Late night?" he asks, and Abby gasps, and Kate chokes off a shout. It's an effort not to smile.
"Kind of." Abby tugs on the hem of her blouse, an odd configuration of fishnet and silk. "Um."
"Just tying up a few loose ends," Kate jumps in. "You know." She brushes her hair down, quickly, with her fingers.
Gibbs surveys their mildly disheveled clothing, the looks on their faces. "Well?"
They stare at him.
Gibbs rolls his eyes, and hands Kate his follow-up list of suspects. "If you're here, you're working."
"I'm not here," Abby volunteers, and she waves a frantic hand at them both with a grin.
Kate scowls at Abby as she exits, then slides behind her desk, boots up her computer.
They work in silence for several minutes.
"Loose ends, huh?" Gibbs finally murmurs.
Kate nods, her lips tight. "Mm-hmm."
Again, he manages not to smile.
ii. it seems each summer
Ducky dislikes the sticky heat that sometimes arises outside. The discomfort isn't so much a personal one, really, but for the purposes of preserving human remains, the climate of Washington D.C. is not ideal.
But he likes to hear the birds sing, to see the profligate blossoms littering the city's avenues. When given the opportunity for a break, he loosens his tie and takes his tea and sandwiches to a bench a few blocks away.
When Ducky reenters the building through the garage, he catches a glimpse of movement, refracted through the windows of a row of vans. He pauses, surprised, and in that moment, the movement resolves into Tony and Kate.
They're emerging from the far corner, previously hidden by a cement pillar. Kate is walking backwards into the aisles, and Tony's hand brushes against the hem of her jacket, then pulls away.
They're both smiling, and the top three buttons of Tony's shirt are askew.
Ducky backs out of the garage, and walks the long way around the building.
When next he sees the two of them, they're at their desks, bickering as usual.
iii. so cold and so easy
That night, Tony stares at the lipstick stains inside the collar of his shirt and groans. It's his favorite shirt, one of his best shirts, and there is a distinct smear of plum staining its pristine fabric.
He flips his cell phone open, left-handed. Kate is number three on his speeddial.
She answers on the fifth ring, and her voice is blurry from sleep. "What?"
"You're paying my dry cleaning bill," he replies. "And let me tell you, it's going to be a whopper."
"What?" she repeats.
"Lipstick," he hisses. "On my favorite shirt."
Kate groans, and he ignores his stomach's flip at the sound. "If we're going to start keeping tabs, I'll remind you of the incident in the breakroom."
Tony sputters. "That was an accident! It's not my fault the seams were poorly done!"
"Ruined is ruined, Tony."
"Ha!" he says. "The difference is, you did this on purpose."
There's a second of static, then, "I'm hanging up on you."
Tony growls at his cell phone, and hangs up his much-abused shirt.
And he begins to plot retribution.
iv. to catch, dreamily
Abby is not pleased.
Abby is so far from pleased, she's crossed through displeased and is on the other side again.
She stares at Kate and Tony and clucks her tongue. "Really, guys. I don't really care what you do outside, or in the office, of even in the morgue." She puts her hands on her hips. "But in my lab? So not cool."
Kate puts her face in her hands, and her voice is muffled when she speaks. "I hate myself."
Abby tries to be stern, but she looks at the slump of Kate's shoulder and relents. "Kaaaate." She steps forward and hugs her, pats her on the head. "I can't risk any contamination of evidence. You know that."
"I know," Kate mutters against her shoulder. "I'm sorry, Abby."
Abby hugs her tighter, and plants a kiss against her temple.
"I had a fantasy like this once," Tony interjects. "Except there were costumes, and you were--"
"Zip up your pants, Tony," Abby snaps, and points a finger at him. "You are totally in the doghouse."
"Bossy," Tony says as he complies. "There was another scenario, with a collar--"
Kate turns and smacks him in the shoulder.
v. his delicate feet
When Kate brings lunch in, she gives McGee her fries and tells Tony his double-bacon cheeseburger is disgusting.
Tony, in turn, lists the calorie count of every item in her raspberry, walnut, and bleu cheese salad.
McGee shakes his head and tries to ignore them as they trade snipes.
He's not sure why they're smiling, but he tries to ignore that, too.
vi. each minute the last minute
Kate's surprised when Tony buzzes her apartment on Saturday morning. She half-expects him to carry his dry-cleaning up, so when she opens her door, her jaw drops.
Tony's scowling, but he's also carrying a double mocha latte, a bag of croissants, a bottle of champagne, and a bouquet of lilies.
"You're kidding," she finally manages to say.
"Good morning to you, too," Tony grumbles, and slides past her and into the apartment.
"Sorry." She follows him to her kitchen, clutching her robe around her and feeling ridiculously pleased. "I'm just...wow."
He sets everything on the table, and turns to her with a skin-warming grin.
"No active cases," he murmurs, catching the belt of her robe with his fingertips. "No paperwork due."
Kate smiles, and lets him reel her in.
And when he kisses her, she lets herself believe it.
A/N: Title, summary, and headings adapted from Denise Levertov's Living.
Crossposted to ncis_tinsel and linked here.