by B. Cavis
by B. Cavis
He tries to tell himself that he never even looked back, and knows it’s a lie. He looked. He stared.
And who, he wonders, can really blame him? For a brief, all to fleeting period of time, he found acceptance and validation from a woman. From The Woman. One so beautiful it made his heart ache and so brave it made his soul sing to the heavens. For those few months, he found a new part of himself, and he loved it.
Ari Haswari enjoyed being Ari for a time. If things had been different, he might still be enjoying being Ari. Maybe he would have given up his life as a spy. Maybe he would have started working for the CIA, and found his place amongst American society and civilization. Maybe he would have a wife and a son to come home to at night. Or a daughter to bounce on his knee and worship.
Maybe he would be happier. Maybe he would be a much different man than he is today. But he’s not.
Things worked out the way that things worked out, and he tells himself not to feel sorrowful for that-- not to feel bad or wounded because of it. It was his choice, after all, not hers. Caitlin did not kick him out of her bed and she did not suddenly decide she didn’t want him anymore. In fact, if the scene in her apartment last night is any indication, she wanted him for a long time after he left her.
He left her.
He had to, of course. He knows that even in the darkest moments of regret and sorrow. He had to leave her. Had to get out and get back in the game. When he was wrapped in the warmth of her arms and embraced in the heated space between her legs and thighs, he wasn’t in his right mind. He didn’t think and he certainly didn’t act the way he should have. He behaved like a man in love with a woman instead of a man in love with his country, and that was something he could not permit himself to do.
As proved by the events that occurred. As proved by God reaching forth his hand and changing the world that surrounded Ari, that flighty little fool who was so in love.
As proved by the scars that he knows Caitlin still bears, emotional and physical.
That was why he had to leave. That was why he had to get out and get out fast; because if he hadn’t run when he did, he would have gone to her and held her hand in recovery, and the same thing would have happened to her or someone else of vital importance a few weeks later.
It is his job to protect. It was his job to protect her and all she stood for. He failed, and if he had stuck around he would have kept failing because all he would have been able to think about would be the feel of her skin on his and the sound of her whispers in his ears.
He knows it. He knows he will never again be able to hold Caitlin the way he wants to, and he knows that she probably doesn’t want him to anyhow.
Doesn’t mean he never looks back. He spends a great deal of time looking back.
What would have happened if he had kept her home that night? If he had taken her in that ball gown and danced her around her apartment, before tearing it off of her and feasting on her flesh once more? What would have happened if he had taken her hand in his and pulled her onto the back of his bike and driven them both far away from it all?
Would she be clear skinned and free of pain? Would they be married? Divorced? No longer "dating," or desperately in love? He pictures them in the large apartment he owns in Israel, watching from the balcony as the people move about their daily lives below. Her hand is wrapped around his, which is pressed against her swollen, child heavy stomach. Her hair is thick and fragrant against his face, and he presses kisses to the backs of her ears.
A pipe dream, he knows, but a nice one. Her breathing in Israeli air and him breathing in her. Not asking a lot, ostensibly, but asking for the moon on a platter in reality.
He wonders if she ever has dreams like that-- realities thought up based on their past together. Does she think about him at all? Or is he just another… experience? Just another necklace in her jewelry box?
Did she keep the amber? God, did she keep it? He has the sudden need to know; an urge that fills him with curiosity and desperation, but he knows that this is not the kind of thing he can ask Gibbs without inciting both further curiosity into his true relationship with Caitlin, and the aforementioned woman’s wrath.
He made a promise; more of a threat actually. She stays safe and out of trouble, Gibbs stays knowledge free. They stay safe and breathing, he stays alive and without her hands wrapped around his throat.
But… did she keep it? Does she ever wear it and if she does, does she think of him when it warms her skin? Does she remember the look in his eyes when he gave it to her or does she choose to forget?
He’d searched for that necklace for hours on end-- in search of something perfect and beautiful and clean; something untouched by the blood of his work or the dirt of the men he worked with. The amber had glowed with an inner, purifying flame when he had seen it, and he had bought it on the spot.
It looked beautiful on her, he remembers. It probably still does. For a moment, he lets himself act like the ex-boyfriend he truly is, and shoots a jealous look at the now dozing Gibbs. Does he bring you jewelry?
He read up on Agent Gibbs before undertaking the NCIS op in the morgue. Read about his three ex-wives and his Marine training. Ari Haswari is willing to bet that he has never given a woman a piece of jewelry in his life, and that he has no desire to either.
He could never make you happy the way I could, he argues silently in his head, wishing there was a way to say these words to Caitlin. I could worship you for hours. What can he give you? Late nights, paper work, hard cases, wounds, bullet casings, a bad attitude, and then a nap on the morgue tables to end the evening? He shakes his head angrily. I could give you so much more.
And as much as he wants to believe it, as much as he loves the idea of being able to best Jethro Gibbs in Caitlin’s eyes, he knows that he can’t. Because he really can’t offer her more than Gibbs, and even if he had the means to do it, he does not have the ability.
Gibbs gives her late nights, paper work, hard cases, wounds, bullet casings, a bad attitude, and then a nap on a morgue table.
Ari (if he still lives inside of this new creature) could give her a life full of late nights wondering if he’s still alive. Of pain, of worry, of fear. He could give her bombs blowing up in the street across from their children’s school and Starbucks that explode when you step into them in the morning. He could give her an Israeli sunset, bathed in blood and agony, and she would take it because that is the kind of woman she is. Strong. Loyal.
And because he knows that she would take it-- knows that she would stay by his side and suffer it all-- there is nothing more important in the world to him than making sure it never happens.
There will never be a time that she has to lose something to be with him. She has lost too much already because of him. Because of his failures as a man and an agent. Because of his love for her and his desire to be near her all the time in every which way he can.
He can’t offer her more than Gibbs. He can’t. Because all of the necklaces in the world don’t equal what she has right now, and Ari would never want them to.
She may be in a dangerous job with dangerous people, but she has Gibbs there to watch her back. And with his schedule and his uncertain living/dead status on any given day, that is ten times more than Ari could ever give.
What Gibbs said earlier was true, he realizes, and hates the older man for it at the same time as feeling a strange sort of connection to him. Protection. He made sure she stayed behind because he doesn’t want her hurt. That’s why he does everything he does when he’s near her. That’s why two years ago he gave her up; gave her to Gibbs in a brief moment in a darkened apartment. To keep her safe.
Because bastard he may be, asshole he may act-- Gibbs can protect Caitlin better than Ari could ever dream. He can offer her full time supervision and love, full time attention in place of Ari’s “sometimes” devotion.
What is a necklace compared to that? What is he compared to that?
Which is fine. Which is good. He need to be nothing. He needs to be her enemy and he needs to have her maintain that look of hatred in her eyes anytime she sees him. Because the first time she looks at him like the hot blooded, flesh and blood man he is, he is going to throw all of his logic and all of his good intentions to the wind and pounce on her. And when he’s done with her, she will never ever want to go back to Jethro Gibbs and his protection.
Ari Haswari sighs in his seat, scrubs his hands over his face, and settles back further. There are not enough hours in the day for him to think on this and find closure. He’s not sure he even wants to-- does closure mean forgetting? He doesn’t want to forget; every second he had Caitlin in his arms was a wonderful one, and to risk losing one of the good memories along with the bad scares him.
He doesn’t want to lose the memory of lying on her couch with her clever hands touching him at his most vulnerable, and helping instead of hurting. He doesn’t want to lose the memory of her hair caught on fire by the sun behind her that first day in the bistro. He doesn’t want to lose the image of her head tilted back, neck corded and pale as she cried out in the release that his hands and his touch had granted her.
If he loses the bad memories, will his grip on the good slip as well? Will there be massive holes in his memories of her, or will he just lose the bite of sour reality that accompanied some of them?
He has too many questions and too few answers. Hell, he’s not even quite sure who he’d get the answers from. Is there a relationship book for spies and the women they loved and left? He should write one, make millions, and spend none of it on amber necklaces.
Maybe someday he’ll get over it . Maybe someday, he might even be blessed enough to find another woman like Caitlin, who can see past his shell and into the crack; who can pull Ari out of Haswari and make him feel peaceful again. Perhaps she’ll hold him close to her heart and play with his hair.
He hopes so, deep down. He prays so. Because the idea that Caitlin-- one of a kind Caitlin-- might truly be one of a kind in his life frightens him just a little bit. Makes him worry and think about dying alone and unloved in bed, a life time spy with nothing to show for it but torture scars and fond memories of women he bedded and abandoned, but never really loved.
He doesn’t want that. He wants to leave a name behind-- a family. He wants to see Israel as a violence free state during his lifetime. He wants to have a home that is more than a house and he wants people to live in it with him.
He thought, originally, that maybe one of those people could have been Caitlin. He knows better now.
His relationship with Caitlin never would have worked out. If he had met her today, with the knowledge he gathered during the past two years under his belt, it might have had a chance. But at the time and place that they found each other, they were doomed.
He, who had never known the touch of a real, loving woman, and she who made men want to touch her. He fell so hard and so fast because he was a first timer-- a virgin in the ways of loving a woman with your heart for her being and not just to fulfill a purpose. She had taken him in, shown him a kind and loving word, and there was nothing he could do but tumble into her arms and into her bed and into her heart.
She had too many secrets for there to be enough room for him. Caitlin, despite all she keeps to herself, is an inherently honest person, and keeping big bad secrets isn’t what she’s best at. Keeping their relationship a secret was a major concern for her, not just because of the target it would have made her, but because of what it would have made her to her boss and her friends.
He had sealed his own death warrant that day that he had slipped into the body bag and taken Ducky and Gerald as his hostages. Their relationship was doomed before it even began, and if he had been thinking with the clarity he has today, he would have known that back then. Before he approached her in that café, before he kissed her in the kitchen; his fate and hers, their collective status as a “we” had already been compromised and decided.
They were dead in the water before they even started moving.
It did teach him, however. All of those things that he needed to know and all of those things he never knew were so important; how to love and be loved in return. How to hold someone. How to let them hold you. These were the lessons that Kate taught him, these were his tutorials in the ways of love and affection. He had no Kama Sutra and he needed no pointers in bed (God knows, he had had enough fucks to know how to do it right), but outside of the sheets, in the rest of the house and in the other parts of a relationship, he was desperately ignorant.
He hadn’t known what he was missing until he met Caitlin. When he had kissed her that day, with her sitting naked on the counter while he tried not to ogle her (oh so much skin), he had felt the world reveal a new secret: a new place to explore. When she had taken him into her bed that night he came to her and held him until morning, he had learned first hand the bond that came with sharing a sleep space with someone. There is more intimacy, in his opinion, in two people sharing a bed and holding each other together with their very presences, than in all the sex in the world.
Caitlin taught him how to make love as opposed to just having sex. As opposed to fucking. There was love in every stroke of him against her, and relishes the memory of that first time now. Of Ari’s first “first time.”
It was a memorable, touching, loving experience that he wouldn’t want to forget for anything. That he clings to with both hands and a chain, fearful that it will slip out of his head one morning without warning and that suddenly he won’t remember what she feels like or how she sounds when she comes. He is afraid that the memory of her touch on his body will be lost to “closure,” and for that reason he fights against it with all of his being.
He doesn’t want to forget and he doesn’t want to come to terms with it if that’s what it means. If he has to blank his mind of all of his experiences with her; lose all of that joy, then he would rather be haunted eternally by the ghost of him and her than have one moment of being at peace with it. Let her spirit flit in and out of his heart and soul-- it is so much better than the alternative. So much better than… not having that poltergeist of his past following him around and making him see things differently.
Which is why he will never come to terms with it if he has his way. Which is why he is just fine with that, all things considered. Just fine, he tells himself fiercely, and balls his fists up as they begin to descend from their safe zone in the sky.
It hurts, but it hurts so good.
There is beauty in the pain, and pain in the beauty, and the whole experience has been reduced to a handful of bittersweet memories from once upon a time, long ago. Their moment was brief, but it was pure and it was true, and that is more than he could ever have hoped for.
Tony glances over at Haswari as they load into their car. “Where are we staying?”
“On base,” Haswari answers roughly. “There are quarters set up for you both, and the base has been informed that it is to provide it’s full cooperation and answer any question you might feel the need to ask.”
Gibbs closes the trunk. “You’re not staying on base?”
“I have other matters to attend to. There are people I must see about Mahmed and drawing out his buying period for as long as possible. I will meet up with you tomorrow.” He shoves his hands in his leather jacket and shrugs. “This, I can not help. But I have full confidence in your ability to annoy people until they provide you with information. Go forth and do what you have to do.” He nods to the driver, and turns to walk back into the airport.
“How do we contact you if we need to?” Tony calls out, and Haswari waves a hand dismissively, not turning around.
“I will get in touch with you.”
He vanishes into the crowd. Tony glances over at Gibbs. “Is it just me, or is he hiding something?”
“He’s a Mossad agent, Tony. His whole life is hiding something. Get in the car.”
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