There are riots outside Tel Aviv. It’s not an impossible extraction, just a bit of a headache, and this mission is packed up pretty, so Jane and Ethan are holed up in a hotel room on the quiet side of town with what actually turned out to be excellent kebabs and sweet, pistachio-filled pastries the size of dinner plates. They’re sitting on the floor with the food, still in most of their suits, Jane’s back against the bed and Ethan’s against the wall, legs stretched out.
“I always forget how I feel about lamb until it’s on my tongue,” Jane says.
“And how do you feel about lamb?”
“Passionately,” Jane purrs, and Ethan laughs. It pulls at the cut on his cheek, and for a brief moment he regrets their decision to do food before surgery, but it’s only a moment, and the pleasant full feeling and the sweetness of the pastries pulls him out of it.
“It’s good to see you smiling,” he says, and just like that, Jane’s smile disappears.
She pulls pistachios out of her pastry. “Well, maybe I don’t have much to smile about these days.”
“You have lamb,” he says, “and me.”
She smiles. Rolls her eyes. “Yes, Ethan, I do have you. And I know if anyone will understand my frowns, it’s you.”
“I do,” he says softly.
They meet eyes for a moment, but it’s too much to stand for more than a second. Jane eats pistachios, and Ethan carefully plucks the nuts from his pastry and hands those to her, too. She smiles, eats a handful, and then pinches one between her thumb and forefinger. She mimes a toss.
“Catch,” she says, and Ethan opens his mouth as she launches the pistachio at him. He catches it easily, a snap of white teeth, a grin as he’s chewing. Jane laughs. Sometimes, she looks at Ethan, and he looks like he’s fifteen years old with none of this behind him. It makes her think maybe there’s hope for her.
The pastries are crumbs; the kebabs are greasy sticks stuffed into the takeout bag. Jane stands, stripping off her suit coat and throwing it on the near bed on her way to the bathroom.
“Time for the fun stuff,” she says, collecting the first aid supplies. “Heads or tails?”
“There’s, uh, nothing wrong with my tail, Miss Carter.”
She rolls her eyes. “I’m trying to figure out who goes first, Ethan.”
“Strip above the waist and sit on the bed.”
Ethan complies. Jane sits beside him with the first aid supplies, her mouth twisting and her eyes narrowing as she looks over his injuries, trying to decide where to begin. She opts for the cuts on his face, gently washing the wounds with a washcloth soaked in warm, soapy water. He doesn’t flinch and he doesn’t move, until she—without thinking—slides her fingers through his hair to get a better grip on him, to angle his face the way she wants it. Ethan’s eyes squeeze closed, and he exhales one long, slow breath, and Jane feels herself flush a little, but then she relaxes, just as fast. It’s just Ethan. She trusts him with her life, the same way he trusts her with his, and neither of them want anything the other isn’t willing to give. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how long your teammates go without being touched in a way that isn’t meant to harm. You get hungry for it. She does, too. So she keeps her fingers in his hair, the back of his skull cradled in her palm, as she patches up the wounds on his face, and when she’s finished, she leans in and kisses the spot between his eyebrows, drawing in close, drawing him against her.
“I’ll get your ribs in a second,” she says. “Let’s just rest for a minute.”
He lets his head fall to her shoulder, and she feels his breath moving his chest, the warmth of his skin along hers. It’s nice, the contact, and knowing he doesn’t want any more from her than this.
She doesn’t, either.