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What You See

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"I'm sorry, Ellie. When I saw you with Richard, I got a bit..."

"... Overprotective?"

Jealous.

"--Yeah." Choking a bit on the following words, "You're like a--you're like a sister to me." That's a lie. I have never EVER entertained thoughts like those I have, I've had about you for any member of my family, Ellie. That would be disgusting and wrong. But with you, it feels right.

But Nick Torres chickens out, he doesn't say that. He never says anything about the way he really feels for Eleanor Bishop, or how he feels about her. He'd gotten all defensive with Palmer, and he's done so much stupid stuff. Like how he'd laughed at her insecurities about herself. He does things so wrong, every time, when all he wants is to be able to tug this woman into his arms and tell her how strong she is, and smart, and a little crazy, but he likes that. Just like he likes how she always sits on her desk criss-cross and how she gets so excited over snacks and how she bites her lower lip when she's worried or thinking hard, but what he likes best is the way her whole face lights up when she smiles. Yeah. Go for it, Torres, tell her.

Tell Ellie everything, since everyone else already knows.

McGee gives him knowing looks sometimes and Gibbs knows everything that happens in the office. Probably in the building. He's got a sixth sense, that guy. More like a seventh. And Jack, forget Jack and all her psycho psychologist stuff. She definitely knows something, even though he'd done his best work to throw her off. Palmer is clueless, but Nick forgives him for everything except the fact that he said he and Ellie have zero chemistry, which is a lie. An incredible lie, come on! What does he see? What does everyone else see?

A lump comes into Nick's throat as Ellie offers to buy him a burger. Her treat, while she's wearing that soft smile he loves. What does she see? In him, in herself, in their relationship?

And is it enough for her?

Chapter Text

Never get romantically involved with a co-worker.

Ellie Bishop has already broken that rule. Twice, if one counts the fact that she met Jake in her work at NSA, but still, who's counting? Especially since Tony and Ziva broke the rule too, right? And from a couple of gossipy comments made by McGee, so did Gibbs. (Her fellow agent and friend instantly swore her to secrecy after mentioning that). But she wonders about it, all of it.

Especially since her interactions with Gibbs over the tenth rule. Never get personally involved in a case. But personal involvement helps, or it can - certainly had done for Casey last week, provided her with even more dogged determination. So what's the harm in not following a couple of rules?

But no, rules are there for a reason. Besides that one was burned, which lends more to the allowance, even though yet another rule says it's better to ask forgiveness than permission, and oh yeah-- apologies are a sign of weakness.

What is with Gibbs and his rules? Bishop is starting to believe he has made quite a few ... mistakes that he doesn't want anyone else to repeat. Fair enough, but making mistakes is how you learn. She winces though as her mind asks the pointed question: so the way I feel about Nick is a mistake, then?

Sighing to herself and shaking her head, Ellie bites her lip and glances over at him as they wait for the elevator. His solid, alert stance, deep eyes flickering around, always on alert. She loves his eyes, how quickly they flick through expressions, and yet his face only ever hardens or breaks into a smirk. She lives for those real toothy smiles, the ones she's seen a couple of times, and will never forget the relaxation Nick moved with when he danced. Catches herself imagining what would've happened if she'd stood up and moved with him. But no; awkward Ellie Bishop? He'd laughed at her insecurities over being known as "Scarecrow". What if he laughs when she admits how she feels? Or worse, if he doesn't, they'll have to figure out what to do, and that's downright scary.

Ellie has already gone through two serious relationships and both have failed. Even though the failure with Kasim was physically out of her control, she is the common denominator, and can't help clamming up because of that. She can't bear for what she has with Nick to fail.

She cares about him too much.