A RULE FOR EVERYTHING.

NCIS Squad Room.

"I don't believe it!"
"What is it Tony?" McGee enquires glancing over at his colleague.
"I don't quite know how to explain it. Have you checked the interdepartmental email today?"
"Not yet."
"Well do so. Right now."
"O.K." With a few mouse clicks Tim opens and begins to read his email. A few minutes later he lets out a gasp. "This can't really be happening can it? I mean after the last time I thought..."
"Yeah, probie. I know what you mean."
"Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Have you read your email yet guys?" Abby enters and begins to pace back and forth in front of their desks.
"Yes but why were you reading the list of personnel authorized..."
"I clicked on the wrong heading" she interrupts. "This can't be happening. I mean after the last time. It's just wrong."
"We know Abby but what can we do? This came from the top. Gibbs must have recommended it to the Director. We just have to accept it."
"Hmm. I'll start praying now then." She hugs them both before leaving. The guys chuckle a little with embarrassment at their reactions then get back to work. After all there was nothing they could do except wait and see what happened next.

A Crime Scene. Later That Week.

"Remind me again Ziva why we are in this godforsaken cabin in the middle of nowhere and why I am the one searching this disgusting mess for shell casings?" DiNozzo moans poking disgustedly through some vomit with a latex encased finger.
"You know perfectly well why DiNozzo." Ziva grins at him then continues to snap off some more photos of the scene.
"Well sure Officer David I do know that the death of this lieutenant is probably tied in with that case from almost a year ago that had to be dropped as the lawyers said there was not enough evidence to proceed. I also know..." He lowers his voice. "That he became a totally obsessed and kept working it in his own time until all avenues were exhausted."
"So why are you whining then?" She shoots him an irritated glance.
"Why did I get the vomit? I mean I am still the senior field agent after all."
"Because it was my case when you were away at that conference and Gibbs was on hiatus. That means it's still my case and you follow my lead now." McGee barks as he enters the room. "Next there's the bags of garbage out the back to be gone through. "
"What is this probie payback?" DiNozzo moans heading towards the door. Ziva smiles as he passes her.
"Wait!" DiNozzo turns back. "Ziva you can go through the garbage now you're done with photos."
"Me?"
"You shouldn't have smiled. Tony you can go and interview the sheriff."
"Thanks Boss." They both hurriedly exit the room.

Outside The Cabin. A Few Minutes Later.

"So that is all I know Special Agent DiNozzo."
"I will probably want to talk to the men who found the body. You say they are longtime friends of the deceased?"
"No. I wouldn't say that exactly. They knew him is all."
"Might they have had a reason to want him dead?"
"Well I wouldn't say that exactly."
"What would you say then Sheriff?"
"Tom had a problem with Simpson shooting on his property and there was some talk of the lieutenant being a little too friendly with Darren's girlfriend at the diner in town and..."
"I get the picture. Where are they?"
"I told them all to stay together at the diner. Didn't want them getting in the way up here."
"Thanks Sheriff." DiNozzo turns and begins to walk back to the cabin but meets Tim coming out.
"It seems like the locals who found the body had no reason to like our Lieutenant Simpson. The sheriff sent them down to the diner."
"He sent them away?"
DiNozzo sighs. "At least they're all in one place. Shall I head down and interview them?"
"Good idea. Then come back here and help Ziva finish processing the cabin. Hopefully Ducky will have arrived by then."
"How come he's not here yet? Did Jimmy get lost again?"
"No. He was flying back from that medical examiners meeting and Palmer had to collect him from the airport first before heading here.I'm going back to the Navy Yard now so you and Ziva will have to bring the van back."

The Cabin. Some Time Later Still.

"All done. Let's get out of here."
"I couldn't agree more Officer David." She walks out as DiNozzo finishes packing up his gear. "See you back at the yard Doc." He walks outside to find Ziva glaring at the medical examiners van that is parked so that it almost blocking the case response truck from leaving.
"What was Palmer thinking parking that close and at that angle?" Ziva exclaims angrily.
"Probably too distracted by thoughts of Agent Lee. You know what he's been like since they got together. I'll just go get the keys and move it." He puts his gear down and starts to turn around.
"No."
"No? But Ziva there is no way you'll get through that gap."
"Won't I?'' Her eyes gleam mischievously.
"But .But. But." Tony stutters.
"Oh stop whining Tony. Let's go." He grabs his gear and they both climb into the truck. DiNozzo makes sure to fasten his seat-belt.
"Here goes." Tony closes his eyes as Ziva begins to reverse. A couple of moments later she lets out a
triumphant yell. "Yes!" Tony opens his eyes as she turns the truck towards the road from the cabin and begins to accelerate. "Well done Officer David. Now just take it easy on the corners and we'll be home in no time."
"Oh do shut up DiNozzo." She begins to increase her speed.
"Ziva!"
"I know what I'm doing." She continues to hurtle around the curves at an alarming pace as Tony tries to decide if it is worse with his eyes open or closed. Suddenly there is a screeching of tyres as the truck misses a corner crashing through a barricade then flipping and coming to a stop upside down and smashed into a tree.

Abby's Lab. Approx. An Hour Later. Her phone starts to ring.

She flips open her mobile. "You've reached the wonderful world of LAbby. Speak."
"Ab..way home..Tony and Ziva..terrible terrible..."
"Palmer? Is that you? What's going on?"
"accident...winding road...speed...Ziva drives...luck...all dead."
"DEAD!" she yells as the phone connection drops out. Furiously hitting buttons to end the call and call him back she rushes from the lab up to the squad room with the dial tone sounding like a taunt in her ear and her boots thumping on the stairs echoing the pounding of her heart.

NCIS Squad Room.

Gibbs hangs up the phone as Abby enters.
"What's going on? Palmer was saying something about Tony and Ziva being dead but the phone reception was lousy and he kept dropping out and now he's not answering and..."
"It's O.K. Abby." Gibbs stands up from his desk and places his hands on her shoulders. "Ducky says everyone at the scene heard the crash and started down the road to find out what happened. When they got there Ziva had already used her knife to cut them free and pulled DiNozzo clear of the truck and up to the road. She's a bit bruised and has some cuts from the broken windshield but otherwise she'll be fine."
"And Tony?"
"He was unconscious and it appears he took a pretty bad knock to the head so..."
"Oh!"
"The sheriff arranged for him to be choppered to the nearest hospital for tests and Ducky went with him. Jimmy is driving Ziva there to be checked out too."
"But he's going to be O.K. right Gibbs?" She asks anxiously.
"We won't know more until after the tests."
"But why did Jimmy say something about luck and that they were dead?"
"I guess he was trying to say it might have been worse and we're lucky because they could all be dead. Now back to work. "
"Hm." She smiles a little shakily and hugs him before leaving.

McGee's phone rings. "Agent McGee." He listens a moment. "O.K." He hangs up. "The Lieutenant's CO is downstairs. I'll bring him up and put him in Interrogation. I did not get much of a rapport going with him during the last investigation but I'm sure he's hiding something so I want you to do the interview this time while I observe." Gibbs just stares at him. McGee shuffles his feet nervously."On it Boss." Gibbs snaps and as he turns away he notices the pleased grin on Tim's face.

NCIS Interrogation. A Short Time Later.

"You've no proof of that Agent Gibbs." Gibbs just stares at him. "Agent McGee had no proof last time and you have no proof now." Gibbs still stares. "All you have is a theory, a possible scenario of how things might have happened but no proof. No hairs, no fibers, no blood, no computer records, DNA, fingerprints, surveillance footage. Nothing. My alibi is rock solid. I logged out of the computer system at work at precisely six thirty and was home about an hour later. My wife had made my favorite meal of roast chicken with all the trimmings. We ate, cleaned up and watched Master and Commander before turning in for the night. Your agents verified all this with my wife. You have nothing and yet you still persist in this ridiculous charade and drag me down here again and again to interview me."
"You're wrong."
"I'm wrong?"
"I do have something."
"What?"
"My gut."
"Your gut Agent Gibbs?" the suspect queries looking as if he believes the agent opposite him has completely lost his mind. "Your gut!" He yells. "And for that you disrupt my life? NCIS visits me at work, at home at my golf course. Interviews my colleagues, friends, wife, ex-girlfriends and you have the..."

His tirade is interrupted by the door swinging open as Abby bursts into the room. "Gibbs, oh Gibbs!" He rises from the chair and grabbing her arm drags her back into the coridoor and slams the door behind him. "Abs!" He glares at her. "You know better than this. What is it?"
"Sorry. I thought you'd want to know right away. Ducky just called. Tony's woken up and he's going to be fine. They'll keep him overnight for observation but he's going to be fine. Fine." She informs him bouncing up and down with joy.
"Good."
"Forgive the interruption?" She asks cheekily.
"Sure". She hugs him and he returns to the interview.

The Hospital. Several Hours Later. Tony is sitting up in bed with Ziva seated beside him.

"You didn't have to stay. You could've got a ride back with Ducky and Jimmy."
"I wanted to. I wanted to make sure you're really O.K."
"Would you like to join me and see how fine I am?" He gives her a weak attempt at his usual suggestive grin.
"Tony! I guess you are fine. Anyway, I also wanted to say..that is...I at..and I should.."
"Don't!" Instinctively he knows that she is trying to apologize but even though he had cause he didn't want her feeling guilty on his account. He was going to be fine and right now that was all that mattered. "These are dangerous jobs Ziva and bad things happen..." An image of Kate smiling as she was shot flitters across his mind and he impatiently shakes his head as if to shake the image away. "We just have to make the most of every moment."
"You are starting to sound like a greeting card." She smiles.
"It's the drugs."
"You should get some sleep now."
He closes his eyes and murmurs something she can't quite catch. She leans into the bed. "What?"
"Stay with me Ziva. Stay."
"I will stay. I will stay right here." His only response is a gentle snore.

Watching him lying there as the clock ticks through the hours she wishes he had let her say sorry. She was sorry even though she knew it would not change how she drove in the future. How she drove was just who she was. The reason behind it a secret that no-one not Jenny, Gibbs, McGee, Abby or even Tony would ever know. Though perhaps after this DiNozzo did deserve to know. She'd told Ducky late one night in Autopsy over a pot of tea. He'd noticed her reaction when she'd come upon him conducting an autopsy for three men who'd died in a training accident when their tank had somehow run over some unexploded ordinance. Fortunately the ordinance was decades old so the impact was not as bad as it could have been and there were still body parts available to be examined and identified.

She'd sat sipping tea as Ducky coaxed from her the memories that the autopsy had brought up from the innermost reaches of her mind. She'd seen a good friend die. His car hit and exploding several meters away from her and there had been nothing she could do to help him. Quite often she saw that car over and over in her dreams forcing out happier memories of his smile, his jokes. Time spent together complaining over work or relaxing over a meal with his was why she always drove so fast. A moving target is so much harder to hit. She starts to doze.

The Hospital. The Next Day.

"DiNozzo."
"Yes Boss."
"I did not give you permission to be sick." It was a relief to see with his own eyes that his agent really was fine.
"Are you trying to say you need me Boss?"
"To fill out an incident report."
"Oh."
"For now just tell me. Ziva you first."
"I was driving and I must have been going too fast you see it had been such a long day and the medical examiner's van had been parked..."
"It was my fault Boss."
"Your fault?"
"I'm the senior field agent. Everything is my responsibility. I should have seen that Officer David was tired and in no fit state to drive. I should've insisted she let me."
"But Tony I was..."
"No, Ziva I..."
"Hey! I spoke with the doctors and you're both cleared to go home. Sort out the discharge paperwork and I'll see you in the parking lot."
"On it Boss." He leaves as they start to get their things together.
"Thanks for that Tony."
"Hey. You're my partner. I'll always have your back. I'm just going to insist that I drive from now on." He grins.

As Gibbs makes his way through the front doors and out into the parking lot he thinks that really when it came down to it this accident was his fault. He knew how frustrated Ziva had been since the Director had ordered her not to drive so he had recommended to Jenny that she be placed back on the list of personnel authorized to drive an official NCIS vehicle.

NCIS Squad Room. A Week Later. DiNozzo, David and McGee are eating Chinese at their desks.

"Congratulations McLeader. Quite a successful conclusion to the case even after the disastrous beginning when you got everything wrong."
"Everything?"
"Well this new case had nothing to do with your old one and nothing to do with the lieutenant's work which was your favorite initial theory."
"True but then I did get Darren to confess to confronting the lieutenant about the affair with his girlfriend that had led to her becoming pregnant and how that argument developed into a fight that got out of control."
"Yeah that was a good interrogation probie."
"Thanks Tony but it really was a team effort you know. You guys found the evidence that placed him at the scene."
"And we even got a bonus bad guy and solved your previous case too."
"But that really was more by luck than any effort on our part. If the CO's wife had not discovered he was having an affair she would not have admitted to us that his whole alibi was a lie."
"Don't forget she also told us where the location of that second safe was that contained those documents."
"Yes we were quite lucky with this case. Maybe Abby's prayers had some affect. After all that accident might have been much more serious."
"I think you're exaggerating Ziva."
"No,Tony I am not. What if you had been more seriously hurt? Or I was? Or if I was unable to cut you free? Or the gas tank exploded?"
Tony has turned a little pale. "Thank you again for rescuing me then."
"You're welcome but you really should be thanking Gibbs. His rules. That's why I had my knife."
DiNozzo raises his drink can. "Then I propose a toast." The others raise theirs. "To Gibbs' Rules."
"Gibbs' Rules" Ziva and Tim echo simultaneously and a gruff voice chimes in from behind Tony "That I do."

Rule 51 - Sometimes you're wrong
and
Rules 1 & 3 (both),2,4,6,7,8,9,11,12,13,15,18,22 & 38.

Thank You for reading the final story in the Gibbs' Rules Series. It is time for the muse to rest its weary head on a soft pillow and for the author's pen to move on to a clean piece of paper or more accurately to a blinking cursor on computer monitor. Thanks for all the reviews and I hope you continue to enjoy my future scribblings and 'back catalogue'. Gail.