Title: The Exception
Crossover: Grey's Anatomy/NCIS
Pairing: Addison Montgomery/Ziva David
Word count: 3,800 or 100 x 38
Summary: Not the story of how Addison Montgomery met Ziva David, but the story of everything that came after.
Author's Notes: The (companion) story to "Asleep" as told in a series of 38 drabbles. Drabbles are defined here as 100-word stories.
AN II: I'm all about the constructive criticism. Hit me with what ya got.
Disclaimer: I don't own either the recognizable characters from Grey's Anatomy or any characters recognizable as being from NCIS. They are the property of their respective producers, writers, and studios, not me. No copyright infringement was intended and no money was made in the writing or distribution of this story. It was good, clean fun.
To make one answerable for doing evil to others is the rule; to make him answerable for not preventing evil, is, comparatively speaking, the exception. –John Stuart Mill
Somewhere in between the times Addison fell in love with her, she fell in love with him. Or, at least, she fell in love with the picture he painted with his words and all his good intentions. She fell in love with the man she thought he was and she got burned.
The cure for those burns was the daughter she hadn't been sure she wanted by then. Yet, there she was. With her came a dozen more of life's twists and turns, which eventually brought her back to where she'd started: trapped with a mysterious woman and her gun.
Ziva had fallen for the protectee in an investigation once. He had been wonderful for the hours that she'd known him. Had he been invincible, she thought that relationship would have been perfect.
He hadn't been invincible; neither was Addison.
Although she was of strong body and unbreakable spirit, she had vulnerabilities. The child she doted on was a precious mark and her unbridled trust in NCIS—particularly Ziva—to protect her was more bewildering than encouraging. She'd put her life in Ziva's hands, but Ziva wished that she would hesitate.
At least, to justify her own lack of faith.
Addison still had nightmares about the gunmen. Nearly three years after the incident that had brought Ziva David crashing into her townhouse and into her life, she felt the cool touch of gunmetal pressed against her throat when there was nothing there.
The shadows were her friends now, where she ducked with her daughter tucked into her chest and her eyes squeezed shut in a juvenile game of I'm Not Here. Her enemy was humanity, all because she'd lived when they wanted her to die.
All because she'd lived after Ziva had saved her.
Maybe she could save her again.
They weren't the U.S. Marshal Service. They didn't relocate federal witnesses and guide them into new lives. At best, they temporarily protected the old ones; at worst, they escorted them from the courtroom to the grave.
Ziva could not sleep when she thought of the worst. This situation had come about due to her intrusion three years ago. Had she sought refuge elsewhere, Addison would be safe now.
But she wasn't safe. Crammed into a cheap room, hip-to-hip with the source of danger, she wasn't safe at all.
Ziva feared that the worst may yet be the best case scenario.
Addison fell asleep with her hand on her daughter's belly and her eyes on the Mossad agent's gun.
Not because she feared her, but because she would know that danger had arrived by how quickly her experienced hands flew to it.
She'd come to trust what those hands could do; nurturing or terrifying, what they wrought would be done with absolute skill. And if they wrought death, she would live with it.
As a doctor, every life was precious. But, as a mother, one was more so than others.
She trusted those hands to understand, and that woman to decide.
Ziva knew she couldn't live the rest of her life in fear. It was a pipe dream to think that they would eliminate the threat soon and time was so short when there were children to consider.
Addison was not invincible, but Addison would not be cowed. She wanted her life back and life for her child. She would charm every being that could be charmed to get it, and Ziva was not immune.
By the time her gut complained, she had already set the trap.
By the end, she was no longer sure who exactly had been its target.
She did not believe that living people looked this way.
She'd seen them, yes, with tubes attached and fluids seeping into them as life's blood. She'd seen them and seen them survive, but she'd never counted them as people.
They'd always been vessels in her mind, containers for whatever gave man life and took it away in sickness and in death. That, she believed.
It was less taxing to think that the Addison she knew, the Addison who loved, had fled the ordeal before registering the damage. It would've been painless, she thought, if the face were not so beautiful.
She was distracted by the peaceful crooning from beside her on the bed.
She could not see and she was too cold to derive much by touch, but her senses of sound and smell were alive. She smelt, first, the acrid residue of gunpowder, sweat and shampoo. Then, the scent that pervaded all of her life these days: baby powder and soft, clean baby hair.
She couldn't open her eyes yet, she was too tired for that, but she could smell and she could listen.
Ziva sang and, though her voice was not perfect, it lulled Addison back to sleep.
Addison had learned to sleep with her weapon wedged against her back.
Its wavy hair tickled her neck and, sometimes, its skin was too warm for the summer heat. Still, it never shifted away in discomfort. It was constant and quiet, always vigilant. (Save for the haunted words in Arabic it whispered during sleep.)
At times, it sprang from the bed with little more than a "Shush" and disappeared out of the door. When it returned, its weapon smoked and its face was red.
Ziva was a deadly weapon that never wavered—and that Addison could no longer sleep without.
She nearly died on the couch of her home, Ziva recalled of the first time she encountered Addison Montgomery. She had been as lovely then, if sadder. She had been secure in her life with her troubles before Ziva had brought her a fresh set of an entirely different kind.
She remembered holding an expensive scarf to the bullet wound as a weakening Addison instructed her on first aid. Ziva was Mossad, she could field dress an amputation blind, yet she had listened to her as she began to fade away.
She had been weak then; she was stronger now.
Something about the forty-eight hours they had shared once upon a time had changed Addison into someone else. Sitting at the end of her temporary couch in her temporary home with her feet in the lap of an international woman of mystery, she didn't recognize herself. Being sequestered—imprisoned, stranded—with Ziva David had been a slow lesson in bloodshed once.
She forgave her for that.
Addison hoped that one day the faith she showed would be understood for what it was: Gratitude. Without that lesson, she wouldn't be the woman she was today.
For that, she owed Ziva everything.
How they'd come to be in this position, she could not say, but she made no move to leave.
Ziva had cooked. It had been a natural instinct when confronted with groceries. She had taken to it without comment or complaint and prepared a meal fit for a family—all with Addison watching curiously over her shoulder.
Movement for movement, she had followed her. It was inevitable that their paths should cross in the compact kitchen. It was inevitable and, yet, she was momentarily stunned at their proximity.
Addison let out a deep breath while Ziva could not remember how.
Food didn't burn when Ziva was nearby. It hummed as if in want of her praise. She stirred it and it sang.
Addison didn't touch, afraid of harming that balance. This wasn't her domain. She cared for things outside the kitchen, but she still wouldn't leave.
She was curious about the picture painting itself on reality nowadays. A woman she'd known in passing had become a woman who'd die for her, kill for her, even cook for her. She was a little infatuated with the very idea of her.
At least, that was how she justified her lack of distance.
Ziva had Addison set out the plates when she could no longer tolerate her eyes. She was competent at work and play—even with an audience—but not this audience. Addison watched with bold intent and her expression was never lax. Ziva could slip up, she could fail, only never when she watched.
They would have dinner on the floor as Addison had insisted. They were 'not the Cleavers,' she had said. They were certainly not—whoever they were—and Ziva had listened.
They would eat on the floor and Ziva would try not to be caught by her eyes.
The Mossad agent with a wooden spoon, who cooked on bare feet, was her closest companion and if—when this ended, would be the one she'd truly miss.
Her toes curled into the carpet as she sat on the floor. The tv was older than what she had at home, but the movie was older than her. That made all the difference.
Ziva sat beside her, fiddling with the baby monitor as the movie played. She was a master at multitasking, even if sometimes she forgot that one of her tasks was conversation.
Addison didn't mind. She was making memories.
Ziva adjusted the volume on the speaker. She heard the tranquil breathing of a child. There had been a time when she'd cared for the little girl alone. It had been brief but significant. She hesitated to say she loved her, but she was fond of her tiny laugh.
She was also fond of her mother.
The woman who always seemed too close was too close once again. She seemed content to view the film in silence and Ziva could only assent.
In the quiet, she memorized the peace of having Addison beside her.
She chiseled the moment in stone.
Addison was ashamed to say that she wanted to throw a party when they turned up dead. People who'd lived and breathed and undoubtedly had families, too—she was glad to see them go.
They had threatened all she loved and torn her away from all she'd known. She missed her best friend, Callie. She missed Grey's skinny ass and her ex-husband who loved that skinny ass. She missed her townhouse and she missed saving babies.
She missed not being attached to Mossad agents with deadly hands and soft hair.
She already missed Ziva and the woman was still there.
Ziva was rooted to the spot as Addison packed her daughter's diaper bag. There wasn't much to take. Of everything they'd given her, she had many things more beautiful at home.
Home had become so foreign a notion as to be her eighth language. She hadn't spent more than a night at her 'home' in months. Her existence had consisted of investigating cases by day and guarding the Montgomerys by night. Every night, she had come home to them and, in time, they had become home to her.
Now, home was leaving her and it was unsurprisingly hard to accept.
She didn't need to use words to invite Ziva in anymore. A look and a soft smile brought the younger woman to her side. It was heartbreakingly easy to pull her close as they peered into the crib at her slumbering baby.
This child had become a symbol of the hidden life they'd shared. She wielded her rattle like a tiny cudgel and had a fierce bite; yet, she still made to kiss the "boo-boo" when mama swore.
The nurturing soldier. Addison didn't have to wonder where she'd gotten that from.
She just wondered where she'd ever find it again.
"She is precious," Ziva said, because she needed one more opportunity to let her know. While she had never been a woman of effusive emotion, these two people, these women had thrown her headfirst into something she could not quantify. It had been overwhelming guilt. It had grown into grudging tolerance, and now resided somewhere in the realm of deep affection.
She had told a dozing Addison that she would die for her. She had not told her all of the other things she would do. They had been implied with that first promise.
And Ziva never took false vows.
Everyone was waiting for them when they arrived at the townhouse. Addison had overheard the suspicious racket spilling from underneath her door. They had never been good at anxious waiting, certainly no good at anxiously waiting quietly. They were steadily drinking and already drunk.
Her little girl tucked into her carrier, she unlocked her front door and went inside.
After a shocked instant, they swarmed her: hugs, kisses, exclamations. They'd missed her. The words were there and the actions matched. She believed.
She still clutched her Sarah close when she went to bed that night.
She had no weapon anymore.
Home was not what it had been, or where. Her apartment was sparse without the clutter of toddler toys or errant strands of auburn hair everywhere. They had not been here and Ziva had begun to feel that she shouldn't be either.
She began searching for some place new the night she moved back in.
She told herself that it was simply time, that with changing circumstances should come a change in space.
She also told herself to prepare dinner for two and a half that evening.
It was time for something, she thought: mostly for her to move on.
Addison's closest friend had become her cell-phone. She always kept it in reach, only powering it off during the hours she worked. She could be contacted by email, she could be paged. When she was off-duty, she could even be called.
She kept it on her just in case—just in case her gut sang and the hair stood up on her arms, just in case of goose bumps and a muzzle flash out of the corner of her eye.
Her fingers stayed perpetually poised over the number one:
She felt safer knowing she was just a dial away.
Ziva spent a favor on their safety. On her request, a fellow double agent drove by their house twice a day. If all was well, he'd carry on without more than a discreet text message to her phone. If there was anything worthy of concern, he'd put in a call to the local authorities, which triggered another text—this one far more urgent and far less discreet.
She'd attached a great price to their wellbeing, she was hardly concerned about what Gibbs would say if he found out the truth. She had surpassed lacking in objectivity. She was personally involved.
Addison had her first panic attack the one time she called for Ziva and she wasn't there.
She closed her eyes and took slow, deep breaths. This wasn't her. She didn't fall apart over love anymore.
She stopped suddenly, leaning back against the wall when her legs ceased to support her.
This is not love, she told herself. This is transference. She told herself that until her lips were chapped and her throat was dry.
When that failed, she told her baby that mommy wasn't in love.
She got rapped with a rattle for her lie.
Sarah was not impressed.
Ziva was not the most responsible driver on the best of days. Today had not been her best. Somehow, she'd left her phone on her desk when she went to interview a witness at Norfolk. Somehow, that took hours to do.
When she returned, she found a message from the number she had seared into her memory. They didn't answer when she called.
She was in the airport parking lot before she heard a groggy Addison and crying Sarah on the line.
The ringer was off. Colic.
It took all of her willpower not to get on the plane anyway.
Addison fell asleep with the phone in her hand. The last thing she'd heard was another of Ziva's stories about Israel. How she'd been a little girl torn between a tomboy nature and a culture that dictated that she behave modestly. Her family had devoured all she was, then. She didn't go into details, but Addison imagined what went unsaid. So, she talked about her upbringing, too. It had been brighter and in brighter places, but the outcome had its pitfalls.
She hadn't become the woman they'd expected. But at least she got to listen to Ziva when she slept.
Ziva had thought her ears were broken when she heard her say it.
"I've missed you," Addison had murmured in between peals of laughter that persisted over the course of the phone call.
Ziva had been stunned, though why she couldn't say, and had reciprocated the gesture. Her new apartment was still too solemn without Sarah and Addison. Apparently, it was Ziva that carried the emptiness now; and she would wherever she moved. So, she reveled in hearing her laugh.
It made the night a bit shorter and made this hollow residence finally feel like a home for the living.
Of course, for Sarah's first official vacation, she took her to Washington, D.C. Addison intended to instill a great love of country and service into her daughter. She wanted her to believe she could be anything, that she, with her tiny hands, could make history.
So, she showed her the monuments—too few to women though they were—and told her the tales. She was too small to comprehend, but she beamed like she did.
Afterwards, they rode the streets lined with agencies while Addison pointed out the best. They toured the Navy Yard near NCIS.
…Since they were there.
The evening Ziva was having was not the one she had planned.
She was sitting on the floor again. This time, with a lap full of baby and her space once more occupied by a woman who recognized no boundaries. They ate Thai food from boxes; Addison fed her while Sarah played with her chopsticks. They drank dark wine and talked about dreams. What Ziva had wanted and what she'd won, who Addison had loved and what they'd come to.
It was good talk for the dark, perfect for reminiscing over the head of a sleeping child.
A perfect dream.
Not long ago, Addison's fingers had found their way to Ziva's hair. Imprisoned in a braid to thwart the hands of a curious girl, it had reminded Addison too much of a tight-rope to resist taking a pull. For her effort, she got only a single warning glance.
She grinned, because that look had stopped working on her two weeks after they moved into the safe house. She traced the silky strands of hair and wondered about tensile strength and good genes.
She thought Ziva would have beautiful children and that their father would be lucky.
If he only knew.
Ziva considered using one of the kinder interrogation methods she knew to distract Addison from tormenting her, but she thought the removal of a pinkie might be considered overreacting. Thus, she could only retaliate.
She reached out to brush Addison's hair behind her ear. It was heavy against her fingertips and softer than expected to the touch. The lamplight illuminated its variation in hues and made her eyes more gray than blue. Lovely as always.
Addison wore a sly expression, as if she knew what Ziva was thinking, as if she'd always intended it.
Perhaps, this is not my retribution.
Addison gently lifted Sarah from Ziva's arms and left to tuck her into the carrier she'd brought along for the outing. It wasn't a bassinet but it would keep her secure.
She returned to the living room to find it clean, Ziva having tidied up in her absence. She was still on the floor with a glass of wine. Addison's was refilled as she re-took her place.
She ignored the proffered drink for something she wanted more.
Framing Ziva's face in her hands, she kissed her.
This was one of the perfect dreams she'd had, one she hadn't confessed to.
Addison's hair was as striking fanned across the carpet as it was anywhere else. Her skin under Ziva's lips was sweet, as she'd dreamed for nights on end. The skilled hands drifting across Ziva's hips were champions to those dreams. And the sounds she made, so very thrilling.
Ziva had not been ashamed of those fantasies. To desire was natural—but to pine was rather embarrassing. Ziva knew that she was attractive. There were few people that she could desire but not have. She had believed this woman to be one.
For once, she was not ashamed to be wrong.
Addison weaved her fingers through Ziva's hair as is spilled across the pillows. Her eyes were a soft as gunmetal, even this sweet. She was alert, protective. Ziva.
Her arm was wrapped around her waist and she never looked anywhere else. Addison almost felt as though, for a moment, she was Ziva's world entire. Months after her life had been torn asunder, then, glued back together, there was no greater feeling than that.
Through the danger, perhaps because of the danger, Ziva had been her constant. She had never paused to consider that, to Ziva, she had been the same.
Ziva rose at the alarm of her internal clock. It was very early and warm. Warmer than any morning in D.C. had a right to be, she thought. Perhaps it was the company she kept.
Entangled incomprehensibly with her, Addison was a wellspring of heat and friction. Her hands under Ziva's shirt, her breath on her shoulder, her eyelashes flickering against Ziva's cheek. Ziva was endeared and overwhelmed.
Most of all, she was relieved. They had lived to see another day.
From the beginning, that was all she had wanted.
She tried not to feel guilty for suddenly wanting more.
Addison awoke to the sensation of being left alone. Terror had its moment, returning her to dastardly silent midnights and sheets that were not her own. Then, sense prevailed, and logic.
These sheets were still not hers and the place beside her was still empty; yet, it felt something like home. She pulled her knees to her chest and said some small thanks for that.
The present filtered back with the sounds of her daughter laughing as only she could. It was accompanied by the loving nonsense Ziva uttered to her, a language all their own.
They chased midnight away.
The demons that had haunted Addison as she'd slept beside her also haunted Ziva. If she could take back the scars and dissolve the terror, she would. If there was someone to be broken, she would break them, to make their lives right again; but, that was beyond even Ziva.
Although she regretted the fear, she did not regret caring for them or loving them. They were worthy. Despite her desire to safeguard them, she could not say that she wished they'd never met. In a safer life, they would not have been here, and Ziva regretted even the thought.