Making Exceptions

Just kidding, we had a snow day today, too. And we have delays for the rest of the week. What have we done to our planet?

Tony's heart raced. He was being watched. He glanced up in time to see Ziva's eyes dart back down to her computer monitor.

Tony grimaced in frustration. Since their fight on Tuesday night Ziva had avoided being alone with him. Or at least it felt like she had. He leaned back in his chair, studying her. Her face lacked the lines around her eyes and mouth that gave away when she slept poorly or was recovering from a flashback. Tony couldn't help smiling. He didn't love her because she was beautiful, but she certainly was.

Ziva glanced over and caught his gaze, but Tony didn't back down, instead simply broadened his affectionate grin. She seemed startled to find him looking back at her, but after a moment her eyes seemed to smile back in wonder.

Tony felt like laughing aloud. He didn't know what was going through her mind, but when she looked at him like that he knew that sooner or later she'd come around.

After a moment, Ziva leaned forward and swallowed nervously. She looked around for McGee and Gibbs, and spoke only when she was sure they were not there. "Tony."

"Ziva." He rolled her name off his tongue playfully.

She nodded, then said quickly. "I have an appointment later with Dr. Harper. Would you come?"

Tony raised his eyebrows in surprise. Only a week earlier, he'd been the one making this invitation. "Of course," he answered lightly.

Ziva rewarded him with a smile. "Good." She turned back to her work.

He watched her for another long moment before returning to his own.


Dr. Harper looked back and forth between the people seated across from her. She did her share of couples' counseling, but these two were a far cry from most of the couples she saw. "How have you been?" she finally asked. "When I saw you together last week we talked about giving each other space. How is that going?"

Ziva snorted softly, looking away from Tony.

Harper frowned. "Ziva?"

She looked up, her eyes panicky.

"Well, she nearly got hit by a truck so I basically told her I'd give up living without her," Tony slipped in, covering for Ziva's nerves.

Harper didn't miss the gratitude in Ziva's eyes. Then she processed Tony's words. "You did what?" she asked him.

"Yeah..." he flinched. "But I gave her space afterward."

The doctor frowned. She opened her mouth to ask Ziva what had happened with the truck but noticed the young woman's obvious tension. Instead she asked, "Ziva, what else have you done since I saw you last?"

"We went on a first date," Ziva offered.

"What did you do?" Harper asked politely.

Ziva hesitated. "Tony recreated how we met. It was very romantic."

Harper smiled. "How did you meet?"

Tony snorted as Ziva glanced to him for help. "Well, Ziva was trying to help her brother get out of the country because she didn't think he'd killed my partner Kate, except really he had. So I was following her, Ziva I mean, around DC."

"And watching me swim," Ziva added with a giggle.

Tony laughed too, mostly at the concerned look on Harper's face. Then he grew more serious. "Believe it or not we had our first real conversation that night, even though we were still on opposing sides. So I took her back to that same hotel." Ziva slipped her fingers into his and Tony squeezed them gently.

Harper frowned warily. "Well, that's quite a story."

"One for the grandkids," Tony quipped. He felt Ziva freeze and glanced between the women anxiously. "I didn't mean—I wasn't saying--"

Ziva shook her head. "It is alright, Tony. I know you were kidding."

Harper cocked her head, studying the couple. "If you met years ago, why didn't you get involved then?"

"Rule twelve," the pair answered in unison.

"Jinx!" Tony snapped.

Ziva grinned at him and rolled her eyes.

"Rule twelve?" Harper asked.

Tony nodded for Ziva to answer.

"Our boss, Gibbs, has rules. Never screw over your partner, always carry a knife, never be unreachable. Like that. Rule twelve says never to date a co-worker."

Harper raised her eyebrows.

"He got his heart broken once," Tony offered in answer to her unspoken question.

"By someone we also worked with," Ziva added.

"I see," Harper nodded. "But if the rule says not to date a co-worker, what's changed?"

Ziva glanced at Tony, letting him take over. She'd never heard this part from him.

Tony spoke softly, his eyes on Harper's face, not ready to address this story to Ziva. "I told you before how we thought Ziva was dead."

Harper glanced at Ziva's suddenly distraught expression. "You did."

"I let loose on Gibbs one night, about how the rules had kept me from loving her." He relaxed slightly as he felt Ziva tighten her grip on his hand. "He sort of admitted the rules were wrong. For us, anyway."

Ziva nodded. "He said the same thing to me, when we got back from Paris."

Harper studied them thoughtfully for a moment.

"What?" Tony asked nervously.

"Well," Harper began, "from the time I've spent with you, it seems like you're both the sort of people who do well with rules. Ziva, you were raised to thrive in a highly structured environment. And Tony, you seem to have lacked structure in your childhood. As an adult, from what I know about you, you depend on the rules of your profession and your boss to give you that structure."

The pair across from her nodded in agreement with Harper's judgment.

She took a moment to put the rest of her advice into words. "It seems to me that when your boss made this exception for you and took away the rule that had defined your relationship, neither of you knew what to do. I'd recommend you create some rules for yourselves, to make sure you both understand how the other person expects to communicate and to let you define your relationship for yourselves."

Ziva smiled slightly. "What will the new rule twelve be?" she asked, glancing at Tony with a grin.

"Only date your partner?" Tony suggested gleefully. "Never date a Mossad agent?"

She glared at him, but the smile didn't entirely leave her face.

"Take some time before next week to think about it," Dr. Harper concluded. "Let me know what you come up with."


As they left the office half an hour later, Tony and Ziva headed toward their cars.

"Hey!" Ziva called as she reached hers.

"Yeah?" Tony shouted back.

"Would you like to come over?" She smiled hopefully.

Tony grinned back. This was what he had decided, all those months ago, to live for. "I'll meet you there."

Ta-da! In case you didn't notice, I checked the box that says this story is complete! But never fear, there's going to be a sequel called "Making Rules" coming soon. Maybe tomorrow? We'll see. In the meantime, thanks to everyone who has let me know they've enjoyed this story in one way or another. To those of you who haven't, please do! And be sure to salt your sidewalks, it's icy out there.