Making Rules

Is it wrong that when Tony basically killed the victim last night, I grinned with glee because I could totally make it a major plot point for this story down the line?

This chapters is short because as much as I hate endings building things up and then not showing the fallout, I really liked the last chapter ending where it did. But after this chapter, this section of the story is done but will be continued in a third part. Details on that at the end. Thanks to everyone who sent in rules, and especially to everyone who left substantive reviews!


Ziva walked down the hall, focusing on putting one foot in front of the other. The silence roared in her ears. After Tony's words—I'm not sure—nothing from the last hour stood out. She glanced up. He was there, three feet ahead of her, but the silence was a wall three feet thick. Her eyes fell to the ground as they entered the elevator.

Outside the building, she stopped. After a moment, Tony felt her absence and turned. "Ziva?" he asked gently.

She studied his shoes. "I'll call a cab," she murmured.

"Hey," he stepped toward her, but stopped short of touching her. "It's late, I can take you home."

Ziva shrugged, but followed him to the car.

They were silent again as Tony drove, but at her building he surprised her by parking the car and walking her in. Once they were through the door, though, the spell broke and Ziva met Tony's eyes, looked straight into him.

"We've been trying to get here for five years," she said, anguish creeping into her tone. "Don't that mean anything?"

Tony stepped into her space. "I love you, Ziva. I wasn't lying about that. But until I know if I can live with who you are, I don't want to pretend this is forever."

Her heart lurched at the words. Barely two weeks ago, they'd come home from their last appointment, had sat right there on the couch. I don't ever want to be apart from you again, he'd said. She had been sure he meant it. Ziva tilted her head back to look into his eyes. "I love you," she said firmly, not a response to his statement but a declaration of her own, words that had taken so much pain and strength to get out. In his eyes Ziva could see Tony's desperate regret. She leaned up, kissing him lightly. He couldn't help his response, kissed her back, held her against him as she brushed light kisses over his jaw and throat.

After a minute, Tony got his resolve back. "No," he said mournfully, stepping away. She reached a hand toward him instinctively as he pulled away and he took another step. "No."

It was not the first time in his life that Tony had broken a woman's heart. But it was the first time he'd known a woman so intimately well that he could watch it happen. He saw the tears rush into Ziva's eyes, saw her blink them quickly away, caught the trembling in her jaw she couldn't quite stop until she finally clenched her teeth. He noticed the way her shoulders hunched in, defensive, protective. And as he closed his eyes and tried to look away from her pain, Tony heard a single gasping sob escape her body.

"I have to go," Tony said roughly, unable to take any more

"Don't walk away," Ziva said, hating the way she seemed to beg.

"I have to," he repeated, a sob of his own building up in Tony's chest.

And then he turned away from her.

And then he left.

*

Ziva crawled into her bed. The sheets smelled faintly of Tony, his sweat and cologne. The scent triggered a flicker of desire in her belly, but she shut the thought out. She pulled the blankets tightly around her, surrounding herself in his lingering presence because it was the only thing that she wanted, it was the only thing she'd found that could shut out all the pain she'd lived through.

They had woken up here just this morning, to the ringing of the telephone. The tears began to fall. Yesterday she'd teased him with emails. Her shoulders were shaking. For weeks he'd taught her how to sleep soundly, how feel safe, how to feel pleasure. A sound slipped past her slips, a whimper. His love had saved her life. And now he'd taken it away. For the first time since she was five years old, Ziva cried out loud, even as she wondered how she could possibly be surprised.

*

Tony drove wildly on his way home, barely heeding stoplights. Inside he pulled the list of of his pocket, downed shot after shot as he stared at it, waiting for the point when it wouldn't matter any more. He passed out before he got there.


Well, Making Exceptions had a happy ending. You didn't expect two in a row, did you? Part 3 will be called 'Making Mistakes,' because what's the point of making rules if you can't, you know, break all of them? *Gleeful laugh* The rule-making format is over, so it makes sense to me to start with a new section, plus the rating isn't going to be this high again for at least a while. I'm hoping to have the first chapter up tomorrow, so don't forget to check!