Following the meeting, Gibbs and Tony went back to Gibbs’ house. Once Tony was settled in the guest room, Gibbs sat in the chair next to the bed. He gazed at Tony with such intensity that Tony finally asked, “What?”
“I hadn’t realized Ziva never forgave you for killing Rivkin,” Gibbs remarked. “If I had known that, I wouldn’t have let her back on the team. You should have said something.”
“She needed a place to go, Boss,” Tony said. “I didn’t want to be the one to stand in her way.”
“What do you mean by that?” Gibbs asked.
“She was a prisoner for months, Boss,” Tony explained. “Her own father left her to die out there alone, so she couldn’t go back to Israel. She didn’t have any other place to go.”
Gibbs shook his head ruefully and said, “Sometimes I wonder about your sense of self preservation, Tony.”
“I’d say it’s about as finely honed as yours, Boss,” Tony stated.
Tony continued, “In my own defense, I thought Ziva was enough of a professional to not let her personal feelings about me interfere with the job.”
“I’m just glad those words aren’t an epitaph on your tombstone,” Gibbs said.
“You and me both,” Tony agreed.
A few weeks later, Gibbs returned home from work carrying a large stack of personnel files. Tony was slouched on the couch watching a movie. He’d managed to talk Tony into staying with him, even though he had been well enough to go home a week ago. He just felt better knowing Tony was close by. He’d feel even better when Tony was back on his six at NCIS where he belonged. Gibbs sat on the couch next to his agent, dropping the stack of files on the coffee table.
Tony looked at the files curiously and asked, “What are those?”
“These are personnel files of field agents looking for team assignments,” Gibbs answered. “Since you’re returning to desk duty next week, Vance wants me to choose two new members for our team. He wants the MCRT back at full capacity as soon as possible.”
“Uh, Boss, I don’t think those files are supposed to leave the office,” Tony observed.
“Vance did say he didn’t want to see me leave the building with them.”
“And your point is?” Tony asked.
“I made sure he didn’t see me leave the building with them,” Gibbs said, trying not to smile.
“Very sneaky, Boss,” Tony said. “But why bring them home in the first place? You could have gone through them at work.”
“I figured you should also have a say in anyone new brought into the team,” Gibbs stated.
“You don’t have to do that, Boss,” Tony said seriously. “It’s your team, your decision.”
“It’s our team, Tony,” Gibbs said emphatically, looking Tony in the eyes.
Tony was strangely touched by Gibbs’ words. He hadn’t given Tony any say when he’d hired Kate and McGee, and neither of them had had any say when Ziva joined the team. He cleared his throat to cover his emotional reaction, then asked, “So, how do we go about this then?”
Gibbs picked up the files and gave Tony half of them. “We each pick one we like. I have to agree with who you choose and you have to agree with who I choose. Simple.”
Tony warily eyed the large stack of files Gibbs had handed him and said, “This could take a while.”
“I’ll order pizza.”
A few hours later, Gibbs was finally down to one file. He looked over at Tony, who looked like he was also finished going through his stack of files. He asked, “Did you find someone you like, Tony?”
“Yeah, I did,” Tony answered.
“Well, don’t keep me in suspense. Who did you choose?” Gibbs asked.
“The name sounds familiar.”
“It should,” Tony said. “There’s a notation in his file that you recommended him.”
“There is? What exactly does it say?”
“That sounds like me. Short, sweet and to the point,” Gibbs said. “Why do you like him?”
“You should remember him,” Tony stated. “He worked a case with us a couple of years ago.”
“Refresh my memory,” Gibbs ordered. He actually did remember who Tony was talking about. He just wanted his senior field agent’s take on the man; and Tony had spent more time with Wilson during the case than Gibbs had.
“Wilson was a rookie that Vance assigned to our team,” Tony said, in his ‘reporting’ voice that he sometimes used at work. “He helped us with the Vittorio case, the guard who was killed at the bank in Quantico. He doesn’t have much in the way of education, but he showed a lot of initiative. I think he has potential.”
“Don’t you think we should have at least one member on our team who has computer skills?” Gibbs asked.
“We managed just fine in that department before McGee came along,” Tony said. “I might not be as good as him when it comes to computers, but I’m no slouch either. Besides, we have Abby to help in that area if we need it.”
“Okay, sounds good to me,” Gibbs said, being unusually agreeable. “We’ll give him a chance.” Gibbs had also been somewhat impressed by Wilson at the time; otherwise he wouldn’t have recommended him.
“Who did you pick?” Tony asked.
“Her name sounds familiar, but I don’t think I’ve ever met her.”
“She worked with us when you had the plague,” Gibbs explained.
“That explains why I’ve never met her,” Tony said. “I was a little preoccupied at the time.”
“She was a lot of help,” Gibbs said. “I don’t think we would’ve found Hanna Lowell without her.”
“Can she handle you okay?” Tony asked mischievously.
“I don’t need to be handled, DiNozzo,” Gibbs growled.
“You keep telling yourself that, Boss,” Tony said with a grin. The headslap he received for that remark was not unexpected. “So, that’s it then? Team Gibbs is back in business?”
“Looks that way,” Gibbs said with a smile. “I’ll let Vance know our choices tomorrow. Hopefully, they can both start the same day you come back to work.”
-Three months later-
Tony entered Gibbs’ house carrying a six-pack of beer. Other than a slight limp, he had completely recovered from his ‘embarrassing’ injury, and he had been told by his physical therapist that the limp would disappear with time. He had long since returned to his own apartment, and he had returned to full duty a couple of weeks previously.
Tony could see Gibbs was already sitting at the kitchen table, so he joined him. He wouldn’t swear to it, but he thought Gibbs might actually miss him. His boss had asked him over to eat at least a couple of times a week since he’d gone back to his own apartment. He asked, “Pizza here yet?”
“You just missed the delivery boy,” Gibbs said. “I put it in the oven to keep warm.”
Tony handed Gibbs a beer, took one for himself, and put what remained in the refrigerator. He retrieved the pizza from the oven and put it in the middle of the table while Gibbs got a couple of plates from the cupboard.
After they finished their beer and pizza, Tony remarked, “I found out what happened with McGee and Ziva today.”
“I figured they should be finished with their training programs by now,” Gibbs hadn’t been happy when he learned that Vance had decided to let them remain with the agency, but he didn’t have any say about that. “So, what are their assignments?”
“McGee’s going to the Northwest Field Office in Silverdale, Washington. He’s gonna be on their Cyber Unit.”
Gibbs chuckled, “He better take an umbrella.”
“It does rain there a lot, doesn’t it?”
“More than Seattle,” Gibbs said. “What about Ziva?”
“She’s been assigned to the Cold Case Unit at the Subordinate Office in Miami, Florida,” Tony stated. “So she’ll be close to her mysterious boyfriend.”
“It looks like she’s being rewarded for breaking the rules,” Gibbs remarked.
“Maybe, but at least she won’t be alone down there.”
“You still worry about them, don’t you?” Gibbs asked, thoughtfully.
“Well, yeah,” Tony answered. “We worked together for a long time. It’s hard not to.”
Gibbs didn’t really want to talk about McGee and Ziva, so he decided to change the subject. “We haven’t talked much about our two new agents. What do you think about them?”
“Dwayne’s only been an agent for a couple of years, but he’s getting there. He’s doing well on the shooting range,” Tony said. “We sparred together for the first time a few days ago and he’s pretty good, and I let him interview a witness yesterday and he did well. I think he’s gonna work out all right.”
“He doesn’t cower when I glare at him any more,” Gibbs remarked. “Have you been giving him tips?”
“Of course,” Tony said with a smile. “I remember how many agents you scared off for the first couple of years I was on the team. I don’t want you to scare him off, too.”
Gibbs glared at him, but it didn’t work on Tony very well either. “What about Yates?”
“She never cowers when you glare at her,” Tony replied with a grin.
“I know that,” Gibbs said dryly. “How do you think she’s doing?”
“She’s doing great,” Tony said. “She has a lot of experience and she knows how to follow the evidence.” He added, waggling his eyebrows, “And it doesn’t hurt that she’s pretty hot.”
“Rule number twelve, DiNozzo,” Gibbs growled.
“I would never forget rule number twelve, Boss,” Tony assured. “But there’s nothing wrong with looking.”
“You forget that rule, and that shot in the ass you had a few months ago will seem like love tap compared to what I’ll do to you… ”
As Gibbs lecture him on the virtues of rule number twelve, Tony thought that his dysfunctional family which been fractured a few months before was beginning to heal; maybe it was even better now. A couple of the members were different, of course, but what real family didn’t change over time; some members moved on, others joined. And the most important family member to Tony, Gibbs, had stood by him and backed him up all the way.