From Mytryk:

Was looking for pics for something I've been toying with and ran across a picture of a little dark haired boy swimming (put it in a file called Lil Xander in the photos section) and got to thinking . . .

What if Willow did an oopsy with her magic and turned Xander into a toddler; then when Dawn (or someone else) was watching him wished Xander could have a better childhood this time around with parent(s) who loved him . . .

Who would be his "parent(s)" and how would Xander turn out?  Would he have all his memories or would they be wiped clean?  Would the other Scoobies ever find him and if so, would they try to steal him back or try to reverse the magic effects and make big Xander again?

As added incentive to anyone who writes such a story, will make you a picture of your choice - just remember I don't do originals only manips. Notes: Not quite what Mytryk wanted but she did ask for Xander to be youthened and then a wish for better parents made.  Another look at 'Xander's alternate daddy' ideas.  Screwing with the timeline here.  Starts right after they destroyed the Initiative but before Dawn was noted on the show.  I'm going with she was already there by that summer hiatus.


Xander barely had time to squeak before all he could do was cry.  Willow gaped in horror at what she had done.  "No, no, I did not mean to do that!  Oh, Xander!"  She picked up the infant, cradling it and cuddling it to calm him down. "I'm sorry.  Damn it I meant to get the demon!"  She sshhed the baby until he calmed down.  "Shh, Willow's got you," she soothed.  She looked up.  "Not what I meant, Goddess!" she yelled.  The baby started to scream again, which brought the others.  She went back to soothing it, making him finally fall asleep against her shoulder.

Buffy looked at the baby then at the baby demon egg, then around the room.  "Willow, this is going to sound really kooky, but where's Xander?"  She pointed at the baby.  "Uh-huh."  She just nodded and walked off.  "I suggest you fix it before Anya hears.  She'll complain a lot."

"Buffy!"  She hurried after her, making sure she didn't trip.  "It was an accident.  I need Giles to help me fix it!  This is Xander!"

"I got that point, Willow.  By the way, he's trying for a taste."  Willow grimaced and held him out at arm's length.  "Don't look at me.  I didn't even babysit."  She stepped off.  "Let's get him to Giles.  He'll know what to do.  I hope.  Because that is not a good face he's making."

"Figures you would pay me back by making me change diapers," she complained, walking off with him still held at arm's length.  She knew what that face meant.  Halfway back to the shop he started to scream again.  To give the little guy credit, it did smell really bad and probably felt worse to him.  She let Buffy get the door and walked in. "Giles, we had a small problem," she called over the screaming baby.

"What is going on?" he demanded, coming out of his office.  "Oh, I say.  We found an infant out?  Was it intended as a sacrifice?"

"Only to Willow," Buffy said, looking at the baby.  "You might wanna clean him up some."

"Sure, Buffy, I can just magic up a diaper and stuff," she said angrily.

Dawn walked over and took the baby, taking him to clean him up.  "For being a woman you're both miserable at that stuff," she said as she walked off with the now calmer baby.  She got the diaper off the baby and stared at a birthmark she had seen once.  "GILES!  SHE TURNED XANDER!" she screamed.  He came rushing in.  "That's Xander's birthmark."

"How would you know?" Buffy asked.

"I accidentally walked in on him when I had the runs once."  She finished cleaning him up and used a towel as a new diaper.  "Good enough until we can get some for real," she said at Giles' amused look.  "Shh, Xander, it's all right," she soothed, picking him up again. "You're a good boy and Willow will fix it or else I'm going to figure out how to unchip Spike only for her and feed her to him."  Xander let out a happy burble of noise at that.  "Good boy."  She walked out, taking him back to the meeting area.  She looked at Anya.  "Want your honey to hold?"

"I don't see him," Anya said, looking confused.  Dawn pointed at the baby.  "Why is my orgasm buddy a baby!" she demanded, going to find the usual cause.  Willow squeaked and tried to hide behind Buffy.

"Giles said she had to deage the demon," Buffy reminded her patiently.


"Xander was in the way," Willow complained.

Dawn looked at her.  "You sure that was it, Willow?  You're looking about my age at the moment."  She went to look in the mirror and gasped.  She looked at the baby.  "I so wish you have better family this time around, little guy.  Maybe mom will take you in for a bit until we can figure it out."  She looked at Giles.  "I am so not handing him back to his original set."

"I agree," he assured her. "His original parents shouldn't have raised the rat Willow has."  She shrank down at that.  Not because Amy was her fault but because she couldn't turn her back.

Anya let out a sob.  "My orgasms have went away!"  She looked at Willow.  "I curse you!"

Buffy punched her and knocked her out before she could go any further.  "So, Giles, how do we reverse this and if we do, does the demon come back too?  Because it was an egg."  She pulled it out of her pocket and handed it over.  "I remembered to pick it up.  Just don't make an omelette with it, okay?"

He put it on a shelf, carefully, and walked off to go research.  "For now, keep the boy quiet and safe.  I should know by tomorrow if we can change him back."

Dawn looked at Buffy.  "You tell Mom and I'll walk him home with Willow."

"Yeah, because I'm that brave?"

"You've faced down more demons than I have."

Buffy snorted.  "Mom's a demon of a whole other sort, Dawn."

"Fine, make me call Mom."  She got up and went to the phone, dialing home. "Mommy, I know it's late but can you come down to the Magic Box?  No, we're not in trouble but Willow is.  You just have to see it, Mom, and Buffy said she's not brave enough to tell you.  Please?  Because we'll probably need a ride home.  Thanks, Mom."  She hung up.  "She said it had better be good.  I think this qualifies."

"Oh, it does," Buffy agreed, looking at the baby.  "Don't let him eat you."

"He's not.  He's got his thumb in there."  She sat down again, looking over when her mother came in.

"That had better not be yours," her mother said firmly as she walked down the few stairs into the main shop.

"No, Willow accidentally caught Xander and it's him," she said, letting her have him.  "Buffy and Willow are maternal failures already.  Willow walked in with him held out as far from her as she could."

"He smelled and he was trying to nibble!" she complained.

Dawn looked at her mother.  "Exactly."  Her mother sighed and sat down with the child.  "So we're at a quandary and Giles is researching, but he's only got a towel on for a diaper and apparently I'm the only one of the four women here who could change them."

"Are we sure this is Xander?"

"He had the birthmark and Anya can verify it," Dawn offered.  "Buffy, can you wake her up?"

"Sure."  She kicked her on the foot until she woke up.  "Make sure that's Xander please?"

She nodded, coming over to look at him.  Dawn sighed and undid the diaper.  "Wow, they really do grow from being a baby.  That's a really tiny penis."

"The birthmark," Dawn sighed.

"Oh, yeah, that's Xander's."  Dawn swatted her before she could molest the baby to see if he'd react, hitching the towel with her hair clip again.  She glared at Willow.  "You are going to pay for this," she promised.  She stomped off to pout in private.

Dawn looked at her mother.  "So you see, it was kinda important, Mom."

"This definitely qualifies," she agreed.  She looked at her daughters.  "Do you need to bring him home?"

"Do you want to see Anya raise him?" Buffy asked.  Her mother shuddered at that, shaking her head.  "Dawn seems to be able to keep him calm and she could probably use the day off school tomorrow.  Because Giles can fix it, right Giles?"

Giles came out of the office. "I said I'd look, Buffy.  Not that I could.  Oh, hello, Joyce.  Did they tell you...."  He waved a hand at the baby.

"They did.  What are we going to do about it?  I don't mind babysitting but I can't stand children that young anymore, Rupert."

He sighed.  "I'm not sure yet," he admitted.  "At this moment the spell said it's irreversible. I'm looking at other options."

"If it is, then someone's got to be the parent."

"I...  I couldn't," he assured her.

"Giles, I've raised my two.  I'm nearly free of children until I become a grandmother.  Dawn's too young to adopt him and I wouldn't let her anyway.  As much as I love Xander it's not going to be good for either of them.  I'll give you two days and then we're going to have to make a decision."  He nodded, going back to his books.  "Come on, girls.  We'll go home.  Willow, I'd help the research."  She slunk that way.  "Come on, girls."  They went to the car and then home.  Once inside she looked at her daughter. "I know you want it, Dawn, but it won't be good for either of you.  You're too young to raise him."

"I know," she agreed.  "Which is why I hope this time he'll find a good family.  Because his last one sucked ass."

"It did."  Joyce gave her a hug.  "If we have to, we'll lie and say that Buffy had him and had to put him up for adoption.  We'll find him a great family."

She sighed and nodded.  "What'll we say about the father?"

"Maybe we should have that checked," Buffy said as she came back into the kitchen from putting her jacket up.  "Since it was Willow it could've changed.  Freakier things have happened when she's had accidents."

"I know someone who can run him through the system quietly," she agreed, going to make the call.

Buffy looked at her little sister. "You're going to be one hell of a mom when you're older."

She smiled.  "Thanks.  If I'm allowed to have kids."

"True."  She gave her a hug around the baby and Xander tried to latch on.  "Ewww!  Not yours, Xander!"  She walked off shaking her head, muttering about perverts.

Dawn looked at him.  "Nearly got it, Xan.  Really close."  The baby let out a happy burble and wiggled some. "Come on, let's go lay down.  You can nap in my room."  She walked him up there, going to put him down on the exercise trampoline she had.  He couldn't suffocate on it and it had small walls on the side so he probably wouldn't fall off.  Plus it was only six inches off the ground.  A good compromise for the night.  Because she prayed that they figured out how to fix it.  "If we can't keep you I do hope your new parents are great ones," she said quietly.  "I so wish you had great parents and you became a great guy."  She stroked over his forehead.  "Good boy, Xander."  He yawned and sucked on his fist, going to sleep.  She went to the bathroom to get changed then came in to lay down and watch him until she fell asleep.

A small glow started next to the trampoline.  "I can do that but things will change, young one," the woman said quietly, stroking her forehead.  "Let's see what I can do."  She knew someone had decided to curse a guy out in DC and she arranged with her for the baby to be his curse.  He'd hate it.  Of course, Xander woke up and blinked up at her, making her smile. "It'll be all better this time, Xander."  She smoothed down his hair and he grinned.  That's why she didn't realize her spell had slipped just a bit.  Changed team members.  Made the wrong guy the father.


Joyce got back the report from her friend in Social Services, frowning at it.  "That can't be right."

Dawn looked over.  "I have no idea who that is.  Maybe someone Giles knows?"

"Hopefully."  She looked at her friend.  "Do we know anything about him?  Is he British?"

"No.  We found him in the Armed Services databank.  How did she do that?"

"I don't know," Joyce sighed.

"Maybe Xander's mommy played around some," Dawn said with a shrug.  "He's older than she is."

"It could be," Joyce admitted.  "They just didn't know before."  The social worker smiled.  "What are our options if they can't fix it?"

"Contact the father.  He'll have to give up formal custody."

"Is that wise in this situation?" Joyce asked.

"Who knows?" she admitted.  "I wouldn't tell him Willow's part in this, maybe."

"Point."  She nodded.  "Thank you."  She gave her a hug.  "Dawn will make a very good mother some year but Buffy's hopeless."

"Probably better that way, Mom.  Can you see Buffy out hunting with the baby on her back?"

"Unfortunately I can," she admitted, walking her daughter off.  They had to get him something to drink on the way home but they had picked up diapers earlier this morning so he was fine with that and in Dawn's oldest t-shirts.  She drove back to the Magic Box and got out, letting Dawn carry him inside.  "We have some news," she told Giles.  "One of his biological parents isn't from here."

He sighed.  "That might be for the best then.  I've called everyone who might know.  There is no way to reverse this one."  Dawn nodded at that.  "Can we contact him?  See if he's a fit person to raise him again?"  Xander fussed and wiggled, making Dawn walk him off to soothe him and whisper in his ear about getting a good daddy this time. The two older people looked at each other, then sighed, shaking their heads.  "What do you want to do, Joyce? You're the only experienced parent we have."

"We'd have to tell him how he had an infant son, Rupert."

"We can prove how we did it," he admitted. "I can let her do a vampire or something."

"Buffy could never stake it."

"True.  But there are other demons."

"Good point.  That's one thing we don't run out of."  She considered it.  "Dawn, what was his name again?"

"Gibbs.  Leroy Jethro Gibbs.  She said she found him in the Military DNA database."

"Which means he's probably upstanding and could raise Xander very well," Joyce pointed out.  Rupert nodded.  She called her friend.  "Can you get in contact with him officially?  I can't.  I've been ill and Dawn's too young," she pointed out.  "Thank you."  She hung up and looked at Giles.  "We'll work it out so we get visitation," she told her youngest daughter, who nodded that she'd be making sure of it.  "Thank you for being reasonable."

"If he's a bad guy I'm going to slay him myself," she promised.

"That's fine.  Then we'll go with the original plan, or if he can't deal with the baby."  She gave her daughter a hug.  "I know it's hard, Dawn, but it's the best for him.  We'll still love him and if he wants to come back when he's old enough we'll welcome him back."  She nodded and sat down with him, cuddling him while she had him.  She knew it was going to kill her daughter to give him up but it was for the best.  Sunnydale wasn't stable or a place to raise a baby.  Especially not one like Xander.  The demons still loved him.  They had gotten a lot of interest at the CPS office this morning from some of the half-demon mothers and other children.  It just wasn't safe.  Fortunately Dawn realized that.


"Gibbs," he snapped when he answered his phone.  He blinked. "Excuse me?"  He listened to the woman say who she was again. "Why are you calling me?  I'm not in the California offices."  He leaned back when she said why she was calling him.  "Is this a prank?" he demanded.  She told him more and he groaned.  "I haven't been...."  He slumped.  "DNA you said?"  He nodded.  "I'm in the middle of a case, lady.  It'll be a few days."  He hung up and wrote down her name and town, looking her up online.

"Boss, something we should know?" Tony DiNozzo called from his desk.


"Are you sure?"


"Okay, boss. Let me know, okay?"  He got back to work on the present case.  His boss hit his computer a few times.  That was always a sign of bad news.  "Boss, let me do the searching.  Who am I looking up?"

"Peggy Hender.  Supposedly a social worker from Sunnydale, California."

Tony typed that into a new search window and nodded.  "Yup, she's listed in the state's databases.  All of them.  Senior social worker for Sunnydale."  He printed it and walked it over to him.  "What's going on?  Is this about our case?"

Gibbs looked at him.  "She just called claiming I have a son."

"Congrats, boss.  I didn't think you had dated in a few years though."

"I haven't."

"Oh."  He shrugged. "Have her send the samples to Abby to make sure.  She and Ducky would gladly run it for you."

"Good idea."  He called her back on his cellphone, heading into the elevator to get some privacy.

Tony sat down, shaking his head quickly.  "I always thought I'd be the one to get that call some day."

"You will some day," McGee said as he came back.  "What sort of call?"

"I'm going to let Gibbs tell you himself."  He got back to work, closing out the window he had searched in.  Gibbs came back.  "Hey, boss, will you need help with stuff?  I know a good lawyer or three.  Only dated one of them so they won't be mean to you."

"I might.  I'll keep it in mind.  Thank you, DiNozzo."  He looked at McGee, then at his senior agent.

"I'm letting you tell him, boss.  I always thought it'd be me that got the phone call."

"I figured you'd already gotten one."

"Not funny, boss. If I had one, they'd be here with me and I'd be doing something less dangerous."  He glared at him and Gibbs smirked.  "Really.  Just think, if it is true....  NCIS is a pretty dangerous office."

"He's a newborn, DiNozzo. I doubt I'm going to be doing more than signing over custody."  McGee squeaked and sat down suddenly.   "Don't pass out, McGee.  Men don't do that."

"  Congratulations," he said, shaking himself free. "I didn't know you had been dating."

"I wasn't.  Which is why this is probably a mistake."

"If not and you need a babysitter I can do that now and then," he offered.

"We'll see, McGee.  We don't even think it's real yet," Tony told him.

"Sure, I get that."  He sat down and went over it in his head.  Gibbs with a son.  A newborn son.  Well, his boat wasn't going to get worked on for about a year but maybe it'd mellow him.  But babies didn't sleep all that often so he'd probably get crankier some days.  But he could hide behind Tony so it was all right he decided.

Gibbs and Tony shared a look. "You tell Kate, boss, and Abby."

"You tell Abby, I'll tell Kate," he offered.

"Fine."  He went to talk to Abby.  He peeked into her lab.  "We alone?"

"Not yet," she said, smiling at him.  "Ducky's in the office."

"That's fine, I should probably tell him too.  Hey, Ducky?"   He came out of the office smiling at him.  "Don't smile so much.  Abby's getting a DNA sample of someone Gibbs got told was his relative.  He got THE CALL."  Ducky gasped in horror.  "We're getting DNA samples sent from California."

"What call?" Abby asked.

"The one where the other person is a social worker going 'congratulations'," Tony said blandly.  "He's telling Kate and I'm telling you two."

"Oh my god!  Gibbs is a daddy!" she squealed, hugging them both.

"We'll have to make sure the tests agree," Ducky said, staring at Tony.  "When did he get it?"

"Just a few minutes ago.  Social worker's from somewhere called Sunnydale, California."  Ducky went pale at that and hurried off.  "Oh, no, that looks bad."

"I hope he'll be okay until we can get him here."

"Abby, think.  Can you see Gibbs being the daddy pushing the baby stroller while he jogs?"

"Well, no.  I can see you doing it though."

"Gee thanks.  I'm kinda glad it wasn't me this time."  He went back to his desk but decided on a sudden need for coffee when he heard Kate screaming about that subject.  It was probably his longest ever, it lasted nearly forty-five minutes.  But he was nice enough to make more and bring Gibbs a refill.  "So, what's up with Sunnydale, boss?"

"Ducky said he's heard of it on his travels.  That it's fairly dangerous and has a high death and destruction rate."  Tony blinked at that, looking a bit confused. "I don't know.  He was going on about Watchers and slayers.  I almost asked if he was playing some of McGee's video games again."

Tony sat down and went to search the town, finding the truth.  "Boss, he might be right.  It had a forty-two percent homicide rate five years ago.  It's down to twenty now."

"That's still incredibly high.  Where is it?  I don't recognize it as a major city."

"A few hours from LA.  Near some water but by the desert."  He looked over at him.  "Also, there's a lot of the kook sites about Sunnydale, Boss.  Like up there with Roswell's count."  His boss groaned at that.  "Need backup when you go out there?"

"We'll see."  He finished his paperwork for the unexpected leave in a few days.  Abby would get the samples early tomorrow.  They were Fed Exing them overnight to her.  Ducky was off fretting.  It was not going to be a good day by any means.  "Anything on the case, DiNozzo?"

He checked his screens.  "Her credit card was used a half-hour ago in Southern Virginia, heading toward West Virginia and Kentucky, boss."  That got a nod and he sent the information over so he could call the locals down there to get information on who had used it.  If it was their runner, they'd be going after her tonight. A short plane ride and then a long car drive.


Gibbs walked up to the store he had been sent to after being met by the social worker, who had no information at all on the mother.  Something about this was making his gut dance.  He saw a very nicely dressed woman and a young teenager together talking and holding a baby. "Hi."

The older woman looked at him.  "Mr. Gibbs?"

"I am."  He nodded politely at the teenager.  "What is going on?  I know I haven't been with anyone in over a year and a half, lady."

Joyce handed Dawn the baby.  "Head inside, dear.  We're going to the coffee shop.  Don't let Buffy have him this time."  She nodded and walked him inside and she led him to the coffeeshop.  "Would you like the simple or the complicated answer?" she asked.

"Simpler first then you can expand."

She nodded, getting them coffees then walking back to the shop with him. "The easy answer is that there's a military group in town who are doing experiments on humans and other things.  I believe that they got my younger daughter.  She came up as the mother and I know she didn't sleep with you."

"Thank you for that.  What military group?"

"They call themselves the Initiative," she sighed, looking at him.  "My older daughter is dating one.  I'm not very happy at the moment."

"Neither am I."   He sipped the coffee.  "So what's the more complicated answer?"

She handed over a picture.  "A week ago the young man in that picture was that baby.  Willow did it."  She let him into the store, where Willow was age charming plants to try to figure out how to fix her friend.

"Why won't it work?  It should work, I should be to fix the Xander!  It's not right, he wasn't that much in the way!"

"We need that one," Buffy complained when she got the next plant.

"It'll regrow in a few days."

"Giles said it only grows once a decade or something," Buffy complained.

"I put it into the same age cycle.  It'll bloom again in a few days," she complained.

"Willow, do stop experimenting!" an older man yelled as he came out of the office. "The books are very specific.  You can't undo this.  No matter how much you want to, you made Xander an infant.  Now we must all deal with the situation."

Joyce nudged Gibbs, who looked at her.  "That's why we had the easy explanation.  But they are here and that is one of the things they've done on others.  So it's a reasonable possibility."

Gibbs just blinked, then looked at the people around them. "What is going on?" he snapped.

Buffy jumped then frowned at him.  "Don't wake the Xander!  He'll never get to sleep and he'll try to eat me again!"   She glared at him then at her mother.  "You know he's not been happy today."

"I'm not happy," Gibbs told her.  He looked at the redhead who was slinking backwards.  "Oh, no, missy.  Here, now," he said, pointing.  She slunk over that way.  "You did what?"

"To fight the demon we had to deage it and Xander got in the way.  I'm the same age Buffy is and it caught me too."

"Then maybe you shouldn't play with things you don't understand."  She opened her mouth.  "Ah!"  She closed it.  "Thank you."  He looked at Giles.  "This military group she mentioned?"

"The Initiative?  Torturing bastards.  They're doing demon experimentation to figure out what they are and how the military can best use them."

Gibbs snorted at that.  "The average grunt won't accept that."

"This is...."

"It was an experiment run out of the Pentagon by a Doctor Walsh, who was teaching psychology at the local college.  Unfortunately her Frankenstien monster killed her and it got taken over by some General.  We just defeated them.  I'm taking it he's Gibbs, mom?"

"He is."

"How is he my son?"

Willow pulled out a picture.  "That's his original parents.  They did a DNA comparison to make sure there wasn't another option before deciding to adopt him out."

"Sunnydale's too dangerous," Joyce agreed.  "I've raised two girls and I can't raise Xander.  Not to mention how the bad things in town like him," she said, nodding at the dog sniffing his foot.  "Dawn, that stupid dog followed you."

"Mom, it's a hellhound puppy.  It can teleport," she said, reaching down to pet him.  "You're a good boy."  The dog barked and wagged his tail. "You still can't have the Xander.  He's not a chewtoy that way."  The dog sniffed then went to pee on Giles again before leaving.  Giles poured some banishing solution onto the creature and it yelped then left instead.  "As you can see, the town's not normal.  It's not safe.  Xander's my favorite person in the whole world but it's not safe for him here, Mr. Gibbs.  You're his father.  I don't know how, maybe you slept with his mother before she became a drunk, maybe not since I'm the one who now comes up as his mother."

"You made a wish," Willow accused.

"Did you want to see them take him back there?" she countered.


"Then shut up!" she yelled back.  "Bad witch!  Go sit in the corner!"  Willow huffed off.  She looked at the baby, who was happily burbling along.  "Yeah, that was mean of her, huh?"  She stood up and walked over.  "He's yours, Gibbs.  Mom and I agreed, I'm too young to take care of him and he didn't come from my body.  He may have come from yours.  All I know is that right now... Buffy, go stop her."  They rushed back to stop Willow.  "She was going to make you take him.  We want Xander to be safe," she said quietly.  "If he wants to come back when he's older I'm all for that.  I love Xander.  He's my first crush, my best friend, and he treats me like a human being.  Something that's kind of lacking in this town some days."  She shifted him and he took the baby from her.  "Thank you.  All we want is him to be okay.  Protect him from the Initiative, because there's still some around who might want him.  He led the assault to destroy them," she said quietly.  "He's a great guy.  He's got a lousy hand with love.  They all want to kill him or suck him dry."

"I married a few of those."

She smiled gently.  "All I want is for him to be safe, Gibbs.  If he wants to come back to us when he's sixteen, more power to him.  If not, then not.  At least we know he'll be safer with you.  We've already had two attempts to grab him as a human sacrifice here.  Off the hellmouth he won't be in as much danger.  Please?"

He sighed.  "My own tests confirm he's mine."  She nodded at that.  "Are you sure?"

"I'm positive.  You can use the easy story we made up if you want.  I'm good with that.  We're not sure if he's got his memories from before or not.  I'm leaning toward yes, Giles says no.  I don't know."  He looked at her.  "Xander's seen his fair share of combat here.  He's fought since he was sixteen with my bratty sister.  He had been twenty."  That got a nod.  "So if he has nightmares about those things, I'm guessing he has at least partial memories."

"Do you want anything in return?"

"To be able to visit now and then?" she asked hopefully.

He nodded.  "I can understand that.  No support, nothing like that?"

"I only want him safe.  If I could, I'd keep him.  I'd raise him with all the love I had.  I can't.  I'm fourteen."  He nodded once at that.  "Mom's had enough of kids with us two.  Plus he's always going to be in danger here.  I've already got the paperwork signed for you.  All you have to do is sign it and take him home."

"Is he healthy?  Anything I should know about?"

"Besides his sucky dating life?" Buffy asked as she came over.  "Not a clue.  Mom, did the social worker have him checked over?"

"No, dear.  Xander was in good health so we assume it was continued," she offered. "If she was older we wouldn't have come to you, Mr. Gibbs."

"Jethro."  She nodded at that and gave a small smile.  He looked at the beast staring up at him.  "I only deal with guard and other trained dogs, beast."  It whimpered. "Tough."  It went to curl up on top of Willow's chest to nuzzle her.  "You'll want visitation?"  Joyce and Dawn both nodded.  "I can agree to that.  Nothing else?"

"No.  We want him safe.  He's family."

"I understand."  He looked at Dawn, then at her mother.  "This military group?"

"I'll send you the files I have," Giles promised.  "I'll have Willow email them or send them to the address we found.  Dawn, get his diaper bag.  It won't be safe to have Xander in town after dark tonight."

"Why not?"

"Vampires," Buffy said plainly.  "I hunt them.  He did hunt them with me."

Gibbs just nodded once.  "Okay. He's going home with me then."  Dawn got the diaper bag for him and the papers.  He read them over to make sure then signed them for her.  She took her copy and handed them to her mother.  "Call when you want a visit."  Joyce nodded and he left.  These people were strange.  He couldn't leave his son out there.  No matter how he came to be an infant.  They didn't appreciate him except for the teenager.  He got into the car and drove off.  "What have I gotten myself into?"  Xander started to cry when they crossed over the city limits but he stopped when he turned on the radio.  "Some year you can find them again, kiddo.  Once you're old enough and I've taught you self defense."  He got them back to LA and checked into a hotel, sitting down to look at the baby.

"Listen, kid.  I'm still not sure what the hell is going on here.  You're mine though and that means I'll walk through hell for you.  The same as I know if you could understand me you'd be swearing at your friends.  They were trying to be good to you.  Some year you're going to want to find them and I'm all for that.  But for now, we've got to learn to get along.  So we'll try it and if it doesn't work out we'll talk with the two nice ladies again."  He let his son hold his finger and felt the lost pangs of fatherhood take hold again.  "You've got a good grip.  Maybe we'll be okay together."  He stroked over his head.  "Rest for now."  The baby fussed a bit so he checked his diaper.  Still clean.  There was a bottle in the bag so he handed it over.  "Needed that?" he teased when the baby started to slurp hungrily.  "I don't read minds so tell me when you need something, kiddo."  He looked through the rest of the bag, finding the ID and documents from the old Xander and the new Xander.  All they'd done was change his last name.

He logged into his account and wrote an email to his senior agent.  They'd need to handle some things and he did not like the sound of that project.  If they were torturing people like those people had claimed, they needed to be stopped.  He looked at his son.  "Don't turn out too weird, okay?  Pagan I can get.  Biker I can stand if I have to.  Aura reading, tarot card petting, cat holding strange people I can't.  Besides you've had enough of them in your life probably."  He smoothed his shirt back down and the baby grunted at him.  "We'll be fine, Alexander."  The baby started to sniffle.  "Alex?"  That got another sniffle.  "Xander then."  He smiled at him.  "We'll be okay.  You'll see.  I'm reasonable sometimes and when you're older you can help me with the boat.  Maybe you'll even get it finished so you can sail her."  He picked up the baby and put him into the playpen he'd had brought up, watching him fall asleep.  How easily the boy had crawled into his heart.  It was then he decided to tell them the more logical story.  The one with the magic he'd ignore except when he had nightmares.


Gibbs walked into the office with his son.  "I need a short leave of absence," he told the woman working the front desk in HR.

"I didn't know you had children, Special Agent Gibbs."  She smiled and got the correct forms.  "Here, you fill those out.  I'll hold him for a few."  He let her have his son so he could fill out the forms.  "Is his mother all right?"

He looked at her, she was the biggest gossip in NCIS.  The woman's network worked faster than email and inter-office memos.  He had decided to spread the easy story they had made up after his team had found some information.  The strange people had understated what that group had done by a lot.  "His mother's fourteen.  There was a paramilitary group out where she lived who were trying to breed better soldiers."   She gave him a horrified look.  "DiNozzo already has the case."

"Oh, wow."  She smiled at the baby.  "Then you're a very special little boy.  What's his name?"

"Xander.  They named him Alexander Lavelle Gibbs."  He signed his name and handed it back.  "For the obvious reasons I need it starting today."

She handed back the baby and went into the boss's office after a short knock.  When she came back she was smiling.  "All set up, effective midnight last night, Special Agent Gibbs.  I hope he's okay."

"So do I.  His mother couldn't take care of him."  She nodded at that.  "Thanks."  He headed off, going to see Ducky next.  He handed over his son. "Make sure he's healthy."

"Of course."  He set him on the table to check him over, drawing some blood as well.  "Not even a bit of diaper rash.  I'll have Abby run the bloodwork and bring it out tonight.  How did this happen?"

"There's a military group out there who was doing some breeding experiments.  His mother's fourteen.  Her sister was dating one of the soldiers so they used her."

Ducky muttered something.  "Then it was wise of you to bring him back, Jethro.  Is she all right?"

"She's the one who had him tested.  She knew she couldn't handle it and her mother agreed that she didn't have the energy to raise another one.  Plus the town's a bit dangerous apparently."

"I told you that much."

"His aunt Buffy Summers, and their friends all wanted visitation."

Ducky stared for a moment then nodded.  "He's a fine, strong boy, Jethro.  I'll have the bloodwork done immediately.  Go see Anthony, he's been fretting."

"I emailed him last night from LA."  He walked off.  "Thanks, Ducky."  He headed back up in the elevator.  "DiNozzo, do we have anything new on them?"

"Yeah, boss.  Mostly dead guys who're still drawing regular and hazard pay."  He handed over the paper and took the baby from him.  "Hi, little guy," he said with a goofy grin. "I'm Uncle Tony.  How are you?  Did you like the plane ride?"  He heard the tinkling sound and shook his head.  "I guess that's a no.  Hey, McGee?" he called.  He came jogging over.  "Here, go change him."  He handed over the baby.

Tim McGee just smiled.  "Hi.  How are you?" he cooed, taking him and the diaper bag Gibbs was holding out.  He babbled all the way to the bathroom to change him and then back again.  Then Tony took him back.  "Hey!"

"Go tell Abby he's here."  McGee smiled and went to do that.  He looked at his boss.  "So, they used you and a young girl to make him?"  Gibbs nodded.  Tony gave a pointed look at the end of his desk, then at his boss, who looked and groaned.  "So, what's his name?"

"The puppy or the boy?"

"The boy, Gibbs."


"It's a good, strong name without much teasing potential.  I like it."  He looked at the baby, smiling at him.  "When you're older I'll teach you how to pick up the pretty women, Alex.  We'll go clubbing together and teach you how to handle the pretty women and make them squeal."  The baby wiggled but grinned at him.  "Good boy, Alex."

"They were calling him Xander."

"Doesn't surprise me."  He tickled his belly, getting happy babbling.  "Good boy.  Such a good boy."  The dog barked. "You're not supposed to be in the building, hellhound.  Shoo.  Before I call my mother."  The dog whimpered.  He let him sniff the boy then he lapped them both and disappeared.  "So, boss.  How was the hellmouth?"

Gibbs looked at him.  "How did you know?"

"My mother is the daughter of a Watcher, Boss.  They came to see if I'd suit them since I cheesed off my father so well."  He leaned back, holding the baby a bit better.  "Grab his bottle?"  It was handed over and he stuck it into the mouth.  "There, eat, Xander."  The boy sucked and stared at him.  "Don't worry, kiddo, I flipped him off when they came for me."

Gibbs came closer.  "There was a young witch there named Willow who deaged him," he said quietly. "He may or may not have been mine before then."

"This group?"

"Did it to others and was doing other experiments."

"Even better.  There's Kate.  Abby's dragging her."  He smiled at him.  "My lips are sealed, Boss."  That got a nod of thanks.  Abby's squeal proceeded her and Xander tried to look around.  "I think he thinks that's familiar."  He let her have the baby so she'd quit bouncing into his arm while trying to see.

"No bouncing," Gibbs ordered.  "They say it's bad for them."  She shoved Tony out of his chair and took it to sit down and coo at him.  She also played with his stomach.  He looked at Tony. "I heard some of the residents out there got peeved at them for their experiments so they stopped them somewhat.  Find out what you can. I want them in a cell."

"Already working on tracking the payments.  A few have it direct deposited.  McGee's working on that end while I'm working on where they came from and the enlistment rolls."

"Good.  Keep me informed.  I'm taking a short leave to set him up a new home and get a babysitter for when I'm working."

"Understood, boss.  Think of au pairs.  They're generally students and occasionally foreign but they'd live in with you for those really long nights we work now and then."

"That's more reasonable than a babysitting service," he decided.  "Thanks."

"I'm not babysitting," Kate said firmly.  "I'm allergic to babies."

"Funny, I don't hear a sneeze," Tony taunted with a smirk.  "He's a good boy, Kate.  He even peed on me."

"That just means he can see through your usual BS, Tony.  I still don't babysit."

"Ooh, I do," Abby promised.

"I can too, boss," McGee agreed.

"I can too," Tony said with a shrug.

"You'd bring girls over, DiNozzo."

"Not usually.  I'd try to keep it away, boss.  At least until he's old enough to start dating."

"My son will never date like you, DiNozzo."  He looked at Abby.  "Are you running the tests for Ducky?"  She nodded, beaming at him.  "Don't let him suck on you."

"He's..."  She looked down and beamed at him.  "You're a sneaky little guy.  What's his name?"

"Alexander.  They were calling him Xander," Gibbs said, smiling at his son.  "She taste good?"

"You know, they make medicines so I could do that for real, Gibbs," she offered.  "It'll be nearly as good as having one of my own."

"He'll do fine on formula, Abby, but thank you for offering to breast-feed him."  He looked at Tony.  "We're going shopping and then home.  Keep me informed."

"Of course.  Oh, the director wanted to see you.  He's in MTAC."

"That's fine.  Give him back, Abby."   She pouted but handed him over, and he picked up the diaper bag, taking it up there.  Xander yawned at the big, fuzzy screens of action going on.  "Shh," he whispered.  He sat down and looked at his boss.  "What did you need, sir?"

"Is that a baby?"

"It is."

"Then the rumors are true?"

"That some military outfit took my DNA and his mother's DNA to combine them in a dish and then impregnate her?  Yes, sir."

His boss blinked.  "Are they alive?"  His 'oh damn' was left unsaid but heard very clearly.

"DiNozzo is hunting them for me, boss."

"Keep me informed of the future dead people.  You brought him back?"

"It was a dangerous town. It's got a twenty percent homicide rate and their house was broken into.  They do have visitation rights whenever they want them."  A missile exploded on one of the screens and the baby cooed.  "Good, you like explosions."  The baby beamed up at him.  "We'll get along just fine then, Xander."  He looked at his boss, who was looking like he was having a cute and cuddly moment.  He sighed and handed him over.  "Can't be worse than Abby, sir."

"I don't plan on it."  He smiled at the baby, who patted him back.  "You're very handsome, Xander."  The baby cooed again.  "How old is he?"  Gibbs had to look at the birth certificate.  That got a nod when he showed it to him.  "I'm assuming I have leave paperwork on my desk from you?"

"You do."

"Good.  We'll work how to cut your hours back some so whoever you get to watch him during the day doesn't have to live with you."  He handed him back.  "Do have fun, Jethro."

"He's been a good boy so far," he admitted.  "Pissed on DiNozzo.  Tried to eat Abby."  That got a laugh.  "He'll keep me informed, sir."

"That's fine, Jethro.  You'll make a wonderful father.  I know he'll be a fine young man.  Now, go buy baby things for him.  He's making that face that means you're going to need a cloth and a diaper soon."

"Not the first time," he admitted, standing up.  "Thank you, sir.  See you in a few weeks."  He walked off with his son, changing him since he was done and unhappy before leaving the building.


Tony tapped on his boss's door and stuck his head in.  "Gibbs?"

"Kitchen."  Tony walked that way.  "Problems?"

"They were doing demon torture and experimenting too?"  Gibbs nodded.  "Charming.  But I have what you need.  Are we contacting JAG?"

"If we can."  Tony nodded and handed over the number he had looked up. "Who's that?"

"The person who does the quiet trials over there.  She's the judge who handles that.  We'll have to go to her for warrants since this is listed as a special project under the highest security clearances."

"I'll go tomorrow."

"I can go tomorrow, boss. Your son needs you."  He grinned at him.  "How is he?"

"Sucking on his bottle in bed.  He went down without much of a fuss.  Why?"

"Because I had McGee do a background on the group and found his former life.  He was one of the ones listed in the assault.  They did try to have them eliminated but it was stopped by someone higher up the food chain.  Also, his parents were shitbags."  He handed over that file.  "Everything but his educational one and I've got a request in for that.  They're going to fax it over tomorrow along with his disciplinary file.  I lied and said he had applied out here."

"They said if he kept his memories he'd have nightmares."

"McGee is going to have nightmares, boss."  That got a nod and he put it aside.  "I figured you should know."

"I did want to know.  Thank you.  Anything else?"

"Can I check on him again?"

"Go ahead."  Tony snuck up the stairs to see him, taking a small vial out of his pocket and drawing a design on his belly, then smiling and patting him on the head.  Gibbs was there when he turned around.  "That was?"

"A protection so nothing other than what's already marked him can find him.  Which means the puppy might come back and maybe a few others but not half the demonic element on this coast."

"Thank you," he said seriously.

"Least I could do, boss."  He handed him the vial.  "It's holy water and a special oil."  He grinned.  "He'll be fine and it'll soak in within minutes.  Have a better night, boss."

"You know more than you're letting on."

"Yeah, of course I do. I never tell anyone everything."  His boss gave him an amused look.  "I don't."

"I want to know."

"You need to know but not tonight.  He'll be fine for the next few days.  Get settled into a routine and then you can interrogate me as long as you don't use the rubber hose this time."  He grinned and escaped the house.

Gibbs looked at his son.  His stomach was clean and normal, it had already soaked in.  He looked at his son, who cooed at him. "I know.  You sleep, Xander.  We'll see how much of the strange crap he really knows."  The boy went back to sucking.  He looked at him.  Then he called Ducky.  "I think the baby's grown.  No, he seems a bit older."  He nodded at that.  "Sure.  I'm up.  He's up.   Thanks, Ducky."  He hung up and went to finish his dinner.  It was going to be a short night.  Xander had woken up four times the night before.  By his age, he should be sleeping through the night.  Ducky walked in and he pointed.  "Guest room.  He's been waking up a lot too."

"It is all rather strange to him, Jethro."  He went up to check on him, finding a happily peeing baby. "Ah, making a mess are we?  That's just fine then.  It's a normal thing, young man."  He checked him over for weight and height.  "Not grown a bit."  He stared at him.  "Do send her away, young man.  You're safe, loved, and we'll all protect you," he whispered in his ear.  "You can go back to them when you're older."  Xander settled down and the otherworldly feeling he got when he saw him faded.  Leaving just a normal, wet baby.  He changed him and put him back down with a smile.  "There you go, Xander.  We'll be just fine together."  Gibbs walked in and he smiled. "They were checking on him.  He hasn't gained more than an ounce and no height."

"Thank you, Ducky.  Is he going to be okay?"

"The bloodwork showed he was very healthy.  What was he doing before?"

"You know?"

"I heard.  I asked around a bit."

"Construction worker and dating a woman who apparently was sucking his money.  They sent a letter with him in case I needed to know anything about his past."

"Then he has tastes very much like yours?" Ducky asked.

"Not funny and I doubt he dated cranky women like I married, Ducky."  That got a smile and Ducky patted the stomach again before walking out with him.  "Why isn't he sleeping through the night?"

"Perhaps he realizes everything is very new.  Once he settles into the routine it should be better.  Or perhaps he never slept very long before, Jethro.  Some people honestly can't sleep more than four hours at a time.  He could be one of them.  One of my cousin's children was like that.  The other one never woke up.  She had to wake her to make her eat."

"So he's getting enough rest?"

"He should be fine but I would get him a regular pediatrician soon, Jethro.  You know how suddenly babies can crop up with a cough or something."

"Yeah, I do.  Any recommendations?"

"Two or three.  I'll write them down tomorrow."  He clapped him on the arm.  "It'll be fine.  He's a good baby.  He's content to let you raise him.  The worst problem he'll have is Abigail stealing him all the time to babysit.  She's already starting to develop some baby envy."

"If she gets pregnant, I'm locking her somewhere safe."

Ducky smiled.  "I shan't tell her that, Jethro.  For now set the routine and let him adjust.  He'll do beautifully soon."  Gibbs nodded at that.  "Good man.  Now, I'd best get back in case Mother needs something."  He left, going home to look up his contacts and decide who to grace with that child.  It was going to have to be a good doctor to deal with Gibbs as well as that child.


Gibbs looked up blearily the next morning from his coffee, nodding at Abby since she was dancing up the hall.  "What?"

"I'm here to babysit," she cooed, taking Xander to cuddle.  "The Auntie Abby is going to be right here and we're going to cuddle and sing!" she said happily.

"Good.  He's had a bottle, been changed twelve times since last night.  I'm going back to bed."  He trudged that way, falling down face first.

"Did the daddy give you stuff that upset your belly?" she asked, looking at the bottle.  It was plain milk.  She sighed.  "Silly daddy."  She took him out to her car, which now had a child safety seat in it.  "We'll go get some formula."  He fussed.  "I know it's not as good as the real thing....  Well, maybe I can find you some breast milk.  I know some of the daddy kink people get some."  She drove off, going to find that daddy and baby store she knew about.  She walked the baby in and smiled at the shopkeeper.  "Hi."

"Hi.  We don't often get them that small in here."

"His daddy just got given him.  His mommy's a bit odd."  That got an understanding look.  "He's got a distaste for formula and regular milk gives him the runs.  Do we know where I can get him some breast milk or what I should give him?"

"I heard some people use goat's milk, that seems to work better.  But we do have a supplier for breast milk, and it is so much better for him."  She smiled at that.  "You're a wonderful Auntie."

She smiled.  "I remember seeing this place mentioned in a case a few years back and I figured you guys would have someone who'd know."  She shrugged.  "I like strange contacts."  She smiled at her.  "So, where do I go?  Or how much?"

"We sell it for fifty dollars a half-gallon. It is a precious thing.  You can mix it half-and- half with goat's milk to make it last longer as well."  That got a nod.  "Let me check our stock.  Do you care what the mother's like?"

"As long as she's clean, healthy, and nothing can hurt him, no."

"That's wonderful."  She went back to check her stock and came out with a gallon jug.  "There you go, dear."  Abby paid her with her debit card and took one of the store's cards as well, earning a smile.  "Thank you.  Have a happy baby."  She poked Xander on the stomach, making him smile.  "You also might check with Harmony for baby things.  I know my sister sells things there."

"Thank you.  You've been very helpful, hasn't she, Xander?"  The baby burbled and she waved his hand, taking the milk out to the car.  She knew where Harmony was.  She drove the milk back to Gibbs' house so it wouldn't spoil, running inside to put it up, then back out to the car to take him baby clothes and goat's milk shopping.  She knew where she could find some of that too.


Gibbs woke up to the sound of music.  Not his sort of music.  Loud music.  And a crying baby.  He groaned as he got up and headed down the stairs.  "Kid, let me get some coffee, okay?"  The baby stared at him.  "What is he wearing, Abby?"

"It's a black velvet footy outfit, Gibbs," she said happily.  "It'll be very warm this winter and he's adorable in it."

"He looks pale and like a vampire."  He went to get some coffee, coming back to see the rest of the mess she had created.  "What's all this?"

"He needed clothes, Gibbs.  Babies can't survive on five outfits.  You can go through that many in a day!"  She picked up one shirt that said 'military brat', making him smile and shake his head.  "He is."

"He is.  It's cute.  I still think the velvet's a bit much."

"But it'll be warm and his toes were cold."  She handed over the baby once he had finished his first cup, making the baby coo at his father.  "See?  And it's soft too.  Oooh, don't use the jug in the fridge or the goat's milk.  The jug is donated breast milk so he grows up big and strong."  Gibbs gave her a look.  "It'll boost his immunity so he's a healthy baby, Gibbs!  I found a supply of it and I put the card on the kitchen counter.  She suggested mixing it with goat's milk so that's in the other jug.  I got him some cereal and some strained peaches in case he's nearly at the semi-solid food stage."  She beamed and hugged them both.  "I'll let daddy be a daddy now, Xander.  You be a good boy and I'll come play this weekend.  Okay?"  The baby burbled and waved a hand.  "Good boy!  We love you!"  She kissed him on the head then Gibbs on the forehead.  "The milk you gave him made him have the runs.  That's solved now too."  She bounced out, heading home.

Gibbs looked at him.  "I know, she's a whirlwind but she'll baby you until you're an adult, Xander."  Xander grabbed his finger to hold again.  He relaxed back into the grip of the chair.  "Did you have fun shopping?"  His son blew a spit bubble.  "I never did either.  We'll be tough guys together.  If she keeps it up, you'll have more clothes than DiNozzo.  Which might not be a bad thing for a while.  At least while you drool that way."  He wiped off the drool trail and got a happy baby blowing spit bubbles.  "Hungry?  Sleepy?  Want more noise?"  The baby let out a squeal at that.  He turned on the radio, changing the station to something more quiet.  The baby settled in and sucked his fist again.  "Good, I like this noise better too."  He got up to get more coffee and to get him a bottle.  He saw the two jugs and sighed, putting him onto the table so he could mix up one.

He grabbed him, the bottle going onto the baby's stomach, and his cup of coffee, heading back there.  The baby fussed.  "Hold on.  Let me sit down again."  He sat down and stuck the bottle into the open mouths.  The baby kicked and flailed but settled in to eat.  "How often are you supposed to do that?"  He looked at the empty bottles sitting on the coffee table.  He took it away and the baby gave him an offended look.  "Are you hungry or just wanted something to suck on?  I'm all for pacifiers if you want."  The baby blew a milky bubble at that and wiggled.  He shifted him.  A finger into his mouth made him just as happy.  "A pacifier it is," he agreed, looking at the stuff Abby had bought.  He found one and replaced his finger with it.  "Try that on for size, Xander."  Xander sucked slowly then decided it was okay and let his eyes droop.  Gibbs got to have his second cup of coffee.  Until he started and woke himself up, starting to sniffle.  "Shh.  I've got you.  You're safe now.  No more fighting unless you want to," he soothed, patting his back, putting him against his shoulder.  "I'm here and I'm going to protect you.  You don't have to worry about demons or anything hurting you for a very long time."

Xander settled in and sucked on his pacifier slowly, letting himself be comforted.  It did feel good.  Someone else was going to be the strong one.  They'd take care of the threats.  He could just relax and let it go.  As long as the nightmares didn't come back.  The deep voice came back and the rubbing hand.  It felt really *good*, like the guy gave a damn about him.  He let himself fall asleep and be comforted.  One of his hands found his new father's hair but he didn't seem to mind.  It was great, nothing was going to bother him here.  He was miles away from the hellmouth and the only demon around here was the hellhound puppy that came to play with him now and then.  Which was nice too.  He liked the puppy.  It was cute.  A nightmare started but the quiet, deep voice soothed it and made it run in fear from him.  So his new father was a scary guy who could beat nightmare demons.  That was a great thing in his book.

Gibbs looked at the small body on his shoulder. "I think Dawn was right," he said quietly.  "You've got memories and PTSD.  You're only about five months old; you're much too young for battle fatigue, young man."  He shifted and let the baby nap on.  It was nice, he got a nap while his son napped.  It was dark when he woke up.  He looked at the shifting body.  "Waking up?" he asked quietly.  He sniffed then grimaced. "That'd wake me too."  He took him to clean up in the bathroom.  He also heard the door.  "What?" he called.  The baby started and stared at him.  "Sorry, more nosy aunts and uncles."

Tony walked up the stairs.  "Don't yell around him.  I'll be mean and take dinner back to my place."

Gibbs snorted but went back to giving him a bath.  "It's fine, Xander. That's just your Uncle Tony."  He went back to scrubbing his back, letting the baby slap the water and beam at him.  "Good, swimming's a good exercise for you, son."

Tony rolled up his sleeves and knelt beside the tub, taking the washcloth to get his feet while Gibbs held him up.  "There, toe toes are clean," he offered.  "Do we need to clean the butt too?"  The baby patted the water and grinned at him.  "I'd say that's a yes."

"I already did that part.  It was a mess and I did it before running the water."  He pulled his son out, ignoring the fussing.  "Get dry, go eat."  He handed the towel wrapped-body to Tony.  "Go. I need a shower too."  Tony nodded, taking him to dress him in cute new clothes that clearly Abby had bought.  He found McGee down there when he got out and came down.  "Are we having a party?"

"I came to bring you a present for him," McGee offered with a smile.  "A gift certificate for diapers, boss."

"Thanks.  With the way he goes through them I'll be using it soon."  That got a smile.  "How was work today?"

"Fine, boss.   I dropped the file on your bed on the way in."

"I saw.  Thank you, DiNozzo.  That was his last bottle around one."

"It doesn't smell off, well more off than milk usually does, and he's drinking it," Tony offered.  "I left dinner on the stove too."

"Thanks.  I haven't had more than coffee."  He went to get it, smiling at his favorite sandwich from his favorite deli.  "If you were female I'd hug you," he called, coming back with his food.  "Sit and hold him, McGee.  Abby stole him earlier so I could nap."

McGee stole the baby and smiled at him, rubbing noses with him.  "Hi, Xander.  I'm Uncle Tim."  The baby grinned, the nipple hanging out of his mouth.  He settled the baby in his lap and got comfortable to feed him. "There you go."

"He seems happy and content here," Tony said, looking at him.  "Any luck yet finding someone to watch him during the days?"

"I'm putting in the ad next week."

"Boss, it's like hiring a new agent.  You're going to want more time to do the background checks and everything."  Gibbs looked at him.  "Not like you won't be doing one, boss.  We both know you're not that uncareful."

"I'll put one in the paper tomorrow then.  Aren't there agencies or something?"  Tony shrugged.  "I'll check that first."

"There's one on the Maryland side," Tim told him.  "They seemed pretty nice on the phone.  I told them I was your secretary and she said they've got open appointments all week, boss."

"Thanks, McGee.  Is he asleep?"

Tim looked then shook his head.  "Grinning not asleep."  He teased the round stomach.  "Did the Abby feed you a lot of nummies?"

Tony grinned.  "It's cute how we all went nuts over your son, boss."

"It is. That also means some of you can babysit when he starts to teeth."

"Sure," McGee said happily.  "Be happy to, boss."  He called Kate.  "I've got a squirmy little guy in my lap.   No, Tony and I are both out.  He's up and awake.  Thanks, Kate."  He hung up.  "She wanted a call to bring her present out, boss.  I hope you don't mind."

"The more the merrier," he agreed.  He got up to put his empty plate into the sink, getting more coffee.  "Anyone want more coffee?"

"I'm fine, boss," McGee called.

"Could use some water," Tony admitted but he went back to get it.  He smirked at Gibbs.  "If he ever gets colic, we're going to take your sidearm, boss."

Gibbs smacked him on the head.  "I won't need it.  They'll be scared anyway."  Kate knocked then walked in.  "Coffee?"

"Had my quota for the day, thanks."  She walked in and looked at the baby.  "I shouldn't. I had a glass of wine earlier."  The baby was handed to her anyway and she had to sit down before she dropped him.  "Sorry about the alcohol, little guy."  He sucked one her neck.  "Eww, I hope that's your thumb."  She moved and he fussed, wiggling to get back to her neck.  "Are you a vampire?"

"Abby dressed him in black velvet earlier.  He's having thoughts that way," Gibbs said dryly as he came out.  "Don't let him draw blood, Kate."  She moved the baby and he fussed so she had to put him back - all the other positions made him cry.

"Tell everyone who asks about the hickey that you had a cute, young guy sucking on your neck," Tony offered with a grin.  "They'll all appreciate that, Kate."  She punched him on the arm with her free hand, making the baby sniffle.  He went back to sleeping on her shoulder, still sucking on her neck.  "He does look very comfortable."

"He does," Gibbs agreed.

"Hey, boss, Abby said she got you breast milk," Tim said, looking confused.  "How?"

Tony coughed at Gibbs' shrug.  "Some of the people who have a baby kink have suppliers within the community, McGee.  They keep pumping after they've weaned their children."  He gave him a horrified look.  "It's not my thing but some people do like to be diapered and taken care of."  He shrugged.  "It happens and we ran into one of them on a case about a year before you joined the team.  I'm guessing Abby went to one of the stores we had to visit and got a recommendation or a contact there."

"From the store itself.  She got me a card," Gibbs admitted. "It's mixed half-and-half with goat's milk.  Seems to be better for him.  He hasn't had the runs."

"That's always a good thing," McGee agreed.  "My cousin used to have the worst problem with milk.  She had a milk allergy."  Gibbs shuddered at that.  "Back then you couldn't find soy milk hardly anywhere so they had to find it or do something else for the first few months."

Kate heard the first snore and handed the baby back to McGee, who settled him back against his chest.  "That's my yearly quota of squishy feelings."  She pulled something out and tossed it to Gibbs.  "An ID bracelet in case it's needed.  Including a GPS tracking chip."

"Thanks, Kate."  He opened it and smiled at the small thing.  Tony took it and put it on the baby.  He smiled at her.

Tony backed up.  "Whoa, that is not a good smell there, kiddo."

"I think this one's your turn," McGee said, handing him off.  "I got his last one when I saw him."

"Fine."  He took the baby up to his room to change him.  "What is this shit?" he called a minute later.  "It won't come off!"

"Wipe against the grain," Gibbs called.  He shook his head. "It does stick like duct tape."

Kate just nodded at that.  "With that I'm going to go home and finish my bottle of wine.  See you this weekend, Gibbs."  She fled.

McGee smiled at that.  "Maybe she'll talk Abby out of baby envy."  He stood up.  "I'll let you three talk, boss.  He's a great little guy and like I said, I'll babysit now and then."  That got a nod so he left.

Tony came back down the stairs.  "Next crazy woman I date, I'm bringing you over to babysit and making her change diapers while I wax poetic about having fifteen of you," he told the kid in his arms.  He sat down and the baby cooed at him.  "Toss me the bottle, boss."  It was handed over.  He stuck it back in.  "There, nearly as tasty as Kate's neck."  The baby smiled at him.  "Yeah, I know.  She's fun to tease.  You'll enjoy doing that too when you're older."  He looked at Gibbs.  "We'll have to get her to tell him why girls are different than boys instead of Abby, boss."

"Don't teach my son to be that mean, DiNozzo."

"Do you want Abby to have that talk with him?" he countered.

"Well, no.  Abby might show him pictures or something."

Tony smirked at him.  "Since he already likes her, maybe he'll just try to grope.  I did."

"You still do."

"I do not grope.  Unless they ask.  I touch lightly and very sweetly until my ladies coo like he is at me."

"Do you give them bottles too?" he taunted.

Tony gave him a look.  "That's not what I want to watch them drink, boss."

"Hand me back my son before he gets more dirty thoughts."  Tony gave him a hug then handed him over.  "Go away, DiNozzo."

"Fine, boss.  Let me know if I can do more to help."  He smirked and headed off.

Gibbs looked down at his son.  "Don't worry, I won't let you date like Tony does," he promised quietly. "He's the slut of DC.  You'll have better taste and crazy women won't like you."  The baby fussed and wiggled. "I heard about your last few, Xander.  It'll be fine.  I'll protect you from them too."  The baby settled in and got comfortable, letting him soothe him back into a nap.  "No nightmares tonight, Xander.  Just sleep."  He got up to put him into his crib, letting him nap for now.  He stayed in there until he quit fussing and past his first nightmare, and it was a quiet night after that.


Gibbs looked at his new nanny.  "Okay, this is Xander," he introduced, handing him over.

"He's adorable, Jethro."  She smiled at the baby and he blew bubbles at her.  "How old?"

"Five months."  She smiled at that.  "There are a few things you have to know.  Regular milk gives him the runs.  We have jugs of breast milk and goat's milk, you mix them half- and-half."  She nodded at that.  "It'll leave him with sticky and nasty diapers but it's not the runs."  She smiled at that.  "He has nightmares."

"He's very young for that."

"I know, he still has them.  He won't sleep more than an hour without having one.  Usually some mild comfort, speaking and patting him on the back, cure them and he goes back to sleep afterward.  Now and then he won't.  He's a bit bouncy for his age according to the doctor he's seen.  He's got his first appointment with his new doctor later today."  She nodded at that.  "There are weapons in the house.  Unless you're in danger I don't expect you to touch them or the boat in the basement."

"I can handle that.  Are they locked up?"

"More or less.  The shotgun's in the front closet.  He's too young to worry about that yet and I do have to worry about people coming after me due to the job."

"You said you work for the government."  She smiled at the man walking in.  "Hi.  A favored uncle?"

"Yup."  Tony took the baby and he cooed and waved a hand.  "Hey, Xander.  It's the Uncle Tony.  Yes it is.  I'm using you so I don't kill the Auntie Kate."  He walked off with him, going outside.

"Problem was?" Gibbs called after him.

"She told the woman hitting on me I had AIDS," he called back, heading onto the back porch.

"I'll deal with her later."  He looked at her.  "I'm also known as Special Agent Gibbs, NCIS."

"Oh.  Okay.  So the guns are reasonable.  I won't have to touch them I hope?"

"You shouldn't have to.  I haven't in a few years."

"Good.  Anything else I should know?"

"He's a cuddlesome thing.  He likes to be held."

"Most of them do."  She smiled and went to talk to the baby again, smiling at Tony.  "Are you ill?"

"No.  I'm in perfect health.  I've never been sick, especially not like that."  He looked down again.  "So, Xander.  This is the new nanny person, what's your name?"


"Elisa.  I did your background check."

"It's fully understandable."  She took the baby back.  "Are you sleepy?"

Tony snorted and shook his head.  "Nope.   That's a cuddle me baby.  He'll squeal and bounce if you try to put him down."

"Vocal babies are fine with me."  She walked him off, taking him back to the father.  "You let your people come in and steal him?"

"I trust them," he told her.  She nodded at that.  "Abby steals him now and then because she's having some baby envy at the moment."  He handed over a list of numbers.  "That's everyone you should need to call if something happens.  Me, Tony, Ducky, Abby, McGee."

"Sure."  She went to put it onto the fridge.  "There, right where I can find it," she told Xander, who blew another spit bubble.  She smiled at him.  "It'll be fine, Xander.  We'll be good friends when your daddy goes back to work and we're here alone."

Xander looked at the obviously crazy woman and started to scream when he heard the door shut.  "Hey!" Gibbs called.  "Tony will be back later and we're going to the doctor's."  He took his son, looking at him.  "Quit.  It's all right."  Xander sniffled and he handed him back.  He burst out screaming again.  "Huh."  He took him back and walked him back to the living room.  "We're going to sit."  He sat down and propped up his feet.  His son calmed himself down and cuddled up to his shoulder, one hand back in his hair.  He whispered in his ear, getting a sleepy baby.  He tried to hand him back but the baby stiffened and started to scream again.  "Okay.  Apparently he's having an anti-woman day.  Sorry."

"It's all right.  Babies take those moods.  If I may ask about his mother?"

"There was a paramilitary group out in California who decided to make better soldiers.  The mother's sister was dating one of their guys so they implanted her.  She's fairly young."

"Oooh, that poor thing."

"She would've kept him if she could have but it's a bit dangerous out there.  A high homicide rate and they got broken into so they could take the child back."

"So they found out he was yours and you're protecting him," she finished.  He nodded.  "Okay.  That's a great thing in my book."  She reached over to smooth down some hair and Xander grumbled.  "He doesn't sound happy."

Abby bounced in and took the baby.  "Hi, Xander!" she cooed, making him start then glare at her.  "Awww, there's the Gibbs' glare in baby strength.  That's so cute!"  She walked him back to the kitchen.  "Come on, help the Auntie Abby help the daddy."

"He's going to the doctor's in an hour.  Pack the diaper bag," Gibbs called.

"Sure, Gibbs."  She brought one out.  "There, including two bottles that are very cold and a cold pack next to them."  He smirked at that.  "Now we're going to go talk and snark about Auntie Kate because Uncle Tony just slapped her for teasing him about what she did."  She walked him off.

Gibbs let out a sigh and called Tony.  "You hit Kate?"  He smirked.  "Abby."  He listened when Tony handed over the phone.  "Kate.  Grounded.  Go stand in the corner.  Yes, I'm serious.  Because you're acting like a child, Agent Todd.  Now!"  He hung up and looked at her again.  "Sorry."

"It happens," she promised.  She watched Abby dance around with him.  "Don't bounce him around.  It's as bad as shaking him is."

"I'm holding his head."

Gibbs leaned over and looked.  "No bouncing, Abby.  Not until he's old enough to bounce  with you."

"Fine.  We'll quit dancing and I'll teach him how when he's older."  She smiled at the baby and got a happy babble from him.  "Such a good boy!" she cooed, playing with his tummy.  "What are you wearing to the doctor, young man?  We should dress you."

"He's wearing that," Gibbs said patiently.

"But, Gibbs!"

"Abby."  She wilted.   "You bought that one too."

"Oh."  She shrugged and beamed at the baby.  "We still have to change your shirt. You drool like that puppy that shows up to lick you now and then."  The baby scowled at that.  "It's not your fault.  You'll figure that one out about the same time you start to crawl."  She smiled. "Maybe your daddy would get you a normal puppy, not the one who comes around every few days."  The boy cooed at that and flailed a bit.  "I think we should talk him into it."

"When he's walking," Gibbs called.  Abby brought him back, letting him see the state of his shirt.  "When you're walking we'll see about a pet.  Let her change your shirt."  Xander burbled and let his auntie change his shirt and his diaper.

Gibbs shook his head.  "He's a special little guy."

"He clearly is."  She smiled.  "Will you need me today?"

"No, I'm not going back to work for another two weeks."

"That's even better.  I'll see you then, Jethro."  She smiled and bounced out.

Jethro put his feet up again, he was a bit tired.  It was harder to jog with a baby on his back than the usual pack.  His son kicked.


Jethro walked into Ducky's autopsy theater.  "Your friend is a quack.  He talked about his aura."

"You were supposed to see the father, not the son, Jethro."  He smiled at the baby.  "Hello, Xander.  I'd hold you but I'm a bit nasty from the autopsy."  Xander blew a large spit bubble at him then babbled.  "Ah.  Well, it's a nice thing but I still can't hold you until I clean up."  He blew a kiss.  "Be a good boy and make the father nap.  Are you seeing his father soon?"

"Next week.  They took what you did to start his folder and ordered another blood test?"

"Probably a simple CBC.  His white cells were a bit higher than normal but he was also sneezing that day."

"Then I won't worry too much.  Where's Kate?"

"At her desk I would assume."

"I told her to stand in the corner."  Ducky smiled.  "She told..."

"I heard.  I sent Anthony to hold the young man there."  He patted him on the back.  "Now, let me get back to work.  I know the director wanted an update on how you're doing with the Initiative case."  Xander started at that name.  "Yes, we heard, young man."

"He cried every time the nanny took him."

"That might not be a good sign," he offered, "but it could be that he didn't like her perfume.  Babies can be picky about who they like."  Xander squealed and threw his arms up then patted his father's arm around his middle.  "Exactly.  Now, let your father work for a few minutes then you can go home and relax again, young man."  Xander babbled at him and they nodded with a nod from Jethro.  Ducky sighed and quit guarding the body.  No baby should see that sort of thing.  His assistant came out of the office.  "You missed Jethro and young Xander."

"Is Xander a new Probie?"

"Xander is his son, Mr. Palmer," he said, looking at him.

"He's got a son?  I didn't know he remarried."

"He didn't.  Someone was trying to breed new soldiers.  They implanted his seed into the mother's body."

"Ooooh," he said with a wince.  "He's going to destroy someone."

"A lot of someone's.  It was a paramilitary group."

"Ouch.  Is the mother okay?"

"As he told it, the mother of his son was the younger sister of someone who was dating one of their soldiers.  So they chose her even though she's a tad bit underage."

"How far?"


"No wonder he got custody."

"On the contrary, Mr. Palmer, the mother is a delightful young woman.  She wanted to keep him but their town is very dangerous and they kept trying to get the child back," he told him.  He bent down to make another cut on the body.   "It was the only reasonable option that occurred to them.  Now, let us get back to work to find out what happened to this young woman."

"Yes, Doctor Mallard."  He came over to help, holding up the tray for the part he was about to cut out.


Gibbs walked up to Kate's desk.  "Didn't I tell you to stand in the corner?"


"Rumors like that can get around, Agent Todd.  It can cause hell and havoc."

"Not like he needs more dates!"

"Yes but think about it, Kate.  What happens if he can't ever again?"  Her face fell.  "Now,  you hurt DiNozzo.  Greatly.  You will apologize.  You will be suspended tomorrow without pay, and I have had enough.  Am I clear?"

"Did he go running to you?"

"No, Ducky sent him to calm down with Xander and Abby told me."  She slumped.  "I meant it, Kate."

"It's embarrassing."

"So is what you said.  Now!"  He pointed at one near the windows and she went to stand in the corner. "Thank you.  DiNozzo, I need an update," he snapped.

Tony came over from the copier in the corner under the stairs. "I would, boss, but the Pentagon made a very nasty call to the Director and told him to stop us or else we'd all be dead."  He handed over something.  "So that's where the rest of the group is presently stationed and who's still alive after the last assault there.  He did good work and I got the video files today from Sunnydale."  He sat down behind his desk again.  "The director wants you.  Want me to hold him?"

"No, he can gum on him for a while.  You're on your own tomorrow with McGee."

"Okay."  He grinned. "Thanks, boss."

"Welcome, DiNozzo. That was childish on her part.  She can come out of her corner in an hour."  He tucked the information into the diaper bag and handed it over, then headed up the stairs with his son.  He walked into MTAC and his son spit at the man on the screen.  "Don't do that.  He's the Secretary of Defense, son."

"Agent Gibbs.  Is that thing yours?"

"He's my son, yes.  Why?"

"I heard how he came to be."

"Yay."  He glared at him.  "Why are you stopping me from doing something about them, sir?"

"Because we can't find your name in the records."

"Yet, here my son is.  His aunt was dating one of them, and that's the only way his mother, who was fourteen, could've conceived."  The Secretary of Defense winced at that.  "It's not like I like 'em that young, sir.  She's cute and all but not my type based on age alone."  His son looked at him.  "What?  I like your mother, she's sweet, but she's still not my type, kid."  The baby patted him then spit at the bad man again.  "Are my agents allowed to restart the investigation now?"

"No, Agent Gibbs.  Your name wasn't in the files."

"It's still the only way he could have come to be, sir, and since there are files we know he's not the only one."

"That would still be the LA office's job," the director said, taking the baby.  The baby stared at him. "Yes, it's me again, Xander."


"Yes.  His mother's from Sunnydale.  His aunt is Buffy Summers if that helps."  The man's eyes went wide.  "So, my agents are going to take over this investigation since there's a person somewhere in the Pentagon who ordered them to torture beings and do illegal experiments on them.  Do you want kept informed, sir?"

He nodded slowly. "I'd rather have a team that wasn't personally involved do it."

"I don't."

"I see.  Can you be reasonable?"

"I'm on leave for the next two weeks, sir.  DiNozzo's handling it."

"That's better I suppose.  Director?"

"I'm getting daily updates from him," he assured him. "I'm sure Jethro is as well."

"Very well then.  I'll let you get back to it.  I do want to know who ordered this one."

"I'm sure you'll hear when we get the warrant for their arrest, sir.  I'll tell DiNozzo he has your blessing for a good hunt."  That got a smirk and the man signed off.  He looked at the director.  "You wanted to see him again?"

"No, I wanted to see you, Jethro," he said dryly, handing the baby back.  He handed over a small package.  "Here, a baby gift."

"Thank you, sir."  He looked at his son.  "Say thank you?"   The baby smiled at him and waved an arm.  "Close enough until you can really talk."  He sat down beside him.  "What else is going on?"

"We've intercepted a death threat for you."  He looked at him.  "I felt it best to tell you in person since it came from an old case.  The cadet selling snuff porn?  His father has put out a low paying contract on your life."

"Wonderful.  I can protect us."

"I want to assign you a guard."

"He's getting a nanny."  His son started to fuss.  "What?  You don't like her?"  He cried louder.  "Fine!  We'll get you used to the idea and see if it's a one day thing or not."  His son settled down with a few back pats.  McGee came in and took the baby with a grin, heading off again. "Thank you, McGee."

"Welcome, Gibbs."

Jethro leaned back.  "Has someone taken it?"

"It got put out generally.  His father's a Texas State Trooper so he does know who to tell to get the news out.  I want you to be careful."

"I will be."

"I want to assign a guard to your house."

"Unless you're going to turn one of my team into a nanny and pay them at the same pay rate for it, we'll be fine."

"Be reasonable, Jethro.  You have someone else to take care of now."

"I know.  He'll be fine too.  No one's going to hurt me.  DC is a long way from Texas, even if a gang does take it up and pass it onto another branch locally.  We'll be fine."

"If you're sure."

"I'm sure."

"All right.  Then I'll simply set guards on the house."  Gibbs gave him a look.  "It's a bit of added protection until the trial, Jethro.  Speaking of, you missed court today?"

"I did?"

"You did."

"I'll call over there to see.  No one called me."

"I expected as much and yours was the last called of the day.  DiNozzo was there and said you now had custody of your son and probably hadn't been told again since you were on leave.  The judge allowed them to call you in the morning, first thing."

"I'll be there and talk to DiNozzo."

"Good.  Do we have a nanny?"

"Just hired one today, sir."

"Even better.  He doesn't like her?"

"All but one time he cried whenever she held him."

"That might be a bad sign, Jethro."

"I know. I'm being very careful.  We'll see if it's a one day thing or not.  If not, maybe I'll talk Abby into going on leave for a bit."

That got a smirk.  "I'd almost rather continue to pay DiNozzo to do your daycare.  At least then you wouldn't lose him as an agent when he got tired and left."

"I'll let him know you said that, sir."

"Do that."  He smiled.  "I went with something practical for him."

"Thank you, Tom.  I'll help him write his thank you letter later."  That got a smile.  "Anything else?"

"Not yet."

"Then I'm going to steal him back from my team."  He got up, picking up the present since it fell out of his pocket.  "Thanks for this, Tom."  He walked out, jogging down the stairs.  He put the present into the diaper bag with the two folders it had mysteriously sprouted.  "The case is a go even though my son wasn't in the files.  The Secretary of Defense and the director want to be kept in the loop too, DiNozzo.  Also he was suggesting you become the nanny for him and stay on the payroll."  He took his son back and walked out.  "You can sit down at the end of your hour, Kate," he said when he walked past her.

Tony quit gaping, listening to McGee smirk. "Hey, at least he loves me."

"Because you're just as bouncy as he is," McGee agreed.

"He's a good baby," Tony reminded him.  He got back to work on the case he hadn't stopped working on.  "Back to work, McGee."

"Sure, Tony."

Tony checked his clock. "You've got another forty minutes, Kate."

"Quit smirking, Tony."

"I'm not, but I'm am kinda glad he didn't spank you too."  He smirked at that image, getting back to work on his searches.

McGee shuddered.  "Ow.  He'd be one of those to leave bruises too."  He shuddered again but got back to work.  "Why you and not Abby?"

"They need Abby more," Tony said dryly.  "This way I'd have the boss's six when he really needed it."

"Oh.  I guess that makes sense.  Kinda."  He shrugged and bent back over his keyboard.

Kate groaned and shook her head.

"No talking while you're in the corner, Kate," Tony called. "I'm sure you sat in time out a few times when you were younger."

"Bite me."

"Keep it up and I'm taking pictures," he said happily.  She quit talking and stood there, checking her watch every now and then.  The director came down and gave her back an odd look then looked at Tony.  "Due to her mouth earlier, Gibbs put her in the corner, Director."  He handed over the doubles of what he had handed Gibbs.  "What we had before the desist order came through."

"Thank you, Agent DiNozzo."  He shook his head but went on his rounds. Gibbs was going to be one scary father.


Tony knocked on his boss's door, holding up the bag.  "Ribs?"

"Sure.  He can suck off the sauce."  He led the way back to the kitchen, where his son was in a carrier on the table while Gibbs fixed pasta.  "This'll go."

"Sure."  He smiled at the baby, playing with his toes.  "Did you have a good day, Xander?"
"No, he was mean to the doctor's assistant too.  Peed on her when she checked under his diaper then smiled angelically."

"He's a little boy, of course he's going to torment girls for a while, boss."  He looked at him.  "I'm here as your dutiful guard tonight and to brief you on the raid that the local branch out there and the FBI did on the new base."  He handed over the reports.  "Preliminary ones.  We'll be getting the ones here who ordered it."

"Good.  How long?"

"Within two days we think.  We're assuming that they've been given orders in writing in the past."

"Even better."  He sat down, handing over the bottle.  His plate of pasta joined the bag and so did Tony's.  "You might as well eat.  How much is the bounty on my head?"

"Two grand.  Fairly low.  This is just in case."  The baby stared at him.  He grinned back.  "He busted a bad guy, your daddy's very good at that, Xander.  The bad guy's daddy was in denial and his wife made him set the bounty for charging her only son with making snuff films."  The baby quit staring and sucked on his bottle, just watching them for now.  He turned him slightly so he could see his father, getting a lighter squeal.  "See, he appeared."  He patted him on the head.  "You're a good boy, Xander.  Grow up like your daddy."  He dug into his food.  "So, boss."

"What, DiNozzo?"

"Since he didn't like her I had McGee break off to do a deeper background check on Elisa.  Her references were guarded when he talked to them.  They didn't say bad things but it wasn't a glowing report either."

"Is she doing bad things?"

"They wouldn't confirm or deny anything.  One of them stated it that way."  He looked at him.  Gibbs groaned.  "Maybe he'll have really good taste in women, boss."

"Hopefully.  I'll want that tomorrow to go to the agency with."

"It's in my car in the glovebox."

"Thank you.  Anything else?"

"The other two candidates are much better but one's very strict.  Almost Victorian strict."

"Huh?" he asked, eating another bite.

"Back in Victorian times diapers were so inconvenient mothers and nannies used to take kids Xander's age and older and sit them on a potty chair for hours on end so they would use them."  Gibbs dropped his fork.  "She's not quite that bad but she's very strict.  Like Basic Training has nothing on her version of strict."  Gibbs shuddered at that.  "The other one seemed pretty nice.  Mother of her own two but her husband got custody then promptly moved to Florida.  She's filed papers to get them back stating her ex is a horrible human being who sells drugs.  That's why she stated she divorced him.  She found out and the next morning there was a divorce filing and a restraining order filed against him coming near her or the kids.  She stated that the judge took bribes."

"Which won't win her any friends."

"No but she proved it so he's off the bench.  Now she's filing to regain custody."

"I like the sound of her.  I only met with Elisa."

"Meet with Janice, boss.  She's a nice lady.  McGee did her background as well.  All her references check out wonderfully.  She's worked with an FBI unit in Atlanta as one of the agent's nannies so she knows how insane it can be.  Even Abby and Ducky liked her.  Ducky said she reminded him of his mother when she was younger and he was a baby."

"I'll go to them tomorrow.  Any firm reason to dislike Elisa?"

"Yeah, one.  Drug possession when she was seventeen.  Sealed but Kate found it and called in a favor after she got out of the corner."

"Thank you."

"Welcome, boss.  Least we can do to guard this little guy."  He grinned at Xander. Who beamed back.  "You're a happy baby?"  The baby cooed.  "Good!  We like happy babies."  He looked at his boss again.  "All that leaves is watching you until the trial next week, boss.  You've got two agents outside the house and me."

"If I have to," he complained.

"Yeah, you do.  It was me or Abby."

"I like you. You're quieter."

"True."  He ate another bite and tipped the baby's bottle back up, letting him suck more strongly.  "Sleepy, little guy?"  Xander yawned.  "Then let's get you a bath and into jammies.  We'll eat after you're asleep."  He got up and took him upstairs to deal with that while Gibbs got the report on Elisa's references to read over and make that call.  Gibbs came in while he was doing his hair.  "We're doing okay, boss.  Go get his bed ready."

"You sure?"

"I'm sure."

"When did you learn child care?"

"I dated a few women with one, boss.  Not to mention being stuck guarding a mother before a trial against a serial rapist.  She had three kids, one just this age from the guy who attacked her."  That got an unhappy grunt from the father.  "It was fine but she taught me.  She had it down pat."

"Sure."  He went to check Xander's bed, changing the sheets since it looked like they were wet.  "He needs better diapers," he muttered.

"Put them on tighter, Gibbs. You can put disposable ones on tighter than you could ones with the pin."

"Oh.  I didn't realize that."  He came back in once his son was out, letting Tony diaper him.  "That is really snug."

"Yeah but you don't have to allow for finger room so you don't stick him.  It's got some elastic in the waist so he's not uncomfortable too."  He showed him then he grinned.  "Miracle of modern invention.  Just as important as the TV, the VCR, and DVD player."  He kissed the baby on the head and handed him over.  "There you go, Daddy.  Night, Xander."  He headed back down to go back to his dinner.

"Learn something new every day," Gibbs told his son, laying him down and covering him with a sheet.  "You nap.  I'll be downstairs.  No nightmares tonight, okay?"  The baby cooed.  He put the pacifier in his mouth with a smile.  "Sleep, Xander.  It's time to sleep."  The baby slowly closed his eyes while his father rubbed his stomach.  Gibbs snuck out, leaving on the nightlight and closing the door halfway.  Then he went back to his own dinner.  "Thanks."

"Welcome, boss.  It's kids like that who make me think about being a father too."  He shrugged and ate another rib.  "I just can't seem to find someone who'll put up with me."

"Date for quality over quantity, DiNozzo."

"I've tried.  I get psycho women. Which is why I had McGee check deeper into Elisa's past."

"I called them, they agreed I could meet with the other one.  They hadn't known about the drug arrest on her juvie record."  That got a grin.  "It could ruin her career."

"Then she can find something else to do.  She's only twenty-three, Gibbs.  She should be in college, not being a pseudo-mommy."  That got a nod.  "She'll be fine."  He got up to get some water.  "Water or coffee?"

"Coffee."  A mug was poured, warmed up, then handed over while Tony got some ice water.  "Eat."

"I am."  He sat down.  "The sauce was spicy today.  Must've been bottom of the jar."  He ate another bite of rib, looking outside.  "Someone's at the door, boss."  He handed over his sidearm since Gibbs' was out front probably.  That got a nod and Gibbs went that way.  He opened the door and found an FBI agent standing there.  "Oh, hey, Fornell."  He ate another bite.  Gibbs came back and handed him back his gun.  "There's a few left if you want some."

"No thanks.  We got handed his protection detail.  Son?"  Gibbs nodded, sipping his coffee.  "How?"

"Our present case," Tony said dryly.  "They implanted the mother with him."

"Oh.  Sorry to hear that."

"He's a great little boy," Tony assured him with a grin.  "Has everyone but Kate wrapped around his fingers."

Tobias Fornell snorted.  "I'm sure Abby was happy to have someone as young as she is."  He looked at Gibbs.  "He's how old?"

"Five months."  Fornell gaped.  "How old did you hear?"


"No.  He's in the guest room upstairs."  That got a nod and he went to look, coming down shaking his head.  "Did they up the bounty?"

"Some of the people over the Initiative are getting worried."

"Good.  They should," Gibbs assured him.  "They were torturing people."

"I heard and saw."  He came back.  "We got asked to take the case since it's going to go international.  Some of them are working for a special protection detail with the UN."

Tony nodded.  "I saw that.  Which director wanted this bundle of paperwork?"

"The Secretary of Defense ordered the switch to our caseload.  So it's mine now," Fornell told him.  Gibbs shook his head.  "Yes, Gibbs.  They tried to bomb your office a few minutes ago.  It's now ours since they're trying to kill federal agents.  That's the rules."

"Which I don't care about."

"Then care about your son, Gibbs.  They got within thirty feet of the building with federal level passes."  Tony moaned.  "No one was hurt. They got stopped at the last checkpoint and the dog caught the bomb."  Gibbs nodded slowly.  "So it's mine now.  I will keep you informed."

"I'd appreciate that."

"Good.  DiNozzo?"

"We busted a good few of the soldiers and one commander earlier in a raid."

"I hadn't heard that."

Tony pulled out his phone, calling Kate.  "The idiots tried to bomb the office," he said in greeting.  "Those idiots, yes, Kate.  They handed it to Fornell due to that and UN involvement.  I'm at Gibbs' and so is he.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "She'll get the information off our systems since she's still at work.  The director said her time out today can't count as a leave hour or work time."  He ate another bite.

"Time out?" Fornell asked, smirking a bit.

"I put her in the corner.  She was acting like a five-year-old."

"I heard about what she said about DiNozzo there.  I also know it's not true since he's still employed."

"It's not true," Tony said firmly.  "I am much more careful than that, thank you."

"I figured you'd have to be since you don't have any kids wandering around yet."  He looked at Gibbs.  "Anything I should know?"

"They said his record's not in there.  The mother's sister was dating one of the soldiers and she was fourteen when she had him."

"I know you don't swing that way so it's all good with me."  He shrugged. "Anything else I should know?"

"A lot of talk about mutants, demons, and hostiles that they were trying to figure out and program to be grunts in the military on the front lines," Tony told him.

Fornell looked at him.  "That doesn't really surprise me somehow."  He shrugged.  "We all wonder about Sunnydale's high death rate.  His mother is who?"

"Dawn Summers.  Little sister to Buffy Summers, who they were testing to see why she was so good."

"Interesting.  Sure."  He nodded.  "Do you want our guys or yours on the house until that trial?"

"I'm fine without any guards on the house," he noted patiently.

"He's going to up the bounty before the trial.  His wife's getting more and more pushy.  He's her only son."


"She's about to add to it, Gibbs.  You're getting protection even if you don't like it.  So us or your own guys?"

"I'll take ours."

"That's fine.  Saves me on manpower.  Have a better night."  He walked outside, getting the files when Kate drove in.  "Thank you.  This all of it?"

"All but a few video files McGee has locked.  He's at home with a headache.  Something fell and hit him earlier."

"If I need them I'll call or he can send them in the morning."  He walked back to his car.  "They're having dinner.  The baby's asleep."

"Good, I don't like babies.  They're scarier than pets."  She walked inside, heading to the kitchen since that's where she saw Tony. "They got it handed over?"

"They tried to kill federal agents, that's the rules," Tony reminded her.  "Boss, want the last few ribs?"

"Please."  He took the tinfoil package and dished them out, handing Tony the last two since there were more than he wanted.  "Anything else going on?"

"The woman Ducky was working on for another team was a natural causes death.  Sinova's plant finally fell and hit McGee on the head so he went home an hour early with the headache from the cast iron pot it was in."  That got a small smirk from Tony.  "He won the pot about when it'd fall.  I missed it by two days."

"No wonder we got ribs tonight," Gibbs said dryly.  "Anything good?"

"One other commander was found earlier.  He shot himself before the raid could break in the door.  He also set his office on fire first. They put it out within minutes so we're pretty sure we can get stuff off his computer and out of his file cabinet."

"Even better.  That in there for him?"

"It was.  Any other changes I should know?"  They all heard the baby start to cry.  "Oh, no, I'm not handling that."

"He has nightmares, Kate."  Tony got up to check on him, finding him missing his pacifier.  "Did the binky fall out?" he teased, handing it back.  "Shh, we're here, Xander.  Even Kate."  The baby continued to fuss.  "Come on, it's all right."

"Bring him down," Gibbs called.

"Okay, Daddy said you could come cuddle for another hour."  He picked him up and carried him down there, making Kate take him so they could finish eating.

She looked at the baby, who blinked at her before settling into her arms.  "Fine, I'll hold you.  Even though you're a scary creature.  I'm never having one of you.  I'll get a cat first."  She sat down to hold him, letting him rest on her shoulder again.  So she got matching hickeys once he had spit out his pacifier.  Tony grinned at her.  "What?"

"His binky fell out, Kate.  He's doing your neck again. You'll have matching spots."

"Eww."  She got the pacifier back and put the plug back into his mouth.  "Suck on that, not on me."

"Binky?" Gibbs asked.

"The story goes that the daughter of the guy who created the pacifier couldn't say pacifier so she called it her binky."

"Oh.  Cute."  He shook his head. "Learned that on the same protection detail?"

"Yeah, we were there for three months.  Her kids weren't bratty in the least and they listened to her."

"Write her to see how she did it," Kate said dryly.  "Before this one turns into a brat."

"I won't let that happen, Kate."

"Going to take parenting classes, Gibbs?" she asked dryly.

"Somehow I can't see him in Gymboree or any other mommy or daddy and baby classes, Kate.  Except maybe parent and child water aerobics since he likes the water."

"They offer that?" Gibbs demanded.

"At the Y, boss.  Yeah."  He grinned.  "There's all sorts of mommy or daddy and baby exercise classes there.  Also some other parenting classes and a support group for single parents so they can share tips."

"I don't need a support group."

"Didn't figure you would but they've got a website full of tips for things like colic and other bad times when you want to scream at the baby to quit screaming."  Gibbs nodded slowly at that. "I'll get the addy for you and send it over tomorrow, boss.  Just in case it comes in handy."

"That could be helpful," Kate agreed, feeling the wet mouth on her neck again. "One of you finish up before I've got permanent bruises there.  Please?"  They both finished up and Gibbs took his son back while Tony washed the dishes.  "Thank you."  She went to check the new hickey, coming out with a grimace.  "He's got a good suction, Gibbs."

"I can see that.  He also undid a button, Kate."  She looked down and groaned, doing up the button his little hand had managed to undo.  He looked at his son.  "So, does this mean you'll date a nice girl some day and be straight?"

"It did with me," Tony offered.  "I used to grope the women in church and all that good stuff.  All the old ladies loved me."

"Somehow it doesn't surprise me to find out you were flirting as a toddler, Tony," Kate said dryly.  Gibbs glared at her.  "What?   Not much has changed!"

"Kate," he said firmly.  "Quit setting a bad example for my son.  Tony's a bad enough one in the area of dating."  She smirked at that and Tony shrugged.  "Don't teach him to flirt until he's at the adorable age."

"He is now, boss.  Plenty of guys take kids out to the park to meet jogging women."

"I still can't see him being one of those parents who pushes the stroller while he jogs," Kate complained.

"They make strollers to go jogging with?"  Tony nodded and Kate beamed and nodded.  "Wow.  Things have changed since my sister had kids."

Tony found the phone book and the shop in the back, pointing it out to him.  "There, boss.  They've got all sorts of baby stuff.  Including baby monitors for when you're working on the boat and he's in bed."

"That could be handy.  What about the more generic stores?"

"You'd get some but that place has all the possibilities.  I'd go there to see what is possible and then find it at a more reasonable price."

"Not a bad idea," Kate agreed.  "There's some great high-end baby shops in the city.  You can find hippy baby shops, techie baby shops, yuppie baby shops."

"The pagan baby shop is kinda fun," Tony offered.  "It's near my gym and they've always got babysitting and storytelling going on.  Plus blessings, a second hand shop for clothes, lots of books of information.  I stopped in their earlier today since I still haven't gotten him a present yet.  Want a gift certificate to there, boss?  They're some very nice mothers, some with a few kids each.  You'll sneeze at the incense but he might like it."

"We'll see."  He gave him a look. "Less strange stuff."

"Okay.  Want one to the techie baby store?"

"No.  He doesn't need a tv in his crib."

"Oh, boss, that's just the base limits of what you can do," Tony said with a smirk.  He went to get his laptop out of the car, nodding at Elisa.  "He's fine."  He walked back inside. "Elisa's here, boss."  He sat down to find the shop's online page, letting Gibbs see it.  "This one projects a swirling, colorful picture onto a small plasma screen that you can hook onto the crib so the baby's amused.  It's like a technical mobile.  Oh, strollers."  He found them.  "See, jogging one," he said, enlarging the picture of the three wheeled one. "They're supposed to be pretty hearty, boss."

"That's just strange.  I'll jog with him in a pack."

"Keep him on your stomach for now.  Less movement," Kate told him.  Gibbs nodded at that.  "He can even watch where you're going."

"He'd probably like that. They say babies react to larger shapes, color, and movement at his age."  He found the other site and it linked the other page he wanted his boss to have.  "The tips page, boss."  He pulled up the baby mobiles and other products link to show him.  "This is the place near my gym."  Gibbs took the laptop to look over, nodding slowly at what was there.  "It's a great place.  Very friendly and welcoming.  The lady who runs it has five kids who come to work with her every day.  She can definitely tell you what you need to babyproof the house for when he starts to crawl in a few months."

"You can hire people to do that," Kate suggested.

"To put a few latches on the cabinets and plugs in the outlets?" Tony asked.  "To move the plants around?  Why?"

"Because some of us don't do those things."

"Kate, they sell these little plastic plug covers and little latches for cabinets that only take two screws on each side.  Then you move things the baby can pull down on himself, all plants, and put gates over the stairway openings.  It's not that hard!"

"Excuse me for not being as good of a mother as you are," she said dryly.

"I learned from a woman I was helping protect before a trial, Kate."

"Whatever."  She pushed some hair back and the baby stared at her.   "What?  Do I look funny?"  The baby reached for her so Tony handed him over with a grin for her.  "Hey!  Warn me!"

"He wanted you."  They went back to looking at that place.  "She's the sort you can run in and ask questions to and she'll know the answer or know who to call to find out, Gibbs.  Forget that they're pagans, they're very good mothers.  Mostly non-violent mothers but very good."

"I'll look there tomorrow."  Tony handed over an envelope from his pocket.  "You knew?"

"I didn't think I could talk you into a video mobile, boss.  You can go over the houseproofing stuff and the monitors there, plus strollers and packs."

He looked at the amount then smiled.  "Thanks, DiNozzo."

"Welcome, boss.  What did the director get you?"

"A ring of keys.  He loves them, tried to beat me with them earlier."

"Kids like noise and chaos.  That's why they like loud colors."  He stood up and looked at the baby.  "Xander, ready for bed?" he asked quietly.

"I've got it, DiNozzo."  He took his son back and put him back into his bed, tucking him back in and staying to pat him to sleep.  He slipped the pacifier back into his mouth and it was all good again.  Hopefully he'd sleep through the night again tonight.  Or have his nightmares early.  He went down and found Tony working on the laptop on his couch.  "I'm going to work on the boat.  He should sleep.  If he has another nightmare, pat or rub his stomach."  That got an absent nod.  He headed down to the basement because he needed some time to think and do something physical for a bit.  He was getting used to fatherhood again.  It was a big surprise in his life.  Especially at his age.  He definitely had things he needed to think about.


Janice looked at Gibbs.  "Let me make this one thing clear, Agent Gibbs.  I'm not here to be his mother.  I'm here to take care of him when you can't."

"I agree.  You're not here to take my place or her place."

"Good.  Now, Elisa said he was fussy about women?"

"Her."  He shrugged.  "He's got good instincts on what women are hinkey."  She smiled at that. "Hated her on sight.  I will warn you that my team does drop by unannounced to take him."

"As long as you trust them I don't mind that.  I'm a practical woman. They can change all the diapers they want."  He cracked a smile at that.  "Is Agent McGee always your secretary?"

"No, sometimes it's Kate's job and sometimes it's DiNozzo's job.  Depends on what sort of situation and who gets there first."  He shifted and continued to smile.  He liked this very plain speaking woman.  "We're using disposables.  I know some mothers don't prefer them."

"Diapers get tiring after the first thousand.  Cloth or disposable.  That's up to the parent to decide."

"I hated them after the tenth."

"You're a stronger man than I am.  I hated the first one of my first kid's."  He chuckled at that.  "I will tell you that my former husband will not impact this situation.  If it does, there's going to be dead people.  Starting with him."

"Agreed.  If anyone brings a gun near him you have my full permission to protect him however you need to."  She smiled and nodded at that.  "He does have nightmares."

"Some kids seem to now and then.  My second child, my daughter, did.  A bit of singing or patting and she went right back to sleep."

"So does he.  Also we're buying breast milk and mixing it with goat's milk.  Regular milk upset his stomach and he puked back up the formula.  Refused to drink it after the first time."

"He's a smart baby.  Formula is nasty stuff.  Even to just smell it.  Where are you getting breast milk?  I know in the old days you'd have had a wet nurse and a nanny."

He smirked. "That's more DiNozzo's family than me.  Abby found a baby and daddy kink shop.  They sell it for some of their patrons."

"Interesting.  I didn't know they did that.  I thought they just put on baby clothes and regressed so they felt like someone gave a damn about them."

"I didn't even know that the kink itself existed until a case.  Abby's got some strange contacts."

"Stranger than mine but that's okay."  She smiled and opened her day planner.  "When would you need me to start, Agent Gibbs?"

"Jethro please.  I go back to work next Monday."

"Hmm, small conflict that Tuesday.  I've got my yearly physical for my health certificate. The agency demands it."

"I'll probably still be doing paperwork.  Call me and bring him to me.  If we have to you can pick him up afterward."

"Sure.  I can do that."  She wrote that into her schedule.  "Now, I worked with an FBI agent in Atlanta.  I know the schedules can get crazy."

"We've had some that we stayed all night to work on," he agreed. "If that happened, we'd work out you bringing him to me or you could have the guest room.  Whichever works better at the time."

"Good.  Then you're not unreasonable."  She closed her day planner.  "Anything else I should know before I meet him?"

"The milk mix makes his diapers like glue."

"They're all like that."  She smiled. "I breast-fed all three of mine, Jethro.  They're all like that."  He smirked at that.  "Seriously."  She stood up. "Let's go meet the angel.  Do we have a baby monitor already?"

"I do but the other half's down by the boat."

"I can carry it up or you carry it down," she assured him.  He nodded and she let him lead her to the baby's room, finding him trying to play with his toes.  "Aww.  That's adorable, Xander," she said.  The baby stared at her then beamed and burbled noise at her. "Very good.  Did you taste them yet?"  She helped him get a foot into his mouth, making him smile around his big toe he was sucking on.  "I see a pacie."

"He uses it when he sleeps mostly.  Now and then he will suck on Kate's neck if she's holding him."

"I saw the hickeys when we all went to lunch together."  Gibbs moaned and shook his head.  "They're trying to protect you, Jethro.  Especially from skanks like Elisa."  She picked him up, making him cuddle in.  "Ahh, you need cuddles.  We like cuddles."  She looked at him.  "Would I have any other duties?"

"You can do his laundry if you want.  If not, I can."

She smiled.  "I'll try to keep it down to a basket for you."  He smiled at that.  "Come on, young man.  Let's go back downstairs to talk to the daddy some more."  Xander yawned against her neck but played with her hair and shirt collar.  "Good boy."  She settled him in her lap, looking down at him. "He's a good weight but not too pudgy."

"Abby is always trying to feed him," he warned.  "The first time she watched him he ate six bottles in four hours."

"Then the pacifier was probably needed.  Some babies need to suck on things."  She stuck his finger in his mouth, getting a grin.  "You'll be fun to watch.  I know you will."  He cooed and batted at the daddy, cooing again.  "I think we'll get along just fine, Jethro."

"Good.  I'm going to work on the boat and maybe the lawn while you two get acquainted.  That way you don't have surprises your first day."  He stood up.  "Be good for Janice, Xander."  Xander beamed at him.   He patted him on the head then went to work on the boat.

She looked at the baby.  "Well.  He has a boat?  Do you like stories or to be read to?"  The baby let out a loud squeal at that.  "Ah.  You like that stuff."  She pulled out a book she had in her purse and read it to him.  It was a mild romance novel but at his age it didn't really matter.


Gibbs came in his third week looking a bit confused.  He walked into Abby's lab.  "Where did the new breast milk come from?  I forgot to get some last night."

"I got him some, Gibbs.  Janice said he was nearly out."

"Where?  I asked, you didn't go to the shop."  She blushed. "Abby?" he pressed.

"Well...."  Gibbs gave her a look and she shrank down some.  "It's better for him!  The stored stuff can lose nutrients."

"You did what!" he demanded.

She shrank down farther, hiding behind Palmer when he came in.  "Tell him I'm being good to his baby boy, Palmer.  It's better if he eats fresher milk."

He looked at her. "You took the medicine to promote lactation?"  She smiled and nodded.  "You shouldn't be putting out that much."

"I pump all the time.  So it's like I've got twins or triplets."  She beamed. "It's much better for him, Gibbs."  Gibbs growled and she ran for the elevator, going to hide behind Kate.  "Save me," she said as she scurried behind her and knelt down.

"The boss figured out you're breast-feeding his son?" Tony asked as he typed.

"Yup."  She shrank down even more.

Gibbs came off the elevator and Tony looked at him.  "It is an incredible gift, boss, and it is better for him."

"You knew!"

"Last week.  I thought you caught her at the dinner when she took the really long time to change him."

"She said it got sticky."

Tony shrugged. "I caught her putting back on her shirt.  It has helped his upset stomach this last week though."

"Not cute, DiNozzo."

"No but she's being sweet to your son, boss.  You can't yell at Abby for doing what's good for him.  It is going to make him have a stronger immune system."

"He's not her son!"

"Gibbs, your son is pretty well community property," Kate reminded him patiently.  "We all get him, even me now and then.  Besides it saves you money and it's making Abby happy.  You don't want her to pout do you?"

"I find it very disturbing, Abby."  She raised her head.  "Stop it."

"No.  It's better for him."  She stomped off, heading upstairs.  "Director?  Can I have a few minutes?"  He nodded so she walked into his office. "Tell Gibbs that breast-feeding is better for his son.  Please?  He's being mean because I can."

He looked at her.  Then he shook his head.  "I can't get into that argument, Abby.  I would suggest scientific proof.  Plus to give him a bit of thinking space."  She pouted and looked down.  "I know you're only trying to help, but he's very worried that you're going overboard in your baby envy."

"It's not like I'm pregnant."

"Good, I'm glad to hear that.  We'd hate to lose you even for the maternity leave."  She smiled at that.  "Pull up the scientific evidence, Abigail.  Show it to him.  I'll make sure he's calm when you do that later."  She nodded and headed back to the lab.  He waited until he was alone to call Gibbs.  "You made Abby pout at me, Jethro. I should put you in the corner."  He hung up.

Gibbs hung up and groaned.  "Abby!" he bellowed.  She came slinking back out.  "You went to the director!"

"You're not being reasonable, Gibbs!"  She stomped a foot.  "Breast-fed babies are more healthy.  They've got better immune systems.  They're not as prone to some diseases.  They're not as prone to being overweight.  They don't get as much colic.  They also end up being smarter and more socially capable and involved, Gibbs.  That's all important stuff.  It's better for him and I like doing this.  It makes me feel good and like a great aunt."  She pouted at him.  "It's better for him."  He sighed, rubbing his hands over his face.

"Boss, she does have some points," Tony said patiently.  "All the recent research said that babies who're breast-fed are more healthy over the long run plus they have less social problems apparently.  Abby, you stepped on some major toes by not telling him."

"But he would've told me no."

"There's a reason for that, Abby.  He's not your son," Gibbs complained.

"I know that!  It's not like I'm some psycho stalker chick Tony dated."

Tony moaned at that.  "I only dated the one, Abby.  It was a very long time ago.  Drop it."

She stuck her tongue out at him. Then she looked at Gibbs again. "It's better for his tummy and his health, Gibbs.  I know I'm not the mommy and I'm sure she wouldn't mind too much.  Besides he loves me and it teaches him love and comfort.  Even more than cuddling him all day does; it gives him an elemental comfort that can't be shaken later in life."  He groaned.  "Please?"

"I'll think about it."  She squealed and hugged him across his desk then went back to her lab.  "Don't help her, DiNozzo."

"I was trying to keep her from a major pout fest in the middle of the hall, boss.  Remember the last one?  About that puppy we had to get rid of when it was found on the scene?"

"I do," he admitted, sitting up again.  "I still don't think it's right for her to wetnurse my son."

"Boss, she wants it," Tony pointed out.

Kate nodded.  "She did it to herself, Gibbs.  She had to go on medicine and then make her body realize that it needed to produce it.  She wanted it more than she does one of her own.  What's the real harm?  That he loves her more than he does Tony?"

"I'm not sure his mother would appreciate it, Kate."

"She's about fifteen, Gibbs.  She'll probably agree with Abby.  Hell, I can see Abby being one of those mothers who whips out a breast in public to nurse too."  Tony nodded at that.  "Let her if it's really better for him.  It's probably only one of his bottles a day anyway."

"She's mostly pumping so I'm mixing it for all his bottles."

"Oh."  She grimaced.  "Is it better for him?"

Tony nodded.  "When I caught her doing it I checked.  It's right up there with holding the baby a lot to make it secure in its attention and love and reading to a baby."

"Crap," Gibbs muttered.

"Sorry, boss, but it is a great gift, even if it is an odd one."

"Very odd one.  She did it during the dinner?"

"When she went to change him.  I'm guessing she needed to get some out or wanted to know what it was like to do it for real."  Gibbs considered that.  "Sorry, boss.  I thought you had realized."

"No, I didn't, but I do now."  He considered it then called Abby.  "We'll be talking."  He hung up.  It was as much of a concession he could make right now.  She came back and hugged him, sliding into his lap to cuddle.  "It still bothers me, Abby.  He's my son and I feel that you're trying to be his mother."

"Nope, if I was his mommy he'd be having his own little coffin near mine."


"He'd wear black or baby goth gear all the time.  They make some really cute stuff, Gibbs."  He let out a small smile at that.  "Plus I'd have him on my back all day.  He'd never be out of my sight, even with a nanny."  She slid off his lap.  "Please?"

He sighed but looked at him. "I want to talk to Ducky first."

"Okay.   He's at home today.  His mother found a pair of handcuffs and put them on him."

"I'll get him free," he said, getting up and heading out to do that.  Once he got there, Mrs. Mallard gave him a long look. "Hi, Mrs. Mallard," he said a bit loudly.

"Do I know you?"

"I work with your son."

"Oh.  Yes, that's fine then."  She let him in.  "Do I know you?"

"I'm Jethro, I work with Ducky, Mrs. Mallard."  She nodded and toddled off.  "Ducky?"

"Bedroom," he called back.

Jethro went up to release him, ducking her swing with a pan.  "Mrs. Mallard!"  She snorted and took another swing.  "Mrs. Mallard, I work with Ducky.  I'm Jethro, I work with Ducky all the time."

"That man up there is an intruder."

"It's your son Ducky."  He got free of her and hurried up there, slamming the door and holding it in place.  "Handcuffs?"  Ducky held them up.  "Poor baby," he taunted.  She finally forgot why she was trying to bean him so he let it go and dug out his universal key, coming over to let him go.  "I've got to talk to you."

"About what?"

"DiNozzo found Abby breast-feeding my son."

Ducky blinked a few times at that. "I know she asked me about the medicine and how it worked.  I had no idea she'd actually do it, Jethro."

"Oh, she has.  Janice said a new jug of breast milk appeared yesterday right after I left.  DiNozzo caught her actually feeding him during that dinner."  Ducky sighed. "I'm worried about her, Ducky.  She's saying all the right things but I think she's very wrapped up in being his stepmother.  Even though she said he'd be wearing baby goth gear and sleeping in a coffin if that was true."

"She'd never hurt him, Jethro."  He looked at his old friend.  "It is better for the baby if she does it that way.  There's many benefits.  It's an incredibly gracious and special thing as well for your son."  His mother rushed in.  "Mother, did you remember Jethro?  He came to ask a question about his son."

"You have a son too?"

"Almost six months," he agreed, pulling out a picture.  She smiled at it and handed it back.  "Is it bad that a friend's decided to wetnurse him since his mother's unable to help me with him?"

"Well, it was done very much in the old days by the more proper families, but in today's society?"  She looked at him.  "It is an incredible thing and would probably make the woman want one of her own.  Is she healthy?"

"Very," Ducky agreed.

"Then there shouldn't be too much of a problem.  Ducky, dear, why are you still in your pajamas at this time of day?"

"I was just getting up, mother.  A day of sleeping in you know," he said with a smile.  She smiled back and left.  He looked at the worried father. "We know she won't try to steal him, Jethro."

"I know that.  Should I stop her?"

"I doubt you could," Ducky said as he got up.  "Let me change in the bathroom.  Give me a ride in?"

"Sure."  He considered his options well away from the pout.  "Why doesn't she have one of her own?"

"Because she believes that procreation is something so otherworldly that it might not be possible for her to do," Ducky answered from his bathroom.  He came out dressed and shaved.  "I asked her that and she said she'd have to be seriously with someone before that could occur.  Since she's not and shown no inclination of settling down she's wearing out her maternal longings on your son."

"Which is nice and all but I'm still worried.  What happens if I get transferred or she does."

"It will hurt but Abby knows that's not her child, Jethro.  Besides, the director isn't that mean.  He knows very well that transferring you means that Anthony, Kate, and Abby, plus probably myself, go with you."

"Point."  He stood up.  "Shoes?"  Ducky slid into his loafers and followed him out to the car. "It seems to me that the whole team, minus Kate, are all pushing for pseudo-mother spots.  Hell, when he's over DiNozzo holds Xander more than the nanny does."

"He's never had a stable childhood from what little he's said to me," Ducky said plainly.  "Timothy is looking on this as practice for being a true uncle.  He had a relatively normal family so he's looking forward to that honor soon.  Abigail had a loving family as well.   She was an only child and probably wanted a sibling.  She sees you as her father now and then...."

"So Xander's like her little brother.  DiNozzo stepped into it almost like he does any undercover role."  He started the car and backed out of the long driveway, heading back to the office.

"I fear Anthony may be the one that would truly fixate on the child being the same as his.  He's had almost no experience with them."

"He said he watched a mother who he was on protection detail with."

"I heard that.  He did learn quite a lot apparently."  He considered it.  "They're all very protective of your son, Jethro.  Your boy will be protected no matter what.  Anthony and Abby feel proprietary toward him.  To them he's theirs as well because they're family.   To Timothy he's an honorary uncle."

"So, Tony's the mom, Abby's the big sister, McGee's a friend of the family with honorary uncle status and I'm the dad over all this?"

"Indeed, and I'm the other honorary uncle.  Though my mother might adore him.  She's been flashing back to me being a baby now and then."

"No, Ducky.  She might drop him or forget him somewhere."

"True. I wouldn't suggest leaving them alone together, but she might like a visit some day soon, Jethro.  That way she starts to fixate on something else."

"Sure.  As long as she doesn't claim him as hers when we try to leave."

"That she may do," he admitted.  "We'll have to see what might happen."  He smiled.  "Go left, I need some coffee as well.  She caught me just waking up."

"Sure, Ducky."  He went to their coffee shop and let him get his morning infusion while he got a new cup.  Then he went back to the office to talk to Abby.  He found her playing sad music in the lab and turned it off, making her jump.  "You know you're not his mother, right?"

"I know that.  He would've hurt coming out of me and he's not wearing too much baby goth gear."  She gave him a hopeful look.  "Please?"

"We'll see, Abby."

"But, Gibbs, it's *important*.  Very, very important to how healthy he is."

He considered it. "Fine.  Now and then.  Not every time."

"No, I can pump for most of it," she promised, giving him a hug.  "I'll go feed him at lunchtime."  She went back to work so she could do that.   He walked off shaking his head.  Once he was gone she turned on happier music and started to dance around the lab.  She knew it'd be okay!

Gibbs sat down behind his desk a few minutes later.  "Boss?" Tony asked.


"Want some tylenol?"

"It is better for him."  Tony nodded, tossing over the bottle.  "Thanks, DiNozzo."

"Not a problem, boss."

He took two and tossed it back.  "So why are you so involved in my son?"

"Because he's a great little guy and he'll need a slightly softer edge now and then, Gibbs.  You can't smack the baby on the head when he colors on the walls."

"Point."  He stared at him.  "We were talking about surrogates in the car."

Tony looked around, their teammates were gone, so he leaned back.  "I won't deny that.  I want him to have a better one than I did.  He'll still need a less harsh influence now and then, boss.  Sometimes you scare us.  What's your son going to think when you go scary?"

"That's a better point.  You're always right there with me though."

"Yeah, but it may not always be that way, boss.  This way he knows he can come to me.  Even when you're being mean and have to punish him for something.  This way he knows he's got a safe spot beyond you.  Plus it gets me to the point where someday I might try to undo the damage they did to me for real, Gibbs.  Anything else on this heart-to-heart?"  Gibbs shook his head.  "Thanks, boss.  I've got her address if we wanted to go toss it."

"Let's go. Where are the others?"

"I sent them to talk to her coworkers."  That got a nod and they headed out to their suspect's address.  It was just up the shipyards.  A warrant was easily obtained on the way so they had it covered.


Gibbs grabbed his phone later that month.  "Gibbs."  He smiled.  "What's wrong, Janice?"  He nodded at that, looking at his current case.  "Bring his carrier and diaper bag.  I'm going to be here for at least a few more hours. Theft and rape actually.  That's fine.  Bring my boy to me.  He can sit beside me and make funny faces at DiNozzo.  Sure.  I'll be here."  He hung up and called the guards.  "My nanny's bringing my son to me.  Let them up.  No, a family emergency on her part.  Thank you."  He hung up on them. "Nosy."

Tony smiled.  "Abby will be thrilled, boss."

"I know she will.  Any leads on the jewelry and tv he stole?"

"Local pawn shops haven't gotten it," McGee offered.  "The more illegal ones are a bust too, boss.  We went to check them already and we'll do it again in a few hours in case he waited most of today to do that."  That got a nod.  "I've also included them on the watch list the local PD keeps.  So all the pawnshops in the area know."

"I still say this reeks like a past boyfriend," Tony told them.  McGee looked at him.  "He took stuff she said had been given to her by an admirer.  Hey, boyfriend.  TV's about the same age, right?"  He looked then nodded.  "That sounds like a past boyfriend either taking back what he gave her and what was his, or taking the things some other boyfriend gave her."

"Too bad there's no database for ex-boyfriends," Gibbs said dryly.

"No, but one of the ones the neighbor mentioned did just get out of jail last month, boss.  Her present one by her datebook is a Quaal.  I'm assuming he's foreign.  Could be native and just from a recently immigrated family.  Her last one was a Randy and we've interviewed him. He had an alibi.  We haven't gone back any farther than that though. She's had six boyfriends since she got assigned locally."

"Find the new one, then track down this one that just got out of jail."  That got nods and his boys went back to it.  Kate was still working on getting their victim to give a statement.  His son showed up while they were searching, making him smile. "Hi, Xander. Are you okay, Janice?"

"A bit jumpy.  My son called from the Miami-Dade PD.  They found him and won't tell me why."

"Go ahead.  I can handle him for a day or so.  Let me know what's going on when you hear something."

"Thank you, Jethro."  She kissed him on the cheek and handed over everything.  "My flight leaves in two hours so I've got to head."  She rushed off, then came back to hand him his son's pacifier, then hurried off again.

Gibbs looked at his son.  "That's very good news, son.  Want to sit next to me and coo at your uncles?"  That got a coo and a beam.  "Good boy."  He handed him his pacifier and put his carrier onto the floor, next to his desk so he wouldn't trip over him but he was close enough to grab.  He even set it to rocking.

"Hey, squirt," Tony called, waving a hand while he typed with the other one.  "Have a good day?"

Xander squealed.  "Hi, Xander."  McGee smiled when he got a squeal too.  "Should I warn Abby he's here?"

"You could."  He did that and Abby came squealing up the stairs.  He heard her most of the way up.  "Freeze."  She froze before she reached for the baby.  "He is not to be in the lab while you're using chemicals or doing anything with ballistics."

"Okay, I'm not."  She picked up the carrier and the diaper bag.  "Come on, little man.  Let your daddy go track down the unknown male sample I found on her assault kit."  He wiggled for her and she smiled.  "I know, it's a good thing!  Your daddy is excellent at chasing down unknown male suspects."  She headed down with him in the elevator this time.  She was always very careful of him.

Tony smiled at him.  "Good luck getting him back tonight, boss."

"I will.  She'll have to go home sometime."  He went back to his searching.  "This Quaal.  Do we have a last name?"

"Nope.  Quaal was how she wrote it.  Two a's."

"How many are in the DMV for the surrounding areas?"

Tony ran that search and frowned.  "Twelve if we include the nearest counties of West Virginia.  It's only about an hour so it's not too far to commute."  He looked over the addresses.  "One's got her work address listed as his home one."

"That might be a reasonable place to start," Gibbs agreed.

"On it, boss.  McGee?"  He nodded and followed him.  On the way down in the elevator he called Kate.  "Kate, Tony.  Do we have any sort of description?"  He paused the elevator.  "Excuse me?"  He listened to her say it again.  "Does she know his name?"  He nodded and canceled their trip, then went back upstairs.  "Thanks, Kate."  He got off.  "Boss, she finally got a description and he's a white guy with a ponytail, going gray from blond."  He sat down to amend the search.  "None of the Quaal's are blonds."

"What about that ex?" McGee asked.

Tony looked then nodded.  "Listed as gray."  He looked over.  "No recent DMV photo but a past one and his mug shot both show him having some sparse blond hair."  He called Kate back.  "Ask her if it's her ex Darren.  Because he just got out of jail and I want to weed him and her present boyfriend out, Kate."  He listened while she asked that, getting a stuttered answer.  "Tell her he got out last month."  He nodded while she thought out loud that it could be him.  "Okay, any other past boyfriends who looked like that?"  He wrote down a name.  "Thanks, Kate.  Heading for them now."   He stood up again.  "Could be the ex or one other past boyfriend she thinks.  I'll let McGee search him," he said, handing over the paper and pointing at which one.  "Him, Probie.  Boss, let's go get the ex?"

"Sure."  He went with him.  "Do we know where he is?"

"He should be at the halfway house he was released to," he offered, hitting the button for the garage once they were in the elevator.  "If not they're supposed to know where he is and what time he's due to check in."

"Even better."  He looked at him when they got into the car, Gibbs driving of course.  "Which halfway house?"

"Herald.  The same one Patricks is in."

"I know where that is."

"I figured you would, boss."  They headed off and Tony casually grabbed the bar on the door.  "So they found her kids?"

"She said her son called from the Miami-Dade police station.  They wouldn't tell her why."

"That doesn't sound good."

"No, it doesn't," he admitted.  "I don't want to have to take more time off."

"Boss, if we have to, some of us do have to burn some leave time.  I got the memo today from HR telling me I was out of sick leave and would I like to move some of my accumulated vacation time over."

"It's not always your fault that they like to hurt you," he said dryly, changing lanes without signaling and making for some unhappy drivers behind him.  "I'm hoping she does get her kids back, but maybe she'll settle in as a normal babysitter instead.  It'd still make her money."

"It would."  He waved at the cop that passed them.  "It's nice, they don't even try to stop you anymore, boss."

Gibbs reached over with his free hand and smacked him on the top of the head.  "Shut up, DiNozzo."

"Sure.  So, think Abby's feeding him?" he teased.

Gibbs glared at him.  "Hopefully not at the office."  He parked outside the halfway house and got out, heading inside with Tony right behind him.  "What's his name?"

"Darren Renny Romoco."  He looked at the older man behind the check-in desk.  "Is Romoco in?"

"Within an hour.  Why?"

Gibbs flashed his ID.  "His ex's apartment got broken into.  We're making sure."

"I understand.  We get a lot of you guys coming in here when our boys first get out.  Even if they have paid their time."

"Then he has nothing to worry about," Tony assured him.  "At the moment though, he fits the description."

"He'll be in soon. You can wait or come back."

"Boss, go check on Xander and McGee, I'll wait," he offered.  He nodded, going back to the car.  "Was he here three days ago?"

"Three days ago?  Any particular time?"

"Ten at night."

He looked at his books.  "He checked in but didn't hit dinner."  He looked at him.  "They're not supposed to leave after they've come in but he wouldn't be the first, Special Agent...."

"DiNozzo, NCIS."

"He in bad trouble?"

"Only if he did it."

"I understand.  Shouldn't be too much longer.  He gets here about six-twenty every night.  Takes the bus."  Tony checked his watch, it was six now.  "The one time he was later it was the bus breaking down."

"That's fine.  I'm glad some of the guys who go through here remain straight and go back to a normal life.  It's a great thing."  That got a smile.  "How much recidivism do you get?"

"'Bout thirty percent.  We try to get 'em decent jobs but with a record that's nearly impossible."

"The system does suck that way for those who're truly not going to go back," Tony agreed.  "I worked in Philly and Baltimore.  They had worse rates up there."

"Yeah but we've got call centers and telemarketing firms.  They always need people."

"True, and most don't do a background check," he agreed.  He smiled at the people coming in, getting out of the way.  "Go ahead, guys."

"You waiting for one of us?" one of the women asked.  Tony nodded. "Just in case?" she asked bitterly.

"He fit the description and knew the victim."

"Oh."  She nodded.

"It happens now and then," the guy behind the desk told her calmly.  "Not everyone wants to go straight, Patty."  She nodded at that and finished signing in.  "Dinner tonight's baked chicken."

"Good.  I could use food.  My lunch got cut short."

The other guys all signed in and Tony smiled at him.  "You do a good thing."

"I know, but it sucks when one gets out and just goes right back in."

"We can't be sure.  It's him or one other possible one that she knew.  Or someone random off the street."

"Good.  At least there's some hope."  He nodded.  "There's the bus and he's the guy in the purple sweater."

Tony nodded his thanks and walked out there.  "Darren Renny Romoco?  Go sign in and come here please?"

"Why should I sign in if you're going to take me in?"

"So that no one can say anything, kid," Tony told him seriously.  That got a nod and he went inside then tried to go out the other side.  Gibbs was waiting over there. "Nice catch, boss.  David, did he sign in?"  That got a nod.  "Thanks, we'll bring him back, may be a bit late if it wasn't him."

"That's fine.  I'll write it down."  He signed in the next person.

Tony looked at their suspect.  "That way no one on the parole board or probation can say anything if it wasn't you."

"Why am I being looked at?"

"Rape and B&E," Tony told him.  "Grand theft too."  The guy's eyes went wide.  "Let's go.  Into the car."  He got him into the car and sat in the back with him.  Gibbs got back in to drive.  "Hey, boss, how's the kids?"

"McGee's found the other guy, he moved to Oregon for work.  So it looks like it may be this guy."

"Who did I supposedly attack?" he demanded.

"Your ex," Tony said dryly.

"No!  Uh-uh, it was *consensual*, man!  She wanted it."

"Kid, the right to remain silent is a good thing," Tony told him.  "At least until we get to the station.  Then we can take down your side and figure out which one is right."  That got a nod and Tony felt pity for this one.  Out for barely twenty-six days and going back in again.   It was a failure of the system.  Gibbs gave him a look in the mirror.  Tony gave a small shrug.  "Want me to watch the kid tonight, boss?"

"No, we'll be fine.  He'll probably be sleeping by the time we're done."  That got a nod. "You can have him tomorrow if we have to call off for him."

"Sure.  I could stand that."  They finally got to pull onto the street and headed back to the office to interrogate this guy.  Abby was waiting to take the DNA swab and ran it immediately.  They both smiled at the baby on her back.

"That can't be good for him.  His mother shouldn't work," their suspect complained.  "Mothers should be at home!"

"Abby's a brilliant scientist and it's not her kid," Tony said dryly, staring him down.  "Now, let's go over your side of the story.  That way we can compare and see who's lying."

"Sure."  He settled in with Tony sitting across from him.


Gibbs looked up from his morning coffee, seeing Tony walking in.  "He's not even up yet."

"That's fine.  We're going to watch movies until I've got that court date at ten, and then I'll take him with me."  He jogged up the stairs to get the baby.  It was a legitimate day off since he had court.  He could play with the baby the whole time unless he was on the stand and Kate had to be there too.  He found the baby just starting to wake up.  "Hey, Xander," he cooed.  The baby perked up at his voice.  "Wanna go hang with the Uncle Tony today?  I've got to go to court so you can help me look pretty while Janice is in Miami."  He picked him up and changed him, then packed the diaper bag once he was dressed. "There we go.  Let's go.  You'll like movies."  The baby cooed against his throat.  "Good job, little man!"  He walked out, heading out to his car and the babyseat he had stolen from Abby last night.


The prosecutor looked at the child Tony was holding.  "Do you want to hand him off, Special Agent DiNozzo?"

"I would but Kate's already left for work."

"Is he your son with her?"

"No, this is the son of Gibbs.  We're splitting today because his nanny had a family emergency.  He stays the most quiet for me and Gibbs has paperwork.  Since you only need me for an hour or so...  I volunteered."

"That's fine then.  Try to keep him quiet if you can."  He stuck a bottle in the baby's mouth and got a happy baby again, earning a smile from the judge.  "Thank you."  He went over all of Tony's testimony, only being interrupted once when Xander threw the bottle at the judge for staring at him.  She wiped off the nipple and handed it back with a fond smile.  Then they were free!  Tony got lunch and headed back to the office to check in.  He walked him inside.  "Hey, boss, he loved Peter.  Hated the judge staring.  I told them I volunteered since your nanny had a family emergency and all I needed was there today."  He let him see his son, who let out an unearthly squeal and leaned down.

His father smiled as he caught him.  "Did you have fun watching movies with Tony, Xander?"  His baby patted him and nuzzled his cheek.  "I'll take that as a yes."  He patted him on the back and sat back.  "Do I have your reports from the last case?"

"Did 'em before I headed home, boss.  They should be in your inbox.  If not, I can send them again."

"Send them again."  Tony nodded, turning on his computer to do that.  He looked at his son.  "What are you doing this afternoon?"

"Since I'm on call for the trial, I agreed to babysit my neighbor's puppy too."  Gibbs gave him a look.  "It's a mini Pinscher, boss.  It's cute."  That got a knowing look.  "It is.  It also won't hurt him."  He double clicked on something and sent it again.  "There you go, boss."

"I got it this time," he said when he saw it pop up.  "Thanks."  He looked at his son.  "Want to sit in here with me and stare at the walls or go play with Tony?"  The baby patted him and smiled.  "Does Abby know he's here?"

"Not yet, boss."  He called down there.  "Xander and I are back."  She came up on the next elevator and came over to steal him for a bit.  "It's good we love him."

"It is.  He'd be insane if everyone was like Kate."

"Speaking of, where is she?  She'd already been released when I got there."

McGee looked over.  "She went to visit her friend at the college for lunch.  He did okay on the hot seat?"

"He had a bottle he threw at the judge once because she was staring."  Gibbs snickered quietly at that.  "It was Judge Pam."

"I remember her," Gibbs admitted.  "Did he hit her?"

"Damn near, she ducked."

"Good job.  Maybe he'll play ball when he's older."  He got to work looking over his reports.  "You can go repossess him."

"I'm giving Abby time to coo and feed him, boss."  Gibbs looked at him.  "She probably is."  Gibbs got up and Tony headed after him.  They did indeed find Abby feeding the young one in her office.  Well away from any evidence, chemicals, ballistics, or anything else.  She looked so content and wasn't bouncing to something loud and annoying this time.  The baby was nearly asleep in her arms.  She was whispering quietly to him.  Tony found his scene camera and took a picture, making her squeak and look up.  He took another one.  "Hi.  He done yet?"

"With this side.  He's got another one."

"He only had a bottle an hour ago."

"It'll be fine and I'll pump the rest for later."  She shifted so she could switch sides and not expose herself to them, then let him latch on again.  "How long before Janice comes back, Gibbs?"

"I haven't heard from her yet.  I should by tonight," he offered.  She did look calmer than he had ever seen her.  Kate walked in and blushed, turning around.  "She offered," he told her.

"Do you have to watch her do that?" she demanded.

"It's a natural thing, Kate, and it's good for his little tummy, immune system, and brain.  It'll make him a baby genius."  Xander grunted and patted her, looking not happy.  "You will be.  I'll help," she promised.  "No matter what."  She kissed his hand and he kept sucking.  "There you go, you have nummies from the auntie.  It's good for you."  She looked over to see Kate still bright red.  "Kate, it's a natural thing.  Women did it for centuries."

"Not with two people watching them."

"Not like I care.  They can't see anything."  She looked down at the baby.  "Forgive her but she's a prude sometimes.  She wouldn't have liked me doing this in the park last week at all, huh?"

"In the park?" Gibbs demanded.

"When we went out for our stroll.  He got hungry."  She grinned.  "He got a lot of compliments about being handsome and cute too."  She smiled down at him.  "Full?"  He panted but went back to sucking, just slower.  "Here, take him, Tony."  Tony came over to take the baby while she did her bra back up.  She even gave him the spitup cloth she had been using so he could burp him. "There.  I'll pump the rest in a while."

"Thanks, Abby," Gibbs said.  It had looked incredibly natural to see her do that.  He looked at his son.  "Feel better?"  He burped and Tony cleaned it up.  Gibbs got the spot he missed.  "Dry cleaner should be able to get that out."

"It happens, boss.  Trust me it does happen."  He looked at his son.  "You wanna go watch more movies with me today?"  The baby gave him a sleepy grin and he smiled back. "Okay, we'll go watch more movies since I'm on call for that silly trial.  The guy really should've taken a deal," he said as he walked out with him.

Kate shook her head.  "The whole team is going insane."  She stomped off.

Abby and Gibbs shared a look.  "She'll come around, Gibbs.  This blew how she saw you and Tony, that's all."

"I know.  You okay?"

"Yeah, I'll pump the rest and bring it over tonight on the way home."  The director came in and she smiled and waved.  "Hi, Director.  Did you not get a report?"

"No, I was wondering why Kate came out of here bright red and embarrassed?"

"Oh, I volunteered to breast-feed Gibbs' son, like I told you, and I was doing that."

"In the lab?"

"Not like I can in the bathroom.  There's nowhere to sit.  I would've went to the break room but we've got some pervs working here."

"I'll arrange for a better spot, Abby.  How about Ducky's office?"

"With the morgue smells?  It'll turn his stomach.  Besides, Palmer would watch."

"Probably," he sighed.  "How often do you do this?"

"Not very often here.  He's not often here but Gibbs' nanny had a family emergency so we're all stepping in for the day."

"I heard DiNozzo had him," the director said, looking at Gibbs.

"He came over at oh-six-hundred to steal him, sir.  Said he only had court today so he was mostly free.  I don't begrudge anyone wanting to baby my son as long as they're good to him.  I trust DiNozzo, McGee, and Abby to handle him appropriately."

"That's fine then.  Try to keep it down, Jethro.  I know emergencies crop up but try to keep it down and him out of the office."

"That's one way to make sure he follows in his daddy's footsteps," Abby said happily.  He smiled at that and the director shook his head at that image, heading off.  "I only pump here mostly, Director."

"I'll have comfortable chair brought into the ladies' room, Abby."  He went to tell maintenance that.  "Move a comfortable seat into the ladies' restroom by the lab please."  It got him a funny look.  "Miss Scuito is pumping milk for Gibbs' son."

"That's sweet of her, but why here?"

"Because it has to be done every few hours, son.  Trust me.  My wife did the same thing.  Just stick a comfortable chair in there somehow.  Or get her office shades."  That got a nod and he went to see what they could move for her comfort.  He went to his office to take something for his headache.  "Give me ten minutes before anything," he ordered.

"Yes, sir, the Sec Nav wanted you to call back as soon as you got in."

"I'll do that in ten minutes too."  He went to take something for his headache and leaned back to close his eyes while it started to work.  Then he called his boss. "Sir, you wanted to speak to me?" he asked when he finally got through.  He listened.  "No, I believe his nanny had a personal emergency and had to leave the city for a few days.  Since Special Agent DiNozzo had court today and is on call for them all day we didn't expect him in today anyway.  He volunteered."  He listened to him.  "It's not that unusual, sir.  It's just that they don't often take them onto the stand with them.  In this case I'm supposing Agent Todd had left already so he had to."  He listened to him some more, shaking his head.  "No, sir, he's not here now.  Agent DiNozzo brought him in so his father could see him for lunch.  He ate some with Abby Scuito, and then they left again just now.  Why?"  He smirked at the confused sounding person.  "No, sir, I was told she took special medicine to be able to breast-feed him.  Well, we don't have a specific space set up for that.  She was in her office, which is about as private as you can come in this building.

"Yes, sir, I know that, but babies don't wait for anyone.  I have arranged to put a nice chair in the ladies' room down there for her to use from now on.  No, sir, most people don't want to walk into Abby's lab.  She's hardly ever bothered by more than phone calls.  That meant it was as private as she could find.  Well, she could have used the break room but she had reservations about some of her coworkers staring."  He smirked at the assertion it would happen.  "Anything else, sir?  Well, there was a joking comment made about putting DiNozzo on as his nanny but keeping him on the agency's payroll," he said dryly.  "People do still come after Gibbs.  That one contract was never canceled.   No, I was thinking if he was injured severely it'd be a good terminal position for him, sir."  He leaned back some more.  "Thank you, sir.  Of course.  I'll tell her to be more private but we really don't have a space set up.  Thank you, sir."  He hung up and called maintenance again.  "The Sec Nav said we're using auxiliary closet three as a room for her to feed the baby or pump in.  Set it up."  He hung up and went back to nursing his headache.  He'd let Gibbs hear the old fashioned way that Tony had taken his baby onto the stand and he had been declared cute by most of JAG.


Gibbs walked into Tony's place after a quick knock and the use of his key.  "He sleeping?"

"No, he's chewing on the dog's ear."  The dog growled.  "Sorry."

Gibbs came in and took a picture with his phone of the cuteness.  His son was sucking on the dog's ear while cuddling him like a blankie.  "That's too cute for words."

"It is.  Xander, pet the doggy," Tony told him.  "Just like Uncle Tony showed you.  Pet the doggy."  The boy patted the doggy and let the ear go to coo.  He even cheek-nuzzled the top of his head.  The dog growled so Xander scowled at him, looking him in the eyes, then he went back to it, and eventually back to is patting and ear sucking.

Gibbs smiled at that.  "Did we take video?"

"Yup, the last time he did it."  He handed over the tape.  "He's been great for me.  Not hungry.  He's been playful all afternoon and he loves the neighbor's dog."  That got a smile.  "He does."  He smiled and held out his arms. "Want to cuddle me before you go home?"  The baby scowled at him. "Your daddy's here to take you home, Xander."

Xander scowled at his father and hugged the dog tighter around the middle.  Then he went back to sucking and patting the dog's back.

"Looks like this is going to be a hard sell," Gibbs said.  "The neighbor?"

"Just got home.  She'll be over in a few minutes."  He pointed the direction and Gibbs went to get her.  He smiled at her when she came in.  "He loves your Homer."

"I can see that.  Is he sucking on his ear?"

"Has been for the last hour.  His pacifier's in the car."

"Oh."  She came over to take her dog, getting a happy bark and tail wagging loves from him.  "Did you have fun playing with the baby, Homer?"  The baby scowled at her and her heart melted.  "I've got to take him home and feed him, young man."  Xander leaned over and tried to get into her shirt.  "Now I know you're related to Tony," she teased, handing him to Tony.  He fussed.  "The next time you're over Tony can come get Homer for you to play with."

"Thank you for helping peel my son off him," Gibbs said quietly.  "I'm hoping he won't cry all the way home."

"Fat chance," she said with a sweet smile.  "Maybe he should have a pet."

"When he's walking we'll see about a pet."  She nodded and left with her dog, nuzzling noses with him and babbling about what a good boy he was.  "The dog let him?"

"He stared at the dog for a few minutes then he came over to sniff him.  He grabbed him by the tail, getting a yelp.  He cooed and I got down there to watch him closer.  The dog ended up in his lap and his ear was a convenient target."  He shrugged.  "I taught him how to pet the dog too.  He was pounding a bit harder."

"I'm guessing that's normal," he admitted.  "Son, wanna go home?"  His son cuddled Tony and looked at him, his thumb in his mouth.  "Come on.  We'll go have a bottle.  Then a bath?"  His son cooed but stayed with one hand in Tony's hair.  "Huh."

"Well, there was apparently a joke about me being on the payroll as your nanny, boss," Tony teased.

"I doubt NCIS would do that, DiNozzo."  He peeled his son off his senior agent.  "You feel better?" he asked him.

"A lot.  Thanks."

"Welcome.  Did Abby drop by food?"

"No, she dropped by to feed him about a half-hour ago.  Cute too.  He dove down her shirt too."  Gibbs sighed and shook his head, walking his son off once he had grabbed the diaper bag.  He also got into Tony's car to get the pacifier on the front seat.  Then they headed home.  Tony put his feet up and restarted the movie.  Xander didn't like the great old ones.  He had fussed at the Rodgers and Hammerstein version of _The King and I_.  He'd have to make sure the baby had better taste.


Gibbs walked up to the director's office a week later.  "What's going on, director?"

"Where is your nanny?"

"Fighting for her children.  She's in court today with them.  Why?"

"Where is Agent Todd?"

"At home in bed with supreme PMS that's making her homicidal.  My son's at a local daycare for the day."  That got a smile.  "It's a backup.  They know that."  That got a nod.  "Anything else, sir?"

"Is she coming back?"

"She says she is but it'll be about a week for all the paperwork to go through.  Her lawyer up here apparently sent down the forms she needed to show that the last judge was taking bribes and had been disbarred for it.  That they're appealing the custody right now.  With the father being arrested for dealing drugs she's got a good shot.  She was talking about setting up a daycare in her home so not much different than before for Xander."

"Good.  Would you like a few days off to spend with him?"

"We're in the middle of an investigation, Tom.  I can't do that."

"You can, Jethro.  It's the little things you'll miss when they're older," he said quietly, staring at him.  "Or if something happens again."  Gibbs growled.  "That contract was never canceled.  We know someone from one of the local gangs in that part of Texas is up here to hunt for you.  She upped the bounty to ten grand, Jethro.  I want you and him safe.  They're scum who wouldn't think twice about targeting your son to get to you."

"I know that."

"That's good.  I'm reassigning your case and your team is going to guard you until we have  him custody.  Right now he's being a bit slippery while Fornell tries."  That got a nod.  "Do you think you can handle that?"

"They're over half the time to watch him anyway."

"I had heard that," he agreed with a small smile.  "It's good he's so loved, Gibbs.  Take them home.  Pick whichever one you want for first shift."

"Yes, director."  He headed out cursing under his breath.  He looked at his team.  "We're handing over the case."

"Why?" Kate demanded.  Apparently someone had tipped her off so she had come in.

"Because the contract from the family in Texas never got canceled," Tony told her while he wrapped up his current research.  "If we can have an hour, boss, I think we can get him."  Gibbs looked at him so he put it on the big screen next to his boss's desk.  "That's the guy.  Abby found a fingerprint match and he's local.  I called his work to check, he's in."

"Go get him. We can write reports at my house."  He looked at Kate.  "You going or do you want first shift?  I got ordered you guys are guarding us since there's a gang member from Texas up to cap me."

She stared. "I'll take first watch.  Where's your son?"

"Daycare.  Janice won't be back for a few more days."  That got a nod and she sealed her desk for the day, following him down to the car.  The other two had checked out another one.

"Is this really necessary?"

"The director said they upped it to ten grand," he said as he backed out.  "That brings my total up to around two and a half million, Kate.  Each time a new one comes up he's very careful."  She gaped in horror.  "I'm effective.  The bad people hate me," he said facetiously.  He put the car into forward and headed out.  The stop at the daycare was pretty short.  His son was napping and easily signed out for the day.  His carrier snapped into the base in the back seat.  And they were off for his place.  He let Kate go in to search first, nodding when she waved him inside.  He carried in his son and his diaperbag, settling his son on the floor in the living room for now.  He was just starting to get to his knees.  He put the bottles into the fridge and counted diapers.  "Check his diaper, Kate.  He hasn't been changed today."

She made a face but did that.  "Dry and clean, Gibbs."

"Huh.  I wonder if I should worry about that."  He debated calling the doctor.  Then he decided to call Ducky.  "Is it normal for him to not need changed for four hours?" he asked.  "No, I'm safe.  Why?  Tony's with McGee getting our last suspect."  He smirked.  "Call the director, Ducky.  He'll send guys your way.  No, I'll do that.  Thanks."  He hung up and called the director's secretary.  "Ducky's got an intruder in the morgue but he can't reach his button.  Thank you."  He hung up.  "Maybe that was our stupid person."

"With your luck it's someone else," she complained.  She found a new picture on the mantle and looked at it.  "Who's that?"

He looked.  "The brunette is his mother.  The blonde is her sister, the other is her mother.  Her mother just died of a brain tumor."  She shuddered. "She's got a strong family out there, Kate.  It'll be fine."  He patted her on the back and looked at his son, who was staring at them.  "Yes, you're home again.  It's all right though.  I promise.  The noisy ones will be over later."  Xander got to his knees and wobbled, then fell down, giggling.  "Good, you do that.  It's an important step, son."  He went back to making his coffee.  He handed her a bottle of water.  "Here, give it to him please."  She handed the baby the bottle and both Gibbs scowled at her.  "Feed him please, Kate."


"Just until I'm done in the kitchen, Kate."  He went back to puttering for a few minutes and came back to find her awkwardly feeding the baby.  "You don't nuzzle her, son.  She's not the one who feeds you."  He took him back, settling him in his lap with the bottle.  "Ducky said you needed water so you don't constipate too much."  The baby farted.  "Yeah, that stuff."  He stuck the water back into his mouth and he sucked, content to be held for now.  Halfway through the bottle he wiggled until Gibbs put him and his bottle back down.  He sat up to drink it, beaming at them for his brilliance.

"It's a good first step," Kate assured him.  "Pretty soon you'll be walking and daddy will have to babyproof the house."

"Already started that.  I'll get the rest of the stuff this weekend," he admitted. "They were out of the latch I liked."

"I never imagined you being the sort of father who did *everything*, Gibbs."

"Not like his mom's here to help."

"Good point."  She shrugged. "You're still not the sort I'd expect to go to baby gym classes and things."

"We liked water aerobics.  He likes anything to do with water and it was a good workout."  He smiled at her.  "If his mother or another person were here I'd probably be doing a bit less but I'm the only one here and I'm going to be a good father.  Or else Abby would probably steal him for good."  She nodded at that.  "Besides, it's a good stress break.  He makes me slow down and think instead of react."  He looked at his son, who was staring at him. "Otherwise I'd complain when you drooled on the boat the other day."  The baby smiled.  "We'll do more of that tonight."  The baby babbled behind the bottle.  "Good boy.  You drink."  He went back to sucking on the nipple as ordered.  Gibbs used his foot to prop the bottle up higher, making him a happier baby since he was getting liquid again.  Someone pounded on the door and Xander dropped the bottle, glaring that way.  "Huh," Gibbs said as he went to see who it was.  "Yes?" he asked the young woman on the other side.

"Is my pookie here?" she demanded, trying to push past him.  "Let me go!" she demanded when he stopped her.  "Xander is mine!"

"He's not."

"He is!  He's my boyfriend and I'm not having orgasms because of Willow.  I'm taking him to have him cured."

Gibbs snorted and gave her a shove.  "Go away, lady."  He slammed the door in her face and went to call Dawn.  "Dawn, it's Jethro.  Anya's out here.  Just a head's up."  He hung up and went back to looking at his son.  "I slammed the door in her face."  His son hugged his leg.  "You're welcome, son."   Kate looked so confused.  "He was named after their friend, who disappeared about the same time he was born.  She's fixated on the thought that he's her ex."

"Oh."  She nodded. "Is she dangerous?"

"Only to your eardrums."

Tony walked in.  "Boss, why is Anya casting stuff on the front lawn again?"  He walked into the living room.  "I knocked her out this time.  Should we call the cops?"

"Go ahead.  Have them send her back to Sunnydale."  That got a nod and he went to call from the kitchen while McGee finished handcuffing her.  Tony even went to explain it to them and how she had obviously wandered away from Sunnydale since they were supposed to have a guardian on her out there.  They agreed and called Dawn's phone number again to let them know that they had her so they could send her back. He picked up his son to cuddle. "See, I told you I'd protect you, Xander," he said quietly. His son put his head on his shoulder and cuddled in, grinning at him. "Maybe DiNozzo will help you pick up better women."  He settled in to hold him and let him cuddle.

Tony and McGee came back.  "He ran from us.  Local LEO got him while he was running.  He ran into one of their cars that was in pursuit.  We talked, they'll hand him over tonight to the secondary team the director chose for booking."  That got a nod.  "So we're here until this is done with."

"Take turns getting bags.  This could take a few days.  Then you can work out a rotation schedule."

"I'll take nights, boss."  Kate nodded at that.  "Want morning or afternoons?"

"Mornings.  Let McGee have the afternoons.  I'll relieve you at 8?"

"Good for me," Tony agreed.  She nodded and left.  McGee came in.  "You've got afternoons.  You'll relieve Kate at four.  I'll relieve you at ten."  That got a nod and McGee settled in since it was his shift.  "I'm here.  Go get stuff if you need it."

"I'm good.  I've got my spare laptop in the car if I need it, Tony.  Go get your stuff if you need it."

"I've got a bag in the car with a pillow, McGee.  I know better than to not be prepared."

"Yeah, but we didn't take your car."

"Oh, yeah."  He nodded and went to get his car.  McGee would realize his was back at the office later on and could get it then.  He drove around for a bit then came back to relieve him a bit early since he had dinner.  He nodded and McGee left, leaving him one crying infant and a frustrated father.  He picked him up and stared at him.  "That's a hell of a lot of noise, Xander."  The baby sniffled but quit screaming.  "Now, what's wrong?  Tummy ache?  Headache?  Hurt yourself?"   The baby sniffled so he held him around the middle.  That got another cry.  "Sounds like this little one's stuffed up."

"Ducky said it could be happening since he didn't go this morning," Gibbs admitted.  He went to the cabinet to do what Ducky had said, handing over the small pouring spoon of medicine.  "Here."  Tony held him while Gibbs got him to drink most of it.  "There, that should help.  That and a warm bath."

"I've got it, you dish up dinner and calm down."  He went upstairs with the baby, putting him into the water.  He fussed. "Hey, boss, I'm going to get down to my boxers and climb in with him."

"I'll do that.  You come watch."  He traded places and did that, getting with him.  It meant more water had to be added and he could make it a bit warmer, but Xander didn't seem to mind.  He curled up on his stomach and sniffled his chest.  "Good boy, Xander.  Let the medicine work and we'll be fine.  You can have some water later and it'll be even better."  The baby let out another fart but nothing else.  He went to sleep that way, one hand in Gibbs' chest hair, straddling his stomach.  "Good boy, baby."  He stroked his back.  Tony brought in a plate on a small bedtray and put it beside him with a grin.  "He'll be fine."

"I'm sure he will.  I called Ducky anyway to tell him, just in case it becomes more of an issue," he said quietly.  "Eat and rest, boss. I've got the house and you both covered."  He went back downstairs to eat while watching outside.  He saw a car pull in and park, frowning at it.  A familiar man got out so he opened the door.  "What are you doing here, Fornell?"

"I've put two guys on the street.  Where's Gibbs?"

"His son's got a stomach ache, they're in the bath."  He finished dinner and put his plate down.  "Is it that serious?"

"Unfortunately so.  One of the major players in that gang is up here.  They're being sworn about in numerous cities so your director called mine.  You know how that goes."

"I do," he agreed dryly.  "Well, they're in the bath.  His stomach's a bit backed up at the moment."

"Charming.   Who's here with you?"


"Oh.  Want another agent up here on the lawn?"

"Not necessary.  Your two on the street should be fine.  Can you give us the info file on this guy and the gang?"

"I can.  I sent it to McGee earlier."

"I'll get it from him then.  Anything else we should know?"

"Not at this moment.  The kid all right?"

"Too much cheese," he said dryly.

"Eww.  I didn't need to know that."

"You asked."

"Point.  I'll quit asking.  So what's this rumor I heard that they're going to make you his nanny and keep paying you?"

Tony shrugged. "Running joke around the office from what I heard."

"Let's hope so. You'd look crappy as Mrs. Doubtfire."

"Actually, I can pull off drag and no I don't."  Fornell gaped in horror.  Tony grinned.  "Later."  He shut the door in his face and took his plate to clean up the mess he had made.

"Do I want to know how you know that?" Gibbs called.

"No, boss.  It was a charity thing in my frat days," Tony called back with a smirk.  "Though I did have the thought of coming in to hit on Kate that way.  See how she liked the gay passes she teases me about."   It got suddenly quiet upstairs.  He cackled quietly to himself.

Gibbs came down an hour later.  "You gave both of us mental images we did not need, DiNozzo.  Do you need a real vacation?" he asked sarcastically.

"No, boss, you know I'd rather be on your six than anywhere else in the world.  Especially since I know our next case will have bikinis."

Gibbs patted him on the head.  "Why don't you nap for a few?  I'll watch over us."

"You're the one in protection."

"You're the one with the scary mental images, DiNozzo.  Nap before I knock you out."  Tony shrugged and went to take a ten minute nap on the couch.  Gibbs looked up.  "Did you curse me with that mental image too?" he asked quietly.  "If so, I haven't been that bad in decades."  He made himself some more coffee and went to watch the world outside.  He doubted some kid from the city in Texas was going to go through the woods so that door was simply deadbolted and had the electrical cord wrapped around it, with the bare spot around the metal of the knob. They'd hear if he touched it.


Kate walked up to the director a few days later.  "Sir, do you have a few?"

"Of course, Agent Todd.  What's wrong?"

"It's been a week. Haven't we caught this guy yet?"

"Not yet.  I wish I could say we had."  He looked at her.  "Not enjoying guarding him?"

"I'm not maternal.  It's not my strong suit, sir.  The only reason the baby likes me is because he likes to suck hickeys on my neck."

"I was wondering if you had started to date," he admitted.

"No, that's the demented son of Gibbs' marking.  I'm pretty sure Abby's got one somewhere else too."

"I don't want to think about that, Agent Todd.  Like the pool about who you were dating I heard was going on."

"Really?  Who started that one?"

"I believe it was someone down in reception but it could've been someone in HR.  Why?"

"I'm surprised Tony didn't," she admitted bitterly.

"No, I heard his bet had to do with lesbians," he admitted with a small smirk at her upset face and foot stamp, plus the muttered 'I'm going to kill the little perverted asshole' under her breath.  "If you want I can add more people to the detail, Agent Todd.  That way you're not stuck playing pacifier."

"Please!  Even Fornell.  The baby likes to stare at him in horror or something.  Tony's warping the kid and McGee's trying to teach him how to hack already.  I can't take much more of this."

"We're working on it, Agent Todd, and I'll have Tobias send over more people to spell you  now and then."

"Thank you."  She walked off, her errand done for the day once she had picked up everyone's check.  She really needed to blow off some steam and a quick shopping trip would be just the perfect thing.

The director smiled at the frustrated young woman's back.  "Not everyone can be maternal, Caitlyn.  You'll find you're much more maternal than you think some day soon I'm sure," he said as he went to his office to make that call.  Best get it out of the way so Gibbs could throw a fit by the time Tony got there tonight.


Gibbs looked over as Fornell knocked then walked in.  "What's wrong now?"

"We still haven't caught him and we're rotating some of the people around."

"Which one complained?"


"The others like Xander more.  He thinks she's a pacifier."

"Really?  I thought she was dating again.  Two of my guys thought she had finally found her girlfriend and soulmate."  Gibbs spluttered.  "I'll have to tell them they bet wrong then.  Anyway, you're getting some extra people since it's been over a week."  He sniffed.  "Are you cooking?"

"No."  He looked at the back door then outside.  "Huh.  Well, looks like we can have deer for dinner.  McGee?"  He came into the kitchen.  "Feed him some more mush."  He unplugged the cord and gave it a few minutes to discharge through the door, then he carefully opened it with an oven mitt.  He looked at the deer that had come into contact with his trap.  "Huh."  He grabbed a knife and went to field dress it.  "Want steak for dinner or roast?" he called.

"Whatever you feel like cooking, boss, I don't eat deer.  I don't know if it's well or not," McGee called.  Gibbs looked at him.  "There's a disease like mad cow that's hit the deer population in a number of states."

"I'll have a chunk tested by Abby," Fornell promised.  Gibbs handed him some and the brain.  "Gee, thanks."  He went to put it into something and send it into the lab.  He came back to wash his hands off and looked at the staring little boy.  "Am I funny colored?"  The boy beamed at him.  "What?" he sighed.

"He likes you," McGee said with a small grin, going back to feeding him mush.  "So I heard we're rotating out?"

"Not all of you.  Mostly Todd.  We'll set another agent in here and one out back as well, Gibbs."

"Yay me," he called.  He shook his head quickly.  "Sorry, picked it up off Dawn."

"Who is Dawn?" Fornell demanded.

Gibbs came back into the kitchen.  "The woman who gave birth to Xander."

"Oh!  Her.  I heard what they did.  Is she okay?"

"She's fine.  She'll be fifteen very soon."  He shuddered at that.  "At least everyone knows I'd never go for someone that young."  Tony walked in.  "Want deer steaks or roast tonight?"

"Roast, I'll do potatoes."  He grinned at Fornell.  "I'm not switching out.  Sorry."

"Not a problem.  We figured it was only her."

"I wouldn't mind a day off.  There's things I need to do that'll take more than a few hours," McGee offered.  "Boss?"

"Do it tomorrow, McGee."

"Thanks, boss."  He made airplane noises and the baby beamed at him and spit the cereal out.

Tony kissed him on the head. "If you don't eat, you can't drink from the Abby well, Xander."  He ate the next few spoonfuls without problem.  "She'll be over for dinner.  Okay?"  The baby fussed.  "Tough. She's got work to do."  He looked at what his boss was doing then shook his head and walked off again, getting a cloth to start cleaning up the mess.  "Now I know why my nanny hated baby food."  He scrubbed the little face, getting a small fuss.  "Oh, quit.  It doesn't hurt," he soothed, finishing up with stuff on his nose.  "Did you try to feed yourself?"  The baby smirked at him.  "I know.  It's a fun game.  You still have to put more of it in your stomach so you can walk sooner.  Won't that be fun?"  The baby cooed at that and held up his arms.  "Cover that and put it in the fridge.  He wants to play, McGee."

"Sure, Tony.  Are you here?"

"I can be.  Get my stuff out of the car?"  That got a nod and he went to do that, bringing in the new bag of clothes and the groceries.  Gibbs gave him a long look.  "I was tired of the usual. I thought I'd cook tonight or tomorrow so we had *real* food, boss."  He looked at Xander.  "Okay, let's work on the crawling stuff."  He put him down onto the floor and got down with him.  "Go see what daddy's doing."  Xander got to his knees with a shiteating grin and scooted a few inches.  "Go again.  That's the way."  The baby did it again and looked at him, getting a hair stroke.  "Good boy.  Keep going.  Go see daddy.  He'll call Abby sooner if you do."  The boy scooted some more, still dragging his knees.  Tony leaned over to help him move his knees too, getting an awed look.  Then he tried it on his own.  "Yup, like that.  Now, do that and go see daddy."  Xander crawled to Fornell and stared up at him, making Tony laugh.  "I know he's fascinating in some odd way, Xander, but go see daddy."  He looked around and saw his shirt, so he headed that way.  "Outside, like the puppy is," Tony said, pointing him in the right direction.  "Go that way."  Xander slowly creeped that way.

Gibbs felt someone gnaw on his ankle and looked down. "How did you get out here?"  He patted him with a part of his shirt over his messy hand.  "Go see Tony.  He'll call Abby."  His son scowled.  "Oh, is it my turn to call Abby for you?"  He nodded.  "I will once you're inside."  He turned him around and watched him crawl, and Tony catching it on the videocamera he had brought.  "Good job, Xander!"  He smiled at his son, who beamed back.  "Tony, call Abby for him?"

"Already did, boss.  She'll be over for a mid-afternoon snack."  The baby cooed at that and continued past him, heading for the living room.  A crash soon followed and they all groaned, going to see what had broken.  Xander sniffled in the middle of the mess.  "Did the Uncle Tim leave a glass out?" he demanded.  "We'll have to spank the Uncle Tim."

"McGee might like that," Fornell said dryly, handing the child to Gibbs.  "Get the broom, DiNozzo."

"Going, extra boss," he taunted, going to find the broom and clean up the mess.  Plus to warn Abby she had a more mobile young mouth to feed.  She squealed and told the director she'd be taking a long lunch so she could hurry over.  He watched as she ran inside to hug him, ewwing at what Gibbs was doing, but taking the baby up to his room to feed him an extra special meal this time.  He went more than happily, he loved his Abby meals.  Tony shook his head at Fornell's curious look.  "She took medicine so she could breast-feed him," he explained quietly.  "In the park, in the office.  Scared us a few times."

Fornell shivered and headed back outside.  "I'm going to up the protection detail."  He slammed the door behind him.

Gibbs looked out.  "Abby has him?"

"Yup and Fornell shivered, boss."

"He can't have me," Abby called.  "I'm a one-man girl and my man is Xander."

The guys just smiled at that.  Abby could be so mushy sometimes.  Tony put down the broom and snuck upstairs with the camera to catch them having his snack.


Gibbs finally got to go back to work a few weeks later, looking at his boss.  "Anything else I need to be aware of before I hit my desk?"

"Is that your son on your back?"

"Yup.  Janice's son has a fever that he caught.  I'm bringing him to Ducky to make sure it's nothing.  Then he's going to sit beside my desk because I'm sure I have a backlog of paperwork."

"That's fine, Jethro. What about his daycare?"

"He can't go if he's got a fever."

"Oh.  Understandable really.  Wouldn't want it to spread.  I hope you don't pull a case today."

"Me too."   He headed to see Ducky, who took the baby immediately to hold and his assistant Mr. Palmer came over to coo at him too.  "Fever.  They won't let him come in today."

"It does happen, even to the most healthy babies, Jethro."  He pulled out his ear thermometer, testing him.  "A mere one hundred.  Not that horrible, young man."  Xander stared at him.  "Yes, Xander, it's Uncle Ducky."  The baby leaned forward to kiss his nose, making him smile.  "We love you as well, young man.  Now, did your father give you tylenol?"

"Twice now and it won't go down."

"The standard dosage?"


He looked at him.  "What about his relative's medical histories?  Anything in them?"

"I have it somewhere."  He went to look it up, he knew he had it on his computer.  He came back twenty minutes later.  "He doesn't react well to pain killers.  They never seem to work on him."

"Ah, then that would hamper his fever being affected as well."  He looked at the boy.  "Perhaps your father should call off today as well."

"I can't.  I've just had three weeks off, Ducky."


"He caught it from her son."

Tony walked in and took the baby to hold, looking at him.  "Come on, little guy.  Uncle Tony has a headache."

"He's fine, DiNozzo."

"The director said so, boss."  He walked out with the baby, taking him to his place to give him a bath and reduce it the old fashioned way.

Gibbs went to talk to his boss, who only handed over a piece of paper when he stormed in.  "What's this?"

"Bad news and you'll want him out of the way."  He looked at him.  "Ari's back, Jethro."


"He's back.  We know he's back.  Fornell sent that."  Gibbs ground his teeth.  "I know you need DiNozzo, but right now McGee would be more helpful and your nanny can take him once his fever goes down."  He nodded once at that.  "I'd rather have him protected."

"So would I and this is a safer spot."

"Not if he's sick it's not.  We don't know what Ari's going to pull this time."

"Fine.  Is it my case?"

"No.  He's a mole but Fornell had a gut feeling that something was going to happen."  Gibbs moaned at that.  "Therefore it won't happen, Gibbs.  Am I understood?   Your team's health and the health of your son are the first priority.  If he comes after you this time, I'll expect him dead."

"Agreed.  He's a mole?"

"He is.  There's a terrorist cell in the city."

"Wonderful.  One we didn't know about?"

"No but he's infiltrating it for a few agencies."

"Even better. How many of them are willing to sacrifice my team to get this information?"

"All of them."

Gibbs just nodded. "Does DiNozzo know?"

"I told him.  What did he tell you?"

"You said he had a headache."

"He probably does.  That boy and concussions are a great combination."  He gave him a look.  "Now shoo.  Find out what's going on.  Figure out how to keep him the safest.  Or else I am making DiNozzo your official nanny."  Gibbs snorted but went down to his team.  The director slumped.  Gibbs was going to destroy someone and he didn't have a qualm about it at the moment.  Even if everyone had warned him not to tell him.  You didn't do that to a father or a mother.

Gibbs looked at his team.  "Listen up."  They looked at him.  "Ari's back in town.  This is top secret."  They both stared at him.  "He's a mole," he said more quietly, moving to lean against his desk.

"Bullshit," Kate said hotly.  "How could they think he'd be loyal?"

"That's the point of DiNozzo having a headache, Kate."  She gaped.  "We know he's targeting this team and especially me. I want plans on my desk by lunch on how to protect the team as a whole.  Fornell's gut was as bad as mine and he called."

"Boss, they can't expect you to be willing to sacrifice yourself if he shows up again, right?" McGee asked.

Gibbs looked at him.  "There are people on the other side of this equation who think losing this whole team, including my son, Janice, and her children, is a worthwhile price, McGee.  He's in a cell locally."  McGee sat down hard at that.  "Am I clear on how careful you will suddenly become?"  McGee nodded at that.  "Kate?"

"Of course!  Are we sure he's in the city?"

"Yes."  He looked at the note then at her, handing it over.  "I want it by lunch, Agent Todd."

"On it, Gibbs."  She sat down to work out a security protocol for the team, including associated members like Ducky, Abby, and Gibbs' son and nanny.  She looked at him once he had sat down. "Tony?"

"Has a headache."

"Sure.  His house is pretty secure."

"It's also too small."

"I know that, Gibbs. Just saying."

Gibbs looked at him.  "I know very well Tony would protect my son with his life.  The same as I know Abby would.  That's not the issue at the moment.  McGee, anything yet?"

"I'm still tracking him through immigration, boss. They're trying to block me."  He looked at him.  "Permission to use something less than legal?"

Gibbs looked at him.  "Not on the official computers, McGee."

That got a smirk and he pulled his laptop out of his backpack, typing onto it.  A few minutes later he found what he had needed.  "Boss, I know where he's infiltrating, I know he got here twenty-two days ago.  I don't know what they're after.  That's sealed higher than I can hack."

Gibbs looked at him.  "Would another one help?"

"Abby can't hack that well, boss."

"No but I know someone who can.  She's done the Pentagon before."

McGee smiled and nodded.  "Willow."

"Willow," he agreed.

Tim pulled out his cell to call hers.  They had looked up all the family's numbers out there in case it became necessary.  Tim and Willow had talked a number of times.  "Willow, it's Tim.  No, a small work problem.  Terrorist.  No, he's fine.  He's being watched, but I could use some help.  You're in England?"  He grimaced. "Why?"   He nodded at that.  "I'm sorry to hear that, Willow.  Are you okay?"  He smiled.  "Good girl.  I could.  Can you do that long distance?"  She appeared next to his desk, making him hang up. "That's faster than airfare."

"Cheaper too," she agreed dryly.  She looked at what he was doing and nodded, typing in something to get to the programs she had stored in an online storage site.  She cracked that one within minutes and handed it back to him with a grin.  "That's my user name and password for those things, Tim.  Don't change it."

"Of course not."  He gave her a hug.  "I'm sorry you lost Tara."

"Me too."  She sniffled.  "Can I see the Xander?"

"He's with Tony today," Gibbs said, looking at her.  "You all right?"  She shook her head. "Go ahead."  She smiled and disappeared again.  "Some day we should warn her about that."

"Probably," he agreed, getting into the new information. "Huh.  Hey, boss?"  He came over to look over his shoulder.  He pointed at something. "Would that be on our caseload since it's a Navy contractor?"

"It would be."  That got a nod and they headed out to talk to the contractor that was being targeted to make sure their defenses were good enough.


Tony looked over as Willow appeared, smiling at her.  "Cheaper airfare?"

"Basically.  Can I cuddle the Xander?"

"You could but he's in a bath."  He moved so she could kneel beside him.  "What happened?"

"Tara died," she said quietly.  Xander sniffled.  "I know."  She picked him up to hold him, making him be her comfort for the moment.  "I miss you."

"If things weren't getting worse we might've sent him for a visit," Tony offered. She nodded, looking at him.  "How are they going?"

"Crappy."  She went back to hugging her best friend.  He handed her a towel and left them alone for a while.  She looked at Xander.  "I wish you were older again.  I could use a real Xander cuddle."  He snuggled into her shoulder.  "My poor baby."  She shifted to lean against the toilet, just holding him for now.  Her cellphone rang and she looked at the number, answering it. "What, Giles?"  She listened.  "No, I'm holding Xander."  She hung up and went back to holding him.  "I had such an oops," she admitted quietly.  "I killed the person who shot Buffy and Tara."  Xander lifted his head.  "She's fine.  Small injury to her shoulder."  He put his head back down.  "I skinned him, Xander.  I strung him up and flayed him alive."  He nuzzled her. "I'm a bad girl."

Tony came back with some water.  "That's grief, Willow.  We all act out of it," he said quietly, handing it over.  She looked at him.  "Dawn called to talk about it."  She nodded, putting her head against Xander's hair.  "It'll be all right.  Grief is part of life now and then."  She just nodded.  "If you need me I'll be getting dry.  Want a diaper for him?"

"Might be a good idea."  He handed one over and she got to work on it for him.  "We need to cover the little willy or else Anya might come back."  He shuddered and so did Tony.  She smiled.  "I'm sure your new daddy can protect you."


Tony smirked at him.  "Me, her, or your daddy, Xander?"

"Mama," he said, looking at Tony with the biggest shiteating grin yet.

"Sure, I'll be the mom.  Gibbs will have fits if you call Abby that."  He walked off to go change clothes into something he could better move in.  He had dressed up for work but now was the time for jeans and a t-shirt.  Plus possibly his vest.  "I'll be right back, Willow.  Running to the car."

"Sure."  He left so she looked at him.  "Do you have a fever or am I cold?"  She kissed his forehead. "No, you're a bit warm.  No wonder you're having a bath."  She wrapped him back in the towel and cuddled him some more.  "If I have to I'll have Giles send out the herbal stuff we used on Dawn recently."  He settled in against her shoulder again, letting her hold him.  Tony came back carrying his bulletproof vest.  "Why do you have that?"

"Oh, there's a terrorist who wants Gibbs' insides as a decoration," he called as he headed for the bedroom.  "That's why I had the sudden migraine this morning."


He came back and looked at her. "No, Willow.  Not visions."

"Oh.  That sort of headache."  He nodded.  "Is his daddy in danger?"

"Not really.  We heard about it early."

"No wonder Tim needed my help hacking Homeland Security."  She shrugged and went back to her cuddling. "I can watch him for a while if we need me to."

"It should be okay," he promised, patting her on the head.  "We just spent three weeks protecting Gibbs because some guy's son was doing snuff films and his wife wanted his head.  Got a gang member to try him."  Xander looked at him.  "It's rare, Willow, it's a sucky year all the way around."

"I agree."  She hugged him too.  "Thank you, Tony."

"Not a problem.  Cuddle him all you need.  Just try to get his fever down."

"Sure.  I can do that."  He smiled and went out to the living room to watch outside.  She looked at him.  "Wow.  It's like Sunnydale only it's people being the bad guys."  He smiled at that and patted her on the face, going back to his cuddling. "Sure, we'll cuddle."  She went back to cuddling him, thinking about her life.  Maybe she should be turned in case Tara got reincarnated.  Xander chose that moment to start to suck on her neck.  "Eww.  Pervert," she said, but she sounded fond at least.  She got him off her neck and away from her chest too since he apparently had a bad sucking habit at the moment.  "Is he being breast-fed?" she called.

"Yeah, Abby took the medicine.  He loves his Abby meals."

She grinned at the small joke.  DC was clearly better for Xander than Sunnydale, even if the hellhound puppy was still watching him.  She patted it when it showed up and let him pat it, then it disappeared when Tony came back.

"That hellhound needs a better hobby than Xander watching," he called.

She smiled.  Yup, they were better for Xander.  They protected him very well.


Tony walked into the office later that night, looking at his boss.  "We know where he is and we're going to take down the cell tonight."  That got a smile. "Unfortunately you're too valuable to risk."  He pulled out his cuffs before Gibbs could even start yelling at him and locked him to one of his desk drawer handles.  Then he took his keys and dropped them on Kate's desk. "Sorry, boss.  We've got an assault team and they won't go in if you're there since Ari wants you to die so badly. You could get others hurt.  Director's orders."  He walked off again, heading to get his jacket from his locker before rejoining the team.  "If we're going we need to head now.  It won't take him long to get free from the handcuffs."

"We go," the assault leader agreed, leading the way out to the truck.  He found Kate and McGee waiting beside it.  "You two can handle yourself?"

"We have in the past," Kate assured him.

"Decent enough.  Into the truck."  They climbed in last. "We have plans," he said, handing them down to Tony.

"Where's Gibbs?" McGee asked.

"Locked to his desk drawer," Tony admitted grimly.  He knew he'd have to beg not to be fed his balls for that.

"With Ari wanting him it'll get others killed," the leader told them firmly.  "He's a liability in this situation."  That got nods from Gibbs' team.  "So I had Tony handcuff him to his desk.  My director's orders."

"He's FBI," Tony said, handing on the plans.  "I want in the lead group.  McGee, I want you with the rear patrol.  Kate, somewhere in the center."  That got a nod.  He looked at the leader.  "Who goes in on point?"

"I've got a good point guy," he assured him.  That got a solemn nod.  "You'll be within three people.  We all know what Ari looks like?"

"Vividly," Kate assured him.



Gibbs finally found his spare key in his desk and unlocked himself, then growled and stomped off.  "You ordered DiNozzo...."

The Director held up a hand.  "I did not.  The FBI is leading this assault and their director did.  You being there will make Ari shoot others, Jethro."  He opened his mouth.  "This has nothing to do with your son!" he snapped.  "This has to do with you getting others killed because he'll attack you instead of defending others.  That splits the assault force.  Therefore you're staying.  If you step foot out of this building before I hear the assault's completed, you're going to be suspended without pay."

"Fine," he ground out.  "Who's leading?"


"He's a good man, has a good team."

"The rest of yours went as well."

Gibbs relaxed at that.  They wouldn't let Ari get away.  "Who gave the order?"

"Fornell's boss.  For right now, work on the case your team has.  As long as you stay in the building.  Who has your son?"


"Even better.  She can protect him if she has to, correct?"

"And then some.  She was in on the assault at the Initiative, both of them in Sunnydale."

"Good.  Then she'll protect him.  We'll protect you.  You can rant at people later.  Once we make sure you're not dead and endangering other lives."  Gibbs stomped off.  He shuddered.  That had been a dangerous call to make but it was the right one.  They'd have to split the assault team to guard him or they'd do something stupid, like blow themselves up.  He couldn't risk the people that way.


Tony tapped on Gibbs' door later that night, handing over his son.  "Before you say a *word*," he ordered firmly. "Fornell's boss said so.  Ari saw Kate and went ballistic trying to kill her.  Then me when he saw me."

"You let her lead?"

"No, I was pinned down by one of the other people.  Ari ran to back him up to get away from the rear assault team.  He shot the person in front of me and the guy behind me, and me."  He walked in and closed the door, looking at him.  "He went down gasping that he'd see you in hell, Gibbs."  Gibbs stiffened at that.  "The cell is down.  Fully down in most cases, boss.  Now, we're back to business as usual and you can yell at me for protecting your six this time or not."  Neither one noticed Xander had went very, very still and very quiet while they argued.

"You locked me to my desk."

"He would've blown all us up if he had seen you.  My shot hit the bomb he was wearing.  You would've gotten more people dead.  When Ari saw Kate the fighting picked back up.  They were almost going to give up before then."

"It's still not right.  You're my senior agent."

"I know that.  The same as I know you want to bust me back down to Probie level," he said, staring him down.  "I don't care.  You're alive.  We're alive because you weren't there this time.  His thing was a vendetta against you.  Personally you.  McGee found his PDA and it was filled with hated of you, Gibbs.  I may die for you but I'm not going to lay down because some psycho with a gun wants you to personally die and we're all extra special toppings on top of his joy.  He was reaching for his switch when I shot him."

Gibbs put the baby down and stared at him.  "I won't put up with the insubordination."

"Even you have a higher power, Gibbs.  I had to answer to that one this time.  Fire me if you want, boss.  Bust me back down below McGee if you want.  I might quit after a few weeks of listening to Kate tease and taunt me, but oh well."  Gibbs glared at that.  "Those were my orders, to protect you.  Now, McGee is grazed.  Kate's got one in the outer thigh.  It's not that pretty to look at but she's already out as well."

"And you?"

Tony swallowed. "I could use the pain killers that don't work very well on me, boss.  I'm alive.   You're alive.  We're all mostly alive but three members of the assault team."  Gibbs nodded at that.  "We're also in for shooting reviews tomorrow and then Internal Affairs.  They've already tried to get McGee and Probie told them to kiss his ass.  Literally."  That got a small smirk.  "They weren't impressed.  He said something about not being suicidal too.  In the ER no less."  He cracked a small smile himself.  "They wouldn't go near Kate because she was cranky without pain meds yet.  I fully expect to have to see them all day tomorrow."

"It was political."

"I know.  The same as I know someone decided that we're expendable to get that cell.  Well, we got them.  Anything else you need briefed on tonight, boss?  Or do you think you can calm Xander down?"

Gibbs looked at his son, then back at him.  "He's fine."

"He's stiff, Gibbs.  He can feel your temper too."  He picked up the baby with a wince and a hiss.  "Hey, Xander.  It's all right.  I promise it is."  The baby looked at him.  "I promise it is.  Your daddy didn't do the dangerous stuff, the rest of us did, and he's fine."

"You're bleeding, DiNozzo."

"That's not mine, boss."  He looked at him then at the baby again.  "Were you drinking?"

"A few beers."

"You know, if he's got any memories..."

"The anger and the drinking are probably going to give him nightmares," he agreed, taking his son to cuddle.  "I promise, I'm not mad at you, Xander.  I'm mad at DiNozzo.  He's going to be paying for years for this one."

"Probably in arthritis," Tony agreed.  He stroked down Xander's hair.  "The bad guy is gone and we're all right," he soothed.  The baby started to relax.  "Untense, Gibbs.  He's still reacting in fear to your anger."  He kissed the baby on the back of the head. "I'll see you in a few days, squirt."  He left, leaving them alone.  Even if it was a lot of pain to drive himself home.  He walked and found his shower running with hot water.  "Thanks, Willow," he called as he headed that way.

She popped out with the box of waterproof bandages.  "Let's see them so we can cover them for you.  You've got blood in your hair."

"Not mine," he admitted, taking off his shirt with a hiss and a long wince.  "Ow."

She looked.  "The one on your back split open."

"It wasn't deep enough for stitches.  The scab just split."

"I can help with that," she promised, smoothing some new cream over it then a waterproof bandage.  Over the other two as well. "There you go, into the shower."  He nodded, heading that way.  "I'll be on the couch."

"Sure.  Pop in a good movie."  He walked into the shower, just letting it flow over him for now.  He needed to unwind from his own worry and anger.  By the time he came out, Willow was a third of the way through a funny horror movie.  He smiled at her choice, coming out in pajama pants.  She handed over the bowl of popcorn.  "Not much different from home?"

"No, that thing is laughable.  Laughing is good after a battle," she said, looking at him.  "That's not much different."

"Probably not.  War is war and all war is hell," he agreed.  He ate a bite of popcorn while she checked the various bruises, nicks, and the few spots that had stitches.  "I should call Kate, make sure she's all right."

"I called Tim and he said he did.  She's in bed and resting.  She said they can send an assault team to get her in the morning if they want her in the office."  He smiled at that and ate another bite.  "There you go, Tony."  He nodded at her for that.  She gave him a hug around the arm.  "It'll be okay.  It's not like he can refute it."

"He'll try.  He hates being seen as anything but superhuman and perfect."

"Yeah but so do you," she pointed out.  Then she disappeared.

"Not like I was going to tell him I was injured.  He'd have thrown another fit," he complained, eating another bite.  It was a good relaxing movie after the fight earlier.  Because he hadn't mentioned that his first shot had only hit the bomb but not the vest Ari had been wearing, or how it had went to hand-to-hand for a few minutes until he shot him again.  He was really sore though.  He laid on his better side, getting comfortable on the couch.  The popcorn still got eaten but it was more comfortable.  His back ached from the running squatted down so no one would see them coming in.  He managed to fall asleep about two in the morning so the door being pounded on woke him at eight.  He got up with a wince and went to answer it, finding Gibbs there.  "What?  I'm not due in until ten, boss."

"I wanted to talk to you."

"Sure."  He let him in and checked the hall before closing the door.  He turned and found Gibbs staring at his bare chest - the bruises that had come in and the few grazes.  "I told you it wasn't pretty."

"They didn't keep you?"

"For three grazes?  Nope."  He went into the kitchen to start coffee.  "Want a cup of coffee, boss?"

"Not yet."  He walked in there, looking at his back.  "I thought you said that was someone else's blood on your shirt."

"I thought you meant in my hair."  He looked at him as he sipped his first cup of coffee.  "What?  Kate's probably not up yet either."

"I called her.  She is, but she's grumpy."

"Another wonderful day, but I doubt I'll see her since we'll be questioned all day," he said dryly.  He took another sip.  "What?"

"Are you all right?"

"I'm damn sore and I wish pain killers worked better on me.  Since all I get is giddy and stupid I'll have to wait until tonight for them."

"I saw the film.  The leader had the assault cam."

"Good for him."  He took another sip, staring at him.  "Should I write out my resignation?" he asked finally.

"No but I'm going to kick your ass."

"Wasn't my decision to make, boss.  I had to answer to the higher power in that case.  Because I'm sure as hell not going to tell your son that you died in an assault against someone who was suicidal."  His face turned red.  "I don't care," he said sharply.  "I would've been right behind you and you would've been right behind the point guy.  That's how it usually works when we go in with others.  Right?"  That got a terse nod.  "Then you would've been shot, boss.  The point guy was.  The guy in front of me was.  The guy behind me was."

"You were."

"I know I was.  I ache."  He looked at him and quit leaning on the counter.  "I'm sorry your feelings were hurt but yay.  You would've died.  Ari would've done something stupider to make sure of it, boss.  So get over it.  You still have time to spend with your infant son and the rest of your team."

"Do you want to lead the team some day?"

"No," Tony said simply, heading to his bedroom to change clothes.  "Anything else, boss?  If not, I've got to find clothes that won't make me hurt more."

"Wear the jade green shirt, DiNozzo.  It's what you usually wear when you've got stitches or bruises."

"Good idea, boss."  He came out in a white one.  "Too bad that one got ruined the last time I got shot."  He headed back to refill his cup and then find his shoes.  "Am I catching a ride in?"

"Fine."  He let him out of the apartment and locked the door before he left.  "You don't look good."

"Pain medicines are nice but not for me, boss.  I'll nap between question sessions."  He settled into his seat, tipping it back slightly, his sunglasses on.  "Oh, shit, my pass."

"It's in the glovebox.  Xander stole it."  Tony moaned all the way bending over to grab it then sighed in relief when he sat back again.  He finished his coffee and put the cup between his thighs while he looked at his ID card.  "Are you sure you're fit to work?"

"Has that stopped me in the past?"

"No," Gibbs admitted.  "We really did worry Xander."

"I know, boss.  It's probably always going to be a trigger for him.  He had alcoholic parents the last time."

"Point."  He knew his son didn't like it when he had been drinking, even if it was only just one beer.  His temper on top of the drinking was what had given him nightmares all night.  He yawned.

"Long night?"

"Seven nightmares."


"Not your fault.  At least not that part."

"Next time I'll let Kate handcuff you, boss."  He blinked as they pulled into the parking garage.  "You weren't going that fast."

"They wanted us at Feeb headquarters today," he said grimly.

"Aw, crap.  I hate their Internal Affairs idiots."  He tipped the seat back up and took off his seatbelt, then slowly got out, clutching the door.

"Let me help, DiNozzo."

"I'll get there, boss."  He walked slowly but more casually than he should have been able to.  He'd had some practice since joining NCIS.  They ran their passes and got admitted.  "DiNozzo and Gibbs," he told the receptionist.  She handed over a slip and a map.  "We know where it is, thanks."  She nodded and they headed to the elevator.  "Meeting room B."

"I remember that one."  He pushed the button and looked at Tony.  "Are you sure you should be standing?"

"No," he said honestly.  "A few more like this and I'm retiring to be the nanny."

Gibbs shook his head.  "You'd teach Xander bad habits."

They came off the elevator to hear McGee yelling at someone to screw themselves, he wasn't suicidal and going to stand there and let himself get shot for no reason, and that if they took his badge that's fine, he'd retire to be Gibbs' nanny instead.  It'd probably pay better and he'd never have to deal with assholes with delusions of knowing what an assault was like since they'd never been on one for real, just in training.   He pulled the door open.  "Boss.  Tony.  Should you be out of bed?  They tried to keep you last night."

"I had to take Xander home and Willow got me into a shower.  I'm only sore, McGee, but thanks.  And I get first pick as the nanny."

McGee smirked.  "You never know.  He likes me just as much as you."  He looked at their boss.  "I'm having a genius IQ moment, boss.  Sorry to have screamed like that.  I know it's unprofessional.  It won't happen again."

"I agree with you."  He walked past him and into the room with the still shocked people. "You wanted my very injured team in here?" he demanded.

"There were agents who died last night," the lead investigator snapped, glaring at him.  Her hair was coming down from the severe bun.

Tony walked in.  "I know that, I was nearly one of them, lady.  Before you say a word, be aware that I can't take most pain killers so I'm in extreme pain."  They backed off at that.  "There was an assault cam.  Didn't we watch it?"

"We did. Why wasn't your team lead there?"

"Because Fornell's boss said to lock him to his desk," Tony said dryly.  "Haswari had a vendetta going against Gibbs personally.  Not just our team.  We were the creamy icing on the cake for him.  That's why he tried to kill Kate and then me, not the others."  She gave him a glare.  He glared back.  Gibbs glared back.  She stepped off.  Tony took off his shirt.  "Do you really think I wanted this?" he asked bitterly.  She shook her head.  "Then get one of the other assault leaders to watch it and then come for us.  Until then, I've got paperwork for the shooting review.  So can we go now?"

"No," another one said.  "You're doing that here as well."  Tony moaned and did back up his shirt, sitting down to take the papers to start filling out.  He looked at Gibbs.  "I heard it had something to do with your son?   I didn't know you had children, Special Agent Gibbs."

"Then you're clearly out of the loop," Tony told him. "Everyone else knows about his son Xander and thinks he's an adorable child."  He looked at him, seeing the heated look in the eyes.  "I've even brought him to JAG for a trial once.  Everyone knew about him by then.  That wasn't why he wasn't there.  Fornell's boss said to lock him to the desk due to the nature of Ari's vendetta.  He'd do something stupider to get him specifically and more lives would've been lost.  Since my first shot hit the bomb he was wearing, I'm thinking he had good instincts that time."  That got a horrified look from bun lady.  "It did.  It clearly showed on the tape later on.  Had I known he had one on, I would've hit him somewhere else the first shot."

"I want to see the assault tape," Gibbs ordered.  A tv was pointed at so he went to play it. "McGee, sit down.  Work on the paperwork."

"I'm trying, boss.  It's my writing arm that got the graze."  He held the injury while he slowly wrote.  "Can't I type this?"

"It's part of the torture of the experience to write it out, Probie.  That way it'll make you think twice the next time you have to pull your gun."

"What would happen if I couldn't write?"

Tony looked at him.  "The last time I had one of those I got to go over it verbally on tape about fifteen times."

"Oh.  Never mind.  I'll write, even if it isn't readable."  He went back to rubbing out the cramps.  Tony took his arm and worked on them, making him hiss and relax.  "Thank you."

"You're tensing up so you don't hurt the injury further.  It's the natural reaction.  Like limping when you turn your ankle."

"Some day I'll be as tough as you are," he teased.

Tony gave him a look then burst into a grin.  "It's all downhill after you get the plague."

"I'll remember that the next time my chance comes up to get it."  He went back to writing, ignoring the horrified reactions around them.

Gibbs looked over.  "Boys."

"Yes, boss," they said in unison.

"Getting practice for the son?" Kate asked as she limped in.  "Shut up, leave me alone, and you'd better have a *damn* good reason for pulling me out of bed when the doctor wanted me on bed rest for the next few days," she said firmly.

Tony patted himself down but McGee found the piece of chocolate candy he carried for emergency situations, nudging Kate and handing it to her.  "Here you go, Kate.  Tony said chocolate is nearly as good as painkillers."

"I'm sure he's on a few right now," she said dryly.

"They don't work right on me," Tony said in a sing-song voice. "Or don't you remember having to drive me home the last time I got some?"

"I'm trying very hard to forget that day ever happened," she reminded him.  She sat down to eat the candy, her foot up on another chair.  "Why are we in here instead of at the office?"

"Because we were ordered to leave Ari alone," Tony reminded her.

"Oh, yeah, stupid people in charge syndrome."  She looked at said stupid people.  "And?"  She finished the piece of candy.

"Agents did die, Special Agent Todd," the lady said firmly.

Kate nodded. "I saw that.  I was there.  One of them fell in front of me.  Two of them fell around Tony trying to protect him from Ari."  She gaped in horror.  "The same as the one who fell in front of me took the bullet for me probably.  I'd like to speak to his family if I may."

"You may not," the man said sharply.

She looked at him.  "Last I knew I didn't take orders from you and I think it'd be a better comfort to his family to let him know how he died.  If you don't like it, bite me."

McGee looked at her. "I said that earlier."

"It's lack of pain killers," Gibbs reminded as he came back.  He smacked Tony on the head.  "As soon as you're healed, you and I are going into the ring to work on your hand- to-hand again, DiNozzo."

"Yes, boss.  I tried but I was already grazed twice by then."

"I saw.  That's the only thing saving you from going today."  He looked at her.  "Kate, pain?"

"Ya think?" she asked.  She moved her culotte shorts leg out of the way so he could see her bandage.  "Mine wasn't Ari, it was one of the other people in the cell."

Gibbs nodded. "I saw that too.  Papers from the ER?"  She handed it over.  "McGee?"  He handed his over.  "DiNozzo?"

"Didn't get any, boss.  It's only some bruises.  I'll just be slower this week."

"They wanted to keep him, boss," McGee reported.  "He walked off before they could stop him or make him sign papers."

"Nark," Tony said, glaring at him.  "They wanted to keep Kate too, boss."

"I would've stayed but I can't sleep in hospitals and I wanted a shower," Kate told him.

Gibbs popped Tony on the head again.  "You drove my son home like that?"

"Yup.  Willow watched over me I'm sure but yup.  Not like I'm going to let her use my car, boss."  He looked back at the growl.  "I went very slowly.  I even got pulled over for going so slowly, boss."  He dug that ticket out and handed it over.  "See?"  He went back to writing.  "You know I'd never endanger your son, Gibbs.  He's as close as I'm probably ever going to come and Abby would kill me."

"She will when I tell her," Gibbs assured him.  Tony shuddered.  "Ducky too."

Tony looked at him.  "You do know that Ducky's mom believes he's Ducky's son?" he asked with a small smirk.  "When Ducky and I brought him over, she thought it was very sweet you let your gay lover Ducky have a child for her to have a grandchild finally, boss."  He got another pop on the head.  "Couldn't resist it."

"She still think you're a furniture moving gigolo?" Kate asked.

"Yup.  But now I'm the nanny as well.  She warned me not to ply my trade near him or else her son would spank me with a belt."

"I'd horsewhip you if you brought your women around my son," Gibbs assured him.  "Finish writing."  McGee handed over his first.  Tony had more papers to fill out.  Kate's last answer to 'do you think this was a justified shoot' was 'yes, ask me in person if you need more elaboration'.  That got her a bad look.  She glared back.  Tony ended up putting in a few 'see form...' answers for the redundant questions.  Gibbs gave him a look.  "Fill it out right, DiNozzo."

"I'm going to pass out if I have to write more, Gibbs.  They can ask me or they can see the exact same question on the other form."  He stood up.  "I'm going to the bathroom.  Excuse me for a minute."  He walked that way slowly.

"Can I watch while you beat on Tony, boss?" Kate asked.  "Ari nearly kicked his ass."

"No."  He looked out the door at the thump, finding Fornell had caught Tony.  "He pass out?"

"No, someone ran into him on their way to puke."  He handed him back.  "He passed out from that pain."  He walked in.  "They done yet?  I need reports from them about the assault and the situation."  That got him glares.  He glared back and he was their boss.  "Are they done yet?" he demanded again.

"Nearly," the woman said coolly.  "There's still the shooting review and they'll still have to answer questions about why they persisted in an investigation when they were ordered not to."

"No we weren't," McGee told her.  "I wasn't ever ordered not to investigate Ari.  Especially since he's an open case ever since he shot Gibbs and Gerald, Ducky's assistant, the last time he showed up."

"You hacked our information server," she said grimly.

"Of course I did.  You guys weren't sharing it.  Our lives were in danger.  Like I said earlier, I'm not suicidal or expendable.  I'm not going to let someone sacrifice me for shits and giggles when there were better ways to catch this cell.  Including the fact that Ari was still wanted for two counts of attempted murder.  I may be a geek but that doesn't mean I'm going to go to the slaughter like a cow."

"Where did you get the programs you used?" the male asked him.

"Some hackers I know and I traded programs.  They're mostly legal ones, the sort who find flaws in programs and report them. One of them actually works for you here.  I used something I had gotten off their contacts when my own programs didn't get it well enough."

"I see.  The name of this hacker?"  McGee just stared at him.  "If you do not tell me we can charge you with that."

"And I can charge you with intentionally trying to kill my team," Gibbs said firmly.  "Because you did.  I can easily go to your director about this."  That got some more heated looks.  "Are we done yet?  My people are injured and should be in bed.  McGee, help me get DiNozzo up."

"He's out, Gibbs," Kate noted.  "He's not waking up for a few."  She shifted with a hiss of pain.  "But hey, no concussion this time.  He's always complaining that he can't sleep when he's injured on the job.  This time he can."

"And will be even if I do have to sic my son on him."

"Your son's scary?" Fornell asked.

"With the way he stares at you?" Kate offered. "Yup."

"Just think, it could've been Tony's son," McGee said happily.

"Don't wish that on the world, Probie," Kate ordered.  "Him spawning would mean the world was about to end.  It's a sign of the apocalypse."

"I thought that was Xander being triplets," Tony moaned as he sat up.  "What happened?"

"Someone ran over you on their way to puke."

"Oh.  Okay."  He laid back down.  "Give me another ten, boss.  Please? I'll make up the time later."

"You need to go to bed, DiNozzo, not lay on the floor."

"I will once the room quits spinning, boss.  Not like I won't puke in the car like this."

He walked over him.  He didn't want to clean that mess up.  "Are we done?"

"There is the shooting review."

"Is that today?" Fornell asked.  They nodded.  He made a call.  "It's Fornell.  Is the NCIS joint assault shooting review today?  Because they're all three injured.  DiNozzo's presently passed out on the floor and Todd's about to gut someone so she can go back to bed.  Preferably with her teeth."  He listened then nodded, looking at Jethro.  "I heard that.   That's fine.  Thank you."  He hung up. "Three days due to their injuries.  He handcuffed you to your desk?"  Gibbs growled at him.  He laughed.  "I knew he had balls."

"He's lucky I didn't feed them to him last night when he brought my son home."  He looked at his team.  "Three days.  McGee, have Abby check on both of you tonight."

"Ducky's promised to come over to see me tonight to change my bandage, Gibbs," Kate assured him.   "I've got too big of a headache to be bounced and cuddled by the incredible mother figure."

"Don't pick on her about wetnursing Xander," McGee said, scowling at her.  "It's an incredibly generous gift she's giving him."

"Still odd to see her whip a tit out and put him on it."  She stood up with some help from Fornell, nodding at him.  "I'm going back to bed."

"Did you drive?" McGee asked.

"No, I cabbed."

"I don't have a standard, I can drop you," he promised, going to do that with a nod for his boss.

Fornell came over to help Tony off the floor.   "Need help getting him to the car?"

Gibbs pulled out his PDA/phone and found a file, playing the sound of his son crying.  Tony snapped awake at that.  "We've got three days off due to all the injuries.  To the car, DiNozzo."  He nodded and trudged that way, heading to sleep in the car.  "Thanks, Fornell.  See you in a few days."  He walked off, following the slowly limping man.  They didn't sign out but he didn't care.  Tony was back out by the time they got out of the parking garage.  So he took him home and set him on the couch, with his son beside him to watch over him.  He sat down to read and Xander crawled over to pull himself up to look at the book.  "It's on guns, Xander."  The baby cooed and smiled.  "Want me to read you Military Weapons for Military Police?"  The baby babbled and patted his knee.  "Okay."  He pulled him up and put on his glasses to read to him. Xander apparently liked weapons and it was fine with him.


To next part: