Tony limped in on his first day back at work, snarling at everyone. He sat down with a hiss of pain, then put his head down and let himself pass out.
Gibbs looked over at him. "DiNozzo?" Not even a grunt. "Someone check his pulse." McGee got up to do it. He even nodded that he had one. "Is he bleeding that you can see?"
"Not that I can see, but he's wearing his vest, boss."
Gibbs got up and came over, pushing Tony back so he could open his vest, seeing the two shiny bullets in it. "What happened?"
"Didn't get a call either, boss," McGee offered. "I know Kate called to ask why he was late. She got hung up on."
"Go check his car." McGee went to do that while Gibbs tried to wake Tony up. Even the audio file of his son crying didn't help this time. He called the morgue. "Ducky, DiNozzo won't wake up." He hung up and waited for him to come check on him.
Ducky took one look at him and sighed. "I had heard on the radio that there was a car chase and someone was shooting at someone else. I'm was hoping that wasn't him." He checked his pulse. "Fairly steady. Get him out of his vest so we can check him properly." Gibbs did that, wincing at the new bruises he had. Ducky listened to his heart and lungs then nodded. "It's the pain." He felt along Tony's ribs, backing away quickly when he yelped and bent over in pain. "Broken."
"DiNozzo, how did this happen?" Gibbs demanded. Tony continued to hold his ribs. "DiNozzo!" he asked more firmly. "Tony!" he finally yelled, getting a glare. "How did this happen?"
"The last one with the restraining order. Why?"
"Her. She decided I had to be eliminated since losing her turned me gay; she tried to put me out of my misery so I couldn't go near your son, boss." He leaned back slowly and closed his eyes again. "Just let me nap."
"You should go to the hospital," Ducky chided. Tony glared at him. "I know you don't like them."
"Send me there and I will bitch," Tony said firmly. "Especially since she's a nurse."
"Never mind then. It's probably too big of a risk and they can't do much for broken ribs anyway. Come down to the morgue so I can tape it for you."
"Sure." He let Gibbs help him up, looking at him. "I called Janice to warn her. Local PD dropped me off after she shot my car. They're chasing her down." He let Ducky help him into the elevator, leaning against the wall. "I'm going to give up dating for a while. This is the second one that's decided Xander's mine and therefore I was a bad human being." He closed his eyes.
"Don't sleep yet, Anthony. I'll let you have my couch for a few minutes once I do your ribs." Tony just nodded at that. The elevator doors opened and he found his assistant waiting. "Let me turn this off so we have time to move him," he offered, flipping the switch. They got Tony out slowly and into the morgue, letting him lay on a table. He could tape him when they could wake him back up. "I do wish you'd go to the hospital."
"Why won't he?"
"The person who did this is a nurse. He didn't want to risk it," Ducky paraphrased. "I know he's got broken ribs."
"We do have the x-ray, doctor."
"True. Set that up for me. Chest shots." That got a nod and Palmer went to do that for him. He looked at Tony. "Lad, you've had enough bruises for three people this month. Try to share instead of hogging them." Gibbs walked in and flinched at the sight of Tony on the table and Ducky talking to him. "He's passed out again. We're going to do an x- ray."
"Good." He walked up to Tony and poked him on the stomach - close enough to the pain but not so close it was cruel. No response. He poked a bit higher up and Tony took a swing at him. "You passed out again. Once more and I'm sending you with guards, DiNozzo."
"You send me she'll gut me," he said simply. "Help me up." Gibbs helped him sit up while Ducky held his ribs. The morgue assistant came back. "Hey, Palmer. Never, ever date women."
"I don't get much dating in anyway, Tony. I've got the x-ray set up, Doctor Mallard."
"Excellent. Come along, Anthony. That way we can see how bad it is." That got a nod and he let them walk him that way. He skimmed him out of his t-shirt once he was in there. "Oh, dear. When did that happen?" he asked, pointing at a new graze.
"LEO guys let me change shirts since mine was so bad," Tony admitted. He looked at the x-ray setup. "Standing?" Palmer nodded and got him to lean his arms on a bar in front of him, which hurt but it gave him support. "Okay, shoot me before I can fall." They went to the safe area to do that, coming back a few minutes later. Gibbs caught Tony, making him yelp again. "Ow, boss. Quit."
"I'm making sure you don't fall, DiNozzo."
"Yay me." He sat down, holding his side. "Ducky, can I borrow your couch for the day?"
"Let me tape those, Anthony." A roll of medical tape was gotten and he got to work on his ribcage. "I'll know how badly broken in about an hour." Tony looked at him and nodded. "Good lad." He patted him on the head and they helped him into the office, ignoring the director for a moment. He came out. "I know you don't mind but I did x-ray him."
"What happened? I got a report of him being shot at and him shooting back?"
"He said an ex-girlfriend of his decided my son was his and he was gay so therefore she had to fix him because she obviously broke him when they broke up," Gibbs said blandly. He pulled out the bag of bullets he had McGee pull from Tony's vest. "Two into his vest."
"There's also a graze to his back," Ducky reminded him. "So his vest was a late addition. We know he's got severely bruised or broken ribs, Director."
That just got a nod. "Okay. Why isn't he at the hospital?"
"This ex is a nurse," Ducky said blandly.
"Oh. Too risky then. The local Chief assured me they had the case with their best people. She apparently ran him off the road and then opened fire. He had to abandon his car because it was so damaged. He managed to evade her mostly and the officers tracked them and saved him. They drove him over after letting him get into the emergency bag in the trunk."
"Makes sense," Gibbs agreed. "Ducky's letting him borrow the couch."
"That's safer," he agreed. "Keep me informed, Jethro." He walked off.
"Abby!" Gibbs yelled. She came jogging in. He handed over the bullets. "Two from Tony's vest."
"Are they from today?"
"They look new, he was wearing it when he stumbled in. It had better be from today."
"Okay." She went to run them through the system.
Gibbs looked at Ducky. "Call me first."
"Of course, Jethro. Go check on your son." Gibbs nodded and went to warn Janice about the psychotic woman after Tony. Ducky shook his head at his assistant. "Go run the film."
"It's in the machine, doctor."
"Good lad. Thank you, Mr. Palmer. Now, let's pull out our first body, shall we?" He went to do that for him. Ducky checked on Tony then went to scrub up and start work.
Gibbs led Tony in and put him onto the couch, making his son squeal in delight. "Go easy on him, Xander. He's got booboos." His son stared at him. "Sorry, forgot for a minute. Broken ribs and things." The baby came over to hug Tony's arm, getting a smile and a pat from him. "Good boy." He looked at Janice. "It's payday, isn't it?"
"It is," she agreed. He wrote out a check and handed it over. "Did you catch his ex?"
"Yup, about an hour ago. She was trying to break into his place. I'm hoping the judge keeps her without bail."
"That'd be nice but the system isn't always that great, Jethro." She took the check and kissed him on the cheek. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Welcome." She headed out, going back to her place. She watched Xander there anymore but she had agreed to drop him off tonight since he said Tony was in pain. Poor guy looked like he could use a mother himself.
Gibbs got to work on dinner, making his son babble at him. He smiled at him. "He'll be fine. Go get him to read to you if you can." Xander crawled that way again. "Good boy." He checked the basement stairs, the door was still closed. His son had tried to crawl down them the other day. It hadn't made for a happy father or baby when he'd fallen down a few of them on the way. His son came back and tugged on his pants leg trying to stand. "Need a walker?" The baby beamed at that idea. "We'll see if I can find one this weekend, Xander. What's wrong?" Xander pointed. "Tony?" The baby babbled at him and patted his leg. He took the pan off the heat and went to check on him. He was sweating and the house was cool. "We've got to find painkillers that work on you, DiNozzo." He tested his forehead. Fever. "Crap."
"Boss?" Tony asked sleepily, blinking up at him. "Why am I here?"
"The kid demanded. You're staying until you're better too." Tony shook his head. "Yes you are. You're sick and now you're running a fever."
"She works at Georgetown."
"We can hit Bethesda."
"She could be there."
"Yay. We'll guard you." He went to put dinner into the fridge so it wouldn't get eaten by flies or the hellhound that he found drinking out of the dirty dishes in the sink. He swatted it and it disappeared. Then he put Xander in his backpack system and went to help Tony up. "Come on."
"Quit or you're changing the next gross diaper. I'll feed him milk for two days first."
"Then shut up." He walked him out to the car and got him in, then Xander into his seat. It was a decent night for a drive. Not too much traffic going their way. He parked by the ER and got out, putting Xander back into his backpack and then getting Tony out and dragging him inside. He held up his ID. "This is my senior agent...."
"We know him by sight, Agent Gibbs. What's wrong this time? Another concussion?"
"An ex who decided he needed to be eliminated. At least one new graze, broken ribs on his left side, and now he's running a fever. Even the kid was concerned about him."
"Love you too, Xander, but I still hate hospitals." The baby cooed and petted him. "You're a very good little boy. Thank you." He looked at the nurse. "I'm fine."
"I heard how fine you were the last time, Agent DiNozzo. Let me get you a wheelchair." She got one because Tony complained compulsively when he was in the hospital. He wasn't complaining, just a weak protest. They got him seated and back into a room. She smiled at the baby. "Hi, snookums. What's your name?"
"Xander. He's Gibbs' son. My ex thought he was mine," Tony said weakly, laying down again. "I'm tired."
"I'm sure you are. Let me tell the doctor what he said. Would Ducky have official notes this time?"
"He did an x-ray earlier so probably," Gibbs agreed. She nodded and went to call Ducky first. He sent the files over with another agent and she went to tell the doctor what was going on and what Ducky had said.
Gibbs looked at the director two mornings later. "They managed to keep DiNozzo this time, sir."
"Really? He usually walks out or charms his way out of the hospital. How long?"
"He's still there and it's been a full day and a half."
"Oh, dear. The last time he stayed like this he had the plague."
"Yup. They're saying he's exhausted, he's in a lot of pain so they're keeping him sedated, and he's got a bone chip on his spine. An older one." That got a shudder. "So they're keeping him for a while longer." He handed over the forms for Tony's absence. "I know he said he didn't have any more sick time."
"I'll have them move his vacation time over if I must, Jethro. Will he be okay?"
"They're a bit worried about the bone chip. His ribs are just painful. My son coos and pats him every chance he gets."
"Your son is a very good boy."
"He tries really hard," he agreed dryly. "Every now and then though..."
"He's a toddler. Of course he's going to have hellish moments. Wait until he learns the word 'no', Jethro," he said with a fond smile.
"He's still calling me Mom." The director laughed at that. "He doesn't seem to want to learn new words." He shrugged at his amused look. "He's happy, what can I do about it. Anyway, what do you want me to do about DiNozzo?"
"Well, there was the suggestion you could use a better nanny, one with training."
"Janice is doing good."
"Janice may need to run soon. I've had someone keep an eye on her ex. He made bail." Jethro groaned. "So Anthony would be perfect for that and it would let her run and escape if you wanted or needed to help her with that."
"Understood. Anything else?"
"I'd keep him on the payroll for now," the director agreed. "Tell him to call me when they finally let him wake up so he can go home."
"That'll be a few days. Thank you for the information, sir." He headed back to his desk to call his nanny. "Janice, sit. He made bail." He nodded at her swearing. "I know. It was suggested we could help hide you better this time," he said quietly. "They're saying Tony can until he finally heals. That'll give me the time. Because your kids are in danger, Janice. If he's out, is he the sort to act vindictively?" He had bribed a judge, of course he was in Gibbs' mind. "Then we'll help you hide, Janice. I'm sure." He hung up and looked at Kate. "Start finding ways to hide her. Her ex made bail."
"Will do, boss. How's Tony? They won't let anyone visit him."
"They're keeping him sedated since the painkillers aren't doing much for him."
"At least we know where he is and that he's safe," McGee offered. "They got his girlfriend late last night."
"At Bethesda," Gibbs agreed. They both stared at him. He nodded. "The nurses there didn't recognize her."
"Tony needs better taste in women," Kate decided, going back to her task of the moment. "She has three kids, right?"
"Okay." She factored that into her plans.
Tony woke up, finally, and found a familiar face above him. "Last I heard I wasn't allowed visitors."
"Too bad." She smiled at him and stroked his head. "It's nice how they're keeping you sedated."
"Most painkillers don't work on me. When you crashed into my car you broke my ribs."
"Pity. You'll want them later." She raised something and he hit the call button. She laughed, trying to hit him. "I disabled that already, Tony."
He hit the alarm button. Then he went back to trying to stop her.
A new nurse outside looked at the flashing light on the panel. "There's an alarm coming from Special Agent DiNozzo's room," she told her superior.
"He's in here due to an ex, we should check that. Life support alarm or regular alarm?"
"Regular alarm," she said as she headed that way. She walked in. "What are you doing!" she demanded. The woman backhanded her and knocked her into the closet, which knocked her out.
The senior nurse glanced in and called security then went in to help. "Get off him!" she snapped, grabbing her arm and the heavy thing in her hand. She threw her against the wall, letting the security people take her. "Oh, Anthony," she sighed, watching him hold his side. "Did she hit you?" He nodded. "Where?" He pointed at a few places. "Blocking her hurt your ribs again?" He looked at her and nodded again, his eyes watering. "I'm sorry, dear. Let's see what I can do to help you." He pointed at the other figure on the floor. "Elizabeth!" she called. She came running in. "Get Teri." She drug her out of the room while she checked Tony over and got him laying down again. "More x- rays for you I'm afraid."
"Love you too. Can I sleep now?"
"Yes you may. That's a good idea." She reconnected his IV and restarted it. The wench had stopped it and woke him up apparently. "I'll let Gibbs know when he calls to check on you at lunch. You rest," she soothed, stroking his forehead. He nodded and the doctor came jogging in. "She had that," she said, pointing at something on the floor, "and was trying to brain him. He blocked her and got hit a few more times. I was going to send him down to x-ray."
"I can agree to that." He checked him over and wrote the orders. "Where did she hit him?"
"Right shoulder and arm it mostly looks like. His side once. His chest once by the bruising starting to come up. He pointed at his right thigh. He was trying to protect his injured side while stopping her."
"It's an instinctive reaction. I'll call Ducky once we know." He summoned orderlies. "Get his bed reconnected." She nodded, getting down to do that while they got Tony onto the gurney to take him downstairs for more tests.
Ducky walked off the elevator and looked at Gibbs. "Jethro, she managed to get free?"
"She did?" he demanded.
"She did," he sighed, nodding. "Anthony's not much more hurt they think. His ribs are in worse shape. His other shoulder is fractured slightly. He's got a lot of bruises. They found her weapon, some sort of heavy urn looking trophy. She took him off his IV drip so she could wake him up. They've resedated him and moved him to the security ward just in case. He's still got a private room and there's always at least one MP or SP there you know. There was a small mixup about whether or not he should be in the prisoner's room but the nurse threw a holy fit when she saw his chart. The Shore Police on duty at the time helped her move him back to his private room. They did say he'd be fine but it'll be a few more days and they want to do an MRI to check the bone chip they found."
"I'll go see him tonight."
"Thank you. I'm sure you being there would cheer him up."
"Is she back in custody?" Kate demanded.
"Oh, yes, and there was a note made that she went after the person she had been trying to hurt yesterday. The judge had put in an automatic restraining order when he heard what was going on. She'll stay in jail this time."
"I can only hope so," Gibbs agreed. "Anything else I should know?"
"Oh, yes," he said with a smile. "Janice dropped off Xander and a note for you." He handed it over. "Apparently she was warned he was heading this way and had skipped bail?"
Gibbs looked at it then handed it to Kate. "Go help her." She nodded, going to do that with McGee's help. He looked at Ducky. "Xander's in your office?"
"Well, no, he's having a snack with Abby at the moment. This gives her time to let him finish up and all that."
"That's fine." He went down to the former auxiliary closet and tapped. Abby opened the door and handed over his messy son. "Not hungry?" Xander blew kisses and giggled. "Are you drunk?"
"Yup," Abby agreed dryly. "I called Janice. She didn't realize her youngest one had gotten into the airplane bottles of liquor until after she had dropped him off. So he's had some whiskey. Not a lot though."
"Good. He done with you for now?"
"For now," she agreed with a smile. "How's Tony?"
"She got out of jail and went for him again earlier. He's on the secure ward so she can't try it again."
"Decent. I'll pop in to see him tonight." She patted the baby on the head. "Food, Gibbs. Soak that stuff up." He nodded and went to the break room machines to get his son something to eat. They had those cracker packs with the fake cheese and the stick to spread it. He liked those. He sat down to make some for him, letting him have the first one to gum to death. He was still drooling. "You're teething, aren't you?" His son beamed at him and blew more kisses, then giggled. One of the secretaries came over to look at him, staring in awe. "Yes, it's my son, and he had help getting into some alcohol with the nanny's youngest."
"Oooh, poor baby," she cooed, patting him on the head. He pulled her fingers down to nibble on them, making her smile. "You're so cute. Tony's going to teach you to be a heartbreaker when you're older, young man." She got free of the slobber. "You be a good boy for the daddy." She walked off, going to wash her hands.
Gibbs looked down. "Quit charming the ladies, son. She's too old for you." His son gave him a look while licking the cheese off his next cracker. "Eat it all. It'll help the headache you'll have later." Ducky's assistant brought up his carrier and put it down. "Thank you, Mr. Palmer."
"He's a great little guy, Agent Gibbs. He's so adorable." Xander beamed at him and stuffed some crackers into his mouth. "If you need a few minutes' peace let me know. I can practice for when I have some in a few years." He headed back down there.
He looked at his son. "You want Palmer to watch you?" His son rocked his seat, giggling. "Fine, you be drunk for the moment, son. We'll talk later." His son ate another cracker by shoving it in his mouth then chewing with his mouth open. "Don't choke. I haven't done baby CPR in a while."
His son continued to rock and giggle. It was apparently a good day for him at least. An hour later the director came down and grabbed the carrier, taking him off to his office, where he'd have some quiet to sleep it off and Gibbs could get back to work, and so could the others on the same floor who had complained about the giggling.
Tony woke up, which he was starting to hate. "What?" he asked the familiar face. "No drugs."
"I know they can't," the director soothed, patting him on the hand. "I came to see you so I asked them to wake you up for a bit."
"Why does my back hurt?"
"The bone chip shifted. They've had to do some minor surgery to remove it."
Tony groaned. "I don't have that much vacation time left, Director."
"You do. At least enough for the hospital stay and a week afterwards, but you're also going to have to have some rehabilitation on that shoulder, Agent DiNozzo." Tony moaned more at that. "Which is why I'm going to make an ongoing joke a reality for a while. Janice's ex-husband has gotten out on bail and immediately came after her." Tony let out another small moan. "Which means that Xander has irritated everyone in the office today with his giggling since her youngest son got into some airplane bottles of liquor."
"Poor Gibbs, a baby hangover later," he said, moving the head of the bed up some so he could look at him. A nurse looked in. "I'm awake."
"I know you are. We'll deal with that later, Mr. DiNozzo." She left them alone again.
Tony looked at him. "Am I really sleepy or are you actually going to pay me to be Gibbs' nanny while I heal?"
"I am. He needs it. His son needs the protection. You need the time to heal. I know the boy won't cause you that much trouble." Tony slowly shook his head. "It would allow me to put you on modified duty for the month or so it'll take for you to heal. It'll also give him the time to find someone new for a while. Plus keep you with the agency since Gibbs was considering how to keep you even if you had to use all your stored time." He shifted to cross his feet. "I know a toddler would be hard to manage with a fractured collarbone and broken ribs, but by the time you get out of here you should be feeling next to invincible again. Or so I'm told." Tony smiled a bit at that. "Which would mean you had the time to heal and everything would work out fine, plus I'd have Gibbs back on track again."
"I'd still get the normal pay?"
Tony smiled at that. "Did the boss okay it?"
"I haven't told him yet. I was going to hear your suggestions first. He'll take it because he'll have to or I'm going to have to put him on leave until he finds a new nanny. The office is no place for his son."
"I can do that."
"Good." He smiled at him. He stood up. "I'll let the nurses come talk to you and tell Jethro what I've decided." That got a nod. "Get better faster, DiNozzo, your team misses you."
"Not a problem. Gibbs' team works better with you around. Gibbs works better with his son guarded by someone he trusts." He smiled and walked out, heading back to the office. Once he got up there he called Gibbs up. "Sit, Jethro." Jethro continued to stand. "Fine, be that way. I checked with the hospital. DiNozzo will be out in a week." Gibbs nodded once at that. "He's going to need to be off duty for at least six weeks. He's only got two weeks of vacation time at this point." Gibbs groaned. "Now, I can put him on unpaid sabbatical but that's not really fair to him. Or I can fire him."
He held up a hand. "Or he can be your nanny and I'll have him listed as being on modified duty. That won't be too hard on him. Those are your choices."
"What about until he gets out?"
"Abby's asked for a leave of absence."
"No. We need her."
"This office is not safe for your son, Jethro." He leaned forward. "Or don't you remember how your best man got the plague?" Jethro shuddered at that. "Therefore one of you will have to watch your son at home. Since they definitely won't release Anthony for at least another three days since they had to remove the bone chip, someone's going to have to watch him at home."
"I can get his mother out tonight."
"Are you sure?"
That got a nod. "Then I won't suspend you for frivolous reasons. Any comments about DiNozzo being the nanny while he's on rehabilitation?"
"No, sir. Thank you."
"That will give you enough time to find another one, Jethro. I don't expect the same sort of problems again."
"Yes, Director. Thank you. He agreed?"
"He did after I told him why and how much leave time he actually had. Any other questions?"
"No, sir. I'll get her out here tonight." That got a nod and Jethro went down to his desk to call Dawn. "It's Jethro. I was wondering if you wanted to come out for a visit, Dawn. Well, technically my nanny just left due to someone trying to kill her and take her children. The new one won't be in for a few days, but DC is educational." He smiled. "That would work. Tonight? Early tomorrow? That'd be great. Thank you." He hung up.
"Do we need to go pick her up, boss?" McGee asked.
"No. I will. Giles was in the background saying it'd probably be a better idea anyway." He looked at them. "Tony's going to be in rehab for at least six weeks," he announced.
"Are we getting a stand-in?" Kate asked. Gibbs shook his head. "He's going to hate sitting at home for six weeks, Gibbs."
"I didn't think he had that much vacation time left," McGee offered.
"He doesn't," Gibbs said dryly. "It'll barely cover the rest of his hospital stay." They shuddered at that. "Plus he'll need help doing things for the first few days so he'll be the babysitter for a while until I can find a new one. Solves most of the problems." They all smiled at that, Xander would go insane having Tony all the time. "He'll be out in about a week."
"We can check on him then," Kate decided. "Let Dawn fuss the first night or so. Is he going home with you?"
"Depends on what the doctor says," he admitted.
"Works for us, boss," McGee agreed. "He'll still be available for consults if we need him. He'll keep his remaining sanity. And maybe he'll even get your son to the level of walking."
"Maybe," he agreed, grinning a bit. "Too bad the daycare I liked is shut down." That got nods. "Okay, so work on that, work around him if you need to. He can do some limited consulting and sending ideas while he's changing diapers for six weeks."
"Sure," they agreed, getting back to work.
He emailed that to Abby, getting a pout back but she understood the necessity.
Tony was let into the house and Xander came crawling out to grab his ankle and gnaw on it. "Hungry?" he asked, bending down with a grunt of pain. Gibbs picked his son up and handed him to him. "Thanks, boss." He looked at the staring baby. "Hi." The baby smiled at him. "We're going to get to play for *days* this time," he said, making the baby smile and coo, then kiss him with an open-mouthed, slobbering kiss. "Thanks, little man. Come on. Let's go eat since you're clearly starved."
"I fed him an hour ago, he thinks you're more tasty than pudding," Abby said happily, hugging him carefully. "Hi, Tony." She smiled at him. "He's going to be a good pseudo- mommy, Xander. You be nice to him since he's got booboos." Xander kissed her too then wiggled until Tony put him down onto the floor so he could crawl around some more. He found his father's ankle and sucked on it a bit too.
Gibbs looked down. "Still teething?"
"He's got to cut twenty-six of them, Gibbs," she complained. She got him a popsicle tube, letting him have it unopened for now. He'd open it and it'd be his treat for using his teeth.
Tony sat down slowly and carefully, making the baby smile at him. "Those are good for sore teeth." The baby waved it and smiled at him. "You gum that one. You'll get a nice surprise when your teeth go through the plastic."
"He's had that one three times now and hasn't yet," Abby admitted. Xander went back to chewing on the plastic tube that made his gums feel better. "How are you feeling, Tony?"
"I bet." She stroked his hand and smiled at him. "Think you can handle him?"
"Yup. We'll get along great and my apartment is actually clean at the moment." Gibbs gave him a look. "I can watch him there."
"You can barely bathe yourself."
"Yes and I live closer to help if I need it, Gibbs. He can come stay with me during the days. You know I won't mind."
"You don't have a crib or anything, DiNozzo."
"Not true, boss. I have a playpen for him to nap in if he doesn't nap on the couch with me. I also have the neighbor's dog if he can come over. Plus all the little old ladies up the hall who hate my surround sound system but love me dearly. We'll be fine there." Gibbs grunted but let it go for now. "How was Dawn?"
"Decent enough. Things are going to hell out there since her sister died," he said quietly, glancing at his son, who was staring at him. "It's all right, Xander. Willow said she had it well in hand." Xander went back to gumming on the popsicle. He looked at Tony again. "She needed the break. It was good having her here. She got to play with him and cry on him, then she got to take him outside for walks. She took him to some of the museums with her and it was good for her and him."
"Good." Tony smiled at the silent baby. "Can you say 'daddy, feed me'?" Xander babbled mamas and nonsense. "Huh, not yet. We'll have to work on that, Xander."
"I still think it's cute that he calls Gibbs mommy," Abby said with a grin. Gibbs reached over to smack her on the head. "Sorry, Gibbs, but it is cute."
"He'll learn more words soon."
"Ducky was trying to teach him the last time I knew," Tony teased. "Maybe he'll start to sound British, boss."
"Not funny, DiNozzo." Xander giggled and hugged his ankle again. "Fine, if you want to speak with an accent, you can do that." He reached down to pat him on the head. "Want a sandwich too?" His son squealed and beat him with the popsicle. "Fine. Abby, put him into his highchair." He brought food over. "Eat." He sat a half of one on his son's tray and he gave him an awed look. "Yes, yours. Gum it to death. It's good for you." He ate his own, watching his son suck and gum on the bread until he could gum it up and swallow it. "Pudding isn't a lunch, Abby."
"It made his gums feel better, Gibbs. Chill, he's not fat."
"I know he's not fat. He's always on the go. Did we find him a walker?"
"We did," Tony agreed. "Or at least I found one online before I got beaten."
Abby nodded. "I found him one and it's being cleaned up. It's used and had some stickers on it. I don't think he'd mind Dora and her monkey but this way he can put his own on. McGee's scraping them all off." That got a smile. "Kate's even getting him some stars to put on it."
"Where's his ID bracelet?" Tony asked.
"In the bedroom. He was gnawing on it and got his first tooth stuck so we took it off for now," Gibbs admitted. That got a nod and Tony ate another bite. "You sure you can handle him with broken ribs?"
"We'll be fine and my place has less potential for reaching or pulling him out of somewhere. Most of the time he's either watching a movie with me, crawling in circles around the couch or petting the couch throw because it's soft and slightly fuzzy." He ate another bite. "Plus my place is fully babyproofed still, boss. I'll have to move something off the coffeetable but otherwise it's completely Xander-proof." Which he had learned was a higher standard than usual babyproofing. "Plus all my movies are there and he likes to nap to them, plus all my books. We'll be fine. I need to go grocery shopping I'm sure."
"Kate cleaned out your fridge," Abby told him happily. "She said you had furry things that shouldn't be in there."
"I probably did," he agreed, shrugging a bit. "I haven't been home in two weeks, Abby, and I wasn't at home and cooking much the few weeks before that happened. Any word on when my car will be done?"
"It got taken to the shop yesterday," Gibbs told him. "Two weeks." Tony moaned. "You're right though, you are closer to cab range at your place if something happens."
"Or if something really bad happens, like her ex shows up, I'm closer to backup," Tony pointed out gently.
"I can agree with that reasoning. I'm sure I can talk to the older ladies up the hall from you, ask them to keep an ear out."
"They'll come fuss, coo, and feed us treats, Gibbs. Your son will get fat from all the cookies."
"You'll get fat from all the cookies," Abby teased. "Xander knows he can't eat that many yet."
Xander and Tony both looked at her then laughed.
"It's scary how much alike they already are, Gibbs. Are you sure I can't do it instead?" Abby asked.
"We need you at the labs, Abby. I need DiNozzo able to consult if I need him but he needs watched while I talk with the agency again. They wanted to send Elisa back."
"Nope," Tony said, shaking his head. "I will sic Kate on her this time." That got some smiles. "I will." He finished his sandwich and moved Xander's closer, making him squeal for the attempted food theft. The baby took another bite and glared at him while he sucked and gummed it to death. "If you don't eat it I'll have to, mini-Gibbs. Eat more, grow up like daddy."
Gibbs looked at Abby. "When are we weaning him off you?"
"About a year old. He'll start to want cups."
"There's intermediary cups now, boss. Ones with spouts that are shaped like nipples so he gets used to how they pour."
"That works. He needs new clothes too. Dawn said most of his are outgrown."
"We can take the good ones to the thrift shop," Abby said firmly. "That's where I got most of mine for him."
"I know. We can do that this weekend." She beamed at that. "Then we'll get him more stuff."
"I probably need to replace a few shirts too, boss," Tony pointed out dryly. "Next week I can take him shopping, when my car is finally done."
"We'll see. He's still mostly in roaming wear and t-shirts."
"I know, he likes wearing our t-shirts," Tony agreed happily. Xander smiled at him. "Finish up. Then I'll read to you." Xander tried to stuff the rest in his mouth but his father intervened to pull some of it out before he choked. "Not so much," Tony teased, poking him on the stomach. "It'll all get in there to be gobbled up by the belly dragon." Xander stared at him, looking confused. "The belly dragon grumbles when you're hungry. Haven't you heard him?" The baby grinned at that and finished the stuff his father had pulled out his mouth. "Good boy!" He got the dish cloth to wipe his face, then carried him out to the couch to lay down with the baby on his stomach and read to him.
Gibbs shook his head. "He's good."
"He is. Nearly as good as you and I are together at it," Abby sighed, shaking her head. "He needs some of his own, Gibbs."
"Not this year he doesn't," he countered. "Some day, Abby."
"Fine, spoil my planning on setting him up with nice girls for a change."
"I thought the one who hit him was a nice girl," Gibbs complained. "Steady job, nice personality."
"Hmm. So maybe I should introduce him to someone like Meredith? She's a bit more wild but still nice."
"Isn't she the one who likes to drink blood?" he asked with a grimace.
"Well, yeah," she admitted with a grin, "but she's still very nice."
"Not that sort of girl, Abby."
"Fine." She went to watch the baby be read to. He was nearly asleep on Tony's chest. Tony was starting to drift off too. She took a picture once they were both out.
Gibbs opened his email, finding a picture of Tony and his son sleeping on his couch and the caption 'I have what's yours' underneath. He called Tony. "Where are you?"
//In the kitchen. Xander's doing his baby bird impersonation for more pepperoni. Why?//
"I got emailed a picture of you sleeping with him on your chest and it says they have what's mine."
//Abby was flashing around a picture she took the day I got out of the hospital. All right, Xander. Let me slice a smaller chunk for you. Hold on. It's the daddy.// He handed down the phone for a minute, letting his baby babble at the daddy while he sliced some more pepperoni. He took it back. //There. Call Abby.//
"You two stay in today."
//I would but I promised him that we'd go walk in the park and he's been staring outside all day, Gibbs. I'm sure he's not coming after Xander. Check on Abby. She's usually more vulnerable.//
"I'll do that. You stay inside until you hear from me."
//Can do.// He hung up.
Gibbs called Abby's cell, not getting any answer. He called the lab, he got Palmer. "Where's Abby?" He listened to him gushing about her going out for lunch and then her doctor's appointment. "Thank you." He hung up and called her cell again. Not even voicemail. "Abby's been taken," he announced. "I got a picture she took of DiNozzo and Xander the day he got out of the hospital. He says he has what I want." He put it onto the main screen. "McGee, trace her movements today. Kate, call her doctor's office to check. Palmer said she was supposed to be there at one." That got a nod and he emailed that they had a missing person's case with Abby, to send anything addressed to her up to his desk.
McGee looked over. "She used her credit card for lunch at McDonald's. Looks like a salad and water, her usual, boss. That was listed as a half-hour ago."
Kate hung up. "She's not there yet, Gibbs. They said they'd reschedule her since I told them there was a chance she was missing." She stood up. "Which McDonald's?"
"The one by the Mall," McGee offered. "She likes to eat out there and watch the strange people now and then."
"I watch the Republicans too. Just in case they break out in more social cuts," Kate offered. "Did he leave any contact information?"
"I'll get the email," McGee offered, going over to Gibbs' desk to download it and decode the IP for him. "Looks like he's using a wireless router, boss," he said about ten minutes later. "I'm tracing it now." He put the trace up onto the main screen, then smiled. "That's where he last logged in two minutes ago, boss."
"Keep that up, tell us if he moves. Kate?" She hurried after him.
"Sure, I can do that," McGee agreed, refreshing it.
Tony heard the sirens and smiled. "Look, Xander, it's daddy off to save Auntie Abby from the mean guy again." Xander clapped and waved from his stroller. He smiled at him. "You're such a good boy. When I have sons I want them to be like you." The baby hugged him. "I know, mushy. Too mushy for guy stuff. Come on, let's go back to our walk." The baby belched. "I told you you didn't really want the pepperoni," he teased. He let the baby have some of his milkshake and then they went on while he finished it. His phone rang so he let the baby have the cup while he answered it. "DiNozzo." He listened. "We're fine, boss. He's having some milkshake at the moment to make up for the pepperoni heartburn. Because he cried when I denied it to him. I only fed him a small chunk of it, boss. He's fine. We're having a strawberry milkshake in the park. I knew it was, boss. Could it be her stalker ex?" He grinned. "I know I'm full of good ideas. I haven't had to use them this week. Sure, I'm here." He hung up and took the cup when Xander held it up. "Thanks, little man." He winked at him. "Come on, let's go back to Uncle Tony's PT for the week." They went back to walking. This was much nicer than a treadmill in the gym and Xander liked looking at the jogging tight butts in shorts too. They both stared at a few of them.
Their next rest break, Xander smiled at the woman next to them on the bench. "Momma," he said happily, raising his arms.
"I'm not yours, little guy," she said with a smile, patting him on the head. She smiled at Tony. "Does your wife look like me?"
"No. He lost his mommy. He just thinks you're pretty and very cuddleable." He pulled him out of the stroller and Xander tried to climb into her lap to hug her.
She laughed and gave him a hug. "There you go, little guy. You obviously take after your daddy because you're so cute." She handed him back once the baby had gotten a good cuddle. "He's adorable."
"Thank you. Say thank you, Xander." He smoothed down some of his hair while the baby babbled at her. She grinned and walked off smiling. He looked at the baby. "You have excellent tastes, Xander," he praised quietly in his ear. "Let's go see some more pretty women." He put him back into the stroller, taking him off again to do another lap of the park. Gibbs called back. "DiNozzo. Hi, boss. No, we're out watching the joggers go past. Boss, would I use your son to pick up women?" he asked. Xander giggled at him. "He's fine. Here, talk to the daddy," he said, handing over the phone. Xander babbled and banged it a few times before he got it back. "See, he's fine, boss." They both looked at one buxom young redhead who was bouncing down the jogging trial. Then as she passed. "No, we're doing fine." He smiled. "You're sitting where, boss? Sure." He hung up and walked around the path, going to where they were sitting surveillance. "Hey, boss. Kate." He let her have Xander for a minute, watching as he snuggled into her chest and yawned. "He's been a good boy today."
"You were using him to pick up women, DiNozzo. He's not a toy."
"I know that, boss." Xander got handed back to him and he smiled. "How are you today, baby? Has it been a good day so far?" He saw a van pull up and snorted. "It is the stalker twerp." He handed over the baby again and strolled over there. Abby had told them his picture was of Gibbs so Gibbs needed him. "Hi. You have what's mine?"
"I do. Why should I give her back?"
Tony grabbed him by the head and slammed it casually into the steering wheel. "Quit picking on Abby," he ordered. "Abby is mine. Not yours. Mine." He let him go when a park cop came riding over on his horse. "Hi. He's kidnaping our lab tech," he offered, pulling out his ID. "NCIS."
"Is she all right?"
Tony walked around to let her out of the back, undoing the gag and handcuffs. "You okay?"
"I'm fine," she complained, going to get the baby to cuddle. She came back with him. He was like her personal teddybear. "He was mean to me," she told the cop. "He's a stalker and there's a restraining order." The baby cooed at the animal. "That's a horsey, Xander. Wanna pet the horsey?" She moved closer so he could pet the horse, making the horse look at him. "He's a good boy. He likes to suck on Tony's neighbor's dog's ear."
The cop smiled and called for backup. "We'll take him in, miss. Is your boss here, Agent DiNozzo?"
"In the car."
"That's fine. Will he want him?"
"Hey, boss, you want him or can they have him?" he called.
"He threatened a federal agent," Gibbs said as he got out and came over. The baby squealed and grabbed him but went back to patting the horse. "Yes, it's a horse, Xander. We'll go riding some weekend soon, son." He patted his hair down. "Right after you get a trim."
"His hair's fine for a baby, Gibbs. It's not like it's too long," Abby chided, taking him back. "My comfort snuggle." She let him pet the horse some more. "For all I care you can have him, Officer. He's mean. He keeps stalking me."
"Sure, Miss. Can I move her, son?" The baby scowled at him. "I guess that's a no. Did Gibbs teach him that, Agent DiNozzo?"
"It's inherited, he's mine," Gibbs told him. "DiNozzo's the nanny right now since he's on injury leave."
"Ah. At least you're not bored." Xander squealed as the redhead walked past them, lunging to grab her hair and hug her around the neck.
"Son!" Gibbs complained.
"Xander, it's not nice to grab the pretty women," Tony chided, taking the boy back and getting her free. "Sorry. He saw you jogging earlier and was drawn to your hair. He loves redheads." She smiled at that and petted the baby on the head before walking off again. He looked at the kid. "Nice try, Xander. By the time you're sixteen we'll have you fully trained to pounce suspects or girls."
"Give me back my son before you warp him," Gibbs ordered, taking him back. A cruiser pulled in. "We'll stay with Abby while she makes a statement," he told the horse officer, letting his son wiggle over so he could pet him again.
"The director said you couldn't bring him back to the office, boss. We'll go home." He looked at Xander. "Wanna come pet the couch some more?" The baby smiled and patted the horse, getting another look from the animal. "Gently, like I showed you on the Homer dog." Xander patted more gently and the horse shook his bridle a bit. Xander cooed at that.
"He's a fine, strong boy, Agent Gibbs. He'll make a great agent some year." He smiled at his counterpart. "The driver of the van kidnaped the young lady here. She said she's got a restraining order and she works with Gibbs and DiNozzo."
"That's Abby, our lab tech," Tony told him. He held out his arms and the baby lunged over, earning a smile from him and Abby. "Nice leap. Nearly flew for a minute." The baby giggled and patted him then patted down Abby's hair like people always did to his.
"I'm fine, Xander. Thank you, baby." She kissed him on the forehead. "Such a good boy. Let Tony take you home now. It's bright out today." Xander beamed at the horse officer then Tony walked him off to grab the stroller from beside the car. They had to walk across the park so they still got to ogle some bouncing butts. Abby glared at her attacker. "You were going to endanger the Xander! How could you!" She slapped him. "You're an evil bastard! I never want to see you again. Get that through your head!" She stomped off, going to give a statement. Kate came over to help her.
Gibbs shook his head. "Just don't ask," he said, heading back to the car to tell McGee they had him. He'd have to see if a local stable would let them go riding for a few hours some weekend soon since his son liked horses so much. It was the only thing he wanted to think about today.
Tony looked at the pediatrician Xander went to. "I'm his temporary nanny, doc. His father's on a homicide case out of the city today."
"I understand how that goes," he promised, smiling at the young man. "What seems to be the problem?"
"Gibbs said a regular checkup date and to look at his right ear since it's always being played with recently. Also, can you check the scrape on his back? He decided to try to wiggle between a cabinet and the fridge the other day. Nearly succeeded too." Xander smiled at him. "Your daddy was not happy that you came home scraped but he did like that you were so resourceful, Xander." Xander clapped at that. The doctor laughed. "He is. We've had to add precautions in addition to babyproofing the houses."
"That's normal." He looked the boy over, smoothing some gel over the scrapes and looking in his ear. "There's a bit of grunge in there..."
"Tony DiNozzo. His father's senior agent," he said. "Sorry I thought he had put me on the chart."
"He did but I forgot your name."
"It happens." Even though Tony wasn't so sure of that. "We've been putting neosporin on it but it's not healing very fast."
"That also happens, son." He smiled at him. "You know how to rinse out his ears?"
"I saw it online."
"Good. Try that when you get home. He'll probably fuss a bit. Most babies don't like it. If it keeps up I want to see him again so we can think about tubes but if this is only the first time it should be fine."
"As far as I know. He's not at all shy of putting his head down to have his hair washed. He loves water."
"Some babies do." He smiled and made notes on the chart. "There we go. Now, let's see. He's about nine months?" Tony nodded. "That means it's time for a booster." The baby did fuss at that. "It won't hurt that much, son."
"Xander," Tony ordered. "Look at me." The baby stared at him. "He won't hurt you. I promise he won't hurt you." He held the baby, letting him cuddle while the doctor administered the shots. "Thanks, doc."
"Welcome, Mr. DiNozzo. Now, go home and clean his ear. The scrapes look pretty good too. Any other worries?"
"Not really. He's having a spicy food moment. He's been craving pepperoni."
"We don't encourage that for babies that young," he cautioned.
Tony looked at him. "I read somewhere recently that research said it didn't matter with the creation of allergies. Were they wrong?"
"No but it can cause heartburn."
"We follow it with a milkshake." That got a smile. "Usually some time in the park too. That way he can belch and the women will think it's cute." That got a laugh from the baby. "I know. You like to stare at that one redhead. Keeps grabbing her."
"Babies are attracted to colors."
"In this case his daddy married three of them." That got a knowing look. "Anything else you see?"
"Try for more baby food now and then."
"He only gets the special stuff one meal out of five, doc."
"That's fine then. He should be just fine." That got a smile and the doctor left them alone.
Tony looked down at him. "See? Not so bad but we've got to clean your ears." He picked him up and carried him out, letting the nurse take the co-payment his father would be paying him back for. The doctor called their names. "Again?" he asked.
"Oh, sorry. Wrong folder." He went to get another one, calling that name.
Tony looked at the nurse, who smiled reassuringly. He took Xander out to the car, hitching him into the carseat. "Pretty soon he's going to have a memory like Ducky's mommy," he said quietly, patting him on the head once he was in. He walked around and climbed in, starting the rental car so he could back out. He called his boss on the way, the call on speaker through his radio. "Hey, boss. He's fine. We went to the doctor's and he said we need to clean his ears tonight but otherwise he's fine. He got his nine month booster shots. Did you realize his doctor's starting to get a bit forgetful?"
"I hadn't," he admitted. "Badly?"
"Had the wrong folder so tried to call us back in immediately. Forgot my name."
"So getting there. I'll talk with Ducky. Anything else happen?"
Tony looked back at the silent baby. "He's staring out the window but he looks fine so far." He checked his rearview mirror and laughed. "Hey, boss. Claudia's out?"
"She is? McGee, is that psycho chick of Tony's out?" he called.
"Just last night, boss, but she's supposed to be on home arrest," was heard faintly.
"If she is she's right behind me. Let me change lanes." He did that and turned a corner, making the baby grunt. "What? Did you want to see the person who hurt me?" He changed streets again. "Still with me, boss. She's grinning ferally too. Not a good sign." Xander let out a squeal of outrage. "I know. We'll do what we can. I'm thinking we're going to go visit the nice cops down at the thirtieth, boss."
"I'll meet you there."
"I'm fine, boss. Take care of the homicide." He hung up and sped up a bit, heading to the proper precinct. He pulled into their parking lot and got out, nodding at one of the officers. "She's supposedly on house arrest," he said when she pulled in. "She's stalking me. She broke my ribs when she ran me off the road a few weeks ago." The officer went over to ask her what was wrong while Tony pulled out his ID and put it on more prominently.
"He's got my son!" she shrieked.
"Um, no, I have Gibbs' son," he said dryly. "Unless you're sleeping with my boss too?" She shrieked and went for him. He grabbed her hands and held her off, letting the cops have her when more came over. "I'm on injury leave from the last time I ran into her."
"Whose baby, sir?" another officer asked.
"My boss, Gibbs."
That officer shuddered. "I've had a case with him in the past."
Tony smiled. "I'm DiNozzo, his senior agent and temporary nanny."
"Okay. And her?"
"My ex. There's a restraining order and I heard she's supposed to be on house arrest for running me off the road and shooting at me, then later breaking the restraining order and trying to kill me in the hospital."
"That's my son! We had him together!" she yelled as she was drug away. "Don't listen to him!"
Tony looked at him. "No. I'm partially sterile." That got some nods. "He's Gibbs' son Xander."
"We've heard there was a problem with how he came to be?" the officer asked.
Tony groaned. "There was a paramilitary outfit with limited Pentagon backing out in the mother's town. They were trying to breed the better soldier." That got a shudder. "Exactly. They took some of his DNA from somewhere and implanted it in his mother, who was fourteen at the time. Her older sister was dating one of the commandos."
"Oh, crap. So of course she couldn't take care of it and they found him through the system?"
"Social Services. She gets all the visitation she can ask for. She was in while I was in the hospital." That got a smile. "But I'm the temporary nanny for that little guy in there while I'm injured."
"Bring him inside for now. That way we can call NCIS officially, or CPS if they've got it on file."
"We did the DNA test again," he offered. "Ducky has a copy of all the forms in his office."
"That's fine." Tony walked around to get the boy out, grabbing his diaper bag too. He also locked the car once he had grabbed his cellphone. "Let's go inside. It's cooler."
"Air conditioning is always good." He looked at Xander. "You all right? You're kinda quiet today, squirt." Xander put his head down on Tony's shoulder, hiding his face. "Having a shy day? These are nice guys. We've worked with them before." He walked inside, nodding at the guys he knew. "Gibbs'," he said at the first opening mouth.
"So that's Xander," one said, coming over to smile at him, getting a shy one back. "You're pretty." Xander patted him on the nose then sucked his finger. "He's adorable."
"He was just at the doctor's for boosters." That got a knowing look from some of the officers. "Where to?"
"The boss is handling it, Agent DiNozzo."
"Thanks." He walked back that way and she lunged at him. "Come nearer and I'm hitting you." She backed off looking scared. "Thank you." He sat down and turned the baby around. "His daddy is Special Agent Gibbs."
"I remember him quite well." He smiled at the youngster. "I'm sure you've got the paperwork somewhere?"
"Last I knew Ducky had backup copies. Dad's out of town on a homicide and I'm on injury leave because of her."
"Really?" He nodded, typing in his name, coming up with the complaint against her. "Is this Claudia Adams?"
"By her ID, yes, sir," one of the officers in there with them agreed. "Special Agent DiNozzo pulled in and got out saying that woman was following him, she's supposed to be on house arrest from what he heard."
He looked that up, getting a nod. "She is. Let's fingerprint her just in case. That way we can confirm her ID." That got a nod and they took her to do that. "Is he all right?"
"We were just getting booster shots. I'm hoping he's not having a reaction." Xander looked at him. "Are you?" The baby cooed and patted him but yawned. "Tired?" The baby settled in. He pulled out his phone and called the doctor's office. "Hi, this is Tony DiNozzo, the caregiver for Xander Gibbs. I forgot which shots he's had and I'm updating our personal copy of his shot records. What did he get today? That's him." He listened and nodded slowly. "I thought that was at a year." He frowned. "Anything else? No, he's really tired." He frowned at that. "Sure, thanks. I'll have Ducky do that. Thank you, Nurse Pritchard. Of course. Thank you."
He hung up and looked down at him. "No wonder. You got the shot meant for the kid who was getting his cast off." He called Ducky. "It's me. Do you have the custody paperwork for Xander? My ex just tried to say he was hers. Also, is a ten milligram shot of sedative going to hurt him? The doctor had an oops with the meds. He got the one meant for the kid getting his cast off. No, he got one wrong booster and then that. One of the ones he's supposed to get at a year. That one," he agreed when Ducky mentioned it. "No, we're in the Thirtieth precinct, Ducky. *She* followed me here, parked, got out, and started to scream that Xander was her son." Xander spit. "He doesn't like that idea either. Thanks. I'll be right there as soon as this is cleared up. Thanks, Ducky." He hung up and looked at him. "He'll fax over the custody paperwork."
"Thank you, Tony." He smiled at the boy. "It doesn't look like it's going to hurt him."
"Yeah but I wouldn't want to be that doc when Gibbs gets him." That got a shudder. The officer came back. "She come up?"
"She did, sir. Also, a fax just started to come over from NCIS, sir." He handed over the top sheet and went to get the rest, bringing it back. "There you go."
"Thank you." He looked it over and nodded. "This does say that Xander is Gibbs' son."
"Can I ask for one of those child identification kits?" Tony asked. "We've got a GPS ID bracelet but I'm going to be paranoid now."
"I can agree with that. I'm sure you know how to collect it," he offered with a smile. "Go ahead and go see Ducky." That got a nod and the officer got him one of the kits then they headed back to NCIS. "I'd hate to be that woman when Gibbs gets her the next time," he said grimly.
Tony looked over as the director came in. "His doctor gave him the wrong shot and a sedative by accident," he said grimly.
"Not for being sleepy. Ducky should be able to tell if it'd hurt him." That got a nod. "Then we'll got to the ER. The ER would need paperwork that said I had authority to treat and I don't have it yet."
"That's reasonable then. Ducky didn't have a body."
"I was just finished with one this morning," he admitted, looking at the boy. Xander was fully asleep now. "It doesn't look like it's going to hurt him any but do keep a careful watch on him, Anthony."
"I've got that automatic blood pressure cuff."
"That might get too tight on him."
Tony nodded at that. "Then he can sit in my lap all day." Gibbs strolled in. "Boss, you didn't have to come back."
"She back in custody?"
"Yeah, got out screaming he was her son."
Gibbs snorted. "Funny, she didn't look like Dawn."
"I faxed over the custody papers," Ducky promised. "As for today, we need to keep a careful eye on him."
"I was going to ask what's wrong with him. He never sleeps with people around."
"The doctor screwed up which room got which shots."
"I'll talk with him tonight, Jethro. Perhaps his son can make sure he gets his nine month boosters in a few weeks."
"We'll see." He picked up his son to cuddle. Xander grunted in displeasure at having his nap disturbed. "Sorry, son." His son glared at him then snuggled his head down into his father's shoulder to go back to his nap. One hand went into his father's hair as well. "Is this sedative going to hurt him?"
"It shouldn't," Ducky promised. "We'll have to keep a good watch on him, make sure he drinks a lot tonight to flush out his system."
"Could it trap him in his nightmares?" Tony asked. "He's still having some now and then. Oh, boss, sleeping in front of noise, like the movies, brings that down. So maybe a white noise machine might help?"
"You mean like the sound of rain falling?"
"That could be. Or even something like a quiet CD. I've got one that's classical music with forest noises overlaid. He liked that one. We've used it a few times and he's only had one. Not even a severe one that time."
"I'll borrow it and see if it helps him tonight." That got a nod and a smile. "Anything from the body, Ducky?"
"Not a whole lot, Jethro. Mostly that he was stabbed with a triangular shaped blade."
"Like it had three sides, pyramid style, or like it was a dagger?" Tony asked.
"A pyramid style," Ducky said, smiling at him. "If you'd take him back I'll let him see." Tony took Xander back, letting him cuddle into his shoulder. The boy sniffled. "It's all right, Xander. You can have him back in a few moments then go home." He pulled out the body, making sure the boy couldn't see it. "There, that was under the blood."
"Can we trace that sort of blade?"
"We can," Ducky agreed. "I've given pictures to Abigail so she could. Also the relative depth and dimensions. We casted it for her."
"Thanks. Was that the cause of death?"
"It was. He bled out. Poor man. Just getting over a serious kidney infection as well. She found some very strong antibiotics in his system and his kidneys were swollen with puss when I got to them."
"Eww," Tony offered. "Can we track that through the area med centers and see which base he came from for an ID?" Tony asked. "I know Abby was fretting at lunch she couldn't get a hit off his fingerprints."
"We may," Ducky agreed, smiling at him. "Speaking of, I saw the kit in the diaperbag. A splendid idea, Anthony."
"Thanks, Ducky. Boss, I picked up one of those child identification kits for him. That way we can put his fingerprints, DNA, and picture into their database, just in case something bad happens."
"Good idea," he agreed. "We'll put his ID bracelet back on tonight." That got a nod. "Anything else I should know, Ducky?"
"Just one thing." He pointed at the recent tattoo. "I'm fairly certain it has nothing to do with his kidney infection but it should be noted."
"I'll do that. Let me check with Abby." He stopped to stroke his son's hair, making him shift but murmur happy noises in his sleep. "Go home with Uncle Tony and I'll be home in a few hours, Xander. You nap for now." He looked at Tony. "My place."
"Boss, I want him closer today."
"She knows where you live, DiNozzo."
"She's back in custody, boss." He got given a look. "Fine, I'll stop to get him some juice on the way home. Anything you want for dinner since I've got to stop anyway?"
"I'll get my own. Do the kit and watch over him." He headed off with one last pet.
Tony sighed and picked up the diaper bag, heading back to the car. Xander was strapped in without any problems and the stop was made to get the juice just as easily. By the time they got home, Xander was starting to wake up. It had been a pretty mild dose. He fed the baby a cup of juice, making him smile. "Yes, it's the big boy cup, Xander. You can drink all you want today. Ooh, and look what Uncle Tim and Auntie Abby got for you," he offered, getting out the walker. He put him into it and put the juice in front of him. Xander took a step. Then he beamed at him and rolled around the downstairs. "And hey, can't get up the stairs or behind the fridge anymore," he teased, going to make them a snack. "Drink your juice." The baby did that while he rolled around, letting Tony take it for a refill when their snack was done. A bit salty to make the baby want to drink more. Then again the baby loved nachos when he did them. Gibbs came home an hour later, while they were still nibbling. "Show the daddy how well you wander." Xander babbled and rolled his way, earning a smile.
"Good job, son! Nearly walking all by yourself. Drink your juice." His son banged the cup a few times but did drink. "Good boy!" He looked at the nachos. "Didn't I say to feed him real food, DiNozzo."
"I do usually, boss, but this'll make him want to drink more often."
"That's fine then." He shook his head, stealing a chip. His son squealed in outrage and chased after him to get it back. Tony handed him one and he stuffed it in his mouth, smirking at him. "Yup, that one's yours. Those are salty." He refilled his son's cup and got some for himself. "What is this?" he asked after tasting the sweet, yet acidic, taste.
"Crangrape. He likes it more than apple juice. He likes pink grapefruit juice too."
"You're strange, DiNozzo." He sipped his own juice, watching his son do the same. Then he smiled, making his son smile back. "Having a mimicking day? I don't mind." He reached down to hug him, getting one back. "Good boy, Xander. You're a very good boy." He let go and smiled at him. "Will you behave for a few more hours if I have to go back to work?"
"Caught a lead, boss?"
"Not yet but we're hoping someone will have his ID within the hour," he admitted. "I'm only home for dinner."
Tony looked at him. "Boss, I'm not your wife. If you're hungry, eat. I only cook for the kid." Gibbs snickered at that but did make himself something to eat while Xander got another nacho. Tony looked at the little boy. "Don't worry, even if he has to go back to work, I've got your bath tonight."
"Momma!" he said happily, hugging Tony then his dad. "Puppy."
Gibbs laughed. "Well, it's better than being mom."
"At least he's got a few good moms and puppies," Tony agreed with a shit eating grin.
"He does, but I still don't like the hellhound puppy that shows up."
"He's protective. He growled at Abby because she scared him, boss. I like that about the beast even if he does stink and eat people."
"That I could get to like too." His son stared at him. "What? I said when you were walking we'd talk about a small pet. Something that comes with a cage."
"Puppy?" Xander asked, sounding hopeful, rolling over to hug his father's leg. "Puppy?"
His father smiled at him. "How about a bunny rabbit?" His son scowled at him. "You're not old enough to chase after a dog yet. You get a dog when you're six and start school. Your first pet will be something with a cage that doesn't need someone to pet it all the time." His son pouted.
"We'll go to the pet store tomorrow, Xander." Xander beamed at him for that. "Want another nacho? Have daddy refill your cup."
"If he pees purple I'll know who to blame," Gibbs said as he refilled the cup. His son drank and stared at him. "That's good to drink from the cup, Xander. Very good. It's an important step." His son smirked at him. "I know, you knew how to do that already you just couldn't for a few months. You'll get back to the point where you're able to hunt and things." He stroked over his hair. "When Uncle Tony has you out tomorrow, he can get you a haircut too."
"I can do that," Tony agreed. "My hairdresser should be able to fit us both in since I need one." He ate a nacho. "Should I film it?" he asked when he swallowed. Gibbs gave him an odd look. "That would be his first haircut, Gibbs. Most parents get a bit sentimental about that. They even keep some of his hair. Speaking of, I've got to yank a few strands for the identification kit." He went to get that and a pair of tweezers from the bathroom, coming back to pluck a few hairs, getting a hurt and pouty look from the baby. "This is in case someone mean tries to take you, Xander. So we can find you." The baby settled down at that. Then he took a cheek swab for DNA. "I'll have Abby put in a full profile, boss."
"That's good. What about pictures?"
"I'll take a new one specifically for that after his haircut. That way we don't have to worry about whether or not there's copies made. Have you started his photo album?" Gibbs gave him another of those looks. "Boss, the baby book is one of those prized possessions of childhood. It's also ammunition when he starts to date." Xander gave him one of those odd looks. "Fine, I'll let Abby make the baby book."
"No, I think we can handle that one," Gibbs assured him.
"Should I pick up one tomorrow?"
"Sure, go ahead."
"Any particular color or style?" Gibbs shrugged. "Blue, white, black, red? Quilted, a firm number of pages or a three-ring-binder style?"
"Just find something, DiNozzo."
"Sure, boss. I can do that." He looked at his charge. "We can pick that out after looking at the pets."
Xander beamed and rolled over to pat him, then smiled at his father. "Mama?"
"I agree, we can look at pets and Tony will tell me which one you liked best," he promised, smiling at him. "Then we'll see about getting one this weekend." His son rolled back to hug him again. "I think you could use something to love, Xander. It's good for a boy." He smiled and bent down to hug him. "You be good for Tony tonight and I'll be home when I can. All right? Let him help you if you have nightmares." His son stared at him then smiled. "Good boy. Daddy loves you." He kissed him on the head and headed back to work since his dinner was done.
"Come'ere, squirt. We'll go check the Uncle Tony's email." Xander followed him into the living room, stealing some of the cheese sauce from the nachos with a wicked smirk. "Good boy! Being sneaky is a great thing as long as you don't get stuck behind the fridge again." They settled in to deal with the email problem Tony was having. He hadn't checked it in days. It was getting backed up. "Hey, Gwen wrote," he said happily, reading that one. He giggled and wrote back to her that he was on injury leave but modified duty. He was being a babysitter for a very cute little person. He looked at the rest, sending the ones from Claudia to Gibbs for him to handle. He found another one. "Hmm. Heather wrote back too," he said with a grin that was best not shown to the kid. He wiped it and read hers, then wrote back that he was okay, just on modified duty as a nanny for his boss while he was injured. He even mentioned Claudia to her since she would baby him for it.
He answered the other stuff he needed to and wrote Kate back that he needed a good site to go over what he'd need for the baby book. She sent back one. He wrote back a thank you and Tony looked it over. "Oooh, we can make shapes and things too, Xander." Xander rolled off to look out the window. "I know, it's a girl thing. Not like your father would and someone will need it some year to look back and see how small and cute you are now." Xander gave him a look and patted the window. He got up to look. He even smiled at the woman on the other side. "I'm still armed, Elisa! I'm calling Gibbs!" She ran off. "Good." He went to do that anyway. "Boss, me, Elisa was just here but she ran off. Also, I sent you the emails Claudia sent me." He hung up and grinned at Xander. "We should put in a tape. Yes we should." The boy rolled back and patted the stack they had picked up that morning. "Sure, we'll watch something new. Hmm. Star Wars? Comedy? I know. We'll watch a semi-chick flick comedy." He put one in and sat down beside where Xander was standing, turning him around so he could see the movie too. He got a fuss so he picked him up to put him into his lap to hold instead.
Gibbs came home at two and found his son curled up on Tony's lap sucking his thumb with one hand inside Tony's shirt. Tony was asleep with his head tipped back. He smiled and took a picture. That was one to save. He snuck closer and carefully lifted his son up, getting a gun in his face. "It's me, DiNozzo."
"Sorry, boss." He put his gun back into the holster. "Guess we fell asleep during Star Wars." He yawned and stretched. "I'll camp down here if that's all right?" he said as he laid down.
"Go ahead." He walked Xander upstairs. He changed him and got the baby into the pajamas laying out. Xander woke up and blinked at him. "It's just me, Xander. Go back to sleep." His son yawned and closed his eyes again, letting his father put him into the crib and stroke his back. "Sleep, son. No nightmares tonight." His son flipped onto his side, earning a smile. "If that's what you want." He watched him sleep for a few minutes before going to his own bed. He heard the first sniffle but Tony beat him into the nursery. He smiled as he climbed into bed with his sweat shorts.
"Boss, he's not going to go back down," Tony said quietly from the doorway. "Can he have a hug?"
"Sure." Tony brought his son in and he lifted a cover. His son crawled over, snuggling into his chest. "You cuddle. Did you already have a nightmare?" His son spit. "That's not nice." His son pouted. "It's not."
"That could be a light saber sound, boss. We fell asleep during the first Star Wars. He had a real like for Obi and his master, cooing whenever they were together in a scene."
"My son probably won't be gay. He's got too good of taste in women." He looked down. "If you do, I'll deal." His son snuggled in again. "You think you could go back to your own bed?" His son wrapped his non-sucking hand into his chest hair. "One of those nights, huh? If we have to. I've got him, DiNozzo."
"Sure, boss. I'll head back to the couch." He went back there.
Gibbs looked at his son. "Did you dream about being a jedi?" Xander grinned at him and said a quiet 'momma' before closing his eyes. Gibbs had to wince at a soft pull to his chest hair but Xander wiggled closer and went to sleep that way. He rolled his eyes. "You're very loved, son. You don't have to be insecure." He patted his back and let him sleep. He did kick off the blanket so they only had the sheet over them. That way he couldn't suffocate by accident. After all, he was still really little.
Tony watched father cradle his son while they both slept, taking a few good pictures. Gibbs snapped awake at the sound. "It's eight, boss," he said quietly. He nodded at the small body. "Wake him before you get out of the bed. He'll scream and get more insecure if you don't."
"I'd have to anyway. He's got both hands in my chest hair." He looked down, slowly untangling his son from his chest. "Xander," he whispered. His son blinked at him and cooed. "Can I get up to shower?"
Gibbs moaned. "You learned that word already?"
"Puppy," Xander said with a shiteating grin just like Tony's.
"Sure, you can call me that. I still have to take a shower. DiNozzo, call me in another hour late." Tony nodded that he had done it. "When did you tell them?"
"I told Kate ten. That way you have time to eat too. Come on, Xander. We'll get you a bath once daddy's done." Xander scowled and clutched the chest fur again, making his father wince. "Ask him if you can shower with him." He shrugged and grinned. "If you want, boss, he loves his showers. Watch out for his diving."
"I can do that if he'll let go." Xander's fingers got pried off his chest hair again and he took him into the bathroom. The damp diaper got tossed into the trash. "Take out the trash today, DiNozzo."
"Sure, boss." He shook his head, going to pick out something for Xander to wear today. It was put onto the bottom of Gibbs' bed long before they got out. Xander was giggling and having fun with his father. He pulled out clothes for Gibbs too, that way he'd match. Father and son would coordinate very well. Tony went down to the kitchen to start on the baby's breakfast. Not like he was Gibbs' wife, no matter how many household chores he did around the place. Gibbs came down with them both dressed, handing over the baby. "Hi, Xander. Want eggies?" Xander squealed and grabbed some from the bowl to stuff into his mouth. "Let me put you into the high chair," he said with a smile. He got him locked in then handed over the food, grabbing his own breakfast. Gibbs gave him a look. "I only cook for those I sleep with, Gibbs. If I'm the wife in this 'ship, I'm missing out on the perks of the job," he said blandly.
"Want a kiss?" he retorted. Xander squealed and clapped. "I'm only teasing him, son. I don't do boys." Xander pouted. "I know, you think he's the mommy since Abby's not feeding you anymore."
"He loved his Abby meals," Tony agreed.
"Bad joke, DiNozzo." He got the eggs back out to make his own breakfast, coming over a few minutes later to sit and eat. "I seem to have an extra hour."
"Pet store?" Xander bounced and stuffed his mouth again with his hand. "I think he likes that idea. That way you can plan what sort of cage you'll need, boss."
"We can do that." He ate another bite, letting his son steal his fork to suck the food off it. "Eat yours." He took his back with a smile once his son had used his hand to stuff his mouth again. "Do you let him eat like that all the time?"
"Only with scrambled eggs. The rest he gets fed. This way he doesn't try to steal my breakfast too."
"Good plan." Xander stole his fork again. "Okay." He ate with his toast to scoop up his eggs, watching his son stare at the fork, then stab his food a few times with an insane cackle. He waved it around and Tony caught a clump of egg before it hit the floor, stuffing it into the baby's mouth. "Like this, son," he said, taking it back. He stabbed some eggs and fed it to him. Xander pouted. "That's how big people eat."
"It is," Tony agreed. "Let me feed you this morning to show your daddy what a big boy you are?" Xander threw the fork and pulled the bowl up to lick out of it like the dog did. "That works too at your age," he agreed. Gibbs snickered at that. "Hurry up, kiddo. We'll go to the pet store." Xander threw his bowl and they both looked at the very little mess. "Done?" he asked dryly. Gibbs got up to get a paper towel to clean it up. "You could've eaten the last few bites, Xander. We would've waited."
"He wasn't about to." He handed over the dish cloth, letting Tony clean his face. Xander hated it when he did it. He must rub too hard or something. Tony got Xander down. "You going to change?"
"Give me two to get stuff out of my bag." He went out to his car to do that, noticing the flat tires. He came back with his bag. "Boss, we've got flats on my car."
"You can get the auto club out later," he promised. He handed Tony the backpack system once they were outside. Tony put on the harness and Xander went into the carseat for the drive to the pet store. They got there and Tony got to walk the boy inside. But as soon as he saw the animals he was struggling to get down. "You can't walk on your own yet, son. Let us hold you." They steered him to the pets that were out in easily reached display cases. Xander picked up a long haired rabbit and wouldn't let it go, growling when someone tried to take it.
"Looks like he's got it," Tony offered. "Xander, do you want that one or a smaller one, one your size?" he asked, letting him look at the other rabbits they had. Xander let his father take the one rabbit so he could pet a smaller one, grinning at them. "That one?"
Gibbs looked at the hovering salesgirl. "Are they good with toddlers?"
"They can be but they're not often let out to run around the house." She took the first one back to his cage, letting him calm down. "There's other options." She took that rabbit, smiling at the pout. "There's others, young man. Let's go see what else we have that you'll love. Something you can play with and pet." She walked them off to show them some more playable pets.
Xander squealed at the miniature horse, nearly lunging to the ground so he could go over to look. The horse sniffed him and let him pat him on the side. He hugged the horse and refused to let him go.
"Xander, I don't think that'll fit in the house," Tony said.
"Actually, they are house pets," she told him. "They're bred specially to be that small. She won't get any bigger. She's just about two if I remember right. They're even used as helper animals by some people who're paralyzed." She smiled at them. "They're very smart and very friendly, but she's also very protective. She's a good first pet. If he gets a bit rough she'll walk away from him."
"Yeah, but then we'd have to have hay inside," Gibbs said.
"No, she's yard trained, sir." Gibbs gave her a look. "Just like a dog. They're more than smart enough for that. She's already house broken and she's very good with children."
Xander cuddled the pet. "Son," Gibbs started. "It's a big decision. Are you sure you wouldn't rather have a rabbit?" Xander turned his head away from the rabbit Gibbs found that he had been petting. "Please want the rabbit more?"
"What would she eat?" Tony asked.
"We feed them a specialized oat mixture. It's not much more expensive than a good dog food." She led them over to let them see it. "That'll last her about three weeks," she told them.
"Dog food is twenty bucks a bag?" Gibbs asked.
"The *good* stuff is," she assured him with a smile. She smiled when Xander crawled over and hugged his father's leg, pointing and squealing at the horse.
Gibbs sighed, looking at Tony. Then down at his son so he could pick him up. "Son, we'll talk with Ducky tonight," he said quietly. "If he says it won't be a problem, we'll get her this weekend." He could only hope Ducky said no or Xander forgot. His son pouted. "Xander," he moaned.
Tony patted him on the back and leaned closer. "We can't take her home until cartoon day, Xander," he said quietly. "We have to set things up at home first. We'll come back for her on cartoon day." Xander relented and went back to pouting at his father.
"We can do that," Gibbs agreed. "That way we can figure out where she'll sleep and things." Xander snuggled into his shoulder, making him smile. "When we've got things set up, Xander." His son nodded and hugged his neck. "Sure, you're a good boy. Now, let's take you and Tony home so his car can be fixed. Then you and he can go shopping while I talk to Ducky. How about that?" The baby gave him a small smile. "I'll try to be home early tonight." Xander nodded, smiling at that. "Good boy." He kissed him on the forehead and handed him back to Tony. "How much for her?"
"Six hundred." He winced and shuddered. "We've got a few purebred dogs here that'll closer to a thousand, and one that's two and a half," she offered.
"Six hundred is bad enough," he decided. "We'll be back Saturday if our doctor says it's okay."
"I understand." She patted Xander on the back. "If he can't, there's always the rabbits."
"True." He nodded at her and took Tony off. "No more taking him to the park to pick up women and pet the big horses, DiNozzo."
She sighed. "They're such a cute couple and their son is just adorable!" She went to tell her manager. "The very cute gay couple with the son who wanted the rabbits decided he wanted the miniature mare instead. They said they'd be back Saturday for her if they could figure out some logistics and got doctor approval."
"Good. She's been here for a while. She's adorable but some work."
"No more than a large dog," she offered. That got a smirk from him. "Really." She went back to check on the rabbits. They weren't any worse for the wear after being cuddled by the rambunctious toddler.
Gibbs walked into the morgue. "Please tell me you have a reason why Xander can't have the miniature horse he nearly threw his first fit over."
Ducky looked at him. "Miniature horse?"
"I told him he could have a pet when he started to walk. He went from rabbits to that one. He almost refused to let her go. She's about as big as a sheepdog." Ducky smiled at that. "She's still a horse, Ducky!"
"Miniature horses have been used as service animals, Jethro. They're very good and long lived pets. A rabbit would die within a few years. As far as I know a beast like that one would be around for at least ten." Gibbs gave him a horrified look. "I know, goldfish are better but the traumas of death should not be given to any child, especially not your son. Unless we want to prompt thoughts he shouldn't have?"
"No, I don't want that," he sighed. "What happens if I get transferred?"
"Then you move the beast as well," Ducky reminded him.
"Please stick up for me," he requested. "Tell Xander he can't have it? Please, Ducky?"
"Jethro, he's your son," he said, patting him on the shoulder. "Pitiful sniffles, pout, and all. It could be a much worse pet."
"Yeah, it could be the hellhound that keeps showing up," he said dryly. "Ducky?"
"No, Jethro. It would be your pet as well."
"I don't need a pet."
"Your son will not like you if you take your word back, Jethro."
"Point. I don't want to be a bastard like my father was."
"Then I'd cut down my work hours and find someone to take Anthony's place." Gibbs looked sheepish at that. "Soon, Jethro. He'll have to come back to work sometime soon." He went to look at the bodies he had. "Now, what shall you tell us today, young man?" he asked as he pulled one out.
Jethro went upstairs to consider that. He did need to find a new nanny for his son. DiNozzo would need to come back to work in a few weeks. He hoped he could find someone as good as Janice was. He called the agency to talk to them and to tell them that Elisa was still harassing them. He looked in his email, finding a letter from her. He hung up and called their legal department instead. Someone had to stop her and Tony's stalker as well. Before something worse happened to his son.
Tony looked at Gibbs when he walked in. "We're going to have a small issue. My PT wants me without Xander next week."
"Because he said I'm not focusing." He shrugged and looked at the kid, who was still pouting. "He thinks the horse can live in his room."
"I'm not sure she could do the stairs," Gibbs admitted. He sat down to look at his son and his senior agent. "The agency can't find anyone else and they've told the other agencies in town what went on."
"That you helped Janice?"
"That we did deep background checks and Elisa is stalking us now for ruining her career for a prior drug bust."
"There's always hiring a private nanny, boss."
"There is," he agreed. "They'd be more expensive and not bonded, DiNozzo. I don't want to leave him with just anybody and I can't leave him that long at a daycare."
"Sounds like you've got problems, boss. I'll ask some of my ladies, see if they know someone good." That got a nod. "I'll send out the email tonight when I get home."
Gibbs looked at him. "I don't meant to leave you with him all the time, DiNozzo."
"I remember how cases go, boss. It hasn't been that long since I was there."
"I know that." He looked at him. "How long before he releases you?"
"He said I'm doing poorly at it because I can't focus."
"Which is going to cause another conflict," Gibbs agreed. "You can't focus while he's crawling around there."
"Or here. He's been coming to my place or out here."
"How did you work that out?"
"I claimed Xander was mine and that I couldn't leave him."
"Oh. I didn't mean to make you the mommy."
"Momma," Xander said, pointing at Gibbs. "Puppy," he said, grinning at Tony.
"That and he wants her to be named Puppy, Mom."
Gibbs snorted. "Xander, I'm the daddy." Xander looked confused. "Daddy."
"Fine. You can call me mommy if you have to. Until you learn how to say daddy."
"I caught him calling the fridge that earlier," Tony offered with a smug look.
Gibbs just shook his head and got comfortable. "So, Puppy, what's for dinner?"
"I told you, unless we're married, at which point I'm missing out on some of the perks, I'm only cooking for the kid, boss."
"Is that an offer?"
Tony looked at him. "Depends, boss, you willing to go on your back at least twice a week?" he shot back.
Xander scowled at them both. "Momma," he said angrily.
"It's all right, son, we're picking on each other," Gibbs promised, patting his head. "You didn't get him a haircut?"
"We've got to do that tomorrow. It took them until three to get here to change the tires for me."
"I'm not. I filed a police report." He gave him a look. "Elisa is in trouble when they find her, boss. I gave them every time we've seen her."
"Good. That works for me. Maybe they'll make her stop." He leaned on the table. "What did you two have for dinner?"
"I'm going to have Mexican tonight and he's had spagehtti-ohs."
"That works. Not too much of a mess either." Tony pointed up so he looked, snorting at the few drops of sauce up there. "That can be cleaned too," he agreed. Tony smirked at that. "Anything else I should know?"
"He's been a good boy all day." He kissed Xander on the head. "There you go. Back to daddy." He shifted the high chair over, letting Daddy be within better reach. Xander scowled at him. "What? I'm going to go home, Xander. Remember, I don't live here. Only you and your father live here." He gave him a kiss on the head and headed for the door. Xander burst out crying so he came back to hug him, whispering that he'd be back in the morning. Xander finally settled down so he handed him back to his father and headed out again.
Gibbs looked at him. "Xander, he's not the mommy. I couldn't live with him for real, son. Besides, he probably has a date." Xander scowled at him. "He'll be back in the morning, Xander." Xander settled in to pout, wiggling to be put down. He got put into his walker and headed to stare out the front window while his father made himself dinner. Gibbs brought it out to watch his son. It was going to be hard breaking him to a new nanny. At least his son had good tastes in who he fixated on. First Abby and now Tony. He ate another bite and his son looked at him. "Want some? It's turkey." His son rolled over with his mouth open. "Good boy. He'll be back in the morning, when you get up and I go to work." His son rolled back to the window while he chewed. Then he came back to grab some of the cake from his tv dinner and walked off licking it off his fingers. Gibbs snorted. "You didn't need that. You got spoiled all day I'm sure." His son continued to lick his fingers and stare, waiting for Tony. He finally started to get tired and knew his son was. "Come on, bedtime, Xander." Xander started to fuss and throw a fit. "Hey!"
He picked him up, staring at him. "The more you sleep the faster he'll be back. So let's take a bath and go to bed." Xander kicked at him and started to cry again. He sighed and walked him off to do it anyway. He'd settle down. Though not even a bottle sleeping with him helped. Xander ended up crying himself out and falling asleep that way. "What am I going to do about this?" he whispered, cuddling his son. He took off his t-shirt because Xander wasn't being cooperative. The chest hair got grabbed and yanked. "Fine, I probably deserved that. I'm sure DiNozzo knew this was going to happen and that's why he broke it now." He watched his son sigh and settle in against his chest, making sucking faces. "No, I'm not Abby. She doesn't have chest hair. At least I hope she doesn't." His son fell fully asleep and Jethro couldn't get him free of his hair. The foot trying to go down his shorts he could combat, the clutching hand in his chest hair he couldn't. So they ended up together again that night too. But he only had the three nightmares.
It was definitely time for some decisions to be made.
Tony walked in the next morning and found them both asleep. He shook his head. "Boss, it's seven," he called. Gibbs hopped up but yelped. "Guess Xander's in bed with him," he said dryly, heading up to help. Xander blinked at him. "See, I told you I'd be back this morning." He lifted his arms and Tony gave him a hug. "There you go. Now let's change the smelly diaper so daddy can shower and shave." He walked him to the nursery to do that, then downstairs to pour him some cheerios. Gibbs came down ten minutes later and took the box. "How was he?"
"Three nightmares. He ended up crying himself to sleep last night because you went home."
"I've noticed that."
"Figured you did." He looked at him. "How do we break him of you?"
"Get the new nanny before I have to go back. That way we can both be here for a while. He'll get used to seeing her and then I can wean myself off."
"Not a bad idea. I'm going to call the agency the FBI recommends today. Maybe we'll be able to find someone decent." Tony nodded at that. "What were you two doing today?"
"Scrapbook hunting, his haircut. Probably another walk in the park."
"That's fine. Try to keep him away from the horses if you can." Xander spit at him. He shook his head. "I'm not sure it's safe for someone your size, Xander."
"There's an owner's group somewhere around here, boss. I found them online."
"Not a bad idea," he agreed. He finished his breakfast and looked at his son. "Will you behave for Tony today? Unless we get a case I'll be home on time."
Gibbs patted his son on the head, giving him a hug when he held his arms up. "It's all right, son, we'll figure this out." He smiled and headed off, going to do the paperwork on the last case. If they were lucky they wouldn't have another one before they were done.
Tony looked at Xander. "I told you I'd be back. Remember, I live at my place. Which isn't such a bad idea," he decided. "We can go to my place later on," he said, making Xander smile. "Good boy! Eat." Xander stuffed another few hard o's in his mouth to crunch and gum up. "Excellent job!" The boy beamed at him.
Gibbs knocked on Tony's door, opening it at the tired sounding grunt. He found his son staring at the door. "You're crawling?"
"Your son was a holy terror in the park. They were having a meeting with some of the horse cops. I turned my back for one minute to get something out of the diaper bag and he managed to get off the bench we're sitting on and crawls over to pet the horses."
"He's fine. One of the officers recognized him and picked him up to let him pat and ride the horsey." Xander squealed. "That noise was how I found him. They were understanding, said it happened to all parents and nannies at least once."
Gibbs looked at him. "He's stubborn."
"I wonder why," Tony said flatly, glaring at him. "Quit passing that trait on, boss, he's got a deep enough well."
"Fine. You okay?"
"My mother called and heard him. She said being a nanny was better than being a cop but it still wasn't fit for the family and hung up."
"Not your fault I was raised by wolves. Take your son home."
"Sure. Come on, son, let's let Tony nap." His son scowled and crawled over to climb up Tony and sit on his legs. "No, he's got to nap. He's got a headache." He picked him up to look at him. "I promise you'll see him tomorrow."
"Only if this clears, boss."
"It didn't the last time."
"I thought that was a hangover."
"No, that's what you wanted to believe it was, boss," he said tiredly. "It's pretty rare I get that drunk." He flipped onto his side. "I'll see you when I can tolerate noise and light, Xander. Go home with the daddy. Make him give you a real bath since you smell like a horse." Xander pouted at him. Tony opened his eyes a bit more. "I'm fine. It's a headache. My head hurts." He patted the top of his head. "Let me nap and I'll be back as soon as I can." Gibbs grabbed the diaperbag and walked out with his still-pouting son. Tony sank back into the cushions and decided that beheading wasn't that bad of an option after all.
Gibbs checked his watch then called Tony again. No answer. He sighed and looked at his son. He tried his other number, getting his voicemail. "Crap. DiNozzo, call me," he ordered. He called Abby. "Have you heard from DiNozzo? He had a migraine when I left last night. I thought I was his medical contact." He nodded. "Is he still in the hospital?" He shuddered. "Sure, we'll do that. Thanks. Tell Kate what's going on." He hung up and looked at his son. "What did you two eat yesterday? He was throwing up blood." He called the Director. "It's me.... Oh, you heard already. I'll have to stay home, Director. You said I couldn't bring him in. I can do that. Thanks." He hung up and took his son to change his clothes, grabbing his carrier and diaper bag. Then he headed into the office. McGee smiled and took the baby to hold. "He's not allowed to roam in here."
"Sure, boss." He settled him on his lap, letting the baby help him type. "Where's Tony?"
"Apparently his migraine somehow turned into throwing up blood and he went to the ER. They kept him overnight for observation."
"Ow. Will he be okay?"
"I'm going to call and check now." He found the number for the hospital and called. "This is Special Agent Gibbs.... thank you." The only good thing about having Tony in Bethesda, they knew the whole team there. "This is he." He listened to the nurse. "So he'll be fine? Any idea what caused it? Because he's been watching my son. Okay. Thanks, nurse. We can be there.... Why not? Still has the migraine? Sure. I can come visit him later. Thank you." He hung up. "He'll be fine in a few days."
"Boss, I know they're diverting cases around us today," McGee said.
"It's Thursday. I'll figure something out."
"We have weekend call, boss."
Gibbs moaned and nodded. "I forgot. Come up with a good reason why he can't have a miniature horse?"
"I talked with some of the women in the owner's group and they said that they're very protective but he should probably be walking before you get one. Otherwise the horse might step on him by accident." He looked at the boy. "You don't want stepped on, it'd be like the daddy stepping on you." The boy pouted.
"So we'll have to wait a few months on the horse," Gibbs told him, staring him down. That special switch of Xander's that brought back the old memories and personality flipped - you could see it in his eyes. "It's dangerous to have something so large in the house while you're still crawling, Xander. So once you're walking we'll see about your birthday." The boy pouted. "You can still have a bunny rabbit until then though." That got a shy smile. He grinned back. "Now, we'll see if you can see Tony tonight since they won't release him with how sick he is at the moment." Xander pouted again. "Not his fault his stomach decided to rupture because his migraine made him puke."
"Momma!" Xander said firmly, scowling at him.
"If I can sneak you in I will," he promised. That made him pout less. "For now, wanna come sit and watch me type? I'm sure McGee has things he should be doing."
"He's helping me write my report, boss." Kate came in. "Traffic?"
"Slashed tires." She looked at Gibbs. "Your almost nanny is annoying." She sat down behind her desk and heard the quiet babbling, looking over. "What are you doing here?"
"DiNozzo's in the hospital. His migraine last night caused him to vomit blood."
"Charming. How long is he going to be off?"
"They think he can be out tomorrow." She looked at him. "We're not sure yet. They're trying to break the migraine now."
"Wonderful." She grimaced but got to work. "Any luck finding a nanny?"
"I'm emailing the agency I got recommended to now," he sighed, turning to do that. He also included what he did, what Elisa was doing, and that he had his injured agent playing nanny at the moment. He got back one fairly quickly that they'd see him later today at two sharp. He sent back an agreement and looked at his son. "Pretty soon you'll have a real nanny." Xander started to fuss. "Oh, quit. You'll still see DiNozzo all the time, kiddo." Tim got him calmed down by rocking and patting him on the back, whispering in his ear that Tony would still be there, just as an uncle, not as his nanny. "We had that talk the other night too. He didn't want to let him go home."
"If you two start dating I don't want details," Kate said.
"Not funny, Agent Todd."
"Truth, Gibbs. The truth." Xander scowled at her. "I don't. I don't need details of them dating to give you two parents." His scowl got worse and she frowned back. The baby spit at her and glared at his father instead.
"Behave, son, or you'll have to sit in the carrier with a juice box." His son made begging noises and opened his mouth so he dug one out, looking at the little box and straw. He found the hole and unwrapped the straw.
"Watch out for squirting, boss," McGee warned. Gibbs moved it off his desk and punctured the small foil circle. A bit went up the straw but not out. He walked it over to his son, who was sat down next to McGee's desk so he could drink it. "No wandering off." He went back to his own seat and got to work on his own reports.
Xander stared and listened, then went to look out the windows. His father watched him the whole way because he was paranoid but there was stuff going on down there. He heard a phone ring and his father walked behind him and up some stairs, making him watch that for a moment, but he knew he wasn't being abandoned. Not with the auntie and the uncle in the room with him. So he went back to watching all the people in uniform and all the vehicles. He looked over when the elevator dinged, smiling at the doggy. He put down his juice box and lunged to hug him when he came closer, patting and cooing at him.
"Sergeant, freeze," Kate ordered. "Freeze the dog too." He looked down and looked amused. "Sorry, his nanny's sick. That's Gibbs' son. He likes furry things."
"At that age most of them do, ma'am." He squatted down. "His name's Doomer, son. Can you say that?"
"Puppy!" he said with a bright grin, patting his dog. The dog licked him on the head and he squealed licking his cheek back. The dog settled in to lick the boy's hair for him. They all heard the groan from the stairs.
"Xander, let the doggy do his rounds," he ordered. "Sorry, Sergeant."
"Not a problem, sir. If he was older he'd have asked." Gibbs nodded, picking up his son, who pointed and babbled. "Maybe you can watch him play fetch later, Xander." He patted him on the head. "He was very careful, sir."
"Thanks. Have a good patrol." That got a nod and they walked on, Xander waving at the doggy. "Maybe you'll be a vet when you grow up." He grabbed the juice box to toss out since it was empty and took his son to get cleaned up.
McGee put up his camera and looked at Kate. "He's very fast."
Gibbs came back. "I want copies of any pictures of that. DiNozzo's doing an album for him." He sat his son in his carseat and have him a toy, which got thrown. "No, play with it it." He handed him the squishy book and his son gave him an expectant look. "What?"
"Read to him, boss," Kate sighed. "I'm sure both maternal ones have."
"It's just pictures." He did pick his son back up with his book. "Hmm. Train. Have you went on a train?" Xander beamed at him.
"Tony took him on a subway to go to the train down by the museums," McGee offered.
"Last week, boss," he agreed. "I found them out on lunch when I was getting orders. He told me."
"Wow, Tony does a lot with you," he said, making his son smile. "If he didn't have to work here I'd let him do this forever. Or at least until you didn't need him anymore." He pointed at the other page. "Cat? Have you seen a cat?" Xander looked up at him. "You've seen the stray cat that likes to meow at the back door. The gray tabby that snuck in that once." Xander smiled at that, patting the book. "Yup, she's one of those." He turned to the other set of pages. "Hmm. Boy. You're a boy." He poked him on the stomach. "You're being a good boy even if you did pet the guard dog." His son grinned. "I know, you like furry things." He pointed at the other one. "That's a girl. Like Kate's a girl and Abby's a girl." Xander looked at Kate, who nodded.
"I am a girl," she agreed. "Otherwise this whole team would've had testosterone poisoning years ago," she finished dryly. Xander squealed and wiggled so he put him down, watching him crawl over to Kate so he could hug her leg. "Hi, Xander. Go back to your seat or the windows. I've got to write a report." He pouted up at her and she sighed, giving him a hug. "There, a hug from a girl. Go look outside," she said, pointing at the windows. The boy went to do some more looking. She shook her head. "There, I've had my dose of why I take birth control for the month."
Gibbs gave her a look. "He could be a lot worse."
"I know, a few friend's kids are holy terrors at that age. He's a very well behaved youngster, Gibbs. Doesn't mean I like them."
"That's your right," McGee assured her. "That's why you'll get to hold Abby's hand in labor and delivery since she said she'd be too embarrassed to let whoever did that ever look at her again."
"Is she pregnant?" Kate demanded.
"Not yet but she was thinking about doing it sooner instead of later."
"No. No no no! No more babies." She glared at Gibbs. "This is your fault."
"Hey, she fed him before I knew about it," he defended.
"You still had to have a son."
"Not like I planned him," he noted dryly. She still scowled and stomped off for a break. "McGee, raid Tony's chocolate stash for her please?" he asked quietly. Tim did that with a grin, putting a candy bar onto her desk then hurrying back to his. They both got back to work on their reports, only glancing at the baby now and then to make sure he was still watching outside. It could be better than tv now and then.
Ducky looked down when he felt something grab his ankle, smiling at the baby. "How did you get down here, Xander?" He stepped away from the body. "I'd pick you up but I'm rather a mess. Mr. Palmer, you're still clean, please pick the lad up? But keep him away from the body." His assistant smiled and did that, letting him kiss him on the cheek. "There you go. Is your father around? You shouldn't be wandering through the building, lad." Jethro stomped in. "I wondered how long it would take for you to come get him."
"He made it onto the elevator with Kate when she went for lunch. She didn't notice him sitting in the corner. So he went down to the lobby and they simply put him back into the elevator and hit the button when his ID bracelet set off the metal detector. It came here first because someone got on the next floor up."
"He's no worse for the wear," Ducky soothed. "Though lunch may be in order."
"We're going late; then we're going to talk to the nanny agency."
"Ah, well, I suppose that's for the best so Anthony can come back to work once he's finished his therapy." He smiled at Xander. "I hope they find you someone as nice as Janice was, young man. Now, out of my morgue. You are much too young to talk to the dead." Xander let himself be carried out, waving at them with a smile. They both waved back. "He's quite charming. Even charmed Mother. She thinks he's mine for some reason."
Palmer looked at him. "She probably wants grandchildren, Doctor Mallard. I know every now and then my mother's hinting about it already too."
"Yes, most parents do hint," he agreed, getting back to work. "She has six though, I don't know why she wants more. They used to aggravate her to no end when they came for visits." His assistant gaped at that and he smiled. "That sort of thing does happen. They do still visit now and then. Just not as frequently since they're all older now and starting on their own lives."
"I didn't know you had been married, Doctor Mallard."
"I was, twice, Mr. Palmer, plus I do have a few siblings you know."
"I didn't." He smiled and came back to help.
Jethro looked at the agency's social worker, then down at his currently behaving son. "I'm sure you've had time to do a background on me, or go find gossip at the very least."
"I've done both," she agreed with a small smile. "Who's doing his care now?"
"My senior agent, DiNozzo. He's out on injury leave. Today he's in the hospital for a migraine that made him vomit blood."
"Oh, I'm sorry."
"He's been throwing a few fits when DiNozzo goes home for the night. He thinks that they can overlap the last few days and wean the baby off him."
"That's usually the easiest way," she agreed. "Now, I did hear that you've filed charges against one of your other ones?"
"She was my first choice so I let my team do a deeper background since my son hated her on sight and contact." That got a nod. "Hated to let her near him. Threw fits. They found a drug possession charge as a minor and we decided to use someone else. She's been stalking my team for it."
"Oh, I see. Your last nanny?"
"Her ex-husband had stolen her children. She finally got them back when he was arrested for drugs down in Miami. We worked it out after she got them back, he went to her house instead and played with her kids, but then her ex got out of jail and came after her. We helped put her into protective and hidden custody."
"That's very good of you. Now, what sort of hours do you work?"
"Depends on the case," he admitted. "I've been cutting back on the times I spend overnight in the office."
"Excellent. So we'd need someone with a fairly open schedule?" He nodded. "Any pets?"
"I promised him a rabbit. He wanted a miniature horse and I said we'd see for his first birthday to ease that pout and fit. Earlier today he pounced a guard dog doing rounds at the office to pet and cuddle." She smiled at that. "He loves furry things."
"Then maybe he'll be a veterinarian."
"I'd like that," Gibbs agreed. "I just want someone nice, responsible, and who isn't Mary Poppins. He's my son, he'd hate anyone that cheerful." His son looked up at him then used his leg to stand. "You would." He picked him up, letting him look at the lady. "She's going to help us find someone to help Tony." Xander beamed at her for that.
She smiled back. "He's certainly a very nice young man, Mr. Gibbs. Now, let's see who I have open at this moment." She tapped some things into her computer's search engine, frowning a bit. "Well, we have one open but she's fairly new."
"I'd rather have someone experienced," he agreed. "Xander's already gotten stuck behind the fridge once this week."
She looked at him. "How many times all together?"
She nodded. "My second daughter did the same." She paged down. "Most of the rest of ours are taken already."
"Do any of them watch them at their home? I could go for that," Gibbs offered.
"No. Ours is a home-based service, but it's your home." She looked at him. "Let me make some inquiries. I did have one that just left recently to get married. I'll see if she wants to come back. She had some of the best luck with youngsters around his age." He nodded at that. "If not, would you like to meet with the other one? I could have her come out to interview tonight?"
"That'd be great," he agreed, shaking her hand. He gathered up the few toys Xander had unpacked, looking at him. "Did we have that blue truck?"
"Probably but if not we've had toys borrowed in the past," she assured him. Jethro smiled and packed it as well since his son snatched it to chew on it. "He's a charming young man."
"Ducky says the same thing. Especially since he made it into the morgue somehow earlier today." That got another smile and a nod. "Thank you." He shook her hand and let Xander pat her on the head before taking him back to work. Via Bethesda. They found Tony on his bed with a mask over his eyes. "Being kidnaped?"
"No, this hurts worse than being clubbed in the head," he admitted. He sounded tired. "If I wasn't in this much pain, I'd sleep." He lifted the mask when he felt the little body crawling up his legs. "Hi, Xander." Xander squealed and hugged his chest. "Awww. Did you miss me today? I missed our walk today too." He stroked over the baby's back. "Any luck?"
"A bit. Maybe. We'll interview tonight."
Tony nodded. "Sounds good, boss." He smiled at the baby. "We'll get you used to her over the weekend, then on Tuesday I'll spend a few hours away during PT, then come back to make sure she handled you correctly, then slowly disappear for longer and longer until I finally make it back to work and only come over for dinner."
"If that works I'm all for it," Gibbs promised, sitting on the foot of the bed. "They can't stop this one?"
"No. They've tried but it's too noisy in here too." He smiled at the baby. "If they knocked me out I could sleep and then it'd probably be over with."
"I'd hit you if it'd help," he offered dryly.
"I'm about ready to take you up on that offer, boss." The nurse came in. "Will the doctor sedate me now?"
"He will." She smiled at the baby. "Did you miss your second daddy?"
"I'm the nanny," Tony said dryly.
"Uh-huh. To him you're another daddy." She injected something into his IV. "There, that should take effect soon, Tony. Need to use the head?"
"No, I'm good," he promised, wiggling to get more comfortable, which made the baby stare at him. "I'm going to nap soon, Xander. You've got to be good for daddy today."
"He lunged over to hug a guard dog doing rounds in the office," Gibbs said dryly. "Doomer was very nice and licked his head for him." Tony gave a weak smile at that. "Get kisses, kiddo. They're going to make Tony nap for a while. It's time for yours too." Xander crawled up further to hug and kiss him then smiled sweetly at the nurse.
"You're so cute. Is he teaching you to flirt?" she teased, giving him a pat on the head. "Go with daddy for now." Xander gave Tony another pat and hug then crawled back to daddy so they could go. "He's adorable."
"He is. If I ever have kids, I want that one," Tony agreed quietly, nearly asleep. "Likes to help me flirt in the park too. Has good taste." She laughed and helped him adjust his bed, then left so he could sleep. He yawned. "Maybe I should dream of them. It'll make the headache go away faster." He fell asleep thinking about a carousel of women that he could ride on the backs of. That was the downside of sedatives. They gave him odd dreams.
Tony grabbed his phone his first day back. It had been three hours and it was good to be back in work clothes and doing work things, even if he was still weeding through his email. "DiNozzo." He listened. "Captain..." He groaned. "Where is he?" He nodded. "His caretaker?" He tapped his fingers a few times. "I'll be right there with his father. Thank you." He hung up and looked around. "GIBBS!" he bellowed. He came out of the bathroom looking amused at that method of summons. "Your nanny left your son alone in the house. A jogger heard him screaming and went to check. Found him alone. The local station called me because I told them to if there were problems."
"Let's go." They grabbed their stuff and went to pick him up. It was a long enough ride that they both calmed down but not that long. Gibbs grabbed his son from the front desk, holding him. "The nanny?"
"Not a clue, Agent Gibbs."
"She'd better have been kidnaped or it had better have been an emergency," he vowed. "Who found him?"
"We did but the Captain wanted you."
"Sure." They walked that way and he pulled out the agency's card, handing it over. "We got her from there. They came highly recommended by the FBI. She's new, this was her first assignment."
"She did okay when we weaned him off me and onto her," Tony offered. "How long was he there alone?"
"Probably not too long," he admitted. "Long enough that he panicked and started to scream. He also got into the phone and started hitting numbers. We hung it up when we went in. Do you know her name?" Gibbs wrote it down. "Thank you, Agent Gibbs. At least it wasn't a tragedy."
"It will be if I get my hands on her before you do," he vowed.
Tony took the baby, getting snuggled into. "Shh, Xander. The daddy's here and so am I," he soothed, letting him cry on him. "Shh, the mean lady won't ever come near you again. Daddy will shoot her. We didn't know she'd leave you alone that way or else I'd have shot her when I did my therapy." Gibbs gave her an amused look. "I would have. I could've counted body hauling as part of it, boss." He sat down to make the baby calm down more. "Shh, I've got you." Gibbs came over to hug him too, making him finally calm down. "There we go," he soothed. Xander looked at them. "Captain, do we need to sign anything to file charges?"
"Oh, no. Since we found him, we can do it without parental involvement. I'll tell the agency myself."
"Any problems coming from social workers?"
"No. You told the guys last night that he had a new nanny going fully solo today for the first time so we were even out that way just in case there was an issue. We know this wasn't parental misconduct, but she's going to lose whatever license she had." That got a mean, cruel smirk from Gibbs. "Go ahead and take him, boys. We didn't pick up his diaper bag because we couldn't find it."
"It's in the front closet," Gibbs told him quietly. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Have Ducky check him over just in case and let us know." That got a nod from Tony. They headed out to get the diaper bag and then take him in so Ducky could look him over. "Someone's going to die," he told his assistant when she came in.
"Good! If that was my kid I'd skin the bitch!"
"No, he'll torture her and then kill her. He'll even hide the body so we don't find it." He called agency's phone number. "This is Captain Ferguson with the 45th's detachment. I need to speak to a Mrs. Aballard? I can hold." He was put on hold and leaned back. "Go," he whispered. She nodded and took the information file with her to type up for him. "Mrs. Aballard. Yes, this is about the Gibbs' child. A jogger out near his house heard the baby screaming and when we went to check we found him alone. No, the father's just now picked him up. We called them first and he gave us your card. Ma'am, to be truthful, it'd be best if we find her first. The father is livid. As any good parent would be," he noted patiently.
"Yes, I'm quite sure he was alone. We searched the entire house and she wasn't there." Tony tapped then walked in with another note, handing it over then leaving. He looked at it. "Special Agent DiNozzo brought in a note saying that some things were missing as well," he admitted. "Two video cameras they use on the job and Gibbs' scene kit?" He nodded at that. "I would like to talk to her, yes, ma'am. Today if possible. Within the hour would be best. Yes, ma'am, she's going to be charged. I would appreciate that. You can bring it out to us and we do have a car out there waiting on her in case she comes back. Thank you, ma'am. Do you need our fax number or would you like to bring it out?" He smirked. "That's fine, I'll see you shortly. Thank you for your cooperation." He hung up and shook his head, going to hand his secretary that note as well. That way it got added to the charges.
Tony looked at the director when he came down. "She left him alone for at least an hour," he said.
"One day back and back to your other job already?" he teased.
"He's a bit clingy but it's understandable. A jogger heard him screaming from the road, Director."
"Then he was scared. It's a good thing they heard him." He patted the boy on the head, earning a sleepy look. "Hi, Xander." He waved and went back to his nap. "We need to talk."
"I know. Gibbs is outside ranting at Ducky before he hit someone."
"Good." He went to find him and drag him back inside first, then they'd gather DiNozzo and the baby. "Jethro." He got glared at. "Your son is safe."
"No thanks to her."
"True. Which is going to bring up questions now." Gibbs moaned. "Exactly. Are you calm enough to talk?"
"No," he admitted. "Let me get coffee and take a walk."
"That's fine. Come up to my office and bring DiNozzo with you. I can at least give you another week with him."
"Thank you, Director. I hate having him off the team."
"I know you do, Jethro, but right now there's not a lot of alternatives." He smiled at Ducky. "Is that a bruise?"
"Yes, Mr. Palmer slipped earlier and flailed."
"Ah. That's fine then." He looked at Jethro. "Go calm down. Better yet, go hold your son. That should calm you down."
"I don't know what to do. We've had one good nanny out of three trials, Tom."
"I know," he soothed. "If worst comes to worst, you can always go buy a foreign bride, Jethro." That got a shudder and he went to find his son and cuddle him. He smiled at Ducky. "It is an option."
"Yes but he makes a mess out of those things." Ducky went back to his office.
Morrow went to his. The two agents came up a half hour later. "Now, are we all calm?" Everyone nodded, even the baby, making him smile. "It's good you're calm, Xander." He looked at them. "What are your immediate plans, Jethro?"
He looked at Tony. "Would you mind a few more weeks?"
"Not really but I can't do it permanently, boss. I like being an agent. Being a nanny is great fun but I like being an agent."
"I understand. It'd drive me nuts too. If it helps, I'll shoot you in the arm or something."
Tony gave him a look. "The scary thing is that I believe you would," he said dryly.
"I suggested a foreign bride," the director offered.
Tony looked at him. "No thanks. I've seen some be burned with that issue." He looked at Gibbs again. "Can you cut back on your hours, boss?" That got a nod. "Then we'll figure it out. Even if we do have to do a daycare situation."
"I did raise that point with the Sec Nav recently," the director offered. "There is a decent one that he recommended, but again, you'd have to pick up the baby by eight every night, Jethro."
"We only have two or three overnight cases a month," Gibbs said, considering it. He looked at Tony, who shrugged.
"You have quite a few more that end around ten or eleven at night," the director offered.
"True." That got a sigh from both of them.
"I'd like to cut some overtime from your team anyway," the director offered. "Your team costs us more than all the others combined." He patted his desk. "Also, there's another issue coming. I'm going to be moving over to Homeland shortly."
"Define shortly?" Tony asked.
"Within three months." That got shudders from both of them. "We need it fixed before then. Because if we have to put DiNozzo on as the official team's nanny I'll need to have him switched before she gets a look at the books. She probably won't agree."
"Who's coming in?"
"I believe you know her, Jethro. Jen Sheppard?" That got a look. "Yes, that one."
He shook his head quickly. "No, I want her far away from my son." He looked at Tony. "If we had to, we could let you work more from home."
"Boss, that isn't really an option unless I got demoted to secretary." Gibbs frowned at him. "I can't interrogate people with the son on my back, boss."
"Oh, I don't know, he might like it," Tom said dryly, smiling at them. "He's got the stare down already." Gibbs and Tony both looked, finding him staring at the other man.
"He scowls just like his daddy too," Tony quipped, getting bopped on the head for it. "I almost missed that." He got another one. "Not that much." He scowled at his boss, making the director laugh. "Director, I love the little guy but I'm not permanent nanny material."
"I know and I do understand, Agent DiNozzo. I'd nominate Abby in a heartbeat if we didn't need her."
"Ducky's mother thinks he's her grandchild," Tony offered with a small grin.
"Palmer seemed to like him but I don't want to have that thought," Gibbs admitted. "Where's this daycare?" The address was handed over. "I went there, they were closed down." He handed it back. "They've been closed since he was about six months old."
"Someone said his secretary was still taking her son there." He made a note of that. "What are we going to do, gentlemen?"
"For right now I can go back," Tony agreed. "That'll give him a few weeks to find another alternative."
"That works for me. I trust Tony to have my son well in hand. Even if he does take him to the park to pick up women."
Tony looked at him. "He's got a fascination for redheads too, boss." That got him smacked on the head again. "Ow! Remember I just had a migraine."
"Tough. You've had more in an hour before."
"I'm still not your wife and doing your cooking, boss."
"Good. You feed my son nachos."
The director smiled. "Have you two ever thought of getting together?"
"He wouldn't cuddle," Tony told him. "Or bottom. Ends that thought right there, director."
The director smiled. "At least you've had to think about it before."
"It was suggested by someone else."
"Ah." He nodded, looking at Jethro. "With her coming in, more emphasis will be placed on the anti-terrorism angle," he noted. "Even with the usual cases going on."
"Good. Because I'd rather have you doing regular cases and that stuff only when you have to." He looked at the yawning baby. "He's had a long day."
"He has," Tony agreed. "Let me get my check since it's payday, and then I'll head home with him." He stood up and held out the kid. "Kiss the daddy so we can go home, Xander." Xander smiled and kissed his father, giving him a hug too. Then he gave the director a hug and they walked out together to head home. Kate gave him a knowing smirk. "The nanny abandoned him for over an hour, Kate. Wipe it." She lost the smirk. "I'm taking him home. I'll be there if you need me. Probie, the backgrounds I was running are on my screen and should be completed." He opened a drawer to get something. "Kate, did you eat my entire chocolate stash?"
"Sorry, needed it."
"That's fine. I can pick up more since today's payday." He grabbed his backpack, his jacket, and his keys, plus his cellphone, and headed down to his car. The carseat was easily gotten out of Gibbs' car. Xander was more than happy to be in his car this time, and it was all good. He drove through the bank to take out some of the direct deposited paycheck so he could get them lunch, then headed out to his place. Gibbs' would be a trigger for him. They'd have to both be there when they brought Xander home. Besides, he had movies so Xander could nap in front of them.
Gibbs came home to an empty house. Of course he knew Tony had his son safe, somewhere, he didn't know where though. He called him. "Where are you?" He listened. "That sounds like a plan. When are you bringing him back?" He smiled at the 'we're eating dinner, you eat too' remark right before Tony hung up. His second in command had it well in hand so he did take his advice. He had missed lunch. By the time his leftovers were warmed up, he was starved so he dug in, eating quickly when he saw the headlights. The door opened and Tony put Xander down immediately.
"There, crawl. Daddy's in the kitchen." Xander beamed and crawled back there. He shook his head but went to get the diaper bag and the carseat for him. "He wanted to play in the mud with the hellhound puppy."
"Mud can be later this weekend if we don't get a call," he promised. Tony disappeared and came back with a rabbit in a carrier. "We don't have a cage set up." Tony went back to his car and got the other two bags, bringing them back. "That'll definitely soothe any worries he'll have tonight." He let his son have a bite of stuffing, making him smile. "Let's go set up your new friend." He finished his dinner and brought his coffee out, finding a good spot for the rabbit. It was low enough that Xander could see him but safe enough that the toddler couldn't pull the cage down. They spread the litter and put food in there, then put the hiding/napping spot into the cage as well. "Receipt?"
"In the bag with the litter, boss."
Gibbs looked at it and nodded. "Much better than six hundred and twenty bucks a bag of food. Let me hit the bank and I'll pay you."
"Sure." They got everything ready and Xander looked, smiling at them. "Think he's ready to go in there, Xander?" Xander beamed and patted the carrier, startling the napping bunny. "Quit. Let's put him into the cage." He picked up the carrier and let Gibbs put him into the cage, then shut the door. "There, now let him nap, Xander. It's been a long day for your bunny."
Xander cooed and petted him through the bars, smiling when the rabbit found the litter and crapped in a corner. "They do that," Gibbs sighed. He used one of the plastic bags and the litter scooper to clean up the new mess while the rabbit nibbled and drank. Xander clapped for that performance then the rabbit got some more pets. Gibbs threw out the mess and came back to help his son calm down. Because he was hyper and nearly bouncing tonight. "Did you feed him caffeine?"
"Oh. Did he make a mess?"
"Yup. Fortunately he cleans and so does his other shirt." That got a smile. Xander came crawling over and up into his lap, smiling at him. "Do you like your new friend?" He nodded and hugged him. "Good boy. Go see daddy to thank him too." Xander got handed over and Gibbs cuddled his son, letting him watch the bunny investigate his new cage. "They said it'd be big enough for a pygmy rabbit, but I'm not so sure you won't be expanding onto the cage some year soon, boss."
"Is it pregnant?"
"Very good. Thank you, DiNozzo." Tony stood up and Xander immediately started to fuss and held up his arms. "No, you live here. You can't go home with him tonight, son." Tony gave him a hug but it wasn't going to work well enough this time. They both sighed and changed into something to sleep in, putting Xander down in his crib. He struggled and fought and screamed until they both ended up in Gibbs' bed with him between them. "This is getting to be a habit."
"It's not a permanent one, boss. He'll settle in soon. It's all the shocks recently," Tony said quietly, stroking the baby's back. Xander moaned and stretched out across his father's chest, one hand still firmly in his fur.
Gibbs smiled at him. "One of these days I'm going to shave that. That way you can't pull it out by the handful anymore." Tony snickered at that. "He does."
"I don't have much, he pouts when he can't find mine."
"So he'll be a gay vet," Gibbs said dryly.
"Could be." Tony grinned and they got back to work soothing the baby. They eventually fell asleep that way, even though they had intended to put him back to bed.
McGee paced the next morning. "Gibbs is never late, Kate."
"You're rhyming again," Kate complained.
"Well he's not!"
"He probably had a long night with Xander after the traumas of yesterday, McGee. Calm down. This is Gibbs we're talking about." Even if she was worried because Gibbs was now *three* hours late. She called out there, getting a sleepy, grunted voice. "Boss, look at your clock," she requested politely. She got hung up on. She gave him ten minutes and did it again. "Boss, look at your clock," she ordered less politely. This time it sounded like Tony grunted and hung up on her. Ten more minutes and Xander screamed into the phone then Tony definitely hung it up, she could hear him complaining. "Give him an hour to shower and change. The baby's up." McGee gave her an odd look. "What?"
"You woke the boss up?"
"He's late! I'm not dong DiNozzo's and his work!"
McGee just nodded and broke into his own chocolate stash so he could give her some. "Here, you apparently need it, Kate." He went back to his desk.
Xander's yell into the phone woke him up the third time for real. He looked at the mostly asleep Tony, who had his arm around both of them. Xander was nibbling on his phone's antenna. "Don't do that. It's probably got gunpowder on it." He took it back and flipped over to look at the clock, blinking at it. "Shit." Xander giggled at that. "I'm late," he announced.
"Still not the wife, boss," Tony mumbled. Gibbs spanked him, making him yelp. "What!"
"Oooh, yay," he said dryly. "Xander slept that long, throw a party." He put a pillow over his head. Xander crawled under with him to cuddle. "Hi, Xander." He moved the pillow. "Why am I in your bed?"
"We fell asleep soothing the savage monster there." He went to shower, shave, and change, coming out twenty minutes later. "I'm going to work. Have fun with him. No more picking up women."
"Yes, boss." He yawned and Xander decided to play with his teeth. He gagged before he could pull the little fist out. "Play with yours. I've got to brush mine." He got up to do that, bringing the baby with him. Never too young to start that lesson. Xander liked the foam but hated the taste. It was a good start though. He took him into the shower with him for his morning bath. That got a lot of happy squeals. He came out and found someone in the bedroom. "Who're you?" he asked her.
"I should ask the same."
"Special Agent DiNozzo, I'm watching Gibbs' son, lady. Now, who are you before I arrest you?"
"Does he know you shower with the baby?" she demanded.
Tony grabbed his phone and called his boss. "Get back here, there's some woman here, boss." He hung up. "We'll see." He looked at the kid in the shower pack, then put him onto the bed. "Stay, let me put on clothes." He found his bag and came back to find them still staring at each other. "Don't, she might poison you too, kiddo." He went into the bathroom to change, hearing Gibbs come in. He came out in his boxers. "She came in while we were showering."
"Do you know he showers with your son? And speaking of, where did your son come from, Jethro?"
He looked at her. "Special military project against mine and the mother's will, Jen. Yes, Xander likes showers so we go in with him or he goes in with us when we shower. It keeps him from trying to dive and snorkel. What are you doing in my bedroom?"
"I followed the only noise in the house," she said. "Then this one...." She waved a hand at the still mostly undressed Tony, "smarted off to me."
"As he should. He's on injury leave so watching my son until I can find a new nanny."
"Oh." She grimaced. "Why?"
"Boss, this is who? So I know whether or not to disinfect your son's mouth since he's going to bite her."
Gibbs looked at his son. "Don't. She'll taste bad." His son scowled at him. "Tough. DiNozzo, finish dressing. Take him with you?" Tony grabbed the kid and they both went to dress in the nursery. "That's my son, Jen. What are you doing here?"
"You weren't at work."
"I know that. He had nightmares all night since the last nanny abandoned him yesterday for a few hours. He wouldn't let him leave."
"Why was he in your bathroom?"
"Only one in the house," he said dryly. "Anything else you needed to know, future Director?" Tony moaned from the doorway. "Yes, that's the one Morrow told us about yesterday."
"How long will your injury leave last, Special Agent DiNozzo?"
"Probably about two more weeks, ma'am. As soon as I get clearance and Director Morrow agrees I'm fit."
"Oh." She nodded. "Then I suppose it's good you can fill in during this difficult time."
"I have been filling in during this difficult time, even before the last nanny." He looked at Gibbs. "Want me to do a load of his wash, boss? We all know I suck at getting stains out."
"Not like he cares. Use the stick on them and let them sit at least six hours with it on the spots."
"Sure." He nodded. "He'll probably be naked when you get home. He's down to two outfits."
"That's fine. It's a warm day and you can turn on the heat a bit more if he needs it. Or he can wear one of my shirts, he likes to."
"Sure, boss." He smiled at the crawling baby. "Did you get out of the rocking chair again, Xander?" The baby beamed at him and crawled in to pull himself up on his father's leg. "He's a good boy, ma'am. A very good boy." He looked at Gibbs. "Breakfast or should I call Kate?"
"Call Kate." He nodded, going to do that. He looked down at his son. "Pretty soon you won't need that walker at all." He picked him up, rubbing noses with him, earning a smile. "Are you going to be fine with Uncle Tony while I'm at work today?" The baby cooed and patted his cheek. "I know, I didn't get very close today. I need a new razor." He patted his back. "This is Jen. Can you say Jen?"
"Where did you learn that?" he demanded. "DiNozzo! My son swears!"
"I noticed that yesterday, boss. She must've taught him that."
"Well, break him of it!!"
"Boss, I'm not the guy on TLC who's a baby doctor," he called, sounding sarcastic. "I'll look on the tips page but that's the best I can do." He came back up the stairs. "Kate's still worried. She wanted to know if you needed more backup. I told her it wasn't necessary. She said the last nanny was arrested late last night when she went home. Elisa was formally charged today and denied bail. My stalker is back in real jail since she escaped home confinement and tried to hurt him too. Director Morrow and Probie were both pacing wondering where you were. I told her we had a long night soothing his nightmares and she said she had expected that. She said to be in by lunch, Morrow wanted to be briefed about the incident yesterday in case the trial involved the agency."
"Agreed." He handed the baby back, getting a pout. "I've still got to go to work, Xander. That way we can afford to do the wash you make dirty." Xander pouted worse. "Don't do that," he sighed. "If you do, you can't pull the bunny out to play with." That got a sniffle and a pitiful look.
"He's certainly got you both wrapped around his fingers," she said impatiently. "Can't you do something about that, Agent DiNozzo?"
"He's got separation anxiety since he was abandoned yesterday, ma'am. What do you want me to do? Suddenly start to read minds so I know what to say to him? He's ten months old." He looked at Xander. "Just like yesterday, Xander. We'll be here together and Daddy will go to work then come home for supper."
"If I can," he agreed.
"No, you'll come home and leave again if you have to," Tony ordered. "That'll ease the majority of it." Gibbs nodded at that wisdom. "He needs to know he can count on you to be there. We'll even call later, Xander. How about that?" The baby nodded, settling in against his shoulder. "Good boy. Now, we've got to eat breakfast and Daddy's got to get to work. Say bye bye for a few hours." Xander waved listlessly. "It'll only be for a few hours, squirt," he promised as he walked off, kissing him on top of the head. "Did you make the appointment for him to get his real boosters?"
"Yeah, it should be on the fridge."
Jethro looked at her. "He's still pretty little. Just crawling."
"I saw that earlier. You're certainly very hands-on as a father."
"Of course I am. He's my son, no matter how he came to be," he said dryly. "Shall we? Need a ride to NCIS, Jen?"
"No, I drove out to see you since they said you weren't there yet." She walked out first.
Gibbs glanced up, saying a prayer that she wouldn't hurt his son. Then he followed. "Heading to work. Be a good boy today, Xander, and I love you." He closed the door.
"See, just like yesterday after we rescued you." He fed him a bite of his cereal, getting a smile. "Good boy. You learn to appreciate cocoa puffs too." He ate a bite then fed him another one. Two eating out of the bowl was why there were small mixing bowls to eat out of after all.
Gibbs walked into his row. "I'm here. Didn't turn on the alarm. Xander was throwing fits about not sleeping anywhere but in my bed with DiNozzo nearby." He sat behind his desk, going over the messages. He balled up a few. "Saw her all ready. Heard that from DiNozzo." He found one last one. "Ducky's mother is worse off?"
"She fell earlier," McGee told him. "He had to rush home, boss. He said he'd be back as soon as he knew if they were going to release her today." That got a nod and he put that one aside. "I ran it up to the director already." That got another nod and a small smile. "How is he?"
"DiNozzo is feeding him cereal. He's edgy and fussy but he'll be fine since DiNozzo only has to help do some laundry today and Xander likes to play in the clean clothes."
"Good." He smiled. "Can I babysit this weekend?"
"If you want. One less diaper for me to change," he agreed dryly.
"Don't you mean for Tony to change?" Kate asked dryly. Gibbs scowled at him. "He reinjured himself?"
"I can't bring him to work, Kate."
"Then call Fornell and see if he's got any guys on injury leave, Gibbs. I'm tired of doing DiNozzo's paperwork."
"He shouldn't have any since he's been on injury leave for so long." She snorted at that. "What? Answering his love letters?"
"God, no, they'd make me sick," she complained. "That man strings along a harem."
He shook his head. "It suits him and makes him a good agent, Kate. I can't complain since they're all over age and consenting adults." He called Fornell. That had been a good idea. "It's me. Kate suggested I call to see if you've got anything for me or someone on injury leave. No to take his *other* spot, Fornell. Yeah, that one." He sat up. "Really? He's good?" He smirked. "How long is he expected to be off? That works perfectly for me actually. Can we borrow him?" He grinned. "It would keep him off desk duty, it is important, and will teach him patience. Ten months. That's up to you guys." He smiled at Kate. "I owe you a coffee."
"Sure. Get my usual, the large size." She got back to work.
Gibbs nodded. "Send him out tonight when I get home. DiNozzo's there right now, yeah. That's fine. Thank you." He hung up and smirked. "One of his agents got into a car crash while in pursuit. Totally screwed up his upper back. He can't lift more than twenty pounds and Xander only weighs fourteen." That got some smiles. "He'll be on restricted duty for three months."
"Hallelujah," Kate said, looking up. "Thank you, God, for not making me do more of DiNozzo's paperwork for the four upcoming trials we've got." She looked at Gibbs. "By the way, he's due in tomorrow."
"I'll let him know," he promised, writing that down. "Where and what case?"
"Manzetti, theft. Nine, JAG, courtroom four," she said, handing over that note. "I'm called at the same time."
"That's fine, Kate. Am I?"
"Nope. You know they hate calling you, Gibbs." He put the notes together and looked at McGee, who shrugged but shook his head. "He wasn't there, that was a weekend call and he was out of state for a wedding," she reminded him.
"I'll look it up in case." That got a nod. "Anything else?" She shook her head. "Then I've got a small announcement to make. Morrow is leaving in a few months. His replacement is Director Jen Sheppard. She's my former probie." That got a horrified look from McGee. "Think it's funny?"
"N..no, boss. I'm worried she'll bark like you do when you don't have any coffee?" he asked, looking for reassurance.
"Not a clue. Haven't seen her in a leadership position yet," he admitted. "She was a field agent at the time, McGee. Calm down." He looked at Kate, who looked smug. "You heard?"
"I had. Was she the one who startled Tony and Xander playing in the shower?"
"Yup." One of the people from the next row came over to give them an odd look. "Xander's my son. He was letting him play while he bathed him."
"In the shower?"
"They make this nice plastic stomach carrier," McGee said happily. "He loves water. Keeps trying to snorkel during his bath according to Tony."
"One of those. Some babies are like that. How is he?" Gibbs handed over the picture from his desk. "Awww. He's still adorable. How's his mother coping?"
"Not well. Things are going to hell out there for her but they're starting to see some rays of sunshine ahead." That got a nod from her. "We'll see what happens. Got something for us?"
"No, I came to be nosy. You heard about the new director?"
"I'll look her up. When is she starting?"
"Morrow said three months before he leaves so that depends on how much overlap. I know she's in town. She was at my house."
"Sure." She smiled and went back to her desk to look up the woman and her qualifications. She wanted to know the risks with the new person in charge. "You trained her, Gibbs?"
"As a field agent."
"She any good?"
"As a field agent. Haven't seen her in command yet," he called back.
"Works for me. Thanks." She went back to checking on her other postings. New commanders could seriously screw a comfortable, working system by making stupid changes to prove they had power.
Gibbs' phone rang. "Gibbs." He listened then smirked. "He's on Fornell's injured list, DiNozzo. Make sure he can handle Xander today. Upper back injuries with lifting restrictions." He beamed at the story of his son trying to eat him and showing him his bunny. "So they're handling it okay? Good. Then start the weaning process after today. Once we're sure he can handle it. Thanks." He hung up and leaned back, looking happy. "I owe you lunch too. He's got two kids of his own, both girls. Xander tried to eat him already and then showed him his bunny."
"He's got a stuffed rabbit?" she asked, looking cute.
"No, he's got a pygmy long haired rabbit of some sort," he said dryly. "He and DiNozzo picked it out yesterday. I told him he could have one when he was older. At least it's not the miniature horse. I told him he could play with one for his first birthday." McGee smiled at that. "Even if they are handy little mutant animals."
"You could train her as a service animal too, boss." He got back to work. He found the new director's credentials and read it over, frowning some. "Boss?" He came over to look. He pointed. "Is that right?" He nodded. "Why?"
"I don't know, McGee. That was a congressional decision," he said blandly, going back to his seat. "I know Xander almost bit her hand."
"He's still teething?" McGee asked. Gibbs nodded. "Ooh, I feel sorry for Abby."
"She's not feeding him anymore. He's weaned off bottles completely," he said proudly. "He's got an intermediate cup and he likes it."
"Congratulations, boss. Two months early even," Kate praised. "Can you break him of the sucking the pacifier to sleep habit before it ruins his teeth?"
"He's only got four, Kate. He only does it when he's sleepy. He'll break it soon enough." He shook his head.
"Then comes potty training," McGee reminded him. Kate made the 'bum bum bummmm' music noises, getting another head shake. "If you want, I can ask my mother how she did my nephew's, boss. They had the worst time with him. He refused to go in the water and went on the carpet beside the tub instead for three months."
"At least he was in the right room," Kate offered. "My sister's kid *refused* to get near the potty chair or toilet. She screamed and had panic attacks for almost a year before they broke her of it and made her use it. She used to use the cat's litterbox."
"Did they end up toilet training the cat?" McGee asked.
She nodded. "That's how they transitioned her. That and candy treats. It worked eventually. They're both toilet trained now."
Gibbs put his head down. "I'm hoping it'll be easier with Xander," he complained into the desk.
The director came down the stairs. "Bad night, Jethro?"
"Telling him horror potty training stories, sir," Kate said with a bright, happy grin.
"Xander will potty train when he's ready and not before. It'll be easier than you think, Jethro. Did you call Fornell to get one of his injured people?"
Gibbs raised his head, nodding. "I did, sir. It worked. Xander loves him. Showed him his new bunny. Tried to eat him like he does Kate. They're going to start weaning him from DiNozzo starting tomorrow, once we're sure his injury won't get in the way. He's expected to be off work for at least three months due to the upper back injury from the car crash."
"Excellent!" he agreed happily. "Plus he'll still be protective in case something happens." He smiled at him. "Good thinking." Gibbs pointed at Kate. "Expect a little something extra this time, Agent Todd. That was a great thought."
"Tired of doing DiNozzo's paperwork, Director. He doesn't have time while he's spoiling his son rotten."
"Yes, I've heard he takes Xander to the park and the boy's shown an affinity for redheads already." Gibbs put his head back down, shaking it. "At least he has good taste, Jethro."
He looked up. "He tired to bite Jen, sir."
He snickered. "Not that I blame him. He's not used to women like her. Agent Todd and Abigail are much more feminine creatures." He smiled at Kate. "Did that one not fade yet?" She covered it and blushed. "Ah, never mind. I won't pry, Caitlyn. Good work. What's coming up?"
"A few trials," Kate told him.
"Submit the schedule to me today if you can." She printed it out and handed it over. "Thank you, Agent Todd. Call home before his afternoon nap, Jethro. It'll keep him calm." He went to check on his other people.
Gibbs looked at her. "Would Tony approve?"
"Of me dating a vampire last night? Probably," she said dryly, getting back to work, her face still red.
Tony beamed when Gibbs came home, even though he didn't look happy. "He's *wonderful*, boss. Xander sat in his lap and let him read to him all day. He's got a great deep voice for stories and he does voices. Your son nearly made him hoarse today." The note was handed over. "I heard. He can take him for that amount of time. Xander's already down. He put him down an hour ago for a late nap and he didn't even fuss. He's got the magic touch." Gibbs smiled at that. "Case tonight?"
"No. New director."
"She wanted to know why we had a nursing room. A few of the other nursing mothers on shift pointed out it was better and easier than doing it in the bathroom on a smoke break. She gave them horrified looks and Abby produced detailed information on why it was better for the babies and how she had nursed Xander. Abby nearly drove her to drink today."
"Pity but good for Abby."
"Not if she gets vindictive."
"If she does, can we stop it?" Tony asked.
"We can try. She'll still be the director, DiNozzo."
"I'm foreseeing 'just because I can' rule changes."
"Me too." He sat down. "Did you make extras at least? I'm too tired to cook." Tony sighed and warmed something up. "Thanks, DiNozzo."
"I'm still not your wife, Gibbs. Taylor will be in tomorrow at oh-seven-hundred. Which means you can get there by eight. I already told Xander I'd be gone for a few hours and Taylor would watch him. He didn't seem in the least bit concerned. Taylor helped him feed and pet his bunny, plus scoop the litter. He's damn good. His own family must be a great place to be."
"I'd hope so." He smiled at him. "Any more gushing like a schoolgirl? Have a crush?"
Tony looked at him. "Keep it up, Gibbs. I'll spike your coffee with ex-lax again." He smirked and walked out.
"I thought that was Kate," he called after him.
"One of us, boss. Won't say which one."
"Bastard," he muttered, but it was in appreciation. The microwave went off so he reached over to grab it out and get a fork from the nearest cup in the strainer. He was too tired to move. His son belched on the monitor on the table. "Manners, son." His son burbled something unintelligible. He ate fast and went up to check on him, finding him awake and staring at the ceiling. "So you liked the new guy? Will you behave for him?" The baby beamed at him and reached his arms up. Gibbs groaned. "Ooh, too heavy tonight, Xander. Come on, let's go work on the boat." His son beamed and curled into his arms, holding on while his father carried him downstairs. They got a visitor later and he looked at her. "Back again?" He checked his son, who was sucking on the non-metal end of a screwdriver while watching him. "He's making sure I make it even."
"I can see that." She smiled at the baby. "Hi, Xander." He sniffled and wailed.
"Get away from him. He doesn't like women," he said patiently. "He only likes Abby, Kate, and Ducky's mother."
"I heard he was picking up women in the park."
"No, he was being cute and charming while DiNozzo was picking up women in the park. It was part of his physical therapy to walk since she broke ribs and one shoulder as well as bruised a hip."
"Ow. Case related?"
"Ex he had a restraining order against. She even tried to claim Xander was hers and DiNozzo's to some cops. We were not amused." His son made agreeing noises. "See?" He looked at her. "She attacked him in the hospital too." She shuddered at that. "Fortunately he has good insurance."
"Good. I'm glad. Did he have enough leave time?"
"Not for his recovery so Morrow put him on modified assignment since my last good nanny had to leave suddenly to keep her ex away from her children and her. It worked out well."
"I'll keep that in mind. Is he back?"
"As soon as we wean Xander off him and onto the new guy. His last one abandoned him for a few hours upstairs."
"Poor little guy," she cooed, reaching out to him again. "I promise I won't hurt you." Xander tried to bite her again then stab her hands with the screwdriver so she pulled back and gave him a look. He went back to sucking on the handle of the screwdriver.
"Good because if you do I'm going to have to kill you," Tony said as he came down the stairs. "Boss, made it home, found my apartment repainted and all my stuff gone." Gibbs moaned. "Did you have me moved?"
"No. Weren't you there yesterday?"
"Yeah and I talked to my landlord, who said he had an email from me saying to please move me to a ground floor apartment that has an extra bedroom for my new wife and son. That she'd cover the difference."
"I'll have her 'net access restricted too, DiNozzo. Is the new place nicer?"
"A lot actually. It's not that much more a month either. I've got to find a way to lock the back door now but I'll manage. Just not tonight?"
"No, not tonight. Is your stuff unpacked?"
"Yeah. She used my bank account to hire movers."
"File for a temporary loan tomorrow, DiNozzo. They can't refuse it since it's this sort of problem."
"I've already called the bank. She also bought silk sheets, a new neglige, and a dog. A purebred, expensive dog. They gave me the breeder's number and fortunately it's not too late to cancel that but she spent an extra two thousand dollars of my money." The new director hissed. "Yeah. This is the same woman who ran me off the road and started to shoot at me because I had a restraining order against her. I had to grab my vest once the car was crashed. She hit me twice in it after I got it on and went running for cover. I knew better than to shoot back. I'd end up in a cell." He sat down on the stairs, making Xander smile. "Hey, little man. Abby was behind me. I had her escort me, boss. She's rearranging the fridge. She's upset about something." Gibbs nodded, going up there. "Then she attacked me in the hospital while I was recovering," he said dryly. "They had to move me to the convict's ward to protect me and she still tried. They put her on home confinement and she got free to chase me down and tell some cops that Xander was our kid together. Fortunately they knew Gibbs." She shuddered at that. "Now she does this. My bank is very understanding and locked all my accounts until I can get in there tomorrow after the trial." He looked back up the stairs at the crying. "Need me, boss?"
"No." He closed the basement door.
"Pity. I wonder what happened. Hey, little guy, Abby's upstairs and crying." Xander wiggled down and carefully walked along the edge of the chair until Tony could grab his hand to steady him as he slowly walked across the floor. "Good job! Nearly there." He watched him crawl up the stairs and push the door open since it didn't lock. He heard more sniffling then Xander was up there patting her leg and cooing at her. He looked at the new director. "Abby's been a great pseudo-mother to him."
"I heard how he came to be," she admitted quietly. "That doesn't bother you?"
"Dawns' a great young woman, Madam Director. I love her like a sister. She's already had a hellish life. Giving him Xander was a wise decision. She was only fourteen and her town was dangerous." She nodded at that. "She gets visitation whenever she wants."
"Good. What about you?"
"The whole team is invited over to play with him whenever we want."
"Even better. Do you get along with him?"
"He loves me. He called me mommy for weeks." She smirked at that. "He called Gibbs puppy though so I guess it's all right." She burst out laughing. "He loves animals so fair warning if any of them are brought in, like the sniffing dogs? He pounced the last one he saw and patted him until the dog gave him a bath."
"He sounds like he's a good little boy."
"Most of the time. Then again, he's a toddler." Gibbs came down and handed him the baby. "She okay?" He heard the door shut. "She head home?"
"Yes and no. Not in that order."
"Can I know?" Gibbs gave a meaningful glance at the baby. "She is or she can't?"
"Can't. They think. She asked them to check," he said quietly.
"If there's a way we'll help her find it, boss. She deserves it more than most." He nodded at that, going back to work. "Xander, want to help me make up the couch?" The baby beamed at him. "Bring him right back, boss."
"Remember the door at the top of the stairs."
"I will. He does navigate up them very well though." He went up to make up the couch.
Gibbs looked at her. "Came over to chat?"
"I came to see you, see if you needed help."
"No, not really. He's got it well in hand and Xander's a pretty calm little guy most of the time. A few panicked moments but that's reasonable with what's gone on recently. I'm hoping this new guy works out so I have time to find a real nanny."
"What about daycare?"
"We spend too many long hours," he said blandly. "Cases still happen in the middle of the night and sometimes you've got to be there all night to catch a break."
"That makes a nanny more reasonable. Can you afford one?"
"We'll see about a raise, Jethro."
"I'll get one next year. That's when I'm due." She nodded at that. Tony yelped. "Problems?" he called.
"Snake!" he called back. Gibbs jogged up the stairs, finding a rattler coming out from under the couch and Tony and the baby up on the couch. He was keeping Xander from looking closely. "Boss, I have no idea where it came from. I haven't seen it all day."
"They're not native to around here," he told him, watching how it was moving. He smirked. "It's recently fed. Looks like we don't have a mouse problem anymore." He snatched it up. "Get me a pillowcase, DiNozzo." Tony took the one off that pillow and held it open. He carefully lowered it tail first, then let it go and let Tony clamp the top shut while he found a rope for it. He tied it and shook his head, going to put it on the back porch. "It's probably someone's pet. Keep him up there while I check." He got a flashlight and checked under the couch, not finding any others. He checked the rabbit, it was frozen in fear. "It's all right, rabbit."
"Bugs," Tony told him. "He agreed with me."
"Bugs then," he sighed, shaking his head.
"Like the cartoon, boss."
"I remember them, DiNozzo." He searched the rest of the house, not finding any more. He found how it got in and put something heavy in front of the hole so he knew where to fix. Then he went to check outside. Nothing he could see. He came back inside. "It should be safe." Xander clapped. "Thanks, son." He stroked over his head. "Help Tony make up the couch. We'll put you down soon." His son pouted. "You know what a bedtime is, Xander. You can't stretch it too far tonight." Xander still pouted but he didn't fuss. Tony finished getting his bed for the night set up and then they both settled in to bathe him. Since he was still trying to drown himself now and then it was easier with both of them. Jen watched from the doorway, even when Xander decided to play and flipped over, going onto his hands and feet to show his butt to her. "Yes, it's very clean," his father agreed, swatting it gently. "You don't show that part off, son. Turn back around." He got him turned back around and they went to work on his hair, Tony making sure he didn't dunk his head for too long to rinse it. Then he got put into pajamas and into his crib, making him smile when the CD by the door was turned on quietly. He fell asleep comforted and loved. The director left after a few pointed hints from Gibbs about how late it was, leaving the father and nanny to their respective beds.
Gibbs got the call from someone in a car with a siren. "Gibbs," he snapped. He listened. Then he groaned. "Where's the other guy.... oh, that's right, court. Fornell needed him today. Get there, save him, cuff them, I'm on my way." He hung up. "And yet again but not the new guy. Kate, keep me informed." He hurried off.
"I wonder what happened this time," McGee said, calling Tony, who hung up on him. "Sounds bad. Tony answered with a 'not now' and hung up."
"It does," the new director said from the stairs behind them. "Again?"
"From what little I caught the new guy had court so they had stand-ins." She nodded. "Apparently Tony called on the way out there and Gibbs went rushing too."
"Which is perfectly understandable. It's a very daddy thing to do," she agreed. "When they get back, tell them to come see me so I can have any reports I need for future legal actions." That got a nod. "Will you need a sub to help with your current case?"
"For a wifebeater?" Kate snorted. "Please, Director. This lesbian contractor is not going to be happy when she sees me the next time."
"That's fine then. Let me know if you do." She went back up the stairs to make notes.
Tony and Gibbs both walked up the stairs but Gibbs had Xander on his back. Gibbs pointed and got a nod and a smile for the baby, who waved shyly at the secretary. He walked in without knocking and looked at his former trainee. "You needed a report?"
"Just in case I need it for future legal action. Is Xander all right?"
Tony nodded. "More or less. Taylor's in-laws decided furry thing stew was in order so they decided to do a lobster treatment on it and put him in the cage because he was being a toddler. It took us the last hour to get him clean, ma'am. Unfortunately the cops to transport them got there seconds after I did. They kept me from solving the problem in a way Gibbs would agree with."
She nodded. "That's perfectly reasonable," she agreed. "Taylor? The new guy?"
"Fornell needed him back for an out-of-town court case," Gibbs said grimly. He took off the backpack and sit it with the kid still in it in his lap. Xander looked at him so he smirked. "What? If I let you down you'll go torment someone by trying to breast-feed again."
"I've heard it is better for him. The other nursing mothers convinced me to leave that room up." She looked at Tony. "I'm not going to bite if you sit, Agent DiNozzo."
"I'm too wired. I want to kill and maim. The boss stopped me and so did the local patrol guys."
"He's a sweet boy. If that had happened to my son I would've shot someone and then cackled," she assured him. "This does leave us with an ongoing dilemma. We can't keep borrowing injured agents for daycare, Jethro. Have you had any luck?"
"Not a lot and no one that I've trusted. There's only been one that Xander liked, Jen." Xander looked up at him. "Yes, the little old lady who couldn't keep up with you." He looked at her again. She was smiling. "He's very bright."
"Then we have a problem, gentlemen. We can't really mommy track you, Jethro. There's no way to work from home. Unless you wanted a more administrative position?" Jethro shuddered at that. "Agent DiNozzo, try to quit pacing, all right?" she requested.
"Boss, we've got to do something. I love Xander. He's as close as I'm ever getting to my own."
"What sort of educational background do you have, Agent DiNozzo?" the director asked. "I ask because your file is locked."
"They thought I was dead there for a bit," he said dryly. "I went to Ohio State on a ball scholarship."
"Ah, so you have a PE four year?" He nodded. "Plus how many years of other departments?"
"Nearly seven and now almost five here, Director. Why?"
"There's a cold case spot open. It would mean more working from home but not totally."
"There's that administrative spot, then he could chase a secretary around the desk," Jethro said dryly.
"Gee, thanks, boss. Really. Remember what happened the last time I had a week of desk duty?"
"Unfortunately. No matter how much I drink I still remember it." He looked at his son. "You'd be bored anyway while he worked." He looked at her. "I'm open to reasonable suggestions, Jen. I've cut back my hours. I've reassigned duties. We still work too many long nights for any good daycare."
"All right. I'll give you the rest of this week to figure out things, Jethro. Bring me a solution by Friday. It's Tuesday. That should give you some time to formulate a plan. You and Agent DiNozzo could actually split a position. It's not unheard of by mommy trackers in other organizations. Both be part time basically. You can find another nanny, or a daycare and have someone else take him on the long nights. Come back to me Friday morning with a suggestion so we can work it out. You're not the only single parent here, Gibbs, and you can ask some of the others. I know some have relatives who watch their kids. Some have nannies. A few do split a position. One took a sabbatical until their child was older and could handle a daycare better, I think hers had a medical condition though. Bring me a list of options on Friday morning. That'll give me time to implement them. Until then, work out how you're splitting the time. Agent Todd said she had the wifebeater."
"It's not fair to make DiNozzo spend so much time off work. His paychecks are just now being straightened out. I'll take the rest of this week off. DiNozzo, come out when you get off?"
"Sure, boss. We'll work it out. Should I invite Kate and McGee? Or Abby or Ducky?"
"No, it's been us for the most part. We'll keep it that way." That got a nod. "Thank you for understanding."
"Being a parent brings special joys and problems, Jethro. That's why I'll never have children." He nodded, getting up and letting Tony help him back into the backpack. His son patted his hair and grinned at Tony.
"Yes, you pet him. He could use a pet," Tony said with a grin. Gibbs smacked him. "Ow! Xander, yank his hair. He's being mean again because I told you he needs love." The baby cackled and went back to petting his father. "Should I stop to pick up food, boss?" They walked out, making her shake her head.
She closed her eyes. "I can't ask them if they're together, they know that," she reminded herself. She heard the secretary squeal and got up to look. Xander was hugging her with one hand down her shirt and sucking on her neck.
"Sorry, he does it to Kate," Tony said, looking embarrassed as he pulled the kid off and handed him back to his father. "Sorry."
"No, it's okay. I'm sure he's happy to find a tasty woman, Tony. Though I would expect it more from your child than his son."
Tony smirked. "Xander's as close as I'm coming this decade. I hope." She laughed and swatted him and they headed out.
"Are you all right?" the director asked.
"Oh, yes, ma'am. You should've seen it when he was younger. Agent Todd would come in with hickeys on each side of her neck from him. There for a while there was a betting pool about who she was seeing." That got a head shake and she went back to her desk. "Did you need some coffee, ma'am?"
"I've got some. Thank you."
"Welcome." She finished straightening out her shirt and got back to work. It wouldn't do to look like she had been having fun with Tony in the closets. People would say things.
Tony came over later that night, handing Gibbs some juice. "I remember you were out."
"I still am," he agreed, pouring some into his son's cup and handing it over. His son beamed and gulped. "Dinner was a bit spicy but he loved it."
"I've noticed that." He looked at them. "So, boss?"
"I've got retirement time in," he said.
"Yeah and you'll be nuts within a week, boss. Besides, if you take him I'll gang up with Abby to kidnap him." That got a small smirk. "What about that sharing idea? We can't do it individual days but we can do it by cases."
"We could," he agreed. "Can you afford your place on part time pay?"
"I think we can include leaving me on salary, boss. I'll be consulting from home, even if I'm giving him a bath. Or I do have training time logged and saved. I can use it to learn a few new skills with some online classes. That'll pay for some of those hours."
"What about another degree, DiNozzo?"
"Not gonna happen, boss. I was thinking something like forensic accounting or something useful that way."
"We could use it now and then," he agreed. "You're not hourly?"
"No, I went to salary a few years back. They did it to me after they figured out I wasn't dead."
"Oh. Sorry to hear that. I like my overtime."
"I liked mine too. I've even complained but they said it was cheaper on the agency this way. Even though I don't claim about half of my overtime."
"Morrow was complaining about the team's overtime too. You could go for some languages."
"I could," he agreed. "Women do like it too." Gibbs gave him a look. "Hey, I've got to settle down some day, just not today."
"Point." He looked at his quiet son then back at him. "Case by case?"
"I get one case while you're here barking orders over the phone and then you'd get one case while I'm here consulting and doing backgrounds. I'd need a new laptop to do that from."
"Which she might agree to." He smirked. "You want a new toy."
"No, boss, if I wanted a new toy I'd go finance a new toy," he said dryly. "I can bring in our specs for home systems and have one built that'd make Probie drool, complete with a DVD player and a huge screen." That got another smirk and Xander wiggled at that. "I know, you'd help me watch movies. He does like to watch movies. Hates anything before the sixties but likes sixties and eighties or later movies. Doesn't like disco either. Though he did like _The Wall_ and _St. Pepper_ when I rented them."
"Was my son high?"
"No but he enjoyed all the colors and movement. Babies are like that, Gibbs."
"Uh-huh. You'd still have to work from the system, DiNozzo."
"I know, boss. I'll need a new headset as well." He grinned. "If she would put me back on hourly I'd gladly start claiming my overtime." Gibbs snickered at that. "Hey, the last time I did we went so far into overtime that we were getting double overtime rates because we were at ninety hours for the week. I enjoyed the hell out of that check."
"I remember those. They were good." That got a smile from his son. "I know, you could use some new clothes," he agreed. He looked at Tony. "You left the stain stick stuff on for over a week?"
"Did it help?"
"With everything but the green stain."
"He came over to grab the taco I was having for lunch."
Gibbs shook his head. "Did he enjoy it?"
"No and he made some faces I caught on camera," he said happily. "Oooh, I finished the first part of his baby book." He got up to grab it, handing it over and taking the baby. Gibbs burst out laughing about three pages in and smiled most of the way through. "That'll be the one you show his girlfriends," he agreed.
"I like this. Thank you."
"Welcome. You can add more pages to that style. Any good craft shop has the non-acid stuff. Tell them you're looking for scrapbook and archival quality materials. They'll lead you to it, boss." He looked down. "I even got a picture of you cooing up at the horse, young man." Xander spit at him for that. He grinned even brighter. "It was cute." He tickled his belly. Xander swatted at him, scowling. He chuckled. "Someone is very much too serious, Xander." He did it again even though the baby was trying to hold down his shirt. Gibbs rescued the cup before it went flying and took his son back, letting him curl against his shoulder and spit at Tony.
"Quit spitting," Gibbs ordered. He put the baby book down carefully. "Thank you for that."
"Those are the ones you'll want when you look back, boss. Like when he comes home with his first detention or his first girlfriend."
"A long way off I hope." He patted his son on the back. "Sleepy, Xander?" Xander shook his head but he was yawning. "We'll suggest a three month trial?"
"Four, boss. A full quarter with time for adjustment and evals. She'll want it that way so we might as well give it to her."
"That'll work. We should be fine with just that, right?" Tony nodded. "Good." He patted his son on the back again, hearing the burp. "Good job. What's down the list?"
"A real sabbatical by one of us or me going on modified assignment again."
"Not what I want either. I've talked with Fornell. Taylor won't be back for a few weeks. He would be available if we both had to be doing something. Hell, Fornell volunteered to babysit tomorrow."
"Manpower analysis for Homeland."
"We've got to do ours this week."
"It's on my computer at work. I was going to let Kate look it over tomorrow." He called her. "You still there?" He smiled. "When we've got it broken we've got to go over the manpower analysis for Homeland. It's on my computer. Of course I'm coming back, Kate," he said patiently. "Kate, the stand-ins for me and Taylor put him in the rabbit cage," he said quietly. "We're working that out now. I don't know. How would Gibbs and I alternating cases work for you?" He smirked. "She's saying a prayer I go away and leave her alone about the hickey she has on her chest, boss."
"Can she stand that idea?" He listened then nodded. "Then call the team together after this one's solved for a dinner. Here, somewhere, whatever."
"Sure, boss. Hear that, Kate?" He nodded. "Okay, let us know if you need help. I'll be back tomorrow." He hung up and looked at him. "We had to break for the night. We weren't going to get any more information until tomorrow when some offices send us what we asked for."
"That works." He looked at his son. "Watching?"
"Sleeping." Gibbs got up carefully so he could carry him upstairs. Xander went down and he came back down. "Is he still having nightmares?"
"I don't know but I'm sure he'll have a few tonight." He sat down again after getting some the juice for himself. "This can work?"
"I think it can. We'll have to have some patience. You can still be looking for a new nanny anyway and anytime I'm on injury leave I can handle him." That got a smirk. "Same goes for you though, boss."
"I'm never injured."
"I'm not." Tony gave him a look. "A lot less often than you are."
"Uh-huh," Tony repeated.
Gibbs gave him a look. "I'm not."
"I'll remember that the next time I have to visit you in the hospital."
"Good point." He headed toward the basement. "I'm going to work on the boat."
"I've got some new movies rented," Tony agreed. "See you tomorrow, boss." He headed home, formulating how to write up the suggestions. Because she'd need it in writing.
Friday ended up being a paperwork day so Xander got to come back. Tony presented him with the written suggestions and got a nod for it. Xander wandered over to McGee to help him type. He was looking at the screen then at him. "He says you type faster than he can think," Tony told him.
"I only type ninety words a minute, Tony," McGee told him, but he did slow down. The boy liked that better. Especially when he went back to his game for a few minutes. Then Xander smiled and clapped at him shooting orcs.
"McGee, does he need to know how to play video games?"
"To fit in with his generation, yes," he said bluntly, going back to it. A few more orcs and he had to go back to his report. He grinned at the kid in his lap. "For lunch." Xander hugged him. "When you're older we'll teach you how to play too." Xander beamed at that. "Now," he whispered. "Kate's looking like she could use a cuddle. She's not had one in *days*, Xander." Xander wiggled down and paused to give Tony a hug, making him smile and give him another hershey's kiss. He loved that guy. He crawled over to Kate and climbed up in her lap, giving her a hug too.
"Thank you, Xander. I love your hugs. Don't suck on my neck this time, okay?" He sat sideways, curling up against one of her breasts, head on her shoulder. She smiled at him. "You're adorable but you're the only baby I'll ever have." He pouted. "Ask your father for siblings." Xander spit at that idea. Tony laughed. "Being an only child can be lonely," she said when Tony and Gibbs both stared at her.
"I know that, I was one," Tony agreed. He went back to his reports, watching as Xander started to pet Kate like he would a pony. He managed to hide his smirk when Kate, who was proofreading, didn't catch him at it for at least two minutes.
"I'm not a pony, Xander."
He stretched and kissed her. "Mommy."
"Oh, no, I'm not Abby either."
"That's his pet name for DiNozzo," Gibbs said dryly.
"Gee, thanks, Gibbs, now I have this mental image of Tony in some of Abby's clothes."
"No, the time I did drag for a charity show in college I was fabulous but a classic beauty. A few of the other guys went for terror drag, Kate. I've got a picture somewhere if you wanted to see it." She gave him a horrified look. He smiled sweetly. "You know that blue skirt and white blouse you wear now and then?" She got up and handed Gibbs the baby then stomped off. He cackled. Xander joined in.
"You did it for charity?"
"Yeah, we were raising money with our sister organization on campus for something. We even got one of the local Queens to come in and MC."
"More than I *ever* wanted to know, DiNozzo."
"But, boss, she said I was a very pretty woman."
Gibbs held his head. He put his son down. "Make him take you down to Ducky, Xander." Xander squealed and walked over there. "Huh." Tony and McGee both captured it on their camera phones. "Good job, son. Another important step." Xander smirked at him. "Be a good boy, make him go tell Ducky that story."
"Sure. We'll go show Uncle Ducky and Auntie Abby how well you walk," he cooed, taking him down there.
"Wow," McGee said. "Was that his first time walking?" Gibbs nodded, looking proud. "Excellent, boss. I'll download the video off my phone for you and translate it so it can be put onto a better medium." He got to work doing that. He also sent it to Abby and Kate.
They heard the squeal through the floors.
Gibbs smiled and made a note in his PDA about this date. The baby book had a sheet for the important dates. Tony had written in when he first crawled. He could fill in this one. He looked up when the director came down the stairs. "He's down telling Ducky a story."
"Your son or DiNozzo?"
"Both. DiNozzo was talking about a charity drag event he did in college. I got a headache. My son just walked."
"Congratulations." McGee waved her over so she came to look at the video, smiling at it. "That's very cute. Is that a video game?"
"I have it paused. I was letting Xander play it, ma'am."
"He's got a very high score."
"I only play it off work hours."
"Good." She walked back over to Jethro. "As soon as he gets back up here I've got a few free minutes."
"Thank you." Abby brought his son up, his face smeared with chocolate. "What did you give him!" he demanded.
"My candy bar. He deserved it," she said firmly.
"DiNozzo's been feeding him hershey kisses every time he goes over for a hug."
"So! He walked! It's an important day, Gibbs!" She smiled and licked a bit of the chocolate off his cheek, making Xander giggle and wiggle. So she did it again and he wiggled more.
"Go use the sink," he said finally. "There's someone in the next row who hates giggling."
"Fine." She walked him in there. By the time she got him clean Tony was back and stole him. "Hey!"
"He's going to wander around in the director's office for a few minutes."
"Oh. Okay. But I get him back later!"
"Of course." He smiled at her. "You can even help with lunch if you want."
"I can do that." She went to find him something to eat. Her baby needed better than pizza!
Tony walked him up the stairs, waving his hand at the woman who stared in horror. He paused. "Gibbs' son Xander."
She said a loud prayer that he wasn't his. "Tell Gibbs he's adorable."
Tony smirked at her. "I've been babysitting. He's as close as I'm coming."
"Hopefully Gibbs can straighten him out."
Gibbs came over to the railing, glaring down at her. She wilted. "My son is perfect even if DiNozzo does let him pick up the pretty women and the horses in the park. DiNozzo?"
"Had to wait for Abby, boss. She's helping with lunch."
"Which is appropriate with how many times she was his lunch." He walked them into the office and shut the door.
McGee burst out giggling at that. "How very true," he agreed quietly. One of the other people came over. "What?"
"Abby did what?"
"Took some medicine and volunteered to breast-feed Xander for him."
"No wonder they finally got a breast-feeding room."
"She was doing it in the lab now and then."
"Even better reason. Gibbs lets DiNozzo babysit?"
"While he was injured Tony was his nanny," Kate said from her desk. "Xander was a pervert before then."
"Awww, just because he used to give you hickeys...." Tim started. She glared. "He did. You were his favorite pacifier." The other agent walked off blushing at that. "Her neck."
"You mean that wasn't her finding a good girlfriend?"
"I'm not gay!" she complained.
"So?" He shrugged. "We think it'd be hot." She growled and he wisely ran. Before Kate found her gun.
"I wouldn't care if you were or weren't, as long as you were happy," McGee assured her.
"I work with way too many perverts," she complained. McGee smiled at that. "I do!"
"You do but you have Abby."
"Ducky would make them stop." She went to get some sympathy from him.
McGee went back to his game since his report was now done. He did need time to let it sit before he proofread it.
Tony looked at the director. "I wrote out the proposal for you," he offered. Gibbs handed it over.
She looked at it then nodded. "That's what I thought you'd do. Would you need another agent on the team?"
"No, whoever was at home would consult," Gibbs said.
"He'd still bark orders like he did when he broke his leg a few years back," Tony agreed. "If I had a better computer I could still run backgrounds. That and a new headset. Xander nibbled on my last one."
"That would be a reasonable accommodation. Gibbs would have access to it?"
"If he wanted to use it. I've included the specs on the back." She looked at the back of the paper, smirking at it. "It would be the best system and would mean less need to update in the next few years. McGee can put in the small router box in Gibbs' house or in my apartment. We switch off places to let him roam." Xander wiggled. "Don't touch anything. Go look out the window." Xander looked at him so he pointed. Xander beamed and went to look out the window, with a quick stop to pet her skirt and grin at her.
"He is very smart, Jethro," she praised. "You've done a good job with him." She put it down. "I found out you're on salary, Agent DiNozzo?"
"When they accidentally got me mixed up with a dead guy I got switched during the fix. I've complained, director. I miss my overtime."
"I'm sure you do but you're being paid more than you should by your experience."
"No, I'm making less than McGee is," he told her. She blinked at that. He pulled out his last pay stub, he had been meaning to talk to her about that. "That's my last pay stub."
She looked at it, then at his file, which she had pulled up. "You should've come in at that grade."
"I did come in at that grade. I haven't gotten a raise in nearly four years now."
"Oh. Did you perhaps upset someone down there?"
"Only when I went to complain that they had me as a dead guy."
"I see. After we're done here I'll talk to HR about this, DiNozzo."
"Thank you, ma'am. I did get that figure and those specs off our own buying agreement."
"Good. That'll save some money." She looked at Jethro. "You're sure you can handle being at home every other case?"
"No, but we'll give it a quarter to try it and see how it happens."
"That's fine, I can accept that, Jethro. You as well, DiNozzo. Now, who's going to start?"
"Depends on what the first case is," Tony admitted. "We have weekend call and I doubt we're going to go all today without it. If I'm needed for something like an undercover he'll get Fornell or McGee or even Abby to come watch him so we can both work."
"That's reasonable. You did tell the team that?" They both nodded. "That works then. I did hear that the stand-ins from a few days ago were charged?"
"Oh, yeah," Tony agreed. "They took a deal for probation and never going near us again. Taylor's apparently told all his family so they're embarrassed and shunned. If he's still on medical leave when they get back from the trial, he said he'd sub in again as well."
"So you do have a handle on this. Good." She smiled at them. Xander came back to pet her skirt some more. "I know, it's very soft."
"Pony," he said, looking very serious.
"Do I feel like a pony?" He beamed and nodded. She gave him a careful, tentative hug. He didn't even bite so she was happy. "You're a good boy, Xander. Go watch outside."
"That's the boring side of the building," Tony reminded her. "Xan?" He came running over and climbed up him, earning a smile. "Was there no one out there?" Xander made car noises. "There was a car?" He frowned. "Is there supposed to be a car out there, boss?"
"No. That's a closed street." He went to go look, then called security. "It's Gibbs. Looking out the director's window there's a parked truck on that side of the building. Not maintenance. Looks like a Ford pickup. Let me know." He hung up and smiled at his son. "Good catch, son!" His son squealed and wiggled so he took him back. "That was a very good catch. We'll let Abby have a picnic with you for lunch. How about that?" Xander patted him on the cheek then kissed him. "Good boy." He settled down to be held for now. "Thank you for being accommodating, Jen."
"You're welcome, Jethro. Raising him to be a good man and a possible future agent is very important. Even more so than catching terrorists." She smiled at them. "Begin whenever you can. I'll talk to HR today, DiNozzo."
"Yes, ma'am. Thank you." He stood up and followed Gibbs out.
She smiled. "They do make a good couple. Jethro seems happy and content." She found the number for HR and called down there. "Barbara, can you please bring me DiNozzo's file? I've found a pay discrepancy. Thank you." She hung up and looked at the pay stub. He was right, McGee made more than him. The HR secretary came in with the file. "I needed your boss to fix this."
"She's about to go into a meeting, ma'am. She said to call her when you know what you need. She'll be done after lunch."
"I wasn't aware HR had a meeting this week."
"It's with an outside source, ma'am."
She nodded. "That's fine. Tell her to come right up here after she's done." That got a nod and she left. Then she called security to see who the outside source was. No one had checked in. She checked the snooping software, finding her calling a number out in McLean, Virginia. She looked it up and found a lawyer's office. She'd ask her when she saw her. She checked on McGee, he was switching from one screen to his report. Which did look to be complete. Well, at least he wasn't really goofing off. Just taking a break.
Tim pointed at the little blinking light on his computer toolbar. "And that, Xander, tells me when someone's trying to snoop on my computer," he told him. "Because they installed really old software to do that." The boy looked at him and grinned. "That's right, that means I know when someone's trying to figure out what I'm doing." The boy clapped. "That's right, it's a good thing." He kissed him on the head. "You're such a good boy. When I have kids I want ones like you."
Xander snuggled back into his arms to help him work on his computer. He liked this one, he was nice and sweet, even if he didn't feed him candy like Tony did as a bribe to behave.
Gibbs watched his son wander around the house, going after him to take things and put them up higher. "Will I have to nail stuff to the ceiling?" he asked finally. His son just gave him this wicked smirk that let him know the ceiling wasn't safe either. Someone knocked then walked in. "What's wrong, DiNozzo?"
"I came home to a dead puppy," he said quietly, well above where Xander could hear. Gibbs' face tightened. "I think she's out again, Gibbs. Or it's the lady in HR that got fired today for intentionally screwing up my paychecks because I never hit on her. Did you hear? She was talking to a lawyer before the director got her earlier."
"I did. You okay?"
"They cut me a back-check for the rest," he said grimly. "Which is why I can stay at a hotel if you want."
"No, you're welcome to the couch. Did you call the cops?"
"I did. They came in to dust for fingerprints and take it away. I told them the two possible causes. They said they'd check." That got a nod. "I'm going to have to move, boss. That means I can take a few days off so you can head back there."
"We'll work it out."
"At this rate I should move into Fort Knox."
"That might not stop her either," he pointed out. Tony slumped at that. Xander came over with the cookie he'd stolen earlier to hug and pat him. "See, he knows it'll be all right."
"You're a good friend to have, Xander." He put him into his lap to cuddle him. "Uncle Tony's going to give up women. They all suck." Xander cooed and petted him. Gibbs' phone rang. "I'm not here if that's Abby. She's probably heard."
Gibbs found his cellphone where Xander had tried to put it in the microwave. "Gibbs." He nodded. "He's fine, Abby, he told me. What?" He groaned. "She's out? How is she out?" He nodded at that. "Okay. Thank you." He hung up. "You're staying more than a few days. They let her out."
"I don't know. She was released on probation." Tony groaned again. "I knew they should've went for attempted murder."
"They did," Tony said, looking at him. "The judge lowered it to stalking in the first." He looked around then at him. "I'm going to go to a hotel, Gibbs."
"It won't be safe."
"Oh yes it will. It'll be very safe." He looked at the baby on his lap then at him. "You two should come, boss. She knows about Xander."
"True." He called the director. "Slight issue you should hear about. The stalker that injured DiNozzo just got released from jail. He came home to a dead p-u-p-p-y in his apartment. No, Xander's in the room." He nodded at that. "That's what he suggested. Thanks." He hung up. "Okay, we'll split the hotel room."
Tony shook his head and found his phone, making a call. "Marta, it's Tony," he said quietly. The baby babbled. "Thank you, Xander. I need a place to hide with my boss and his son. One of my exes just killed something small and cuddly and put it in my apartment. Marta, she tried to shoot me and tried to claim the kid was hers. She broke into my hospital room to kill me. Please? You know I wouldn't ask. Just a discount would be fine. That's all I want. Please?" He nodded. "Thank you, Marta. Within an hour. Thanks." He hung up. "Pack a bag. I've got one in the car, boss." That got nod and he held Xander while Gibbs went to find clothes for both of them. "You'll like this place. It's very nice," he promised. The baby smiled at him. "We'll take the daddy's car." He put his phone back into his pocket once he was standing and walked around to gather some things that were too important. Including the baby book. It got put into his bag in the trunk. Gibbs came out. "I've got some limited supplies. I know you were going to pick up diapers."
"That's fine." He saw the bag and the extra box. "We think she'll try something?"
"I wouldn't put it past her, boss. She hacked into my bank accounts somehow and got a new card for herself as my supposed wife."
"Point." He went back inside to get some other things, coming out to put them into a larger, rolling suitcase. The other stuff went in there too. Then they tucked it into his car. His car was less noticeable and handled better in a chase. "Where am I heading?" Tony whispered an address. "You know someone who works there?"
"No, I went to school with the owner's wife."
"Oh." He nodded and got them moving. He did call Kate. "It's me. DiNozzo's psycho ex is out of jail. He's already had to leave his place. We're going to safety. Call me." He hung up on her voicemail. "You all right?"
"I'm fine. It was one of the strays in the neighborhood. Not one I fed a lot." He looked at him. "I'm going to kill her this time, boss."
"I know, DiNozzo. It'll be fine. We'll stop her. That's got to violate her probation. Why did the judge reduce it from attempted murder?"
"She ditched the gun she shot at me with. They couldn't find it so even though there were bullets present she tossed it." He grimaced. "She won't be on the bench long, Gibbs. Or she's very new."
"Probably new. The election was last fall." He sped up once he hit the main road, heading for the very nice, upscale hotel. When they got there, Tony got Xander out, letting him cuddle him. Gibbs got their bags with a nod for the bellhop but let the valet take the car so it'd be closer. They walked inside and Tony walked right up to an elegant woman waiting and looking around.
"Anthony." She blinked. "He's adorable."
"That's the usual reaction to Xander. He's Gibbs' son." He nodded behind him. "My boss."
"Hello. Welcome to the Regal." She shook his hand. "What is going on? An ex?"
"She..." He handed Xander back and walked her off to tell her everything, making her hug him. "All I want is a discount," he promised. "Just until they can catch her again."
"It's all right, Tony. This is the off season," she promised. "My husband did want to meet you. He heard how you used to torment me about my first bra," she teased. Tony grinned at that. The baby started to fuss. Tony took him back and he calmed down. "You're very good with him."
"When she injured me the first time I got to stay home with him," Tony told her with a small grin. "I'm his favorite nanny."
"I see." She smiled at them. "Let me get you some keys. My husband has already authorized it." She went to the desk and came back with a set of keys. "Here we go, boys. Come along." Gibbs got the bags. "We do have bellhops."
"It's my exercise for the day since I haven't had to carry him. He's just learned to walk."
"Congratulations, young man." He beamed at her and she fell into his big brown eyes. "You're going to be more of a heartbreaker than Tony was when you're older, Xander." She smoothed down some hair and got them into their room. "There you go, boys. I had them send up a crib as well." That got a nod and Tony hugged her, which let Xander hug her. He giggled and kissed her neck, making her blush. "You are quite fresh. Tony used to pull that now and then too." She tweaked his nose. "You be a good boy."
"Son, no tasting the women," Gibbs ordered. His son pouted. "Tough. It's a bad habit to start." He took his son and put him down. "There, wander." His son beamed and wandered off.
"He'll be a great investigator some year, Gibbs."
"He will be. He's nosy," Gibbs agreed, going to stop his son from crawling under the couch.
Tony smiled at her. "How are you?"
"I'm wonderful. He's making me very happy, Tony. Thank you for introducing us."
"Not a problem. You deserved someone special to spoil you rotten and appreciate your brilliant mind." She nodded and left them alone. He sat down and Xander crawled up beside him, snuggling into his side. "Hey, squirt." Xander grinned at him. "They'll find the psychotic woman very soon. I know they will. Then we can go home." Gibbs' phone rang and he walked into the bedroom to answer it. He smiled at the baby. "You have very good taste. She was always a very sweet woman, even when I used to torment her in school." Xander smiled at that and wiggled some. "Behave." Xander got down and went to wander around some more. "Don't touch the pretty things, Xander. They're expensive." Gibbs came out. "We might want to watch him with that vase, Gibbs. It's about three hundred years old." It got moved out of reach and so did the other breakable stuff. Xander pouted so he looked at him. "I know you, you'd want to touch." Xander went over to the window to watch out it. "An update?" he asked hopefully.
"Jen called Fornell. He wanted to know what was going on and where we were."
"That's fine. I'm still a federal agent so the FBI would take the case," he agreed. "Now what?"
"Now, you sleep, Tony. Or you go run out for food if you're hungry." Tony nodded, heading out to do that. Xander fussed but he looked at him. "He'll be right back. He went to get dinner." Xander came over then pulled him back behind the curtains with him. They were thick and heavy tapestry curtains and his son loved them apparently. He helped him watch all the lights outside, sitting down so his son could stand in his lap to get a higher viewpoint even though they were floor-to-ceiling windows. Tony came back and he peered out of the drapes. "You went for fast food?"
"Not totally. I got him some apple slices." He handed that bag over. He sat down with his more discreet bag. "I got extra if you want some, boss."
"I had dinner, DiNozzo. You eat." He opened up the fruit pack, making his son a happy boy. Someone knocked on the door and Tony answered it, hand on his gun. The bellhop brought in a crib. "Put it near the couch," he ordered. That got a nod and it was put there. "Thank you." Tony tipped him for it and then he left. He fed his son another apple slice and Xander happily nibbled on it while Tony set it up. "We'll bathe in a few."
"That's fine, boss. You sure you want him out here?"
"I figured I'd take the couch."
"Boss, it's a king size bed," Tony said dryly. "If we have to, we can share and he can be in there too. That way he won't be woken up when one of us gets up in the middle of the night to work." Gibbs nodded so he brought it into the bedroom and set it up next to the window. That way he could see outside. Tony didn't like total blackness at night either. Gibbs came in a few minutes later and they went to bathe the baby, coming out to find a maid turning down the bed. "Thank you."
"Welcome, sir. I closed the lid on your food to keep it warm." She accepted the tip and left.
They got Xander settled in, letting him watch the city while he laid there. They went back to the living room. Gibbs sat down and turned on the tv. Tony settled in to finish his dinner. It felt incredibly domestic. It also comforted his nerves. He finished his dinner and threw away the container, settling back into the couch. "What's the next move, boss?"
"We wait for someone to find her and put her away, DiNozzo."
"Boss, she could've done it and fled," he pointed out.
"The FBI is everywhere. Even watching you pick out wedgies," he said dryly, paraphrasing something McGee had said the last time he had worked with Fornell.
"I hate it when they check to see what I'm doing when I do that." Gibbs gave him an affectionate swat on the head. "Sorry, couldn't resist."
"I know. Go sleep." Tony nodded, going in there to lay down. Gibbs got comfortable, watching the news. He even fell asleep out there.
Tony came down to get lunch, smiling at Marta when he ran into her. "Hi again."
"Any new news?"
"The FBI has it," he said with a small shrug. "We've worked with the guy who has it. He's furious that they reduced the original charge down from attempted murder to stalking in the first," he admitted. "Then they let her out after only a few weeks served, even though she had broken home confinement to come after me *again*. She even tried to claim Gibbs' son as hers to some cops when she did that." She gave him a stroke on the arm. "I'm going to find something for fussy and his son to eat. Check in with Fornell."
"Sure. Let me know how long you think it'll be."
"They'll release my apartment in three days. I'm finding somewhere more secure after that. So hopefully not more than a week. Like I said, I'll gladly just take a discount, Marta."
"It's not a problem, Tony. It's the off season. We weren't going to rent a room that size for a few more months." She stroked his cheek. "I heard from your aunt."
"Why?" he asked, looking confused.
"She's not totally a happy woman with husband number three. Wanted to know if I could find a use for him."
Tony shook his head. "Bait chunks?"
"That's about what I suggested too," she agreed. "Have you heard from any of your family?"
"Mom called to nag recently. She said that being Gibbs' nanny was better than being a federal agent or an officer but not by much then hung up."
"Ah." She nodded. "You should've told her you're with Gibbs and that's both your son."
He shook his head. "I can't lie like that." She gave him an odd look. "I can't."
"Tony, it's fairly obvious to some of us. Remember, I'm not my sister, I could care less if you're sleeping with a goat. Gibbs seems very nice. I appreciate that you like him that much." He went pale at that. "You're seriously not seeing him?"
"No, he's my boss, Marta. I love the guy but it's closer to what I should feel for my father than as my lover."
"Hmm. Then your director has the wrong idea as well." Tony pulled out his phone and dialed it, handing it to her as he walked off shaking his head. "Mr. Gibbs?" She smiled. "It is. No, I was just talking with Anthony about some family gossip he hadn't heard and I offered him my congratulations on your relationship. No, your director said you were with him and that you were a very good couple, that you let Tony play but held him with a good leash. Yes, it did appear that way to me as well," she said delicately. "Oh, dear, should I have put you in a double room?" She winced at his assertion it was fine. "Oh, I'm so sorry. Tony's mother is in town for some reason," she admitted. "She's staying here, Mr. Gibbs. What should I tell her?" His answer of 'nothing' didn't give her a lot of leeway. "That's fine then. No, she won't be down until later this afternoon probably. Thank you for clearing that up. I'm very sorry for the misunderstanding. Of course. I'll leave his phone with his messages, dear. You have a better afternoon." She hung up and handed it to the desk clerk. "For Mr. Gibbs. The one with the crib." He nodded and put it in his cubby. There weren't any other children in the hotel. Most people didn't bring their children to hotels like hers.
To part three: