Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS or the characters portrayed on television. The story is mine.

A/N: Story betaed by the awesome ncismom. Thanks to all who have read, reviewed and follow the story. I hope you continue to enjoy the story.

Preparing for Change

Gibbs and DiNozzo arrived at work early on Monday morning. The Lead Agent pulled a few random records from the cases handled while he was on leave as well as McGee and Ziva's files. He needed to see for himself the work that the junior agents did or didn't do. The more he read, his anger turned into rage. It was clear that Tony had done the lion's share of the work while working undercover.

Meanwhile, the other two agents did the minimum amount of work they could get away with doing. His ire continued to grow when he noticed that a few other agents had filed complaints about the duo. What had Jenny been doing while he was gone? It became clear that she'd dropped the ball. He'd deal with Madame Director and find out why she didn't do anything to support DiNozzo.

It was time that McGee and David started treating his Senior Field Agent as the outstanding agent Gibbs depended on to get things done. At the very least, they would respect his Second's position and the chain of command or they would be off the team.


While Gibbs was reading, Tony was reflecting on the conversation he and Gibbs had about the formal reprimands for McGee and David he was currently filling out for their most recent bout of insubordination. The older man had been adamant that this be done and he had vowed to back his Senior Field Agent one hundred percent. The young man had been reluctant at first, not believing that he was worth the effort.


When Tony told Gibbs about his reluctance to fill out reprimands and why; he received a head slap. The Marine pointed his finger at him saying, "You are worth everything to me, Tony! If I have to choose between you and those two, I'll choose you, every time! I chose you for my team. I knew you wouldn't stay in Baltimore and wanted to help you. Know this-I would have recruited you regardless of what happened with your ex-partner. You're better than good enough."

The Marine paused for a deep breath. "I chose you because I wanted to train the agent who'll replace me when I do retire. I promoted you to Senior Field Agent even though there were other agents who had more experience than you at the time. I have never regretted my decision. You are the best young agent I have ever worked with bar none."

The older man placed his hands on Tony's face surprising him as he continued, "If I didn't make myself clear this weekend, you are the son I always wanted. You are responsible for me feeling like I have family again after losing Shannon and Kelly. You come first. Always!"

The young man swallowed the lump in this throat, his self-worth boosted by his Mentor's unequivocal support. "Thanks, Gi…Dad." He said with uncertainty.

Gibbs smiled slightly as he stepped back dropping his hands. "It's time that McGee and David learn their place on the team. If they can't respect you and follow your orders, then they're off the team."

"Gottcha, Boss," Tony replied, smiling.

End Flashback

Anthony DiNozzo still felt awesome after spending the weekend with Gibbs and learning the true depth of the older man's regard. His own father didn't have the same faith in his biological son. Gibbs had been more of a father in the few years they had worked together than Senior had been to Tony his whole life. The fact that his mentor saw him as a son still blew him away. He now had the confidence he needed to fill out formal reprimands for the junior agents and know that he would be supported by his friend and boss. The Italian didn't feel the need to seek their approval anymore; he had all he needed from the Marine.


Gibbs looked over at Tony and smiled. He could see that spending the weekend working out their relationship had been successful. The silver haired man knew the insecurities that plagued his younger friend weren't gone; they ran too deep for one weekend to get rid of them completely. He intended to make sure that this wonderful young man never doubted his place on his team and in his life again.

Gibbs stood up holding a file and his coffee cup drawing Tony's attention from his work.

"Gonna go see Duck and Abby. Have McGee and David work on cold cases like we discussed yesterday until I get back."

The young man looked at him with a mischievous glint in his eye, "I already requested that Dereks in cold cases, send me some of his nastiest cases. I suggested ones that had incomplete or unorganized notes." He quirked an eyebrow silently asking for what else was on the agenda. His Second smiled wickedly, "Well, they might have some trouble with their computers, and their desks too. Our computer genius and ninja chick won't know what hit them."

The Lead Agent laughed quietly as he headed for the back elevator. McGee and David were in for a rough time. It took a lot to make DiNozzo angry but he was vicious when angry, not even the Marine wanted to be on the receiving end of the younger man's ire. If those two thought Tony's harmless pranks were annoying, they were in for a rude awakening.


Gibbs strode into autopsy.

"Ah, good morning Jethro. What can I do for you this morning?" Ducky asked, smiling.

"Duck. Need to talk to you."

"Certainly Jethro. Let us head to my office for some privacy. I would offer you some tea but I see you have your coffee," the ME observed as he headed to his office.

Once the two men sat down, Gibbs began. "I'm going to have a talk with McGee and David about their behavior towards DiNozzo."

The Scot nodded, "Good. It is about time you put a stop to Timothy and Ziva's boorish behavior towards Anthony since you went on your sabbatical, or whatever you wish to call your time in Mexico."

As the ME prepared to sit at his desk, he paused to look at the other man, "Did you know that they would argue with every order that Anthony gave them even when we were at a crime scene? They would do the bare minimum of work that he assigned them, leaving our young friend to work twice as hard, and staying late to complete the paperwork for the team. I know that he placed at least two reprimands in their files but it seems to me that it has not stopped them."

The Senior Agent's eyebrows drew together in anger. "No, I didn't know all of that. I knew about the reprimands for disrespect. I also know about the reports, I can tell who wrote them based on the writing style. I didn't know about the arguing." He sighed in frustration. "Tony doesn't think he's worth the effort of defending. I'm going to change that if I can. I need to talk to Abby." Gibbs finished as he stood up.

"Good luck, Jethro."


Gibbs strode into Abby's lab, grimacing a little at her loud music. He grabbed the remote to her stereo turning it off.

"Hey!" Abby turned, looking outraged. Instead of snapping she hugged him saying rapidly, "Gibbs! What are you doing here? Where's my Caff Pow? You don't have a case. Something's wrong. What's wrong? Is someone hurt? What…?"

"Abs!" She closed her mouth with an audible snap. "Everyone is fine. Just need to tell you that I'm gonna talk to McGee and Ziva about their attitude towards DiNozzo for the last six months. I've let them disrespect him too long." He watched a look of guilt cross the Goth's face before she looked down. "I heard that your behavior towards DiNozzo wasn't much better than theirs, all because he was 'not Gibbs'. I recall some sort of shrine you had here for me. Did you even think about how that would make Tony feel? Or do you even care?"

Abby bit her lip before shaking her head no. "I didn't treat him right. I just missed you and he was trying to take your place."

"Abby, DiNozzo was given the team because I wanted him to lead and take care of all of you when I couldn't. He was trying to find his own way after having the team thrust at him unexpectedly. He may have stumbled in the beginning but he found his own way of leading the team and did a great job, just as I knew he would. And that was despite the problems that all of you gave him. I thought he was your friend. Why did you turn your back on him? Didn't ya think that he missed me too?"

The Goth wiped a tear from her eye. "Tony didn't act like he missed you. He just took over and pushed us to get back to work." She was definitely stubborn.

Gibbs looked at Abby with disappointment. "He did exactly what I trained him to do. He did his job; he took care of you, Ducky, McGee and David. What did he get in return? Who took care of him? I'm very disappointed in you, Abby. You're not a child, but you're sure acting like one." With that, he left Abby to think about what he said. She needed to grow up and realize that the world didn't revolve around her.


Meanwhile, McGee and Ziva had arrived in the bullpen.

"Morning, Tony," Tim greeted as he walked by his desk heading for his own.

"Good morning, Tony. Where is Gibbs? Is he in MTAC?" Ziva asked as she rounded the corner to her desk.

DiNozzo looked up from his work. "Morning, McGee, Ziva. Gibbs went to see Ducky and get some coffee. He wants you working on cold cases." The Senior Field Agent pointed to the box on the spare desk in their area. "There are plenty in there for you. Take your pick."

The younger agent looked up to see Ziva David looking at Tony crossly. "Why do we have to work on cold cases? You are not. I bet you are playing a game on your computer and leaving the real work to us."

McGee looked to see if she was right. He could see that the Senior Field Agent was working. "Tony's doing paperwork, Ziva. I can see the form on his computer." The Junior Agent knew deep down that Tony did do work despite appearances. That didn't mean he thought the other man should be Senior Field Agent or Gibbs' Second in Command. DiNozzo didn't have the education for it; he was just a jock who became an agent. These thoughts ran through Tim's head as he got up and grabbed a couple of cold cases to work on while his computer warmed up. He didn't want to incur Gibbs' wrath; he preferred living and keeping all of his limbs to the alternative.

McGee stopped in his tracks, shocked at Tony's icy tone as he responded to Ziva's snide remark. "I didn't ask your opinion, Zee-va. Gibbs wants you to work on cold cases. I have other work to do. I suggest you get to work, you wouldn't want the Boss to arrive and see you doing nothing." DiNozzo turned back to his work, clearly dismissing the Israeli woman.

The younger man cringed when she answered haughtily, "You are not the boss. I do not have to listen to what you say."