Abby didn't think twice when Tony asked her for the recording of what went down on Georgetown promenade

For counter-terrorism purposes NCIS had began recording all communications over the headsets during possible terrorist activities. The attempted bombing at the Georgetown promenade definitely qualified under that definition.

Abby didn't think twice when Tony asked her for the recording of what went down on Georgetown promenade. She said she'd have it to him by the end of the day. Then she asked him what he needed it for. She was curious and was wondering if she could help him look for whatever clue he thought he might find. He blew her off with a bold faced lie. He was going to check if proper procedure was followed. Obviously he was lying. Abby knew it was a lie, not because of what he said but because of how he looked when he said it. So she forced the issue. It was not like Tony to lie to her.

"Tony, I know you're lying." She pushed.

"No I'm not, I just wanted to double check what we did. You know, for the report." Tony replied. Again, he didn't look her in the face when he said it.

"I know that you already finished the report. I'll get you the copy; I just want to know what it is for." When Tony did not reply to Abby's comment she continued. She knew how to push Tony's buttons when he wouldn't spill his guts. "Tony, if you don't tell me I'm going to tell Gibbs."

That got Dinozzo's attention. He looked up at her, "Don't worry about it Abbs, I didn't really need it."

She knew how to play the game, so she replied. "Okay, but I'm still telling Gibbs."

"Promise me you won't Abby. I don't want him to know." His statement got her attention. Tony didn't keep secrets from Gibbs. What was on that recording that he wanted? And why did he now look like a wounded puppy dog?

"Okay, I won't tell him."

"Promise?" He asked.

"I promise." she answered.

"And you won't hint about it, send him an e-mail or tell him in sign language, right?"

"Fine" she replied. Dang, Dinozzo really knew all her tricks.

"And promise me you won't tell Ducky so Ducky can tell Gibbs."

"I promise, Geesh"

And with her promise he left. She continued to wonder, however, what had happened at the promenade that Tony wanted a recording of. So she got a copy of the recording, and played for herself.

Hollis: There, Abraham on the bench.

Ziva: If he sees us clear the promenade he may detonate.

Hollis: If it is a trip wire any of these people may detonate it.

Ziva: On the second bomb he used a cell phone.

Tony: The cell phone is not connected to the backpack?

Gibbs: "Trip wire, cell phone, who knows how he armed this one?"

Tony: Dead man's switch? Or not.

Gibbs: Dinozzo, you keep your ears on me.

Hollis: Four marriages? Negotiating is probably not his thing

Tony: You'd be surprised.

Hollis: Well I have been so far.

The recording lulled for a minute and Abby wondered again why Tony had wanted a copy of this. If she had been there that day and had been worried about a bomb going off she would never want to listen to a recording of it and re-live the stress. Even listening to the recording now was stressing her out and she knew her friends were safe. It was nerve-racking just hearing them sound stressed out. Gibbs voice on the recording woke her from her musing.

Gibbs: Cell's not the detonator.

Her audio system picked up the rustling of paper.

Gibbs: My son, Tony, he plays that same game. What's your name?

Abraham: Abraham

She paused the recoding. Now she knew what her surrogate brother had wanted. Gibbs had called Tony his son. She wasn't sure if it had been planed, or had been a last minute idea about how to start a conversation with Abraham, but she knew it didn't matter to Tony. Even now, a week latter Tony still remembered what Gibbs had said.

She decided to give Tony the recording, but she wanted Gibbs to know how much his comment had meant to Tony. Therefore, she put her plan to inform Gibbs in action. Because she had promised she would not say anything to Ducky or Gibbs, she didn't say anything about the recording when she dropped it off with Ducky. However, she had taped a note on it that said For Tony from Abby.

"This is for Tony?" Ducky asked.

Abby simply nodded.

"I'll make sure the young man gets it." Ducky said taking the hint of Abby silence as another form of communication.

Abby smiled as her plan unfolded.

Ducky approached Gibbs desk after Tony had left for the night and very deliberately laid the recording on Tony's desk. Gibbs watched the maneuver taking the action for the suggestion it was.

"What's that Ducky?" Gibbs asked.

"Young Abigail made a copy of the events on the Georgetown promenade for Tony." Ducky explained.


"Well apparently she was unable to share that information. She was completely silent when she dropped it off with me. However, the recording just happened to slip into my computer and I just happened to play it and I may have an idea as to why Tony wanted a copy of it."

"Are you going to share your idea with me?" Gibbs inquired impatiently.

"I think, my friend, you will deduce Tony's reasons for the request if you listen to the recording, And when you do, I would like to know what you are going to do about it."

Gibbs stood and deliberately walked toward the CD and placed it in Dinozzo's computer. He listened to the computer play the conversation and watched Ducky's face as he did. When the recording ended he explained his actions.

"I was thinking on my feet and it just came out."

"Well I think your Senior Field Agent took it to heart. You asked him to listen to you." Ducky pointed out.

"So he would be able to respond to what ever I needed him to do. Crap, Ducky, it was just a conversation starter. I didn't mean to…" Gibbs trailed off not knowing how to continue the statement.

"Mean to…?" question Ducky.

Gibbs paused as he considered his next statement "I care about him Ducky. I care about him a lot. But I'm not his father"

"I know you care about him."

"What I said meant a lot to him, didn't it?"

"You know how he feels Jethro and you haven't been very attentive to him since you came back from Mexico. He didn't have a proper father growing up and he really looks up to you. He wants your affection."

"I know Ducky, but I'm not really father material. I'm not even old enough to be his father."

Ducky sighed as he considered his next comment. "I knew a man once who did not consider himself a dog person. But his mother died and because no one else in the family wanted her dog, the man inherited his mother's dog. But the man grew to love the dog and do you know what happened to that man?"

"No, I don't Ducky."

"He started the first canine police unit." Ducky pause before he continued. "He also came to love that dog. The dog made his life full and the dog save hundreds of lives in the process of being a police dog. Imagine, if that man had decided to send his mother's dog to the pound because he didn't like dogs or thought he would not be good at caring for the dog."

"You're saying I could do a lot of good I become Tony's surrogate father."

"And I am saying you might heal some of your own hurts in the process. Think about it Jethro, before you make any big decisions. And for God's sake don't hurt that boy by saying things without meaning them. He's had enough pain in his life."

"I know Ducky, I know."

The next day, Tony found the CD Abby had made for him. He remained unaware of the conversation that his co-workers had about him. Gibbs however notice the Senior Field Agent slip the CD in his backpack carefully when Tony thought no one was looking.

The night before Gibbs had spent hours sanding his boat and considering what to say to Dinozzo and had come to no conclusions. So he simply attempted to act normal. Unfortunately he was annoyed because of his lack of sleep, and he unconsciously blamed Tony for the exhaustion. He snipped at Tony all day long. Tony however dealt with Gibbs snippiness with his usual cheery attitude. He had the recording and he could not wait to get home and listen to it.

Finally the day was over, and Tony smiled enthusiastically as he headed for the door. "Night, Boss" he said as he entered the elevator.

"Dinozzo, don't have to much fun tonight."

"I won't." Tony replied with a grin on his face.


For the next week the recording was not mentioned. Tony however listened to it each night before he went to sleep. Each day he came to work smiling. Gibbs was getting annoyed with himself, because he didn't know wheat he should do.

The team got a call that a young petty officer had gone missing. After two days of the officer not showing up, his work had called the officer's wife and she claimed she had not seen him in weeks. Gibbs directed Mcgee and Ziva to interview the employers while he and Tony talked to the family.

Soon after that, Tony and Gibbs drove up to the family's house. The house looked strait out of a storybook. A white picket fence surrounded the yard and two children played on a plastic play set. The children turned to watch as the two men approached the front door to their house.

"HI!" The kids said as they waved.

Tony, grimaced as the children approached them. He wasn't good with kids. Just as the front door opened, Gibbs laughed at Tony's reaction. Quickly, Gibbs turned back toward the door "I'm Special Agent Gibbs, NCIS. This is Special Agent DiNozzo. Are you Scott Tompson's wife?"

"Um, for now" she responded quietly. "Johnny, Susan, go play." She directed her children.

The boy, who looked about seven piped up "But mom, when want to talk to the policemen too."

"They are here to talk to me, go on."

"Actually, Ma'am. We were hopping to talk to the kids to, if that is okay with you."

The mother nodded in agreement.

Gibbs grinned at Tony as he gave his Senior Field Agent directions. "I'll talk to Mrs. Tompson while you interview Johnny and Susan."

"Sure, boss" Tony responded. He acted like he was pleased to talk to the children, but Gibbs new better.

"I wanna talk to him first!!" shouted Johnny.

"I'm older. I should talk to him first." commented his nine year old sister.

Tony looked at his boss helplessly. Gibbs decided to rescue him. The older man knelt to eye level with Johnny and explain, "A real gentleman would let the lady go first."

"She's not a lady, she's a sister." Johnny responded, which earned another chuckle from Gibbs.

"I'd like to talk to Susan first," Tony explained.

"Johnny, go play while the detective talks to Susan" Mrs. Tompson directed.

The troop entered the house and Gibbs began to question the wife while Tony questioned Susan. Sadly, Gibbs learn the the husband/father had left the family three weeks earlier. He had told his wife that he wanted to move again, and she had refused. She explained that the children had been moved to often and she wanted to stay someplace for longer than a school year. Her husband was angry and said that he was moving with or without the family.

Tony asked the nine year old similar questions: "Where was daddy? Why did daddy leave? when was the last time she had seen her father?"

Going outside to the swing set, he moved on to questioning the younger brother. Gibbs finish interviewing the mother a few minutes latter, and therefore caught the tail end of Tony's interview of the son.

"I don't care that he left. He was mean." The boy explained.

"How was he mean?" Tony questioned.

"He wouldn't play with me and he got mad if I didn't do everyfing perfect." The statement mad Tony sad.

"What happened when he got mad?" He asked.

"He wasn't here much and when he was he just yelled a lot," the boy explained as he swung. "I don't think daddies should yell a lot. I think they should hang out with their kids and teach um stuff. Don't you?"

"Yeah," Tony replied with empathy.

"I want a different daddy. Do you think I could get a different daddy?" The boy question.

"Maybe someday you will find another Daddy" Tony replied. "I did" he added quietly under his breathe.

"Do you like your Daddy?" The boy questioned indicating Gibbs with his head.

The question earned another snigger from Gibbs, who Tony now realized was behind him. Tony smiled as the responded to the boy "Well he's not my real father and he yells a lot too but he teaches me stuff, so guess he's okay."

"You about done here DiNozzo?" His boss questioned.

"Yeah, boss. It was nice to meet you Johnny" he said as he stuck out his hand to be boy. They boy shook it. "You take good care of your mom and sister, okay?"

"Yes, sir" the boy responded with a smile.

Gibbs and DiNozzo walked silently to the car. But the conversation started as soon as they took off.

"Well, that guy sounded like a jerk." Tony described.

"I agree. He's probably AWOL. When we get back we will start calling relatives and see if anyone has seen him." his boss responded.

"I am glad he left the family. It is going to be hard on the kids but they are probably better off without him."

"You think so?"

"Yeah, I do" Tony replied quietly.

The rest of the trip was silent as both men sat and contemplated what they had just happened. Tony tried to focus on the case, but the young boy words had reminded him of his own childhood.

Meanwhile, Gibbs kept replaying the conversation he had overheard in his head. He had been considering what to do about Tony's attachment all week. Gibbs was unsure if he was qualified to be a father figure to his Senior Field agent. But The boy had commented that fathers "should hang out with their kids and teach um stuff." And under that definition Gibbs was well qualified. It was a little known fact that he and Dinozzo spent about as much time together as Abby and Mcgee. He also spent much of that time with Tony teaching him investigative skills as well as life skills. Tony had seemed happy to tell the boy about his "father", even though Gibbs was standing right there. Gibbs made his decision. He needed to talk to Tony. It was a little just after noon so he suggested they stop for lunch. When they pulled into a family dinner, Tony didn't object.

They made small talk about the case as the lunch was served. Tony flirted with the waitress while Gibbs tried to figure out how to bring up the topic without frightening Tony. Near the end of the meal, when the waitress came to ask them if they needed anything else, Gibbs indicated Tony's near empty glass.

"Can you refill my son's soda?" Gibbs asked.

Tony's reaction was priceless, first his mouth opened to say something, then it shut because he decided not to comment in front of the stranger serving their food. He couldn't believe that his boss had called him son again. Twice in one month couldn't be a coincidence. This time there wasn't a criminal in site. But, then-again this was Gibbs, he had a reason for everything. It was never good to guess about what Gibbs meant.

As the waitress left to refill the glass, Tony turned to his boss. "What do you mean by that?"

"By what?" His boss played dumb.

"You keep calling me your son."

"You don't like it?"

"No, Yes, I mean …" Tony paused while he collected his thoughts. "I like it I just wanna know what you mean by it." He sounded somewhat exasperated.

The waitress returned with the drink, momentarily interrupting their conversation.

"I thought you'd like it." Gibbs explained.

"Abby told you about the recording, didn't she?"

"No, I found it on your desk." His boss explained and then continued. "Can you tell me why you wanted it?"

"I'm not sure I can." Tony replied looking down at his hands.

Gibbs recognized the nervous gesture. Tony got that way when he was honestly reflecting.

"Tony," Gibbs said as he gently placed his hand on Tony's arm. "I mean it."

Tony looked up slowly and nervously at his boss. Gibbs smiled gently at him. "Are you ready to get this show on the road?" His boss questioned much more upbeat.

"Yeah, boss" Tony responded grinning. Gibbs thought of him as a son. The first time Gibbs said it Tony had wondered if it was a fluke but now he knew it was not. He could not wait to get back to NCIS and tell Abby. Now that he knew what his boss meant, the recording at home meant 10 times more to him. On the other hand, he might not need the recording if Gibbs continued to say it. Almost getting blown up on the Georgetown promenade was well worth what he had learned in the process.

Gibbs could see the gears turning in Dinozzo's head. "You brag about this to Abby and I'll make you wish you hadn't." He boss ordered.

"I won't," he paused slightly "Dad" he added, grinning at Gibbs exasperated look.