AUTHOR'S NOTES: I know there's an NCIS spinoff in the works and at least at my house the theory is that Michael Weatherly's going to be leaving the show. I got to thinking about how that might go with DiNozzo moving on and heading up his own team and I decided to write this story.

The title comes from the song by the song 'You're Gonna Miss This' by Trace Adkins.

And because I know at least one person will ask: Yes, I am a big fan of country music. As evidenced by my inspiration for this story and because I named a dead Marine a country music artist.


NCIS: You're Gonna Miss This


12 years was a long time.

Long enough to learn from great people…

Long enough to know when it was time to leave what you know and take the leap into the unknown.

After years of learning at the feet of Leroy Jethro Gibbs, NCIS Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo felt confident about leaving for the San Diego office where he'd be heading up his own team. After all, there comes a time where you have to take your learning out into the world and share it with others, right?

-------------------

As the days leading to DiNozzo's departure went by, Gibbs had become even more solitary than usual. He'd sent his team out alone, making sure to check in, but silently telling them that they didn't need him looking over their shoulders.

Ziva David, Liaison Officer between NCIS and the Israeli Mossad, had changed as well after hearing that Tony would be leaving. She'd started staying later, usually the very last person to leave the building.

Timothy McGee had changed as well. He no longer spent free time writing his next book, handing the pen over to his sister, Sarah, who had made the third LJ Tibbs book even hotter than the first two. Now McGee got to the office early and only Ziva stayed longer than him.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Grab your gear," Gibbs said as he entered the squad room, holding his coffee cup and glancing at McGee and Ziva before giving Tony a longer look. A week from now, there would be a new agent starting and Tony DiNozzo would be gone.

"On your six, boss," McGee said quickly, falling in behind, Ziva behind him and Tony silently picking up the rear.

As Tony drove to the crime scene, he felt only the slightest trepidation at leaving. McGee was going to be just fine and Ziva… well, if any woman could take care of herself, it was Ziva David.

Gibbs hadn't said anything and Tony was fine with that although he was disappointed that Gibbs hadn't asked him to stay. But it wouldn't have changed anything. It was time to move on.

----

Pulling up to the store front where a dead Marine Staff Sergeant was lying next to a newspaper stand, Tony got out and said, "We need to get witness statements."

"I'm on it," Gibbs said, heading for the small group of people.

"I'll get the crime scene photos," McGee added, grabbing his camera.

"Bagging evidence," Ziva said, succinctly.

Tony looked at the scene and felt a twinge of sadness as he saw Dr. Donald 'Ducky' Mallard pull up behind them. When the gray-haired coroner got out and came towards him, Tony asked, "You gonna miss me, Duck?"

Ducky smiled. "Without a doubt, my boy. Now… the body."

"Staff Sergeant Darryl Worley," Ziva said, looking at the dogtags and the poor man's wallet. "Cash and cards are still present so it is doubtful this was a robbery."

"Dropped his coffee cup," McGee observed, snapping pictures of the styrofoam cup lying on its side, the lid not far. Black coffee stained the concrete as Ziva bagged the cup.

"No signs of gunshot wounds or stab wounds," Ducky reported as he took a liver temperature. "He's only been dead about 40 minutes."

"Witnesses say Worley started having a seizure before he fell," Gibbs reported, coming back to where Tony and Ducky were crouched near the body.

"Well, we'll have to wait to for toxicology to find out if this was poisoning or not," Ducky said as his assistant, Jimmy Palmer arrived with a body bag and a gurney.

As Tony stood and watched Gibbs and the rest of the team working, he couldn't help but think how much he was going to miss this.

-------------------

Taking a Caff-Pow down to Abby, Tony hoped he could talk to the forensics tech who had lately been viewing his pending departure as some kind abandonment.

"Hey, Abby," Tony said as cheerfully as he could.

"Just got the evidence 5 minutes ago, Agent DiNozzo," Abby snapped as she stood at her computers. "Still processing everything."

"Abby…" Tony insisted, setting the drink down. "I'm not here for that."

"I'm not speaking to you, Agent DiNozzo," Abby said, frowning as she stared fixedly at her computer screen.

"Abby, please," Tony begged. "I'm not abandoning you."

"Yes, you are!" Abby said, turning towards him, her eyes red from crying. "You'll be in California! It's like right after Director Shepard died all over again only this time it's worse! This time it's for good," she added, quietly. "I don't want you to leave, Tony. Please. Please, don't go. Stay here."

"I can't," Tony said, quietly. "I-I know how you feel about it, but… But it's time. I'm sorry, Abby."

"Apologies are a—"

"Sign of weakness," Tony finished, nodding as he hugged Abby. "I know." Looking at her, he added, "But not between friends, Abs."

Abby nodded and headed to her desk, grabbing a CD. "I burned this for you. Ziva, McGee, Palmer, Ducky… Even Gibbs all helped me make this for you. So you don't forget us."

"Abby, I could never forget about any of you guys," Tony assured her, taking the CD.

----

"Despite your situation," Ducky said as he started the autopsy on Staff Sergeant Worley. "You are a most fortunate young man. Had you died a week from now, you would have missed having your death investigated by Agent DiNozzo who has decided that it was time for him to branch out and lead his own team."

"It was time for him three years ago, Duck," Gibbs said as he entered the room, coffee cup in his hand.

"You haven't spoken to Tony about his decision yet, have you?" Ducky asked as he took tissue, blood, and urine samples.

"Talked to him about what?" Gibbs asked, a trifle confused.

Ducky looked up at his friend. "Tony didn't want to leave. But he's seen the way you have been letting him work on his own… leading the team even when you're here. He didn't want to leave but he feels as though it's his only chance to work on his own."

"I have never held DiNozzo back," Gibbs insisted.

"When you came back from Mexico, Tony stepped down quickly because on some level he knew you couldn't stay away," Ducky went on, stepping away from the autopsy. "But this is different, Jethro. Talk with him. Before it's too late."

----------

The next morning, Gibbs waited until Tony came in before pulling him aside. "We need to talk, Tony," Gibbs said, quietly.

"You're not talking me out of leaving, boss," Tony insisted.

"Tony, I'm not your boss," Gibbs replied. Seeing the younger man's look he went on. "You're the son I never had, Tony. I've watched you go from a probie to one of the finest NCIS agents I've ever known. When Kate died you helped Abby and McGee pull together and deal with what happened. When Ziva started you helped her grow from a Mossad officer to an NCIS agent. You're more than just my agent. You're family." When Tony didn't reply to that, Gibbs added, "I know you're not running away or abandoning anyone. It's just time for you to go out and see what you're made of." Putting a hand on Tony's shoulder, Gibbs gave him a smile. "I just want you to know if you've ever felt like I've held you back… I'm sorry."

Tony smiled when he felt Gibbs squeeze his shoulder. "Thought apologies were a sign of weakness."

"Never between friends, Tony," Gibbs said, shaking his head. "Or family. If you ever need anything…"

"You're my first call… Jethro," Tony replied, grinning.

------------------------

While Gibbs was in Abby's lab waiting for the toxicology results and Ziva and McGee were tracing Staff Sergeant Worley's steps, Tony went to the Arlington Cemetery and after a bit of a walk, found the grave he'd been looking for.

Jennifer Patricia Shepard

Purposely not looking at the date on the headstone, Tony looked at the message below it.

Daughter, lover, friend

'Respect and love must be earned. For they are too precious to give away'

"Well, in about 5 days I'm going to be leading my own team," Tony said, crouching down and setting a bouquet of orchids down by the headstone. "Should have happened years ago, but… I guess I wasn't ready. I'm still wondering if I'm ready." After a moment, Tony added, "I'm sorry I failed you, Jenny. I should have been there when you… Even if you couldn't tell Gibbs you were sick you should have told me. How do you figure out what secrets to tell people and which ones you keep to yourself? I mean… now that I know about Gibbs' family I know why he's always been so good with kids. And now that I know about McGee's books I know why he's always been watching me, Ziva, and Abby… I just wish I knew a few more secrets about you."

Standing up, Tony saluted the former NCIS director and turned to stop at one other gravesite. Laying down a single red rose, he said, "I wish we could have had a chance, Paula. If I'd have just shot the guy before you made a run at him. I'm going to gone next week so I might not make it next year. But the next chance I get I'll be back." Giving one last look at the headstone of Paula Cassidy, Tony turned and headed for his car.

------------------------

After wrapping up the case, Tony had started packing up the last of his things to go to San Diego. The next day the moving van was coming to take the big stuff to his new apartment but he needed to pack up his clothes and DVDs. Finding a copy of 'The Sound of Music' Tony sat down on the couch. It was Ziva's favorite movie. After driving him home after being trapped in the box car, Ziva had been delighted when she found the DVD in the back of the entertainment center. And since she had been nice enough to cook, Tony agreed to watch the movie with her.

Setting the movie on the coffee table, Tony's grin grew wider when he picked up a copy of 'Rock Hollow: the Continuing Adventures of L.J. Tibbs'. McGee had done well with rewriting the story. And even though Agent Tommy and Officer Lisa still couldn't keep their eyes off one another, Tony had been happy to read that there was a new tension between the characters.

Looking around the room, Tony spotted one of the black roses Abby had given him after he'd been accused of killing a woman and cutting off her legs lying on the bookcase.

The sweater Gibbs' father had given him was tossed over the back of a chair.

After a moment, Tony stood, pulling out the CD Abby had given him and put it on as he packed.

McGee had put on some of his favorite jazz pieces and Tony smiled as he heard the music. 'The soundtrack to a bad 70's porno movie shot in the San Fernando valley' Tony had called it, much to McGee's chagrin. But listening for a while, he had to admit… McGee's choice in music wasn't that terrible. It kind of grew on you after a while.

Abby had added some of the music she always had playing in her lab. It wasn't the super heavy metal Tony knew she really loved, but it had beat to it.

Ducky had added bagpipes and Palmer's choices were… Well, Tony smiled as he realized that they were definitely Palmer.

But it was the last song on the CD made Tony stop in the middle of wrapping up some of his pictures.

'She was starin' out the window of their SUV

Complainin', sayin' "I can't wait to turn 18."

She said "I'll make my own money.

And I'll make my own rules."

Mama put the car in park out there

In front of the school

And she kissed her head and said

"I was just like you."

'You're gonna miss this

You're gonna want this back

You're gonna wish these days

Hadn't gone by so fast

'These are some good times

So take a good look around

You may not know it now

But you're gonna miss this'

--------------

Before he left DC, Tony stopped by the squad room and found everyone standing around. After shaking Director Vance's hand, Tony turned to the team, Abby, Ducky, and Palmer. Holding out a hand to McGee, Tony said, "Good luck, McGee."

"You, too, Tony," McGee replied, shaking Tony's hand.

Turning to Ziva, Tony flashed her a smile. "Want me to email you movie quotes so you don't miss me too much?"

Ziva smiled back as she kissed him on the cheek. "I look forward to it, Tony."

Abby threw her arms around Tony's neck. "I'm going to miss you so much, Tony!"

Tony hugged her back, trying not to cry even though he could feel tears coming. "I'll miss you, too, Abs. I'll email and write. I promise."

Pulling back a bit, Abby held up a hand, her little finger extended. "Pinkie swear?"

Tony hooked his little finger with Abby's. "Pinkie swear," he promised.

Ducky held out a hand and when Tony shook it, the older man said, "I wish you the best of luck, my boy."

"Thanks, Ducky," Tony replied finally turning to Gibbs.

When the two looked at each other, Gibbs said, "Three things before you go."

"Yeah?" Tony asked, curiously.

Gibbs took a moment before replying, "Rule# 48. Never let someone manipulate you. Not even your boss."

"Right," Tony said, knowing that he'd never heard that rule before.

"Rule# 49," Gibbs went on. "Always trust your gut."

Tony nodded, not sure he wanted to hear the last rule. "Last thing… boss?"

Gibbs smiled. "Only smack your team on the back of the head. A slap to the face is humiliating. Slap to the back of the head is a wake-up call." Demontrating, he reached up a hand a smacked Tony on the back of the head.

"I think I know how that works, Gibbs," Tony said, rubbing the back of his head.

"You know my rules," Gibbs said with a nod. "And I know you've got your own rules. Now go teach them to your team."

Tony nodded, grabbed his things and headed for the elevator. After hitting the button, he turned and looked at his co-workers. Thousands of good-byes ran through his head but as his gaze landed on Gibbs, Tony knew there was only one right thing to say. With a last smile, Tony said, "Semper Fi."

Stepping onto the elevator and turning to get one last look at the team, Tony saw Gibbs smile at him.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NCIS Offices

San Diego, CA

1 Year Later

Tony looked at the newest probie agent on his team. Fresh out of the navy, the poor kid had gotten into a scrape with a suspect and had narrowly avoided being killed.

"I'm sorry, Special Agent DiNozzo," Agent Veronique Delancy said as she stood before her boss's desk.

"Don't apologize. It's a sign of weakness," Tony said, looking at the 25-year-old with a firm stare. After a while though, he gave her a slight smile. "Some advice for next time. Rule# 9. Always carry a knife."

Veronique nodded and gave a tiny smile in return. "How many rules do you have, sir?"

"About 50," Tony replied. "And before you ask… no, they're not written down."

"Then how do I know…?"

Tony gave her a larger smile. "My job is to teach them to you. Now get back to work, Delancy." Watching her head back to her desk, Tony leaned back and smiled as he thought of Rule# 50. 'Your job isn't to tell them the rules. It's to teach them. You watch and you learn.'

Tony had watched Gibbs be the boss for more than 12 years. Now it was time to teach others what he'd learned.