Okay. Don't know if this has been done before but it popped into my head the other day and I had to write it down. Plus I know that Gibbs is the driving force behind the show and all but why is it always Gibbs that has to save the day? I don't think they give Tony enough credit and this year especially they have made him worse than he was in the first few years of the show. This might be pretty out of character. Hope you all like it. Tell me if you want more.

A/N: Don't own NCIS characters or any part of the show.

Tony stood apart from the rest of the group as they welcomed Gibbs back. He was happy that he was back but he was wondering where he fit in now. He had gone from smart-ass senior field agent to team lead in Gibbs' absence. Was he now supposed to go back to being what he was before? Enduring the head-slaps and stares of his boss. Growled words and phrases. Being kept in the dark about what Gibbs was thinking only to find out later through Gibbs actions.

The team wanted him back that was no secret. He had thought he had been a good boss. True he was still the same smart-ass and prankster but he had toned it down. He had a new respect for McGee, he would still always be his probie but through all the terrible things he had done to him over the years he had matured into a fine senior agent.

He had always respected Ziva and truth be told he loved spending time with her in and out of the job. When the team was suddenly thrust into his care she had helped him a lot. Gibbs was gone and so was his rule 12. He was developing more than just a passing fancy for this woman and now that Gibbs was back, so were his rules. But it still hurt him that during the FBI fiasco that she had went to Gibbs instead of him. He knew she was just trying to protect him and the team but it still hurt. He had tried to get in touch with Gibbs but only for some advice, not for him to come running back to be her knight in shining armor.

And then there was Abby. She had pined for Gibbs since he left. Tony understood her pain but since he became team lead he still gave a small wince when he would enter the lab to find Gibbs face on all of the screens. They were silently mocking him that they would rather have Gibbs than him any day of the week.

It all boiled down to this. Whether Gibbs was here or gone, he was still their leader. While he was gone he was like a ghost that hung over every action. He often found himself asking what would Gibbs do. Finally he had shaken that. He wasn't Gibbs and he didn't want to be. He had started to mature and be himself but he could still feel that his team was not his team, it was Gibbs'. He could see the relieved faces of his friends when they were told he was coming back. What did that say about him? They had followed him because they had to.

He was broken from his inner turmoil as his phone rang. He picked it up while still watching the fanfare in front of him. "DiNozzo." He quietly spoke into the receiver. He didn't want to intrude upon Gibbs' team reunion. Funny. A few hours ago it was his team. He listened to Cynthia tell him that the director wanted to see him. He told her he would be right up. A frown crossed his face. What did she want now? He rose from his chair unnoticed by the others and headed up to see the director.


Tony knocked on the door to be answered by Jenny's voice telling him to come in. He entered and closed the door behind him. He moved in front of her desk as she eyed him over the rim of her glasses. She could tell that Gibb's return had the man thinking many things but she could not tell what. He was a good agent and a good team leader she knew. While he took over for Gibbs the success rate of the team had remained the same. He always read the memo's that were sent to him and kept his team aware of any changes to procedure or conduct. He deserved his own team and Gibbs return had spoiled that for him.

She regarded him for a few moments until he cleared his throat. She smiled at him and asked, "How is everyone taking Gibbs's return?" A momentary flicker of anger and jealousy clouded his face before being masked by a smile. "Oh, they're all thrilled." He returned. A frown crossed her face as she asked, "And you?" His frown matched hers as he said, "Dealing. Don't know where I am supposed to fit it. Don't wanna go back to being the old me." He was stunned at his confession, as was she. He had never opened up right away to anyone like this, not even Ziva. She usually had to ply him with alcohol and pizza and movies to get an honest answer like he had just given.

She let a moment pass as she weighed her next words carefully; "You were a good leader, Tony." He smiled at her but shook his head and said, "Just wasn't what the team needed." She narrowed her eyes at him and asked, "And what exactly did the team need?" His face contorted into a sorrowful sad expression and said, "Gibbs. They needed Gibbs. He's their white knight. He's the one they go to when they're in trouble. He's the one they need. I am glad they got him back."

Her frown deepened and she said, "And what were you when he was gone?" He thought about that for a moment before replying, "A cheap imitation. I did the best I could. But I could still hear them talking about what would Gibbs do when I wasn't around. I know that sounds petty and jealous and maybe it is. But I know they deserve more than me and I am glad they got it."

"I never doubted you Tony." She said to him. "I know it's hard with Gibbs back as team lead. You're a good leader Tony, and a good agent." She regarded him for a moment wondering if her words had any effect on him. She continued on and said, "Which is why I am going to offer you your own team. Rota, Spain."

His eyes dimly lit up at the offer. "Well what do you think?" She asked. His mind ran a mile a minute thinking of the possibilities. His own team. In Spain no less. Beaches and beautiful women. But he thought about all he would have to leave behind. His partner in Ziva. McGee, Abby, Ducky, and Palmer. They were all unconventional and all his friends. Ducky had been the most influential with Tony. Reminding him that no matter what happened Tony would never be Gibbs because Gibbs left and Tony didn't. Could he pull a Gibbs and run off to another country and leave his team behind. But they had Gibbs now they didn't need him.

"Can I have some time to think about it Jen?" He asked timidly. She knew that this was a difficult decision for him. Tony had no real family and the team had become a surrogate of sorts. Asking him to leave them behind would be hard for him. She nodded at him and said, "48 hours Tony. Need to know by then." He smiled his biggest smile at her and said, "Thanks." He turned and began walking towards the door. He opened it halfway and turned back to her. He said, "Oh and Jen?" She lifted her head from the paperwork she had been looking at before he entered and said, "Yes?" He smiled widely at her again and said, "Love the pantsuit." With that he left closing the door behind him. She chuckled and smiled turning back to her paperwork. "Only if I were younger." She said to herself.


He went back to the bullpen smiling. He knew that he had a decision to make but he also knew that this time he had a choice. Nothing was being thrust on him this time. He felt a small bit of the weight on his shoulders subside. When he entered back into the bullpen he saw that McGee and Abby were busy switching desks around. He smiled at them but was slightly hurt.

"That didn't take long." He said flippantly. Abby gave him a stern look and said, "Listen here Tony, Gibbs is back and we're making him feel at home." She pointed her finger at him and said, "You could help." He smiled at her and kissed her cheek and said, "Nah, you guy's look like your doing a fine job." She brushed her cheek from his kiss and said, "Toonnyy! Only Gibbs kisses me on the cheek." She crossed her arms and glared at him. His brow furrowed and he said, "Abby, I just kissed you on the cheek yesterday and you didn't mind." She through herself back to the task at hand and said offhandedly, "Gibbs wasn't back yesterday." Another slight pain lanced at him and he winced at her words.

He looked around the bullpen and noticed that Ziva and Gibbs were missing. "Where's Ziva and Gibbs?" He asked. McGee looked up from his old desk and said, "Dunno." He quickly returned to putting Agent Lee's contents in the cardboard box. Tony pulled out his cell phone and sent a quick text to Ziva asking her were she was. A few minutes later he received a reply saying that she and Gibbs had to talk about a few things and she would see him later. Tony sighed heavily. She used to talk to me about things. He walked to his desk and shut down his computer. He grabbed his coat, backpack, SIG, and badge. He began walking towards the door and turned around to look at McGee and Abby. "See you guys tomorrow." Abby and McGee waved but didn't say anything. They were too absorbed in their work. Tony pushed the button for the elevator and nothing happened. He pressed it again with the same result. Gibbs's private office was in use by him and Ziva. He shook his head and began to walk down the stairs. When he reached the ground floor he slowly walked to his car. He threw his bag into the backseat then slammed the door. Frustration began to build within him again. He opened up the driver's door and sank into the familiar seat. He started the car and began to drive home in the light traffic. The better mood he had when he left the directors office was now faded and gone.


Tony walked into the bullpen the next morning to find Ziva and McGee looking terrible. Ziva had her head in her hands rubbing her temples and McGee's head was lying on his desk. They looked like death warmed over. He could spot hangovers immediately and knew that they had tied one on last night.

He smiled at them and asked, "Guy's have a good time last night?" He chuckled as McGee moaned. Ziva however was a little better and explained that they had all gone out to celebrate. Tony stiffened as the said those words. He was hurt yet again. Not only by the fact the girl he had started to fall for said that they ALL went out, but that no one had even invited him along.

The brief mention of the celebration roused McGee and him and Ziva were talking about their night out with Gibbs, Abby, Lee, and Palmer. Tony took slight refuge in the fact that Ducky wasn't there. When they were done discussing who had done what and where Ziva looked at Tony and asked, "Why weren't you there?" She saw the pain fill his eyes for a moment before they were covered up with a blank expression. He replied, "Guess in all the excitement, you all forgot to invite me." Saying the words had increased the hurt. She shook her head apologetically at him and said, "While me and Gibbs were talking I assumed that Abby or McGee would tell you. I am sorry." He nodded at her and smiled and said, "Not a problem." She knew he was lying but she didn't know what to do to make him forgive them.

Anything she was going to say was immediately cut off by Gibbs who entered the bullpen and stated, "Marine killed at Quantico." Tony and Gibbs at the same time began rattling off orders for McGee to gas the truck and gear up." Gibbs quickly pointed to McGee and Ziva and told them to get down to the truck. When it was just the two of them left in the bullpen Gibbs stepped close to Tony and asked, "Do you want to be the boss here DiNozzo?" Tony bit back his sharp reply and said, "It's your team Gibbs." Gibbs nodded and took a step back and said, "Glad we agree on something DiNozzo. Come on." With that they left for the scene.