author's note.I was poking around the 'I Smiled' community and realized that while I may have referred to it obliquely in other writing, I never wrote a version of how Tony came to NCIS. No offense to 'Rictus' or any of the other excellent origin stories out there, I just thought it would be fun to do my own. Once I started thinking about it, this story practically wrote itself.

Tony having a huge bed and Gibbs keeping keys to his team members' apartments are items from my own personal canon; Tony sleeping in the buff or nearly so is from the show (Minimum Security and Under Covers spring to mind). It's always fun to use stuff like that whenever I can.


The enormous, king-sized bed took up most of the shabby bedroom, and the young man was sprawled in such a way that he took up most of the bed. Leroy Jethro Gibbs cleared his throat, but the cop on the mattress did not stir. So he cleared his throat again, which had the desired effect as Anthony DiNozzo shot out a hand for his night table drawer.

"I've got your weapon right here, DiNozzo," Gibbs said calmly. The younger man changed his tactics, feeling between the mattress and the box spring. "And your backup," he added, dangling it from his finger. "I left the one in your freezer, though. I figured I could get to it before you."

Tony finally looked at the intruder. His overly-long hair, which at least had been neatly coiffed the last time Gibbs saw him, now stuck up at odd angles all over his head; he had bleary eyes and a face full of stubble to match. "Agent Gibbs," he said. "Wanna tell me what you're doing in my apartment?"

"Police chief gave me the directions," Gibbs explained. "I picked the lock, or rather, the three locks, on your front door."

"I live in a dangerous neighborhood," Tony replied defensively.

"Yeah," Gibbs said. "Something tells me it's not your neighbors you're worried about."

"Something tells me you didn't break in just to say goodbye," Tony retorted. He looked hopefully at the grease-stained paper bag in Gibbs' hand. "Tell me you at least brought me breakfast."

"Egg McMuffin," Gibbs said. "It's probably cold. Took me twenty minutes to get in here."

"Well, thanks." Tony finally pushed himself into a sitting position, and Gibbs realized to his horror that he didn't appear to be wearing anything.

"Don't tell me you're sleeping naked under there," Gibbs said with a shudder.

"Nahh," the kid said, "I'm wearing boxers. Wanna see?" He leered suggestively.

"No thanks," Gibbs said quickly. "They do make these things called 'pajamas,' you know."

"I know," Tony said. "My mother had a penchant for frilly Victorian nightshirts," he added, as if that explained anything.

Gibbs flicked his eyes towards the bandages on the other man's shoulder. "How's the gunshot wound?"

"Hurts," Tony said simply, and as if reminded of this very fact, he reached for the prescription bottle by his bed. "You didn't bring any juice or anything, did you?"

"Just coffee," Gibbs said apologetically, holding up the single Styrofoam cup.

"Ugh," Tony made a face, "I never drink coffee."

"You've got to be the first cop I've met that doesn't run on the stuff." Gibbs watched as Tony shook a couple of pills into his palm and unceremoniously dry-swallowed them.

"I'm an enigma, Agent Gibbs," Tony said with a grin. "That's why you came to see me, right?"

"I came to see you because it's ten-thirty in the morning, and I figured you weren't coming in today. I'm heading back to D.C. in a few hours."

"Like I said," Tony interrupted with a triumphant expression, "you had to say goodbye. Admit it, you'll miss me a little."

Gibbs actually didn't argue about that. "So. You got shot. By your own partner, I might add."

Tony shrugged his uninjured shoulder. "He wasn't aiming for me, he was aiming for Lopez who just happened to be standing right next to me. Friendly fire."

"We used to have a saying about that," Gibbs interjected. "Nothing friendly about it."

"So you spent twenty minutes picking my locks just to share some folk wisdom?"

"I picked your locks because you helped me solve the Richter case, which I've been working on for months."

"You're welcome," Tony mumbled around a mouthful of cold eggs and bacon.

"Your chief didn't seem quite so enthusiastic about your participation," Gibbs continued. "In fact, the impression I got from your entire department is that you're going to be persona non grata around Baltimore P.D. for a while."

"See, that's where you're wrong," Tony said, swallowing hastily. Gibbs had never seen anyone consume a breakfast sandwich so fast, or with quite so much enthusiasm. "Working with you didn't change a thing. They already didn't like me."

"That must be very comforting," Gibbs said wryly. He held up his fingers and ticked off the salient points. "Your entire department hates your guts for working with me; your own partner shot you -"

"By accident," Tony interrupted.

"Maybe," Gibbs conceded, "but don't you think it's going to make things weird for a while?" Tony considered that point. "As I was saying, your partner shot you, you have three locks on your door, and you keep two backup guns in your apartment. Do you know what that tells me?"

"That I'm overly cautious?"

Gibbs rolled his eyes. "I've seen the inside of your fridge, DiNozzo. 'Cautious' isn't even in your vocabulary. What that tells me is that you won't be staying in Baltimore much longer."

"Hm." Tony lay back on the pillows, considering this. "You got a better idea?"

"It just so happens, there's an opening on my team."

"Yeah," Tony agreed. "I'm guessing that happens a lot. Let's face it, you're not exactly a people person, Agent Gibbs."

Gibbs flexed his fingers as a way of stifling the urge to smack the other man's head. Too soon. "It's not for everyone," he said truthfully.

"And you were so blown away by my awesome investigative skills, you broke into my apartment at ten-thirty on a Sunday morning to lure me away from Baltimore." DiNozzo's grin was almost unbearable.

"I'm not that desperate," Gibbs retorted. "It's just that I've never tried ex-cop before. I think you might work."

"Maybe," Tony said cautiously. "But only if the pay is good. I have a certain standard of living to maintain."

"I can see that." Gibbs' steely gaze took in the cracked plaster, the peeling paint, the piles of clothes on the floor. "I guarantee it's better than what you're bringing in right now."

"You may have a deal. Like you said, I won't be staying around Baltimore much longer."

Gibbs fished a business card out of his wallet. "When your sick leave is over, give the agency a call. But make sure you take every day of your paid leave, first."

Tony accepted the proffered card. "The resignation letter's already saved on my computer," he admitted. "I just have to add a date."

"And one more thing."

"What's that?"

"When you get to D.C., make a copy of your key," Gibbs instructed. "I'm not breaking in again."

Tony's smirk relaxed into a genuine smile. "Fair enough."

"I'll see you soon, but not too soon, okay?" Gibbs extended a handshake to the shirtless and bandaged man. It wasn't the most unusual circumstances under which he had made a job offer (Stan Burley still held the record for that), but it was certainly close.

Tony watched as Gibbs closed the bedroom door behind him. "See you soon, Boss."