"So, Jackson said Gibbs didn't learn the rules from him?" Abby's voice was a little shocked and it echoed through the car.
Tony merged into the rush-hour traffic as they approached Philly. The two-hour drive from Stillwater had been fairly quiet, something Tony was thankful for. Ziva seemed to be dozing and McGee was looking out the window deep in thought. At least as they approached the city, there was starting to be more interesting scenery.
The canary-yellow muscle car their boss drove weaved through traffic a few lanes over. Tony had been following Gibbs for a while, their boss teasing them very uncharacteristically, flooring the car and making it growl.
And Tony drool. He'd never realized Gibbs was a car junkie. He wondered if Gibbs would let him drive it someday.
"Tonnnyyy…Is that what Jackson said?"
"What? Yeah, sorry, Abbs."
"So where did Gibbs learn the rules?" she pressed.
"Don't know. Maybe a Drill Instructor. Maybe his first commanding officer. Had to be someone important. They're his code of conduct."
"What are yours?" Abby asked curiously. "And I don't mean DiNozzo as Team Leader rules or DiNozzo's Rules of Dating. I mean Tony's Code."
He immediately knew that she would know if he was feeding her BS. Ziva was letting out snores now and McGee wasn't paying attention, so Tony didn't feel as vulnerable as he would if they were listening.
"Rule Number One," he began in little more than a whisper. "Respect is earned. Doesn't matter who you are, you earn my respect."
Abby leaned between the seats and touched his arm. She knew about his childhood, she knew more than anyone else. Except Gibbs, but Gibbs knew everything.
"Yours?" Tony asked, clearing his throat.
"There are some things that can't be explained. Like, you know, the way Caf-Pow makes everything come into focus. The way newborn babies smell. The way getting tattooed makes you feel so good. You really need some ink, Tony. Even McGee has ink. And I bet Ziva does, and I have it on good authority that Ducky and Gibbs do and Palmer wants to and…"
Tony's mind finally caught up with Abby's words. "Gibbs and Ducky?"
"Uh huh. Can't imagine what they have. Gibbs must have something Marine but Ducky I can't even imagine. Or where it is."
Tony shuddered. "I'm sure there's a story there and Ducky'll tell us in detail."
"Next rule," Abby chirped and this one was a no-brainer. Tony caught the eye of McGee listening quietly now and knew he couldn't be as personal.
"There is a movie scene for every situation in life. Your turn, Abbs."
Abby rolled her eyes and punched his shoulder lightly. "A day without music is the saddest day." She cocked her head and Tony saw her pigtails bob. "We're kind of alike that way. Me with my music and you with your movies." She turned to Tim as they switched lanes and sped up.
"Timmy, you have to have some rules too. Give us one."
McGee looked out the window, appearing to be deep in thought. As the muscle-car with the silver-haired man whipped in front of them again, McGee suddenly smiled. "Reality is sometimes stranger than fiction, so you have to enjoy the little things in life."
And as Gibbs zoomed ahead of them yet again, Tony had to smile. "Best rule of all, Probie. Best rule of all."