DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Never will be.

"DiNozzo!"

Tony made an attempt to scoot away from Ziva's desk, thinking he got caught playing around with her by the bossman. "I swear I didn't do anything, Boss! It was McGee--"

"Hey!" From his desk, the junior field agent poked his head up from his computer screen. "Don't bkame me for--"

"It was Tony, Gibbs!" Ziva stated, folding her arms across her chest. "Don't listen to his childish game of Blame-McGee."

Tony cringed, waiting for the headslap, but none came. Cautiously, he looked around the squadroom for Gibbs, but couldn't find him anywhere around them. "Where'd he go?"

McGee and Ziva looked around.

"Didn't he just call me?" Tony was confused.

"Maybe we're hearing things," McGee concluded.

"Maybe you are," Tony shot back. "But Tony DiNozzo does not hear things!"

Smack!

"That why you're ignoring me?" Gibbs demanded, walking past Tony, towards his desk.

Tony quickly rubbed the sore spot on the back of his head. "Sorry, Boss." He caught Ziva's grin, responding by sticking his tongue out at her.

"DiNozzo!"

"Huh?" Tony tried to pretend he hadn't been caught again.

"Director Vance needs to see you. Now."

"Really?" The senior field agent brought himself in front of Gibbs' desk. "How come?"

"Does it look like I know?"

"Well...didn't he tell you?"

Gibbs glared at his agent, a hint of a smile coming onto his face. "Yeah, Tony, we spill everything to each other over a cup of coffee in his office."

Tony took the sarcasm, turned around, and slowly dragged his feet up the stairs to the Director's office, hearing the giggling from Ziva and McGee.

********************************************************************************************************************

"You wanted to see me, Director?" Tony asked as he shut the door behind him.

Leon Vance gazed upon Agent Gibbs' number one man, frowning slightly at the unannounced entry. "I did," he replied almost coldly. "I guess Gibbs has been rubbing off on you a little more, lately."

Tony gave him a questioning look. "Sir?"

"You and him both have the special way of entering my office; coming in without so much as a knock."

"Oh...yeah...sorry." Tony moved to stand closer to the Director's desk. "It's a...habit. Gibbs--"

"--does it all the time." Vance nodded. "Yeah, I know."

Tony shrugged. "Anyway, you wanted to see me?"

Vance pulled out a vanilla envelope from his desk drawer, placing it lightly on his desk. He didn't open it yet; he just let it sit there for a minute. "Know what it is?"

Tony swallowed. "My...profile?"

"Close."

"I'm outta guesses, Director." Tony sighed. "Am I being reassigned again?"

"No." Vance finally flipped open the cover. "But this is about a reassignment you were previously offered."

Tony casually sank into a chair that was placed in front of the desk. He kept his eyes locked on the folder, remembering. "Rota?" He whispered.

"Your own team, your own rules, Spain....Why didn't you take it?" Vance asked it with a little more edge than intended. Clearly, the offer had sounded like a piece of paradise being given to Tony. So why would the senior field agent drop it to stay on his old team? "Any other agent would've killed for that, and it was given to you."

Tony licked his dry lips, trying to find the right words. "...I was involved in an undercover assignment that was important to Director Shepard. After all the intel we'd gotten, I thought it would be a shame to drop it all just to have my own team."

Vance wasn't buying it. "Even then, Shepard said you should've taken it, despite the mission with La Grenouille."

"Her opinion. Not mine."

"Any other agent would've agreed too. Even if they were having second thoughts." Vance pressed.

Tony smiled. "I'm not like other agents."

"True. Was it Gibbs? Did he ask you to stay?"

Tony looked up at Vance. "No, Sir. I chose to. My choice had no opinions from anyone on my--Gibbs' team."

"You would've been a fine leader, DiNozzo," Vance insisted.

"Pssh. Not fine enough, Sir." Tony leaned forward, interrupting the Director as he was about to speak. "I know you probably think I'm living a life of regret based on my choice, but that was over two years ago, and I never regretted it from the moment I walked out of this office."

Vance paused. "I'll ask you again then: Why?"

Tony sighed. "Even if I went to Rota, the people I would've worked with, the agents assigned to be led by me, wouldn't be my team. They'd be the probies that I wouldn't know. They wouldn't be like McGee, brainy and the Probie that he is. They wouldn't be like Ziva, the rough driver who's there to keep me in line at times--"

"I assume you're going to say that they wouldn't be like Ms. Sciuto either?" Vance caught himself. "I agree with you there. No one could be like her."

Tony smiled. "Actually, I was gonna say that I couldn't be like Gibbs, Sir. You may see him as the big bad wolf, but I've been his senior field agent for almost ten years. He's taught me everything I needed to know to survive this long. I owed him that when he came back to NCIS. I couldn't leave."

Vance flipped through the folder, hesitating to continue now that he knew Tony's point of view. "The reason why I brought this up, was actually because they need a new team leader at the NCIS in England. London." He pulled out a pen, ready to write a response. "What do you want me to tell them after your name came up on the suggestion list?"

Tony slowly pulled himself up to his feet, heading for the door. As he turned the knob, getting ready to leave, he turned. "Tell them to take it off and never ask for me again. I've got the only team good enough for me."