Tony DiNozzo stumbled onto the crime scene, the world before him spinning with each drunken step he took. His partner and he were both given the night off by their police chief only to be called in at one o'clock in the morning due to the triple murder on the outskirts of Baltimore. Despite the fact he was on call, DiNozzo hadn't been expecting a call – it was Christmas after all. Now, it was too late to undue his previous couple of hours, and he was already on probation due to his "actions" the past couple of weeks, so in true DiNozzo fashion, he slipped on his tossed suit and waved farewell to the one night stand looking up at him in utter confusion, and caught himself a cab to the scene. What was originally intended to be a night with just two beers became a night of bourbon induced stupidity, and as he made his way to the yellow tape, the pounding in his brain increased to the point that the young detective felt like his head could very well explode.

"DiNozzo!" Tony's partner, Detective Thomas Stanton, greeted Tony at the tape, his nose scrunching at the overbearing stench of alcohol that surrounded Tony.

"You drunk again, kid?" Whyles asked, pulling the tape up so Tony could bend under.

Stanton watched as Tony attempted to crouch under the tape, only to lose his balance and fall on his butt. Stanton shook his head. It had been almost a year and a half since Tony had first stumbled onto the Baltimore P.D. task force, landing himself a promotion to detective just two months after he had started. The kid was confident, comical, a ladies man - all things that would make any guy envy the detective. And he was envied – the younger guys on the task force distanced themselves from Tony, though Tony barely noticed.

As the months progressed and as their caseload got progressively heavier, Stanton had found that he was spending more time with the newest addition to the team, and as time seemingly crawled onward, Stanton had grown to like his partner. Stanton found that the boy, nearly 25 years his junior, was more than just the average cocky bastard that the younger officer's portrayed him to be; was more than just the ladies man that Tony made himself to be; was definitely more than the same "boring person" everyone else was (like Tony said), no, there was more to this boy than meets the eye.

"Aw, shit," Tony's groan brought Stanton back to reality.

Stanton gave a roll of the eyes as he helped the taller man to his feet, almost toppling over him when Tony lurched forward unexpectedly.

"Jeez, kid, how much did you have to drink?" Stanton asked keeping a firm hand over Tony's arm.

"Just a little," Tony slurred with a groan.

Stanton shook his head disappointedly. With the holiday season fast approaching once more Tony had become increasingly more obnoxious. He sauntered into the precinct just a little bit later than usual, a Cheshire grin on his face, more vocal of his previous nights' encounter of the female kind, stay just a bit later insuring Stanton it was just to make sure the chief didn't get too mad at him for coming late. But the thing was the black circles under Tony's eyes were more pronounced as the days continued on. Their closure rates on different cases increased tenfold and upon inspection of the time sheet Stanton realized that Tony was going home in the wee hours of the morning, nothing earlier than three a.m. the past week.

After that conclusion, two weeks ago, Stanton had been forcing Tony to go home at five each afternoon for a while in hopes the boy would rest, but the following days were always met with a slightly hung over Tony. A couple times Stanton's family dinner had even been interrupted after the Louie, the bartender at Ray's, called for Stanton to pick up his partner. It was sad, in Stanton's eyes, to see such a young man so alone.

Yet, when Stanton confronted Tony about his behavior, he had immediately become defensive, deflecting Stanton's questions expertly. Stanton had literally seen the wall go up before his eyes, and the days that followed Tony had seemingly snapped back to his old self. Stanton had received no calls from Ray's since that confrontational day, and Stanton himself thought that Tony really did snap out of his little funk.

Observing the young man stumble towards the dead body, barely able to get his two feet to cooperate with him, Stanton hadn't realized how wrong he had been.

"Man, check out DiNozzo. Chief will surely fire him now!" A random officer snickered off to the side to his buddy, unaware that Stanton was still well within hearing rage.

"Mind your own business Clark," Stanton growled out shaking his head at the stupefied officer before heading towards the scene itself.

"What do we have?" Tony slurred asked the officer currently taking pictures of the crime scene.

Ray Sanders looked up at the detective observing the dilated pupils, and obvious scent of liquor on Tony's breath. Sanders scowled unhappy that the man, who was unable to even be somewhat professional, was more superior to him. Refusing to answer DiNozzo he stood, pushing past the detective, unremorseful as Tony stumbled backwards a couple steps only steadying after stumbling into Stanton's arms.

"What do we have?" Stanton repeated.

"All look like military, not sure which one though, sir," Sanders answered respectfully. "Looks like execution style. Five gun shot wounds – two on this one," Sanders pointed to the driver, "two on this one," Sanders pointed to the man in the back passenger seat, behind the driver, "and one in the passenger."

"Their navy," Tony piped up looking to Stanton, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"Looks enlisted," Tony added. Both Stanton and Sanders looked over at the younger man with confusion. "You can tell by their uniforms. Kind of forgot how to tell their ranking though," Tony babbled. "Should call NCIS…why the heck are there six?" Tony added more to himself than for the other two.

Sanders shook his head in disgust. "Sir?" he asked turning to Stanton.

Stanton sighed, rubbing his forehead with one hand, his eyes never leaving his young partner, who was currently looking a little green. "Call NCIS," Stanton said waving Sanders away.

Stanton waited until Sanders left before taking Tony by the arm and pulling him aside, ignoring the fact he was practically dragging the younger man. This was by no means the first time that Tony had shown up drunk to a crime scene. In fact, the boy was already on probation due to his alcoholic tendencies. Last week he had been placed on probation after he puked on the chief's shoes at a crime scene. Originally chief had half the mind to force the boy into those rehab programs, but Stanton had told the chief he would handle Tony.

"Listen kid! You need to get a handle on you because if the chief comes out here for this, I can't protect your hide this time!" Stanton told Tony seriously. "Come on, you knew we were on call. What the heck were you thinking kid?"

"I'm thinking that it's Christmas," Tony said sadly.

Stanton frowned. Tony had at one point, Thanksgiving Day to be exact, drunkenly confessed that Stanton was the closest thing he had to family. His mother had died when he was fourteen and his father had disowned him at fifteen and he had been on his own since then. It apparently happened on Christmas day and this Christmas marked fifteen years. That was all Tony had said of the subject and Stanton knew enough not to bring it up. He had offered his own house to the young man for Christmas only to be turned down. Seeing Tony in his current state, Stanton realized he should have tried harder to convince the man.

"Tony…" Stanton started empathetically.

Tony looked at Stanton funnily before suddenly pushing the older man aside. Seconds later he heaved the contents of his empty stomach onto the snowy ground. With a shake of the head Stanton steadied Tony as he continued heaving, keeping Tony from plopping face first in his own pile of vomit. After about five minutes Tony finally straightened, his face pale and sweaty as he turned away from the other officers that now surrounded him, laughing at him.

"NCIS is on their way," Sanders stated to Stanton.

Stanton nodded his thanks before turning to the officers surrounding them and yelling at them to get back to work or to go home. He gently led his partner towards one of the patrol cars practically shoving the boy into the warm car when Tony started protesting.

"Just rest until the feds show ok, kid?" Stanton sighed.

Tony frowned shaking his head in attempts to stand back up, but the world spun again and he had to force his eyes shut to stop the world from spinning once more. Stanton sighed and stood watch next to the patrol car staring any of the officers down if they got too close. The others were talking freely amongst themselves about Tony, betting to see how long it would take until Tony was fired.

Stanton hoped that it was just a seasonal slump – that Tony would bounce back like the boy seemed to do. Last year around Christmas time, Tony had been suspended after picking a fight with a man at a bar. Luckily, the man was another Baltimore Cop and it had been resolved in house, but no, Tony was none to be the loose cannon. The only reason he hadn't been fired yet was because Stanton and he had the second highest close rate in the unit, and he was damn good at his job. However, that would not be enough if Tony continued on like this.

Most of the cops that had first responded had gone home to be with their families and only a couple remained by the time NCIS arrived. It was already four o'clock Christmas morning when Stanton peeked into the cruiser to see his partner awake. He tapped on the window to signal NCIS's arrival before going to meet them at the tape.

A man with salt and pepper hair came stalking towards the scene first, a scowl embedded in his facial features, his right hand, firmly gripping a large cup of coffee.

"NCIS?" Stanton asked greeting the man.

"Agent Gibbs," Gibbs confirmed lifting the tape and stepping into the crime scene. "That's my medical examiner Doctor Mallard," Gibbs said pointing at the man grabbing equipment at the back of the van. "That's Agent Wilson," Gibbs said dismissively pointing to a groggy young man hauling what Stanton assumed to be both Gibbs' and Wilson's equipment. "What do you have?"

Stanton led the way to the vehicle introducing himself before explaining the current situation the best he could. He was in the middle of explaining that it was actually his young partner that had told them to call when Tony had flown from besides the victims' car to the corner, hurling onto the sidewalk.

"Who's that?" Gibbs questioned with a shake of the head.

"That's the detective that told us to call you," Stanton sighed. "You'll have to excuse him – stomach flu."

"Tell him he's compromising the crime scene," Gibbs ordered.

Stanton nodded pointing to the car. "That's it, Agent Gibbs. Have at it. I'm just going to check on him if you don't mind."

Gibbs' eyes narrowed on the tall man retching at the edge of the scene. The laughter from the other officers didn't go unnoticed to the marine. He watched as the detective stumbled before losing his balance completely and falling just besides the vomit infested snow. At that point Stanton didn't wait for Gibbs' permission and he rushed over, checking on the man before helping him to his feet.

"DiNozzo's just a drunken fool anyways. Don't even know why chief keeps him around," a passing officer muttered to another.

Gibbs' watched as the man practically fussed over the detective, his eyes full of fatherly concern. Gibbs' shook his head before yanking the camera from Wilson and beginning the long process of processing the crime scene. With any luck they would be given jurisdiction of the case and he wouldn't have to work with either Stanton or the clearly drunken detective.

DiNozzo stepped up besides Gibbs as the camera flashed causing DiNozzo to stumble back, momentarily blinded by the light. Once DiNozzo's eyes focused Gibbs felt his heart skip a beat. They were strikingly similar to another pair of green eyes – ones that had captured and broken his heart so long ago. But no, they had to be different after all the last time he had seen those eyes was fifteen years ago on…

"Detective Anthony DiNozzo," Tony forced out introducing himself after swallowing the lump in his throat.


A/N Reviews appreciated.