A/N. I haven't written any fanfic for a year, so I thought I'd start with something small. This is set right after Tony joins Gibbs' team. Hope you enjoy! Constructive feedback is much appreciated!


NCIS Special agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs continued to stare at the patch of earth, oblivious to the rain cascading down upon him. The spot looked innocuous enough - the only evidence that remained was a small area of disturbed soil. This place was far from innocuous, however. This was where they'd found her. She was Amelie Barker, ten year-old daughter of a U.S. Marine, killed and buried in a shallow grave. The last of six young girls, all daughters of U.S. Marines. All murdered. 'Just like Kelly,' Gibbs couldn't help adding.

The case had unearthed painful memories for Gibbs, bringing with them emotions he had thought long-buried. He knew his behaviour had been erratic, knew that over the past few weeks he'd certainly done everything possible to reinforce the 'second B's for bastard' reputation he had acquired in the service. Only yesterday morning he had snapped at Abby, an action that would undoubtedly cost him a Caf-Pow or two by way of apology.

By far his worst behaviour, however, had been directed towards his newest team-member, Anthony DiNozzo. This had been DiNozzo's first case at NCIS since transferring from the Baltimore P.D., and Gibbs was finding working with the younger man something of a challenge. It was the man's attitude that was really beginning to grate on his team leader's nerves. That DiNozzo feared nothing and nobody had become abundantly clear the first time the older man had found cause to yell at him. A mere look from Leroy Jethro Gibbs was enough to make grown men cry, but DiNozzo hadn't even flinched when he had calmly explained that the piece of work Gibbs had been shouting about had, in fact, been in Gibbs' email inbox two hours after it had been requested. As the case drew on, the strain began to show on all the members of the team, except DiNozzo. Despite Gibbs' behaviour, the younger man seemed to continue to spend as much time flirting with the Director's secretary as doing his job. It seemed to Gibbs that he just didn't care.

Oh, the kid's work was good; exemplary even. It had been DiNozzo who had finally pieced together enough of the evidence to identify the killer. Gibbs had been so distracted by memories of his dead daughter that he knew he hadn't even been close to reaching the same conclusion. Perhaps if he had remained in the present, Gibbs considered, he might have been able to save Amelie and the other girls. It was this thought that had caused the Special Agent to leave the relative warmth of the Navy Yard and return to this spot on this dark, foul evening, to offer a silent apology to those he hadn't been able to save.

Casting one final glance at the scene, Gibbs turned and climbed into his car, resting his head on the steering wheel for a moment. Finally, he retrieved the key from his pocket, inserted it into the ignition and turned. Nothing happened.

'Damned alternator,' he muttered under his breath. He had been meaning to replace it for several days, and his battery's charge had gradually depleted. He pulled out his cell phone and pressed the button to dial Ducky's number, cursing when the words 'Low Batt' flashed across the screen and the device powered down. Now he was stuck in the middle of nowhere and the quickest route to civilisation was a fifteen-mile walk down deserted country lanes. Resigning himself to the inevitable, Gibbs climbed back out of the car, surprised to see a pair of headlights approaching. The car pulled up alongside and the passenger door opened. Gibbs raised an eyebrow as he realised the identity of the car's occupant.

DiNozzo said nothing as he handed his team leader a towel and cranked up the heat inside the cabin. Gibbs was intrigued. He was sure he had not been followed, nor had he given any indication of his destination, yet DiNozzo had found him. How his newest agent had known that Gibbs' car was going to break down was even more of a mystery. Gibbs began to understand that he may have grossly underestimated the younger man. His preoccupation had allowed him to see only what DiNozzo had wanted him to see – a façade. Meanwhile, it seemed that the former detective had been reading him like a book. The fact that the young man was here told Gibbs everything he needed to know – Tony DiNozzo did care, no matter how much he wanted everyone to believe otherwise.

The ride continued, Gibbs barely noticing when Tony pulled over and disappeared, returning minutes later with a six-pack of beer and a steaming pizza. The younger agent restarted the car and had soon pulled into Gibbs' driveway and turned off the engine. Finally, he broke the silence.

'The kids are always the worst.'

Gibbs said nothing, instead closing his eyes, tilting back his head and letting out a long, slow breath. He felt more drained than he had at any time since the weeks following the death of his wife and daughter.

'Want some company?' DiNozzo continued, nodding towards the pizza and beer. Gibbs understood the offer for what it was - a rare gift. A glimpse of the real Anthony DiNozzo was something he was sure very few people ever got to see. He was encouraged to find that he genuinely liked the real Tony. He nodded and the younger man followed him into the house and handed him a beer.

Several hours later, as the two drank in silence, Gibbs' anger and frustration finally began to fade. Sometimes, he mused, comfort really did come from unexpected sources.