A/N. This is an idea that stems from a suggestion by vanishingp2000 that I continue from what was written in 'Carving his Path' and do a series of stories on how Gibbs and Tony develop their friendship pre-series. This one has a bit more plot than the previous two stories, but I'm still trying to focus on the way the boys see each other and how that starts to change. I've posted this now as knowing other people are reading makes me actually finish my stories instead of consigning them to the graveyard that is my laptop's 'unfinished' folder. Hope you enjoy. As always, reviews are most welcome, and suggestions may be incorporated into later chapters or stories. Thanks for reading.


Probationary Special Agent Anthony "Tony" DiNozzo's eyes widened as he listened to his latest orders. Protection detail? With Gibbs? Only Gibbs? For three days? He wasn't sure he was going to survive it. Admittedly, he'd now been at NCIS for almost two months, and Gibbs had finally accepted him as a valuable part of the team, but three days? He wasn't sure anyone could survive three days with nobody but Gibbs for company.

'Friend of yours, boss?' he asked as he scanned the file. The protective witness, 75 year-old Mary O'Connell, had requested Gibbs specifically.

'I busted her son for murder, DiNozzo. What do you think?' DiNozzo took the opportunity to examine the document properly. The file detailed a six-month old investigation during which Gibbs had built a case against fifty year old Irishman Kevin O'Connell. He had murdered two marines, his partners in a drug-smuggling operation. The trial was due to begin in three days, and his mother had agreed to testify in exchange for being placed in protective custody.

'So why you?'

'Because she knows I haven't been bought,' his team leader answered impatiently. 'Let's move out.' He stormed off in the direction of the elevator, leaving the younger agent to frantically grab his gear and follow suit.

'O'Connell? Dat'd be an Oirish name, so it would,' Tony commented in his best approximation of an Irish accent as he climbed into the passenger seat of Gibbs' car. 'Well, as me dear departed father used to say…' his imitation was interrupted by a growl of warning from the driver's seat.


'Aw, come on boss! It's from…'

'The A-team. Yes DiNozzo, I know; and if you intend to continue using that accent for the next three days, Mrs O'Connell won't be the only one in need of protection. Are we clear?'

'Yes boss,' the younger man wasn't entirely convinced that Gibbs was joking. He attempted to look contrite. 'So….' He wasn't to be deterred, 'you've seen the A-team?' He hadn't seen any evidence of a television set on the only occasion he had thus far visited Gibbs' home.

'Put your seatbelt on, DiNozzo.' Gibbs obviously considered the matter closed. Tony quickly complied, and spent the early part of the journey attempting, despite Gibbs' erratic driving, to glean as much information from the case file as possible.

'You think she has an ulterior motive,' Tony declared as he snapped closed the case file and turned to look at his team leader. He noted the older man's brief look of surprise – clearly Gibbs hadn't expected him to make the connection so quickly. 'There are three cops on guard outside the safehouse,' he began to explain his deduction, 'That's more than enough to protect one little old woman. Her request explains why you have to be there, but I'm guessing you didn't bring me here for my charming personality. That leaves two options. Either you suspect these cops are on the take, in which case the old lady will probably be dead before we even arrive, or you think that you're walking into a trap, in which case you'll be needing backup before too long. I guess that means you trust me to watch your six,' he grinned broadly as he reached his conclusion.

'Right on all counts,' Gibbs shot back as he pulled over next to a nondescript-looking suburban house, 'except the last one.' Tony was sure he saw a hint of a smile at the corner of Gibbs' lips as he denied his newest agent the affirmation of confidence. 'Your charming personality is exactly why I brought you. I need you to keep Mrs O'Connell distracted while I figure out what she's up to.' DiNozzo pouted in indignation.

'You want me to act as a diversion? How do you expect me to keep her entertained for long enough for you to poke around in all her stuff?'

'You tell me, DiNozzo. You're the one who claims to have an unparalleled talent with the opposite sex,' Gibbs shot back. Tony grinned.

'Uh, boss. I'm not sure a lot of that stuff is legal with someone of Mrs O'Connell's age.' The slap to the back of the head took him by surprise, as did the smirk of amusement on Gibbs' face. Tony had experienced neither before, but was secretly pleased by the older man's gesture of camaraderie. He was sure he'd never seen Gibbs smile at anyone other than Ducky and Abby before. He briefly wondered why the senior agent worked so hard to hide his sense of humour.

'Focus, DiNozzo. Never underestimate your enemy,' Gibbs warned as he opened the car door and identified himself to the officer guarding the front door. A few moments later, the two agents were inside the safehouse. Gibbs knocked on the door of the main living room before entering.

'Ah, Special Agent Gibbs,' Mrs O'Connell spoke with a lilting Irish accent. 'Come on in. And who is this delightful young man?'

Tony could have sworn he heard Gibbs snort as he introduced himself.

'You'll have some tea, now?' Mrs O'Connell continued, retreating to the kitchen as the two agents took a seat.

'Go on go on go on,' Tony muttered under his breath. At Gibbs' glare, he explained. 'Father Ted, it's a British….never mind,' he finished as Mrs O'Connell returned with a teapot and poured each of them a cup of tea. Gibbs left his untouched. Come to think of it, DiNozzo had rarely seen Gibbs consume anything other than his omnipresent cup of coffee. Perhaps the man was entirely caffeine-powered, he considered. He watched as Gibbs stood and walked silently towards the stairs. Time to put his charm to work, Tony decided. Taking a sip of tea and putting on what he hoped was a winning smile, he began to speak.

'So, Mrs O'Connell…'


A/N More soon, I hope...