Title: Be More Myself

Category: Gibbs/DiNozzo, Father/Son emphasis. But sin the context of a crime fic, with a healthy dose of team love.

Rating: T for occasional swearing.

Summary: Everyone changes. Tony is confronted with the man he used to be, and the people who believe he doesn't have the capacity to have become a better man.

Excerpt: Tony looked up and answered the question his teammates couldn't verbalize. "You never wondered why I rebel against every authority figure, but for Gibbs I'm a loyal St. Bernard? Why I've never taken a promotion, or a job offer, or got pissed Gibbs abandoned us, or held a grudge that he came back, or decked him for being a bastard?" Tony read the surprise in their body language. They'd asked the question for forms sake a long time ago, but never really wondered. Tony just belonged with Gibbs.

"I owe him everything. And I'll be with him, whatever he does, until he tells me to get the hell out. Gibbs saved my job, my life, and hell, my soul. I owe him everything."

A/N: A plot bunny that wouldn't leave me alone. I've always sort of wondered what it was that Gibbs did to command loyal St. Bernard devotion from Tony, and this is my story why. Will post on Mondays and Thursdays, barring any unforeseen illnesses or internet outages. Hope you enjoy, and that I've done these terrific characters justice!

"I shall hereafter, my thrice-gracious lord, be more myself." - Prince Hal, Henry IV Part I

Jethro Gibbs didn't look up from his stack of paperwork when Tobias Fornell came to stand in front of his desk, impatiently waiting to have his presence acknowledged by the NCIS agent. Gibbs wanted nothing more than to have an empty afternoon finishing paperwork so he could send his team home early. Sending them off meant Gibbs could go home, work on his boat, and ignore the feeling that they were teetering on the edge of something big and were about to get pushed. He'd ignored the sinking in his gut since before his first cup of coffee that morning, and if Tobias would just walk away, Gibbs could keep ignoring.

"Your office?" Fornell interrupted Gibbs' typing when he couldn't stand the waiting anymore.



"Whatever you have to say, I don't wanna hear it."

A flicker of surprise flashed across Fornell's face, obviously reading more into Gibbs's statement than any of the evesdropping team. "How did you…?" Gibbs glanced up from the papers, looking at Fornell like he was a fool. Gibbs had no idea what Fornell was there for, but Fornell seemed to think he should, and apparently it was bad.

"Ah, you didn't … it was your damn gut." Gibbs looked back down at his paperwork, leaving Fornell to sigh at his stubbornness. "You know Jethro, if you weren't such a scary bastard the organized crime boys wouldn't have to send me when they need a message delivered to you."

"Organized crime has nothing I wanna hear, either."

"Good thing they're not the one saying something worth delivering, then."

Gibbs's head shot up, calming stating, "Tobias," warning him off whatever message he carried. Gibbs' gut didn't want it said. Especially if it was something the organized crime boys at the Bureau were too scared to tell Gibbs themselves. There was only one case Gibbs had dealt with them on, and it was something Gibbs wanted to stay buried.

"Jethro." Fornell's tone was slightly apologetic, but not conciliatory. He'd follow his orders, whether or not he wanted to deliver it or Gibbs wanted to hear it. "I have to."

"No, you don't."

"He's clammed up, Gibbs. We have agents waiting in the middle of an op for the information that he's holding. We need him to talk, and the only thing he's asking for, which is the only demand he's made in a long time, is a message to your boy. I'll do what I have to to protect those agents, even if it means pissing you off."

"Tobias!" Gibbs stuck to single words to convey the depth of his irritation with Fornell.

"Pardon me, Agent Gibbs, but I don't need your permission." Gibbs moved to stand up, but Fornell had already stepped over to Tony's desk and started speaking. "DiNutso. He wanted me to tell you that 'Five years is too long for Sally not to hear from Holly.'"

Ziva and McGee shot one another frantic looks, trying to piece together the substance of the mini fight between Gibbs and Fornell, which was the kind of thing the two usually only did in the privacy of the elevator. And more importantly, why in the world Tony was at the center of it.

Tony, however, didn't even pause in typing his report to look at Fornell as he played messenger. "That it, Fornell?"


"Good. What's the number?"

"What number?" Fornell's eyes didn't widen this time, not at all confused at what Tony was asking for, but pretending for form's sake.

"What's the number you're supposed to call to tell them if I'm in or not?"

Fornell stared at Tony for a moment, not really bothering to hold to his denial about Tony's question. He picked up Tony's desk phone and dialed in the number before handing it over to DiNozzo's waiting hand. He shouldn't have put Tony on that phone, but Fornell didn't like being strong-armed into this situation any more than Gibbs or Tony. He'd been around the last time they were forced to make nice with the organized crime boys, and it still rankled him.

The other end of Tony's call picked up on the fourth ring, which was a sure sign to Tony that whoever was supposed to be securing his help either wasn't that good or wasn't that invested, because if they were, the phone would've been answered before the second ring. "Tell Sally that Holly says he can go screw himself."

Ziva and McGee kept staring and trying to piece together a story from the scant information they'd been given, while Tony dropped the phone into its cradle and went back to typing. Like nothing had happened. Fornell kept watching him, which Tony ignored for half a page before cracking and looking up at the FBI agent. "Anything else I can help you with Agent Fornell?"

Fornell paused for a moment before smiling and stating, "You did good, DiNozzo." He didn't wait to see Tony's slight grin, but turned and nodded a goodbye to Gibbs before heading back to the elevator. Tony and Gibbs didn't make a move to answer the crate of questions they'd just opened, and went back to report drafting. All Ziva and McGee could do was share a look that emphatically said, 'What the hell just happened?'