What…No Balloons?

DISCLAIMER:- I do not own NCIS or its characters and no copyright infringement is intended.

A/N:- This story was written purely for entertainment purposes. I have, most definitely, taken many liberties with procedural and legal aspects in order to create the following four (completely farcical) situations. I hope you enjoy the story and accept any departures from reality in the fun spirit in which the story was written. L


Tony: I haven't got high enough clearance to access the records.
Kate: What's your clearance?
Tony: Confidential.
Kate: Confidential? What'd you do, kill someone in high school?
Tony: Ha! That's funny, Kate. No, They screwed up my paperwork with another agent's.
Gibbs: Agent DiNozzo died in a car crash last month. Very tragic.
Tony: They yanked my clearance. Now I gotta take a physical to get it back.
Kate: Why's that?
Tony: To prove that I'm still alive.

Dialogue taken directly from Season One episode, "Marine Down."


"No, no, no, don't put me on hold again, the last three times you did that you cut me off! Argh!" NCIS Senior Field Agent, Anthony DiNozzo, dropped his head to his desk in frustration as his call was cut off again.

"Something wrong, Tony?" Kate asked, rounding the partition and taking a seat at her desk.

"If you must know, Katie, I'm still trying to get the power company to put the power back on in my apartment. It's been two weeks!"

"And all this happened because Personnel screwed up your paperwork?"

"Yep, they had me declared dead, withdrew my security clearance, cancelled my pay, my agency ID and driver's licence and notified my credit union that I was killed in a motor vehicle accident," Tony lamented.

"Let me guess…the credit union froze all outgoing payments from your account, including your power bill, resulting in the power in your apartment being cut off."

"Nice work, Sherlock, anyone ever tell you, you should consider a career as an investigator?" Tony sniped.

"Surely Personnel can do something to sort this out, it's already been a few weeks," Kate said.

"Not until I complete a pile of paperwork I can't even jump over and then take a full physical that they haven't scheduled yet. I'm telling you Kate, being dead is ruining my life!"

"Oh, stop whining," Kate said. "Besides, you should be thanking your lucky stars that Gibbs is letting you stay with him until you can move back home!"

"Thank my lucky stars? Can you hear yourself, Kate?" Tony repeated incredulously. "It's not that I don't appreciate that he's letting me stay but Gibbs has been working us around the clock on back to back cases for weeks…and where do I go on those few precious hours off? I go to his house! I've got Gibbs 24/7. I feel like I'm in boot camp - like I died and went to hell!"

"Consider it a dress rehearsal, when it actually happens, you'll know what to expect."

Tony's frowned in confusion. "Boot camp?" he asked.

"No, hell!"

"That hurts, Kate," he said feigning offence.

"DiNozzo!" Gibbs said brusquely as he appeared in the bullpen, with a cup of steaming coffee held in his right hand. "Any idea when Personnel are going to resurrect you?"

"Working on it, Boss. Is there a problem?"

"You mean, besides the fact that you're dead?" Kate quipped.

"Ha…yeah, Kate, besides that," Tony replied.

"I wanna stop these damn phone calls. As news of your tragic death spreads, I'm getting calls from agents all over the country."

"Really?" Tony asked, his eyebrows rising to meet his hairline. "Huh…that's kinda nice but really not that unexpected. I suppose it's only natural that after learning of my untimely demise, my grieving fellow agents would reach out across the miles to offer their condolences."

"Condolences be damned!" Gibbs groused. "Your fellow agents are reaching out across the miles to apply for your job! Fix it!"

Tony silenced Kate's muffled giggles with a Gibbs-like glare.

"Aw Tony, you know, I almost feel sorry for you," she said before contemplating her statement for a moment. "Nah, must've caught me at a weak moment…I don't feel sorry for you at all."

"Boss, I've been trying to get it fixed!" Tony said. "This whole thing's snowballed into some massive bureaucratic nightmare!"

"You finished that paperwork Personnel gave you?"

"Not quite. Before they'll schedule my physical, I need you, the director and Ducky to sign off on an AS764 form stating that I'm alive."

"Oh come on…you're kidding, right? They actually have forms for that?" Kate asked.

"We work for the federal government, Katie, they have forms for everything!" Tony replied.

"So, just what is an AS764 form?" she asked.

"Request to Amend Agent's Status from Deceased to Living," Gibbs quoted by rote.

Kate's jaw dropped open. "That's crazy!"

"That's your tax dollars, hard at work, Kate!" Gibbs replied.

"Anyway, Personnel said it could take another week or two before I'm officially returned to the land of the living," Tony advised. "That's not so bad…besides, what else can go wrong?"

0—oo00oo—oo00oo—oo00oo—oo00oo—oo00oo-0 Situation One 0-oo00oo-oo00oo-oo00oo-oo00oo-oo00oo-0

The trail of the missing petty officer was getting colder by the minute, causing Gibbs to vent his frustration loudly and frequently. Tony and Kate had worked solidly all morning on a complex paper trail, only stopping to exchange a few knowing looks when the lead agent growled in their direction. They both breathed a sigh of relief when Gibbs was called up to MTAC.

"Where are you going?" Kate asked, watching Tony secure his weapon in his shoulder holster and shrug into his jacket.

"I need you to cover for me, Kate," he said.

"Oh no you don't. You've seen what Gibbs has been like this morning – a grizzly bear would think twice before taking him on!"

"This is important, Kate, with the credit union freezing all outgoing payments from my account, I've got to get some cash fast so I can pay my bills," Tony explained.

"What are you gonna do, Tony? Rob a bank?" Kate grinned.

"Whatever it takes, Katie, whatever it takes."


"What do you mean you've been arrested for bank robbery?" Gibbs yelled into his cell causing Kate to almost choke on the coffee she was sipping.

Eyes wide with shock, the loud buzzing in Kate's ears cleared in time for her to hear the loud click as Gibbs disconnected the call and shot to his feet.


"DiNozzo's been arrested for bank robbery. He's being held at the First District Police Station," Gibbs growled.

"Oh, my God, I didn't think he was serious," Kate muttered.


"I…er…said, oh my God, you can't be serious!"

"You think I'd make this up, Kate?" Gibbs said, rounding his desk and heading for the elevator. "Keep checking the paper trail, I'll go and see what the hell happened."

Twenty-five minutes later, the lead agent identified himself to the desk sergeant and demanded to see his agent. The desk sergeant escorted him to the holding cells, then leaned against the far wall – giving the agent a modicum of privacy but interested to see how this would play out. Gibbs found the younger man pacing anxiously in the small confines of the cell.

"Boss! Thank God," he said, approaching the door to the cell. "Tell them this has all been a mistake so I can get the hell outta here!"

"Bank robbery, DiNozzo? What the hell happened?"

"It's not as bad as it sounds, Boss," Tony laughed nervously. "It was actually a credit union."

Unamused, Gibbs glared in reply. "Let's have it…start at the beginning."

"Okay, well, you know that Personnel advised my credit union that I'd died last month in a car accident?"

Gibbs nodded. "The credit union froze all outgoing payments from your account."

"Right! Well I needed to pay some of my bills," Tony explained. "So I went to the ATM to withdraw some cash but the freakin' machine took my card."


"I had my cheque book with me, so I went inside to the teller, who was really kinda hot. Who knew tellers were so hot? If I'd have known that, I would never have signed up for electronic banking."

"DiNozzo!" Gibbs growled impatiently.

"Sorry, Boss, where was I? Oh yeah, I was talking to Janelle, that was the name of the hot teller, and I explained what had happened and wrote a cheque. Everything was fine, she was going to give me the cash and was even going to give me her phone number."

"You get it?"

"Her phone number?

"Your money!" Gibbs replied with a huff of frustration and a roll of his eyes.

"Oh…ah, no money and no phone number," Tony sighed. "One minute, she was keying the details of my cheque into the computer…the next minute, she told me she needed to get her manager to sign off."

"Then what?"

"Well, I wasn't really paying too much attention, Boss, but I saw the manager looking at me and then he nodded to someone behind me. Turns out it was a rather nervous security guard who put his gun in my back and told me to not to move because the police were on the way."

"The police."

"Well, apparently, when Janelle…the hot teller…keyed my account details into the computer, it flagged a deceased restriction. So they thought I was trying to steal from the account of a dead man and the manager activated the silent alarm."

"Did you show 'em your ID?"


"You kinda showed them?"

"Personnel rescinded my agency photo ID and I had to return it. They said they'd issue me new one with a new number once I've proved I'm not dead. They also cancelled my drivers licence, so they took that until they could get it reinstated."

"You had no photo ID?"

"No, but I tried to explain that to the security guard, Boss…I calmly turned to face him and…that's when he saw my gun and totally wigged out."

"He wigged out?"

"He starts yelling, 'everybody down, this guy's gotta gun,' and the other alarm starts ringing and everyone starts screaming and yelling and diving to the ground. It was kinda like the bank heist scene in Heat…you know, with De Niro and Pacino, but without the shooting and killing and, of course, no one was actually robbing the place."

"Go on!" Gibbs said through tightly clenched teeth.

"Oh…okay, well the security guard is almost peeing his pants and he's swinging the weapon around in his hand…I tell ya, Boss, it's lucky nobody got killed."

"There's still time," Gibbs quipped. "Then what happened?"

"Well, it was obvious that talking wasn't gonna do me any good and I was getting kinda sick of that guy's gun waving in my face, so…I… might have back slammed him into the floor and taken his weapon," Tony said with a grimace.

"You might have?"

"Okay…I guess I did. But the way he was waving that gun around, I thought he was gonna kill someone."


"Once I had his attention, I told him that I was a federal agent with no intention of robbing anyone and I showed him my badge."

"What did he say?"

"He didn't see it – he had his eyes screwed shut and was yelling 'please don't kill me, please don't kill me'…and that's when the cops arrived. "

"So, the cops arrived to find you standing over the security guard, holding the weapon that you had forcibly removed from his grasp while he begged you not to kill him."

"Right! So you see, Boss, the whole thing was a misunderstanding. I gotta tell ya though, being dead is sure not as easy as it looks."

Gibbs continued to stare at his senior field agent for a few long seconds before finally turning his attention to the desk sergeant, still standing at the back of the room with a rather bemused smile on this face.

"Let him out," Gibbs said.

Tony grabbed his jacket and walked through the holding cell door, stopping in front of the lead agent and flashing his signature grin.

"Hey, Boss? You think this is gonna be one of those stories that we look back on over a couple of beers and laugh?"

Gibbs gave him a look that could have started the ice age.

"Nope, neither do I," Tony said with a grimace before turning on his heel and heading for freedom.

0—oo00oo—oo00oo—oo00oo—oo00oo—oo00oo-0 Situation Two 0-oo00oo-oo00oo-oo00oo-oo00oo-oo00oo-0

Gibbs instructed his team to go home after a frustrating and difficult day. As grateful as he was that the lead agent had provided temporary accommodation, Tony cringed at the thought of another night spent in the basement, propped up on a sawhorse, watching a fuzzy black and white television set, while Gibbs worked contentedly on his boat.

Knowing the power was off in his apartment, he grabbed his flashlight and headed for home to collect his portable DVD player and selection of his favourite DVD's. He inserted his key into the lock and cursed softly when it didn't turn. He examined the key, confirmed it was the right one and tried unsuccessfully again. 'What the?'


"What do you mean you've been arrested for breaking and entering?" Gibbs yelled, sitting up quickly and hitting his head painfully on the underside of his unfinished boat. "Where are you?" he asked, cutting off what was likely to be a lengthy explanation. "I'm on my way!"

Thirty minutes later, Gibbs strode into Metro PD's Third District Station and, after a brief discussion with the charge sergeant, was directed to the holding cells in the back. He rolled his eyes as he watched his senior field agent engaged in conversation with four scantily clad hookers in the adjoining cell. Tony's head swivelled in a comical double take as he saw the former marine approach.

"Making new friends, DiNozzo?" Gibbs said sarcastically.

"It was either them or Freddie Flatulence over there, Boss," he replied, gesturing with his chin toward the sleeping, yet obviously, inebriated man. "That guy's been blowing his butt trumpet since he staggered in here. Pee-ew!"

"What the hell happened?" Gibbs asked. "I thought you were going back to your apartment to get some DVD's!"

"I was…I did," Tony spluttered.

"So whose apartment did you break into?"


"You broke into your own apartment?"

"Yes…no…well kinda!"

"You forget your keys?"

"No, I had my keys."

"Then why didn't you use them?"

"I did use 'em!"

"Then how can you be accused of B & E if you used your own keys?"

"Because I used my keys but they didn't work."

"So…you reported it to the building supervisor who let you in," Gibbs guessed.

"No, I…actually…I didn't think of that," Tony said with a grimace. "But as it turned out, the building supervisor was the one who changed the lock."


"Because when Personnel told the Federal Employees Credit Union that I was dead, they not only froze all utility payments from my account but they stopped paying my rent! Can you believe that? They didn't even tell me!"

"How could they tell you? You're dead!"

"Huh…that's right…anyway, when Murray, the building supervisor, called the office to ask me why I was behind in my rent, he was put through to Personnel who told him that…

"Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo was dead," Gibbs finished.

"So Murray changed the lock on my door until my estate was sorted."

"So how did you get in?"

"I used my lock picks."

"Then what?"

"Well, I used my flashlight to find my DVD player and I picked a selection of DVD's. I made sure to pick some great movies that I think you might like, Boss - the classic Spencer Tracy, the raw power of De Niro and, of course, no collection is complete with Jack Nicholson in Chinatown. 'He passed away two weeks ago and he brought the land a week ago… that's unusual.' He quoted in a more than passable Nicholson impression that was halted by a quick head-slap.

"Sorry, Boss," Tony grimaced. "That's kind of apt though, don't you think?"

"What happened next?"

"I was getting ready to leave and had my DVD player and DVD's in my hands when Metro PD's answer to Heckle and Jeckle burst into my apartment, brandishing their weapons and told me to freeze."

"Why didn't you tell them you're a federal agent in your own apartment?" Gibbs asked.

"I did! They didn't believe me!"

"And you had no ID on you to prove you were an NCIS agent?"

"Well, not exactly. I had my NCIS business cards and my badge."

Gibbs huffed impatiently. "Then why didn't you show them?"

"I tried to but they were a little over zealous and threw me up against the wall to pat me down for weapons."

"And they found your Sig."

"Then things got a little crazy," Tony explained.

"So, you saying they never saw your badge?"

"Oh, no, they saw it. Once they had me pinned to the wall like an insect and had their guns pointed at my head, they took my badge from my jacket."


"They'd never heard of NCIS and thought my badge was something I'd bought in a toy store. You know, Boss, you really need to talk to the director about hiring a publicist or something, we really gotta boost the profile of this agency."

"So, you're pinned to the wall, without any photo ID, carrying a weapon, a flashlight and lock picks and what the cops believe is a fake badge?"


"What about the building supervisor? Why didn't he tell them who you were?"

"Well, apparently Murray left on vacation a week ago and the stand in guy doesn't know me."

"And the neighbour across the hall that you were dating a few weeks back. Why didn't you tell the cops she'd vouch for you?"

"Ah…things didn't end so well with her, Boss," Tony replied, looking a little uncomfortable. "She was the one who called the cops when she heard noise from my apartment. Apparently, Murray, who's a nice guy but gossips like an old woman, told her that I was dead. When the cops knocked on her door and asked if she knew me, she looked like she'd seen a ghost."

"I'm sure."

"But then she looked me right in the eye and told the cops she didn't know who I was! Can you believe that?"

"A woman scorned, DiNozzo," Gibbs said, shaking his head sympathetically. "Let's get this straight, we've got breaking and entering, petty larceny, carrying a concealed weapon and impersonating a federal agent."

"Well, yeah, it sounds bad when you say it like that," Tony said sullenly.

Checking his watch, Gibbs saw it was zero two hundred and gestured for the officer leaning on the far wall to open the cell door. As Tony was released, he looked at his lead agent, who was rubbing his hands over his tired face.

"You alright, Boss, you're looking a bit tired. You really ought to try to get more sleep."

0—oo00oo—oo00oo—oo00oo—oo00oo—oo00oo-0 Situation Three 0-oo00oo-oo00oo-oo00oo-oo00oo-oo00oo-0

"What? No, wait, Lyndsay…don't hang up…I swear…it really is me! Hello…hello? Dammit!" Tony said snapping his cell closed.

"Morning, Tony," Kate said brightly as she stood in front of her partner's desk. "Trouble in paradise?"

"If you must know, Kate, my date stood me up last night," Tony grumbled. "I called her to find out if she was okay and she burst into tears and called me a demented lunatic who calls up pretending they're dead people."

"Ah…she heard of your sad passing."

"I'm telling you, Kate, being dead is murder on my social life!"

"Well, maybe you could…wait a minute…Lyndsay…you don't mean my friend from college, Lyndsay Pattison? I have four missed calls on my cell from her!"

Avoiding eye contact, Tony replied. "We better get to work, Kate, if Gibbs comes in here and we're not working, he's not gonna be a happy…come to think of it…I've never seen Gibbs happy."

"Don't change the subject, Tony, how do you know Lyndsay? Wait!…how did you get her number?"

"I'm a trained investigator, Katie, it's what I do."

"You…you…cracked the password on my PDA and looked up Lyndsay's cell number, didn't you?" Kate blustered, appalled at Tony's blatant breach of her privacy.

"No, I didn't!"

"I don't believe you!"

"Believe what you want but I never touched your PDA, Kate!" Tony protested.





Though he should have expected it, the stinging head slap took Tony by surprise.

"Sorry, Boss, but Kate started it," the senior field agent replied sullenly.

"I just finished it," Gibbs replied calmly, rounding his desk and taking his seat. "Get to work."

"Getting to work, Boss," Tony answered, ignoring the blistering look from his partner that guaranteed the conversation would continue later.

As the morning progressed, Gibbs grew increasingly tired of the sniping that continued between his two agents. Though he hadn't been present to see what had started their latest spat, he knew that, despite his protests of innocence, his senior field agent had done something to yank Todd's chain.

"Who's getting the coffee?" he asked.

"Kate," Tony replied without hesitation and smiling sweetly as Kate huffed and grabbed her purse.

"We've got work to do, so make it snappy…DiNozzo." Gibbs said.

The expressions on his agents reversed immediately as Kate wore an ear-to-ear grin and Tony huffed in exasperation. Gibbs watched the younger man out of the corner of his eye as Tony sheepishly sidled toward him and cleared his throat before speaking.

"Ah, Boss…you know that little problem I'm having with my credit union?"

Sighing in resignation, Gibbs pulled a twenty-dollar bill from his wallet and handed it to Tony, who turned on his heels and headed for the elevator.

"DiNozzo! I want the change this time and no flirting with the barista, I want my coffee hot."

"On it, Boss!"


"What do you mean you've been arrested for purse snatching and impersonating a federal agent?" Gibbs' head fell into his hands and felt his blood pressure rise. "I'll be right there," he said.

The lead agent wearily got to his feet and looked across to where Kate and Doctor Mallard were discussing the autopsy report of the victim of their latest investigation.

"Kate, when you're finished with Ducky, check with Abby and see if she's matched the bullets. I'll be on my cell, DiNozzo's been arrested again."

"Again? What for this time?" Kate asked.

"Purse snatching and impersonating a federal agent," Gibbs replied through a tightly clenched jaw.

"Impersonating a federal agent? They've been paying him to do that for three years!" Kate scoffed, earning an icy glare from the former marine.

"Oh my, that is bad luck!" Ducky exclaimed.

"There a problem, Duck?"

"Knowing Anthony's penchant for partying in his off duty hours, I had "public intoxication" in the office pool," the ME confessed. "I should have thought about "impersonating a federal agent," I mean, it's really quite obvious…"

"Someone's running an office pool on DiNozzo getting arrested?" Gibbs bellowed, causing every nearby agent to duck their heads and turn their attention back to their own desks.

"Not anymore," Ducky lamented, wondering which of his fellow employees had scooped the pool. His pondering was quickly answered and Kate whispered.

"Dinner's on me, Ducky!"

"Why thank you, Caitlin!" the doctor whispered in reply.

"Don't thank me, thank Tony! If he keeps this up, I'll have my credit card paid off in no time."

Ducky chuckled softly as Gibbs headed to the local police station wearing a murderous expression.

The former marine's mood hadn't improved as the two arresting officers led Gibbs into the holding area of the police station. He took in the occupants of the two cells – his agent sat on a low bunk in the far cell while a 350-pound, bald-headed African-American occupied the other.

"This is getting old, DiNozzo," Gibbs said. "Keep this up and Personnel will declare you alive just in time for me to kill you."

Tony shot to his feet as the lead agent approached.

"Boss, this isn't what it looks like," he said hastily.

"Are you under arrest?"


"Are you in jail?"


"Then it's exactly what it looks like," Gibbs said. "What happened?"

"Do you want the good news or the bad news?"

"Start with the bad news?" Gibbs replied.

"The bad news is that little old lady had her whole life savings in her purse and that low life scum pushed her over and took off with it," Tony said, pointing at the huge man in the next cell.

"O-kay, and the good news?"

"The good news is that I was able to run him down and get it back, well, that is until the cops arrived and thought I'd taken it and arrested me instead."

"That's the good news?"

"Well, not so much the good news as the slightly better than bad news…news."

"Ya think?" Gibbs asked feeling the beginning of a very bad headache. "From the beginning, DiNozzo."

"Okay, so I was on my way to the coffee shop that you like, when I heard a scream. I looked up and saw Tiny push an old lady to the ground and steal her handbag – so, naturally, I gave chase," Tony explained.

"Naturally," Gibbs replied, as certain of his agent's inherent need to help as he was of his agent's ability to attract trouble. "Go on."

"I identified myself as a federal agent and yelled at him to stop but this guy can run like a rabbit, Boss!"

Gibbs did a double take, mentally comparing the 350-pound man to his tall, lean agent. "He out ran you?"

"He may be big as a freaking house, Boss, but he's deceptively quick. Like a rhino and a panther – the massive, powerful rhino set the pace for the first few city blocks but the sleek, agile panther had the speed and endurance to run him down."

"What about your weapon, panther?"

"There were too many people around, despite the sizable target I couldn't risk a stray bullet hitting someone else."

"So you kept chasing."

"I kept chasing and I saw him enter an alleyway off 5th Street, so I drew my weapon and followed him. There are two exits from that alleyway and I didn't see where he went. Next thing I know, he comes out of nowhere and slams me into the sidewalk and I lose my weapon."

Gibbs scanned his agent for injuries. "You hurt?"

"Few bruises, nothing serious. Tiny was fine though - I managed to break his fall with my body. Anyway, he pins me with his weight and my weapon's just out of my reach, so I go for the handbag and manage to rip it out of his grasp," Tony started to squirm and grimace at the memory. "That's when it happened, Boss."

"What happened?"

"He kneed me in the hairy buckeyes and took one of the two exits from the alleyway."

"Which one?"

"Well, I think the left one's a little swollen but, to be honest, they're both pretty tender, Boss."

"Thanks for the gruesome image, DiNozzo, but I meant which exit did he take?"

"Oh…ah…I didn't see," Tony replied. "By the time I stopped seeing stars and got to my feet, I took the 4th Street exit and was limping up the street looking for him when the cops arrived."

"You tell them who you were?"

"I tried to, but once they saw I had the handbag they weren't exactly open to conversation."

"They thought you were the purse snatcher."

"And then they found my weapon…it was déjà vu all over again, Boss."

Gibbs sighed heavily. "You had no photo ID, they'd never heard of NCIS, thought your badge was store bought and when they phoned to confirm you were a federal agent, they were told you were dead."

"You're probably not gonna wanna hear this next bit, Boss."

"There's still time to stop yourself, DiNozzo."

"The cops took me back to the old lady and she identified me as the guy who knocked her over and stole her purse."

"She confused you with a 350-pound, bald, African-American?"

" She was really old, Boss, she couldn't see very well."

" Ya think?"

"Anyway, they started to charge me with purse snatching when other witnesses came forth and cleared me. They brought Tiny in about thirty minutes ago, so now they're only holding me for impersonating a federal agent."

"Open the door," Gibbs told the officer standing nearby.

As Tony walked from the cell, he turned back toward the large man, silently assessing him.

"Ya know, Boss, he may be the size of a city building but I think I could have taken him."

Gibbs glanced at the other man and rolled his eyes.

"With a pick handle, maybe," he said as they walked toward the door. "DiNozzo?"

"Yeah, Boss?"

"You owe me a coffee?"

0—oo00oo—oo00oo—oo00oo—oo00oo—oo00oo-0 Situation Four 0-oo00oo-oo00oo-oo00oo-oo00oo-oo00oo-0

As Tony left the Navy Yard and headed for Gibbs' home, he reflected on the last couple of weeks. The back-to-back cases and long hours were made all the more difficult by his ongoing battle to have himself "resurrected from the dead" and the occasional altercation with the local LEO's.

He parked out front and let himself in to Gibbs' home, swiping a bottle of water from the fridge. Tony had to hand it to the former Marine, not only had he opened his house to him but every time he'd found himself inadvertently on the wrong side of the law, Gibbs had pulled his six out of the fire.

He looked around the sparsely furnished home he knew almost as well as his own. Gibbs had been called to a meeting with the director and wasn't due for an hour. Tony's body ached with tension and he was in desperate need of a run. He changed into his sweats and shoved the twenty he'd borrowed from Abby into his running shoe, planning to stop at the liquor store down the road. As neither he nor the lead agent was big on flowery sentiment, he'd pick up a bottle of 'Jack' for Gibbs as a thank you.

He made good time to the small row of shops located about two miles from Gibbs' house. Stopping at the bench on the corner, he spent a few moments doing some warm down stretches. His trained eyes and cop instincts zeroed in on a young man standing twenty yards away. He was smoking a cigarette, chain-smoking if the cigarette butts at his feet were any indication, and looking nervously toward the entrance of the liquor store.

Dressed for jogging, Tony had neither his gun nor his ID with him. He started for the liquor store to alert the shopkeeper, when the man stubbed his cigarette, pulled the hood of his sweatshirt over his head and placed his hand in his pocket - the outline of the gun becoming obvious.

Avoiding eye contact and ensuring his body language remained casual, Tony walked toward the liquor store, arriving at the entrance as the nervous young man pulled the handgun from his pocket. Tony went for the gun, struggling with the shorter but stockier man until he'd finally wrestled the weapon from the would-be bandit's talon-like fingers.

The storeowner looked up in surprise as two men walked through the store's entrance and then began to fight for possession of a handgun - their intention to rob him was obvious. Having been victim to several robberies in the past few years, the man decided that, this time, he was fighting back. Taking a bottle of gin from the shelf he moved in from behind and, just as Tony had wrestled the gun away from the other man, the storeowner smashed the bottle over the agent's head. The would-be robber dashed back out the door and raced away. Tony's vision greyed around the edges as he fell to the ground in a heap. Sirens were heard in the distance and his final thought as unconsciousness beckoned was "Gibbs is gonna kill me."


"What do you mean you've been arrested for attempting to rob a liquor store?" Gibbs yelled, the frustration and weariness evident in his voice. "Where are you? I'm on my way."

Forty minutes later, Gibbs walked into the Fourth District Police Station and, flashing his badge and identifying himself, he was shown to the holding cells where he found his senior field agent laying on the bunk. Tony's eyes snapped open and he climbed to his feet as the lead agent approached.

"Boss, thank God! I know what you're thinking but I can explain. This really wasn't my fault. Tell these guys who I am so I can get the hell outta here!"

Gibbs walked to the front of the holding cell, silently appraising the younger man and relieved to see no visible signs of injury or discomfort.

"There's been a mistake," Gibbs said to the uniformed officer. "I've never seen this man before in my life."

Tony's jaw dropped open in shock as he watched the lead agent leaving the room.

"Boss? No, Boss! You gotta get me outta here! I'm gonna go postal! Boss!"

Tony's muffled shouts could still be heard from the charge desk as Gibbs addressed the desk sergeant.

"That's NCIS Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo. He seen a doctor?"

"Yes, Sir. No concussion, but he's got a lump the size of an egg on the back of his head. Doc says he's fine."

With a sharp nod of his head, Gibbs started toward the exit.

"Wait, what do you want us to do?" the desk sergeant asked.

"Give him some Tylenol and make sure you feed him. I'll be back for him tomorrow."

"You want us to keep him locked up all night?

"Believe me, he's safer here!" Gibbs replied.

By the time he'd reached his car his anger was palpable. This had to stop. His agent had been lucky tonight but good luck and Anthony DiNozzo weren't synonymous. He steered his car toward the Navy Yard. He was through waiting for the pencil pushers to get their act together. Even if he had to go to SecNav himself, he vowed not to leave the office until this bureaucratic nightmare was resolved and his senior field agent's credentials, security clearance and pay were reinstated.

In the meantime, he rested comfortably in the knowledge that Tony was safely locked away for the night.

The End


A/N:- A recent Internet announcement of my death and subsequent messages of condolence to my sister and friends, (including FFNet friends), provided the motivation and inspiration for this story.

Although I am still receiving treatment, please know that I am fighting hard and have no immediate plans to become a ghostwriter. :)

Many, many thanks to the founding members of the "Laine is not dead yet" club – Zee Viate, Mokibobolink and Lyn1410g – for your encouragement and support and for helping to quash those rumours.

In the words of Mark Twain, "The reports of my death are grossly exaggerated."
In the words of Anthony DiNozzo, "What…No Balloons?"

Thanks for reading! With every good wish,