Hello everyone! Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed 'Two Weeks Notice.'

This is my new story about when Gibbs and Tony first meet in Baltimore, and it is my attempt to explain Tony's complete loyalty to and faith in Gibbs and why Gibbs hired Tony despite all of his eccentricities and his wandering feet prior to NCIS.

This first chapter is an introduction to the main characters from both Baltimore PD and from NCIS.

Baltimore Homicide Detective Samuel Jacobs was an old timer; he was the very definition of old school policing and had survived many years on the job racking up a whole mess of different experiences, both good and bad. He was a good few inches shorter than most of his fellow detectives, but he made up for his lack of height with something else; Sam was one of those people that everyone noticed when he entered a room.

He wasn't particularly good-looking, he didn't wear flash clothes or shout over everyone else's voices to get noticed but he carried with him a presence; there was an intensity about the man that drew people in like moths to a flame while at the same time ensuring they kept their distance for fear of getting burned.

Of course, that Sam didn't like most people meant that he was perfectly happy about that last part. He could smile and dish out niceties when he had to but he very definitely belonged to the school of thought that believed in clear dividers; there was family, there were friends, there were work colleagues, there were acquaintances and then there was everybody else.

Family meant everything to Sam, especially since he had such a small family himself. 'La famiglia contro il mondo' may be an Italian saying but it said everything he felt about the importance of family; family stood by you even if the rest of the world were against you. You were open with your family and could always be yourself with them; you showed them that you loved them and told them when you were sad or happy, angry or relieved.

His own childhood had been hard, growing up in the projects of Baltimore with his hard-working single mother; his father had disappeared as soon as the results of the pregnancy test came through. He had loved his mother dearly, but due to the demands of monthly bills, rent, groceries and clothes, she was, more often than not, out in the city earning what she could.

He married his high school sweetheart, Mary, at a young age. She was a real fireball of energy; she wanted to see and do everything that life had to offer. She made him feel so alive and so complete and he could never imagine growing old together, not because he thought that they would separate but simply because he couldn't imagine a Mary whose spirit would be dampened by age and immobility. However, growing old together had never been on the cards; he lost his wife to cancer almost eight years ago and it was just him and his daughter, Catherine.

On the day she was born, Sam made a silent vow never to abandon Cathy the way he had been abandoned by his own father. He promised to always be there for her, to see off the undesirable and undeserving boyfriends, to make sure she had the chance to go on and do whatever she wanted to do with her life.

That's what family was for, after all.

Friends were the ones you turned to when you had worries over family issues, or when you wanted to complain about the vindictive nature of the Chief. Friends were people you could relax with and talk to and trust enough to know that nothing you said would come back to bite you on the arse, as no word would get back to your boss that you'd been bitching about him.

If family was the most important thing, then good friends came close after. Friends were the support network between home life and work life; friends were the ones you turned to when you needed to get some space from everyone else.

Friends would know you well enough to know when to back off and when to push.

Being a cop, especially in a demanding city like Baltimore, meant that work colleagues had their own slot. Sam didn't like some of the people he worked with, especially the brass with all of their political bullshit.

However, the dangers of the job meant that you had to be able to trust those you worked with to watch your back, both in the office and outside it; if you were stuck in the middle of a gun-fight you had to know that your fellow officers would do everything they could to make sure you didn't catch a bullet, to make sure that you got to go home to your family that night.

Hating your colleague was one thing, but trusting them to watch your six despite that was an important aspect of that relationship.

Acquaintances were people you'd met that didn't offend too much but didn't impress all that much either. Niceties would be exchanged and the occasional nod and smile bestowed, but that was it.

An acknowledgment to someone you had once amiably shared a room with.

Then there was everyone else…

Sam had had to deal with a lot of strangers during his 26 years of service, and that was fine, he had managed that. However, he was just doing his job. His job was to protect and serve, and he did it; he did it well too. But that was as far as the job went.

In his early years he'd been a little more idealistic and certainly very naïve. The jump from the Army to the Police Force seemed natural; he held the same certainty that his job, what he was doing, was changing the world and making it a better place…that he was still protecting the people of America and their way of life, that he was protecting his family.

He lost the rose-coloured glasses pretty quickly once he left the Police Academy.

Everything about that one case had been a wake-up call.

A little boy of four, Stuart "Stewie" McGuiness had an adorable mop of dark brown hair and the biggest bluest eyes he had ever seen. The young boy carried a small Star Wars figurine everywhere with him and would occasionally suck his thumb for comfort while glancing up at the adults though his thick lashes, trying to comprehend what was going on.

Unfortunately, the endearing child's entire body was a mess of bruises and the arm that clutched his mini-Chewbacca was encased in a plaster-cast.

Sam did everything the academy had taught him to do; he called social services, he tried to get the son to talk about what his mother had done to him in an effort to get charges filed so the mother may never harm the boy again, he even walked Stewie into the group home later that very same day.

Even later on that very same day Stewie was rushed to the hospital with internal bleeding after one of the carers had drunkenly pushed him down the stairs because the frightened child would not stop crying and asking for his mother.

The kid never even made it to the ambulance bay.

And Sam's rose-coloured glasses had shattered; he'd done everything he was supposed to do and delivered to child to what was a supposedly safe environment. He'd saved the kid from undeserved punches and cruel words only to deliver him to an early grave, holding his hand and smiling as he led him there.

He knew that there were plenty of good foster homes and group homes out there in Baltimore and the rest of the country; that there were people in it for the child and not for the cheque. But ever since that day, Sam's first thoughts in similar situations tended to be suspicious; eventually his cynicism became the standard reaction to most situations he faced.

So now he just did his job, and once his shift was over he would go home and try to forget about everyone he had met that day. He knew he would never forget about Stewie though, no matter how hard he tried.

So the people he came across in his work became strangers, nothing more than nameless faces on the street.

As he sat at his desk, glaring daggers at the young man sat at the desk facing his own, he tried to figure out what category Homicide Detective Anthony DiNozzo fell into.

There were days when the kid felt like family; Sam had even given him a set of keys to his house. DiNozzo was just as short on family as he was, shorter really; the kid's father may still be alive but he knew they were estranged. He didn't think it was pity, but Tony's very evident loneliness had meant that he'd invited the kid over for several family meals, especially over the holiday periods like Thanksgiving and Christmas. The kid didn't always come but Sam knew that he'd offered DiNozzo a stable lifeline that the kid so desperately needed in his otherwise nomadic lifestyle.

There were times that Sam knew the kid felt uncomfortable with being included in his small, tight-knit family unit, and on those occasions he knew that DiNozzo would always fall into the friend and work colleague categories when he felt too uncomfortable to be included in the family one. He trusted the kid enough to talk to him about Cathy's latest boyfriend disaster and his own financial concerns. He certainly trusted the kid to have his back out on the streets; Tony was a good shot and had already taken a bullet with Sam's own name on it. Tony always did his fair share of the paper-work and tried to help with the politics.

There were times, however, when the kid didn't even feel like an acquaintance, because DiNozzo would go and do something that no-one would have expected or could have predicted, or he would act so completely out of character while still being completely natural. On those days it felt like the kid was a total stranger.

But through it all, Sam was glad he had DiNozzo as his partner; he couldn't imagine working with anyone else.

Of course, most people couldn't see why a respected man like Jacobs would waste his time on a kid like DiNozzo, why he hadn't requested a new partner. Sam knew that Tony wasn't very popular in the department; knew that a lot of people took the kid at face value and decided there was no need to dig any further. Sam knew all of this because when he had first been landed with DiNozzo as his shiny new partner he had felt the same way.

He knew that most people in the Homicide Department thought DiNozzo was some spoilt rich kid who'd been born with a silver spoon in his mouth and was just playing at being cop until his inheritance came through. Some people had even got a pool going and placed bets on how long he would last; rumours had trickled through about a two year warranty.

All of this meant that DiNozzo's first few weeks on the job had been more than a little difficult. Sam was a demanding man who expected his partner to pull their own weight; everything he'd heard about DiNozzo and the brief flashes he'd caught about the office meant that he'd assumed the new kid on the block would be dead weight.

However, the kid had impressed him and managed to change his mind and Sam had quickly learnt not to take DiNozzo at face value.

DiNozzo went through moods so quickly that Sam felt he'd get whiplash just from watching. The kid would be joking and messing around and talking about movies, then someone would say something and DiNozzo would get in their personal space and whisper threats into their ear. They might have been idle threats, but then again they might not have been; you never could tell with the kid he was so damn unpredictable.

It was this unpredictability that was causing Sam to glare daggers at the younger man.

"Sam, for fucks sake; I said I was sorry, what more do you want me to say?" Tony broke the silence with quiet exasperation. He was all too aware of his partner's scrutiny and not at all happy about it.

Baltimore Homicide Detective Anthony DiNozzo had had a lousy day. He only had half an hour to go until his shift ended…half an hour! He had thought that he could manage that without pissing off anyone else today; apparently he was wrong! He couldn't understand why his partner was so pissed off; he'd done his job and everyone lived…where was the problem?

"What I want, DiNozzo," Sam ground out, frustrated that his partner really seemed to have no clue, "is for you to realise that you don't have to pass every shift with a near miss. You looking for an early grave?"

"This again? Jesus Christ Sam, I do not have a death wish!" Tony insisted.

"No, you're right; you don't want to die you just don't seem to give a damn about living!" Sam hissed, trying to keep their argument as private as he could. He was more than a little frustrated; he admired Tony's dedication to the job and was thankful that the kid went above and beyond in terms of loyalty to his partner; what he didn't like was the reckless streak that seemed to run through the kid's blood.

Tony and Sam had had this conversation many times over the 23 months that they had worked together. Sam had learnt to respect and trust his young partner, and in turn DiNozzo had learnt to respect and trust him.

However, no matter how much Sam tried to change it, DiNozzo still held on to his reckless streak. Tony would think about Sam's lectures, sure, but then he never seemed to take it beyond that; did the kid even understand what self-preservation meant?

"Don't you think 'near miss' is a stupid phrase?" Tony started, when the silence began to drag. "I mean it's supposed to mean that something nearly happened; except a 'near miss' implies that it nearly missed, and so…in fact…it hit. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense."

Sam wasn't all thrown by DiNozzo's non-sequitur; he'd had a good 23 months to get used to them by now; they usually indicated that Tony wasn't going to carry on with the current conversation, either because he was bored or simply because he wanted to change the subject.

The kid was smart and got bored very easily; Sam had discovered that the hard way. Paper-planes would fly into his forehead, his desk drawers would be glued shut, a whole hell of a lot of extra chilli would appear in his hot-dog; Tony got creative when he got bored, and that was when he was at his most dangerous.

"Come on kid," Sam said as he pushed away from his desk and gathered his jacket. "Let's go to McGinty's for a quick pint."

Tony nodded his agreement, a small smile on his face; he knew the conversation wasn't over, would probably never truly be over, but for now there was a truce and that would have to suffice for now, as there was a cold beer at the local cop bar calling his name.

Supervisory Special Agent Gibbs was far from happy. While everyone else in the bullpen had gone home, he'd just come out of Director Morrow's office where the older man had berated his inability to keep a team together.

He'd been trying to get his TAD Agent, Daniel Nixon, reassigned. It wasn't just down to a personality clash; it was due more to the fact that Gibbs wasn't looking forward to the paperwork he'd have to do when he inevitably shot the obnoxious son of a bitch!

Nixon had only just completed his course at the FLETC and already thought of himself as Harry bloody Callahan. It didn't matter that the kid was greener than grass and that his badly reached conclusions were created by relying upon his poor assumptions.

Gibbs had seen a good few tours of military service, and had been working at NCIS for several years now; he'd earned the right to trust his gut. He'd learnt from his mistakes and experience had taught him well.

Nixon did not have that experience or the instincts just yet; he'd gone straight from high school to college to the FLETC. He was still learning about the military and all of its acronyms and yet the new agent already believed he understood the actions and motivations of the Navy personnel he would be investigating.

Gibbs had already locked horns with Nixon and it wasn't pretty. The TAD Agent was nervous around Gibbs but his inexperience and his obliviousness meant that he didn't always see the signs that told him to back down for his own sake.

Special Agent Vivian Blackadder was the only other agent on Gibbs' team at the moment. The whole mess with Nixon might have been easier to handle if Blackadder was an agent he could rely upon.

She had been recruited from the FBI which already gave Gibbs the predisposition to dislike her. She, unlike Nixon, did have experience; however, sometimes it was hard to see that. She often let emotions get in the way of a case and cloud her judgement; fear and adrenaline easily controlled her and her overly empathic nature created a poor interrogation technique.

Gibbs despaired of ever finding a team that he could fully trust to get the job done. He didn't think that his standards were too exacting; he wanted people who would trust him enough to follow his lead when that lead was nothing more than a gut instinct. He wanted to be able to trust his agents to watch his six and not let inexperience or adrenaline and fear get the better of them. He wanted his team to be able to think on their feet and use their initiative when he wasn't around. Most of all, he wanted his people to be as devoted to catching the criminals as he was.

Gibbs sighed, not sure that anyone on his team would ever meet those standards if Morrow kept on sending him idiots straight from the academy or from the Hoover Building.

Some days, he really missed Burley! The man had been his Senior Field Agent until almost a couple of years ago when the younger man had handed in his resignation with little explanation.

That's when all the problems with hiring began; either Gibbs couldn't stand them or he simply couldn't trust them to do their job properly, or the TAD Agents would demand a transfer with not even a week's work under their belt. It wasn't his fault if they couldn't handle it!

Morrow had accused him of being too demanding and far too impatient; believing that Nixon's inexperience was a good thing, enabling Gibbs to train him and shape him and turn the young man into one hell of an agent. Gibbs disagreed, stating that there needed to be some raw material to work with and then the Director went and accused him of being 'mule-headed.'

Gibbs knew he was stubborn, that stubbornness had saved his life on occasion; however, he didn't think that wanting a team he could rely on was a bad thing. He'd told Morrow that he could keep a team together if he got to choose who was on said team.

The bloody Director had smiled and informed him that he already had a team.

A team? Hah…some team, Gibbs scowled.

"Ah Jethro, am I to understand that the scowl on your face means you were unsuccessful with reassigning young Daniel to another team?" Doctor Donald "Ducky" Mallard had long since grown used to Gibbs' mood swings, but there were times, when Gibbs was in a particularly dark mood, that the agent wished that the M.E. was just a little less jovial.

The Scotsman was usually dressed in old tweed suits and bow ties and looked as though he belonged at the front of a university's lecture hall rather than in the morgue. However, he was an affable man with plenty of stories that he could seemingly relate to any situation he so desired.

A man who had experienced many different things, both good and bad, throughout his life meant that he was always ready to listen and eager to give out advice. The man had certainly managed to survive Gibbs in even his foulest of moods, with little more than a quietly scolding 'really Jethro…' and a stern look.

Gibbs had come to rely upon the usually level-headed M.E. as his voice of calm and reason; if he had a problem he knew he could trust Ducky to either listen or help, and to keep it all between the two of them. Ducky had become a valued friend that Gibbs hoped never to lose.

"According to Morrow, they're running short on agents to send here," Gibbs griped. "If they'd send someone who knew which way to point the damn gun barrel it would be a start!"

"Yes, Agent Nixon does appear to be a little inexperienced with firearms," Ducky agreed, having seen the young man struggle to put on his holster.

Gibbs snorted; 'inexperienced' seemed to be putting it mildly. He'd been horrified to learn that Nixon's only experience with firearms was at the FLETC; the man had only ever faced cardboard targets and what was worse was that Gibbs had learnt this fact when out in the field with him under fire from a couple of weapons smugglers.

Since then, Gibbs had tried to take him out to the range at least once a week; he'd already lost count of the number of Nixon's personal items that now had a hole in them, but the younger man still hadn't reached Gibbs exacting standards…not even close!

"Gibbs!" a high-pitched squeal from across the empty bullpen pulled Gibbs out of his internal rant. A black blur ran into him and gave him a crushing hug; he'd learnt long ago that resistance was futile where Abby was concerned. He could feel her whole body vibrating with energy.

"Abby…" he tweaked one of her pig-tails. "How many Caff-Pows have you had today?"

Forensic Specialist Abigail Scuito took a step back from her favourite Silver Fox, placed one hand on her hip and tilted her head in thought.

The fact that Abby had to think about it told him that she had probably ingested the whole DC supply and that her blood had, in all likelihood, already been replaced with sugary caffeine.

"Never mind," he muttered, quite sure he didn't want to hear the actual amount. He might go through three cups of coffee before the sun had even risen, but that was different…that was coffee and not some caffeine/sugar hybrid monstrosity!

The past few days had been hard on everyone, but at least Gibbs had a team to do most of the legwork for him; Abby worked by herself down in the basement but still managed to do the work of an entire lab. It was no wonder she needed caffeine to get through the long and busy days, although he was quite sure that she wouldn't need an excuse.

Abby was a bundle of constant energy and cheerfulness; she was constantly moving and usually smiling. She talked too fast and too much, she hugged too tight and more often than not she would point things out to Gibbs that he would rather she didn't; and Gibbs loved her through all of it.

Abby could get away with murder if she wanted to, and not just because of her own forensic knowledge, but because Gibbs would help her carry the body and shield her from any suspicion.

He wasn't quite sure how Abby managed to worm her way into his heart, but he knew that he would always look upon her as a surrogate daughter of sorts or, more likely, a wilful little sister that he had to watch over and protect.

"Come on Gibbs," Abby said with enthusiasm as she grabbed his hand. "Me and Ducky are going to buy you a drink!"

"Abby…" Gibbs started until Abby placed a hand over his mouth.

"I'm afraid she is rather determined Jethro," Ducky informed him, with a twitching lip and a twinkle in his eyes.

Gibbs sighed; he had wanted nothing more than a glass of bourbon and a few hours of sanding his boat. However, he knew that both Abby and Ducky could be as stubborn as he was and so he knew that there was little choice. He may not have the team he wanted, but these two helped him get through the day without committing murder; the least he could do was a minor detour to the local bars with them.

"Alright," Gibbs agreed, grabbing his jacket. "But just one!" he pointed a finger knowingly at Abby.

"Of course Gibbs," Abby grinned back.

Gibbs let out another sigh; he was pretty sure that by the time Abby was done with him he wouldn't need that shot of bourbon and perhaps sanding his boat might not be such a good idea after this little excursion. The things he did to keep that girl happy…

He knew they were trying to distract him, trying to stop him from dwelling on the inadequacies of his team. He remembered Morrow's words of condemnation from earlier and decided he would let Abby and Ducky distract him tonight but tomorrow…

…tomorrow would be a new day and if Morrow was so determined that he keep this team then he would just have to work them harder until they were good enough. He knew that Blackadder would eventually leave and he was quite sure that he could make Nixon see the light; he would even help him write his letter of resignation.

When they left, he would make his own team; he would do the interviews and assess them in his own way. If Morrow wanted him to keep a team together then the Director would have to let him choose his own agents.

With that in mind, Gibbs left the office with an uncharacteristic smile.

There you go…my first chapter. Please review and let me know what you think; constructive criticism is welcomed.

And just in case you need them…

TAD – Temporary Assigned Duty

FLETC – Federal Law Enforcement Training Centre.

Harry Callahan is the full name of Clint Eastwood's character Dirty Harry, a cop who carries a .44 Magnum and a permanent scowl and he's not afraid to ignore the rule book or his bosses.

Next Up – the crime and a bit more about the two different groups of people.