"How did you get a job at NCIS?" Kate asked, almost disbelieving that the man before her was considered highly trained and mature enough to carry a loaded weapon.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o

Tony DiNozzo had always loved his smile. His teeth weren't too perfect. Just crooked enough to show character. His smile got him out of trouble plenty of times. The $900 vase he smashed with an ill-placed curveball. The $300 of koi he had killed with a waterbomb filled with detergent (he had been sure it would bounce). The sodden school when they told him the janitor's closet had a smoke detector installed.

The smile had gotten him into trouble plenty of times too. Rockette fell for it (his smile looked at least 17). The school bully found it increased his punching power. That frizzy haired chick with the braces had followed him for a good 6 months until Tony realized he needed to stop smiling and being polite.

But he never expected that his smile would be his best weapon when 3 inches from a bullet and seconds from death…

0o0o0o0o0o

It had been too long. This kid was frozen. He was standing in the alley way with a gun barrel less than three inches from his forehead, the Kevlar concealed beneath his leather jacket redundant and useless. And he was not moving. Not even a twitch.

At least he hadn't reached for his weapon either. That would have had the suspect's twitchy finger go in a second.

Gibbs prepared to launch himself from his position, his hand steady on his gun as his muscles readied for the move.

But he paused. He would ask himself in the coming years why, but he never did work it out. It was just one of those things. Perhaps his brain was actually overloaded with the enigma standing before him.

Tony DiNozzo. Barely 30 and on his third force. Gibbs knew all about the 'extenuating circumstances' which lead to him leaving Philly, and suspected the reason he had left Peoria. The kid had standards. Standards which had lead to a squad leader with a cracked eye socket and a colourful resignation letter, still warm from the printer, and DiNozzo's badge spinning cartoon style on the table top.

Just like he knew about the Macaluso family and the flattering price they had on the head on one Tony DiNozzo. The kid must have been good to piss them off that much.

Tony DiNozzo. Barely 30 and one of the best cops in the Baltimore homicide division. He'd been the one to make the connection between Gibbs' dead petty officer and the string of kidnappings-turned-creatively dumped bodies in Baltimore. The kid was bright. The kid had good instincts. Not bad undercover either. Passed as a grunt on leave. Once they'd cut his hair of course…

Which made it even harder to believe that he had frozen.

Again, Gibbs steadied himself, ready to get DiNozzo's butt out of there. Just as he was about to announce himself, the impossible happened before his eyes.

DiNozzo smiled.

In that second, Gibbs knew. Knew the kid hadn't frozen at all. He saw that the bait and switch was swift and confused the suspect perfectly.

DiNozzo smiled and the cold hard murder flinched. Just for a millisecond. Just long enough for Tony's muscles to spring into action, his left arm sweeping upwards and out to knock the wrist and the gun away from his head.

Less than three seconds later, the killer was on the ground, arm wrenched behind his shoulder blades, 190 pounds of cop on his back. By the time Gibbs reached them, the cuffs were on and the dirtbag had heard half of his Miranda rights, albeit colourfully embellished.

The police van took the prisoner back to the precinct as Gibbs and the kid silently collected the surveillance equipment from the alley way.

"Can you get this written up tonight?" Gibbs asked before he processed what he was doing. But the kid really was too good for the rat crap team he was stuck on here.

"Depends," DiNozzo smirked. "Does it have to be spell checked?"

Gibbs looked at him, his steady glare turning the cop's smirk into a full blown smile.

"Ah, I mean, yes Special Agent Gibbs?" he tried again.

"Good. 0800. Navy Yard." Gibbs grunted as he swung himself into the cab of the NCIS van. "Starbucks outside the gate on your way in. Rule #23, DiNozzo."

"Yes, Sir." DiNozzo grinned.

"And don't call me Sir," Gibbs barked out the window, shaking his head as he pulled away.

Tony nodded to himself. "Yes, Boss."

Anthony DiNozzo. Barely 30 years old. Federal agent. Movie referencing, actor impersonating, wise cracking and foolish. But not a fool.

"Yes, Boss," he repeated as he turned and started back to the precinct, grinning like an idiot.

0o0o0o0o0o0

"Tony?" Kate snapped her fingers in front of his face. "How did you get a job at NCIS?"

Tony twitched his eyebrows tauntingly and explained in the simplest way possible. "I smiled."