A/N: So I know I said I was taking a break -shifty eyes- I lied. lol. The problem with my double vision has been corrected and so far so good. Though I had to increase the strength of my contacts as well. My poor little eyes.

This story is AU in which when Gibbs and Tony worked that case in Baltimore…well, let's just say Tony didn't accept the offer to join Gibbs' team. The story is set in around the whole thing with Agent Lee went kaboom, just remember that Tony didn't join the team.

Disclaimer: I do not own any character you recognize. Even though I keep asking for them for my birthday.

Italics at the end denote a flashback.

"For all sad words of tongue and pen,

The saddest are these, 'It might have been'."

-John Greenleaf Whittier

Chapter One

McGee fumbled with the camera again. Sometimes, he thought Ziva snuck up on him on purpose just to see if he would one day drop the very expensive digital camera.

"I am sorry," Ziva said around her smirk, "I did not mean to startle you."

McGee glared at his partner but eventually went back to work. Being an Agent on Gibbs' team sometimes had its downsides.

"McGee!" Gibbs called, breaking McGee out of his train of thought, "Make sure to get a statement from the LEO who found the body."

"On it, Boss," McGee walked back to his bag and put the camera away before grabbing his iPhone to take the police officers statement.

"Hello," McGee introduced himself, "My name is Special Agent McGee and I'm assuming you're the LEO who found our Petty Officer."

"Yep," the man replied. He was McGee's height, if not a bit taller, and had light brown hair that was gently spiked, "Actually, my partner found him and as soon as I confirmed he was dead and was indeed part of the Navy, I called you guys. Learned my lesson last time."

The man smiled at McGee as McGee worked quickly to get the details down, "So you've heard of us before?"

"NCIS," the man nodded, "Naval Criminal Investigative Services. You handle anything having to do with the Marines or Navy. I've come across you a time or two."

"Well that doesn't happen often," McGee said cheerfully, happy that he wouldn't have to explain himself to another clueless cop, "But after I get your statement, I need to also get your partner's statement."

"Well," the man raised his eyebrows, a small smile playing at the corner of his lips, "He's in the cruiser right now so I can bring him out if you want."

"That would be-"

"Cisco!" the man called out, letting out a high pitched whistle as he hit a button on the keys to his car, "Come!"

McGee watched as one of the doors of the police cruiser opened and out came a large sable German Shepherd.

"Good boy," the man rubbed the dog's neck roughly before clipping a leash onto his working harness. That done, he turned back towards McGee, "You can ask him a question, Special Agent, but I don't know how helpful he'll be. I'm more of the talkative partner in this relationship."

McGee opened his mouth to respond before closing it, looking much like a fish out of water. He should have noticed the K-9 decal on the side of the police car.

"Anyway," the man started again, "Cisco and I were following a lead on a suspected robber when he caught on to the scent of your dead Petty Officer behind the dumpster. After that, I did what I told you; checked to make sure he was dead, roped off the area and called you guys."

"Thank you so much, Officer," McGee paused to let the man fill in his name so he could record it.

"Officer A-" the man started but was cut off by none other than McGee's Boss.

"Tony," Gibbs came around the corner, drinking his coffee, "What are you doing here? You the LEO that found my body?"

"Hey, Gibbs," the man, Tony apparently, smiled at Gibbs. Which was weird, McGee thought, because in all the years McGee had worked for Gibbs, that had never been anyone's reaction when they recognized the often ornery Senior Agent, "And not me. Cisco here did."

Gibbs regarded the police dog at Tony's heel before extending his hand, "What are you doing in here? Last I saw you, you were an up and coming Baltimore Homicide Detective."

Tony shrugged and smiled, "Captain wouldn't let me go out on calls after you left, considering no one wanted to partner with me. Headed over to Ohio and floated there for a bit before I headed down south. But you know me. Could never stay in one place too long."

"So now you're with Washington Metro? As a patrol officer?" Gibbs asked, a tone that McGee had never heard Gibbs use before.

"For now," Tony fiddled with the leash in his hands, "Finally found a partner that would always have my six."

"I'm glad," McGee heard Gibbs say. But he could have sworn Gibbs almost said something completely different.

"Tony DiNozzo?" Abby asked, practically jumping McGee as she rounded the office desk, "You mean the Tony DiNozzo? Baltimore Homicide Detective?"

"Well his name is Anthony DiNozzo," McGee said as he prepared to be ward of an attacked from Abby, "And he's with Metro now; part of the K-9 unit."

"Well Gibbs did say he got around," Abby mumbled as she fiddled with the straw of her Caf-Pow, "Don't you think it's odd, after all these years Tony would just appear out of nowhere right when Gibbs needed another member for his team?"

"Abby," McGee cut her off. Lee's betrayal and death were still too fresh. McGee didn't like talking about it.

"Well," Abby sighed as Major Mass Spec beeped, "I'm just saying..."

"That reminds me of that film... Did you ever see it, Dr. Mallard?" Gibbs heard the police officer's voice as it exited the NCIS autopsy room.

"Anthony, I told you last time, please call me Ducky," the Scotsman replied in kind as he listened patiently to Tony's stories. Even though the older ME occasionally… alright almost always enjoyed his own monologues, that didn't change the fact that Ducky was a very good listener. "And I have not had a chance to see that movie."

"Really?" Tony said as Gibbs walked in, "How long's it been? Eight years?"

"Nine and a half DiNozzo," Gibbs said, "What are you doing here?"

"Well," DiNozzo hopped off of Ducky's clean autopsy tables; his Visitor's badge swinging from the collar of his police uniform, "Captain wanted to make sure Dr. Mallard sent an autopsy copy over when he was done so we could have it for our records or something like that. Personally, I think he just wanted to get me out of the office. Which brings me to my next point, Gibbs; you guys need to hire a redecorator. I'm pretty sure this stuff was here the last time we crossed paths which apparently was nine-"

"And a half," Gibbs interjected and smirked when Tony continued on talking as if he had had no interruption at all.

"Years ago," Tony bowed slightly before heading towards the door, "Now that my duty is done I'm going to head on back to the station. Cisco gets a bit grumpy when I stay gone too long and I don't want to have a-"

"Take this on up to Abby for me," Gibbs shoved two vials into DiNozzo's hands before the younger man could leave. "Do you remember how to get there?"

Looking at the vials, Tony glanced up at Gibbs and stared into his eyes for a few seconds before smirking, silently telling Gibbs that he knew what the man was up to. But instead of calling the NCIS Agent on it, the police officer just nodded, "Memory like an elephant," Tony tapped his head before waving his hand, "Goodbye Dr. Mallard."

"Goodbye Anthony," Ducky said as he watched the younger man leave. "Don't you find it peculiar," Ducky asked when Tony was well out of ear shot, "That that young man should reappear right as you were in need of a-"

"I screwed up last time, Duck," Gibbs said, looking past the doors and into the past. "DiNozzo doesn't seem the type to give second chances very easily."

"Hmm," the ME hummed before opening the thoracic cavity, "Now, I do believe I might have just found another clue as to how our petty office died."

"Special Agent Gibbs," Baltimore Homicide Detective Anthony DiNozzo Jr. said through gritted teeth. He was going to kill that SOB for screwing his partner over.

"What?" Gibbs said, picking up his things from the temporary desk that Baltimore had lent him while Gibbs had helped Tony track and find their serial killer, "Shouldn't you be in the hospital?"

Tony ignored the ache in his knee. It hurt, just like it had hurt the first time he had messed it up back in college, but he was operating on anger and adrenaline. He was pretty sure when both of them ran out he would be needing the two crutches he was currently carrying.

"What did you do?" Tony asked, not at all phased by the former Marines cold stare. Tony had faced scarier opponents during his undercover days in the Mafia. A Special Agent from the Navy couldn't even compare to a psychotic Crime Boss.

"What are you talking about DiNozzo?" Gibbs asked, honestly baffled. Sure, Gibbs had gone a bit into overdrive when they had missed the serial killer the first time around but really, Tony had only suffered a dislocated knee for his troubles. Surely the kid wasn't that sore at Gibbs shoving him down the stairwell and out of danger?

"My partner," Tony said, standing his full 6'2". He was an inch or two taller than Gibbs but Gibbs had seen bigger men fall in the Corp. Size meant nothing if you didn't have the guts, or the brains, to back it.

"You talking about that waste of space of a partner that you had before this case?" Gibbs growled at the young Detective. Ed Hill was, or had been, Tony's partner. A partner that had deserted him when Tony had needed him most.

A partner that had almost gotten Tony killed.

"He just came to visit me while I was getting discharged," Tony laughed, the kind of laugh that made Gibbs' skin crawl, despite the fact that he knew he could take Tony down before the man even lifted his hand to swing, "Wanted to give me a ride home, seeing as how the NCIS Agent was using my car."

"I was coming to get you," Gibbs' eyes narrowed. Tony was pissed, and for the life of him, Gibbs didn't know why. It made him uncomfortable, not knowing, "I had a call to make and I told you to call me when you were discharged."

"Well, Hill was there waiting with me until the nurse came," DiNozzo said, "And you know what he told me as he was pulling up to my apartment? Do you know what he said, Gibbs?"

Gibbs' frowned. If Tony wasn't already injured, he'd deck the kid right now for having the audacity to come in here all half-cocked, looking like the pompous frat boy many people had warned him about.

"He said he was fired," Tony continued, quieting his voice but not the anger behind it, "Let go."

"That's not my fault," Gibbs said, realization dawning on him. Did DiNozzo blame him for-

"He had one month left," Tony raised his hand, his hand trembling with pain, as well as anger, "One freaking month until he was going to retire."

"He wasn't doing his job," Gibbs offered no apologies, "He doesn't deserve the benefits."

Tony laughed and his eyes turned a dark shade of moss, "Do you know where he was Gibbs? When I called you instead of him to back me up?"

"He was on duty," Gibbs argued back. This Detective wasn't going to make him feel guilty for reporting Hill. Apparently, this hadn't been the first time Hill had disappeared while on duty but apparently judging by Hill's dismissal, it had been his last, "He should have been with you."

"Hill's grandkid's dying, or dead now I guess," Tony scowled, with such ferocity that Gibbs figured with a bit of practice, Tony's could patent that glare, "He was with his grandkid. He had wanted to take time off but considering he's retiring, or was anyway, in a month, he didn't have any leave left. I gave him all of mine back when Josh first got diagnosed."

Gibbs gut clenched but still, he didn't say anything.

"He was six," Tony's voice lost the anger behind it when he talked about the little boy he had come to love in the short amount of time he had known him. "Say what you want about Hill about being a crappy detective or a lousy guy but he was the best partner I've had so far. And he was a damn good grandpa."

"He shouldn't have left you alone. I don't care what you think or where he was," Gibbs said and immedietaly knew he shouldn't have said anything.

"You know," Tony turned, his knee almost buckling against the strain. It took him a moment, but Tony situated the crutches until he was leaning on them. Biting his lip against the pain, Tony finally looked up at the Special Agent, "For a moment, I was just going to take your silence for an apology."

"I don't apologize," Gibbs cursed his temper. He shouldn't have said that, even if he wasn't sorry about reporting Hill for almost getting DiNozzo killed. You don't leave your partner. Hill should have found another way.

Tony smirked then, "You sound like my father."

And Gibbs knew that that comparison was something that he shouldn't be proud of.

"Marines have a saying don't they? Semper Fi?" Tony said, glancing behind him. Gibbs spotted Hill's beat up truck out of the corner of his eye. Maybe he had misjudged Tony's partner. But maybe…

"Yeah," Gibbs answered.

"Well we cops have a saying too," DiNozzo paused and took a few careful steps, "Don't screw your partner. And I trusted you, Gibb..., trusted you would keep your mouth shut when I asked you too."

"I'm not your partner."

"No," Tony shook his head, "Not for very long. But seeing as the one I had was fired, it looks like no one's my partner now."

"DiNozzo," Gibbs tried to say but the young Detective was gone.

Maybe, Gibbs thought later when he was back in D.C. still trying to find an agent that would challenge him as well as listen to him, maybe he had been wrong.

But his calls to BPD went unanswered and Gibbs figured at least, he had missed his chance.

A/N2: My elbow is feeling good. I can move all five fingers no problem! Next chapter will be up hopefully by tomorrow but it's the first day of classes so…we shall see. :) And like always, hope you read and review. I love hearing what you guys think of this story.