NCIS does not belong to me, NCIS and its characters belong to Don Bellisario and CBS.

Spoilers: 3x18 'Bait'

Any recognizable dialogue comes from the episode.

Foreign Service brat refers to a child who had at least one parent serve full-time in the United States Foreign Service during their childhood.


He knows immediately who she is, why else would agents be escorting her up via the service elevator? Taking the opportunity presented to him by the need to go through security because not even the Secretary of the Navy is allowed to bypass security he stands nonchalantly next to her before speaking.

"Despite what happened today your son is a good kid," he tells her quietly. Before she can respond, Henry waves him over and he quickly passes through security. The next and final time he sees her is right before the elevator doors close on him, when she looks directly at him and he knows that the message has been received loud and clear.

Later he stops by Abby's lab, which, devoid of Abby seems dead, lifeless, and cold. Funny how the lab is so bright, exuberant and full of life when she is in it but the minute their Gothic forensics specialist leaves it turns into a graveyard. After a few minutes he finds what he's searching for, a jazz CD buried amidst her death metal, a gift from him to her shortly after she had stopped calling him 'that Baltimore cop' and stopped referring to him by his full name and job title. Once the familiar strains of music composed by George Gershwin fill the once empty space of the lab Tony finally lets the events of the day tumble out, giving his mind the chance to examine them and then pack them up. He is sure that a psychologist would have a field day with everything his mind has packed away to be dealt with another day, one that never seems to come.

"I need to know that you're capable of making the call."

"I've done it before."

xxxxxx

By all accounts Johnny Wltshore had been dealt a crappy hand; born to a schizophrenic and crack addicted mother he had been taken away by the Maryland Child Protective Services for a time before eventually being given back to his mother. Mother and child ultimately ended up in a drug and gang infested neighborhood and the world soon wrote him off as part permanently damaged goods and part lost cause, a fact, Tony suspects, the world now regrets. The hostage negotiator had just informed him that after three hours of close to no progress that Johnny was getting agitated and that they should be prepared for the negotiations to end soon—possibly violently.

"In position," said a voice with a slight English lilt, having been a Foreign Service brat Daniel had spent a significant amount of time in the UK and despite having lived stateside for nearly twenty years he never quite lost the accent, a lingering reminder of a childhood spent outside this country's borders. "Target acquired."

Lead detective Anthony DiNozzo was beginning to regret being appointed lead.

"Tony," Daniel's voice filters through with a hint of urgency and Tony immediately understands what goes unspoken. This is their best and possibly only chance, if he is going to make the call it needs to be done now. His eyes fall on Johnny's file and for a moment Tony does not see a mentally unstable suspect but instead sees a young man dealt a bad hand by life. Immediately afterwards though he's reminded of the fact that an office building is on lockdown half a block away so is an elementary school a block and a half a way, not to mention his partner's in there too in the thick of things and then all Tony can think of is the picture of three-year-old twins, a girl and boy, tucked into the wallet. He is reminded of what the negotiator told him just moments before and of what he learned back at the academy and various training workshops and seminars he has attended over the years, he knows what he needs to do.

God forgive him.

xxxxxx

When Abby gets off the elevator, she immediately hears the soft strains of jazz emanating from her lab. Well, at least she does not have to keep looking for Tony anymore. Upon entering she finds her lost friend leaning against the wall near her office door staring off into space, it is obvious that he has not registered her presence yet. She can't help but marvel at how someone so tall, who leaves huge Tony shaped messes in his wake and would never ever be described as unnoticeable can look so small and unassuming like he does right now. Still unnoticed by Tony she takes a seat right beside him, he will notice her eventually.

"You made the best choice you could with what you were presented with," she finally says after they had been sitting in complete silence for fifteen minutes, with only the music filling the silence.

"But..." he begins, the images of the aftermath of a bomb blast with human collateral, a macabre Jackson Pollock if you will, flitting through his mind, reminding him of what was at stake if he hadn't made the right decision when an answer was demanded of him.

"No," she says firmly, effectively putting an end to his Monday morning quarterbacking. "You made the best choice at that moment and that," she emphasizes, "is all that matters."

He does not say anything and she takes it, as a taciturn acceptance of what he knows is the truth, given a couple of days Tony would come to at least accept that fact, even if he didn't like it. She idly wonders if Gibbs will come looking for them yet or if he will just be waiting in his basement, front door unlocked and bourbon ready.

"I saw her," Tony says suddenly breaking the silence.

"Who?" she asks turning to look at him.

"Kody's mom, they were bringing her up, probably to the director's office, guess she found her after all," Tony says and for the first time Abby notices there wallet-sized photograph in Tony's hand. Even without having a good look at it, Abby knew that it was a picture of his mother.

xxxxxx

"Your mother is beautiful, Tony," Abby, said holding the small wallet-sized photograph in her hand. Angela Paddington DiNozzo was a genuinely beautiful woman, with dark hair with hints of auburn and striking green eyes she had the looks of a beauty queen and it was not hard to see what could have initially drawn Anthony DiNozzo Sr. to her.

"Yeah, she was…" he says wistfully. This is his favorite mother because this is how he remembers her. Yes, she had problems with alcohol and bouts of depression that he only learned about as an adult but the woman in that photograph was not her, this was mummy. Mummy always had a smile on her face and was always willing to play with her young son, regardless of how she felt that day or how sober she was.

xxxxxx

"I couldn't make the call," he says quietly.

"Why not?" she asks curiously, she knows that making the decision is not an easy but she also knows that as a seasoned cop before coming to NCIS that Tony would have had to make such a decision at one point in time.

"Because he was 15-year-old kid who missed his mom, that's why."

"You ready to go home now?" she asks stretching out a hand to help him up.

"Yeah," he says sighing as he takes the offered hand.

"I'm staying," she announces as they make their way towards the elevator, shutting off the music as they go.

"Okay."