Feedback welcome. As you can imagine - I don't exactly do this sort of thing as a rule, so I'm interested in seeing what you think.

TI: "In the stars."

AU: SnoopMaryMar

DI: Disclaimed.


SU: I lost a bet. Babyfic.

Tony DiNozzo was many things to many people but one thing he wasn't was someone who avoided responsibility.

He'd seen the impact of men who avoided responsibility. He'd grown up the son of that kind of man and he'd felt it every single day of his life. So when Tony got the phone call, he didn't have to think twice. He'd headed straight for the airport after he'd paid for the flight and called Vance to notify him that he was taking emergency leave due to a family situation. He'd sent the others a mass email, apologizing for the short notice and not calling personally but at 2AM, he figured rule 18 could be in play.

Tony knew there would be hell to pay for not being completely honest about the situation at hand but frankly he was still dealing with the news himself.

Tony needed time to absorb that he had just become a father.

Gibbs growled under his breath, wondering if Abby was maybe right after all - paperwork had to be part bunny to multiply this much!

Truth be told, Gibbs knew it only seemed that way. Tony had always done most of Gibbs' paperwork and had just taken over doing all the logistics and resupply requests for the team as more and more hoops were created by bureaucrats desperate to justify their existence.

Hell, it was the only explanation for a form to get a form to order more forms!

With his still-unexplained absence and with every phone call and voicemail and email ignored, Gibbs was beginning to get worried about Tony. At first, he'd been furious but as the days had passed and as Tony's absence had stretched into two weeks, concern had overwhelmed anger. Gibbs knew McGee and Ziva were extremely concerned and Abby hadn't stopped searching for Tony yet.

She had even contacted Senior but he'd had no idea what the family emergency was. His suggestion that perhaps something had happened to Tony's cousins in England had been brushed aside; Tony was more likely to shoot Crispian than help him after the IOU incident and subsequent legal fight.

So they were left to wait and wonder, with no time to truly dig around - the three overdosed marines had made sure of that.

Gibbs knew he was a little overbearing at times when it came to DiNozzo. But honestly, considering how many times he'd disappeared and the trouble his senior field agent could wind up in at times, could anyone blame him?

Gibbs picked up the phone, silently hoping it wasn't another dead marine, only to shoot up from his seat before slamming the phone down. The others looked up at him from their reports.

"Boss?" McGee called after him.

"DiNozzo landed at Dulles two hours ago. Finish your reports," he threw over his shoulder as he darted into the stairwell.

Tony sighed as he flopped down onto his sofa. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath before stretching, grimacing as he felt his body snap, crackle and pop back into the right position.

It had been a horrible two weeks. Tony had no idea how difficult it could be to take your baby home from a place nobody wanted them. Cherie wanted nothing to do with either of them and it had taken a lot of wrangling to get the custody papers approved by the judge. It wasn't until Cherie herself had point-blank told the judge she wanted nothing to do with them that he'd agreed to Tony's requests.

The high chair he caught a glimpse of out of the corner of his life made him smile. He silently thanked the heavens that he'd been smart enough to make a few calls before heading home. Two good things had come out of attending the homecoming reunion that Ziva had ridiculed him about - his boy and stronger-than-ever ties with his brothers.

A borrowed crib and change-table, hand-me-downs and a delegated shopping trip had made a massive difference. Tony was able to bring his boy home from the airport without any detours. He'd walked into a townhouse with a full fridge and lots of presents from several doting OSU uncles and aunts.

But Tony knew the easy part was over. The life part was going to be a challenge to say the least.

He had to find a non-psycho nanny or at least a daycare to take a very small baby. Buy a house in a good school district with a small yard that was still within his call-in for work. Had to convince his team that he could still do his job and be a good dad without a mom in the picture. And start saving for college - the way things were going, he'd have to sell a kidney to get his boy through OSU.

And while doing that, he had to make sure his boy knew he came first, would always come first. Tony had sworn after hanging up on Cherie that he would never make his son feel like he was an imposition. Tony knew that feeling all too well and he'd eat his gun before he'd ever do that to his boy.

Tony jolted upright and stiffened at the pounding on the door. He scrambled across the floor, desperate to maintain the silence but it was too late.

The door flew open, banging hard against the wall. Gibbs stomped in and Tony had no chance to stop the yelling.

But the shrill wailing of his boy did that for him.

Gibbs swallowed hard at the sound, unable to move, to follow Tony up the stairs towards the source of the unhappy, frightened cries of a baby.

Gibbs gently shut the door behind him. He felt sickened. The cries weren't of hunger but of fear. He'd scared a *baby*, for Chrissakes, by barging in like some kind of ogre. The back of his head tingled from the imagined impact of Shannon's slap.

Guilt surged in him as he slowly walked up the stairs and into the master bedroom, towards the softening cries. He stood in the doorway, watching as his SFA cooed and rocked a small little boy (if the blue sleeper was anything to go by) back to sleep. The cries had trailed off into soft sucking sounds and Gibbs felt his heart clench as he recognized the look on Tony's face as he looked down into what had to be his son, completely oblivious to anything outside of his arms.

Looking around, Gibbs was surprised by the transformation of what had been the office alcove in Tony's bedroom into an improvised nursery. Crib, change-table and a mobile, along with a few bags of what looked like unopened presents. He watched as his agent (and Tony was his, make no mistake; he'd raised him, as far as he was concerned) gently settle the little boy down into his crib beside what looked like a mutant cookie monster doll with one eye?


Gibbs jumped at the rasp, tearing his eyes away from the freaky doll Gibbs planned on replacing with a nice marine bear the second the Quantico commissary opened! Looking at his agent, Gibbs felt something twist inside. Tony looked so tired but so damn happy it was painful to see. "What?"

"This," he waved Gibbs over. It took only a few steps until he joined him beside the crib, looking down at the pale, dirty-blonde baby who definitely took after his father, "is Robbie. Robert Anthony DiNozzo. My boy."

The pride and love colouring every syllable couldn't hide the insecurity of the old wounds eating away at his agent. "What happened, Tony?" Gibbs asked softly, putting a hand on the too-tense shoulder of his agent to calm him.

"Old flame at the reunion who decided to give motherhood a whirl. A few too many drinks and an absence of common sense on my part later, and she got her wish. Only she changed her mind, thankfully too late to take any other option."

Gibbs bit down on the urge to curse. "She never -?"

"Not even once." Tony brushed a gentle finger over his son's cheek, a smile Gibbs remembered well painting his features. "She called me out of the blue, told me I was a father, it was a boy. She didn't want him and that she'd turn him over to the state if I didn't want him." Gibbs felt a proud smile wash over him as he looked at the steady resolve and confidence filling his boy. "I'm not that guy. I'm not the guy who walks away. He may have started as an Oops but he is so very much loved and wanted."

Gibbs chucked Tony under the chin, then clasping it, refusing to allow him to hide. "You need something, you ask. Time, money, I don't care what it is, Tony. You ask me. No excuses. Got it?" Tony nodded, swallowing hard, as he realized that Gibbs wasn't the guy who walks away either. Gibbs wished not for the first time that he'd eventually have the chance to really let Senior have it without hurting Junior. No man should ever make his son feel like he wasn't worth standing by.

Turning back to look at the boy he was already mentally building toys for in his mind, Gibbs reached in and took the creepy doll out of the crib. He ignored the snicker and patted the flannel-clad back soothingly as its wearer whimpered.

"Shh, Robbie. I've got your six."