The elevator doors opened. DiNozzo approached his desk carrying two large paper bags of food.
"Hey." DiNozzo said setting it down on his desk.
"Hey." McGee said looking at him in concern.
"Are you all right?" McGee asked.
"Yeah. . .even I can't mess up a lunch order, McGee." DiNozzo said.
"No, I meant you." McGee corrected looking at him in concern.
"Yeah. . .why. . .what have you heard?" DiNozzo asked.
"Did Jan from accounting tell you about last night?" DiNozzo said defensively. "Whatever she told you. . .it was not planned."
McGee looked at him curiously and confused.
"No." McGee said trying to redirect the conversation. "This has nothing to do with her. I want to talk to you about what happened earlier. . ."
"What? At the crime scene. . .earlier? You know I was just kidding McGee." DiNozzo said. "Okay I am sorry that I made you ride in the back of the truck again."
"No. . .Tony, I am talking about what happened in the squad room earlier." McGee said trying to redirect DiNozzo.
"Oooooh! Oh no, did I mess up this food order?" DiNozzo said, looking at the food list.
"No Tony. . .this isn't about the food!" McGee yelled.
"This is about you getting slapped in the face by Gibbs." McGee said bluntly, in frustration.
DiNozzo snickered. "Oh no, I wasn't slapped in the face by Gibbs. It never happened."
"Here. . .here is your burrito." DiNozzo said trying to walk away. McGee grabbed his arm and pulled him back.
"Tony . . .would you stop it?" McGee said.
"Look, McGee it is already forgotten. Let it go." DiNozzo said.
"Let it go?" McGee repeated.
"Let what go?" Gibbs asked entering the squad room.
"My arm would be nice." DiNozzo said, pulling himself away from McGee.
McGee locked up seeing Gibbs in the squad room with DiNozzo. He stood in the middle of both of them, and he suddenly froze without having the support of the rest of the team.
"I need to see Ducky." McGee said and left the room.
"Hey Palmer" McGee said. "Where is Ducky?"
"I am right here McGee." Ducky said. "I needed sometime to process everything and prepare my words before I talk with Jethro."
"Did you talk to Anthony?" He asked.
"Yeah, he told me to let it go." McGee repeated. "He said that it was already forgotten."
"What?" Ducky asked. "Is he pretending like it didn't happen at all?"
"Who?" Abby asked entering Autopsy with Ziva. "You are talking about Tony aren't you?"
"Oh hey Duck." Gibbs said biting into his burrito. "Are you finished already?"
"No, I haven't started yet." Ducky admitted, as he now stood in front of Gibbs.
"You haven't started yet?" Gibbs said in shock. His body froze and he put his burrito down.
"The case will get solved Jethro." Ducky said. "It always does."
"Duck" Gibbs warned, but he was in shock of the statement coming from him.
"I need to see you and Agent DiNozzo as soon as possible." Ducky said.
"He is still in the conference room." Gibbs said, pulling out his phone and looking to Ducky in surprise.
"Both of you, come down to autopsy when you're ready then." Ducky said. Gibbs nodded.
After being alone for quite a while after Ducky left, Ziva and McGee returned to the squad room. They quietly returned to their desks.
Gibbs looked at them suspiciously. He caught sight of DiNozzo heading down the stairs with the Marine's wife, whom he escorted to the elevator doors before approaching the squad room.
"Hey." Gibbs said. DiNozzo looked up at him.
"We need to go down to autopsy." Gibbs said softly, hoping that Ziva and McGee did not hear that. DiNozzo had not had the opportunity to sit down; instead, he joined Gibbs and they headed for the elevator.
"Find out anything from the Marine's wife?" Gibbs asked as they got into the elevator.
"No, she really hasn't seen him much within the three weeks that he has been back." DiNozzo answered.
The elevator doors opened and they entered autopsy.
"All right, Duck, we are here." Gibbs said.
"What is going on?" DiNozzo asked.
"We are having an intervention." Ducky said.
"What?!" DiNozzo laughing. "For what exactly?"
Ducky looked at DiNozzo sternly for his laughing. He looked them both over carefully.
"Is this about the misfired head slap?" DiNozzo asked. Gibbs groaned.
DiNozzo tried to conceal his own laughter. Gibbs looked to him curiously.
Ducky glared at both of them.
"It was an accident." Gibbs and DiNozzo said in unison in a serious tone.
"Okay, but shouldn't this warrant at least an apology?" Ducky asked looking to Gibbs. "This isn't right, Jethro."
"Oh no. . .Rule 41" DiNozzo said in Gibbs' defense.
"Rule 41?" Ducky asked in confusion.
"No face slapping." Gibbs said.
"Are you serious?" Ducky asked. "Well, in that case, Gibbs you broke your own rule."
"But, an apology is assumed for accidental misfires." DiNozzo added. "This isn't the first time this has happened, you know. It has. . . been over eight years since the last accident."
"This rule was created when DiNozzo joined NCIS." Gibbs added.
"Look we are very concerned about this, and we don't want this coming between you." Ducky said.
"I agree. That is why there is a Rule 41. I don't like it when Gibbs is being. . .all nice and acting all weird around me. And, we all know how he doesn't believe in apologizing. It is all just so creepy when he does it anyway." DiNozzo confessed and then jumped when he saw that Gibbs was looking him over, after making the comment.
"Ugh. . .it is best to dismiss it as quickly as it happens." DiNozzo quickly restated, hoping to get himself off of their radars.
"Come on, Tony." Gibbs said, pulling DiNozzo in the direction of the elevator.
"Oh, could you mention this to the rest of the grapevine?" Gibbs said with a smile, as he leaned back to yell into Ducky.
"Gibbs, we are not finished here!" Ducky yelled.
When the elevator doors closed, DiNozzo started to laugh. Gibbs smiled lightly and looked him over.
"I am sorry about the face slap, Tony." Gibbs said seriously, looking to him apologetically.
"Come on, I know Boss." DiNozzo said becoming embarrassed and shyly turned away. After making the comment, Gibbs could see that this part was more humiliating than the slap itself.
"Tony." Gibbs said strongly, causing DiNozzo to face him again.
"Obviously, I should have said that an hour ago." Gibbs admitted. "We wouldn't be in this position now."
"True." DiNozzo said. "But you know me, I like the attention." DiNozzo said.
"Here I was going to head slap you for just making a few comments about a car." Gibbs admitted in an out-of-character guilty tone.
"Now, in the last hour, you have accomplished more than the rest of the team combined." Gibbs added. "We'll never have this case solved."
"They have been talking about us this whole time." DiNozzo laughed shaking his head. "They will probably spend another hour talking about what just happened in autopsy."
"Hey, . . .can we do this again? April Fools' Day maybe. . .?" DiNozzo added. Gibbs grinned and shook his head, as he turned serious again.
"Let's go to my basement. I could use some Bourbon." Gibbs said.
Thank you so much for reading, for your comments/feedback, and for the alerts.