Chapter six


Emma didn’t care much that Gibbs and Tony had only had about an hour of sleep when she started wailing.

Stumbling out of Gibbs’ bed, body sore and mind sleepy but still happy, Tony made his way to the guest bedroom. The house was dark and he hit his foot on something, and he swore, but finally made it. Emma’s cries cut into his brain like a sharp knife.

“There, there,” he mumbled. “You’re okay. Let’s go make some food, shall we? That’s what you want, isn’t it? Oh yeah, food.”

He held her close as he went into the kitchen, and found that Gibbs had already prepared formula. It was in the refrigerator, ready to be put in the microwave oven for just a minute, and then it was done. He sent a mental thank you to Gibbs.

“See, we’re more efficient today,” Tony said. “Well, tonight. But who cares. Here. Eat.”

He held the nipple to Emma’s lips and it took a few seconds, but she latched on and started downing the liquid at high speed. Tony moved back to the guest bedroom and sat down as he had the night before. Emma was blessedly silent, tiny hands wrapped around the bottle as well. Tony gazed down at her, still wondering why anyone would do this by choice – but at the same time there was a speck of something else; a semblance of understanding.

After a while, Emma stopped drinking with the same vigor and she began dozing off, nipple still in her mouth. Tony put the bottle on the nightstand and stood up with her, patting her back gently. He mostly just wanted to go to sleep – blissfully, he remembered that Gibbs’ warm embrace awaited him in bed – but Emma would start screaming again if she hadn’t been burped correctly. Ducky had said something about gases hurting her if she wasn’t burped. Tony wondered how the human race had managed to stay alive so long.

Gibbs stood in the doorway suddenly, looking far more awake than Tony. There was a small smile on his lips, barely visible in the darkness of the room.

Tony put Emma down, thinking she looked like a doll.

“Let’s go back to bed,” Gibbs said, very softly, hand on the small of Tony’s back, leading him back to the bedroom. “She’ll sleep till morning.”

“I hope so,” Tony said, yawning as he climbed into bed. He glanced at Gibbs. “Wait, does this mean I’m the mom, and you’re the dad? I don’t want to be a mom.”

Gibbs shook his head, smiling fondly. “Go to sleep, Tony.”

Tony snuggled up close, head resting on Gibbs’ shoulder. “Yes, boss.”

He fell asleep within seconds.

new scene

Morning came all too soon, but Tony had to admit that the feeling of waking up with Gibbs’ warm body pressed against his own was decidedly pleasant. He could get used to it.

He doubted he could get used to – or wanted to get used to – waking up to the sound of shrill crying.

He groaned – but then felt Gibbs get up.

“I’ll take her,” Gibbs said quietly.

Tony opened a sleepy eye to watch as Gibbs left the bedroom. He felt thankful, even though he knew that Gibbs was as responsible for Emma’s wellbeing as Tony was. It was their burden to share, even if Gibbs had delegated babysitting to Tony.

Once he managed to drag himself out of bed – the cries had quieted by then – Tony put on a pot of coffee and grabbed some cereal in the kitchen. Gibbs was sitting in the living room with Emma lying on her back on the couch, drinking her breakfast. She looked content – and so did Gibbs, if that was possible.

He poured a cup of coffee for Gibbs and handed it to him as he returned to the kitchen.

“Thanks,” Gibbs said.

“A thanks?” Tony asked. “For coffee? I should’ve slept with you years ago. A grunt is the most I’ve ever gotten at work.”

Gibbs glowered at him. “Nothing changes there.”

Tony shrugged. “I figured as much. Rule number twelve and all. But that only applies to dating – are we dating? Dating Gibbs. That even sounds weird.”

Gibbs continued to glare, but there was a hint of amusement on his lips.

“Do we tell anyone?” Tony asked.

“Let’s see what happens,” Gibbs said.

“Abby will find out:” Tony couldn’t help but grin. “She’s like a bloodhound. She told me we should have sex.”

Gibbs made a sound that sounded suspiciously like a snort. “Let’s see what happens.”

Finishing his cereal, Tony put the bowl away. “Want me to take her?”

Gibbs handed Emma over and then he put the towel he’d worn on his shoulder in the sink.

“We should probably change you before we leave, shouldn’t we?” Tony said to Emma. She gazed back at him with large blue eyes and blew raspberries at him.

Tony wondered if he’d have to give her away today. Would they solve the case and find Rosen? He hoped so – most of him, anyway. There was a small part, a tiny part, one that was only barely allowed to voice its thoughts, that didn’t really want them to solve the case. Not just yet.

He pondered the possibility of keeping track of her, just to know that she was all right. It wasn’t that he cared – he didn’t, not really; she was just another case and a screaming, rather annoying one at that – but he’d been stuck with her for two days, and up with her for two nights, and she was just so sweetly innocent now, a bit of saliva dribbling down her cheek. He wanted to make sure that she would be all right, despite the horrors of her parents being murdered.

He changed her, the movements becoming easier and smoother with each time he did it, and he dressed her in a beige onesie with teddy bears on it. She giggled when he tickled her and looked up at him with big eyes when he kissed the top of her head.

The shrill sound of Gibbs’ cell phone echoed through the house. A minute later, Gibbs yelled, “DiNozzo!”

“Yes, boss?” Tony came back, carrying Emma to the kitchen.

“Got a hit on the BOLO,” Gibbs said. “Elliot Rosen’s been spotted in Arlington.”

Tony’s heart beat a bit faster. “Are we going?”

“I’m going,” Gibbs said. “You’re staying here, with her.”

“But boss—”

“DiNozzo, I’m not bringing a baby to the possible arrest of her parents’ murderer,” Gibbs snapped. “It’s not a discussion. You’re staying here.”

Tony sighed. “Can I at least go to the office with her?”

Gibbs nodded. “Yeah. Have McGee pick you up.”

“What about Ziva?” Tony asked.

“She’s coming with me,” Gibbs said. He was on his way out of the door when he turned again. “Do not come after me, or you’ll be looking for a new job.”

Tony pouted. “I’ll be a good babysitter.”

“You better be.”

“Don’t I even get a goodbye kiss?” Tony asked.

The heavy frown was exchanged for a brief smile. He stepped back inside and kissed Tony lightly, then pressed a kiss to Emma’s forehead.

“Keep an eye on him, will you?” Gibbs said to Emma. “He gets into trouble a lot.”

“I don’t!” Tony protested. “Trouble finds me.”

Gibbs gave him a look that told him he clearly didn’t believe him and then he was gone, the tires screeching as he pulled out of the driveway. Taking a few steps outside onto the porch, Tony felt every bit like the mother and housewife he had protested against being a few hours ago. A baby on his hip, kissing Gibbs goodbye – he wasn’t sure he liked it. Then again, he wasn’t sure he didn’t like it.

He called McGee, who knew where Gibbs and Ziva were going, but was surprised to hear that he needed to pick Tony up.

“My car’s at NCIS, McGenius,” Tony said. At least he didn’t have to come up with an explanation for why he was att Gibbs’ house.

“Oh,” said McGee. “Well, I can be there in twenty, if that’s okay.”

“It’s fine.” Tony hung up.

He found the car seat in the garage, though he wasn’t sure when Gibbs had had the time to remove it from the car. Then again, Gibbs was magic, and that hadn’t changed just because they’d had sex.

They’d had sex.

A part of Tony’s mind would even go so far as to say that they’d made love, which was ridiculous and sappy and totally un-Tony-like, but it was what it felt like.

Emma stuck her fingers up his nose, effectively bringing his attention back to her.

“Yeah, I guess we should get ready to leave,” Tony said. “You do need an awful lot of things, don’t you?”

McGee arrived within the twenty minute timeframe he’d promised and Tony held Emma out to him.

“Hold her while I install the car seat.”

McGee looked uncertainly at Emma. “I, uh—”

“She neither breaks nor bites because you touch her, Probie,” Tony said, smirking because he had a much better handle with Emma than McGee did. He remembered Gibbs telling him the same thing that he had just told McGee. “Just take her for five minutes. She’s been glued to my side for the last forty-eight hours.”

“She won’t start screaming or something?” McGee asked.

“Can’t promise you that; she’ll get a close-up look at a McGeek after all,” Tony said. “I think I’d start screaming after that too.”

“Oh, ha, ha,” McGee said, glaring.

“Don’t you have a sister?” Tony asked. “You should be used to this stuff.”

“Yeah, twenty years ago,” McGee muttered.

He did take her, albeit hesitantly. Tony assumed McGee looked the way Tony had when he’d first gotten Emma assigned to him. He held her uncomfortably, though he did allow her to lean on him, which Tony hadn’t – perhaps he could recall a little of what it had been like when his sister was little, or perhaps there had been cousins or something.

Tony watched for a moment, before turning to the car seat.

“All done,” he announced a few minutes later.

“Good, you take her.” McGee handed Emma over with obvious relief.

Tony took her and made a show of how easily he did so.

“See, she doesn’t bite,” he said. “Just pulls at my hair and screams every now and then.”

“It’s really weird seeing you being comfortable with a baby,” McGee said, staring at him. “You’re very good with her.”

Tony shrugged, feeling his cheeks heat at the honest praise. “I got used to it. Like I said, she’s been glued to my side for two whole days. Was easier to just deal with it.”

McGee smiled slightly. “I’ll take a few pictures of you when we get to NCIS.”

Tony put Emma in her car seat. There were no pictures of them together – there shouldn’t really be, because they’d only been in each others’ lives for two days and Tony would be a no one in her life pretty soon – but the idea of having a picture of her, of them, warmed Tony. He wanted to swat the feeling away, much like the idea of him and Gibbs making love, but didn’t quite manage.

Emma squealed happily throughout the journey and McGee glanced at her through the rear view mirror enough times to make Tony snap at him to keep his eyes on the road.

At NCIS, the guards greeted the trio and they headed inside.

Tony sat down with Emma on his lap by his desk and she made high-pitched sounds, hitting notes that only bats should be able to hear.

A flash went off and Tony looked up to find McGee grinning at them.

“Told you I’d take pictures,” he said.

“Yeah,” Tony said. “I’d just like to be prepared.”

“Better pictures of unprepared subjects,” McGee said.

Tony didn’t agree; there were plenty of photos of the team at crime scenes, where they looked awful because they’d been unaware, or unprepared, of the photo being taken.

Abby came sprinting into the bullpen. “I heard you guys got a hit on the BOLO.”

“Yep,” McGee said.

“Do they have her yet? Are we closing the case?” Abby asked. “Are you giving her back?”

“Don’t know yet,” Tony said. “Gibbs’ll interrogate her and then we’ll know.”

“No,” Abby said. “I found a partial fingerprint on one of the shell casings. The shooter tried to pick it up, but it was too hot, so they dropped it and left it be. A little bit of skin stuck, as well as the print.”

“Did you run it?” McGee asked.

Abby rolled her eyes. “No, I figured no one would care about a fingerprint,” she said sarcastically. “Of course I ran it. It matches – drum roll—”

“Petty Officer Rosen,” Tony said.

Abby grinned. “Got it in one. She killed Emma’s parents.”

They sobered a bit at that, looking down at the oblivious baby on Tony’s lap. Emma slobbered and played with Tony’s shirt, seeming quite happy.

Abby sighed. “This sucks.”

“Yeah,” Tony said softly, dropping a kiss on Emma’s head. “It does.”

He wondered what life would hold for her. Would Emma’s mother’s sister in Australia – who by the looks of it had been estranged from Emma’s mother for over a decade, probably because of Mrs. Brown’s drug problems – be willing to take care of Emma? Would whoever was in charge let her move to Australia? Would she be loved?

He couldn’t help but think about what his own life would have been like, had his parents died when he was a baby. He probably wouldn’t be the same person he was now. He wouldn’t have grown up with a silver spoon in his mouth and parents so distant that young Anthony would go to the cook to talk before telling his mother – but perhaps he’d have been in foster care, or something along those lines. Perhaps it would have been better or perhaps it would have been worse.

The camera flashed again, bringing Tony back to the present.

“Would you stop doing that?” he snapped.

“No,” McGee said.

“They’re so cute together,” Abby said to McGee. “Aren’t they sweet together?”

“Very,” McGee said. “Like sugar and honey on ice cream.”

Abby made a face. “Sugar overdose! It’d have to be dark chocolate ice cream – Tony can be that, and Emma’s the sugar and honey.”

“This discussion is bizarre,” Tony whispered loudly to Emma. “Don’t you have work to do?”

“Not really, until Gibbs calls or gets back with anything,” Abby said. “All the evidence has been processed, bagged and tagged, ready to convict Rosen of a double homicide.”

“And I have all of Rosen’s records, bank statements, et cetera,” McGee said. “Nothing more for me to find.”

“So we can be here, annoying you instead,” Abby said.

“Oh, joy,” Tony muttered.

“Can I hold her a little?” Abby asked.

Tony looked down at Emma. A sudden desire to say no to Abby’s request shot through him, surprising him. He couldn’t find a good reason to deny her, though, and he handed her off.

He wondered where the thought had come from. He wasn’t attached to Emma. They’d known each other for two days – it wasn’t possible for an attachment to have developed. He was an NCIS Field Agent – Senior Field Agent, in fact – and he was perfectly happy with his life – especially now that Gibbs had become a part of it on a private plane too. There was no place in his life for a child, least of all a baby who spent what had to be at least a third of the hours of the day screaming her lungs out.

Abby bumped Emma on her knee and Emma giggled. It was a lovely sound, it really was.

Tony shook his head. He wasn’t supposed to think this way.

The phone rang, a blessed distraction from his thoughts.

“Hey boss,” he said.

“We’re bringing her in,” Gibbs said, in his usual brusque manner. The man had zero telephone etiquette, but Tony was used to it.

“Where was she?” Tony asked.

“Homeless shelter in Arlington,” Gibbs said. “She’s in pretty bad shape.”

“What’s your ETA?”

“Twenty minutes,” Gibbs said and hung up.

Tony informed Abby and McGee. They both nodded and then they went back to paying attention to Emma. Emma appeared to enjoy being the center of attention of two people. Tony pretended to work – he checked through his email, lazily clicking through the junk mail – but watched the three out of the corner of his eye. They looked like a little family; happy mother, happy father, happy baby. Abby, McGee and Emma – that was what a family should look like.

Five minutes before Gibbs, Ziva and Rosen were to arrive back at NCIS, Tony took Emma back. Abby returned to the lab while McGee followed Tony and Emma to the observation room.

It didn’t take long for Ziva to bring Petty Officer Ellie Rosen into the interrogation room. Gibbs was right – Rosen was in bad shape. Her hair hung, dirty and messy, and it didn’t seem to have been washed in at least a week. Her skin was dirty, and there were spots of dried blood on her skin and her clothes. Her hands shook and she couldn’t sit still as she waited for Gibbs to come in.

Gibbs came into the observation room.

“Abby matched a fingerprint on one of the shell casings to Rosen, boss,” Tony said. “She did it.”

“Yeah,” Gibbs said.

“We should take samples of the blood on her clothes,” McGee said. “Some of it might belong to the Browns.”

“Already on its way down to Abby,” Gibbs said.

“Okay,” Tony said. “So what are you doing here? She doesn’t look like she needs any more time to get stressed out.”

Gibbs looked at him, his gaze warm and intense. There was a smile, not on his face, but in his eyes, and with sudden clarity, Tony realized that Gibbs had come simply to see Tony – and perhaps Emma too. It felt—amazing to know.

Gibbs turned and left, and a glance to his side told Tony that McGee was none the wiser.

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