A Sign of the Times - Gibbs' POV

"Dinozzo," Gibbs barked into the phone.

"Yes, boss?" The voice on the other end of the line was distracted.

"Get your ass into work."

"Boss?" The sounds of the television in the background ceased. "Give me an hour."

"I don't care if you're naked, it doesn't take an hour to get here. You can watch the movie later. Get a move on it, DiNozzo."

He could hear rustling on the other end of the phone and could almost imagine the young man rifling through his drawers. "Are you calling me because there's a hot murder case or because you're stuck at work?"

"Neither. We've got a cold case that just went hot."

"One of ours?"


"Which one?"


There was a muttered curse and more rustling. "There better be some coffee left when I get there."

"I'll even make a pot at your strength."

"Thanks. See ya, boss." Tony hung up and Gibbs laughed to himself. He'd had the same reaction when the Director called him. Honestly, the case was white collar. There was just missing money, no bodies, no rapes, nothing dangerous. But an unnamed high-rank personage had seen their missing primary suspect on a beach in Florida with a pretty blonde.

Tony showed up, less than an hour later, neatly dressed and freshly scrubbed. He looked at the boxes that littered the office area. He frowned. "Do those things multiply in evidence or what?"

"The papers? Probably. Pencils sharpened, DiNozzo."

"Right. Where do you want me to start?"

"Go over the books again. Complete financial work up."



"It took me three weeks to do those financials the first time around."

"You're better now."

DiNozzo's eyes narrowed. "You're buying me lunch. Coffee ready?"

Gibbs raised a brow. "Orders?"

"Statements of fact."

"I want a list of anything he might have in Florida."

"On it, boss." The young man took off his windbreaker, exposing his shoulder holster. Gibbs smiled grimly to himself. It had taken Tony three weeks to do the financials because he'd been working with a sprained wrist, one eye swollen shut, and pain meds for his broken ribs that put him to sleep. There was at least one nurse out there who was still convinced that Gibbs had done it. He poured the coffee. Hell, DiNozzo'd lasted over three years now. It had to be a record for both of them.

Tony was pouring over the numbers, pencil tapping sharply on the pad of papers. He'd stop occasionally, making a note on his legal pad. Then, the tapping would start. Tony put his hand out for his coffee, not bothering to look up. Gibbs gave into the temptation. He ruffled Tony's hair, just to hear him squawk about it. "Gibbs!"


"Just because you don't care about your hair."

"Don't worry. It looks. . . cute." Gibbs was on his way to his desk when the ball of paper hit him in the back of his head.


The pizza was open on Tony's desk and they were both eating from it. The conversation had lapsed for a moment. "Is there a book or something you'd reccomend if I wanted to learn to sign?" Tony asked, apropos of nothing.

Gibbs studied the young man, trying to assess his seriousness. Tony looked up, as if he'd heard the mental command and their eyes met for a long moment. "Let me teach you," Gibbs said finally.

"Sure," Tony agreed with a smile. His eyes were bright.

The former Marine considered his senior agent. "You'll want to find a dictionary to supplement, but I'll walk you through things. Oh, and Tony, if you don't sign, I won't answer. From here on, I'm deaf to you unless we're on a scene."

"Boss?" Tony swallowed. There was a hint of fear in Tony's eyes now.

"Sign it. Even if you have to finger-spell it. I know you know that much."

"I don't understand, boss." He watched the young man calmly. "Boss?" Tony tried again, finger-spelling the word slowly. Gibbs smiled.

B-O-S-S, Gibbs signed, then made the real sign.

"Boss?" Tony confirmed using the sign. They worked through the files. There wasn't a lot to say beyond, I need that file. Tony looked up with a frustrated sigh. "Boss, I need McGee." He stumbled through the sentence. He used "MIT" for McGee like Abby usually did. Gibbs nodded. That had to be a big step. Tony didn't like working the weekends, but he really hated not having Gibbs' full attention when he did work weekends like this. If he needed McGee, then he'd get him. He gestured toward the phone. Tony sighed. He glared at his boss. Gibbs smirked, laughing at the man's reluctance. "Hey, Probie. We're working a case. I need your eyes for something. No, not computer related. But it does have to do with numbers. Oh, and hurry, Gibbs is driving me insane. McGee is coming in."

Gibbs absorbed that. He signed slowly and distinctly. Tony bit his lip, silently translating. "You something MIT," he said to himself. He mimicked the middle sign with raised brows. He seemed to be figuring it out. "Teach?" he asked. Gibbs nodded. "Get more coffee." DiNozzo rolled his eyes, but got the gist of that one easily enough. Of course, the fact that he didn't actually have to say it these days might have had something to do with it. Gibbs smirked to himself. If he could get his whole team to sign, they'd drive the organization insane.

"Sorry about the time, Probie." Gibbs glanced at the clock to confirm that it was only quarter to eleven. Just another all nighter. Too bad that they were all exempt from over-time.

McGee shrugged. He blinked a few times. "What do you need me to look at?"

"These financials. There's something wrong with them, but I'm missing it."

"Okay. What am I looking at?"

A few hours later, McGee was looking a lot more alert. "How did you learn all this stuff?"

"Self-preservation." Tony shrugged.

Gibbs caught the young man's attention. "Teach McGee."

"Don't want to, boss," Tony signed back carefully.

Gibbs frowned. He signed "cop-heart" slowly enough that Tony winced, obviously reading his irriation.

"On it, boss."

McGee was frowning at him. "Did Gibbs lose his voice?"

"No, I made the mistake of mentioning I wanted to learn sign. He wants me to teach you."

Gibbs listened in with glee. He looked over the background check information that he had on his own desk. He glanced up to verify that Tony was signing.

"I guess you'll want the website Abby showed me."

"You are a blessing, Probie. Now, see how this doesn't add up, we need to find out where the money went instead of into these accounts."

Gibbs clapped sharply. Tony looked at him, eyes wide. "Sign it, Tony."

"Bastard," Tony signed carefully.

Gibbs smirked. "You know it." He turned to his computer. He squinted at the screen, bringing up the email program. "Abby," he typed, "I'm teaching Tony to sign. Don't respond unless he signs to you." He sent the message to her home address. As he'd guessed, there was a message back in less than a minute.

"Gotcha," she agreed. Tony was going to shoot him.

"This is going to be Hell, isn't it," McGee muttered.

"The other reason I needed you here," Tony said, signing slowly. "He's driving me crazy."

"Short trip."

"Don't make me hurt you, Probie."

The weekend progressed. McGee found the hidden accounts through some almost-legal hacking. Tony verified it on hard copy. It was a good weekend's work. They'd get the information to the Florida team and let them bring him in. If he didn't break, then they'd fly to Florida. "Go home," Gibbs ordered. "Reports ready on Monday."


Gibbs was buried in his files, trying to get ahead just in case they were called. The room was quiet, except for the background murmur of other teams. Tony waved to catch Gibbs' attention. "I'm going to see Abby."

"There better be a report on my desk first." DiNozzo would "forget" to finish his report if he didn't get it done right now. Contrary to popular belief, he didn't like yelling at his team. It made Tony jumpy. Well, then again, he did enjoy yelling at them. He watched Tony work over top of his coffee cup. The young man was focussed today. It was nice to see that investigator every once and awhile. He didn't miss having Kate around. Tony didn't bother with as much attention seeking behavior when it was just the two of them.

The smell of Five Guys wafted through the room, announcing McGee's return. Tony's head lifted up, seeking the grease. It was a guy thing. Kate never indulged in it, the fool. The three men shared the fries. They tucked into their burgers with almost identical sighs of pleasure.

Burton's team walked by. The youngest one grinned and waved. Tony waved back. Gibbs glared at Tony. He might not want his team cowering in fear, but he hated the idea that the young man might be looking for another team.

"What?" The young agent didn't sign the word.

Gibbs raised his brows.

"Forget it," Tony signed, frustration showing in his eyes. Gibbs bit into his burger, happily. There was plenty of time to remind DiNozzo that he didn't take team loyalty lightly. When Tony escaped to see Abby, Gibbs grinned. McGee looked at him nervously.

"There a problem, McGee?"

"No, boss."

"Report ready yet?"

McGee winced. "On it, boss."

The phone rang. "Gibbs."


"What's up, Duck?"

"What have you done to young Anthony? He seemed rather tense when he went to the lab."

"And you assume it has to do with me?"


"Nothing he didn't ask for, Ducky. He's learning to sign."

"And I take it that you have either forbidden him to speak or done something foolish such as not listening to him?"

"Ducky," Gibbs heard the warning in his voice.

"You know Anthony enjoys trading quips with his teammates. He needs the sound of voices to feel connected."

"Ducky, he's fine. If it gets to be too much, he'll let me know."

"Will he, Jethro, or will he merely bow to your wishes once again?"

"We're not having this conversation again." Gibbs hung up the phone.


"I was thinking chocolate pudding and whipped cream with cherries," Gibbs signed. Tony looked at him with a confused frown.


"Nothing. Get to work, DiNozzo."

McGee was alternately hiding behind his computer monitor and sulking in the lab with Abby. Gibbs mostly ignored it. They didn't have any cases that were urgent. He didn't really care what his agents did as long as the work got done. "Maybe handcuffs and a blindfold," he signed almost absently.

"You're doing that on purpose," Tony accused, almost pouting. Oh, who was Gibbs kidding, pouting. There was no one to bother them except the security cameras. Tony was pouting. He was also known to sulk. Gibbs caught his eyes. That intense connection lay between them for a long moment. Tony looked away first. He always did, but only with Gibbs.

"Really, you should try the strawberry sauce."

"Stop it, you're making me hungry."



"That report done yet?"


Kate showed up a few hours late, but that had been expected. By that time, Tony was glaring at his boss. Tony was actually rather good at discerning the Gibbs' needs without anything but a glare, but it was fun to frustrate him. He'd almost worn the last mug of coffee Tony'd brought him and was glad to see the sparks in the sweet green eyes. Tony didn't get pissed off nearly often enough.

"What did he do this time?" Kate asked Tony as she sat down.

"Nothing for you to worry about," Gibbs stated flatly. "Get to work, Dinozzo," he added.

"Boss," Tony said calmly. Gibbs didn't move. Tony snorted. He waved his hand. Gibbs glanced up. "Boss," Tony repeated, signing this time, "Why did you involve, Abby?"

"Because I could." Gibbs smirked.

"Just so you know, I am getting Ducky to help me hide your body," Tony responded. Gibbs laughed.

"What's with the signing? Gibbs, did you lose your voice?"

"No, Kate. DiNozzo wanted to learn to sign, I'm teaching him."

"No, Kate, he's not teaching, he's torturing. He won't listen to me at all, and now he's got Abby doing it too. She pretends that she can't hear me! At least she taught me how to curse more than a year ago." Tony stalked to his boss' desk. Gibbs watched him from the corner of his eye, appreciating the grace.

"I'm using full immersion. He'll never learn if he has to rely on talking to me. And it won't do him any good with a witness if he has to rely on their ability to read lips. I'm sure Abby's teaching him words I don't want him to know. On the plus side, it's been quieter around here. You should try it."

"Try what? Signing? No, thanks."

"It's useful."

Tony waved to catch Gibbs' attention. He'd been surprisingly patient. "Lunch time. I'm going out. Don't expect me before one."

"Take your phone," Gibbs responded. Tony flipped him off, but picked up his phone. Gibbs caught his attention "Promises, promises."

A sweet blush glazed Tony's cheeks for the instant before he turned to leave. Gibbs supressed the smirk that wanted to fill his face. He had him, now he just had to keep him. It was past Tony's usual two year record and he needed to know just how much he'd take.


When Tony got back, he was more settled. He noted the small smile that indicated that he'd indulged in his comfort food of choice. He'd likely flirted outrageously with his waitress, or waiter, and Gibbs felt a surge of jealousy. He nearly blinked at the sensation, but steeled himself to it. No, he was not going to get jealous any time DiNozzo left his sight.

Tony sniped at McGee about hiding out in the lab.

"How was the weekend, McGee?" Kate asked, breaking the silence that had decended on the group.

"I got a crash course in accounting," McGee responded. "Paper accounting and double books." He nodded towards Tony. "But other than that, actually rather quiet for once. No one got hurt."

"That's a start. One of Tony's dates didn't try to kill him for not showing up?"

Tony ignored her. Gibbs focussed on the phone call. "Appearantly not, Agent Todd." She seemed startled that he'd call her on teasing Tony, but Gibbs didn't care. He'd been hard on the young man. He deserved a break. "Tony," Gibbs waved when the green eyes opened. Tony looked up. "Get the car, we have a case." Tony caught the keys, grabbed his things and left the office.


Gibbs made his "Tony" sign - cop plus heart. Tony cocked his head to the side. He glanced at the crime scene. He nodded, "Boss," he signed without bothering to speak. It was more a case of familiarity than anything else that them function as a team. There was a dead Marine in an appearantly locked room and Gibbs wanted to know why. McGee was busy fetching equipment and Kate was working on the far side of the room. Before Gibbs could reach the bartop that dominated the room, Tony's voice came to his ears, strangled, scared.

"Boss, trouble." Tony was staring at a snake and it stared back at him. Gibbs noticed Kate pull her gun from the corner of his eye. Non-poisonous, he assessed. He waited to see what his team would do. Sometimes, they needed to figure things out on their own. McGee came back with the shoebox Gibbs had left in the back of the car, empty of the shoes he'd once kept there. He was wearing them right now, actually.

McGee had punched holes in the top. He moved forward slowly to hand over the box without startling the snake. He paused, maybe so that he wouldn't startle the older agent who was still frozen staring at the snake. The snake slithered toward it and into the shoebox, obviously a pet. Tony put the lid onto the box carefully. He wrapped it with the crime scene tape Gibbs offered him. "At least Abby will be happy," McGee muttered. He retreated with the snake.

"Back to work, DiNozzo," Gibbs snapped - "You okay?" he signed. Tony nodded. Not many people knew Tony's reluctance with reptiles.

"Fine. I'm thinking of asking for a divorce." The signing was slow, but understandable.

"Never going to happen," Gibbs replied with an icy glare. He started his search by the bar. "McGee, ambulance!" Gibbs knelt down and felt for the young woman's pulse. There was blood in her hair. Damn, he refused to lose another person to whatever had happened here.

The EMT's surged into the small space and Gibbs left them to it, making sure to note anything they moved. Luckily, Tony had already taken shots of the room. He was sketching now. Kate was starting to print the place. What a stellar waste of time that was going to be.


Gibbs glared at the group of idiots in front of them. The stupid bastards hadn't even stayed up to watch their prank, thinking they'd have plenty of time to review the tape. Their big, bad Marine buddy, scared by a little snake. They shifted uncomfortably under the weight of his gaze. McGee had gotten the information from their dead man's new fiancee. He wasn't sure they'd get a prosecuter to do anything with the case, but he had to send it up and see. He nearly growled. He left the idiots in the care of the lawyers and hoped that they'd at least get the scare of their lives from this.

Ducky had rambled on for hours about the snake and the heart condition and the bartender's concussion. Gibbs let the words wash over him. Sometimes there was nothing better than listening to the randomly weaving stories to calm him down. Eventually, he sighed. He had to finish up his report and get his team to go home. If he was lucky, he'd get DiNozzo to smile at least once more before they all left.


Tony stretched. "So, you have a good time with. . .?" he trailed off, fishing for the name of who Kate had spent the weekend with.

"My mother? Yes, I did. We went to a spa. Did all the wonderful girly things she likes. So, how are the lessons going?"

"Well, I can't curse as fluently as I'd like, but Abby's catching me up on that. But, on the plus side, I can make comments about your assets to McGee without you know it, so it's all good."

"My assets?" The female agent's voice was dangerously low.

"Your training, your wit, your ankles. Not to mention, the possibilities for ganging up on you have just expanded." Gibbs smacked him across the back of the head. There were some things he had to nip in the bud. Tony looked up at him, pouting.

"Be good," he ordered.

"You take away all my fun, boss," Tony whined. He was signing automatically now. "Send Kate that website, MIT," he signed to McGee.

"If you want to know, learn," Gibbs said, in answer to Kate's glare. Her email pinged and McGee sent Tony a thumbs-up. Gibbs went to his own desk. His team was getting closer.

"Tony, since we're not getting that divorce, you want a ring?" he signed after he caught the younger man's eyes. It was safe to tease him now. The "killer" had been caught and the reports mostly done.

"Depends, diamonds are nice."

Gibbs snorted to himself. Of course, Tony'd want the good stuff. "Wasn't thinking on your finger." Tony bit his lip, but it didn't stop the laughter in his eyes.

"Boss. Not in front of the children." Tony tried to mimic a Gibbs-glare, but his heart wasn't in it. Gibbs grinned.

"Get back to work, DiNozzo," he signed.

"Yes, Gibbs." Tony had finally found a symbol for Gibb's name: g-coffee. Gibbs had to smile at that. He'd wondered how long that would take.

FINIS- Gibbs

Tony's POV McGee's POV Gibbs' POV Abby's POV Ducky's POV - coming soon NCIS Index