A Sign of the Times - Tony's POV

Abby grinned up at Tony. She signed the answers to his question and he scowled at her. "He's turned you to the dark side," he told her. She cocked her head to the side, eyes bright. He repeated the sentence in sign and once more cursed himself. It had all started with an innocent question.

"Is there a book or something you'd reccomend if I wanted to learn to sign?" Tony asked Gibbs over pizza. He was still trying to figure out why he was working on a cold case on what was supposed to be his weekend off. Just because some high muckity-muck thought he'd seen their suspect with a Pina Colada and a beach-bleached-blonde in Florida, they were reviewing the case. It was a simple case of missing money, but still, here he was, eating sausage pizza and drinking more coffee than he should need to on a weekend.

He looked up from his file when he felt Gibbs' eyes on him. He repressed the urge to fidgit. Those blue eyes were intense, seriously intense, and his mouth went dry. "Let me teach you," his boss had said finally.

"Sure," Tony agreed, thinking nothing more of it. Gibbs had taught him signs here and there over the years.

"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.

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

"I don't understand, boss." There was no response, except for that blue-eyed gaze searing him to his bones. "Boss?" he tried again, finger-spelling the word slowly. Gibbs smiled. It was a gentle smile.

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

"Boss?" Tony confirmed using the sign. Gibbs nodded. They worked through the files. "Boss, I need McGee." He tried to stumble through the sentence. He used "MIT" for McGee like Abby had done when she was teasing the younger man. Gibbs nodded. He gestured toward the phone. Tony sighed. It looked like he was on his own now. He glared at his boss. Gibbs smirked, eyes laughing. "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." He hung up the phone without letting McGee say anything else. "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. "Teach?" Gibbs nodded. The next order was easy to understand. "Get more coffee."

McGee's confused face when he arrived told Tony that he'd just pulled the man from an afternoon nap. The young agent glanced at the clock and winced. Okay, he'd just pulled him out of bed, but the coffee and the bright lights of the office had kept him from noticing it was after ten o'clock. He was lucky that the man hadn't been at Abby's. "Sorry about the time, Probie."

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 his attention. "Don't want to, boss," he signed back carefully. That earned him a frown and a slow rendition of what he now recognized as Gibbs' sign for his name. He winced, knowing instinctively that equalled "DiNozzo" as opposed to "Tony." "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."

"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 up, startled. "Sign it, Tony."

"Bastard," Tony signed carefully. Abby had taught him that one so that they could do a mood check without alerting the man.

Gibbs smirked. "You know it."

"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 that Tony watched, but didn't understand. He was able to verify the information with print-outs though, so Gibbs didn't make him explain everything to him. Tony shuddered, thinking how long that would have taken with Gibbs only responding to sign. The senior field agent stretched. "Go home," Gibbs ordered. "Reports ready on Monday." Thank God, Tony thought. I'll have time to get some vocabulary under my belt tomorrow.


Tony glared at the file on his desk as if it had caused him personal offence. McGee had ducked out to grab lunch. Gibbs was buried in his own files, trying to get ahead just in case they were called. The room was quiet, except for the background murmur of other teams. Tony looked at Kate's empty desk. You better get back soon, woman, he commanded. Tony sighed. He waved to catch Gibbs' attention. "I'm going to see Abby."

"There better be a report on my desk first."

Tony sighed. He finished his report. McGee was back by then and the three men tucked into their hamburgers and fries. Kate wasn't there chide them and Ducky was tucked away in his lab working on someone else's poor stiff. It was so good to have cholesterol and grease and ketchup without someone bitching at him. One of the other teams, he couldn't be bothered to remember their names most days, walked by. The youngest one grinned and waved. Tony waved back. Gibbs glared at him and the younger man wondered what he'd done this time.


Gibbs raised his brows.

"Forget it," Tony signed. He went back to his burger. He escaped to the sanity, such as it was, of Abby's lab. And that's when the real trouble started. The music was at its usual level. Abby was bobbing along with it. But when he called her name, she didn't hear him. He nearly snarled in frustration. Gibbs had done the same thing for two and a half days now. He tugged at her pigtail. "Hi, Abbs."

She cocked her head to the side. She grinned at him. "What brings you down here?" she signed.

"No, Abbs, please," he begged. Her bright eyes and smile didn't flicker. He sighed. "Gibbs, is evil."

She rolled her eyes. "What do you need, pretty boy?"

"That's not right."

"Get used, to it. It's all you."


She smirked. She signed something too quick for him to make out.

He caught her hands. "Slow down," he finger signed. She gave him a sheepish smile in apology.

"So ask me your questions. If you're nice, I'll teach you how to tease McGee." She signed slowly, explaining the signs he didn't understand with finger signs.

Tony sighed. It was going to be a long day. Maybe Kate would be nice enough to shoot him when she got back.


Kate showed up a few hours late the next day. By that time, Tony couldn't keep from glaring at his boss. The man would start sentences when he wasn't looking, then chide him for not paying full attention. It was cruel. And that damned blue-eyed gaze would fix on his own eyes and distract him from the man's hands. It wasn't as if Gibbs couldn't communicate perfectly well without official signs. Tony was actually rather good at discerning the man's moods and needs. The fifth time he'd been sent to make coffee, because it seemed McGee wasn't any good at it, he was ready to pour the cup right on the grey hair of the bastard himself.

"What did he do this time?" she 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. He'd hoped that Kate's return would be the end of his torture. Tony snorted. He waved his hand. Gibbs glanced up. "Boss," Tony repeated, signing this time, "Why did you involve, Abby?" Gibbs smirked, signing his response. "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 was still turned to look at Kate, ignoring him.

"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." Smart girl, Kate, Tony thought, though he knew that if he said it, he'd be castrated for using "girl." He waited patiently, trying his best not to fidgit.

"It's useful."

Unable to stand it any longer, Tony waved, catching Gibb's attention. "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." Tony felt the blush as he turned. He grabbed his coat and headed out. He needed to calm down before he threw something. Damn the man for being able to irritate him so completely.

Tony settled into a booth and flirted with the waitress. "Thanks," he said when she brought his coffee. She was an older black woman with a sweet smile and kind eyes. He liked her immediately. He hoped she'd adopt him. It would be worth a little extra whipped cream on his sundae.

"You're welcome, sweetie. You look strung out."

"My boss is driving me crazy," he sighed.

"What can I get you, hon?"

"Lasagne with extra garlic bread." He smiled at her and handed over his menu. She nodded, then smiled back. Tony felt his shoulders relax. Why the Hell was Gibbs getting to him so badly today? It wasn't being ignored. They'd gone entire days without talking before Kate and McGee. He blinked. He couldn't be jealous of Probie, could he? He sipped his coffee, eyes closed. When he opened them again, he half-expected to see Gibbs sitting across from him. You've got it bad, Dinozzo, he told himself. Gibbs is not God, even though he acts like it.

He glanced around the cafe and smiled. His back was against a sturdy wall, he had a full view of the doors and there was a mirror next to him that let him see the rest of the room. "So, hon, you a cop or should I call one?" his waitress asked as she refilled his cup.

"Cop," he confirmed. He took his coffee cup back greedily. "You get a lot of trouble in here?" He cocked his head to the side. "Doris?"

"I've been doing this job for thirty years now, hon. I notice things about people. And we get two types with weapons in here."

"Ah. That's why she set me up back here."

"So, your boss?"

"Pain in the butt, but," Tony shrugged.

"You're stuck with him?"

"Beat out my previous two year record with one boss. I'm thinking I should ask for a divorce since he hasn't noticed that yet." He grinned up at her as she laughed.

"Ah, sweetie, he keeps you for that smile. I would." She filled his coffee once more. "Should I just leave the pot?" He shook his head. "I'll be back soon, hon. Then you can tell me all your troubles." Tony looked at the sparsly populated room. "We usually do take out at lunch time."

"Yeah, we normally send McGee over to pick up." Tony nodded his understanding. A few minutes later, he was digging into his lasagne and pouring his carefully edited heart out to her. He looked through his lashes at her and assessed, yeah, he was adopted. He looked at his watch. "I have to go. Thanks, Doris."

"You be careful, sweetie." She patted his hand.


Tony settled at his desk. He ignored Gibbs. He 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 let that go, focussing on finishing typing up his latest review of the case he was reviewing. He hated cold cases with a passion. They meant that he wasn't good enough again. This was one of the cases he'd been on with Viv. He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to remember the scene more clearly.

"Appearantly not, Agent Todd. Tony," Gibbs waved when he opened his eyes. Tony looked up. "Get the car, we have a case." Tony caught the keys, grabbed his things and left the office. He wondered for a moment when he'd gotten used to getting the car but not driving it. Damn, maybe he was married.


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. He knew what Gibbs wanted. He always did. It was nice not being yelled at to do it for a change. They had a dead Marine laying on the floor of the bar and seemingly no witnesses since the bar had been closed up tight until the owner opened the door at one. Tony took measurements and snapped a thourough roll of film. He left the sweep of the room, to Kate and McGee for the moment. Probie was starting to get the hang of this. What is that red rope doing there? he wondered. The rope moved. Fuck.

"Boss," Tony froze, staring at the snake. "Trouble." He noticed Kate pull her gun from the corner of his eye. Well, at least he knew the snake would be dead if he did strike. That was a plus. Snake identification. They just didn't teach that in the academy. Gibbs will know what to do. That made his shoulders relax.

McGee had found an empty box in the back of the SUV and was advancing slowly towards the older man. He'd punched holes in the cover by the time he made it back inside. He can't expect me to touch it! Tony thought. I don't touch reptiles. Still, he took the box from McGee and set it on the floor. The snake slithered toward it and into it, obviously a well-treated 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. That was a plus he hadn't counted on. Gibbs was willing to be sentimental.

"Fine. I'm thinking of asking for a divorce." The sentence was hard to spell out.

"Never going to happen," Gibbs signed in reply with an icy glare. He started his search by the bar. "McGee, ambulance!"

Tony glanced up when the EMT's surged in to take care of an unconscious woman from behind the bar. He wondered idly who she was. He cursed at the disturbances of his crime scene. He paused. Damn, I was wrong, it's not a marriage, it's an infection. Gibbs has infected my brain!


Gibbs glaring a group of shame-faced civilians into submission had been a sight to see. The little bastards had been teasing. They knew their friend was afraid of snakes, so they'd planned everything for his last night of leave. They'd never even considered that someone might get hurt from it. They'd even turned over the tape. Ducky had rambled on for hours about the snake and the heart condition and the bartender's concussion. The report was taking forever to write though because every time he got to the snake he froze for a second. How exactly did he describe the snake? He didn't even know what kind it was, and he wouldn't ask Gibbs about it. He messaged Abby for more information on the black, white and red all-over snake.

He stretched, catching Kate's eye. She turned to him. He grinned at her. "So, you have a good time with. . .?" he trailed off, fishing for the name of who she'd 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."

Her eyes narrowed. She was just too easy to set off. "My assets?"

"Your training, your wit, your ankles." He smirked at her. She glared at him. "Not to mention, the possibilities for ganging up on you have just expanded." The all-too-familiar smack to the back of his head caught him by surprise. He pouted up at his boss. Gibbs smirked down at him.

"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, appearantly to Kate. Her email pinged and McGee sent Tony a thumbs-up.

"Tony, since we're not getting that divorce, you want a ring?" he signed.

"Depends, diamonds are nice."

"Wasn't thinking on your finger." Tony bit his lip, trying to keep from laughing.

"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." He'd finally decided on his sign for Gibbs - G-coffee.


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