It Had To Be

The first time Charlie Haung saw his neighbors, they were standing in front of the house with suitcases. The younger man was wearing a now-rumpled too-expensive suit and a trenchcoat. The elder was wearing a cheaper suit and had his coat was folded over his arm. Something glinted as he shifted the coat to the other arm in order to search for the keys. "I want you to know that I am blaming you completely for this," the younger stated. "The suburbs? Really?"

"Blame Tobias."

The younger man's smile turned bright at that. "Good idea. I'll start prank calling him as soon as I sleep for about six days."

"Work in the morning."

"I hate you with the fire of a thousand suns. The place is furnished right?"

"I was promised a bed with sheets and pillows, and enough food menus to last for three days."

The younger snorted. He picked up most of the cases, leaving his partner with the dufflebag. They both mounted the creaky front porch and winced. "I'll start the honey do list in the morning."

That got a snort. "The day I let you have an unsupervised screwdriver in this house, hell will have frozen over."

The wave of laughter that swept them into the house was tinted with exhaustion.


Charlie settled on the front porch with his laptop and waited, again, for the two NCIS agents who were supposed to be playing married to stay safe from some arms dealer or terrorist or something equally national-security related. The younger of his two neighbors waved. "Hi!" He bounded up the front steps like a golden retriever on crack. "I'm Danny. Just moved in. Fair warning, we're supposed to have a delivery coming in and I don't know how big the truck is, so you might want to keep an eye on your car."

"Charlie Haung. Thanks for the warning."

Danny gave him a bright smile and was off the porch and back around the fence before he could call him back. A smile worked its way onto Danny's face. Too much caffeine in that man's body, he thought. Danny was on his cellphone. His voice didn't carry, but it was obvious that he wasn't pleased with the person on the other end of the call. He went into the house.

Charlie sighed. Maybe his charges had needed to lose a tail and couldn't make it on time. They were supposed to be moving into the house across the street, where Marie and Larry had moved out of when they transferred to a new state. It was too bad that the mob had figured out where they were. One mistaken phone call and they were off to start over in a new state.

Danny appeared with two cups of something. "I brought tea. A friend recommended it. Said it would match the weather in California. So, you seem like you've been here awhile. Give me the lowdown. Who's doing who? Where's the best grocery? What time is it acceptable to turn on the lawnmower? And where's the best gun range?"

"You shoot?" Charlie accepted the mug. He inhaled. The tea smelled like cinnamon and lemons. He took a sip. "Oh, that's nice."

"I wasn't sure if you'd want sugar. And yeah. I shoot. So does Roy. We need someplace to practice." The young man settled on his front step. The edge of an ankle holster peeked out from underneath his running pants. He raised a brow and Charlie knew, deep in his gut, that it was a conscious move.

"I'll show you where it is. It's a pain to find the first time." He nodded toward the gun. "You have a permit for that?"

Danny grinned. "Danny DiAngelo. FBI."

Charlie chuckled. "Charlie Haung. Security consultant."

"Charlie," Danny shook his head. "Let me make some guesses? You were in the military. I'm putting money on being Army. And you left after having been an MP and joined a police department. Maybe even the LA department. Then, you went federal." His blue-green eyes narrowed. "And if I do a little poking and prodding, and oh yeah, call in a favor, I find that you're still a marshall. You do the monitoring for several couples in the area. I'm not going to ask who."

Charlie's shoulders relaxed. "And you're TDY with the FBI?"

"Nah. This is the only place that had two openings in different places. We had to get out of being in the chain of command."

Now that he was looking for it, he saw the ring on Danny's finger. It was a subtly carved white gold band. "So, your honeymoon?"

"Was far too short and in a far too cold place. I'm holding out for Puerto Rico for our anniversary." Danny turned to the street. "Hey, look, they finally found the place. I might not have to bitch them out. If you need any help with anything, just give us a yell, okay?" The young man bounced down the stairs and waved the delivery van into place.


"God, I hate you," Tony said into the phone.

Fornell chuckled. "DiAngelo. What a pleasure to hear from you."

"We've been here two days and I've had to take Roy to the hospital already. Just a concussion and he's back to work, but I am blaming you for everything."

Fornell snorted. "So did you use a golf club or was it a fist?"

"Your belief that I'd actually be able to land the blow is incredibly flattering. Suspect took a swing at him. You lost the pool. I expect my money to be on the way to the awful suburban hell you've condemned us to. He's making me do home repairs."

The FBI agent couldn't help but laugh. "I'll deposit the check for you. Are you enjoying Organized Crime?"

"I left Philly for a reason."

"Not what I asked."

"I'm doing cold case work. It's like you're whispering into my ear and it's creepy. Pass my best on to the kids?"

"They're fine. Little Timmy's the captain of his computer club. David's unlearning all her bad habits with her new dance partner. And your sweetheart in a lab coat has a screensaver of the two of you on her computer and moping."

"Tell her I'm sending a hug. Tell Timmy he needs to get out of the house to play sometime. And for David? Tell her I expect her ninja-styled tango when I get to see her."

"Go fuck your husband, DiAngelo."

"And I'm calling your ex-wife and giving her the name of my father's lawyer."


"Tobias has money on us getting pulled on a domestic," Roy said. Charlie didn't even feel bad about eavesdropping on his neighbors at this point. They were more interesting than anything else this week. He rocked in his hammock, his laptop balanced on his lap.

"Well, if you slap me in front of Charlie he'll actually call it in."

Roy snorted. "Come here, your stance is off. Those damn boxing lessons aren't going to help you out today."

"You and I both know that I'm not going to get through your defenses."


"Positive thinking only gets me so far. The rest of it's skill and you're better than I am." There was some rustling. "Thank you, Boss." Danny's voice was a mutter.

"Invite Charlie over for dinner. He can fill us in on the local intel. TJ say anything about the kids?" Charlie could hear the smirk in his voice.

"Timmy's heading the computer club again. David is practicing with a new partner. And Abs is moping. He didn't say anything about Donald or Jimmy. I'll ask next time I call to bitch at him."

"Found your new case or is it in the pile of paper you probably shouldn't have brought home?"

Danny snorted at that. "They're just keeping me busy until the man who's supposed to be my partner gets back from leave. He's in Hawaii. The bastard."


"Three possibilities and I want your read on one of them. I keep thinking I've got a handle on it and then it slips away."

"Talk it." Roy huffed out a breath. "Nice shot. Why'd you pull it?"

"Contrary to most people's thoughts I don't actually want to hit you when kissing you shuts you up just as quickly."


"Yup. And I can actually kiss you in public now." There was a long pause. "Inside." Danny's voice was low. Charlie's cheeks reddened. Okay, he didn't need to know about or be picturing them kissing.


"Give me good news."

"Sorry, Roy. You're there for at least another month." Fornell didn't bother to hide his smirk. "Think of it as a vacation from the pressures of DC."

"How the Hell does anything get done around here?" Gibbs growled into the phone. There was a startled eep from someone in the office with him.

"Charming the natives, I see. I'm going to call your boy-toy and tell him you need some stress relief before you kill someone."

"Does that make me a sugar daddy?"

"Okay, that's disturbing. I retract the statement."

Gibbs grunted. "There better be progress soon, or I'm going to set my people on it."

Fornell snorted. "As if they're not doing anything? Relax. Play happy couples for a little while. We should have a trial date soon enough. And don't reorganize the damned department."

"They need it." Gibbs hung up. Tobias shook his head.


Charlie looked around the sparsely decorated house. From the front door he could see through most of the downstairs. There was a small kitchen with a breakfast bar and pass-through closest to the French doors that led to the back door. He raised his brows at the dark curtains that framed the doors. They were velvet and didn't suit the rest of the décor. There were three stools under the breakfast bar, in dark wood, topped with red leather. The bar itself was beige granite. There was a dining area between the kitchen and the living room in which he was now standing. The table was round and seated four. There was a heavy candelabra in the center of it, dangling crystals. The three tall white tapers were half-burned. The living room had what looked to be a sinfully comfortable sofa in front of a large television and more electronics than he could parse. The walls were filled floor to ceiling with built-in shelves.

"Take a load off. I'll open the wine." Danny and Roy had invited him for dinner and it smelled delicious. The spices were warm and familiar in that small Italian joint way. The only one he could guarantee that he'd identified was garlic. Danny was busy in the kitchen, chopping something hard. Carrots, he guessed.

The younger man smiled at his neighbor. "I'm going to be nosy. Occupational hazard."

Roy snorted. "Serve Danny right if you find anything. He nosier than a pack rat."

"Rat Pack. Rat Pack! And they're current for your generation aren't they?" Danny called in from the kitchen. "Hi, Charlie. Ignore Roy. Tell me you brought red!"

"He did." Roy shrugged at Charlie and went toward the dining area. He opened the wine with a bone handled corkscrew. Charlie looked at the shelves. They were only half-filled with books and DVD's and two boxes were shoved up against the wall. One was labeled, "movies I only sort of need". The other was labeled "books to leave packed b/c we hate moving." He grinned at that. There was one photo on the mantle. Roy and Danny were leaning over the side of a boxing ring obviously mugging for the owner of the camera. He picked up the photo and tried to pick out details. They both looked younger, so this wasn't a new photo. The frame was handmade. Probably by Roy. He flipped it over and read the scribble on the back. "Fuck perception. Fuck propriety. If you wear those shorts again, I'll blow you in the gym."

"Such a romantic, isn't he?" Danny's voice was just behind Charlie's head. He jumped about a foot.

"Stop trying to kill our guest."

"I don't kill guests. I leave that sort of thing to you."

"So, why no wedding picture?" He put the photo back and took the offered glass of wine. He settled at the breakfast bar. Roy was cutting the bread into almost perfect one inch thick slices.

"I defy conventional aesthetics and only put up good looking pictures." Danny fished a pan of lasagna out of the oven with pink and black polka-dotted mitts. Charlie, despite being fairly open-minded, did not peg either of the men in front of him as the type to buy them. Maybe they'd been a gag gift or a "wedding" present from a friend. At least he hoped so. They were horrible.

"We got married at the justice of the peace," Roy said. "And we didn't bother to put on suits. I don't think there was a camera actually there."

"Nope. Toby was the only one who saw us and he knew better than to have evidence. I would have thrown him out the window."

"Defenstration. One of your favorites."

Danny set the food onto the table. The plates were smooth white china with no pattern. There were silver serving utensils and a crystal bowl for the salad. They were using the good china. That was really sweet, but he'd tear his own tongue out before he said that. "Okay, bread, butter, romano cheese, salad, dressings, what am I forgetting?"



Dinner conversation was mostly light and focused on cases. Danny'd been a cop before he went federal. Roy had come out of the service. Charlie froze with his glass half-way to his lips. "You're my NCIS couple."

Danny grinned. There was a bit of sauce on the edge of his lip that made him seem feral. "Yup. Sorry to lead you on like this, but in my defense the handler at the office seemed to be laughing every time I told her that we hadn't had true contact yet."

"You are as much a bitch as she is then. Good to know. Jesus. They told me you were moving into a different house."

Roy shrugged. "I didn't trust it not to be compromised, considering the couple who was there was being targeted by the mob."

"They left three months ago."


"I'd ask your real names, but that's not how I like to do business. For me you're going to stay Danny and Roy. You're undercover for at least six months from what I understand."

The younger man frowned. "That's not what I was told. Boss?"

"I was promised we'd be back in DC by the end of September."

"I don't know anything beyond what I have in your files. Which isn't much because what I don't know, I can't fuck up and tell someone. But I do know for a fact that you have more than one Family pissed at you, so it'll be awhile before it's calmed down enough to be safe."

"Or, alternate plan, Roy and I take a more proactive approach."

"Director's orders." Roy's voice was mild. Danny snorted. His partner's lip quirked up into a half-smile. "I know. We'll give the FBI a month before we end run them. We'll keep you out of it as much as possible. So, what do you think of the sauce?"

"It's good. A little more oregano than I use."

"I told you to stop doctoring my sauce," Danny snapped. "Those are very precise numbers from my family recipe."

"Your mother never cooked a day in her life."

"My grandmother did. And she taught me in the summers."

"If you two are going to have a domestic on my watch, I'll have to call it in," Charlie interrupted.


"So, you must be my new partner." The man was Tony's height with sun-bleached brown hair and a tan that implied he'd spent more than just his vacation on the beach. His hand was firm when they shook. He smiled, exposing even, capped, white teeth. There was a bracelet of silver links on his right wrist and a waterproof watch of indeterminate make. His shirt was burgundy with yellow stripes and his tie was plain black. Tony met the brown eyes. "Steve Patricks. Nice to meet you." He paused for a beat. "Dano."

Tony tightened his grip and felt his smile freeze. "Call me that and I swear to all that you hold holy that I will destroy your life. Capice?"

Steve laughed, deep and booming. "We'll get along just fine. How are you liking OC?"

"It's a morass of badly organized files, inappropriate flirting, bad pools, and missed connections. If I don't reorganize it by the end of the month, I'll be insane. I'm blaming my last unit completely." Tony looked at his desk, missing the Mighty Mouse stapler that should be there instead of the simple bright red Swingline. It was unbearably neat. As if Gibbs were going to evaluate it. He picked up three files. "These are the ones I've made progress on so far. I've got two others that we could probably turn hot if we invest about five hours in the hall of records."

Steve's smile froze. "You're shitting me. The Bataglioni's been cold for three years."

Tony frowned at him. "So, a good agent checks and rechecks. Located the car and the gun entered IBIS. Got a partial print report back from the lab last week. No good on the DNA for the O'Daniels case. The lab's still working off the backlog."

Assistant Deputy Director Hamilin clapped Steve on the shoulder. "Welcome back, Patricks. I see you've met your partner. I give him three days before he shoots you."

"AD Hamilin, I would never shoot my partner. I'll throw him off the roof and make it look like suicide. But we'll start small. Laxatives in his coffee. Hot sauce on his donuts. That sort of thing."

Hamilin didn't know that Tony wasn't a DC FBI agent. Fornell had managed to slip Tony's quick rise through the ranks into his background though. As if kissing up would keep Tony from having his revenge for having to sit in the land of bad suits and three letters. Still, the man had welcomed him kindly and he wasn't the most irritating FBI agent he'd ever met. Tony smiled sweetly at the two men, with wide innocent eyes. "Shit, Dano, are you serious about these going hot?"

"That I am, Patty."

Steve winced. "Danny, then."

"I'll accept that. Or you can call me DiAngelo."

"I don't think so. Too military for my hair."

Tony snorted. "You need a new stylist. I can see the dead ends and salt damage."

"And you need sun. You look like a damned vampire."

Steve dropped the files onto his desk. He plopped into his seat. Tony settled back at his desk. Hamlin looked between them. "Play nicely, boys. And Steve, right now, I like him better than you."

"Not even a week and you've won my coveted Director's Pet spot. You know this means war."

Tony grinned. "I look forward to it."


Gibbs glared at the young woman in front of him. "You are supposed to be my partner? Can you even drink yet?"

"That is so agist that I can't even begin to parse it. Billi Transom." She held her hand out. She was taller than Ziva with her dark hair in cornrows. Her suit was well cut and he was sure her shoes were a sensible flat heel. Her shirt was bright red and she had a necklace of black carved beads around her collar as opposed to a tie. She had three guns, a knife, and her fingers were calloused from some form of martial arts. He didn't bother to take her hand.

"You can call me Hills." He handed her his phone. "Fix this. Then, find the coffee."

She gaped at him. "I am not here to get your coffee!" She stepped into his space and tipped her chin up in challenge. Finally, one of them had guts.

He smirked at her. "Danny is going to love you. Fix the phone." He went to get coffee and call Tony about lunch. "You, get Transom the Hilliard file," he snapped at useless agent three. The man literally flinched back before scurrying off. McGee had more balls the day he'd met him than these children. He pointed at the next agent, "and you, I want the 'lost' ballistics files on my desk by the time I get back." He stalks out of the room and down to the cafe. It was a real cafe and they had an honest to God payphone on the back wall. He dialed Tony's cellphone.


"Hey, honeybuns." He smirked as he said it.

Tony laughs. "Oh, it's you. What's up?"

"New partner showed up. What do you want for lunch?"

"I'll bring it. I want to meet?"

"Billi Transom. She had the balls to stand up to me."

Tony made a sound of interest. "Mine's, Christ, he's like this weird funhouse mirror version of me and it's almost creepy. He wears contacts though."

"See you at 1230."

"Will bells on. How are we playing it?"

"Fuck it. Tobias said to treat this as a vacation."

"Got it."

Gibbs hung up. He wanted Tony on his six, damn it. He didn't need training wheels.


Billi managed to figure out how to unlock Hills' phone. She hadn't known it was possible to lock that model. He dropped a coffee on her desk and collected his phone with a grunt. She was working through their latest case. Her brows rose as she noted the red pen edits on the margins, and the plethora of post-it notes that bristled throughout making it look not unlike a pissed off hedgehog. "Who else looked through this?"

"Just get familiar with it. Then, find me three possible targets that were missed in the original file."

She picked up a post-it with one finger. "Like these three."

Hills smirks at her. He takes the post-it. He puts it on the monitor. He picks up the ballistics file and the rest of the forensics. He flips through them quickly. He dials his phone. "Got ballistics to look at," he says into it. He hangs up without saying anything else.

"Listen, I get that you have someone in another department that you're used to relying on, but we're partners. I expect you to talk to me." Hills raised his brows. He moved his hands in quick almost familiar gestures. She narrowed her eyes. Then, she very clearly and slowed lifted her hand with one finger extended. "That's the extent of my ASL."

"Look at the file. Tell me your thoughts. Then, we'll go make an arrest or two." He jabbed a finger at Shannon. "You, why isn't the suspect in interrogation?"

"Because we haven't caught him yet," he snapped back. "I'll let you know as soon as he gets here, your majesty. And when the ADD gets back I'm selling tickets to your dressing down."

Hills snorted. Transom had to agree with him. Shannon was an idiot. A brightly smiling agent with a suit that was slightly too good for his salary sauntered into the room. He settled on Hills desk with a Casablanca coffee mug in one hand. Hills handed him a file. He took a sip from his cup. "So, I hate Patricks. He's lazy. I'm blaming you for spoiling me."

Hills actually smirked at that. "Well, you've gotten better since that first case. What do you think?"

"Your partner is cute. And if she's got the guts to stand up to you, I won't prank her mercilessly." The agent turned his head and gave her a bright smile. "Danny DiAngelo. Nice to meet you. I'll give you my number and you can let me know if he does anything too stupid that he needs punishing for."

"Billi Transom. And you would be his ex-partner?"

"Sadly. Yes. They won't let us stay together." He heaved a theatrical sigh. "My sanity won't take it."

"You don't have any sanity."

"I know. I married you. Your last wife should have warned me about you."

"She doesn't like you that much."

Billi stared. "You're married?" Her head moved between them. "Well, I guess that explains why you're not partners anymore." She shook her head. "Wait. You work with Patricks?"


"Does he know? Can I tell him?"

DiAngelo turned to face her fully. His eyes were wide and his smile showed a few more teeth. "Do you have blackmail to trade?"

"There you are! Geez, Dano. I know you're jealous of my ability to seduce a woman, but you didn't have to ditch me."

"Can I tell him now?" Billi was begging. "I'll give you pictures in exchange."


"Drag show."


Patricks settled on the edge of Billi's desk. "Hey, baby. Haven't talked to you in months. How you doing?"

"Much better now that I've got a partner that doesn't make me want to kick him in the balls."

"You don't? Damn, he must be on his best behavior." DiAngelo smirked at Hills. "I wanted to punch him in the dick about five minutes after I met him."

Hills chuckled. "I did smack you upside the head about five minutes after I met you."

Patricks studied Hills. "So you're his old partner. You're an anal retentive son-of-a-bitch. And he's my partner. Stop calling him about cases."

DiAngelo snorted. "You work too slowly."

"Besides. They'll just talk about them when they get home anyhow."

Patricks blinked. "Home?"

"They're married."

"Married?" Steve echoed.

"Married. Like you used to be."

"Married? To *him*?" Patricks pointed at Hills. "After the way you flirted with every woman we met?"

"Yes, married. To him." DiAngelo held up his hand to display his ring. "And the fact that you didn't notice that I was married does not endear you to me."

"I noticed you had a ring. I just figured you were divorced and pining like the rest of the office seems to be. How else could you have found something on the Bataglioni case?"

Hills snorted. "Tell your AD you want to be reassigned down here. Organized Crimes doesn't deserve you."

"Nope. They don't. But I'm working on some of Slacks' cases and closing them. Revenge tastes like bad coffee and a really good arrest rate. Ballistics look funky. Let me do a better comparison lately. I don't think the shooter was where the witnesses placed him. Can you bring them home?"

"I'll pick up Chinese on the way."

"Good enough."

"Go, get to work. And call me if you figure out where we're eating lunch."

DiAngelo leaned down and kissed Hills on the cheek. He danced out of the answering swipes' range. "You take good care of him for me. Here's my cell. Don't hesitate to call. Without coffee he becomes unbearable, so don't begrudge him caffiene runs. Also, if you see him favoring his right leg, it's his knee. He likes his coffee black. Sometimes with pinch of salt, but he won't drink it unless it's dark brewed."

Bill gave him a sarcastic salute. "If Patricks frustrates you too much, restrict him from the soda machines. He lives on Mt. Dew."

DiAngelo's eyes crinkled at the edges. "You and I are going to be great friends, Transom. Absolutely great friends."

"Bye, Babe." Steven batted his lashes. "You know where I am if you need me."

"When pigs fly out of my ass sideways, Patricks."


"So, tell me more about Transom and your doomed love affair."

Steven glared at his partner. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Oh, I don't know. Seems like you two know each other pretty well. She wants to knee you in the balls. I figure that means you were either partners or lovers. Given your arrest rate and the fact that she can tolerate Hills, I'm going with lovers."

"Do not diss my arrest rate, newbie. I have the best rate in the department."

"For now." DiAngelo raised a challenging brow. "I've got a lunch date at 1230, so I'm ditching you for an hour. Then, we can interview the Parkinsons about the location of the cache and possible review the evidence on the Bataglionis again. I have a source that firmly states that Batty does not like sushi, so he's got to have been meeting someone."

"You have a source." Steven frowned at the other man. He supposed they were the same age, but DiAngelo seemed to be pretending he was younger. "Wait a minute. You're already sure of this evidence aren't you? It's not just conjecture. You've got interviews."

The dark haired man looked down at his blotter. "Hypothetically, I might have dated his daughter."

"Are you fucking insane?"

"He's from New York. Long Island to be exact. The mafia transferred him out here because he got into a pissing match with another member of the family." DiAngelo fidgeted. "This other family member might possibly be related to an undercover position in Chicago, that might possibly be related to some family time in Pennsylvania."

"And theoretically, a member of this opposing family, might possibly have given you some information that you can't name names about because it might get said member dead?"

"That's about the sum of it."

"But we can try to find confirmation."

"I've got credit card records and a data mining program from a friend that's looking for information right now. And it's all legit and legal, I swear. I passed it through legal before I started it."

"And this friend?"

"Is a friend of a friend, and not someone who will be named for you."

Steven studied his new partner. "I'm going to have to shoot you to get a straight answer."

"Oh, I don't like straight answers. They're too limiting. Especially in situations like this. And I network. It's something I encourage. And, these sources that won't be named? They don't know my real name."

"You? Were undercover? With the mafia?"

DiAngelo coughed. "I may possibly have had to leave an area because of unfortunate romantic entanglements. It was actually a good thing that I married my partner. Safer for both of us."

Steven started to laugh. "Damn. You are good. I can't even tell how much of the last conversation is bullshit."

"Just another service I offer. Along with sarcasm, movie trivia, and doing my level best to annoy certain agents who live on the East Coast and I cannot stand."

"Dano, you and I are going to be the best of friends. Just wait and see. So, as for Billi, yeah, she's my ex-partner, not my ex-lover. She'd have killed me."

"Darn. And I was going to try to fix you up with her. Do you have anyone here you haven't tried to bed yet?"

He shrugged. "If you can find one, she's not straight."

"Aw, Hell, son," DiAngelo's drawl was horrible, "that ain't no problem. We'll just find ya a nice boy."

"My ears. Fucking Hell, Dano. That was awful."

"Patty? Never drink any coffee that's been around me unattended for any length of time. This counts as your fair warning."


Charlie waved at the young man who was in hiding from his testimony against a drug cartel. He was going by Alex right now. "Hey, Charlie! Need a dog? There's a new inmate at the humane society."

"I'm not a dog person. Try next door."

"I don't do dogs! Fish maybe." Danny grinned. Alex jogged across the street to shake hands. "Hi. I'm Danny."

"Alex." His gold cross glittered in the sun as brightly as his smile.

"You play poker?"

"No. Go fish is about my speed."

"Dang. Well, we'll have to do a cookout or something. I'm trying to be sociable. Despite my SO's preferences."

"Your SO?" Alex raised his brows.

"Roy. Prefers to work late and brood." Danny shrugged. Alex's smile grew a little stiff, but he stumbled on.

"I'll have to meet him. I've got to get the dog slobber off of myself before Bible Study. I'll see you around."

"Cool." As soon as Alex was out of earshot, Danny's smile grew a touch cruel. "That never gets old."

"Trying to shock people?"

"Watching people trying to be politically correct."

Charlie snorted. "I'm sure you've made a career out of it."

"Well, I did manage to get the entire agency trapped into sensitivity training once. And there was that time I told everyone that my teammate was gay." Danny tapped his lip. "And there was the wet tee-shirt picture of my other teammate. And telling someone off because he thought I was mafia because I was Italian. So, not a career so much as a really nice hobby."

"DiAngelo, don't make Charlie smack you!" Roy called as he hauled a box of soda out of the trunk. "And come get some of this damned junk food before I throw it all out."

"Right. Gotta go." Danny hared off to gather up handfuls of bags. "Is that broccoli in there? Seriously?"

"You will eat vegatables or I will call your doctor."

"You can't."

"He'll make it retroactive. Besides, you're banned from pizza for another month."

"Not fair."


"Fornell, I'm moving on Batiglioni's son tomorrow. Any words of advice?" Tony asked.

Fornell choked on his coffee for a minute. Then, he cleared his throat. "Watch out for his right hand Manny and don't let him get close enough to punch you. He wears enough rings on his hand to make brass knuckles. Also, make sure the prosecution is going to be tight. I don't want to have to move you again."

The younger man chuckled. "Right. I'll send pictures." He hung up and looked at Patricks. Patricks was staring at him with a deep frown. "What?"

"Fornell? Tobias Fornell? The one who works in Homeland and used to be here – Fornell?"

"That's the one. I also know Sacks and I'm thrilled to be closing off cases that he couldn't. Besides, Fornell moonlights in Organized Crime when he gets bored." Tony flipped open his notebook. "So, let's go over the operation one more time."

"I got it the first fifteen times. Let's go back to you being willing to call Fornell on the phone, despite that fact that you're an agent and he's the head of a department you're not even in."

Tony blinked at him. "Is that a problem?"

"There is a chain of command. And if you don't follow it, it's our AD who gets dressed down."

Tony rolled his eyes. "AD Hamelin," he called out, "Agent Fornell sends his regards. And he says to not get caught by Batty Jr.'s fist because his rings cause damage."

Hamelin chuckled and raised a hand in acknowledgement. He didn't say anything else and Patricks glowered. "That's it?"

"He knows that I talk to Fornell. We used to work together. Not talking to him would be like me not talking to Hills." Tony paused. "Well, without the additional guilt and trauma that the silence treatment would garner. I'm a people person, Steve."

"DiAngelo, I'm Capria Collins." The prosecutor offered her hand. "I'm here about the Batiglioni case."

Tony took her hand with a bright smile that showed too many teeth. She came to about his shoulder and hand straightened black hair that came to her shoulders. Her eyes were dark and she only mild make-up. Her suit a boring navy blue, but today she was wearing a man's tie with a femine pearl tack with it. An American flag pin was on her right lapel. Her handshake was firm. "A pleasure Ms. Collins. This is my partner Steve Patricks."

They shook hands. "Let's see if the conference room is open. I'd like you to look at the evidence before we go." Tony poked his head into the small conference room. There was no one there and the calendar didn't show it as being booked. He scrawled in an hour's appointment before he gathered his flirting partner, the lawyer, and the evidence.


Gibbs settled the ice on Tony's cheek with a sigh. "You're going to make us lose the pool."

"I am not going to the hospital because of a black eye. I just wish it hadn't been Josie who popped me."

"Josie?" He prompted. He settled on the couch and Tony immediately slumped against him.

"Josie. My ex-girlfriend turned enforcer."

"Is she going to blow your cover?"

"Nah. She knows me as Danny Perilla."

Gibbs closed his eyes. He let his cheek rest on the top of Tony's head. "Be careful, Tony. I'm not there to watch your back."


Gibbs put his arm around Tony's shoulder and Tony moulded himself to Gibbs' side. There was no concussion, so they hadn't lost the pool yet. "Does the prosecution know?"

"That I once had an undercover relationship with a suspect? Yes. I had to break down and tell her and Patricks that she was my source. Josie's not too happy with me, but she understands that it was just business. She's more pissed that I got married and didn't tell her."

"I want a list of all of your exes."

"Even the ones that don't know my name? It's going to take you a long time to arrest them all."

Gibbs chuckled. "No, I just want to arrest the killers. The con artists, the hookers, and the lawyers can fend for themselves."

"Oh come on, my taste in women isn't that bad!"

"And in men?"

"I plead the fifth." Tony nuzzled at Gibbs' throat. "Say, we have a bed."

"We do."

"And the sheets are somewhat clean." A light grazing of teeth accompanied a small kiss.

"They are."

"And there's even lube in the drawer." Gibbs jumped as the coldpack touched his chin.

"Stocked it myself."

"So why are we here and not there?"

Gibbs considered. "Because you nearly lost me five hundred dollars in the office pool on the next time you end up in the hospital."

Tony laughed.


Billi frowned at her partner. He was scowling at a piece of paper that didn't look like it came out of a file. "What's wrong?" she asked bluntly.

Hills looked up at her. His eyes were cold. "New lead on an old case that I can't work because I'm on this coast now. I've passed it on."

"But you still want to be on the hunt." The phone rang. "Transom."

"Hey, it's Danny. Is Grumpy glaring at paper as though it should turn to ash?"


"Shit. Someone got a copy to him too. I'll be right up to distract him. Early lunch and you'll find some case, any case, that has an active lead on this coast so I can keep him from shooting someone today."


Hills looked at her suspiciously. "Tell Danny that I am not going to kill a probie."

She snorted and heard the echo of it on the line. Then, DiAngelo was off the phone. "He didn't seem convinced," she informed him. His scowl increased.

"Great," he muttered to himself. He turned his eyes on her in evaluation this time. A smirk curled up one side of his face. "Transom, you're coming with us."

"What? No!"


"Roy, Billi." Danny looked over his shoulder. "Someone wouldn't let me go without him. So much for a lunchtime quickie."

Hills barked out a laugh. "Billi's coming with us anyway."

Danny narrowed his eyes at his husband. "That is unfair, boss," he pointed out. "That is like bringing our Labby-rat to dinner. Or worse, Probie."

Hills smirked. "Where are we going?"

"I changed reservations at McClintock's to four when I figured out Patty wasn't going to stay behind."

"Hey!" Steve protested. They all ignored him.

"Good. Get the car."

DiAngelo studied Hills for a moment, then leaned down so they were face to face. "Non-consenual bossing around is not a good plan for someone who wants to be able to sleep in the same house as me."

"Don't make Charlie call in a domestic," Hills replied. DiAngelo closed the distance for a quick kiss.

"You really should have taken the option for a quickie."



NCIS Bedroom