A New Start?

By Lizabeth S. Tucker

Tony DiNozzo barely heard the telephone over the sound of his vacuum cleaner. Luckily whoever was on the other end was persistent, letting the phone ring and ring. He shut off the vacuum, picking up the cell. Nothing needed to be done in a hurry anymore, not since he turned in his badge and gun to NCIS Director Leon Vance.


"Tony, how're you doing?"

A smile broke out over the man's face. "Jack! How are you?"

"As good as ever. Heard you were out of a job."

"Who told you…ah, Gibbs called you, huh?"

"Damn fool thing to do, boy. Leroy would've done okay for himself. He always scrapes by."

Tony dropped into the nearest chair. "Maybe on a regular day, but this Parsons guy from the DOJ was looking to take Gibbs down any way he could. Couldn't let that happen, Jack. Your son has covered my butt more times than I care to think about. Least I, we could do was get him out of this mess."

"Found anything else to do with yourself yet?"

"Might get out of the law enforcement business, look for something else to do. I don't think there's an agency in this city that would hire me after all that has gone down the last couple of years."

"Hate to see you give up being a cop. You're good at it." When Tony just huffed disparagingly, Jackson Gibbs continued. "Mean it, Tony. My boy doesn't trust a lot of people, never did. You're definitely one of the few."

"Couldn't tell that lately."

"Listen to me, son. It isn't that he doesn't trust you, I would guess he was trying to protect you."

Tony sat up. "What are you talking about?"

"I've got my suspicions, but I'm not going into them on the phone."

"Look, I have nothing else to do. Maybe I'll mosey along to Stillwater. Take a little time to think about my future."

"That would be a great idea. In fact, that's why I called, to invite you to visit a lonely old man."

"Bull." Tony chuckled. "C'mon, Jack, what are you up to?"

"We might need a new sheriff here. Thought you could apply for the job."

Tony was stunned. "Me? What happened to whats-his-name? Ed Gantry?"

"Arrested. He got caught on camera beating up some poor kid from the next county over. Pulled him over for speeding. Ed claimed the boy attacked him, but the video proved otherwise. It was posted on the internet, caused a big to-do here. So we're kinda shy a sheriff. Considering you're without a job right now, seemed like a great match to me."

"Sheriff? Me? In a small town? Wow. I'd be like Andy in Mayberry."

"Better than Jesse Stone. That boy attracts too much trouble."

Tony was delighted. "Jack, you made a TV movie reference! I love it."

"You do know that these were originally books?"

"I do. Robert Parker, the same guy who wrote the Spenser books, another great TV series."

"So what do you think? Feel like moving out to the country to protect the citizens of Stillwater?"

Tony blew out a long breath, serious again. "I don't know. Maybe?"

"Come on out. You can talk to the mayor and the town council."

"After what happened the last time we were in town, do you think I'd have a chance?"

"We need someone more concerned with doing what is right than what will please people in power. I think you could be just what this town needs. Will you at least check it out?"

"I suppose it can't hurt to talk."

"That's my boy."

Tony would never admit how those simple words warmed a long buried part of himself. "I should be able to get there early this evening. All I need is the name of a decent motel."

"Don't be ridiculous. You'll stay with me, Tony."

"Aw, Jack, I don't want to put you out."

"Nonsense. You can stay in Leroy's old room. Unless you'd rather not bunk with a crotchety old man."

"Are you kidding? You can tell me 'Gibbs as a kid' stories."

"Then it's settled. Let me know when you're getting close and I'll have dinner waiting for you."