Or So They Say

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

After a little over five years at three different police departments, Tony had heard the saying "A partnership is like a marriage" more often than he wanted to think about. He hadn't understood at first, but then, none of the rookies did. The more experienced cops educated them pretty quickly through grousing--both good natured and bad--and jokes, some of them pretty raunchy.

Actual police work took the shine off the rookies, Tony included, pretty fast and soon enough they learned what it meant to have a partner from first hand experience.

At least, everyone else seemed to.

Somehow, it never quite worked out that way for Tony. Oh, he had partners. Several of them. He just never seemed to make the connection that damned near everyone else on the force did. The connection that made cops snap at anyone who insulted their partners, even if it was an insult they'd tendered themselves on more than one occasion. The connection that had sent a couple of guys into serious counseling after they lost their partner. The connection that made, "He's my partner" all the answer that some questions needed.

Which wasn't to say that Tony didn't care about the guys he worked with. He did. Hell, they watched his back and he watched theirs. Saving someone's life creates a bond whether you want it to or not.

But he'd have done exactly the same for anyone on the force that he'd have done for his partner. There were no extra lengths he'd go to just because he worked with one guy more often than not. No special treatment for the fact that they'd been paired up by their lieutenant.

It pissed the guys off. Tony knew that. Why else would he have been through eight "partners" in such a short period of time? They wanted that bond, whether they said so or not, and when they figured out that it just wasn't going to happen with Tony they always jumped ship. Or convinced him to.

The situation was starting to bear an uncomfortable resemblance to his relationships with women. Maybe the guys had a point, only his partnerships weren't marriages--they were one night stands.

And another one had just, inevitably, self-destructed. Tony watched Stuart storm off down the dirty, trash strewn alley and ran a hand through his hair, sighing. From the look of things, his lieutenant would be suggesting a transfer pretty soon. Fuck. Tony hated moving.

"I'm guessing that's not exactly a new experience for you."

Tony turned and found the fed, Gibbs, nodding at Tony's departing partner even as he cuffed the suspect he had pinned up against the alley's brick wall.

"Nope. That would be partner number eight." Tony grimaced.

"You expect something else after handing your collar over to someone else?" Gibbs asked skeptically.

"No, but shit, what else was I supposed to do? You have enough to hold the bastard. We don't."

"Hey--" the suspect protested, but a glare from Gibbs silenced him.

"Listen, you need help with him?" Tony asked, chucking a thumb at the suspect. "I've got to go try and smooth down some ruffled feathers."

Gibbs shot him a look. "No you don't," he said briskly. "You've got too much paperwork to do."

Tony blinked. "Paperwork?"

"If you're going to start at NCIS on Monday, you'd better get started on it now," Gibbs said blithely.

"You recruiting me?" Tony asked with a sudden grin.

"You always this slow on the uptake?" Gibbs shot back. "If you're not careful, I might change my mind."

Tony chuckled and stabbed one finger at Gibbs. "You want me, you get me on one condition."


"Don't ever tell me that a partnership is like a fucking marriage." Tony meant for that to sound joking; he winced internally at the edge of anger he heard in his tone.

But Gibbs just snorted. "I've been divorced three times, DiNozzo. I expect you to do a hell of a lot better than that."

Tony grinned. "See you Monday, boss."