Banner by Me
Characters this chapter: Brian O’Connor, Tony DiNozzo, Spencer Reid, Jimmy Palmer, Aaron Hotchner, Emily Prentiss, Leon Vance, Will LaMontagne, Henry LaMontagne
Relationships this chapter: Spencer Reid/Tony DiNozzo/Brian O’Connor, Tony DiNozzo/Spencer Reid, Will LaMontagne/Jennifer LaMontagne
Chapter Warnings: Non-Cannon Compliant: Fast & the Furious Movies, Cannon Level Violence, Inaccurate Medical Stuff, Flaring Tempers, Anti-JJ, Maternal Child Abandonment,
Word Count: 7,340/112,298
Chapter Summary: Brian’s most recent case has a familiar name involved. The ending though is vastly different than the original. He realizes how much worse it could have gone if his life was just a little different. Then Ducky is in danger, but no one at NCIS wants to listen. When the smoke clears some hard truths have been learned, and firm lines drawn in the sand. Lastly, Spencer’s previous predictions finally come true. A marriage falls apart, and the penthouse gets some new residents.
Chapter Notes: I am not a doctor, and I don’t even play one on TV. The medical facts for some actions in the second section are a little on the unrealistic side, but the musi get what the musi want.
Chapter Thirteen: The Alternate Toretto & O’Connor Ending, The Gremlin Shouts Danger, and An Early Morning Crisis
~~* May 2014 *~~ * ~~* The Alternate Toretto & O’Connor Ending *~~
Brian entered the penthouse, which was silent except for the sound of the air conditioner blowing. He’d just finished the debriefing on his latest undercover assignment, and had been given the rest of the day off. He was looking forward to the three hours of alone time until Spencer and Tony got done at the BAU. He needed the time to process his thoughts about the case, and the man he’d sent back to prison. That man being one Dominic Toretto guilty of hijacking and various other charges.
The older of two children born to Marco and Louisa Toretto. His younger sister Mia was trying to become a doctor. He hoped that she succeeded. He hoped that her time separated from her brother would give her some clarity in where she wanted to go in life. In his opinion, she needed some distance from him and his crowd. She had a lot of potential. Some day she could do a lot of good for the world, save a lot of people. It would be a shame if it were wasted because he dragged her down with his life of crime.
Dominic and Mia’s mother had died when Mia was just 5 years old. Their father had died when Mia was just a teenager. Because of this the siblings formed an extremely close bond. One that in Brian’s opinion hadn’t often worked in Mia’s favor. As he moved into the bedroom that he shared with Tony, Brian’s mind moved away from the facts of the case. He instead found himself thinking about what could have been, and how lucky he was.
If Brian didn’t have this penthouse to come home to…. If Brian didn’t have Spencer and Tony in his life…. If he hadn’t found Tony again at Ohio State University…. If he hadn’t reached out to that broken child everyone else had written off…. If he hadn’t found him that first time at boarding school… If his mother hadn’t had the forethought to get him away from Roman Pearce… Brian knew that he could have been one of those people caught in Dominic’s web.
Brian could picture a part of himself being drawn to Toretto and his ragtag family. If he was lonelier, greener, or if he simply didn’t have the two men that he shared his life with to depend on, it would be easy to get lost in the man’s pull. That thought made him sit heavily on the bed.
One leg in his jeans and one out, shirt lying on the floor, and cold dread in his heart. Jesus that could have really been him. He’d never though himself as having been fortunate in life, but he could see clearly now how he could have easily gone off track. Mostly his life had been crappy with brief Tony connected moments of happiness. But…
Jesus that could have been him.
If Brian had less knowledge of what a scumbag his father had been in life, he could picture himself overlooking the line between good and bad, right and wrong. It would be easy to make excuses for Dominic. Losing his mother to disease, losing his father in a horrific track accident in front of his eyes, growing up poor, getting thrown in Lompoc when he was still vulnerable from his father’s death.
The thing was he had options. His family may have been poor, but there had been a lot of love in that little house. His father had been strict, but made sure his children knew that he loved them. Even after Dominic got out of prison he’d had options. He had the garage, which did a decent enough business to live on. They also had the income from the store, which had provided enough money to give them a little bit for extras. Sure they wouldn’t get rich, but they’d be living an honest life. They’d be doing things the right way. One of them wouldn’t be in prison right now facing the next 10 to 20 years behind bars. The other wouldn’t be faced with a life alone separated from everything she’d known.
Dom was a smart guy. If he’d wanted to do things the right way he could have succeeded. Instead he’d wanted the easy money. He’d wanted the adrenaline rush from the heist. He’d wanted things he hadn’t worked for. The world didn’t owe him jackshit. Too bad that no one thought to inform one Mr. Toretto of that.
Jesus that could have been him.
Brian couldn’t let go of that thought. He’d enjoyed his time in the garage with Dominic’s crew. He’d genuinely liked some of them. Vince… not so much. Vince was a thug plain and simple. He had the typical hot-headed, guard dog mentality. Brian had met a guy like him in every undercover job he’d ever done. If Vince ever found out who Brian really was he would be a credible threat once he was out of prison. That is if Vince survived prison. Brian had his doubts about that. He’d currently put it at 50/50. Brian had recommended that the judge separate them, except for Jesse. Poor fucking Jesse.
There was another one that he felt sorry for. Jesse had no clue what was going on. Jesse was a prime example of what happened when society turned their backs on kids that needed a little more love and attention. Jesse would be placed with Dominic. Brian had talked to the prosecuting attorney who had promised he’d get it done. He hoped that there was a way the young man could avoid prison, or at the very least get a very minimal sentence. Jesse Brian would be keeping an eye on, and watching to see if he could help along the way. Even if it would have to be at a distance. Unfortunately though, Jesse would never survive prison without Dominic Toretto.
Jesus that could have been him.
The thought wouldn’t go away. It just kept swirling around in his head. He could have turned into Dominic’s right hand man. He could have slipped down the rabbit hole, and gotten caught in the shiny aura that surrounded the big man. He could have easily thrown everything away. Jesus that could have been him.
When Spencer and Tony walked in the penthouse door, Brian was pacing around the living room wearing only his jeans. His blonde hair was going in all directions, as if the man had been running his fingers through it, or pulling at it. “Brian,” Spencer called out frowning, as he felt Tony stop behind him.
When Brian turned slightly wild eyes toward them, Spencer worried. He was confused when Tony didn’t move forward, so instead he crossed the space between himself and the blonde. Reaching out hesitantly, he touched his arm making the blonde start slightly. “Jesus, Spencer, I… I could have been them.”
“Been who, Brian?” Spencer asked defaulting to his freaked out victim tone he used at work. Out of the corner of his eye, Spencer saw Tony moving toward them, removing his tie and suit coat.
“Problems with the Toretto case?” Tony asked softly, and Spencer wanted to ask how he’d known what Brian was working on. He wasn’t supposed to know, but… somehow Tony always did. He’d always assumed Brian told him, but the frown on the man’s face told him otherwise.
“How did you…? Nevermind, I don’t wanna know.” Brian swore. Lifting his hands he ran his fingers through his blonde waves. Spencer opened his mouth to speak, but felt Tony’s touch on the small of his back.
“What happened with Toretto, Brian?” Tony asked, and Spencer recognized that as his ‘I am in charge, and don’t even think of fucking with me’ tone. He normally only used that when things got difficult at work.
“I could have been them,” Brian repeated, and Spencer turned slightly so that he could see both men. His gaze landed on Tony just in time to see the man nod.
“You said that,” Tony pointed out. Spencer was a little confused at the dynamic here. It was the first time he’d really seen Brian upset, but he’d always assumed that Tony would treat Brian with something close to the care the Italian gave Spencer when he was upset.
Later he would learn that sometimes being nice to someone when they were upset was the worst thing you could do. Tony explained that people like himself and Brian hated people being nice to them on the best of days. Doing so when they were in certain moods though was just asking for a mess. That would be much later though after they had Brian calmed down, and taking a nap in Spencer’s room. Now he just remained quietly confused as he watched and listened.
“Who is this ‘they’, and why is it so horrible that you could have become them?” Tony asked the boss tone now very obviously in place.
“Toretto’s crew,” Brian explained stilling, and putting his hands in his pockets. Spencer blinked at the transformation, and just made a mental note of another thing to ask Tony about.
“I… I realized that I could have been them. I could have gotten caught in his web. If I didn’t have you two. If Spencer hadn’t found me. If you and I hadn’t met. If my mom hadn’t sent me to boarding school.”
“That’s a lot of ifs,” Tony pointed out, and Brian shrugged seemingly careless, but Spencer could see the strain behind the façade.
“Not that many,” Brian argued. “Just taking out one of those things could have changed everything. I could have been them.”
Spencer frowned at the repetition, and couldn’t resist pointing out, “but you aren’t.”
When Brian turned his gaze in his direction, Spencer felt the urge to step back. He didn’t know why. He knew Brian wouldn’t hurt him. It was the steady presence from Tony at his back that kept him in place. “You aren’t them. You do have us. I did find you for Tony, and you two did meet up both in boarding school and college. That all did happen, so you aren’t them.”
Spencer saw Brian startle, as if none of that had occurred to him in the time he’d spent pacing around the penthouse half dressed. When the youngest of the three turned his gaze up to Tony, he saw an amused smirk firmly in place, and his eyes trained on their blonde partner.
“He’s the genius of this trio for a reason, Brian.” Tony offered tongue firmly in cheek. When Spencer turned his sight back to Brian he was just in time to see the man huff.
“I know it didn’t, but…”
“You’re in too deeply, Brian,” Tony said gently. Spencer felt a kiss to his cheek before Tony moved to stand in front of Brian, putting his back to Spencer. “Spencer’s right. None of those what ifs happened. You’ve lost sight of your reality, again. This is becoming a disturbing habit.” Spencer wasn’t sure what Tony meant, but trusted his partner to know the truth of the situation. After all, Tony was the one who understood Brian’s undercover life.
“Since when do you concentrate on the ‘what ifs’ instead of the here and now?” When Brian sighed and lifted his hands to run them through his hair once more, Tony caught them. “I think you need sleep. Let’s put you in Spencer’s room, so you aren’t disturbed when I go to bed. He can stay with me tonight.”
Spencer watched Tony lead Brian away, and removing his satchel, sat down on the couch to await Tony to come back. He knew explanations would be forthcoming, and he was right.
He would learn about needing time alone after an undercover job to get your head back on straight. He would learn about losing yourself in your undercover identity, sometimes to the point where you forgot who the real you was. He would learn about the other hazards of undercover work. In the end when Tony was done explaining, and Spencer was done learning, the young genius would be even more determined to get Brian into the BAU. He was not losing the man to the demons someone else had created for him.
~~* February 2012 *~~ * ~~*The Gremlin Shouts Danger*~~
Hearing his name shouted, Tony looked up from the file that he was studying to see Jimmy Palmer hurrying toward him. Frowning he stood to meet the excitable younger man. “Tony! I need to talk to you, and you have to listen to me. No one else will believe me, and they all say I’m just imagining things, but I know I’m not. He’s in danger, and no one will listen!”
“Gremlin, take a deep breath,” Tony ordered just before the young autopsy assistant latched onto him with a hug. “OK, Jimmy.”
Patting the man’s back, Tony rolled his eyes at Prentiss who was smirking unhelpfully. “Jimmy… come on man. You said Ducky was in danger? Come on man…” Tony started separating the two of them.
“Why don’t we go to the conference room that the team uses and talk? Hey, do you mind if Prentiss comes? That way if we need the FBI you don’t have to repeat things.”
“I’m sorry, Tony,” Jimmy offered stepping back looking miserable. “It’s just, no one will listen!”
“Hey, no sorrys. If Ducky is in trouble I’m glad you came. Come on now, let’s go up to the room.”
Looking up to Hotch’s office he saw him standing at the railing with Rossi. Hotch gave him a nod of approval, as Tony made his way to the round table with Emily and Jimmy following. Once they were settled in, Jimmy on one side, and he and Emily on the other, Tony prompted his friend to start from the beginning.
“I was opening mail. Dr. Mallard wasn’t in when it came in, and sometimes there are urgent things that need taking care of. In with the nomad mail was one that was addressed directly to Dr Mallard only I didn’t see it was for him personally, because I had the pile flipped over so the backs were all up. It looked like one of those ransom notes that you see in the movies with the letters cut out of magazines. Only it was threatening to kill him!”
Tony frowned at this, and reaching out patted Jimmy’s hand. “We’ll figure it out Palmer. Do you remember what it said?”
“No, but I brought them all with me.” Jimmy advised digging a pile of letters out of the backpack that Tony knew he carried his school books in.
“This is…” Emily started picking one up, while Tony frowned concerned at the number in front of him.
“There’s more,” Jimmy said feeling like maybe finally someone was going to listen finally. “I am positive that he’s being followed.”
“I’m not surprised,” Emily agreed looking at one of the letters. “Take a look at this, Tony. I think that we need to get Derek in here. This is….”
As he read the letter Emily had been reviewing, Tony felt himself grow more concerned. “Yeah, Em, could you…” Emily was already on her way out the door before he was finished.
“So, I was right?” Jimmy asked, his voice quivering with fear.
Looking up, tiny nodded at his friend. “You did well, Black Lung. This definitely should not be ignored. I need to know, was Gibbs one of the ones who blew you off?”
Jimmy bit his lip, and nodded nervous. He knew that the senior agent and Tony were close. “I… I tried to tell him, but he just said that I had an overactive imagination, and wouldn’t listen when I tried to tell him about the letters! Ducky said I needed to mind my own business, and it wasn’t as big of a deal as I was making it out to be. When I tried to mention the car I kept seeing he said that I was being paranoid. I’m not though, right? I’m not being paranoid! He’s really in danger?”
When Emily returned, she had Derek in tow along with Rossi and Hotch who had their guns on their hips. “Tony, I would like to see the letters,” Hotch requested, holding his hand out, which was already gloved. Rossi handed Tony a set, as Derek and Emily settled in with gloves already on their own hands.
“Some of these recent ones aren’t even opened,” Emily noted frowning.
After reading through some of the newer letters, Hotch nodded shortly frowning. “I’ve seen enough. I have already contacted Director Vance. Rossi and I are on our way to NCIS. We’re going to bring Dr. Mallard back with us for his protection, and so that we can ask him some questions. Vance has agreed to let us investigate this as long as Tony takes point. The rest of the team will be in shortly, Tony. Mr. Palmer, good job.”
Tony nodded, then looked to a wide eyed Jimmy. “Why don’t you come over here by me, Jimmy? If you think of anything when we’re talking, feel free to speak up. Any observation you have is important. Don’t worry. I’m not letting anything happen to the Duckman.”
Over at NCIS, Leon Vance stood at the railing outside of MTAC observing Gibbs’ new team. It had been rough going for them in the beginning. The director had too late come to appreciate the things that Tony brought to the team when he was there. His most senior agent had chosen to stay where he had always been in the bullpen. Personally, Leon would have wanted to move, but he realized that Gibbs was one who chose to hold all of his memories as close as possible. Even the bad ones, or the things that really should be set go.
After getting off the phone with Unit Chief Hotchner, Leon was incredibly displeased. At first he was pissed that the ME’s assistant had dared to take his concerns to another agency. It was only after Tony’s new boss informed him that the young man had tried voicing his worries to both the ME and Gibbs that he chose to go to Tony that Vance turned his anger on a more suitable subject. It seemed that Gibbs still hadn’t learned valuable lessons.
Leon had hoped that the older Agent in Charge would have learned that some of his ways were archaic and needed to be thrown in the dumpster after the fiasco with the MCRT. It seemed though that he still had some things that would have to be taught the hard way. Vance had no doubt that Dr. Mallard would be making a stop on his way up.
After getting off the phone with the Unit Chief, he’d called the ME immediately and ordered him up to his office refusing to answer any questions. While a part of him understood that no one wanted to believe that they could be in danger, he believed that someone who worked for a federal law enforcement agency, and had seen what stalkers could do, would take some things more seriously. Hearing the elevator ding, he took a toothpick out of his pocket and, after shoving it in his mouth, watched Ducky make his way toward Gibbs. This was not unexpected in the least. It was in fact the main reason that Leon was standing where he was.
He knew Gibbs was aware of his presence and, watching the hushed conversation between the two men, knew there was no way to keep Gibbs out of this. Well that was just fine with Vance. Aaron Hotchner was clearly irate that such a concern had been basically brushed off as a wild imagination. Leon thought he just might be looking forward to listening to the man tear Gibbs a new asshole.
When the two men looked up at him, Vance scowled angrily. “Dr. Mallard, I do believe that you were ordered to my office. I do not recall requesting you to confer with Gibbs first. Since you have chosen to include him though, you both can get your asses up here. NOW!”
Turning, Leon stalked back toward his office, pausing to let Cynthia know of the visitors that should be shown in immediately when they arrive. He also instructed that everyone else should be kept out, and to hold all of his calls. He’d just gotten settled behind his desk, a fresh toothpick in his mouth, when Gibbs came stalking in with Ducky following behind.
“Leon, what the hell is this about? Don’t tell me you’re taking this fantasy Palmer has going seriously? He’s watched too many damned spy movies. I’d know if Ducky had someone following him.” Gibbs spat, and Leon narrowed his eyes.
“Sit. NOW! Someone shut the door before you sit down. The whole building doesn’t need to hear this mess.” Ducky quietly shut the door, looking less confident that normal, before moving to sit in a chair in front of the director’s desk. Gibbs scowled, but took the other seat not bothering to hide his displeasure.
“Shut your goddamned mouth, Agent in Charge Gibbs. Before I knock your damned teeth in! It seems that you only have half the story. Since from what I understand that is your own goddamned fault, I’m gonna just let you two sit there in silence and think about what you POSSIBLY SHOULD HAVE FUCKING BROUGHT TO ME PREVIOUSLY! INSTEAD YOU BLEW IT OFF, DIDN’T BOTHER TO DO EVEN A BASIC CHECK INTO THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE CONCERN. NOW SIT THERE. SHUT THE HELL UP, AND I WILL LET YOU KNOW WHEN YOU CAN SPEAK AGAIN!”
Clamping his lips shut, Leon tried to calm himself down before he really did knock one of the two of them out. That person being Gibbs. When it looked like the infuriating agent was going to argue, Leon took out his toothpick and pointed it at him. “One word, and your ass is suspended, Gibbs. Please, test me right now.”
“Jethro, maybe it would be best if we do as the Director wishes. It is possible that possibly we… made a misstep?” Gibbs’ snort of disbelief was all the answer that came, and Leon spent the next half an hour reading reports deliberately ignoring his guests.
When his door opened without warning about 40 minutes later, Vance stood relieved to see that Hotchner and Rossi had come personally. With Tony’s father figure present, this was going to be even better than he’d expected. Gibbs of course didn’t wait for any explanations before losing his mind. “Palmer went to Tony! What the fuck, Leon! What the hell is the FBI doing involved in this? Even if there was a problem, which there isn’t, it should be my goddamned case!”
Gibbs would have continued screaming, but suddenly found himself face to face with a pissed off David Rossi. “Please, continue your tantrum, you poster boy for anger management problems. I have been waiting a long time to tell you just what the hell I think of you, Gibbs.”
When Gibbs opened his mouth to reply, Hotch cut him off. His cold blooded Prosecuting Attorney persona firmly in place. “Agent in Charge Gibbs, I suggest you sit down in your chair, and listen. I have neither the will nor the need to listen to you. Frankly, your presence isn’t even required. Had you done what you should have when Mr. Palmer came to you, we might nor be here. However, since you chose to act like a bully on a grade school playground, and made him aware of how stupid you think he is before you even had all the information, it’s now MY CASE.”
When Rossi turned, and lifted an eyebrow at his friend, Aaron dipped his head in acknowledgement. “You’re right, Dave. It’s actually not my case. It’s Tony’s. He would be here, but he’s too busy filling the team in on the threat to Dr. Donald Mallard’s life to play around with your little hissy fit. So, Dave and I are here in his place to fill Director Vance in on what we know, and to take Dr. Mallard into protective custody.”
“THE HELL YOU ARE!” Gibbs bellowed. “This is completely stupid. All this bullshit because Palmer is paranoid! If there’s really a threat to Ducky, I will look into it myself. I am not letting Tony’s fake father steal slip in, and steal something else from me! Hell, for all we know one of Rossi’s mob buddies are responsible for all of this whatever it is. Everyone knows the bastard’s fingers are more than a little dirty. God only knows how much he’s corrupting Tony.”
Gibbs had no idea the blow was coming, until he found himself on the floor with dark spots in his vision. He could hear shouting erupting around the room, but found himself unable to respond. Ducky was yelling about the EMS. Someone else was yelling at Rossi to calm down. For his part, Gibbs thought maybe he would just lay there for a moment holding his throat, and wondering what the fuck happened.
When things calmed down, the group was settled at the conference table in the room. Gibbs had a cold pack on his throat, and was glaring silently at Rossi. The silent part was the result of the punch, which it seemed had caused just enough damage that he was temporarily unable to speak. Ducky was still arguing heatedly that Rossi should be brought up on charges.
The veteran profiler for his part was sitting quietly in his chair not looking the least bit sorry for what he’d done. Gibbs had heard an apology from Hotchner at some point, but the Unit Chief was currently staring stoically at the ME. Finally Vance whistled shrilly. “ENOUGH! Dr. Mallard, no one is being brought up on charges of anything. Gibbs clearly started the whole damned thing, and was very obviously trying to provoke SSA Rossi.
“AGAIN, I will remind you that had YOU AND GIBBS done what you should have to begin with, none of this would have happened! Now, SHUT IT! Since it appears you haven’t bothered to tell Gibbs the whole story, I think I’ll let Unit Chief Hotchner explain why we’re actually here.”
Aaron nodded frowning as the ME quickly quieted, and began to look nervous again. He also didn’t miss the look of surprise from Gibbs, or the glare he gave the elderly gentleman. “Earlier today, Mr. James Palmer came into the BAU bullpen looking for NCIS Liaison DiNozzo. He advised him that he believed Dr. Mallard was in danger, and was looking for help. He told Tony that no one would listen, so he’d come to him for assistance.”
Aaron paused to glare angrily at Gibbs, who mulishly refused to believe that this wasn’t some figment of Palmer’s imagination. “Tony led Jimmy and one of my agent’s SSA Emily Prentiss to one of the conference rooms. There he explained that he’d been opening mail in Dr. Mallard’s absence, and came across a letter threatening the ME’s life. I have that letter here to show you, but it will need to go back with me as it is evidence.”
When Gibbs’ eyes got big and he opened his mouth to start bellowing, Hotch wondered if the elder man was suddenly thankful for Rossi’s punch. He had a feeling that if it wasn’t for the fact that he couldn’t talk right then, the irritating agent would be bellowing at his friend. Taking the letter out of his briefcase, Hotch let Vance and Gibbs look at it. He noticed that Gibbs’ face got bright red, and the NCIS Director looked none too pleased himself.
For his part, it seemed that Dr. Mallard was avoiding looking at it. A detail that Hotch didn’t miss, and wondered if the ME really had not believed that there was a problem, or if there was something else going on. “Mr. Palmer then advised Tony and Agent Prentiss that he had other letters of a similar nature. He also advised that he believed that he’d noticed Dr. Mallard being followed. After they looked at the opened letters, as it seems quite a few of the recent once had gone unopened, Emily and Tony quickly determined that they wanted to bring in SSA Derek Morgan who is our expert on obsessive crimes. Emily also decided to fill me in on what was going on, and I immediately called Director Vance.”
Hotch glanced at the now blank faced Gibbs, then looked to see Dr. Mallard fidgeting in his seat looking at his hands. “Upon reviewing what letters had been opened, Agent Morgan and myself quickly agreed that Dr. Mallard’s life was in serious danger. I agreed to bring Agent Rossi, and come take Dr. Mallard into protective custody. When I left Tony was gathering the team to fill them in, and get started with the investigation. Tony will be taking the lead on this to find out what is going on. The last thing we want is for something to happen to someone who means so much to one of my agents, when it could be easily avoided. I will be honest, Dr. Mallard, you are very lucky that Mr. Palmer was so diligent in looking out for your safety.”
“My recommendation,” Rossi started leaned back in his chair, and appearing as if he didn’t have a care in the world, “is that in the future you take every suggestion of danger seriously, Agent Gibbs. It has been my experience in the more than 30 years I’ve been doing this that it’s the ones you don’t listen to that end up dead the quickest. Fortunately for you, my figlio knows better.”
Aaron cleared his throat, trying to hold in the laugh that desperately wanted to come out. If he didn’t think so little of the man, he’d feel sorry for Gibbs. Hotch had no doubt that the Director would be taking advantage of his silent state once they left.
A couple hours later, Tony found himself standing in the back corner of the conference room listening to Derek and Emily as they interviewed Ducky. He’d desperately wanted to do it himself, but he recognized that he was too close to the elderly man to be completely objective. He was afraid that he’d be unable to push him when needed. Derek and Emily however would have enough respect for not only his age, but also his life achievements to give leeway when needed, but also were professional enough to know when they needed to be a little tougher and not let him hide information.
By the time they were done, they’d managed to get what Ducky knew out of the Scotsman. It seemed that early in his career with NCIS, the ME had been called into the death of Midshipman Earl Bates. The cause of death had been unclear, and the investigating team had been torn on whether it was murder or not. During his autopsy, Ducky had found enough evidence to rule that Midshipman Bates had unfortunately killed himself. The family, and especially the man’s new bride, had never agreed with the ruling. They refused to believe, despite the signs that they eventually admitted to, that the man had sought to end his own death.
Despite being sure of his ruling, it seemed that the elderly ME had always felt bad, and wished that there had been something more he could have done for them. Apparently, Midshipman Bate’s wife had been pregnant when he died, and eventually gave birth to a son. Ducky revealed that the investigating team had found some hints that the man had some kind of a mental illness, which Ducky couldn’t remember exactly what it was right then. However, based on the nature of the letters, which had recently become only more and more disturbing, Tony felt that whatever his father had suffered from had been inherited by the son.
Ducky, feeling bad about what the family had suffered through, had not wanted to add to their burden. He’d continued to insist that young Reginald wasn’t a serious threat. Finally, Derek not so gently laid out everything he knew about obsessive crimes, and suggested that Ducky use his own profiling skills to look at the evidence objectively.
The whole thing just served to make Tony more and more pissed, and by the end of the case nothing had happened to change that. Reginald Bates was dead. His wife was sobbing uncontrollably while threatening all of their jobs, and clutching their three year old son to her side. Tony couldn’t help but wonder if someday they’d be back once again for the grandson Stephen.
Much later that evening, Tony lay in bed with Spencer curled up at his side. Brian was out of town on a case, and for once Tony was thankful for it. He felt at that moment that Spencer might be the best one to understand what was going on in his head.
“What do you think the chances are we or someone after us aren’t going to be back at that house because of something the grandson has done?” Tony asked quietly. He felt Spencer’s head lift from his shoulder, but Tony kept his eyes trained on the TV.
“Probably much higher than you’d like,” Spencer replied equally as soft. “How did your yelling at Gibbs go?”
Tony huffed and finally turned his attention to his boyfriend. “Awesome since he can’t talk. I can’t believe that Rossi finally hit someone in the throat, and I missed it. I don’t think Gibbs is very happy with me right now, but honestly, I don’t give a fuck. I’m not happy with him back.”
Tony pulled Spencer back down, and rested his cheek against the back of the slighter man’s head. “I told him that I’m tired of his bullshit. I told him that he needs to pull his head out of his ass, and act like he means all that shit he says about people being family. I pointed out that if Jimmy wasn’t so stubborn Ducky would be dead right now. That bomb under his car would have gone off the second he opened the door. I told him that was all on him.”
Tony shook his head, and closed his eyes at the pain in his heart. “Do you… do you think I’m a fool for caring about Gibbs still? Do you think I should have cut him off with the rest of them?”
When Spencer didn’t answer right away, Tony wasn’t upset. He knew conversations about emotions weren’t the younger man’s favorite. “I think that no one has the right to tell you who to care about. Considering all the people who have treated you badly, I don’t blame you for wanting to hold onto someone who has shown that he genuinely cares for you. Loving him as a big brother though, doesn’t mean that you won’t be disappointed in his actions. In fact, it’s because of your importance to him that just maybe you can get through to him when no one else can.”
“I told him that I won’t be around for awhile. I told him that he needs to fix himself. We… well I got into a screaming match. He just made rude gestures and threw things. I told him that he needed to see someone who wasn’t Kate’s sister and get some real therapy before I’d be back. I… I told him that I love him, but that I wasn’t particularly fond of him right then. I also told him that all the bullshit he hadn’t let go, Ducky’s almost death was the one thing he needed to think about every time he wanted to bring out the ‘Second B is for Bastard’ bullshit.”
Tony heard Spencer sigh, and the man’s hand began running up and down Tony’s chest. “You’ve done all that you can, Tony. It’s up to him to decide where to go from here, but if it’s worth anything? I think you did the right thing. I think that Gibbs and Ducky and Jimmy are all lucky to still have you. I know I am lucky to have you, and I hope every day that in some way I show you how much you mean to me.”
Tony pressed a kiss to the top of Spencer’s head as he closed his eyes letting the sound of the TV put him to sleep. His heart may be heavy, but he had hope in his soul that things would work out in the end.
~~* April 2014 *~~ * ~~* An Early Morning Crisis *~~
It was just after 3am when they heard the penthouse doorbell rang. Brian got to the door first. He had bouts where he didn’t sleep much. Spencer theorized it had something to do with his undercover work knowing that Tony occasionally having them himself. Of course Spencer himself didn’t slept much, so Tony thought it had more to do with how active their brains were.
Since there wasn’t any reason for someone to show up at that hour, he stopped at the gun safe and tucked his piece into the back of his jeans to be safe. By the time he got to the door he could hear Tony coming down the hall, and he suspected Spencer would be not far behind him. When he opened the door, Will and Henry were the last people that he expected. At the same time though, it made the most sense.
They hadn’t seen or heard much from the man in the last few months. He’d stopped communicating with them as he gave his last effort to fix his marriage. They’d all understood, but it had hurt in different ways. Surprisingly Brian thought that Tony had been the most affected. If he’d had to guess before the disaster at the cookout, he would have assumed it to be Spencer. In reality though it was Tony though who took Will’s absence the hardest.
Thinking back now though Brian knew that he should have suspected it would be difficult for Tony. He didn’t connect to people the way he and Will had often. Sure he was friendly with a lot of people, but that was different than being actual friends. It was different than caring enough about someone that you were willing to turn your swanky pad into a home that was able to house a single father and his abandoned son. While none of them held Will’s absence against him, Brian hoped this signaled the end to it. No matter that it most likely meant the end to his marriage had come. He was perfectly ok with how selfish that made him.
“I’m sorry,” Will said softly, and incredibly brokenly. “I didn’t… I don’t…”
“Stop apologizing, and come in,” Brian ordered quietly trying not to wake the little boy sleeping, but still hiccupping. He hoped the little man hadn’t cried himself to sleep. He guessed that he probably was wrong though. By the time Will got into the penthouse apartment, and Brian got the door locked with the alarm reset, Tony and Spencer were both standing in the entryway.
Spencer quickly moved forward and helped Will transfer his godson from his daddy to his godfather. “I’ll put him in his bed, and bring out the baby monitor.”
“Sit,” Brian ordered taking Will’s arm and leading him to the couch. Tony headed off, toward the liquor cabinet. When he returned he was carrying the Jack Daniels Honey Whiskey and four tumblers. It was their late night crisis drinking alcohol. When Spencer got back, and settled in curled up in Tony’s lap with Brian and Will on the couch, the Cajun began his story.
“Thank you for taking us in,” Will began. His voice more hoarse than normal.
“You were trying to save your family,” Tony offered softly as he rested his chin on Spencer’s shoulder. “There isn’t a single person in this room that is going to hold that against you. If family isn’t worth putting every single ounce of effort into saving, I don’t know anything that is. Did it hurt? Sure, but that doesn’t mean you did anything wrong, or that all that hurt wasn’t forgiven the second you walked through the door with your child who obviously bawled himself to sleep.”
Will sighed and rubbed his eyes. “I don’ know what I did ta deserve y’all. JJ and I are through. The State Department offered her a job overseas. She didn’…. It never occurred to her that Henry and I should go with her. When I told her I didn’ wanna uproot Henry, and that I wouldn’t be able ta find a job in wherever the fuck she’s goin’, she jus’ blinked at me. She was all confused like. I could tell she hadn’ even considered takin’ us with her.”
Will leaned forward, and took a drink of his whiskey before continuing. “She readily admitted that she’s having an affair with her boss, an’ that she didn’ want Henry. She already had tha papers drawn ta terminate her parental rights to him. Can ya believe it? She’s jus… She’s throwin’ him away like he’s nothin’!”
Tony found himself tightening his arms around Spencer and burying his face in the genius’ back inhaling his scent. Just when he thought that he could put his hatred for the woman behind him, she did something else so incredibly selfish and unforgivable that it was all brought up again. Abandoning your child was an inexcusable act in his book. It doesn’t matter that Henry’s young enough he may adjust well. Tony knew from experience that you just don’t get over that kind of thing. The second you think you’ve moved on, something comes up to remind you all over again that you just weren’t enough.
“JJ doesn’t deserve either you or Henry,” Spencer spat angrily. He couldn’t believe that his former friend had gone so far away from the amazing woman she used to be. Maybe though she’d never been that person, and she’d just previously done a better job hiding this horrible side of her personality. As far as he was concerned she was dead to him.
“Of course you’ll live here with us. We have a suite all ready for you and Henry. You have your own little area, but are always welcome to share the rest of the penthouse with us. If the rest of the world doesn’t want us, well then we’ll just make our own little family. Fuck ‘em!”
Will blinked at Spencer, as Brian snickers. When the Cajun just sighed and shook his head, even Tony snickered. “Every time I hear ya cussin’, Spence, I think the world is about to come off of its axis.”
“Curse words are perfectly acceptable when used in the appropriate environment and context,” Spencer offered huffily, and Brian and Tony snickered again.
Brian grinned finishing his drink, then looked at Will. “It helps that Tony and I tend to cuss like sailors. Guess we’ll have to cut back on that with the kid around.”
“Henry’s a good boy,” Will offered smiling. “He knows not to repeat things like that, an’ ask if he doesn’t understand somethin’. If the only bad habit he learns from y’all is some curse words, I’ll count myself lucky to have such amazin’ friends. Merci, mes amis.” (Thank you, my friends.)
Tony nods smiling and relaxed into Spencer’s back. He was glad that his friend was back, and JJ was gone from their lives forever. Spencer was right. The fates had handed her an amazing man, and she’d thrown him and her child away. He had nothing but faith that eventually Karma would find her. It was just a matter of time.
End Notes: Will and Henry won’t make any big appearances in the future sections… at least I don’t think they will. This is hopefully the ending of the JJ arc of this story. There are a million things I could add to the story, but honestly just don’t have the energy to write.