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Prologue: The Escape
It was four in the morning. Anthony Dimitri DiNozzo, Junior, Tony to his friends, paused on his way back into the house. He could sense his frat brother Steve behind him watching. He knew he probably was wondering what Tony was doing. Tony wondered what he was doing. He was in the middle of a flight for his life with his two toddlers. There was a good chance he could get charged with kidnapping before they could get to Christopher to get this worked out, but… he just… He needed a second.
Tony turned and let his eyes move over the neighborhood, nodding to Steve everything was ok in the process. He needed this moment to realize that it was almost over. This horrible nightmare that he’d been living through was almost, finally over. Maybe soon he could get started on figuring out who he was again. He felt like he’d come so far from the person that he used to be that he didn’t know who he was supposed to be, or wanted to be. At the same time, he knew who he’d been before this, and he missed being that person.
He didn’t like this person that he was now and wanted to just be rid of him. This person…. This damaged strange person he’d become since letting his father back into his life. The person he’d become since falling for Ziva’s act. The damaged, uncertain, broken, unsure person he didn’t recognize when he looked in the mirror.
He knew parts of the old him, the cop parts were still in there. The parts that wanted to take on the bad guy and bring him down. The part that was willing to do whatever it took to see justice done. The parts that believed in the system, and in Lady Justice. They were the parts that made all this possible. Well, them and The Bro Train. The frat brothers who had pulled him out of his shell kicking and screaming, determined to see there brother freed from his nightmare, even back when Tony was afraid of being saved. Brothers who had earned that word, that title, that honor. Brothers in the true sense of the word.
Tony couldn’t help but snort at the idea, and after shaking his head in amusement at Steve, who just arched an eyebrow fondly in return, Tony took a final look around him. He could honestly say he wouldn’t miss this place. This… cookie cutter, Middle America, everyone turning a blind eye, life. This… fake smiles and masks in public, and sheer terror behind closed doors. This… façade that you had to go though. This… dream that he’d had his whole life ‘til he got it and found out that it wasn’t real. Soon it would be over.
Soon his father and the David’s Eli and his black widow daughter Ziva… his wife… his boys’ mother… would be all behind bars and he would be safe. More importantly his boys would be safe. Taking a deep breath, Tony snapped out of the headspace he’d been in and headed back into the house, giving Steve a wave to signal his mind was back on the job. He didn’t know exactly where Ziva was… He was pretty sure that he didn’t wanna know. He already knew too much. He already felt sick to his stomach at how much he’d missed. How much he’d let go over his head, because… because, because, because he didn’t know the answer to because. He’d bought the lies and the excuses and the justifications. Maybe because he wanted to, maybe because he’d been too damaged by his father to ask the right questions maybe… Shaking his head, he made his way up the stairs and into the boys’ room where Michael lay sleeping. The few belongings they could throw together were in the SUV. It wasn’t much. They needed more, but… they’d work that out when they got to their destination.
They hadn’t had time to plan, it’d been too risky to try and pack ahead. Things… most things could be replaced. The things that couldn’t were in the SUV. Photo Albums, stuffed bears, blankies, essentials were in the SUV. The boys would be in the SUV. Everything else he could replace. He had the money… finally. Thanks to The Bro Train sniffing out the money his mother left him. The money his father never told him existed. The money his father had been trying to get his grubby hands on. The money that would save them ‘til he could get back on his feet and working again.
Reaching the boys’ bedroom, Tony entered quietly and moved to Michael’s crib, lifting him out after wrapping him up snugly in his blanket. There were warmer things to change him into in the SUV. Later… later when he wasn’t worried Ziva would come back at any second, even though she wasn’t supposed to be back for a few days. Quickly he pulled the boy to his chest, and moved through the house. Shutting the door he crossed the yard to the SUV to where Steve already had the door open. All Tony had to do was strap Michael into his car seat next to his twin Fredrick Sean… Freddy for short. The boys, Michael Anthony and Fredrick Sean were two and so far both favored him in looks with Freddy being a little darker in hair color and skin tone than his brother. Their features though were all Tony, and he was maybe unfairly but still thankful for that. It was them that held him there so long, and it was them that prompted him to leave. Afraid of what separating children so young from their mother would do to them long term. Afraid of what leaving them around a mother like Ziva David would do to them long term.
Shutting the door, Tony moved to his seat in the front. Steve was already behind the wheel, engine running and ready to move. As he buckled himself in, Steve began to pull the vehicle away, and Tony had a momentary panic attack. Was he doing the right thing? What if he was wrong? What if they took his babies? What if… “Relax, man. Big Al’s got this. The Bro Train hasn’t ever let anyone down before, and we certainly aren’t starting with Captain America.”
Tony blushed and snorted shaking his head. He hated his frat nickname, but figured it could be worse. One guy was named Smooth Dog for God’s sake. “Yeah, tryin’ man.” Tony admitted and Steve nodded slapping his leg then reaching over turned on some music quietly. “Sleep man. We gotta long haul, and you are totally taking turns driving bitch. You ain’t Miss Daisy.”
Snorting again, Tony let out a bark of laughter before looking to make sure he hadn’t woken up the babies. Once confident they were gonna remain asleep, Tony laid his head back and forced his mind blank. He pictured black paint covering whatever picture was in his mind, until he felt the pull of sleep take him. The gentle rocking of the vehicle helping to pull him under. Next stop…. The Big Easy.