Chapter Summary: Raven gets some one on one time with the boss.
Chapter Thirteen: Lunch with the Boss
Raven was busy working on some backend filters and safety precautions in their personnel and legend databases that would notify her instantly when any of the team members’ files were accessed. It was a joy being able to use her black hat knowledge for good, again.
Until Elijah called her she had been at loose ends. She promised herself that she wouldn’t allow anything to come between herself and this new opportunity. She wasn’t sure how AIC DiNozzo was able to get her a job on the FBI payroll when Avery hadn’t, but she wasn’t going to question it.
Elijah advised her to use the Cyber Division job as a learning experience and put the bullshit behind her. After cutting Avery and Brody both completely out of her life, she felt like she’d done just that. Krummy, however, was a really good dude, who had promised to keep their conversations to himself. They even talked regularly helping each other with ideas. Granted she hadn’t had an actual case, but he had some good ideas on the little project she was working on to safeguard her team.
And, it did feel like hers unlike the Cyber Department job, which always felt like Avery’s alone. Elijah told her that was because Tony was trying to build a family, while Avery wanted a team. He pointed out there wasn’t necessarily a problem with Avery’s approach. It just fit better for some than others.
Daniel Krumitz aka Krummy, for example, loved Avery even after everything went down. While he was more than willing to admit that he hadn’t been happy with how things turned out with either her or Nelson, he still believed in the remaining team. He did insist that those that stayed sit down, and work through some things before he was comfortable staying.
After Raven was let go at the end of the Hackers for Hire program, Krummy went out of his way to keep in touch with her. It was a huge boost up for her ego in those dark days, along with the shoulder Elijah had lent. The relationship that she’d been in with Brody Nelson though had been exposed for what it was. He’d used her out of convenience when all ties to his old life had been forcibly severed. When the charges were dropped and his file was wiped clean, he hadn’t needed her anymore.
His pretty words turned out to be incredibly empty. Had he actually meant anything he said, he would have thought about the consequences his lawsuit would have had on her life and not just his own. Right to the end, though, he hadn’t been concerned about anything other than himself. Not even when faced with the fact that he’d basically gotten her fired. There was no us, just Nelson.
“Do I want to know what you’re doing, Little Bird?” She heard, and looking up saw her new boss standing next to her desk. He was currently one of her favorite people ever.
“Just setting up some backend security, Boss. I mean, what the FBI has set up is ok I suppose, but if our files are going to house basically our entire work lives, I want to make sure no one can get in here without Chin or I knowing.”
She held her breath as she waited for him to respond. It hadn’t occurred to her until just then to ask if she could or should or was allowed to go messing around in security protocols. When Tony nodded, though and smiled slightly she knew she was mostly in the clear.
“Sounds awesome, Probie Birdling. Next time just let Chin, Elijah or myself know before you start messing around with such things ok? I don’t see that it’ll be a problem, so keep on going. Not right now, though. Right now I want you to grab your purse, and come with me. I am hungry, and I am forcing you to have lunch with me.”
When the tall man walked off without waiting for a response, Raven rushed to lock things down before he’d gotten too far away.
“Chop, Chop, Little Bird Probie!” Tony called, and Raven huffed as she ran to make the elevator before it closed.
Eventually, she found herself in the most amazing little family deli eating a pastrami sandwich and some Italian Wedding Soup. Her boss had ordered. He’d only made sure that she ate meat, and didn’t have allergies before ordering. Neither item was something that she would normally order, but she was glad that she’d tried them now.
Her new boss, in general, seemed to be incredibly helpful, and it felt like he genuinely cared about her as a person, while wanting to help her grow and move beyond her past. Again, it was hard to say that Avery hadn’t cared about her in some way. It seemed more that she cared as long as she was controlling Raven’s life, though. Tony so far didn’t seem to want anything but to be her boss and friend.
She’d never had one, and this new environment, while totally awesome, was a little unsettling. She found herself at times looking to slow the moving earth under her feet.
“Penny for your thoughts, Little Bird Probie.”
“What’s with the Probie, and Little Bird stuff, Boss? I mean, it isn’t that I mind, but I’m not exactly new. I worked with Cyber after all.”
When a flash of pain crossed her boss’ face, she wondered if she’d messed up. Eventually, he answered her question, but his tone was definitely more serious, and quieter than normal.
“On my old team, the one that I worked with at NCIS, I basically did all of the training. It was the way my boss wanted it, and it was the way his boss had done it with him. Probie was just what you called the person you were training who was a probationary agent aka Probie. My boss’ boss, Mike Franks, called Gibbs, my boss, Probie until the day he died. I had two Probies on my team. Gibbs always took the name as a badge of honor. Mine not so much. They seemed to feel that they were above such titles, and saw it as an insult instead of a title of affection that it’s meant to be.”
Tony frowned into his soup, and eventually took a big bite of his sandwich. Raven wasn’t sure if she was supposed to comment or not, so she just stayed silent. She had a feeling that if she waited, she would find that he wasn’t done. Her instincts proved to be right when he eventually continued.
“I’m not always the best with people. There weren’t really… Well, I didn’t spend a lot of time with kids until I got shipped off to boarding school when I was 12. Even then, though, I wasn’t what you would call popular. I was angry. I was a smart ass, and I just didn’t give a fuck about fitting in. It wasn’t until I got to college that I learned anything about friendship. Apparently, a frat house wasn’t the best place to learn friendship etiquette, though. I’ve had a lot of people in my life tell me that who I am isn’t good enough, and for a long time, I tried to give them what they wanted instead. I’m not willing to do that anymore because it only leaves me feeling empty and confused.”
Tony took a few spoonfuls of his soup before he continued this time looking at Raven as he spoke. “You’re my probie, Raven. Yeah, you may be Elijah’s and Chin’s probie. You’re Will’s undercover probie, but you’re my first FBI rookie. I didn’t hire you on a whim. I didn’t just say, ‘Hey, Elijah likes her so she must be swell!’
“I researched you. I looked into your Cyber history. I looked into your black hat history. I looked into your childhood. I have researched every person on this team. You are my probie. If you don’t like it, I will honor your wishes and not use that nickname with you. I won’t like, though, and I won’t tell you that I won’t be disappointed and hurt.
“I don’t know how to build a team, and not make a family, Raven. I know a shit load of ways to build a team without making a family that doesn’t work. I don’t know though how to do it, and have it come even close to working without the family aspect. The only team I have ever been on that was even close to being successful was my NCIS team. Flaws we had a plenty, but we were goddamned good at what we did. Dysfunctional may have been a good description of our family dynamic, but we were still a family. It’s the closest I have ever in my life come to feeling like I belonged, and that’s what I want here.”
Raven thought as she ate for a bit. Tony seemed to be willing to let her process his words, and she was thankful for that. With Avery, there was always that aspect of her formal training that got into everything. Sometimes you just needed someone to stop head shrinking you, and let you think.
“Does this come with a sparkly shirt that says Little Bird Probie? ‘Cause I would totally rock that shit, Boss.”
Tony laughed and seemed to relax. One Little Bird Probie firmly on board with the family thing. She was going to succeed here. She had a ton of people behind her, supporting her, and rooting her on. She had a boss that wanted her to succeed in her own way. If nicknames were what it took to make her boss happy, well Raven Ramirez would forever be known from that moment forward as Tony DiNozzo’s Little Bird Probie. She was sure as shit getting a sparkly shirt, though and would wear it with pride.