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Chapter Eight: All is well that ends well
Just over five years later, Tony was pulling up to the front of the Paddington Manor, aka the huge fucking castle he was still trying to get used to, so that they could unload their crap. He’d move the car to the garage later, or someone else would do it. Tony had gotten comfortable with having many servants around over the years since coming to England. Tony grew up around them as a child and much of the time had been his only friends. So, it hadn’t been a difficult adjustment. While he had others now that he could depend on, he still found himself making sure that he got to know those that made the family’s lives more comfortable.
“Tony!” He heard his name being called as he got out of the car and waved to Gibbs as he came out to greet them. It was always a little weird seeing his former boss coming from the family home, but it felt right in his heart. Ducky had died a few years back, leaving Gibbs without someone to watch over him.
The two of them had decided to let bygones be bygones and move forward with their friendship. The older man didn’t have anyone else to look after him, and Tony had been contemplating taking him into his own home. When Tony laid out the idea one night at a family dinner while they were visiting the estate, it was his Aunt Olivia that suggested Gibbs come to live with them.
They had the room, and they simply hired someone to come live with them to help with the older man’s needs. As the years went by, Gibbs’ memory and PTSD issues had transformed into the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. As Tony’s own career skyrocketed, he found himself missing his mentor and friend. Being a boss himself, he gained some perspective on the reason why Gibbs may have done some of the things that he did over the years, which helped him to put things behind him.
Tony grinned as TJ tore from the car, and ran to meet one of his favorite non-blood family members. TJ was another reason that Gibbs had been brought into the fold. During the visits when he and Ducky would come to see them, Tony’s son had become attached to the former Marine, and Gibbs had become equally as attached to TJ.
The little boy often got presents and postcards from the pair’s travels around the world. He kept a shoebox of letters that he wrote them while they were out of touch somewhere. He would mail them off once they were going to be staying in one place long enough for mail to reach them. For some reason, his son liked the old-fashioned mail system when it came to communicating with his two non-blood uncles.
Even Tony’s Uncle George had grown fond of the Marine. The two men were known to bond over bourbon and old stories. In Tony’s opinion, as long as the older man was happy, that was all he cared about.
“That’s still a bloody weird sight, but he seems to be having a good day.”
Tony turned his head and grinned at his husband. Closing the car door, he moved to the back to help Alec unload their things. When he reached the back of the vehicle, though, he stole a quick kiss, earning himself a roguish grin from his heart and soul.
The two of them had been married for just over two years, and TJ had begun to call him Papa Alec before they’d even moved in together. Their relationship was full of laughter and passion. While they argued on occasion, and even passionately at times, they had a rule about letting things fester. Alec’s temper was slow to cool, so the “no going to bed mad” thing didn’t work for them. Instead, they had a “things must be worked out within 72 hours” rule, which coincided with an “arguments must never involve TJ” rule.
Tony knew there was no way his son would never hear them fighting, but they were as careful as possible to limit what he heard. They also had a “no name-calling” rule that helped keep TJ from hearing any ugliness. Their son was a sensitive soul to go with his bright mind and loving heart. They had him tested the year before, and found out that their son was going to have an IQ on the level of his Uncle Ashcroft’s.
Fortunately, Tony’s younger cousin adored TJ and had personally overtaken ensuring that both Tony and Alec understood the needs of a child so bright. While neither of the Fathers was dumb, they also were not as smart as Q, and gladly accepted the advice from someone who had walked down the roads TJ would have to travel someday.
Interestingly enough, though, TJ’s absolute favorite two people in the entire universe were his Uncle Edward, who was still single, and Uncle James, who was married to his Aunt Prentiss. It had been a startling revelation, as Tony always assumed that Ashcroft and James would one day settle down together. However, the genius had caught the eye of one Eliot Waugh. Tony was convinced that someday the two of them were going to take over the world. He just hoped that he managed to remain on the correct side of their ire when they did so.
Picking the last bag out of the trunk, Tony gave Alec another kiss before heading to the house. The whole family would be there for the long weekend to celebrate, including members of Tony’s original London team, all of whom he was still incredibly close to. After they got things settled in their suite, the two men made their way downstairs into the family library, where Edward, George, Ashcroft, and Olivia were already gathered.
“So?” Edward asked the second Tony walked in the door, earning himself a head slap from his Father. “Damned Gibbs.”
Tony snorted as he found a seat for himself and his husband. George had decided that he rather liked the former Marine Sniper’s head slaps, and taken to offering those up when he felt needed. Grinning at the eyes watching him, he reached into his pocket and pulled out his new NCIS Identification.
“YES! I knew it!”
Tony grinned and then laughed as he stood to get hugs of congratulations on his new Assistant Director of European Operations position. Over the years, Tony and Vance had become close. So much so that Leon and the kids would be there that weekend to celebrate with them. Coming with them would be McGee, who would begin his position as Prentiss’ SFA in a few weeks.
Tony had been true to his word, and once he found out the promotion was going to be his a little over a year ago, he began looking into how McGee had fared. What he found out was that McGee had managed to pull his head out of his ass, largely in thanks to his spunky and incredibly awesome wife Delilah.
She left her position with the Department of Defense, and was going to be going to work for Ashcroft as his new R. The old one moved on, and when Tony heard that Ashcroft was having trouble settling on the right person to replace the man, he suggested that he had the perfect woman for the position.
The first meeting between Q and the new R was apparently something made of legends according to the boffins in SIS if Edward were to be believed. They’d butted heads for all of 15 minutes before a magical platonic love fest began that set all the tongues to wagging.
Tony knew that Abby had left NCIS shortly after his exit for London. He’d found out from Ducky before his death though that she hadn’t accepted one of the many offers that she regularly received.
Instead one of the Sisters had convinced her to take some time away from everything, and she had moved into their convent for a year to get away from everything. When she surfaced again, according to Tim, her long black hair was now it’s natural blonde color. While she still had some of her Goth trappings, she calmed down a lot from her previous almost manic personality.
Sometime during year three of his time in London, she’d shown up requesting to speak to him. It hadn’t been an easy conversation, but a necessary one. The two had gotten a lot of things out in the open. In the end, things were settled between them, although their friendship was over. Tony had never been able to explain why he found Abby’s actions so profound that he couldn’t move beyond them to forge something new, but he just couldn’t.
It had been his Aunt Isabella that reminded him some people were not meant to be in their lives forever. Sometimes people were simply meant to come into their life, teach you what they were meant to, and then move on. After thinking her wisdom over, Tony had decided that this was true for his former friend.
While he would always cherish the years he had with her, their time as friends had passed. Neither of them were the same people anymore, and their new dynamics just didn’t mesh any longer. He heard that Tim still talked to her regularly, but his Probie promised that he would not be trying to get the two former friends back together. He very much supported their separate paths and had suggested that if Tony was meant to rekindle his friendship with the former lab tech that it would happen in its own time.
Penny would be coming with his longtime girlfriend Amelia, and Duke would be arriving with his girlfriend Raven Ramirez, whom Tony had stolen from the FBI, and his boyfriend Nathan Wuornos, who had been in his Unit as a SEAL. They were quite the threesome, and somehow Tony couldn’t imagine Duke without the other two. When Tony moved up the chain of command, he decided to bring Duke with him as an assistant slash problem solver along with Raven and Nathan.
Over the years that they’d been together, Tony’s team really had turned into that family he once longed for in DC. As the various connections and friendships developed, he discovered that himself and Duke Crocker were like two peas in a pod, much to everyone else’s frustrations when DiNozzo Rule #15 was activated by one of the two.
Vance hadn’t been thrilled that he had hired Duke’s girlfriend AND boyfriend, and had demanded that he separate them. Right up until Tony sent the trio to DC to handle a delicate situation that Balboa’s MCRT wasn’t able to resolve. By the time they got back to England, the situation was wrapped up without causing an International incident, and Vance never mentioned separating them, again.
“Prentiss and James will be delayed,” Ashcroft offered as they all settled down again. “James just got back into the country last night from his mission. There was, of course, a snag, because when doesn’t a Bond mission have a snag, and I was informed he needed to shag his wife before visiting the extended relatives.”
Tony snorted but managed to cover up his laugh by taking a drink of the water bottle he’d picked up from the table before sitting down. He was terribly happy for Emily and James and thought that they’d made a perfect couple. When he’d heard that they were getting serious, he had sent James a text with Rule #13 – Don’t piss off a woman with a gun. When Ashcroft heard about it, he snorted and suggested James’ missions might have gone smoother if Tony had offered him that piece of advice years ago.
“Good ol’ James,” Alec declared proudly getting chuckles from the others. Tony just smiled at his husband as he settled back and turned the conversation to family gossip so he could get caught up on everyone’s lives.
When he moved to London, he had big dreams for what might be possible. Somehow, though, life had exceeded even his imagination, offering him not only the things he hoped for, but also the things that he never even dreamed possible. He had a husband who adored him. He had family who had taught him what the word family truly meant. He had a career that he felt complete in and appreciated at. Tony had friends that he knew he would always be able to count on.
All in all, things had worked out for him once he answered London’s calling. It had been trying to lure him into its bosom for years before he finally gave in and accepted Vance’s job offer. Now he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
There were even whispers that Gareth Mallory was eyeing him to take over for him at SIS when he retired. Tony was mum on the idea when asked about it, but could never resist the secret smile that crossed his face knowing he had information that most of the rest of the world didn’t. Although, he doubted anyone in the family would be too terribly surprised. After all, the Paddington family had been serving Queen and country for generations. Who was Tony to buck tradition?