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Chapter Five: Meeting the SFA
Thursday morning, Tony headed into work. Technically, none of them were to report until Monday. However, he wanted to get some things done and needed to start the new investigation into The Calling. His team would have seven people including their Technical Analyst/Forensics Tech and their newly assigned SIS Liaison.
The main team would consist of himself along with Emily Prentiss as his Senior Field Agent. Emily’s Mother was an Ambassador, and the woman had grown up overseas. She’d spent quite a bit of time with Interpol, before moving to join NCIS roughly five years prior. Her Mother had wanted her to join the FBI, but wanting to make her own path, Emily had chosen the smaller agency instead. Her international contacts made her a perfect candidate for the team, and the fact that she was completely bad ass made her an ideal SFA.
He and TJ had stopped to see Ellie at her new flat just the day before, and he was happy to see her excitement at the new position. He was looking forward to seeing what she could become in this new environment. He had been worried how she’d take the transfer, but fortunately, she’d been very open minded about it. While she was sad that she would be so far away from her family, the chance to live in another country while still learning her craft was something she was extremely excited about.
He had a feeling that she thought maybe Tim’s Probie lessons would be over now that he was on another team. And, while technically that may be true, she seemed to have forgotten who taught Tim those things. Tony looked forward to teaching her his way, and if the superglue came out here and there well… DiNozzo Rule #15 was there for a reason.
The last two members of the main team were William Adiyodi, who went by the name Penny, and Duke Crocker. Penny’s Father and brother had been in the Navy. Penny had become interested in working for the agency after they helped clear his brother’s name when a group on his base tried to make it appear he was the one stealing supplies. Duke Crocker was a former SEAL who went through FLETC when he retired from active duty and then chose NCIS over the CIA.
His last member from NCIS was his combination McGee/Abby named Eliot Waugh. From the brief conversation that he had with the man, he may be his new favorite person. Eliot was some odd combination of high society mixed with an eternal frat boy with a sharp wit and seemed to make no apologies for who he was. He had come highly recommended by Dwayne Pride’s Forensics Tech Sebastian, which was just about all the recommendation Tony needed.
He was sitting in his office with his feet up on his desk staring out over the area where most of the main team would sit. His office was on an outside wall, which gave him a nice view of London and the Thames River. The wall between him and the team was all glass but could be turned completely white with just a touch, which he liked. It allowed him to feel like he was still sitting with the team while giving him his privacy when needed.
His desk was large and wooden with an antique feel to it. His back was to one of the shorter walls, and in front of him on the other short wall was a large monitor that would be kept mostly on BBC World News. There were bookshelves to his back, and the outer wall was mostly blank. He needed to get some books and pictures to decorate. He had a large armoire that he had brought in which sat toward the far end of the room with its back to the glass.
As he stared out into the open space, he tried to imagine what it would be like when the area was filled with the different personalities of his team. His SIC Emily Prentiss had the option of having an office if she’d like, but could also have a spot on the floor. A part of Tony was a little jealous of that.
He hadn’t expected an office of his own. Gibbs had always been on the floor with them, and he had never heard of any other Team Lead having his own office. But then, he hadn’t expected his team to have their own building, and the office to himself did help him believe Vance really did want him to take over the Europe AD slot once it opened.
The basement of their building was divided up between Eliot’s area and the armory. The first floor was mostly empty, with a lobby set up for appearance sake, although the building was a secured entrance. You had to have a badge to get in, and the only person on the bottom floor was a security guard who had a station down there. The second floor was set up as a break room for the moment. It was possible that it would be changed in the future if they expanded. Right then though they didn’t have any need for it, and Tony thought a place to relax could help the team on stressful cases.
The third floor was where the team was set up, and the top floor was their secured MTAC area. Ellie had been fully trained to run it by McGee before she left DC, and Tony had been advised both Eliot and Duke knew how to assist up there if needed.
He had just enough on hands on knowledge that he could receive a video call and end one, but was going to get Ellie or Eliot to answer some detailed questions before he dove in. He knew that he could figure it out himself, but despite his degree, the high-tech computer systems still at times intimidated him. He wasn’t Gibbs, though, and had no interest in leaving the technical things for someone else to understand. He had a lot more technical knowledge than he’d previously showed his DC team and figured that it was time to share that.
Underneath the basement was an underground tunnel, which they had access to, and NCIS had taken advantage of. That was where they had a gun range, a gym, and a mini morgue if needed. It also had a shower area and a place where they could sleep during long investigations when they couldn’t go home. In the case of an emergency, it could be locked down from the rest of the building. It also had its own secure room that could be activated in emergencies to communicate back with NCIS in DC.
It seemed to be a lot for one team, but then this wasn’t a normal team. It was something that he was still trying to wrap his brain around. The confidence that Vance was showing him was a little confusing, but he wasn’t going to question it too much. He wanted to be able to work closely with the man without issues, and was not going to turn up his nose at a chance to do so. They had both changed from the men they were when Vance first started and shipped him off to sea. It was time to put the past in the past. Vance seemed to be offering an olive branch, and Tony wasn’t about to set the thing on fire out of spite.
As Tony was watching the bullpen area, he saw the stairwell entrance door fly open moments before his SIC came through carrying a box. They had an elevator, but the entrance to the staircase was closer and more private. He knew that he at least would most often be using the stairs.
When Emily noticed him sitting at his desk, she startled and almost dropped her box. The glare that she threw him didn’t stop his chuckles in the least. When the TV changed to the reports of a bombing, though, his attention was drawn away, as he reached for the remote to turn up the volume.
Roughly fifteen minutes later, Emily came into his office, carrying a coffee or tea, he would have to learn which one. She paused looking at the television, but when the station went to commercial moved to sit in front of his desk. “Anything that will affect us?”
Tony shrugged and turned the volume down before turning his gaze to the woman before him. “Dunno, but maybe. Our first official assignment is to finish tracking down The Calling. They like to blow up things, so it’s a possibility.”
“Official? As in, we have an unofficial case?” Emily questioned relaxing back in her seat.
Before responding, Tony stood and closed the door, then tapped on the glass making it turn white. When he got back to the desk, he enabled the room’s sound protocols to ensure that they couldn’t be overheard. Even though they were alone, he wasn’t going to start any bad habits by assuming anything. When he was finished, the only change in Emily’s expression was the raised eyebrow.
Prentiss was one of the most kickass chicks that he’d ever known. They’d worked together a time or two over the years, and he was thrilled that she was Vance’s recommended SFA for him. He knew without a doubt that she could handle anything he threw at her, with the added upside that she’d verbally kick his ass if he went off the rails. While he didn’t expect himself to turn into Gibbs, everyone needed a moral compass at times.
“This has to remain between us, and before I can proceed I need you to sign these confidentiality forms.” Slipping a manila envelope from his locked drawer, Tony held it out for his SFA.
The eyebrow raised further, but she opened it quietly and read before her eyes moved back up to his face. “This is from SIS.”
“Yes, it is, Ms. Prentiss. Please read and sign.”
Emily studied him before shrugging and doing as asked. Once done, she placed the papers back in the envelope and resealed it. “My curiosity is peaked.”
“I don’t know what you found out about me when you did your background check on me…”
“I never!” Emily tried to protest obviously with mock outrage.
Tony just rolled his eyes before continuing. “But my Mother was one of the Paddingtons.”
Emily nodded seriously, and he continued. “Apparently, my family has a long history of serving the Queen via various government positions but mostly within SIS. My youngest cousin, Ashcroft Roosevelt Paddington, is the current Quartermaster for the MI6 division. He has had some suspicions about his older brother Crispin for quite a while but has never been able to find anything.
“When I suggested that he was too close to it he asked that I investigate. We compromised in the end. I said if I get an off the record request from their Director via Vance I would be willing to assign you and Eliot to the task. My guess is that the request will come in on Monday when I have my first video chat with the Director. I need to know if you feel comfortable with this considering your Mother’s previous status here.”
Emily snorted at the question. “My Mother’s previous status probably makes me the perfect person to investigate. I am more than aware of what the English upper crust can get into than anyone else on the team, probably including you.”
Tony’s lips twitched with amusement at the statement. “Maybe something similar to the American upper crust?”
Emily smirked and didn’t respond. Her twinkling eyes, though, were all the reply that he needed. “I think that Eliot and I will manage just fine. What about The Calling. They’re the ones that shot your former team leader, right?”
Tony nodded before speaking. “Yes, we thought that we’d gotten their leader when I killed Daniel Budd. As it turns out, though, he was not the man at the top. So, our hunt continues. I am hoping that our SIS Liaison will be able to give us a jump start on narrowing down who is the head of the snake.”
“We’re getting a liaison from SIS?”
Tony nodded again, and dug out a folder that Ashcroft had brought to him the night before, and then handed it to her. “Yes, an agent named Alec Trevelyan. He has quite a track record. I think he’ll fit in around here just fine… as long as he doesn’t blow things up.”
Emily grinned as she studied what they’d been provided. “Sounds like the life of the party. Do you know anything about the rest of our team? I’m not familiar with any of them.”
Tony nodded and dug out the rest of the files passing them over to Emily. “Ellie Bishop came from the DC Major Crime Response Team that I was on. She has a background at the NSA, and I think she’ll do much better here than on a purely investigative team. She’s a little quirky. Don’t be surprised if you find her on the floor surrounded by snack foods. Gibbs was trying to break her of the habit, but as long as we don’t have high-level guests, I am more of a ‘whatever it takes to get the flow going’ kind of leader.”
“Is that why there is a pinball game, basketball hoop and other stuff up in the break room?”
Tony nodded. “Whatever it takes. You’d be surprised how many times I got an idea about a cold case while playing ball at the Y on a Sunday. Fortunately, my normal game partner works with the BAU at the FBI. So, he understood. Movie references, specific snacking food, Eliot has a couch in his lab that I was informed was a necessity. There’s a meditation area for Penny up on the roof. Duke will probably have his own ammunition locker and has a yoga area near Penny’s meditation spot. And for you Ms. Prentiss…”
Tony opened a drawer and took out a black leather box. Holding it out, he smiled at the shock on Emily’s face when she took it not expecting it to be so heavy. “That is to be shared with Eliot.”
The happy squeak that he got when she opened the box told him that his research had paid off. “How did you know… You know what. I don’t wanna know, but seriously thank you.”
The joy on her face, as she took the little metal Doctor Who King and Companion Queen chess pieces out to inspect them, was really all the thanks that he needed, but he appreciated the words.
“This team is important to me,” Tony offered quietly. “I wanted to make sure that things started off on the right foot. My old team was as close to family as I thought that I would ever get. When I got the job offer, I hoped that maybe I could have some kind of relationship with the Paddington’s, but I wanted this team to be what I’d always believed that my previous one was.”
“You don’t think of them as your family anymore?” Emily asked quietly, letting the box rest on her legs with her arms wrapped around it.
Tony sighed and ran a hand over the back of his head. “I’ll be honest. I don’t know what to think anymore. Crispin Paddington isn’t the only person of questionable morals in my family. My Father was not just a criminal, but also a crappy Father. I didn’t really understand basic concepts like family and friendship until college when I got to OSU. When I got to NCIS and joined Gibbs’ team I thought that I’d finally found a home. But the Paddingtons… I’ve never felt as accepted by my old team as I did in just one weekend by them. I just… it’s all messing with my perception of things a little.”
“Family can be hard,” Emily offered understanding. “There are good families and bad ones. You learn that really quickly when you do what we do. It’s been my experience that just because your family situation sucks, doesn’t mean you can just stop caring about them. If I were you, I wouldn’t rush a decision on your old team. You may find that as time goes by that you find a niche for them, and maybe the distance will make it easier to tolerate some of the bullshit.”
Tony nodded smiling. “Ready for Monday, Agent Prentiss?”
“You betcha, Boss! Europe isn’t gonna know what hit it.”