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Chapter Four: Family Secrets
As Edward walked into the waiting area for M’s office, he had to force the nerves back. He wasn’t sure how his boss was going to take the news that his cousin, whom he’d never met before, had so easily guessed his profession and why. Meeting Moneypenny’s eyes, he got a lifted eyebrow, as he saw her glance down at her computer then back up to him.
“008,” She greeted. “Aren’t you supposed to be on leave?”
Edward, known as 008 to those in MI6, nodded not bothering with trying to charm the woman who would see through it in a second. “Something possibly serious has come up. I know he’s normally with Tanner and Q at this time, but I need to speak with the three of them, if at all possible.”
Eve just studied him a moment, before picking up the phone and dialing into M’s office. Quick enough that his nerves couldn’t build up again too awfully much, she ended the conversation and waved him into the office. Nodding his thanks, Edward took a deep breath and headed inside.
Upon entering the office, he gave a quick nod to his cousin Ashcroft, aka Q to those in MI6, and then greeted M and Tanner as he closed the door behind him. “Q, M, and Tanner, I do apologize for the intrusion, but I am afraid this cannot be put off.”
“That sounds like something that would come out of Bond or Trevelyan’s mouths, Paddington,” M offered leaning back in his chair. “Please tell me that you haven’t finally succumbed to their troublemaking. You and 003 are the only 00’s we have that seem to have any common sense.”
“Well,” Edward hedged glancing to Q who lifted his eyebrow.
“There’s been an incident at the estate. I am embarrassed to say I lost my temper apparently with the wrong person and somehow exposed my status with MI6. Although I will be honest, I am truly not sure how he guessed.”
When M glowered at him with his eyes narrowed in aggravation, Tanner stepped in. “Maybe you should start from the beginning, Edward.”
“Right,” 008 agreed. “Mother and Father got an unexpected visitor this morning. My cousin from America and his son showed up at the castle.”
“Anthony and TJ?” Q asked for clarification suddenly looking interested, whereas he’d been wearing a bored expression when Edward came in.
Frowning, Edward turned to look at his younger cousin. “You know them?”
Q just shrugged without responding, as he sipped his tea. Shaking his head, 008 resumed his tale. “Anyway, I was out riding Drake when they arrived, and I am afraid I missed the first half of Anthony’s conversation with Mother and Father. When I came in, Father was telling him about his youngest sister Elizabeth, who is Anthony’s Mother. The man then brought up his scoundrel Father, and I am afraid that’s where it went off the rails. I called his Father a con man, which he is in my defense. When Anthony revealed he works for NCIS, I’m afraid I asked him about his two murder accusations…”
“Edward!” Q snapped interrupting and stopping him. “He was not guilty of doing anything wrong in either of those situations! Tell me you did not let Crispin con you into running a shoddy background check on him!”
Edward just shifted, and Q sighed loudly.
“Q, explain, please,” M ordered glaring at Edward still.
“Anthony Dominic DiNozzo Jr, son of Anthony Dominic DiNozzo Sr and my Aunt Elizabeth, who was the youngest of the three siblings. Edward is correct that the Senior is quite the scoundrel, and has been in trouble with various law enforcement agencies. He always seems to get out of it somehow in the end, though. Aunt Elizabeth died when Tony, he hates being called Anthony Edward so stop it, was only 8. From there he spent all of his time in boarding schools until he went to one of their universities on a dual sports scholarship.”
Q frowned at Edward as he took a sip of his tea before continuing. “My equally scoundrel brother asked me to run a background check on Tony after Father died, and Crispin found the IOU in Father’s safe. He had given Tony money while he was at university but never expected it to be paid back. Crispin being the tosser that he is, demanded the debt be paid. Worried about what my brother would do, I have been monitoring Tony’s career and personal situation ever since. The previous M was aware of my actions and supported them once I laid out my fears.
“Tony is an exemplary agent and has received numerous commendations both from his current employer as well as from his time spent working for various police departments. He is not his Father in any way. When his son was born, the child was premature due to extenuating circumstances.
“The child’s Mother was killed, but they were able to keep her alive long enough for the Emergency doctor’s to save the child.”
Q sighed and took another sip of his tea draining his mug before getting back to his story. “From what I have been able to gather, Tony was unaware of Tristan until that moment. Despite the fact that he was the typical bachelor, possibly rivaling Bond’s escapades, he changed his life without second thought to care for his son. It appears that he has recently received a promotion, and will be working here in London. I was quite hoping that we would get to know him, finally. If you messed it up, Edward James, you will never get sent out with anything more than a water gun as long as I am Quartermaster!”
M held up his hand, “how does any of that lead to him knowing where Edward works?”
Q continued speaking, and Edward was more than happy to let him. “He most likely reasoned it out. Tony is quite intelligent, and his deductive reasoning abilities, from what I have been able to find out from his FLETC training tests, are off the charts. Being a seasoned investigator who has worked many international cases in the past, he would know who could access his information. This is not as bad as it sounds, though, M. Tony was my item on our agenda this evening. With him living here and had he contacted the family, I knew that it would only be a matter of time before the family secrets came out. We could only benefit from doing what we can to minimize our risk by bringing him into the fold as much as we possibly can now.
“If I understand his new position correctly, he is going to be working with SIS anyway, and at some point, would have figured out Edward and myself work here, and that Uncle George retired from MI5. I had R run a full security assessment, and it was forwarded to you both. We might even consider approaching NCIS Director Vance about placing a liaison in his office. I was thinking it would be a perfect solution for the Trevelyan dilemma.”
M arched an eyebrow and turned his attention back to Edward. “What are your thoughts on that, 008? Since it seems as though you didn’t have a good first impression of the man.”
Edward sighed, and forced his eyes not to drop down to the floor. This was going to be the hard part. Usually, it was 007 or 006 that made such rash judgments. Maybe he should spend more time with 003 and less time with those other two.
“I am ashamed to say that I allowed my Cousin Crispin’s aversion to him to cloud my judgment. After I basically accused him of reneging on the loan Uncle Clive gave him, and upsetting his son TJ, he was forced to go through how he’d reasoned out where I was employed at, and defend himself. Then he offered to just leave, and not have contact with the family…”
“Edward James!” Q snapped horrified, and 008 nodded.
“I do believe that is the same tone my Mother used. At that point, there was no good way to convince him that he was wrong in his guessing. I could only say that I could not confirm or deny which basically just confirmed his guess. I then excused myself and came here.”
“Tanner?” M asked rubbing his temples. “Thoughts on the matter?”
Tanner looked up from the tablet he’d been studying. “I’ve been glancing through the information that R sent us. I have to say that I am quite impressed by the young man. While I can understand being put off at first glance, once you really get into the nuts and bolts of the thing it’s obvious that he poses little security risk.
“He certainly understands keeping secrets, and it isn’t like we need to give him system-wide access or some such nonsense. I trust that Q has done the necessary previous legwork on this cousin, and vaguely remember your predecessor mentioning it to me at one point. It will certainly eliminate a future awkward situation if there’s a chance he could discover the truth of the Paddington family employment history.
“As for Q’s other proposal, I think it would be a marvelous idea for 006. By their backgrounds, it appears as though the two would get along rather nicely, and it would certainly prevent Alec from getting too awfully bored, which none of us want. He is too good at what he does to remove from SIS completely, even if he’s no longer needed to or fully capable of performing the duties of a Double Oh. We could even leave his status as is in case we need him for something in the future. God only knows 007 gets himself into enough trouble it’s highly possible we’ll need Alec to go in at some point and assist.”
M nodded and turned his attention to his computer. Edward guessed to review the file for himself. Taking a chance, he looked to Q, who was glaring at him.
“Ashcroft,” he began only to be cut off.
“Seriously, 008, I am beginning to question your intelligence. I do realize that none of the rest of you take me seriously when I speak of the dangers of my brother, but I thought at least that you knew not to believe the nonsense that is spewed from his mouth! I think I am going to have to send you out into the field with 003 to see if he can restore some of your common sense.”
Edward’s lips twitched. “Are you sure you want to do that to poor Thomas?”
Q huffed and rolled his eyes. “No, I am not. I quite like Thomas. He is the only one of you who knows how to return his kit and does not muck up every one of his missions. Really, Edward.”
“You sound more and more like my Mother when you say things like that, Ashcroft.” Edward pointed out with his lips twitching and getting another glare from his favorite cousin. They hadn’t always been close, but once the younger man had joined MI6, they’d had the opportunity to spend more time together and get to know each other better.
“One of these days he really is going to send you out into the field with only a water pistol, 008. I am not sure that I would blame him at this rate. Q, I like both of your proposals. I will contact Director Vance with our proposition, and I am going to task you with speaking with this American cousin of yours.
“Make sure you stress that both of your exact positions within SIS, in particular, is not widely known, even within your family. If any other issues arise, I will leave them up to you to resolve. Now, Q and Edward, if you will excuse us, Tanner and I have some things to discuss and I would like to get out of here for the weekend if you please.”
The two nodded and offered their goodbyes before leaving. Q informed Edward that he would need to stop at his flat to pack a bag, but after that, he would see him at the family estate. Nodding his understanding, 008 headed to his car to begin the drive back to his family.
Later that evening, Tony was sitting in a second library that he’d discovered as he and TJ were exploring the castle earlier that day. After he’d gotten done sniffling all over his Aunt’s shoulder, something he still couldn’t believe that he’d done, the small group had lunch. Tony expected his son to be worn down, but instead the little boy had been too wound up from the newness of it all to lay down, so they’d explored the wing their suite was in.
A floor up from their room, they’d discovered a smaller library, which appeared to hold older editions of books and a beautiful piano. Quickly, Tony knew where his favorite hiding place would be.
After getting TJ to fall asleep for the night, Tony grabbed the baby monitor and left the room. He didn’t want to go too far but knew that if he stayed in the suite, his presence would at some point get his son up. The library was the perfect spot, as he could play without being overheard, but he would be close enough that he could get to his son quickly if he was needed.
Hearing the door open, he saw his two Cousins enter. Edward had managed to make it back in time for dinner with another Cousin in tow. Used to being entertaining and charming even when all he wanted to do was curl up and hide, Tony flashed a friendly smile. He guessed that Edward at least would be able to read the distrust and wariness in his eyes, but he couldn’t help that.
He was more than a little wary of this newest Cousin, who had been introduced as Uncle Clive’s youngest son, and therefore Crispin’s brother. There wasn’t much of anything that he wanted to do with any part of the jackass, but he wasn’t going to be an asshole first. Not to mention if there was anyone who understood not judging someone by their immediate family, it was Tony.
Carefully, he put the ribbon between the pages he’d been reading and closed The Complete Works of the Brothers Grimm letting it rest on his lap. Deciding he’d let them show their hands first, he remained quiet looking at the newcomer and ignoring Edward for the moment. He didn’t know what to think of his older Cousin and was hoping that he wouldn’t have to make a decision that evening.
“I do confess that I am excited to finally be able to meet you, and I profusely apologize for what a tosser my brother is. I wish that I could advise you he gets better once you get to know him, but I fear that your dislike will only grow. It pains me to say that I believe my brother and your Father may have quite a few things in common, despite the fact that others do not support my beliefs.”
Tony cocked his head to one side and smiled something closer to real despite himself. “I can honestly say that is a situation I understand completely. Most people find my Father perfectly charming. It doesn’t usually take long for them to decide I am a terrible person for making up stories of my childhood to get attention. After a while you just stop trying, and eventually, you wonder if it’s just you. Hell, there have been occasions where I wondered if I really was making things up about Senior. Ashcroft, right?”
Q nodded quickly settling in a chair near where Tony was sitting. “Yes, although most just call me Ash outside of work. Do sit down, Edward, and stop lurking. You are not going to right this ship by standing there like some statue in a museum.”
Tony’s lips twitched as he heard Edward sigh, and take a seat on a nearby sofa putting him across from his Cousins.
“I have a confession to make,” Ash offered drawing Tony’s attention back to him. In return, the American just lifted an eyebrow and tilted his head to one side.
“I have been monitoring you. My ne’er-do-well brother approached me before Edward, but unlike the stunning genius before us, I told him no. However, knowing the lunkhead of a sibling of mine as I do, I suspected that he would just move onto someone else, and I wanted to make sure that he did not cause trouble for you.”
Tony frowned as he thought about all the possibilities. “Monitoring what exactly? My work? My phone records and credit card statements? My personal life?”
“All of the above,” Ash admitted calmly.
“I did not change anything or any such nonsense. You have my word as a gentleman. I just… I was concerned. You are family, and I… well I could not stand by and let Crispin do his dastardly deeds, whatever they might be. I do wish that I knew what nonsense he was up to, but I have thus far been unsuccessful. You have no idea how much it bothers me to have to admit that.”
“Maybe you’re just too close to it,” Tony offered absently, as he turned Ash’s words over in his head. “You’ve never met me. Why would you be concerned about me? And, what do you do that you have the ability to do this without attracting attention? Do you work at SIS with Eddie Boy here?”
“I do,” Ash confirmed. “As I said, you are family, and I know what kind of man my brother is, even if the rest of the family is content to stick their heads in the sand like ostriches. What do you mean I am too close to it?”
Tony frowned deeper and eventually sighed. “I’ll be honest. The notion of you wanting to look out for me just because we’re a family is… well it’s odd, and it doesn’t make much sense to me. But then I will admit that my experience with family is most likely much different than yours. While I haven’t met Aunt Isabella, Aunt Olivia seems awesome, and the kind of mom I wish I had as a kid. My guess is she’s never drunk sea monkeys because she thought it was a mint julep.”
Tony glanced at the monitor when he heard TJ make a sound, but it appeared his son was just talking in his sleep. Smiling fondly, he turned his attention back to the other question.
“He’s your brother. There’s a reason why an investigator isn’t allowed to work a case involving family or friends. It’s too hard to be objective. Even when you think they’re up to no good, no one really wants to think people they care about are doing truly bad things. If you want to find out what your brother is up to then you need to get someone with no real ties to him to investigate.”
“Would you do it?” Ash asked making Tony blink not expecting that to be the response.
“I mean, I know you are technically related, but despite your fiasco over the loan, you do not have any real connection to him. If it would make you feel better, you could have someone on your new team do the real work.”
“Do you understand what you are asking me to do?” Tony asked softly. “And, who are you that you have the authority to make such a request?”
“I do understand,” Ash confirmed, nodding in emphasis.
“I am asking you to stop him from whatever bad things it is that he is doing. I am asking you to check into this before you become too entwined in the family and lose your objectivity. I am asking you to protect innocent people from things my family is too blind to see is happening.
“As for the other, I am the Quartermaster over the MI6 portion of SIS. Edward here is one of our top operatives in our Double Oh program. We call him 008, and I am called Q. Uncle George worked with the MI5 side of the operations for years and was their equivalent of M when he retired. I answer only to M or the Director as you Americans would call him. I will need you to keep this all confidential of course. So, are you willing to help me?”
Tony sat back in his chair. His mind racing with the information that he’d been given. His new family were super spies and wanted him to see if his smarmy cousin Crispin was a super villain. This was not the conversation that he’d expected to have tonight when he came down to this room. He’d thought there was a good chance that Edward at least would hunt him down at some point.
To be honest, Tony thought that it would be a warning to run back to America and never come back to England, again. This concern for his wellbeing from Crispin’s younger brother was certainly not expected. Although, he was being honest when he said that he understood the position Ash was in. Most people never believed his tales about his Father for long after meeting the man.
Gibbs had lasted the longest, but even he finally was worn down by Senior’s schmooze. Tony had a feeling that Abby had something to do with that as well. Since it seemed she couldn’t understand the concept that Senior might be a bad person. For someone that had professed to be his friend for so long, she certainly had always been quick to believe the worst about him. That was for sure.
As much as he hated Crispin, the thought of investigating his family didn’t give him warm and fuzzy feelings. On the other hand, how could he reject him when he truly understood the position the man was in. How many times had he wished that one of his friends would believe the little bits he let slip about his childhood?
Looking up at Ash, Tony sighed, and tilting his head to one side, knew what he needed to do. There was really only one answer to that request. No matter what the pros and cons being debated in his head said.