Chapter Summary: Tony and Aaron head to visit Will and Robert for Thanksgiving. On the way to the ranch, Aaron comes clean about his find, and Tony deals with the notion that he has family beyond Trent. Then later it’s Tony’s visit to come clean, and Robert finds out maybe not all of his family are assholes.
Chapter Twenty Eight: Reuniting Families
Tony was looking at the highway in front of him as he headed from the airport to Will’s ranch. Aaron was sitting in the passenger’s side seat, and their hands were twined together resting on the middle console with Tony’s hand on the bottom. The cab was quiet without even music playing at the moment, and Tony had a feeling that the other man had something he wanted to say if the quick glances he kept shooting his direction were any indication. He wanted to ask, but knew whatever it was would come out when Aaron was ready.
Feeling a burst of affection for the man next to him, Tony lifted his hand to bring his knuckles to his lips. He pressed a kiss to each one before letting it drop back to where they lay before. “Thank you for coming with me,” he said quietly.
“It means a lot to me that you’re here. Especially with everything that’s gone on since we got that damned case. I’ll be honest. There were a few moments where I was scared to death that this thing between us was going to get lost in the chaos.”
“Never,” Aaron said quickly and seriously. Quickly, Tony stole a glance to see the older man watching him with an open and earnest expression.
“I’m not going to say that professionally we won’t ever be at odds because it’s inevitable. We are two different people with two different management styles. Although, I don’t see us working together on the same case a ton beyond this fiasco with Jason. So, that will help. I can promise you though that I will do my best not to bring work frustrations home into our personal life. Right now, I know it isn’t an issue since we have two different homes. I… I am hoping though that somewhere in the not too far off future that will change.”
Tony stole another glance at Aaron, and this time the man’s gaze was focused out the side window. “I miss having someone to come home to or knowing that at some point there will be someone coming home to me. I’m looking forward to someone I can talk cases out with that actually understands the importance of my work. I’m also looking forward to not having to keep so many secrets because of confidentiality. I already verified with Mateo that we can talk cases. He suggested that we sign a higher Non-Disclosure Agreement, but…”
“I did that before we left the office yesterday,” Tony inserted quickly. “Cruz said that you’d explain why. Makes sense, and I like the idea a lot. He said that you had something big to tell me, too?”
Tony heard a deep sigh and stole a concerned glance. It was fortunate that there weren’t many vehicles around them with all the looks he was stealing. “Aaron?”
“I have something to tell you,” Aaron began sounding somewhat nervous. “You know that talk that you had with Clay, and the one you’re going to have with Robert?”
Tony nodded not daring to look again, as much as he wanted to. Aaron must have seen the nod because he quickly went on. “Well, we need to have a similar talk.”
“Aaron? I don’t…” Tony started but stopped not understanding.
“I found a replacement for Garcia. A young man from England who most recently worked for SIS as their Quartermaster for the MI6 division. That is part of the reason for the new NDA documents, and there should have been a raising of your security clearance, even though it was already ridiculously high for your previous position.”
“OK? I don’t understand…”
“I know, T. Just let me finish, and you will.”
Tony nodded keeping his eyes on the road, glad that he had the excuse to use. He knew he wouldn’t be able to hide the anxiety and the confusion as to where this conversation was going from his profiler boyfriend.
“The former MI6 Quartermaster’s name is Ashcroft Roosevelt Paddington. He’s the youngest son of George Paddington. Younger brother to Edward Paddington who also works for MI6. Tony, he’s your cousin, and he told me that he’s looking forward to getting to know you.”
Immediately, Tony put on his blinker and pulled the truck off to the shoulder where he brought it to a stop. After putting it into park, he stared out the front window with his hand clenched around the steering wheel as his mind tried to process the words he’d heard.
“I don’t…. Say it again?”
“Your cousin Ashcroft is the new Technical Analyst for the BAU, and he’s looking forward to meeting you. Trent isn’t the only family you have any more, T. There’s a whole side to your family that it seems wants to get to know you.”
Unclenching his hand from the steering wheel, Tony ran it over his face surprised to feel the wetness. “I haven’t heard from them since I entered the Police Academy. Other than Crispin wanting money for the loan Uncle Clive gave me, I mean.”
“Apparently, there was some misunderstanding about an undercover assignment you did. It seems that one of your Edward and your paths crossed. When he saw you working with whomever your mark was he assumed… well…”
Tony snorted harshly, “that I was like Senior?”
“Yes,” Aaron answered simply and honestly. “Ashcroft was surprised to hear that you worked for the FBI, and had some… unflattering comments about your cousin’s intelligence. I told him that I would be telling you this weekend, and most likely you would be contacting him afterward. But, T, there’s more.”
“Jesus, Aaron,” Tony breathed and turned to look at the gorgeous man next to him.
“Ashcroft is in a relationship with a now former MI6 operative named Alec Trevelyan. I talked to Alec when I interviewed your cousin, and he is very interested in your team. I believe his exact words were “anything Elite and Undercover are right up his alley”. McGee started a background check on him for you. I know you had Chin do Ruby’s but I thought that you would want it done as soon as possible.”
Tony snorted as a grin turned up the corners of his mouth. Lifting Aaron’s hand once more, he pressed a kiss to the back of his hand as he turned his head to look at the amazing human being next to him. “So, you not only found me a cousin, but you found me a veteran undercover operative also? McKnowsWhatIWant will be fine to do the background check. Chin is too busy with the Gideon case, and I don’t what to assign that to Raven just yet. Seriously, how the fuck did I luck out and get you? Don’t ever tell him that I said this, but thank God that Dave is a nosy shit.”
Aaron chuckled and crossed his heart with his free hand. “You have my word of honor. I don’t think either of us wants to deal with a smug Dave saying ‘I told you so’.”
Taking a deep breath, Tony nodded and after checking his mirrors put the truck back in drive before pulling back out onto the highway. He hoped that Robert was as happy as he was when he found out that not all of his family sucked.
It was just after breakfast on their second day there, when Tony couldn’t stand the wait anymore. He’d been trying to find the perfect moment to bring up the new agent and her connection to Robert, but he just couldn’t hold it in any longer. Aaron and Robert were washing up the dishes while he and Will sat at the kitchen table finishing their coffee talking about random things when he decided to steer the conversation to the search for the final team member.
“I think that I found the perfect final member of the team,” Tony offered casually and saw Aaron turn to look at him before putting the plate that he’d just washed off into the rinse water.
“That’s great, Tony,” Will said happily.
“Whom is our final victim?” Robert smarted back from where he was putting away a stack of plates.
“Actually, I need to talk to you about her,” Tony responded trying for casual, but wasn’t sure he’d hid his nerves from the sharp eye of Will who was used to reading even those best at hiding their emotions.
“Me?” Will asked surprised, and Tony shrugged.
“Both of you actually. There was an… unexpected connection that came back in the background check.”
“I’ll finish up here,” Aaron offered to Robert who had paused what he was doing to turn and look at Tony. “I think that you’ll want to sit for this.”
Robert eyed Aaron for a moment before filling a cup with the fresh pot of coffee that had just finished brewing and moving back to the table. When he sat down, he remained quite unsure what he had to do with whomever Tony wanted to hire to complete his team.
“I got a recommendation for someone on the BAU team. Dr. Spencer Reid specifically, for an agent who would be perfect to finish the team. He knew Ruby Miller through her husband, whom he had mentored for the younger man’s engineering doctorate. Ruby is currently working as mostly a translator with one of our Foreign Dignitary Crimes teams. However, before she came to the FBI she worked undercover for Vice with Oakland PD, but because of her petite physical stature, her boss decided that she was incapable of performing… well just about anything outside of translation. She obviously disagreed and tried to put in an application for the team, but the jackass blocked her request.
“Eventually, Spencer decided to step in and brought me her application directly. During the background check I performed on both her and her husband, I found… Well, Robert, I found that her husband is actually your nephew.”
“My… Explain please,” Robert demanded as Will reached over and took his hand.
“Clay is the youngest son of your brother Jeffrey,” Tony explained carefully. “It seems that he disagrees with your father and brother on how you were treated when you returned from your kidnapping. “He was supposed to take over Morgan Engineering from your father when he graduated from college. However, while he was there, he ran into a family friend Admiral Chegwidden who filled him in on the truth. He also informed him that the friend he’d made, Dean Winchester, was actually his half-uncle. Apparently, your father had an affair and Dean was the result. That was basically the straw that broke the camel’s back and at that point, he completely separated himself from the rest of your family. He changed his last name, and when he finished college, opened his own engineering firm where he has systematically stolen almost all of your father’s government contracts. Clay is… motivated, you might say, to make sure that the rest of the family pays for abandoning you.”
Robert sighed and ran a hand over his face before resting his forehead on a clenched fist with his elbow on the table top. Both Will and Tony were concerned but recognized that what had just been revealed was a lot to take in. Therefore, they each were more than willing to give him whatever time he needed to wrap his head around it before replying.
Eventually, Aaron came over and filled everyone’s cups, bringing sugar and creamer for Will and Tony before sitting down next to Tony taking his hand. Shortly after this, Robert began speaking softly.
“Clay was just a kid the last time I saw him, but dad and his father already had his entire life planned out. What sports he’d play in high school and what clubs he’d join. What college he’d go to and what he’d major in. Hell, they’d even made a short list of acceptable families for him to marry into. The kid’s entire life was mapped out in stone with very little thought given to what he might want, and, Jesus, he was such a quiet kid.
“I knew that he’d never break free from them on his own. I was so scared what would happen to him after…” Robert trailed off and after a pause, Will took up the tale.
“I remember that conversation,” he admitted. “You were so worried what turning your back on him would do to his future. The last thing you wanted was to leave his fate in their hands. Then one day you said that you’d found the only chance Clay had at becoming his own man, and never spoke of it after that.”
“AJ’s a good man,” Robert confessed. “He and father have been friends for ages, and he was always around at the family events, especially the Fourth of July bash. I loved hearing all his stories. Shit, he’s one of the bigger reasons why I wanted to go into the military. I was fascinated by him and thought he was a real-life superhero. I wanted to be just like him.”
Robert lifted his gaze and looked at Tony. His expression guarded, but the worry clear in his eyes. “Have you talked to him? What happened? Is he ok?”
“He is,” Tony assured. “He’s one hell of a man. He was actually the one who went to Spencer on Ruby’s behalf asking for his help with her boss. They both came in for the initial interview, and I have to say it’s very obvious how very much the two of them love each other. They are married and have two sons named Riley and Jason. Clay is incredibly committed to you. He was very clear on how big of an influence you were on him as a child, and it was because of you that he felt it ok to be himself.”
Tony stopped talking and closed his eyes for a moment taking a deep breath hoping to settle his nerves. When he felt Aaron’s hand squeeze his, he opened them and let the open affection and confidence on the man’s face calm him.
“I know you, Robert,” Tony offered carefully as he picked his way through his own past in his head. “As Trent pointed out to me, for the most part, I am you. The two of us have a crazy lot of things in common, and most of them center around crappy families. Before the drive here I would have told you that I would give everything after Aaron and my team to have a family member who loves me. Just fucking ONE! I also know based on how my father has treated me, how fucking reluctant I would be to believe anyone who just popped up and claimed they gave a fuck and oh by the way we share DNA. The thing though, Robert, is this is real, and he gives a fuck, and he wants you back. You and I….”
Tony stopped to gather himself after a surge of powerful emotion as he thought briefly at his own budding opportunity.
“You and I have a shot here at something neither of us ever dreamed possible. Something that we both gave up on ages ago. Something that… something that most people take for granted, but people like us understand how precious it is. He loves you, man, and all he really wants is to have his Uncle Robert back. That’s it. Just you. Nothing more.”
Tony could clearly see the emotions warring inside Robert as the older man watched him. He wanted to reach out and offer him comfort but knew he wouldn’t welcome the touch himself if he were in Robert’s spot. So, instead, he stayed still and let Will comfort his husband. Eventually, he became aware of Aaron’s hand mirroring Will’s as it moved up and down on his back. Ever so slightly, he leaned back into the touch letting himself to accept the comfort his boyfriend was giving him. It wasn’t easy, but Aaron was teaching him that it was ok to sometimes let someone inside his walls and masks. Slowly, both he and Robert relaxed under their partner’s care until the other man ran a hand over the back of his head.
“Ok, I’m in,” he said nodding for emphasis. “Tell Clay I’d like to see him. Maybe it’s time to give this family thing another shot.”
Tony smiled big having made a similar decision for himself. Maybe it was time to re-evaluate things he’d written off as impossible and locked away in his own Pandora’s box. Between Aaron and now his cousin Ashcroft it seemed the impossible was suddenly becoming possible.
End Note: There were some questions about Q (Ashcroft) and I thought it’d be easiest to explain here. I am not sure how much this connection will be fleshed out in the fic so this will be easier.
Trent’s father and Ashcroft’s father are brothers and Tony’s mother is their younger sister. In my head, Trent’s father is somewhat estranged from the family. (Not sure why yet it isn’t fleshed out in my head.) So, Q has no knowledge of Trent or his Uncle. I’m not sure where Crispin and Uncle Clive fall into things. They haven’t been relevant yet so I haven’t thought about them too in depth.
Yes, Ashcroft is the same as in my other fics I have made Q from James Bond (Craig Verse) a Paddington. The only difference here is I’ve AU’d my own OC. In this story Q and Edward are brothers. In other stories I’ve used him in they have been cousins. Edward still works for MI6.
I can’t believe there are only two more chapters to go. This chapter was actually the last one I wrote of the story. Good news though, I have Apocalypse Reinvented, my Nov RT/NANO entry finished. It will start posting soon. Possibly as soon as next Sunday or Saturday. I haven’t decided on its posting schedule yet. It features Tony DiNozzo/Sam Winchester. There are some references to Child Abuse in the first 4 chapters. Nothing is shown though. It’s only mentioned. I will have a warning in the contents though for those that it is a triggery subject.