Title: A Long and Winding Road
Fandoms: NCIS, Hawaii 5-0
Characters: Tony DiNozzo, OC-TJ DiNozzo, John McGarrett, Steve McGarrett, Danny Williams, Abby Sciuto, Chin Ho Kelly
Relationships: Tony DiNozzo/Steve McGarrett, Various Background Relationships
Story Warnings: Slow Burn, AU, Non-Canon Compliant: NCIS, Non-Canon Compliant Hawaii 5-0, Permanent Injury, NCIS Timeline: Post Ziva’s Rescue, H50 Timeline: Pre-Series, Anti-Ziva, Gibbs Needs a Head Slap, Additional Warnings May Be Added
Note: This was to be my entry for the Slow Burn Big Bang, but I dropped out for personal reasons. I am still finishing it and hope to post it this year. I have a target word count of 100K. I am being particularly evil for this
Summary: When Tony found out that he was being kicked off Team Gibbs in the aftermath of Ziva’s return from exile, the last thing he expected was a promotion and placement to his dream location. He certainly didn’t expect it to be the first step that would lead him to everything he’d ever wanted in a career, a family, and a partner.
Chapter One: Turning Points
Tony was crouched on the beach behind John McGarrett’s home far enough into the waterline that he could feel the waves hitting the seat of his pants when they came in a little high. His hands were shaking, so he had buried them in his hair as his mind tried to grasp what had just happened. If he’d been even 30 seconds slower. If he waited to listen to Danny, if he had driven a little slower, if he had done anything not as quickly as he had, the man that was more a father to him than anyone on the planet would be dead.
John would be dead. Tony would have seen someone else he cared about shot in the head in front of his eyes, and Steve McGarrett would have had to listen to his father be murdered. Steve. The 8-year-old boy that he’d desperately wanted to be his friend, but instead had seemed to hate him just because he existed. The boy he’d never quite gotten out of his mind. The man that he’d been trying to reunite with John for almost a year now. Lieutenant Commander Steven Jack McGarrett US Navy SEAL who hadn’t been able to stop his pained screams anymore after whatever happened on his end. He’d have to get Danny on that. They said that he’d been hurt.
Jesus, was that where the last year had been leading him?
Flashback 1 yr:
This was not how he expected it to happen. This was certainly not when he expected it to happen. But then, does anyone really see the end of one of life’s roads coming? He certainly never had before. He absolutely hadn’t expected it to happen like this, though. With words of hate spewed at him from the woman he’d risked his life to save, as he lay on a cot in the field hospital they’d headed to after saving Ziva. The woman who they had thought was dead. The one that he now wished really had been dead.
Dehydration. Exhaustion. God only knew what else as his body tried to process the drugs he’d been given while being tortured. He wished he could blame any of them for what he’d heard so that he could write it off as a hallucination. The look in Gibbs’ eyes though when he’d come around the curtain and saw her there snarling her hatred at him said it all.
“This is your fault! You are the reason I was left behind. I told him I couldn’t work with you and you are the one he chose. When will you stop ruining my life? Firs,t you murder the man I love in cold blood because of your jealousy, and then, I get kidnapped and tortured because Gibbs has some guilty conscious about you. I wish you were dead! I wish Michael had killed you that night. He would be free, and no one would ever know he’d done it. I would have never told.” Ziva really hated him that much. Still hated him that much.
“I picked you, DiNozzo. Thought that would mean something to you.” Gibbs drawled carelessly with a touch of anger, as if the conversation was his fault. As if he’d tracked Ziva down. As if he wasn’t laying on his cot, and Gibbs hadn’t pulled a knife from her hand.
“Did you pick me because that was really how you felt, though, Gibbs? Or, did you pick me because The Toothpick didn’t give you any other choice?” The angry flare and the way his eyes darted away were all he needed to know. Everything from there was just bullshit wrapped up in a pretty package.
“We’re all she has left, DiNozzo,” Gibbs finally snapped. “Do you really expect me to pick you, again? Wasn’t the first time enough?”
“I don’t remember asking you to do it either time,” he replied tiredly before closing his eyes hoping that it was someone a bad dream.
“Come on, Tony,” Tim whined from the next bed after they’d left. “What difference does it make? Why can’t you just brush it off like normal? It’s only a thing because you’re making it one.”
The fact that he could ask that showed how clueless he still was, and made him even more tired. He’d thought that he and McGee had come to an understanding in the last few weeks while Ziva was gone. He thought that they’d gone back to being friends at least. Apparently though, in Timmy’s world, their friendship was expendable when he had someone to be a sidekick to other than Tony. What difference did it make? It made a hell of a lot of difference. Only Abby seemed to understand.
“I don’t know if I can stay, Abs,” he whispered over the phone trying not to let his emotions overcome him. It was one of the things he was struggling with in the aftermath of the homemade truth serum.
“I don’t know if I can ask you to,” she’d whispered back sounding pained, but resigned.
At least someone seemed to be on his side.
Two weeks later, he was climbing the stairs up to the Director’s office. He’d had security call him to let him know if Vance was ever in the office after the team had left for the day. He was glad that Isla, his son’s nanny was a live-in and so understanding about his job. She hadn’t even blinked when he told her he needed to go to the office after hours. This time though she eyed him before ordering him not to get dragged out to a scene.
He wasn’t fully cleared yet from his excursion, and for once wasn’t pushing to go back to work. He felt broken inside. He felt like… he felt betrayed. It was as if they’d taken everything that he had known that he could depend on and shattered it into a million pieces just because they could. If it wasn’t for TJ… Tony didn’t know what he would have done without his son to focus on. He was pretty sure that he would have been able to hold onto his sanity.
Abby had been joined by Jimmy in her support of him, but the two of them seemed to be the only ones that really understood why he was upset. Well, Isla got it of course, and he supposed that had he called Edward or one of his other Paddington relatives, they would have supported him. but they were so far away, and Isla… Tony tried to keep a clear boundary between them. Even if he respected and admired the younger woman whom he entrusted with his son’s safety and well being.
Gibbs, McGee, and Ziva still thought he was being a child. For some reason Ducky was being Switzerland, only for some reason, he seemed to be reluctant to open his borders fully to Tony. He thought maybe he should be surprised, but really he wasn’t. He liked Ducky. He respected him even. Sometimes he just didn’t like him very much. Sometimes he felt like the older man overlooked him or got too caught up in the mask that Tony presented to the world.
He’d tried turning the whole situation over in his head to find the spot that showed where he was in the wrong. All that had happened though was that afterward he felt even more broken and betrayed. Briefly, he wished that he was a turtle and could pull his body inside of his shell to hide from the world. The problem was though he wasn’t sure even then that he would be safe. The time had come to pick up his shell and move onto something else. Whether that something else was within NCIS or with another agency or even doing something completely different remained to be seen.
Reaching the Director’s door he knocked and poked his head in waiting for permission to enter.
“Special Agent DiNozzo,” Leon Vance greeted sitting back in his chair. “This is a surprise. Please, come in.”
Nodding Tony did as ordered and made his way across the room to take a seat in front of the man’s desk. “I’m sorry for dropping in on you like this out of the blue, sir. I needed to speak with you privately, and I thought this would be the best way.”
Leon cocked his head to one side and studied him before folding his hands together to rest on the top of the desk. “Given the time of night, and the fact that your team left not half an hour ago, I am guessing that the privacy thing includes them?”
Tony nodded fighting to keep from looking down at his hands. He was feeling insecure and unsure of himself, and for not the first time damned the whole FUBAR’d situation, and especially that bastard Gibbs had shot and the drugs he’d injected into him. Normally, the issues with his emotions wouldn’t be reason enough to keep him out from work, while it was unusual for him to show how he was feeling. It wasn’t unusual for most normal people. So, had his boss been anyone but Leroy Jethro Gibbs, he would have already returned to work. Tony was well aware that emotionally tender people weren’t the best fit around “Second B is for Bastard” Gibbs.
“May I speak freely, sir?”
Tony read the surprise in the older man’s eyes before he nodded. “You always have before, DiNozzo. I don’t know why now would be any different.”
Shrugging, he let out a sigh before nervously running a hand though his hair. “I don’t know either, sir, but somehow it just is. I need to know if I have any options for me within NCIS outside of this location.”
This time the older man really did freeze, and Tony wondered what he was thinking as he waited for Leon to respond. He was pretty sure that no one ever expected Gibbs’ Loyal St. Bernard to look to leave his side, but he was. Not even Abby had suggested that he take more time to make up his mind. She seemed to understand that he’d been let down by Gibbs and his band of faithful followers one too many times.
“Well, that is a question I never thought that I would hear from you. You wanna tell me what is going on?”
“Did you tell Gibbs that Ziva couldn’t come back from Israel? Did you know that she’d asked him to choose between herself and me?” Tony asked instead, and Vance seemed to be trying to figure out what was going on before he carefully nodded.
“I told him that she wasn’t welcome back after we found out that she’d been passing along NCIS Intel to her father and Mossad,” Leon confirmed.
Tony started to reply then stopped as his eyes slipped shut and his fists clenched as the anger filled his veins. She was a traitor. She’d sold them all out so that she could pass along confidential information to her father, and he’d risked his life to avenge her.
“You didn’t know,” Vance half stated and half asked sounding unsure.
Without opening his eyes, Tony shook his head no, before taking a deep breath to try and center himself. Finally, he opened his eyes to see the Director staring at him looking concerned. “No, I didn’t. Had I known, I never would have suggested the op to go catch the people who had killed her. I don’t defend traitors, sir. I know you and I don’t usually see eye to eye. I am aware that McGee is your ideal agent not me, but I can assure you that there is nothing that is more important to me than justice and protecting my country the only way I know how.”
“I never thought otherwise, Tony,” Vance assured pushing the folders around on his desk to pull one to the top. “Not even back when I hated you, which, in case you weren’t aware, has passed. I will admit that there are times I wish you would show your full potential, but I also have come to understand that the role you play is less about you and more about Gibbs. I’ve seen your psych evals, and I know that they’re still working on getting you back to a place you can return to the MCRT. I also know that they’ve said that if you were on any other team they might not be so hesitant. Tell me, in your own words, how you’re feeling.”
“Broken. Betrayed. Hurt. Confused.” Tony admitted frowning. “In all the times I thought about how leaving the team would happen, this wasn’t one of them. I never thought I’d feel like Gibbs of all people let me down, but that’s how I feel. It’s like he’s got some huge blinders on where Ziva’s concerned. I don’t understand it, but I know that someday it will come to bite him in the ass. I just hope that it doesn’t take down the whole agency when it happens. I know Eli David is your friend, sir, but he can’t be trusted. Neither of them can.”
Leon sighed as he put a toothpick in his mouth. “I wish I could say that I thought you were full of shit, but unfortunately I think you’re right. Does anyone else know you’re thinking of leaving?”
Tony nodded carefully. “Abby and Jimmy. They both seem to understand. They know that… it’s really hard to trust anyone right now, sir. But, it’s nice knowing that not everyone thinks that I’m being a child.”
“Well, you can add me to the list of people who understand, Very Special Agent DiNozzo,” Leon offered. His lips twitching slightly and Tony couldn’t contain a flash of a real smile.
“I have an opportunity for you. Agent in Charge Harrison in the Pearl Harbor office is retiring at the end of the year. I just got the paperwork yesterday. I know that’s a few months off, but I also feel that you would do well with some time away to get things straightened out in your head. I think that it would be the perfect place for you. If you want to move up the ladder some day it’s the perfect stepping stone. If you just want to settle in comfortably somewhere that you can stay until you retire, but not get bored, then it’s good for that as well.”
Tony couldn’t help the burst of excitement that he felt at the thought of the posting. Pearl Harbor would be the perfect spot for him, and he was dying to say yes.
“I also just happened to need a new Forensics Analyst for the same office. That spot needs filled within a few weeks, but… I would be willing to approach Ms. Sciuto about the position if you would like to take her with you.”
“Yes, please, sir,” Tony answered quickly hoping that he wasn’t sleeping and this was only a dream. “I would love to take Abby with me. I know that I should think on this further but…”
“I really want to say yes,” Tony admitted taking a deep breath to try and settle his emotions. “I need off the team before my son is an orphan.I need to get out of here before my respect for Gibbs is damaged permanently. I need to leave before it gets to a point where I can never forgive him. With his blindness for Ziva’s manipulation so close to the surface, I am a lot closer to that point that I ever imagined that I would be.”
Tony paused to decide if he really wanted to push this thing with the former Liaison, and decided that yes he did. He would never forgive himself if he didn’t try and something catastrophic happened because of her. “I need to know that Ziva is going to be put on a leash, sir.”
Vance watched Tony steadily for a long while before replying. “Tell me what you’re thinking, DiNozzo.”
“I think that anyone who believes that she’s cut all ties now, is a complete fool,” he replied frankly. “I think that if her every key stroke isn’t monitored she’ll just keep sending Intel to Mossad. I think that we’ve been playing with fire from day one having her on an investigative team with no formal training. She shouldn’t have been handling evidence or driving an NCIS vehicle. She flagrantly breaks the law and brushes it off as the law being inefficient or the Mossad way being better. For some reason, people just let it happen, as if that’s a valid reason. Some day some defense lawyer is going to catch on and we’ll be in deep trouble. Send her to Counter Intel with someone watching her every move. Do not let her remain on the MCRT, and risk endangering our cases. If we have evidence that she has a history passing on Intel then legally NCIS has every right to put a collar on her.
“I may not be Gibbs, sir, but my gut is screaming that we’re running on borrowed time with her, and it’s inevitable that something horrible is going to happen if we don’t get a handle on her. I would hate to see someone die, someone that you or I or both of us care about because they were collateral damage in the Ziva David runaway train.” Tony ran a hand through his hair.
“Answer a hypothetical for me, Tony,” Vance requested leaning forward to rest his elbows on the desk and steeple his fingers. “What would you do if I told you that you had to take Ziva with you to Hawaii?”
Tony looked at Vance for a moment before leaning forward so he could reach into his back pocket and pull out an envelope from his back pocket. Then, reaching forward he carefully placed it in front of Vance before leaning back again and getting comfortable.
Director Vance arched an eyebrow before picking up the envelope and sitting back once more in his chair. Tony watched him grab a letter opener to open the sealed envelope and pull out the resignation letter that Tony had prepared just in case. He could see the shock on the older man’s face when he realized what it was. After skimming the letter, Vance sat back and silently looked at him for several long moments, and Tony just remained quiet leaving the man to his thoughts.
“You’re serious?” The Director asked for clarification. “You’d really quit if I made you take her with you. You’re that convinced about her? What about McGee or Gibbs?”
“I am that convinced, sir. I have no doubt in my mind that Ziva David is not just bad for me, or my team, or even this agency. I feel that she’s a risk to this entire country. I think it’s only a matter of time before she causes tension between us and Israel for some stunt that she’s pulled that’s gonna get someone killed.”
He paused before answering the second question. He wanted to make sure that he had no doubts about his answers before he spoke them. He was so conflicted about McGee and Gibbs. In his mind, their betrayals were worse and complicated by his feelings about the two of them. “If you tried to make me take McGee to Hawaii with me, then I’d also have to respectfully resign my position with NCIS.”
He saw the Director flinch, and his eyes widen, and wondered if the man had really been considering that very thing. “Can you explain why, please?” Vance requested, and Tony nodded holding back a sigh.
“In some ways, personally, the things McGee has done are for me worse than Ziva,” Tony explained trying to detach himself from his feelings so that he could answer as Special Agent DiNozzo and not Tony. “I realize that my personal feelings shouldn’t come into play here, but I’m human.”
Vance waved a hand as if dismissing the notion. “As you say, you’re human. Also, your team doesn’t run the way others do not really. You’re closer than other teams, and most teams… most good teams are close. It would be impossible, I think, for you to completely disregard your personal feelings from anything having to do with the MCRT. Don’t worry about personal feelings Vs. professional feelings. Just tell me how you feel in general, and let me worry about what parts concern me.”
Tony nodded and took a deep breath to settle himself again, not realizing that he’d let the question unnerve him until Vance’s assurances. “Since you weren’t around, I don’t know if you know how Tim became to be a part of the team. As you know from my file, in addition to my PE degree, I have a Masters in Criminal Justice and a bachelors in Criminal Psychology that I got after I left OSU to join the Police Academy in Peoria. However, I don’t have a degree in computer anything.”
Vance nodded and smiled slightly as Tony shrugged. “I know my deficiencies, and while I’m not a wiz, I can get by on computer things. When I started, I did all of our computer searches including financials. While I can do it and eventually get to the end, it takes a long time, and it takes me away from the things that I am really good at.
“When Gibbs decided to give into Morrow’s orders and expand the team, I began asking for someone from the Cyber Unit to help with things that simply took me too long, and Abby didn’t have time for. When McGee began helping us here and there, I knew that he was the one. I mean don’t get me wrong, he was as green as the grass on a championship golf course. He had almost no backbone. He had no investigative experience, but the most important part was that he wanted to. He wanted to be more than some cyber geek chasing down financials and shit all day.”
Tony looked out the window behind Vance, and wished that he had something to drink. As if reading his mind, Vance got up and poured them both a tumbler of scotch before coming back and handing Tony one. Nodding his thanks, he took a sip and continued. “I started a hardcore campaign with Gibbs to get McGeek on the team. It wasn’t the easiest task in the world, let me tell you. I mean, you know how Gibbs feels about anything electronic or technological. Finally though, I wore him down, and McGee’s persistence helped his own cause some. One night in the basement, he finally gave in and said that I could have my probie.
“But, he made it clear that Tim was my responsibility as SFA. I was to train him. I was to make sure that he was learning things the right way, and I was to keep him in line. I’ve come to realize that it’s the last one that really did me in.” Tony admitted bitterly as he took another sip of the drink.
“So, train him I did. Granted my methods aren’t other people’s. I don’t have the best background in nurturing and family type relationships. My Paddington relatives are all in England, and we didn’t really have the ability to become close until after I got to college. Almost everything I know about those things I learned in boarding school, military school, or a frat house at Ohio State. Not the best places for nurturing let me tell you, but they are what I know and I think it’s worked out ok.
“Or, at least I thought it was working out until fucking Ziva David came along and bulldozed all my hard work. Excuse my language, sir.” Vance waved off the words as he just sat quietly and listened while Tony continued.
“With Kate, we may have bickered and sometimes her tongue and elbows were too sharp. Sometimes she got lost in her own past scars from being a woman in law enforcement, and assumed that every time she didn’t get something it was gender related and not that I simply had more experience and investigative knowledge. But, in the end, she was always my partner, and was someone that I genuinely thought of as a sister. Her death nearly killed me, and Former Director Sheppard adding her killer’s sister to the team didn’t help.”
“You still hold her responsible for Agent Todd’s death,” Vance said softly more statement than question.
“She is responsible sir,” Tony insisted, “with all due respect.”
“She was Ari’s handler. She gave him all the information he needed on the team, and she made sure he knew whose death would cause the most damage. Frankly speaking, sir, Ziva’s placement on the team was both in poor taste and just one more of Jenny’s little manipulations to make sure Gibbs knew who was boss. She sacrificed our pain and mental health to prove to the Boss that she had a bigger dick than him and that he couldn’t get anything over on her just because of their past liaisons wrinkling up the bedsheets. Ziva David IS responsible for Special Agent Caitlin Todd’s death, and no I will never ever forget that or forgive that. Period.”
Tony paused and closed his eyes to shove all the anger and pain over Kate back into its box forcing the lid closed before he went on. He was glad that Vance didn’t try to push things because Kate was a wound that would never really heal. He thought that they were finally moving into a really good place after he got the Plague where she almost respected him as a person and forget the title Gibbs had given him over her. Then Ari murdered her and wiped out all of their possibilities.
“Anyway, once Ziva got here, it didn’t take long to tell that Tim was still the weak link. He hadn’t quite developed enough of a backbone that he could stand up for himself under any pressure, and was still too wrapped up in his past of having been bullied. It probably took her all of five seconds to realize that with a few carefully placed jibes at my expense that backed up Tim’s insecurities she could easily get him onto her side.
“And, she was right. Tim pretty quickly forgot Kate and latched onto his new cohort. He had everything he wanted. Instead of it being me and Kate against him, in his perception, it was he and Ziva against me. Forget the fact that Kate and I had been trying to make him into an agent, and not the bumbling stuttering mess he was when he came to the team. Then, once she had him in her side, she began feeding his ego until all he could see were the things he wanted and how he must be better than me because of degrees that he has and he thinks I don’t have.”
Tony snorted unhappily as he shook his head disgusted. “At this point, I would not trust Special Agent McGee on my team. He’s too easily led around by his nose and ego. He’s too sure that he’s better than every person around him because of those damned MIT degrees, and he has no ability to consider that maybe he has things yet to learn.
“He can’t do undercover believably, he can’t see past the obvious, and he has no ability to see investigative paths that are not computer related. If I can’t teach him those things because he thinks that he knows everything, then he’s no used to me. He’d also be a detriment to anyone around him because his ego and his bias towards what he sees as my shortcomings could very easily become a cancer that affected the rest of the team. So, if you told me that I had to take McGee to Pearl Harbor with me, Director Vance, I would have to respectfully resign. Ziva and McGee are hard nos.”
“And Gibbs?” Vance prompted when Tony didn’t immediately go on. Tony let loose a deep sigh and ran his hands over his hair agitated before he answered.
“With Ziva, it’s a matter of not liking her and not trusting her. With McGee, it’s a matter of not liking who he’s become, and not trusting that he’ll pull himself off the path he’s set himself on and right the ship. There’s also some hurt that he so easily turned against me for someone who was responsible for Kate’s death. With Gibbs… With Gibbs it’s a… It’s disappointment. I’m mad at him. I know that sounds juvenile, but that’s mostly what it is. I could work with Gibbs in Pearl Harbor under certain circumstances. If it was made clear that I’m in charge, then I would be willing to do it. He and I would need to work out some things first, but I could do it.”
Tony once again gazed out at the darkness beyond the window contemplating the puzzle that was Leroy Jethro Gibbs before allowing his own thoughts and feelings to be voiced. “I don’t talk about my father. He’s… Well frankly, sir, he’s not a good person. He’s a con artist who steals people’s money while he pretends to be this rich businessman. When people find out that whatever scheme he’s told them will make them rich is fake, he’s long gone. When I was a kid he was an abusive drunk. As an adult, not much has changed. He disowned me at 12 because the new wife didn’t want anything to do with me, and he was humiliated that I’d let someone find out he’d forgotten me in a hotel room while he was doing business on Maui.
“He’s a braggart and a bully. He introduces himself as “the real Tony Dinozzo” and insists on calling me Junior even though he knows I hate it. His secretaries and occasional wives send me inappropriate Christmas gifts like belt sanders and drills. Since the day he threw me out, I’ve made it clear as far as I’m concerned, I have no father. I’m ashamed of him, and if someone I knew threw him in prison I’d probably buy them dinner in thanks. Not only did I not have a father, I didn’t want one. I did always want a big brother though, but never imagined that I’d have one. Then, I met Gibbs.”
Tony smiled slightly as he thought back to those days in Baltimore when he’d first met his boss remembering how good it used to be. “Before the case where we met, I already had a suspicion that my partner was dirty, but was trying really hard to pretend I didn’t have a clue. I had this thick shield of cockiness and arrogance that I used to make sure no one knew how miserable and lonely I was despite the fact that I was engaged to be married. Gibbs… Gibbs changed all of that. Those first few years, there was a lot of time when it was just him and me.
“After a while Morrow took a break on trying to force people on him, and just let us work as a two-man unit. It was the best time of my life, honestly. He was… different than he is now. He was still impatient, but it didn’t have the biting edge that it does now. He had a temper, but he mostly reigned it in unless someone was trying to bullshit him. We were partners and friends and I… I can’t forget that. Especially when I think a lot of his current short comings are not quite his fault.”
Vance cocked his head to one side frowning at the last statement. “Explain that last bit in more detail, please.”
Tony nodded once more sighed wishing he didn’t have to do this, but for Gibbs’ sake he had to. Even if there was a good chance that man would never forgive him. “I think something broke when he got amnesia the last time back when Former Director Sheppard was still alive. The whole having to go through Kelly and Shannon’s deaths did something to him that he’s never recovered from, and no one has ever made him try. He’s a miserable bastard because I think he constantly lives with this intense mental pain and this ridiculous fear that if he lets go of the pain he won’t have anything left of them. He needs help, Director Vance. He needs to be forced to go see someone that won’t be able to be played by his mind games, because he is as good as anyone out there at mental manipulation. I hate the man he’s become some days with a fiery passion, and I miss the man he was on those same days with a grief I haven’t felt since my mother died.
“He’s really good at faking being ok, and the people who can do something about it either can’t see it or won’t. Former Director Sheppard wouldn’t. She wanted to get back into his pants too bad to try and force him to get help. He was more use to her broken. I don’t know if you know it or not. I only know that I want him back. I want him to be happy. I want him to be healthy. I want him to understand that while Shannon and Kelly may be dead, he has other people who love him.
“I have a son that I would love to introduce him to. I would love to hear TJ call him Uncle Jethro or Uncle Boss, but the way he is now I could never trust him with them. Frankly, the only ones I trust with TJ are the same ones who already know I want to leave. I thought about telling Ducky when it first happened, but something held me back, and now I’m glad it has. Ducky’s changed too, and not for the better. Since his heart attack and since his mother died he’s… well, he’s different, and I don’t feel like my secrets would be safe with him. He runs to Gibbs with everything including medical things that should be covered under HIPAA. He also oversteps his boundaries and assumes he knows better based only on his limited observations and things Gibbs has whispered in his ear.”
Tony watched Vance take a deep breath then nod once. “I wasn’t aware, Tony. As a father, I understand wanting to protect your child, especially in the world you and I live in. Now that I know what’s going on, you have my word that, as someone who can make Gibbs go to counseling with someone who as you say won’t fall for his mind games, it will be done. Not only that, but I have the perfect person in mind. Thank you for being honest with me. It’s a good sign as to what kind of Team Leader you’re going to be. I am looking forward to watching you succeed. Do you have any idea what you’ll do with your time off?”
Tony thought about it a moment before shrugging. “I’ll probably travel for a while. See some sites. Maybe go to England and see my family. Give Isla, TJ’s nanny, a little time off before the move. Then I’ll probably head to Hawaii. I have a friend there that I am looking forward to reconnecting with.”
“I didn’t know you had friends on the islands,” Vance said smiling. “I’m glad that the position was available for you.”
Tony smiled. “The officer who responded to the hotel’s call when my father forgot about me and went home without me is still on the force with the Honolulu PD. I haven’t seen him in years, but we’ve kept in touch since Senior’s lawyer took me home. John McGarrett was one of the reasons I wanted to be a cop. He was everything my father isn’t and everything I wanted to be. When my future changed at OSU, he was one of the two big reasons why I chose this path. I am looking forward to thanking him for that.”
“Well, congratulations then, Very Special Supervisory Agent DiNozzo,” Vance said smiling. “I look forward to all that you’ll accomplish from this point forward. Don’t worry about the team. I will make sure they are aware of your promotion, and I will speak with Dr. Scuito about the opening first thing in the morning.”
Tony stood and when Vance did the same he held out his hand smiling big when it was wrapped up for a handshake. “Thank you, Director Vance. I promise I will make you and NCIS proud, sir.”
“I don’t have a single doubt and I am very glad that you didn’t have to give me this,” Vance said handing back the resignation letter. Nodding Tony took it back and used the letter to salute him before turning to leave the office. He felt much better than he had when he went in. Suddenly, he had a real path to follow where he was in charge. No longer would he be standing in anyone else’s shadow.
Heading down the stairs, Tony stopped and packed up his desk before heading to the elevators. Turning around, he looked at the orange walls, and felt a pang of sadness that it was ending with such a cloud of betrayal, but was excited to see where the fates took him.
EndNote: All stories are also posted on AO3. Should anything posted for EAD be completed, the EAD preview will be deleted without warning.