Title: When History Repeats Itself
Series:Rossi’s Always Right
Series Order: 2
Previous Story: Single Doesn’t Mean Alone
Fandom: NCIS and Criminal Minds
Genre: Angst, Challenge Response, Drama
Character(s): Tony DiNozzo, Aaron Hotchner, OC-TJ DiNozzo, Will LaMontagne, David Rossi, and other minor appearances
Content Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Discussion- Child Abuse and Neglect, Altered Timeline – Criminal Minds and NCIS, Tissue Warning!
Word Count: 5,584
Note: I’m not sure how the timelines of the two shows are going to jive in this series, and I’m honestly not too stressed about figuring it out. So, to be safe I’ve added an altered timeline warning. If something doesn’t seem like it fits canon, then just consider that part of what’s changed. K? Also, this damned thing made me cry TWICE while writing it. Then I cried again when I edited it. Consider this your tissue warning. I’m not crazy about the series title, but it’s all that I could come up with.
Summary: After Tony’s childhood with Senior, the last thing he ever wanted was children. They frankly scared the crap out of him, and he had no faith that he’d be able to handle one. Unfortunately, the fates saw differently, and Tony finds himself with a child whose early years too eerily echoed his own.
When History Repeats Itself
It was about a month since he’d quit NCIS. Tony still didn’t have a firm destination, but he at least knew the directions he wasn’t going in. When people found out that he was determined to take his time, some had dropped out including the private security firm that he was unsure about the legitimacy of their work. However, the flip side was that he’d gained some additional offers that wouldn’t open up right away making his decision even harder.
He’d been at Rossi’s since the day after he quit. That night after a meal of burgers and some laughs with his two friends, he’d spent the night in Derek’s spare room. He then headed back to his apartment to get his things the next morning, when the agent went to work. Only those within the BAU knew where he was at, or so he’d thought. When the Social Worker from CPS that he previously worked with at NCIS showed up on his Godfather’s doorstep at ten thirty in the morning, he was a little confused.
“Did I forget a case or something?” He asked as he stepped back to let the woman and her two companions inside. One he recognized as Detective LaMontagne whom he knew was JJ’s husband, but he was unfamiliar with the other gentleman.
“This is an official visit,” the detective offered. His New Orleans accent was standing out amongst the east coast ones Tony commonly heard, reminding the former NCIS Agent of Dwayne Pride. The New Orleans Residental Unit Leader had called him to offer his support and an ear if he needed it.
“Oh?” Tony offered back confused as he led them to the library. He waved them to sit in whatever chair they liked then offered drinks getting a curt denial from the man he had yet to be introduced to noticing that the stranger had become even more agitated since he entered the house. “If it’s not for a case, I can’t imagine why CPS would be coming to me for an official visit. I would assume you mean personally and not professionally since Will is here. Although CPS is one of the few places that I haven’t heard from to make picking my next place of employment even more difficult. I’m fortunate Rossi’s letting me use his house to hide out in.”
“Running from something, Mr. DiNozzo?” The stranger snidely asked as he prowled around the room. “You certainly have found a plush crash pad and won’t hurt for anything. Too bad you’re not as concerned with your son’s welfare.”
“My wha…” Tony started to repeat before his brain froze. “My son? I’m sorry you must be mistaken. I don’t have any children. Macy?” Tony looked at the CPS agent that he’d always dealt with for an explanation, but she remained silent. Although, she did appear somewhat frustrated.
“Please, you can drop the act,” the stranger scoffed as he stalked forward from where he’d been studying Rossi’s law books. “I researched you thoroughly. Your father is quite the con man, and that murder rap didn’t help his reputation much. I see you picked up his talent for running from trouble. Too bad you don’t run as good as he did. He gave the FBI quite a chase before we finally caught him.”
“I don’t know if you’re new to this whole thing, but its customary to introduce yourself to someone when you enter their home to question then,” Tony practically purred trying to remain loose-limbed as he stood with his hands behind his back. “I think it’s time that you share your secret identity.”
“CPS Agent Wilkerson,” he returned flashing his badge quickly with a growl, “and I think you’ll find I’m not quite so easy to con as Macy is.”
“Wow, you really must be new to this of you think Macy is easy to con,” Tony laughed offering a huge fake smile, “I’ve seen her go toe to toe with Gibbs on numerous occasions and win. I also note that you said CPS, not FBI, so I am assuming that your ‘we’ earlier was theoretical since you don’t work for the FBI. Of course, if you had you’d know that it was my Godfather who put Senior in prison for murder, child neglect and a whole bunch of other charges. Since I don’t have the slightest clue what you’re trying to allude to maybe you should start at the beginning, Sherlock.”
“Sure you don’t,” CPS Wilkerson snarled back as his lip curled in disdain. “I’m gonna see to it that you and your father share that Child Neglect charge and anything else I can charge you with. You may have intimidated Ms. Conrad into going along with this façade where you didn’t know about your fucking kid, but I’m not buying it. I have no doubt a rich prick like you just threw some money at her and forgot about the little problem that you created. Well, I am here to tell you that you aren’t getting away with it, Richie Rich.”
“I see,” Tony offered back with a nod as he headed to the desk that he’d been working at earlier he picked up his cell. When he felt a presence behind him, he turned and saw CSP Wilkerson following him. Looking toward Detective LaMontagne, he frowned.
“Unless someone has a warrant that they have yet to produce, no one has my authorization to search my Godfather’s house. So, I suggest you put CPS Wilkerson back in his kennel until my attorney shows up. Since he hasn’t been housebroken yet and taught how to effectively interrogate a subject, I’m going to have to insist that he back off.”
“No warrant, Tony,” Will offered as he headed toward his position, “this is just an information gathering visit.”
“Well your CPS agent sucks at that,” Tony offered back and glared at the CPS agent who was still looming. “Back off before I throw you out of this house!”
“Only the guilty call their lawyers,” the CPS agent sneered, and Tony just rolled his eyes.
“Or people who can clearly see that someone is trying to railroad them into something they didn’t do,” Tony shot back as he picked up the copy of Rossi’s latest book and locked it up in the drawer. It was the only set of papers on the desk as, thus far, all of Tony’s offers were either verbal or in his email. Shutting the lid on his laptop prevented the proposals he’d been reviewing from being overseen.
“Look, dude, I’ve been in law enforcement now for almost 20 years. You really are horrible at this getting information thing. I suggest that you take a course or two somewhere if you’re gonna try and keep doing it. You’ve been nothing but an asshole about something you have zero evidence of any wrongdoing on my part. I don’t even know what the hell you’re all doing here yet because all you’ve done is try and show what a big badass you are, and I gotta tell you that you need to work on that too. So, back the fuck off before I throw you out!”
Fortunately, at that point, Will stepped closer to the CPS agent and herded him to the other side of the room giving Tony some privacy. Calling the only lawyer he knew and trusted that did family law type work, Tony was glad to hear that this was something the man could help with and that he was on his way. Heading to the mini-bar, Tony pulled out three bottles of water, then crossed back to the seating area by the fireplace that everyone had settled in.
Handing one first to Macy, who was apparently trying to hide her amusement, and then to Will, who just snorted and nodded his thanks, Tony headed to the chair Rossi usually sat in and got comfortable. “It’ll be half an hour at least before my lawyer gets here. So, you might as well sit, Will. Wilkerson, you get to just loom awkwardly. You don’t deserve to sit after that. I’m trying to break myself of the habit of rewarding bad behavior.”
This time he did draw a startled laugh from Macy, who earned herself a glare from her coworker, but didn’t look too awfully worried by it. Instead, the woman asked him about his exit from NCIS, and the two of them settled into a conversation about work things with Will contributing every now and then.
Tony was so into the discussion that he missed the sound of the front door opening and didn’t realize that Aaron had arrived until the BAU Unit Chief showed up in the library doorway. Tony was a little surprised but thankful that his Godfather hadn’t come along. The last thing the situation needed was another hothead, and there was nothing calm about Rossi when he was defending his Godson.
“Thanks for coming, Aaron,” Tony said standing to shake the FBI agent’s hand and was glad to see that he didn’t have his ID badge on.
“Called your Ambulance Chaser, did you?” Wilkerson sneered from where he was leaning against a shelf of books, “or is he the mob lawyer type? I’m sure he’s as dirty as you are. Once I get you locked up, I’ll start an investigation into him and you two scumbags can share a cell.”
“You do remember you work for CPS, right?” Tony asked amused. “If you want to get a job with the FBI, you are seriously going about it the wrong way. What exactly do you think Aaron’s done wrong?”
“You child abusers all stick together,” Wilkerson threw back with a nasty smirk on his face. “Don’t you worry. I’ll be with the FBI soon enough, and I’ll make sure this asshole is at the top of my list.”
“I highly doubt that,” Aaron said finally as he reached into his jacket and pulled out his credentials. “Maybe I should introduce myself. My name is Aaron Hotchner, and I’m here to represent my client in this family law matter, but I mostly run the BAU Team 1 as the Unit Chief. That’s the FBI in case you weren’t sure, and I can promise you that we won’t be hiring you in any capacity. Now, exactly what are you here to speak with my client about? He indicated on the phone that you hadn’t done much but throw out some accusations and insults.”
Wilkerson just growled as he stepped toward Aaron. “Just because you’re some big shot doesn’t mean that you aren’t as corrupt as him. Do you have a kid? I bet you’re as much of a child abuser as this prick. I’ll put you in jail too!”
Tony had to fight to hide the shock from showing on his face at the man’s stupidity. How you could meet Aaron Hotchner and think that you could intimidate, or out Alpha him, was ludicrous. Then you threaten to take Jack away from him on top of it? Tony had no clue who this guy was, but he guessed that he wouldn’t have his job for much longer. One thing that you just did not do was threaten Jack Hotchner or insinuate Aaron was abusive.
It was most certainly a touchy subject, understandably so as far as Tony was concerned. Tony had never seen any indication that Aaron was anything but a loving and adoring father. Tony had met guys like Wilkerson in his time on the job. People like Macy went into CPS because the loved children and wanted to be able to protect them and speak for them when they couldn’t speak for themselves.
People like Wilkerson though only saw it as a stepping stone to something bigger and didn’t give a rat’s ass about helping anyone but themselves. Tony would guess that the fool had even applied to the FBI in the past, but was rejected and then ended up at CPS somehow. When Aaron called his name, Tony pulled himself back to the present and focused on his friend and attorney. He had apparently been deeper inside his mind than he thought because he’d missed the part where Aaron called someone. The cellphone in his hand though suggested he had, and Tony guessed it was the head of DC Child Protective Serivces.
“Do you have a problem with CPS Agent Brownley taking over?”
“Not at all,” Tony said quickly as he flashed a smile at the woman before turning back to Aaron again. “Macy is kick ass, and while she won’t take shit from anyone, she’s completely fair. All she cares about is her kids. I would feel very comfortable with her taking over whatever the hell is going on here.”
Aaron nodded and headed in Macy’s direction holding out the phone. “It’s for you.”
Nodding her thanks, Tony openly listened to Macy’s end of the conversation which was mostly yes, sir’s, no sir’s and a few I told you so, sir’s. Eventually, she ended her call and handed the phone back to Aaron before standing and turning toward Wilkerson.
“I warned you about what would happen if you came charging into this like you always do. Donnelly wants to see you back at the office. I told you that you needed to be more careful with this because Tony has a strong reputation for being one of the good guys, but you just had to come in and do it your way. I’d say that it’s been a pleasure, but I try not to lie. For what it’s worth, I agree with Tony and Aaron.
“I’ve worked with a lot of agent’s from other agencies around town, and frankly, Marcus, you’re not cut out for this. All you care about is where you think this is gonna take you. I suggest you get your ass back to the office. Donnelly is waiting for you, and he’s righteously pissed. Detective LaMontagne, can you escort Marcus out? Sometimes he gets lost while leaving someone’s house.”
“It’d be m’pleasure,” Will drawled easily as he motioned for Wilkerson to head toward the doorway. “I’ll be right back.”
Once the hotheaded CPS Agent was gone, Tony got up to get himself another water and brought Aaron one after Macy indicated she still had some in her bottle. Now that he had time to think about what could be going on, Tony couldn’t help but grow worried. It was evident that at least someone thought he had a kid somewhere that he wasn’t aware of. That was… Well, he didn’t know how he felt about it, but it wasn’t a good feeling considering CPS had gotten involved. At best it meant that the mother had died, and at worst the kid had been abused or neglected to the point that someone noticed and stepped in.
Feeling a hand on his shoulder, Tony looked up to see Aaron frowning down at him. Before Tony could say anything though, Will was coming back in the room giving Macy the chance to start things finally. “I want to start off by offering my apologies, Tony. I argued loudly against that asshole being assigned your case, but someone was worried that my familiarity with you from NCIS would be a problem. Morons. Anyway, as I’m sure you’ve worked out for yourself, we have strong evidence telling us that a child in our protection is actually your son. Do you know an Amber Conrad, and did you have a relationship with her that could have resulted in a child?”
“Yes and yes, but I don’t understand,” Tony replied running a hand through his hair. “I even know when it happened, but I don’t…” Tony stopped and looked at Aaron and waited for his friend to nod it was ok to go on before speaking further.
“I asked her more than once. I’d say at least three times if she were sure she hadn’t gotten pregnant. We met on vacation actually and hooked up after we found out that we were both from the DC area. A condom broke during one of our… times together, and I was worried she’d get pregnant. She always told me that I had nothing to worry about and she wasn’t pregnant when I asked. Why would she lie?”
Macy sighed before turning to look at Will who took over. “We don’ have all the answers yet, Tony,” Will warned regretfully before sharing what details he had. “From what I could find out though she wanted a child of her own without having to worry about a father interfering. It seems that she was somewhat familiar with your reputation from some mutual contacts and assumed that you wouldn’t care about a kid. She didn’t actually tell anyone she even had a child. She changed jobs when she found out she was pregnant and didn’t start working again until after the boy was born.”
“How…” Tony started and stopped to take a drink of water to try and push down the lump of emotion clogging his throat. “How did you get called in? I’m assuming she’s either dead or abused him. What happened? How do you know I’m the father?”
“It seems that Ms. Conrad went away with some friends for a long weekend and left the child at home alone. She put food out for him on the counter, but he couldn’t reach it. He tried to climb up to get it he fell and hurt himself. The neighbors heard him crying and called the apartment complex office. When the maintenance guy came to check it out, they heard the child and entered when no one responded to their knocks.
Your son was found on the floor of the kitchen with no one else in the apartment and immediately Bob, the maintenance man, called the police. We got CPS involved and found you when our lab ran his DNA through the system looking for a paternal match. He’s definitely your son, Tony. If there’s anythin’ JJ and I can do to help, just let us know.”
“I don’t even,” Tony started but had to stop again at the overwhelming sensation that was almost suffocating him. “How could she want him so much that she lied to me and went to the point of changing jobs to keep the secret from me, which I would definitely found out if she hadn’t. She worked for the department of justice and with all my contacts there it would have gotten back to me that she suddenly had a kid. I just, I don’t understand.”
“It seems that the reality of having a child was more than she could handle,” Macy suggested carefully as she studied her hands for a moment. “I think the idea of the child was a lot happier than the reality. She wanted the adoration she got from her child without the crying and diapers and middle of the night glasses of water and all the other not so much fun things that come along with it.”
“Do you want me to call Dave, Tony?” Aaron asked quietly, and Tony lifted his eyes to his friend knowing he’d be able to see the fear and devastation there.
“I don’t know what the fuck I’m supposed to do now,” Tony admitted but tried his best to shove down his upset to deal with later. “Macy, how badly is he hurt? How could she leave him alone? He can’t even be three yet. How soon can I get him? Can he stay here for a while? I don’t know if I’ll want to stay in my apartment. I’d rather find someplace closer to Dave. I swear to God I asked Macy. I’d never… I’ve told you about Senior! I would never…!”
“I know you wouldn’t,” Macy promised quietly, and it was obvious she was holding back her own emotions at her friend’s upset. She’d worked with Tony enough to know that while kids scared the shit out of him that he would never turn his back on his own child. It was the main reason that she didn’t want someone like Wilkerson to handle this case, but those above her wanted to give him one last shot. She knew at least her direct boss and probably higher up than that were familiar with Tony and doubted any of them believed him guilty of anything.
“He doesn’t have a name yet. It seems that she just calls him Boy. His birth certificate just says Male Child Conrad, but you’ll be able to change that with some paperwork. He broke his arm in the fall and got a mild concussion at the same time. Most of the effects of the concussion have passed, though.
“He’s terribly frightened of women. So, if you hire a nanny or someone to help with his care, it’ll need to be a man. I actually have someone in mind if you need a recommendation. We’d be okay with having him stay here with you and Dave. We’d need to do an official visit, but that is mostly a formality. I can do a visit right now if you’re ok with it. I have the forms I need in my car, and I would even be ok with UC Hotchner accompanying me instead of you as I go through the house. I drove separately from the asshole because I was pretty confident how things would go.”
Macy sighed then and shifted in her chair before going on. “Then, if things check out, I can have someone bring the boy out here. I would suggest you let your lawyer call your Godfather. You’ve had a huge blow, and you need support around you. For what it’s worth, Tony, I think that you’re exactly what this little boy needs, and I have nothing but complete faith that you’re going to be an amazing father.”
Even though he still had a million questions swirling around in his head and even more doubts, Tony nodded his agreement. “I’ll call Dave though. Aaron, I’d… Can Spencer and Derek come too? What about stuff? Does he need a crib? I know Dave doesn’t have one. I don’t…”
“JJ and I have all the stuff you’ll need at least right away,” Will advised speaking for the first time since he came back into the room. “Henry’s just outgrown his baby stuff. You’ll want at leas’ the crib an’ his old car seat. Don’ need the changing table. The boy’s potty trained. I’m sure Henry’s even got some old toys he’d give up. I’d be happy to call JJ and check with her to see if she minds givin’ it up.”
Aaron gave a smile along with a nod before looking down at Tony. “I’m going to call Cruz and get the whole team off rotation for a few days. There’s no way Garcia won’t want to help once she finds out, and Blake could use the time to go see her husband. Go ahead and call Dave. Ms. Brownley, I just need to call the office and then I’m ready to accompany you on your inspection.”
“That’s fine, I need to get stuff out of my car anyway,” Macy replied pleasantly as she stood. “I’m sorry about this, Tony. You’re a damned good man, and neither you or that little boy deserved this, but I truly believe that things will work out from here on out. I’ll just go get the things I need and meet you outside, UC Hotchner. We can start with an inspection of the grounds before we do the house.”
Aaron nodded and after checking that Tony would be ok for the moment followed Macy and Will outside to make his calls. He didn’t like leaving the man alone but sensed that he needed a couple minutes. He was a little surprised before exiting the room when he heard Tony say, “Ducky? Do you have a moment? I… I need your help. Actually, I need you and Jimmy, and Abbs too if she’s not too mad at me. I don’t… I don’t know what to do.” Aaron could only hope that the three of them were the friends that Tony thought they were because the last thing his friend needed was another blow.
By the time that Rossi arrived with the BAU crew in tow, minus JJ and Blake, Tony was a little calmer. JJ had gone home to help Will get Henry’s old things together. She’d mentioned clothes, which none of them had considered yet, and wanted to pick out the best of what her son couldn’t fit into any longer. Blake had excused herself and taken Aaron’s offer to go see her husband. She pointed out that she didn’t know Tony well, and felt her presence wouldn’t be as welcomed. Ducky was on his way with Jimmy and Abby, whom Tony was just hanging up from speaking with.
Tony hadn’t talked to the Goth since his exit from NCIS, mostly because he was afraid of her reaction. While she admitted that at first, she was pissed, the Sisters that she bowled with helped her to get back on the right path. She’d promised to help Tony and her new nephew in any way she can. He wasn’t sure how good of an idea it was to have a ton of people around when his son arrived, but it felt right to him.
His mind kept stuttering over the word son every time he thought of the boy. He was glad that some of his new job offers were either flexible in their start date or began far enough in the future that he’d have time to spend a few months with his son. The last thing he was going to do was abandon the boy for a job before he knew his son would understand what was happening.
“Figglioccio,” he heard and looked up was grateful to see Rossi striding into the room with Spencer, Derek, and Garcia following closely behind.
“Pops,” Tony murmured before he found himself swallowed up in his Godfather’s arms. If his eyes leaked a little while he was being hugged, no one mentioned it afterward, maybe because their eyes were equally as wet. “I don’t… I swear I didn’t know.”
“Of course, you didn’t,” Rossi assured as he sat down next to his Godson. “Anyone who knows you would never believe otherwise. Are you bringing him here? I assume you’re not taking him back to the apartment.”
Tony shook his head no to indicate his Godfather was right as he tried to gather himself again as Macy came in with Aaron. “No, I definitely want to stay here until I can find a place nearby. Macy’s doing an official inspection of the house, or she was. I hope that’s ok?”
“Of course,” Dave assured as he turned his eyes toward the CPS Agent, who had appeared with Aaron, narrowing them at her. Tony must have guessed his Godfather’s protective thoughts because he spoke again before the older man could say anything to her.
“Be nice to Macy, Don Rossi,” Tony asked drawing a huff from Dave. “She’s not only badass and one of the best at what she does, but she’s on my side. She wasn’t the reason I had to call Aaron. That asshat’s already been thrown out.”
“I see,” Dave replied before turning his now more relaxed gaze back to the woman who was watching him with some amusement. “I assume the asshat in question will receive some form of reprimand?”
“My guess is that he’ll be looking for new employment,” Macy offered wryly, “he was already on probation before he FUBAR’d this case.”
“Tony, I’ve finished my inspection, and I don’t see any reason why you can’t take immediate custody of the child. Amber has no other family so there will be no one to question your custody of him. We’ll have to do some random inspections for a while, and Aaron has a list of some changes I am requiring. Most of them are minor, but he advised that Agent Morgan could help the two of you with a few more serious changes.”
Aaron looked at Derek and then Rossi and Tony. “There needs to be a more secure place for the weapons, and I said that I thought Derek would be able to help get a better gun safe put in. There are also some child safety things that need to be added that I am familiar with since I had to do it for Jack. There are a couple other changes that you might want to have Derek make while he’s at it. I thought we could talk about them while Spencer and Garcia go pick up whatever you need that JJ and Will don’t have.”
“Abby would like to help with that I’m sure,” Tony said quietly as he took a deep, steadying breath. “She’s on her way with Ducky and Jimmy. Macy, do you have a problem with Jimmy being TJ’s primary physician and Ducky, his secondary physician?”
“Not at all,” she assured with a smile as she retook a seat. “I didn’t know that Palmer completed his schooling though. It sounds like you settled on a name?”
Tony nodded smiling as he thought of his friend. “Yeah, Jimmy got his license not too long after he and Breena got married. He’s been keeping it on the down low. His primary focus after his Medical Examiner work was in Child Medicine. Given what happened, I would feel better with someone I know and trust. If Ducky weren’t so close to retirement, I’d have picked him. As for the name umm, yeah. Tristan Jordan DiNozzo.
“Mom’s favorite story when I was a child was Tristian and Isolde. I don’t know how many times she read it to me. It feels like I’m honoring her without acknowledging my sperm donor in any way. Then Jordan after Michael. I mean, he’s my favorite basketball player ever. Watching him and the rest of the Tar Heels win the national championship was the reason I took up basketball. I never wanted kids, but I always thought if I had one that Jordan would be part of his or her name somehow. TJ is close to MJ so…” Tony shrugged shyly, but Macy just nodded.
“That sounds perfect, Tony,” She assured. “I’ve given Aaron some paperwork, including the information on the nanny that I’m recommending and what you need to do to get his name changed and social security number issued after so long. The nanny has a degree in Child Psychology and is just finishing his work with another child. I know he’s looking for something more long-term and I think you’ll be a good fit. His name is Emmett Honeycutt and… well, just give him a chance. He’s quite… colorful, but I think you and he will get along well.”
Tony nodded and sat back quietly to let his mind rest and process all that had happened that morning. By the time the doorbell rang, Rossi had cleared most of the people from the room except himself, Macy and Jimmy. The rest had been sent off to complete projects necessary for the home’s new resident. It also ensured that his Godson was given the time he needed to get himself back together before his son arrived.
When another man he didn’t recognize came into the room carrying a little boy on his hip, Tony immediately stood knowing the child was his son. While he didn’t look exactly like Tony did at his age, it was close enough that there was no doubt whose child he was. His almost white blond curls were precisely like Tony’s, and he was smaller than average according to Jimmy’s quiet comment. Tony knew that he had been small himself until he hit his first growth spurt at age 11.
The boy had bright blue eyes that immediately made Tony think of his mother along with his cute little button nose. It made him long actively for his Paddington relatives and promised himself that he’d call his Uncle George or Edward soon to fill them in on everything that was happening.
After Tony’s mother died and his father was put in jail, Rossi had taken over most of Tony’s care. The first thing he’d done was to help to repair the relationship between the child and his English relatives. While he could teach Tony everything he needed to know about his Italian heritage, he wanted his Godson to have a connection to his English side. Fortunately, the Paddingtons, led by Tony’s Aunt Olivia who was George’s wife, were thankful for the opportunity to heal the bond that had been damaged by Senior marrying the family’s favorite daughter.
Slowly, Tony made his way forward until he was standing in front of the man and little boy, but all of his attention was on his son. He hated seeing the combination of fear and longing in the little boy’s eyes. It was apparent now that he was up close to the child that he hadn’t been fed correctly, but fortunately, he looked much healthier than Tony expected.
Slowly, Tony held out his arms and then waited patiently for the child to lean in his direction. When he did so, he gently took the child and rested him on his hip before pressing a kiss to his forehead. “Papa loves you, TJ. It’s gonna be ok now.”
It took a long while, but eventually, the child nodded and rested his head on his Papa’s shoulder. Letting out a sigh of relief, Tony headed off to an empty room where he could settle in alone with his son.
Much later that evening, he found himself settled on Rossi’s back porch watching a storm with his little boy on his lap looking out the sunroom windows eagerly. Surprisingly the child was more fascinated and less scared by the spectacle outside than he’d expected.
Nearby, the newly named Nonno Rossi sat enjoying a scotch and watching his boys. Both Tony and Dave knew that things wouldn’t be easy and that the little one who had come into their lives would need a lot of care. Eventually, Emmett Honeycutt would enter their lives like a living splash of color to help them and the child who had been terribly mistreated.
There would be things to work out with Amber, but that would all be settled in its own time. Like the storm outside, it would all eventually pass. TJ would heal. Amber would go away, and Tony would settle into a new job that fits both his need to help people and his newly found fatherhood.
For now, though, they all sat in silence and watched as the spring storm raged around them cleansing away the bad to make way for the good to come their way.