See the Master Post for Story Information including warnings.
Chapter Three: An Unexpected Rescue
It had been roughly three weeks since Tony arrived in London, and he had to admit that he was finally feeling much more like himself. He missed Gibbs and the advice he got from the older man who often served as somewhat of a compass between the person that Tony was pretending to be, and the person the former SFA had hidden from most of the prying eyes. However, after a few days of reflection and quiet conversation between himself and Alec when little ears were sleeping or otherwise occupied, it was becoming clear that even that connection had become somewhat poisonous.
The first three days after the visit from Ashcroft and Edward had been spent touring the historical city often with one or both of his cousins accompanying them. Tony had made the hard decision to hold off on meeting any more of his Paddington relatives until after he and James had been able to reconnect. It felt like something close to betrayal if James returned to London and found his brother playing happy family with the people possibly involved in separating them. So, Tony had sent word via Edward that he wasn’t ready for the rest of the Paddington’s yet, and had received assurances back from Uncle George that they quite understood.
The fourth morning after meeting his cousins started off filled with angst and sadness when TJ came out from his bedroom after waking up for the day clutching his hippo. “Papà, we is never gonna see my Aunties and Unkols and Nonno Unkol Gibbs again, is we? I haven’t talked to them in a very long time. Do they not loves me anymore?”
After letting out a heavy sigh, Tony opened his arms, and let his son scramble up into his lap just before the dam burst and the tears came. The father let his son cry out his unhappiness and then for the second time tried to explain in a way that a small child could understand that his Auntie Abby and Ziva had done some things that upset Papà. Because of that, he felt it was safer to come here and stay with Uncle Alec. He should have known better than to try and have the first conversation when TJ was mostly asleep. “We talked about this the other night. Do you remember? You have an Uncle James who lives here. He’s Papà’s brother, and I would very much like us to meet him.”
“A real Unkol?” TJ parroted as he leaned back so he could look in his father’s eyes. “Not a sorta Unkol that loves me very much but who doesn’t share the same pants as my Papà?”
Alec let out a startled gasp of laughter and Tony just smirked at him over his shoulder before turning his attention back to his son. The last time Tony tried to explain the difference between friends and family to his son, the former NCIS agent had made the mistake of mentioning genes and genetics. TJ, of course, knew what jeans were, and Tony hadn’t been able to get his almost 3-yr old to understand that genes and jeans weren’t the same things. So, genes were now pants. Sometimes, Tony thought that the years he spent trying to explain American idioms to Ziva was a lesson from the Fates to prepare him for the curiosity of a child. TJ was very definitely curious and inquisitive. It was a trait of his own that Tony could see in his son and be proud to have passed along.
“Yes, figlio,” Tony confirmed with a smile and a kiss to his son’s forehead. “A real uncle who I am sure will love you very much.”
“Course him will,” TJ said assuredly, “I is cute. What about Nonno Unkol Gibbs and Nonno Doktor Ducky and Unkol Goo and Unkol Gremlin? I miss them deadfully, Papà!”
“Dreadfully,” Tony corrected automatically with a smile. “And I’m working a way for you to talk to them again, remember? I know it feels like it’s been forever, but it’s only been a few days. Papà just doesn’t feel like it’s safe right now. I promise that I will find a way for you to talk to Nonno Uncle Gibbs as soon as possible, In the meantime, you have your new Cousins you can talk to. Ashcroft said that you could text him or call him whenever you wanted.”
“Yes, Papà, but he is a very busy man,” TJ insisted seriously, and Tony just nodded as he hugged his son. “Yes, he is. It’s why he said that he might not always be able to answer. In the meantime, Alec and Uncle George have someone that they think would be a very nice new friend for you. Her name is Isla Collins, and her family works with Uncle George’s family.”
“Uncle George, that I has not met yet?” TJ asked and after getting a nod from his father continued with his questioning. “I remembers now. That Man and The Mad Lady have something to do with us not being abol to talk to my Auntie and Unkols and NonnoUnkol Gibbs, right? I do not like them very much, Papà, and I would not be sad if they were gone foreber.”
“I know you don’t, baby,” Tony assured giving his son another peck on the forehead. “And yes, you remembered right. More That Man than The Mad Lady, but yes both of them have something to do with why we can’t talk to the others. Papà and Alec are going to do our best to find a way to fix it so you can talk to the ones you want again, ok?”
TJ nodded and squeezed his hippo tight before looking up at his daddy. “Is you sure I don’ has to give up Misser Potamus? I loves him very much, Papà, and I don’t want to lose him, toos. He is my bestest friend! But if Auntie Abby upset you, I don’t want to make you more sadder because I knows that she gived him to mes when I first came out of Mommy and you bringed me home.”
“No, baby, I’m fine with you keeping him” Tony denied as he gave his son a tight hug. Tony had never been allowed to have the connection to a stuffed bear or toy like TJ had to his hippo because Senior thought it was too low class for his son. Tony would never forget the small stuffed squirrel that he’d hidden for months as a child. When Senior found the toy, he’d drug his son to the study and forced him to throw it in the fire then beat the shit out of him for having it in the first place. It was the act of throwing his friend into the fireplace and having to watch him burn that left the deepest scars. The beating had been just one of many he’d received from the con-man. “Mister Potamus is your friend, and Papà would never take him away from you forever.”
“Jus when he needs a bath in the washing ‘chine?” TJ inquired to be sure and Tony nodded solemnly.
“Only then, baby.”
“Ok, Papà tank you,” TJ replied as he scrambled back. “I am going to go work on my piture gifts now.”
“Who are you working on today, Poppet?” Alec asked with a smile. Tony could hear the relief in his voice and guessed that it was happiness that the child was happy again. It was apparent that his love had quickly become attached to the little boy, and Tony was hugely grateful for it. Alec had even taken the time to tell TJ about all his new Paddington relatives, and made a list of all their names and things they liked. TJ was using it to color or draw pictures for all of them as gifts when he met them.
The afternoon of that same day had involved a trip to the Paddington family’s law firms’ office to meet with Charles Sheffield. After signing all the documents for the trust funds, the new family left with Tony in possession of a letter from his Uncle Clive that was currently safely ensconced in Alec’s safe until Tony was ready to deal with whatever the older man had written. The thickness of the envelope alone was daunting and suggested that Tony’s now-deceased uncle hadn’t just offered a quick hello and sorry I was an arsehole.
Fortunately, the next day Isla Collins had come into their lives, and it didn’t take even a week for Tony to wonder how they had managed without her. TJ adored the woman who was his new nanny, and Tony felt more comfortable knowing that he had someone who was not only a former member of the British Army but had been extensively trained in various protection techniques by MI5 and MI6. Then, before she’d been officially signed to the family’s newest charge, Isla had gotten some tutelage from Georgie himself, which only left
Tony choked up and awed that his Paddington relative cared so much about TJ’s safety.
After Tony had spent too many days cooped up in the apartment going out of his mind with boredom having nothing more to occupy his mind than for it to worry over a lot of things, Alec dragged him to MI6 to begin his testing. Oddly enough, it was that testing that had helped Tony the most. While some things were new to him either because of differing British laws from what he was used to in America or just because SIS, the agency that held both MI5 and MI6, wasn’t quite NCIS, a lot of it was similar enough to the things he’d gone through at NCIS that Tony felt right at home. He hadn’t even complained about the psychological testing whether it be the obvious testing or the ones disguised as something else. Supposedly, the testing was completed, and they were just waiting on the results.
For his part, Tony was a little skeptical but was going along with it as he got his tour of the MI6 headquarters. One of the questions that he’d been asked was if he had a preference to one side or the other, Tony confessed that he would prefer MI6, not only for Alec, but also because Ashcroft, or Q as he was to be called when in the building, and Edward was there. While he was better than he had been, Tony still felt enough off balance that he thought having people familiar to him nearby would be better than being a man on an island at MI5.
This led to his current location inside Ashcroft, Q Tony silently corrected himself, Q’s domain. They hadn’t been inside the doors of Q Branch long before his cousin had been called to help with something urgent leaving Tony to wander around checking things out with Edward acting as a shadow.
Tony had been studying a table of what appeared to be gadgets in various stages of development when one side of a conversation nearby caught his attention. It wasn’t so much the words being said, but the tone of the voice as it wobbled with obvious fear and nerves. Trying his best for casual, Tony wandered over to stand behind the tech at a computer that seemed to be showing the inside of a building. Although, it looked more like something a contractor or architect would have on their plans. As his eyes roamed the monitors in front of him, Tony noticed the name of a museum that he hadn’t thought of since he was 9, just before his mother, Claire his mind corrected, died. From the sounds of the conversation, the five groups of three red dots closing in on the green dot were bad guys closing in on one if MI6’s agents.
While Tony obviously had never been on a mission of this nature, some things were the same no matter who you worked for. Because of this, he knew that if the green dot kept following the instructions of the obviously nervous and frightened tech person who was growing even more obviously frustrated the MI6 agent wasn’t going to make it out alive. Not able to stand it any longer, and unwilling to stand around and listen to incompetent instructions that would lead a most likely good man to his death, Tony stopped thinking so much and plucked the headset of the now startled tech’s head. One of Tony’s favorite frat brothers had been a fan of the saying “Go big or go home”, and Tony was pretty sure there was no moment that it fit better than this.
“Good afternoon, mysterious person on the other end of this conversation,” Tony began ensuring that there was nothing more than a smile and confidence in his voice. “I do apologize, but I am taking over this conversation from whomever you were talking to. I am sure he is very good at something, but having been in your shoes, I thought it best that someone takes over who is a little more familiar with the building you are in. I will be honest and say you’re in a heap of shit, but I am very confident that I can get you out of this unscathed if you just follow my instructions that while they may not make much sense at times will get you back to England alive. My name is Tony, and I will be your very special handler this afternoon.”
“That’s an accent that I haven’t heard in quite some time,” the man on the other end said smoothly, but Tony could pick out the aggravation in what he guessed was a Missouri drawl. “I doubt that you could do much worse. Can you tell me how many I am dealing with? The person I was just speaking with was unwilling to give me numbers. Feel free to call me 002.”
Tony gave a grunt of disgust before putting his hand over the mic as he looked around at the people staring at him. HE noticed briefly that Ashcroft was standing outside of an office door watching him but was unsure how to interpret the expression on his face and thus pushed it away for the time being. “I need someone over here that can work this computer for me please and thank you! 002 and I would be most grateful for the assistance.”
Quickly a young woman slipped into the seat after Edward took the former tech away. The woman who reminded him of Amara Karan grinned at him and asked what he needed first.
“Can I get a view on one of these screens that shows the actual inside of the museum? I am familiar enough with the building he’s in that I can navigate him to where he needs to be if I can actually see the room. And, also, is this over here on the left the outside of the building?”
Quickly, the woman who introduced herself as Jasmine brought up the requested view advising that it was from a cam that was connected to 002’s glasses and confirmed the image Tony was looking at was the outside of the building.
“Ok, 002, here’s where we’re at. You have five groups of three closing in on your location inside of the building. That is the bad news. The worse news is that the local Polizia have the building surrounded and I guarantee you that they will shoot first. They are most likely working with the men inside the building. The good news is that there is a way out of the building that most don’t know about. Before we can get you out though we need to grab something to use as a thank you gift. So, if you look to the tapestry there to your right, I believe that there is an employee entrance behind it. Jasmine, can you hack into that thing so he can get through without the card?”
Smiling, Jasmine nodded and quickly unlocked the door allowing 002 to slip through. Easily, Tony led the MI6 agent down to the records room where the museum displayed old books and other important papers. “OK, see that book there in the display case in the middle of the room? I need you to nab that. You’ll need something to carry it in so you might take the leather bag hanging with it to put it in. You aren’t going to get out of this town without a little help. Fortunately, my lovely assistant leading us both through the dark tells me that the bad dudes are from out of town or we’re be extra screwed. Say, are you the slick and suave type, the bashing in heads with your brawn type, or the bookish sort?”
“I am afraid I am the latter of the options,” 002 offered as Tony heard a gun go off and glass shatter.
“Most excellent!” Tony offered enthused as he watched the book be slipped into the bag and then the leather satchel put over the agent’s neck. Tony then guided him back into the employee halls and navigated him down to what would have once been the old building’s dungeon. “Ok, so this town was built on a series of tunnels from the old castle you are escaping from now. Some of the older residents in town have entrances from the tunnels. Most of them were former servant or knights’ quarters. The original Lord who owned the castle wanted a way for his people to get their families safely into the castle in case of siege without being seen. Now, they’ll probably have someone at the exits that do not go into private residents, but that’s ok. We don’t need one of those.”
“It sounds like you have done this before,” 002 offered and Tony forced himself not to shift uncomfortably.
“Something like that,” Tony finally admitted in between directions to get the agent to the correct area in the dungeon. “Now I am going to assume that they’re gonna know you’re opening this exit somehow. They might or might not, but I am going to assume the worst. So, once you are in the tunnels, I need you to haul ass, but keep in mind it has been a very long time since I was there, and I have never had to give directions. So, I apologize now for any backtracking needed or sudden stops requested.”
“My life is yours, Tony,” The agent said solemnly as they both studied a stone wall in front of the MI6 agent. “I have no doubt at all that I have a much better shot of surviving this than I did previously, of which I am entirely grateful. I trust you.”
“Thanks, man,” Tony said almost absentmindedly as he looked at the wall frowning as he didn’t see what he was looking for. “We’ll have to go for a beer after this is all said and done. Hey, can you look down? I was like 9ish when I did this last and I was pretty damned short for my age, so I think what I am looking for is much closer to the floor. Oh, go back! Yeah, see that stone that is rounded on the edges and has the picture of a lily and a rose twined together? Push that in and then turn it and a door will slide open. Once you’re on the other side there should be a lever that you can use to close the door if I remember correctly.”
After 002 opened the door, slipped through, and the closed it again, Tony gave directions through the labyrinth of tunnels trying to keep an eye on the doors as the agent ran past them. “Oh! Stop! There it is! Go back to the red door with the shield on it with the same lily and rose design between a stag and a wolf. Now, there are some very serious rules here, and while I understand you’re a pro at this I wanna make sure things don’t go to shit at the last second. You are not going to see or hear or remember anything in this residence. You use no proper names and don’t ask for any proper names. You don’t ask questions and don’t even know how to ask a question. You don’t speak Italian and the only accent they better hear is that lovely Missouri twang of yours. You are not sleek and suave or professional anything. You are a helpless bumbling moron who stumbled upon the tunnels and got lost.
“When the door is answered you are going to ask for The Nonna, and yes that is a capital T capitol N you hear. That is as close to a name as you’re gonna get. Do not burn this or I am gonna be pissed. I like breathing. Now, knock on the door like a good little agent and ask to speak with The Nonna. Tell whomever answers, and I am guessing it will be a man, that you got lost in the tunnels and the liar’s son suggested that she would be able to give you safe passage. If things go as planned, you’ll be out of there within an hour tops. I don’t know where you will be sent, but I am sure my lovely assistant can help you get home from there once she gets you out of Italy. My first guess is that you will end up in a coastal town either in Spain or Greece, but that’s a guess on my part based on really outdated information. When The Nonna comes, give her the satchel and advise her it’s a gift of thanks for her present and past assistance. Say, just out of curiosity, did you get or do whatever you were sent there to get or do?”
“I did,” 002 offered smoothly. “You can advise Q that I have the package.”
“Good man!” Tony praised and then stopped talking at that point because the door was opened in an answer of 002’s knock. It was a pretty tense roughly 45 minutes as they waited to see if the agent would get out of the house, but when she offered 002 a nod and an almost smile, Tony gave a sigh of relief. Once the MI6 agent was on the boat headed out of Italy, Tony turned the headset over to Jasmine to give the agent his exit plans from Spain as it appeared that was where he was going to end up.
Once things were over, he let out a sigh of relief before the reality of what he’d done hit him. Turning, his eyes located Q, who was still standing outside of his office watching. When their eyes locked, Tony’s young cousin arched an eyebrow at him. “If you could join me in my office, I would appreciate it,” Q called out and Tony winced knowing it was never a good thing getting called to the principal’s office. “008 if you would accompany him, I would appreciate it.
Everyone else, I do believe I have tasks assigned you tasks that you should be working on. Now gentlemen.”
Feeling the weight of a hand on his shoulder, Tony turned his head to look to his older cousin, and it was only the wink the other man offered that let him relax.
Tony strenuously hoped that it meant he was not being led to his execution. TJ was way too young to be an orphan.
Tony followed Edward up into Q’s office and took a seat in front of his cousin’s desk wondering who the man was standing in the corner behind the desk that he didn’t know. “Do I want to know who just assisted us?” Q asked and Tony winced slightly knowing the facts probably wouldn’t go over well.
“Probably not,” he admitted honestly with a soft sigh before Tony straightened in the chair and turned his brain to debrief mode to treat it like any other case. “At the time though, I didn’t see any other options. I’m familiar enough with the area to know that your agent didn’t have much time left, and I felt like I had to react.”
“Let’s get into that, shall we?” The unknown man asked, and Tony tilted his head to one side slightly as he studied him. His eyes then traveled to Edward first and then to Q in silent question. While the American knew that he’d have to answer questions about what he did and why he wasn’t doing it without knowing who was asking the questions.
“Anthony, meet Richard Grimm,” Q introduced, “he is the assistant to Bill Tanner our chief of staff and helps to oversee the agents.” When Tony glared at him for the slip, Q held up a hand in apology. “My apologies, Tony. I am trying to remember your distaste for your given name. Please, tell us why you took over the situation with 002.”
“Because no agent in the field should who has found himself or herself in a life-threatening situation should have to hear their only connection to survival ready to piss himself from fear because he obviously has no idea what the fuck to do. Whoever decided that kid was ready to handle missions needs fired. I’ve been in that situation, and I was certainly not going to stand by and listen to someone die due to incompetence.”
“Clarence has proven himself ready to handle the stressors of handling one of our 00 missions. His scores on the simulations were exemplary.” Richard argued stiffly from his spot behind Q. “Not that it is any of your business as you do not yet work here, and after today I would have to question your suitability for this organization. They obviously have much less regard for policy and standards in America.”
“And they obviously have much less regard for common sense and the mental health and welfare of their agents at MI6,” Tony snapped back angrily. “If you are an example of the kind of bullshit disregard this organization has for its agents then I can honestly say I would rather take a spot with Mossad than work for this place. Since there’s a good chance that Eli David is my actual arch nemesis, that should give you some indication of how I feel about your thoughts my suitability to do anything. Especially considering it’s blatantly obvious that you’ve never done anything riskier than choosing the medium spicy curry instead of the mild.”
“How dare you,” Richard started as Edward coughed suspiciously in the seat beside Tony that he’d moved to at some point during Tony’s rant.
“Richard,” Q interrupted sharply shooting a glare over his shoulder, “please do shut up, and kindly remember that you are here to observe only. I would hate to file another complaint with William about you.”
When Q turned his attention back to Tony, the former NCIS agent didn’t bother to try and hide his contempt for the situation. He was done working for assholes who had no care for his safety and well-being or that of the agents around him. He certainly was not going to jump from the kettle into the fire. If this situation was the standard for MI6 and not an anomaly then there was zero chance that he would accept a job there, family connection or no.
“Let me guess, Clarence is either related to Richard or a friend of his?” Tony guessed directing his question to Q and ignoring the sputtering man in the corner.
“Clarence is Richard’s nephew,” Edward practically purred from his seat, “and I believe that the last mission he was on the agent almost died because he panicked and couldn’t remember the backup exit plan. Richard covered for him and marked it down as an agent error saying that the agent shouldn’t have needed Clarence to remind him of what to do next.”
“That agent,” Richard started hotly only to be interrupted by Q once more as the door opened. Turning his head, Tony saw a man walk in with a phone to his ear.
“That’s quite enough out of you, Richard,” the newcomer said calmly appearing to end the call and put the device in his pocket. Tony looked back to the desk just in time to see Q’s phone flash that a call had ended as his cousin smirked almost gleefully. “Apparently our previous discussion on you staying out of situations that do not involve you didn’t take. I suggest you head to Marianne in HR. She has some paperwork to go over with you.”
“What paperwork?” Richard demanded, crossing his arms over his chest angrily. “My father…”
“Is very much aware of the current situation and is quite eager to have a discussion with you himself,” the unknown man inserted as his voice took on a sharp edge. “He was quite upset to hear that my version of recent events did not fit those that he had been given previously. He was certainly dismayed to hear that Clarence had been forced into the position that he is currently in.
“According to your father the boy doesn’t have the disposition for such a position, and he was puzzled as to why he would voluntarily try for something as stressful as a handler position when the boy knows he isn’t suited for it. His impression was that Clarence would be getting a data gathering position of some sorts, which he would be much better suited for and your father felt he would excel at. It’s my hope that Q can salvage the situation, or I should say both situations. I am afraid that your aspirations will not be met with this agency. Please do head up to Marianne at this time, Richard. I would hate to have to have Edward escort you. Being Mr. Bond’s cousin, I am sure he would be quite pleased to find himself alone with you for a few moments in an elevator that has no recording equipment.”
“Yes, quite,” Edward purred darkly again, and Tony didn’t even try and hide his snort of amusement as Richard hightailed it out of the office, nearly knocking down the new guy in his effort to get away from Edward.
Once the door was shut, Tony turned his attention to the newcomer who perched himself on the corner of Q’s desk and held out a hand. “Bill Tanner. It is nice to meet you, Mr. Bond. I do apologize for that, and I thank you for handling the situation with Thomas and getting him out alive. He’s one of our most valuable assets and handles certain types of cases that we don’t have anyone else to fill at the moment.”
“Thomas is 002?” Tony clarified as he held out his hand to shake Bill’s, “and please call me Tony. I’m not really used to thinking of myself as Mr. Bond, yet. I’m glad I was nearby to help out. Does this mean that uhh Clarence shouldn’t have been handling the mission? Cause I have to say that it didn’t seem like he had any business doing so. I can’t see that kid having the amount or type of field experience I would think would be needed for that kind of position.”
“Well, no, Clarence should never have been assigned to be a mission handler,” Bill confirmed with a sigh, “but Richard kept forcing Q’s hand. Q had intended to monitor 002’s mission today so that he could step in, but unfortunately, another more pressing situation came up and he had to help another of our in-field agents. Most of our handlers at this time are various Q branch techs that have shown themselves capable of handling those situations. From the sounds of it though it seems you don’t agree that should be taking place?”
“Handling actual go time mission situations, no,” Tony said frankly and gratefully accepted the bottle of water that Q passed to him from across the desk. “Handling the in-between time moments that every mission has where there needs to be someone listening or ready to listen should something come up? Sure. Having been on the other side of that fiasco today, I can tell you that there’s a huge difference between dealing with a handler who has been in your shoes and one who’s never seen anything more life-threatening than their Call of Duty gaming time.
“Simulations aren’t real life, and when the people dying are real living, breathing humans it makes a difference. Every agency has field operatives that aren’t qualified for field experience any longer but aren’t ready to retire. Those agents are the perfect people to handle actual go time mission scenarios. In my opinion, it’s a lot less life-threatening to train a field operative how to handle new software than it is to put someone’s life in the hands of a person who has no experience in actual life and death situations. I proposed a similar change at NCIS, and Director Vance had just announced the change and the new training slots before I left.”
“And this Nonna person?” Bill prompted, shifting the conversation. “How worried should we be about Thomas having to overlook illegal activity that he was witness to or overheard.”
“Slim to none,” Tony assured with a smile. “Nonna DeFalco didn’t make it this far by letting the wrong people see or overhear things they shouldn’t.”
“The Nonna,” Bill started but stopped dumbfounded as Q leaned forward.
“Thomas was in Nonna DeFalco’s home?” Q inquired incredulously, “you have a connection to Nonna DeFalco?”
“I think a connection is overstating things,” Tony protested with a smile and a shrug, “but yes, that was the Nonna DeFalco.”
“Surely you knew that you were in her territory. Hell, the museum is practically part of her home base.”
“I need you to explain more thoroughly,” Q insisted as Tanner watched quietly, “and quickly, as to how you have an association with a woman every major intelligence agency has tried to bring down for decades.”
“She saved me,” Tony offered quietly with a sigh and wished that Alec was there. “The summer before my mother, before Claire died, Senior got this job authenticating some new pieces of artwork at the museum there. The DeFalco’s and the DiNozzo’s had a long history of working closely together, and at the time Senior still had enough reputable reputation left that he was considered a decent selection for the job. The museum has always been run by a member of the DeFalco family, and they preferred someone that they trusted and probably could manipulate to say what they wanted to handle the authentication. Senior has never let something as minor as the truth gets in the way of making a buck, so it was a win-win situation. So, Claire and I spent weeks exploring the town and wandering through the museum. Some days she didn’t feel like going or didn’t want to deal with me, and Senior would take me with him and leave me to wander through the museum on my own. That’s how I initially met her.
“The book that 002 took as payment belongs to her family, and she would come and stare at it through the display case several times a week. I don’t really know why the museum had it and why she couldn’t get it back, but she didn’t like that they had it but for some reason couldn’t get it herself. One day I got bored looking through the exhibits and was wandering through the employee-only area in the dungeons where Senior was working and found the secret exit that I had 002 use. I’ve always been curious and didn’t think it anything more than an opportunity for adventure when the door opened. So, I went through and started exploring the tunnels, but eventually, I got thirsty and needed to pee. It was at that point that I realized that I didn’t know where I was. I remember crying and being frightened and knew that Senior was gonna beat the shit out of me because I’d gotten myself into trouble when all of a sudden Nonna appeared. Since I’d seen her so much at the museum she didn’t seem like a stranger, so when she held out her hand, I just went with her.”
Tony paused and took a long drink from the water bottle remembering how frantic Claire was when she came through the door of the kitchen that he’d been sitting in helping cut up vegetables for the salad they were going to have at lunch. As hurt and as confused as he was about the whole situation with her adopting him and them leaving James behind, it was hard to get past the fact that Claire at least had genuinely loved him, even if she had sometimes been crappy at showing it or remembering it. Or, maybe it was just that the reality of Senior wore her down enough that some days she just didn’t have the strength to be strong anymore. Tony certainly knew how the man he’d previously thought was his father could tear down and wear down someone.
“It was several days, maybe even as much as a week before Claire came and got me. Nonna was never anything but nice to me and treated me as if I was one of her own grandchildren. I kept waiting for Senior to appear and punish me, but I didn’t see him again until a few months later. Before she died, mom told me that Nonna threatened to come after him if he hurt me for what she called his lack of parenting. Something happened beyond me getting lost, and because of it, she wasn’t his favorite person anyway.
“Before I left her house though, Nonna told me that if I should ever need anything again to just make sure she knew I was the liar’s son and she’d be happy to do what she could. I know that she’s wanted all around the world. If you wait though until she dies, you’ll be able to bring down her whole organization easily. Unless things have changed and someone new has come in, none of her sons have the head to take over something like that. They’ll be easy pickings.”
“Do you have connections to any other major crime family?” Tanner asked dryly, and Tony huffed at his cousins’ obvious amusement.
“Well, there is the Malcuso crime family in Philadelphia,” Tony offered with a grin and a shrug. “The old man’s still alive last I heard, but as long as I don’t go there, I’m good. That one was an undercover gig, and I am quite happy to never see the city of Philadelphia, again.”
Tanner let loose a sigh as Q didn’t quite fully hide his snicker in his mug of tea. “You’re going to be as big of a pain in my arse as your brother, aren’t you?”
“I mean, I would like to protest,” Tony started slouching down in his chair slightly to get more comfortable, “but if the future is anything like the past, probably so.”
“Trouble seems to find me no matter how hard I try. Does this mean I have a job?”
“If you will have us,” Bill allowed offering something close to a smile of his own. “I believe Q has a position that you would be perfect for. I know that M is quite anxious to get you on board before MI5 gets their claws and steals you from him. Welcome to MI6, Mr. Bond. All I ask is that you are less of a pain in my arsehole than your older brother is and don’t interrupt my sleep and will get along just fine.”
“I’ll do my best, sir,” Tony laughed as he shook Tanner’s hand once more, “I make no promises though.”
“Some things are just what they are.”
“God help us all,” Tanner swore as he stood and left. Tony presumed to tell this M person about his hire. The rest of the day was spent going over how things currently worked in Q-Branch, what his duties would be, and brainstorming with Edward and Alec on the new handler requirements.
When Q offered to babysit his young cousin that evening so that Tony and Alec could go out and celebrate, the father accepted happily. Life in London was only getting better and better in Tony’s mind. Now all he needed was for James to come home so that Tony could finally meet his brother and things would be perfect.
End Note: I write fanfiction for fun. It’s a hobby and a stress relief. I refuse to stress over my writing. What you see is what you get. Errors, plot holes, and all. Thank you for reading my story!
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