LiL – Chapter Two: Quartermaster, Double Oh, and Family

LandingBannerbyBecca

Banner by DarkJediQueen

 

See Master Post for Summary and Story Information including warnings.

 

Chapter Two: Quartermaster, Double Oh, and Family

 

 

Edward Paddington was standing behind his cousin Ashcroft waiting for Alec to come to the door. The elder of the Paddingtons was still trying to figure out what was going on. His father had been fairly mum about the conversation despite the oddity of advising Ash that there would be some work required of the Quartermaster as well as personal stuff for Ashcroft. So, it would be a dual need trip and for some reason, Edward’s father had seemed worried about that. The reminder that Edward had just recently gone through a security threat assessment that included all living members of the Paddington’s living family had been even odder.

As Edward was pondering the possibilities when Alec opened the door to let them in. The sight that greeted them almost convinced Edward that he was still dreaming.

“’Lo Mates,” Alec greeted with a grin. “The poppet is TJ. Say hullo, poppet.”

“Lo, poppet,” TJ repeated with a giggle as he waved. “I is TJ. It very nice to meet yous, mates.”

Alec chuckled and stepped back to allow his visitors inside. “Come in. Come in. I just have to set the little one up with some fruit to snack on until we can cook breakfast. I hope that you have not eaten yet. Tony is making us waffles this morning. TJ says this is a good thing.”

“Papà is very good cook,” TJ said solemnly as he was carried back to the kitchen table with Edward and Ashcroft trailing behind him. “Tank you for the ride, Unkol Alec. I will do my colors while you big pepols talk shop. No forget me grapes please.”

Alec smiled and pressed a kiss to the top of the child’s blonde head before heading to the kitchen with Edward trailing behind. Ashcroft was standing near the table studying the child as if he were one of his experiments.

“Someone drop a kid on your doorstep, Alec? How did they find you? At least you are doing a DNA test to ensure that he is yours.” Edward offered quietly as he watched his longtime friend wash grapes and put them in a bowl without taking them off the stem.

“The DNA test is not for the poppet you lug,” Alec said exacerbated throwing a glare Edward’s way. The two of them turned their attention to the table to ensure the child hadn’t overheard and Edward at least was relieved to see Ash had taken a seat and was talking to the child. “I very much know who his father is, and it is not me. The DNA test is for the same person that required you to bring the NDA. I cannot go into that right now, however, because there are a couple things that I need you and Ash to read first before we discuss… things. Plus, I have to wait for Tony to come out. He’s having a case of the nerves this morning. Do try and be more your mother’s son than James’ best mate, huh?”

“Whatever does that mean?” Edward asked scowling as Alec just studied him. His oldest friend was certainly being odd this morning, the child notwithstanding.

“It means that I need you to hold your temper and not take things out on Tony,” Alec whispered as he picked up the bowl. “I also need you to keep your cousin from acting rashly. If I could keep from saying something stupid, then you both should be able to as well. This might be somewhat emotional for Ash and in this instance, I am not sure I am the one to comfort him, all things considered.”

Edward opened his mouth to ask more questions but could only offer a growl as Alec headed out carrying the child’s grapes. The Paddington heir was forced to follow him first to the kitchen table where they gathered Ashcroft, and then to the living room area where the two cousins each took a seat with Ashcroft on the sofa and Edward choosing a chair with his back to the windows. Alec handed him two envelopes, the top one coming from the family’s legal firm, which confused Edward even further.

“Read the legal one first, please,” Alec ordered firmly, “and I would suggest you read them both before giving them to Ashcroft. Ash…” Alec trailed off as he seemed to study MI6’s young quartermaster.

“I recognize that this will not be easy for you to read. All I ask is that you remember that none of this is Tony’s fault. The missteps were taken by those that can no longer answer for their wrongdoings. If all else fails, the child is close, and Tony tries to limit the amount of anger and shouting that he is exposed to. I am sure if you think back to what you know of Tony’s father then you will understand.”

“However, would I know this Tony’s father?” Ashcroft asked seemingly as confused as Edward was.

Alec didn’t respond right away, and Edward found it interesting that his friend looked to the child and then back in the direction of the bedrooms before responding. “Why, because he is your cousin, Q.  Tony is your deceased aunt’s son Anthony. Just… please remember he is a victim in all this as well. If for no other reason than because I love him with all that I had forgotten I was capable of.”

Then, after Alec offered a nod in his direction, Edward watched the man head back to the bedrooms after stopping to give the child’s hair an affectionate ruffle. Knowing that now the only answers he would get were inside the envelopes in his hand, Edward opened the first one and began to read.

By the time he was done reading his long dead Aunt’s words to the son she apparently had not given birth to, Edward was fighting to keep the emotion from his face. While it was true that as a Double 0, he was used to hiding how he really felt about people and situations, this wasn’t work.  Edward Paddington wasn’t an open book, but he was much more emotionally transparent than 008, his alter identity was.

“Edward?” Ashcroft queried, and carefully, Edward folded the second letter back up putting it inside its envelope once more. Then, he moved to the sofa so that he might sit next to his youngest cousin. Although as the child caught his attention, he remembered that Ash was not the youngest any longer.

“Just read, Ash,” Edward advised as he handed over the envelopes. The letter from Clive’s attorney once more on top. “Try and remember what Alec asked of us. I know it will be hard but do think of the child. Then Edward handed over the envelopes and held his breath. It didn’t take long for his cousin to make his first observation.

“This is from the family’s law firm,” Ash noted, and Edward just nodded. After taking a deep breath, he leaned back against the sofa looking up at the ceiling.

He couldn’t help but wonder what chaos was about to decent down upon the family.

 

~*~~*~ ~*~~*~ ~*~~*~

 

When he got done with the first letter, he turned to Edward with questions swirling around in his brain, only to find his cousin staring at the ceiling. “Read the second letter, Ash. Try and remember this is not either Anthony or James’ fault.”

“James?” Ashcroft repeated and watched Edward close his eyes with a sigh.

“Just read, Ash,” Edward advised as he handed over the envelopes. The letter from Clive’s attorney once more on top. “Try and remember what Alec asked of us. I know it will be hard but do think of the child.” Then Edward handed over the envelopes and held his breath. It didn’t take long for his cousin to make his first observation.

“This is from the family’s law firm,” Ash noted, and Edward just nodded. After taking a deep breath, he leaned back against the sofa looking up at the ceiling.

He couldn’t help but wonder what chaos was about to decent down upon the family.

When Ashcroft got done with the first letter, he turned to Edward with questions swirling around in his brain, only to find his cousin staring at the ceiling. “Read the second letter, Ash. Try and remember this is not either Anthony or James’ fault.”

“James?” Ashcroft repeated and watched Edward close his eyes with a sigh.

“Just read, Ash, please,” Edward pled sounding tired. “I will be here when you get done.”

When he completed the second letter, Ashcroft Roosevelt Paddington found himself nearly speechless with confusion. A state that his life partner James Bond would find amusing if he were witness to it.

James.

Ashcroft stood and would have moved away from the seating area and begin to pace but found himself yanked back down to sit on the sofa. “What are you doing, Edward?” Ashcroft snapped but quickly leaned back when he found his cousin almost immediately within his space.

“Remember where you are, cousin,” Edward warned quietly, and Ashcroft could see he was holding in his ire, “and remember the little ears nearby for God’s sake.”

“Oh,” Ash murmured as he turned to look toward the table to see the child watching them appearing nervous. “It is alright, Tristian.”

“Your Uncle Ashcroft just lost his balance,” Edward assured calmly giving the child a smile. “We didn’t mean to disturb you. Have you finished your picture?” The boy seemed to be unsure of their honesty but slowly shook his head no. Then, after another pause, went back to his coloring.

“He kept this a secret,” Ashcroft snapped quietly drawing Edward’s attention from the boy, “and however do we even know all of this is even the truth?”

“We all know that Anthony’s father is a scoundrel and little more than a criminal. For all, we know this is some kind of plot.”

“A plot that can be very easily verified by a simple call to the family solicitor?” Edward asked drolly. “Here I thought it was James and Alec who was prone to rash actions and snap judgments. I thought better of you Quartermaster.”

“What are you babbling about?” Ashcroft snapped again obviously frustrated, and this time, Edward just leaned back against the couch and watched his young cousin until the other man took a deep breath and offered a nod. Once his cousin and Quartermaster appeared to be calm again, Edward began to explain.

“Stop trying to fabricate reasons why this cannot be true. There’s no logic in it. No matter what you or the family, in general, think of Anthony’s father, that con man has nothing to do with what kind of man his son is. Do try and remember that my father sent us here, after getting a request from Alec. If you truly believe that my father does not at least know the basics of Anthony and if he’s trustworthy or not, then I think you have forgotten yourself. The validity of the letters is not in question here. It would be foolish to believe that something that can be so easily verified would be falsified. Not to mention the DNA test that Father ordered you to bring. Or have you forgotten that little item? I think you are focusing on all of the wrong things.”

“And whatever do you believe I should be focusing on then?” Ashcroft asked mulishly.

“Are you not the one who is forever complaining about the walls of James’ that you cannot get around?” Edward asked arching an eyebrow.

“What of them?” Ashcroft asked confused at the direction the conversation was taking.

Edward reached to the table and picked up Claire’s letter searching for the appropriate section he needed. “When your parents died, James clung to you endlessly for days. When he found out that Anthony and I were going to America, he lifted his little chin and said that things would work out. When he found out that he wasn’t coming, he cried and begged and pleaded. The sound of his cries haunts my dreams.” Lowering the letter, the elder cousin looked to his Uncle’s youngest son.

“Why ever do you think that James keeps everything so close to the vest? We certainly will do the testing to verify that which we believe true, but in my opinion, that is the best explanation for why James is the way he is that I have ever heard. I cannot even fathom having both of your parents torn away from you at once. Then the only person you have left is callously ripped from your arms and wiped away from your life as if he never existed. Then can you imagine being Anthony?

Raised by a man like his father, and we know what both our parents think of the man. Mother dies when he’s a child leaving him with no one but that vile man to care for him. I can only imagine what it must have been like after Auntie died. Now, at forty years of age, he’s found out that neither Anthony Senior or Claire were his parents. His real parents are dead. His only living family isn’t even his family, and all he has in the world that shares his blood are his child and a man he doesn’t know how to find.

Frankly, the fact that he knows Alec and we all know James so that the brothers can be somewhat easily reunited is nothing short of a miracle in my mind. But my god the pain and uncertainty they are going to go through before this all gets settled. So, I ask, are you still so worked up about whether or not those letters are genuine? Or perhaps are you more concerned with how James will take this? And of course, there’s the question as to why on earth your father at best and the elder family members at worst would keep all of this a secret all these years?”

“Oh, bloody hell,” Ashcroft swore softly as his eyes traveled back to the child at the table.

“Oh, James.”

“Oh, James, indeed,” Edward repeated as he headed to the kitchen to make some tea. He had a feeling they were all going to need it.

 

~*~~*~ ~*~*~ ~*~~*~

 

Alec walked into the bedroom to see Tony sitting on the bed with a towel around his waist and smirked at the sight. “You know, if we had fewer people in the flat luv I would be doing dirty things to you right now. As it is, we don’t really have time for that. It’s a shame.” When Tony didn’t respond or even move, Alec pushed away from where he was leaning in the doorway and moved around the side of the bed to where his love was staring at the floor.”

“What is wrong, zaichonok,” Alec asked softly as he sat down next to his partner and put a hand just above the bare skin not being covered by the towel.

“I don’t know how I am supposed to feel right now,” Tony admitted quietly, and Alec could hear the stress and uneasiness in his voice. “I don’t know how I am supposed to react to those people out there. At least one person in that family knew that Senior wasn’t my real father and wasn’t the person that my blood parents entrusted to raise me and left me with that asshole anyway. For all I know, they all were aware. Then there’s the part where even I know they did not like Senior, and I am very aware of the assumptions people who know my father make of the person I must be as a result. I don’t… I can’t help but forget these people know James already. What if they hate me? What if they make James hate me before I even have a chance? What do I do then? How do I convince them that I’m enough? That I’m not my father’s son. How do I make them believe all that I went through to become my own man and not the person he wished me to be? And, I can’t…. I wish Uncle George had come.”

“Why George?” Alec asked quietly, ignoring the earlier concerns for the moment, not sure how to address them.

“My mother saw him as something of a savior. Like a knight in shining armor or something. She said Georgie can always solve everything.”

Alec smiled slightly at the reminder and found himself kissing the back of his lover’s hand before speaking. “I find that interesting considering I was of the impression that she and Clive were as thick as thieves.”

“Mother said that Clive was usually the one that encouraged the trouble she was in or was right there in trouble with her,” Tony replied softly as he leaned into his partner. “Clive was her partner in crime, but George was the safe haven.”

“And Stephen?” Alec asked with a smile, and Tony offered a snort of amusement before he replied.

“A pain in her arse,” Tony confided with a faint chuckle, “she said it was the way younger siblings were. I’ve never understood though because I’ve never had siblings of my own… Or not known I had them, I guess. Still, don’t have any younger ones, but…” Tony trailed off with a sigh, and Alec moved his arm to wrap it around the younger man’s shoulder.

“It will all work out, Tone,” Alec promised as he squeezed the other man’s shoulders in a one-armed hug. “You will see. Edward and Ashcroft are good people. They will be on your side of things, and younger cousins are almost the same as younger siblings in this family. I know you missed a great deal being across the pond, but you’ll learn that at the very least. Look at things this way. Senior is very unlikely to show up anytime soon.”

“Doesn’t need to,” Tony murmured as he rested his head briefly against Alec’s. “He has a new family to sponge off now, a whole new set of victims. I just want James. I don’t mean to be ungrateful. I just…”

“You’re scared,” Alec inserted when Tony trailed off. “You’re scared and uncertain and it’s all completely understandable. Your entire world has been turned on its head, and you have no idea of what you are supposed to be doing next. The fear and confusion are understandable. So, just trust me to lead you down the right path until you find your footing again. I won’t lead you or the poppet wrong. You have my word.”

Tony offered a single nod before pressing a kiss to Alec’s cheek. He then seemed to take a deep breath, before standing and moving to the closet to get dressed. Alec watched quietly and just hoped that his friends heeded his request. If anyone else brought more hurt to his Luv, Alec would be knocking heads together. Poppet or no.

 

~*~~*~ ~*~~*~ ~*~~*~

 

Tony let Alec lead him through the apartment by his hand. He smiled as his heart stopped at the kitchen table where Tony kissed the top of TJ’s hair, after oohing and aahing over the picture that he was coloring. Once his son was sufficiently satisfied that there would be waffle making soon, the father allowed himself to be led over to meet his cousins. He couldn’t help but notice how one of them looked like he walked off the pages of a GQ add, while the other looked like he belonged in a college library or in a science lab somewhere.

There were some similarities though. Enough that he could see them being related. For maybe the first time in his life, he could only imagine if he would look like his only living relative or would they look like complete strangers. He couldn’t help but find it ironic how often in his life people had told him how much he looked like Senior. A man that it seemed he wasn’t related to in any way. If Tony’s luck kept on its normal track, he and his actual blood relative would look like virtual strangers.

“Cousin Anthony!” Drew Tony out of his thoughts with a wince as he saw both men standing.

“Oh, please no,” Tony winced shaking his head, “never Anthony unless you’re a mostly harmless old man who likes talking to dead bodies and wearing bow ties. It’s Tony.”

“Tone meet your cousins Edward Henry Paddington future Marquess of Montagu and Ashcroft Roosevelt Paddington, who is your uncle Clive’s youngest son. Edward would be your eldest cousin and both work with me. Did we get the clearance to fill Tony in on everything? Or are we still doing the careful tap dance?”

“Oh, yes,” Ashcroft replied with a nod as he began to dig into a bag lying at his feet. While that was happening, Alec ushered Tony into the loveseat, and the former NCIS agent couldn’t help but notice that Edward seemed to move from where he’d been sitting on the couch to the armchair that faced them. Briefly, he wondered if that was a conscious thought or not. A voice in his head was saying Edward just wanted to be able to keep an eye on him, but Tony was self-aware enough to admit circumstances were making him slightly paranoid.

“Uncle George had the MI5 Quartermaster run your clearance. I was advised this morning that it was a relatively easy thing to accomplish with your dual British and American citizenship and you have such a high clearance already with the Americans.”

Tony couldn’t help but smile at the sound of the eldest of his mother’s siblings name being mentioned, and couldn’t stop himself from uttering, “Georgie.”

“What was that?” Edward inquired, and Tony shifted his gaze from where he’d been staring unseeing out the windows to the older man. It took him a second to understand what the older cousin was asking about as his mind had gotten caught up in memories of the woman that he’d called mother. Someday he’d have to decide what he thought of her now, but today wasn’t that day. So, he shoved that introspection into a box to be examined at a later date.

“Senior liked to keep Claire isolated,” Tony began speaking softly and letting his gaze drift back over to look out the windows behind Edward. “I don’t know the exact reason, but from having investigated more than one spousal abuse case in my career I would say it was deliberate. My guess is that he liked having my mother to himself for both her beauty and the money in her bank account. Something like a rare expensive treasure that you acquired illegally. I am fairly certain now that the only reason he agreed to the adoption was that there must have been an additional trust fund that came to her after having a child. He always insists that she was the love of his life, but I am not certain that the fucker knows what the word means. The frequent bruising on her arms from him yanking her about and the way she drank to escape the cruel words he was forever bellowing at her certainly say something different about the matter.

“So, until the day she died, I was the one that was with her more than any other individual. When she was deep into her mint juleps or glasses of wine, she’d talk about her brothers. Mother always said that Clive was her partner in crime. He was the one that dragged her along on his adventures and got her into scrapes. She talked of him quite fondly and made it clear that once upon a time they had been extremely close. Your father though, Edward, Uncle George, she always talked about somewhat reverently, and always without fail called him Georgie.”

Tony paused for a moment caught up once more in his head, and because of it didn’t notice that his voice had taken on a British lilt that he normally kept ruthlessly under wraps. “She’d say, Anthony, when I was a girl and in trouble, I always ran to Georgie. No matter how much of a mess I had gotten myself into, or how it could have been avoided had I only listened to him, he was always there for me. Never forget that Anthony. If you are ever in trouble, real trouble, the kind that you just don’t see a way out of, run to Georgie. He can always solve everything.”

“She called you Anthony?” Alec questioned softly sensing that his luv was in a different place mentally at the moment and didn’t want to cruelly yank him out of it.

“Always without fail she called me Anthony,” Tony confirmed quietly as his mind played images of the woman that he’d found so breathtakingly beautiful as a child and had loved so incredibly completely. “People always assume that I hate being called that name because that’s what Senior goes by, but that isn’t the truth. Senior isn’t even why she agreed to call me Anthony. She was fascinated by the love story of Antony and Cleopatra.

“She thought it was the most romantic tale ever. She was like that. Always looking for what love could be. Probably because her life was so horribly loveless outside of the bond she and I shared. So, when Senior insisted on naming me after him, she didn’t complain, because in her mind she was naming me after Mark Antony, not the man calling himself my father. It was, therefore, all rather romantic and wonderful.

“It was my intention to go to the lawyer’s office and beg them to contact Uncle George for me so that I could get help. I never imagined that Alec would already have all these connections himself. I can’t help but wonder if maybe it means the Fates have stopped beating me up, and possibly are willing to give me a break now. I can’t settle on what to think or feel about her now, but somehow it seemed right to go for help to the man that she always looked to fix her mistakes.”

“He would have done so without hesitation,” Edward asserted quietly himself. “My mother your Aunt Olivia, Tony, told me once that when Aunt Claire left for America it changed the whole family, but especially father and Uncle Clive. Then when she died it changed them again. I think they’d always hoped that someday she’d see the right of things and come home. When that possibility was removed from them Uncle Clive became more bitter and melancholy about the whole situation and father just became quiet about it all. He hardly ever mentions her name. I think mostly because it hurts him so terribly much. I am certain that he considers her estrangement from the family his greatest failure and believes that her death was a direct result of that failure of his.”

“My father your Uncle Clive, Tony, loved her deeply,” Ashcroft offered almost pleadingly as he held a tablet on his lap. It was clear from how his voice wavered that the emotion of the story had affected him. In honest, it had affected them all, but Alec and Edward were trained to contain their emotions where Ashcroft wasn’t, and since this was not MI6 he was not keeping as tight of a lid on his feelings as he would there. “To the day he died he loved her, and I know that he felt something in himself died when she did. He hated Anthony Senior with a passion that I had rarely seen in him. Father was so torn on how to handle you, and I think where Aunt Claire was Uncle George’s self-perceived greatest failure, you were my father’s.

“He was so torn between soul consuming anger at everything that led up to her death and longing to have a connection to that last remaining thing that meant so much to her. Because of that, I think he was stuck in this mental quicksand that left him unable to do anything. I do hope that you go and get his letter, Cousin. My father was a good man. Even despite all that I have learned today, I believe that. I just think that losing your mother first to Anthony Senior and then later to death left him only a shadow of the person he had been.”

“Anger is a poisonous thing,” Tony confirmed moving his eyes finally off the window and over to his youngest cousin. “It eats up your soul, your ability to effectively reason between right and wrong, and your ability to not just have compassion for others but just simply sympathize with their struggles. Uncle Clive would not be the first good man that it hampered. I cannot foresee myself holding any kind of grudge against the man.”

“I must say you have quite a good British accent, Cousin,” Edward quipped lightly, and Tony offered a smile. He was grateful that someone else was trying to lighten the atmosphere that had become heavier than Tony would like.

“I didn’t notice it when you first started talking. Alec wearing off on you already?”

“Well, I do pick up things like accents and such quite easily,” Tony conceded and gave Alec a soft smile before explaining further. He didn’t know what it was about these two men that made him want to open up and reveal things he had kept locked down so tightly for most of his life. Maybe it was the familial connection. Maybe it was his unbalanced emotions, or maybe it was just his exhaustion with feeling like he had to constantly hide every little bit of his life for fear of it being used against him.

“So, it isn’t intentional, but to be completely honest, I spoke with more of a British accent up until my mo… until Claire died than I did an American one. As I said, I spent most of my time with her. I had a private tutor who was also British, and thus I picked up on how she talked and said things.”

“How did you lose that?” Ashcroft inquired innocently as he shifted the tablet on his lap. Tony debated for a moment before answering because it was a much uglier answer than he was sure Ashcroft intended but decided to continue his honesty.

“Well, boarding schools can be quite the incentive to lose anything that makes you stand out from the pack, but it was really Senior,” Tony explained with a sigh and when Alec’s arm slipped around his shoulders, he gave the other man a grateful smile. His boyfriend had already heard this answer, having asked something similar to what Ashcroft had years before. “To be truthful though, Senior didn’t give me any choice in the matter. The day of my mother’s funeral he dragged me home afterward, and then took me directly up to my room. Once there he beat the ever-loving shit out of me until I learned to speak without what he called that uppity fucking tone in my voice.

“According to him, he’d tolerated it from my mother, but he would be damned if he’d let some little fucking brat speak to him in such a way. Once it was clear I wasn’t going to respond or wasn’t even able to move, he locked me in until I was fully healed and could talk like a fucking American. Needless to say, it was several months and a shitload of TV before I was let out. Then it was only to be taken directly to the train to be shipped off to boarding school. I didn’t see the bastard again until he made me go to Maui with him when I was 12 for a business deal. At some point, while we were there though he forgot I was with him and left me behind.”

“Didn’t your mother die when you were 8?” Edward asked sounding more than a little horrified, and Tony just shrugged at first.

“Yeah, but boarding school was really the best for both of us,” Tony admitted then felt it was only fair to clarify. “To be fair I wasn’t at the same boarding school the whole time. I got kicked out of them a lot. I was a pretty angry little shit. I wasn’t the easiest thing to deal with and he supposedly had more important things to deal with.”

“Jesus,” Alec breathed as Ashcroft and Edward just looked at him stunned. Ashcroft had a look of horror in his eyes, while Edward leaned more toward rage mixed in with something Tony didn’t want to or even know how to label. Shifting uncomfortably, the father quickly made an excuse about checking on his son and asked if anyone else needed something to drink. He wasn’t used to the looks they were giving him and wasn’t sure if it was pity, sympathy, or compassion. Whatever it was, he wasn’t used to it and didn’t like it.

By the time he got back, the waffle batter was made and resting while the waffle iron heated up. He had a refill of coffee or tea for everyone, and the reactions had been locked down by Edward and Alec, at least. Ashcroft still seemed to be struggling with whatever he was feeling, but Tony was determined to just ignore it.

“We have a little bit before I have to start making waffles, and the rest of brunch needs to be heated up or gotten together. I am guessing that you have some kind of Non-Disclosure Agreement for me to sign so you can tell me exactly what it is you guys do?”

“Yes, thank you,” Ashcroft said, and Tony could almost see him changing from Cousin Ashcroft to whatever he officially did at wherever they worked. “I must say, while I was only able to quickly peruse the information on your background check as Edward drove us here, what I read was quite impressive. You have made yourself quite the career, and I know that father would have been quite proud of you were he still alive. As it is, Uncle George is probably already scheming on how to get you into either MI5, where he was what you would call a Director formerly or MI6 where most of us work now.

“Alec, Edward, and your brother James all work in our Double 0 Program, which would be something similar to your CIA operatives to do longer undercover work I believe. I am the Quartermaster, which means that I oversee the handling of missions, research, and development of weapons and technology to assist our operatives in the field, and I also oversee all incoming and outgoing information and harvesting of the data that we use for missions. MI6 is not quite an equal comparison to your CIA, but it is generally the same thing. MI5 would most closely be related to your FBI, but that is a much shakier comparison than that of the one to the CIA. Unfortunately, your brother James is out of the country on an information gathering mission, but fortunately, it is not one that is long term. By the time that we have the DNA test results back, he should be back in the country.”

“Huh,” Tony uttered before turning his gaze to Alec and noticed the blond’s expression was carefully locked down. “It’s nice to hear I wasn’t far off. I guessed something with undercover work and violence pretty quickly, and then tried not to think about it too much after that for safety sake.”

“It doesn’t bother you that I will at times be out of contact for weeks and months at a time?” Alec asked, and Tony made a face at him before answering.

“That would be somewhat hypocritical of me. It isn’t as if I plan on being a stay at home dad or something, and I really only have one good skill set. I want to do some kind of cop work or intelligence work. While I don’t wanna do a ton of undercover because of TJ, I will be honest in saying I love it. So, if I can get a good situation set up, I wouldn’t be opposed to something short like a couple weeks. I don’t know what my prospects will be over here though. So, we’ll see how long it takes to get something going, but no. I would be an asshole to be mad at you for doing your job. We’ll just have to make sure that we have a good way to explain it to TJ. I’m guessing that Uncle George will be an old hat at it and have some ideas. I don’t know how I feel about being recruited to MI5 or MI6 just because of the woman who adopted me. Nepotism has never been my favorite thing or a good thing in my experience.”

“If Uncle cannot, I can assure you that the Aunties will have suggestions,” Ashcroft offered with a shrug and a frown and Tony felt as if he was being dissected by the younger man’s gaze. “I can also assure you that they’ll have you talked into some kind of nanny for young Tristian. As for nepotism, you and your brother seem to have the same ability to only hear the parts of what I say that fits whatever negative self-image you have of yourselves. While I know nothing about the hiring requirements for MI5, I can assure you that positions at MI6 are not handed out simply because of something ridiculous like shared genetics. I do clearly recall saying that I had reviewed at least part of your file and found it highly impressive.

“Naturally there would be some testing involved, but I don’t foresee that being a problem for you. I feel like I am a rather good judge of character, and from what I have seen in your file thus far you share an impeccable sense of justice with James that MI6 highly covets. Plus, I am rather intrigued by the computer degree in your schooling records along with the Psychology degree. Obviously, it is up to you, but I would like to set up some testing for you to see what you would qualify for.”

Ashcroft then held out the tablet for Tony to take. “That is our NDA. Please read through it carefully, and then sign at the end. Think about the testing offer. Our testing will work for both MI6 and MI5. So, you will not need to choose between the two ahead of time.”

“How much of this goodwill on your part has something to do with your relationship with my brother?” Tony asked, not looking up from the digital document that he was reading through.

“As James’ partner, I only wish for the two of you to have a strong healthy relationship,” Ashcroft advised rather frankly, and when Tony glanced up he didn’t see anything but honesty on the younger man’s face. “I do not need you to be employed by MI5 or MI6 to accomplish that. Frankly, I would say James will be rather cross with me encouraging them hiring you into one of the two organizations. My guess is that he will want to do nothing more than wrap you up in a great deal of bubble wrap and keep you as safe from the world as possible. I do hope that you are patient with him. From the sounds of your mother’s words, and I know you are hurt at the moment, but Claire Paddington was still your mother, even if she made some poor choices in her life, I would say James suffered quite a bit at your loss. It will take him some time to realize that you are not still a helpless babe.”

Tony hummed before turning his attention back to the NDA. He didn’t want to think about anything else emotional at the moment. It was really getting to be too much. So, after signing his name to the end, he headed off to the kitchen, with the others following and proceeded to get brunch together with Alec’s help, as Edward and Ashcroft got to know their new little cousin. As he poured batter in the waffle iron, Tony firmly pushed all the emotional things to the back of his mind determined that they stay in the shadows for a little while. Enough was definitely enough.

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!

Go to the Master Post

Go to Chapter Three

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