See the Master Post for the Summary and Story Information including warnings.
Epilogue: Answers from the Dead
Tony was sitting in the ruins of a church on the family’s property. As soon as James was fully released from his MI6 debrief the two of them and Alec were given some time off. Eventually, they would make their way to Paddington Castle to square away things there. First, though, James brought them and TJ to the Bond family home called Skyfall located in the highlands of Scotland. It was a beautiful area that Tony fell in love with on sight. He wasn’t sure about the remnants of a helicopter in the front yard, but James said it was a reminder that he wasn’t ready to get rid of yet. Alec had already explained to Tony the bond James had with the former M and that Skyfall was where she died.
In fact, it was in the very church that Tony was sitting that she perished. It wasn’t exactly what drew the American to the ruins that day, but it felt like it was time to read the letter his Uncle Clive had left for him, and somehow, he’d been drawn to the relic from days past pas the perfect place to get some answers. In no way was Tony a religious man, but there was an aura about the building that he found comfortable. So, he currently was perched on a wooden bench trying not to stare at the stain of blood left on the old stone floor that Kincade hadn’t been able to clean away. Taking a deep breath, Tony tore his thoughts away from wondering what the woman who meant so much to James must have been going through in those last moments and opened the letter to find the answers to his own life.
To My Dear Nephew Tony,
If you are reading this then you have given me an opportunity to explain what I did and why. I greatly appreciate your graciousness towards a man who most likely doesn’t deserve your courage and thoughtfulness. There are a number of things that I am not proud of in my life, and my actions toward your mother and then you after her death are at the top of my regrets. Nothing that I say in this letter can excuse what I have done, and know that your absolution is not what I seek. I am aware that is something I did not deserve in life, and death should not change that fact. My son Ashcroft will tell you that I was a good man, and my son Crispin will tell you that I was the very devil himself. I suppose the answer is somewhere in the middle of that, but then you know that or will soon.
The thing that I want you to understand is that your mother is or was more than just my sibling. She was my best friend. She was my confidant and I hers. She was my co-conspirator and partner in crime. I am sure that at some time she advised you that if you ever get into trouble to seek out George. I am afraid she was not the only one who thought Georgie could solve all problems and expected him to drop everything to offer help when we needed it. Most of the time, when she was in trouble, I was right there next to her, and it was the two of us expecting Georgie to fix everything and make things better again. Your mother and I had a connection that I have never been able to duplicate, not even with my beautiful wife Isabella whom I loved to the end of my days. Bella is aware of the sins that I lay at your feet with this letter and can answer any questions you may have lingering. There was never a time when I kept secrets from her and divulged more than either the Queen or my Country would have liked.
Your mother was pampered and sheltered as best as Georgie and I could from the ugliness of the world both as children and up until the day that scoundrel Anthony DiNozzo tore her from us. She was a beautiful, kind-hearted woman that was not prepared for someone as ugly as Anthony is on the inside, nor did she have the skills to see through the slimy veneer that he portrayed to rope her into his web of lies and illicit activity.
When she first met him, I am afraid I stuck my head in the sand and refused to believe that she would let him drag her away from her family. I believed, foolishly now I can see, that her ties to England and the Paddingtons were stronger than his pretty words. By the time I began to listen to what Georgie had been trying to tell me from the very beginning, it was too late. Her mind was made up, and I never in my life met anyone more stubborn than her. Had she not lost Monique, I am not sure I would have been wrong in my original beliefs. However, Moni played a large part in her life, and I am afraid that her death left a hole bigger than I anticipated. Before I could act accordingly, Anthony had already swept in and filled all of the empty places Moni’s death had left.
I have never been as enraged as I was the night, she announced to me that she and Anthony were leaving for America and taking you with them but leaving James to be raised by his Aunt. I am ashamed to say my rage had nothing to do with her splitting up two brothers, but that it was solely centered around my personal loss and the fact that she was leaving me. I knew that once Anthony had her alone in America that we most likely would never see her again, but she was determined to make the three of you a happy family. Unfortunately, that isn’t what happened, and sometimes I wonder if she ever really believed it would happen, or if she was just too desperate for a love of her own that she jumped on the first offer she got.
There had been one boy before Anthony, whom she fell head over heels for. A much better match for her I can assure you that Anthony was, but unfortunately, Charles Holmes was already promised to Violet and was too much of a gentleman to break his promise. I don’t think she ever got past her disappointment in that, and she then accepted the next thing that came along, which was Anthony.
Georgie and I had plans for what we would do if Anthony succeeded in getting her away from England, unfortunately, our careers and my temper got in the way of actually putting any of them into action. After that terrible night when I said things that I could never take back, there was a rift between Claire and I that I knew could never be fixed.
Georgie tried to change her mind. By the time that he found out however, some many months had passed, and Claire was unwilling to tear you away from the man she called your father. I am afraid that I never admitted the truth of whom you were to anyone in the family, not even my wife, at least not until it was well past the time where we could make a difference. Bella and Olivia even made a trip to America once, determined to bring her and your home with her, but alas they were never even able to lay eyes on either of you. None of us really had the connections at that time to find out where Claire or you were, and Anthony had hidden you all from us very well. It wasn’t until you reached out to us when you were in college that we had a location for either of you.
I am sure at this point you are asking why I didn’t make things right then. The answer, I am afraid, simply is shame. I was the only one who knew you reached out to us for help, and I am afraid that by that time I had become an angry bitter man and took my frustrations out on a man who was still little more than a boy. When Claire died it left a hole inside of me that I was never able to heal. The pain and the longing for her are something that I carry with me even now as I write this letter. The only thing I am looking forward to now that my end has come is finally being reunited with my sister if I have not made too much of a mess of things while living.
I did keep an eye on you though and offered assistance where I could. I may not be George, but my title has power enough to look after you when I could. I also have made enough contacts in my career that I could keep track of your life. Know that I am deeply proud of the man that you have become. I have seen pictures of your son. He is a beautiful child and the perfect combination of your brother James and your mother. I can see bits of them both in him, and I am saddened that I will not be there to see the man he will become.
Please, do not take my actions out on the family. My guess is that George is aware of more than I would like him to be, but he has always had far too much on his shoulder and too little time to fix all the problems laid at his feet. Also know that despite all of my many shortcomings and the things I mishandled in this mess, I did my best for James that I could have. I stepped in and offered money when it was needed when he was a child, and once he entered the Royal Navy, I offered my assistance and protection as I could. I did my best to ensure that his path crossed Alec and Edwards so that when I finally found the courage to do the right thing by you that your brother would not be too far away.
I have nothing to offer you that would make up for the things that I have done, but I do hope that at the least you know I loved you. I also hope that you know Claire loved you. She called me once to arrange my safekeeping of her letter for you until I felt that the time was right. I wish for you to know that she was regretful of aligning herself with Anthony all those years back, but never once regretted having you in her life. She told me that she thought perhaps that you were the greatest love of her existence and she only wished that she could have been the kind of mother that you deserved. Please, if you can only find it in your heart to forgive one of us, make it her. Do not let all of this ugliness taint the love that I know you must have for her. I have never met anyone in my life who could draw people to love them the way Claire could. Let her have a place of fondness in your memories and your heart. Let go of the things she did wrong and remember the good things she gave you. If you have to have someone to hate, make it be me. I deserve all of the ill will that you have to dish out.
I hope and pray that life treats you well from here on out, Tony. My solicitor will be contacting you at the six-month mark after you retrieved this letter if you have not contacted him again before that. I have left you some additional things that my sons are not aware of. One of them is the building which your Alec is living in. It was quite a surprise to find out that the two of you had stumbled upon each other, but I am glad you did. Alec deserves every bit of love and affection that he can find, and in my heart, I know you are enough like your mother to overlook the things others cannot stop from seeing in him.
I wish you and your son nothing but love and happiness from this day forward, my nephew. Know that if there is any justness in the universe, I will be allowed to do in death what I should have done while I was living. I am not sure that you believe in such things, but that does not matter as I do. If I could ask for a favor? I know that I don’t deserve one, but I ask that you look over Ashcroft. He may be the only truly good thing I have done in my life. How, despite all my bitterness and anger, I managed to create a man who is so just and bright I do not know. He is everything that Crispin is not and needs someone to protect him from my first son who is little more than a blight on the world.
To accomplish this, I have left you my title and all that comes with it in addition to what your mother should have gained but did not because of her marriage to Anthony. Crispin will not be happy once the announcement is made, but I care not. He has chosen his path, and I will not support it by giving him the power my title would lend him should I have made him my heir.
Be happy, Tony. Be the father to your gorgeous son that neither Claire or I were strong enough to be to our children. Be honorable and just and do not be afraid to put Anthony in his place. He never deserved you and does not deserve further chances. Let the Paddingtons be family to both you and James as well as young Tristan.
I love you, my nephew. Claire may not have given birth to you, but you were her son in every other way. I could never not love you for that reason alone.
I appreciate the time you have given me, and I wish you nothing but the best from here forward.
Clive Phillip Paddington
Tony didn’t realize that he was crying until he looked up from the pages of his Uncle’s letter at the sound of James’ voice. “Are you alright?”
“Yes,” Tony said huskily with emotion clogging his throat. “I don’t think I want to be angry at any of them anymore. Well, except Senior. I have plenty of hatred for him left in me. The rest of them just… They were good people who made bad choices and were too weak to correct them.”
“Then don’t be,” James offered quietly as he leaned against one of the stone walls nearby where Tony was sitting. “You and I have seen enough of true evilness and witnessed enough death to know the difference between what should be held onto and what should just be let go. We found each other in the end and the Paddingtons will love you no matter who your real parents are. I see no reason to scorn anyone but Anthony DiNozzo. I agree that he deserves all the scorn you wish, as well as the attention of MI6.”
Tony’s lips quirked as he studied his brother. “I have no wish to save Anthony from you or Ashcroft if you’re waiting for me to object. Do your worst. Just leave me out of it. I never want to see the man again. I have you, and I will have the Paddingtons. I have moved on from Anthony and the abuse he dished out to me. So, do your worst, brother.”
James inclined his head with a smile that told Tony nothing good would come to Anthony from this point forward. With a deep breath, Tony stood and shoved the letter in his back pocket. Alec would want to read it later, and then it would be stored at Skyfall with the other letters until Tony was ready to get rid of them. Stepping toward James, Tony stopped a few feet from his older brother and held out his hand.
“Thank you for bringing me home, James.”
The blond offered a smile as his eyes shined suspiciously suddenly and after taking Tony’s outstretched hand pulled him close. “Thank you for coming home, little brother.”
With that, Tony let loose a deep shuddering sigh and released all the pain and anger he’d been carrying for Claire and Clive. It no longer mattered what they’d done or why. He’d found his way home to his brother, and no one could take that from him, again.
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