Chapter Four: Making Plans for the Future
Tony felt more than a little dazed and was glad that both Derek and Seeley’s faces looked as overwhelmed as he felt. He wasn’t sure if it was just his imagination or not, but Tony swore that he could still hear General O’Neill’s cackle as he’d been beamed back to his office at the Pentagon by you know… their spaceship. Aliens were real. The US and who knows who else had real spaceships. His brother John was stationed in another galaxy with his partner leading a fight against space vampires.
“Fuck me,” Derek muttered, and Seeley lifted a hand to point at their friend.
“What he said.”
“So, why were the three of us really read in?” Tony asked turning his gaze toward the only person remaining as Gen. O’Neill had taken Dr. Jackson with him when they’d beamed, holy fucking shit Scotty, out of the study.
“Supervisory Special Agent Morgan really is mostly because he’s here,” Granger conceded as he smugly sat in a chair near the table the three men were using to work their cold cases.
“Although it’s been pointed out that having a profiler of SSA Morgan’s reputation in the know isn’t a bad thing. If something happens then he can be quickly recruited to help without having to go through the hoops to increase his confidentiality level and read him into the program. There is some talk of reading in either Hotchner or Rossi so that he would not be the only asset, but that’s not my concern.
“As for you and Booth, well I have a proposition, SFA Paddington. I’d like to give you a promotion to Supervisory Special Agent. In my opinion, as I’ve read your file since getting the Interim position, the title never should have been taken away from you when Gibbs came back from his amnesia under Director Sheppard. Then, I’d like to bring SSA Booth over from the FBI to join NCIS.
“There would be some FLETC classes he’d need to take to get acquainted with the differences between NCIS and the FBI like legal differences and such. With his background as an Army Ranger though I expect he has at least some familiarity with the Military Code of Justice. So, I believe they’re going to give him some pre-testing to see just what he needs to take and doesn’t. Then, once he’s done with that, I would like you and him to serve as something of a troubleshooting team for me.”
Tony straightened and looked at Seeley who he was happy to see looked interested at the prospect. Both looked to Derek who looked happy for them before they all turned their attention back to Granger.
“I will warn you that there will be quite a lot of traveling, but most of it will be similar to what your friend SSA Morgan does with the BAU team. Cases will be assigned to you at my discretion and my discretion alone. You will report directly to me. I have been around a long time, but most of it has been spent in Southeast Asia and Russia. No ties to Mossad or frankly any other foreign agency.”
Tony looked to Seeley trying to judge what his friend was thinking. “My mother’s family works for SIS. Both sides I believe, but I don’t know for sure. I only know that because an NCIS case crossed paths with my cousin Edward’s once when I was assigned a solo assignment. We aren’t close in any stretch of the imagination despite me taking Paddington as my last name instead of Sheppard or DiNozzo.
“At the time I wasn’t close enough to Patrick or any of my brothers to take Sheppard, and while I wasn’t close to the Paddingtons I had been close to my mother before her death. Despite her issues, she loved me the best she could. It’s always felt like at times she was maybe the only one who did. It’s only fair that I warn you that I’m not sure I can trust you.”
“It’s completely fair,” Granger assured as Patrick came in with two glasses of tea and handed one to the Interim Director before he sat in a chair near him. “You’ve been subjected to a horrible betrayal. One that I can’t even fathom going through, and I worked with the CIA during the Cold War. I can tell you that you have impressed Asst. Dir. Evans quite a bit. I think it’s the only reason that he’s so willing to let SSA Booth go. Although I do believe if you turn me down, the next pitch is coming from Unit Chief Hotchner.”
While Derek looked excited at the prospect, Tony tried to imagine chasing serial killers all the time and found he could only think about Jeffrey White. Letting loose an involuntary shiver, Tony quickly shook his head before shooting his friend an apologetic smile. “I don’t think I could do that. I just… Der, I can’t chase people like Jeffrey all the time.”
“It’s hard when the unsub isn’t an obvious monster,” Derek agreed with a shrug. “I get it. To be fair though, there are other teams who chase things other than Serial Crime. You and Seeley both would do well in the Counter-Terrorism unit.”
“That might not be so bad,” Tony murmured, but still didn’t feel an overwhelming sense of excitement at the prospect. “I will be honest, the thought of working with Seeley is probably the thing that I like the most. So, if it’s possible for the two of us to end up at the same place, then I’d like to do that. I don’t honestly know how I feel about staying at NCIS. On one hand, I’m tired of changing jobs completely. I think part of why I have tolerated the bullshit as long as I did was because I really don’t want to start over somewhere new from scratch.
“On the other hand, I really don’t know as I can remain at an agency where McGee, Sciuto, and David are employed still. I know people see Abby and Tim as integral to NCIS, but if those are the kinds of people that the agency wants around, I want no part of it.”
“Well, let me fill you in on some details then,” Granger offered after swallowing the tea he’d taken a sip of. “Regardless of what else happens, the Mossad Liaison position is being terminated. Officer David will no longer be welcomed at NCIS, and frankly, given what we’ve already discovered on her computer she’s probably going to be spending quite some time in jail before she’s allowed to go back to Israel.
“As to Miss Sciuto, while no formal decision has been made about her yet, it is my preference that she is no longer employed with NCIS. Since I get to make that decision, I don’t see her employment contract being retained. Not only was she attempting to tamper with evidence in a domestic terrorism case, but she physically assaulted a federal agent. Neither of which I am willing to tolerate, and that’s not even accounting for the mess that is her lab.”
When Granger fell silent, Tony took a moment to push away his knee-jerk reaction to Abby being in trouble and examine why in the hell he’d feel bad. Somehow, over the time he’d spent with her and Gibbs, this façade that Abby was somehow fragile and needed to be protected had taken over around the time Kate died.
While it was true that Abby had gone through a traumatic event when Ari had shot up her lab, it wasn’t as if she’d been the only one there. Tony himself had been involved in that situation, and Kate was his actual partner. While there was no “my grief is more relevant than yours” as far as Tony was concerned, it was almost as if they’d wrapped Abby in cotton and ignored how the whole thing had affected them.
Or maybe it was just the knee-jerk reaction that Abby could have died too that made them change how they treated her, and the Forensics Analyst had certainly never complained about the extra attention. In fact, it was just the opposite. She’d not only reviled in the extra attention, but eventually expected it, and even demanded it when she felt that she wasn’t getting it.
Whatever the reason though, Abby had gradually changed from an intelligent and loving woman to this selfish, greedy, bitch who thought it was ok to demand rewards for just doing her job. Not just that but she also saw no problems with punching someone when she didn’t get the response she wanted as quickly as she expected. Along the path of her transformation, Gibbs and Tony had just gone along with it.
Gibbs because of his habit of turning every young woman of the appropriate age to be Kelly into a daughter substitute. Tony because, well frankly, he had fallen into the habit of just doing what Gibbs told him to. Gibbs wanted Abby to be treated like a special goth princess, therefore Tony treated Abby like a special goth princess. There hadn’t been a single person along the way who objected to how things were run.
No, Tony had to remind himself that wasn’t the truth. Maybe the only slightly good thing Director Sheppard had done was to try to make changes where Abby was concerned. Unfortunately, she’d selected the worst possible person to be Abby’s lab partner, and therefore when things blew up in everyone’s face almost landing Tony in prison, Abby got her way. Cementing the president that what Abby wanted, Abby got.
“As to Special Agent McGee things are a little tougher,” Granger continued, and Tony forced himself out of his own head so that he could once again pay attention to the conversation. “While I in no way want to downplay the severity of his actions, compared to what we have to deal with where the two ladies are concerned the list is certainly shorter.
“Although, in addition to the com’s incident, we are investigating claims about he and Ms. Sciuto just willy-nilly hacking their way into any database they wish without even attempting to get the correct warrants and other legal paperwork. While I would guess that some, or most of that, was done at Gibbs’ orders, Special Agent McGee should be aware of the ethics of what he was doing, and if he doesn’t have the stones or the intelligence to stand up and say we can’t do that, then he’s on the wrong team. Hell, he’s in the wrong profession as far as I’m concerned.
“All that being said though his father being a decorated and highly respected Admiral will make things more delicate when it comes to finding the consequences everyone can live with. While I am not one to bow down to anyone no matter what their rank is, I do have to weigh my options and find the one that best suits everyone.”
“So, boot him back down to Junior Agent, make him completely retake FLETC including all of the ethics and any related courses that you can find, and then put him someplace he won’t see it as a reward. That means no LA because he’d love to go out there and work with Hetty and all their toys. Of the three of them, McGee is the one I am the most ambivalent about. As long as I don’t have to work with him but know that he’s being supervised by someone who isn’t going to let him just go on doing as he pleases, I could live with it.”
“He needs someone watching over his shoulder,” Seeley murmured, and Tony looked toward his friend to find both him and Derek watching him.
“Something like the Drill Sergeant I had in basic training. A complete asshole who was only there to make sure I didn’t get someone killed, wasn’t afraid to call me a dumbass or spare my feelings, and whose ethics and morality was rock solid. I hated that prick, but I’m not afraid to admit that he’s at least partially responsible for me turning out to be the man I am today.”
“That’s genius,” Morgan threw out with a grin and held his fist out receiving a bump from Seeley back.
“You know, I do believe that you’re onto something,” Granger agreed, tapping his lips with two fingers he had steepled together in front of his face. “My first thought while Paddington was talking was to put McGee down with Pride once he’s done with FLETC. I’m not 100% confident that Pride doesn’t at times fall into the same cowboy tendencies Gibbs does thanks to Mike Franks. Also, I’m not confident that McGee would see New Orleans as a punishment.
“I do though have an opening at a small RU in a place confidential enough I can’t tell you where it is because you don’t need to know. I can’t keep another agent in the position because well to be honest the former Marine Force RECON Team Leader named Bear Brett has no fucks left to give anyone and honestly needs someone with McGee’s computer skills. Now, initially, McGee may see it as a reward, but if that last five minutes I’ll be surprised.”
“This isn’t putting him in John’s program, is it?” Tony asked looking from Granger to Patrick and back frowning. There was no way in hell he wanted McGee on Atlantis or anywhere else near his brother.
“Atlantis?” Granger asked before shaking his head. “No, I’d never allow him to get a reward like that. Besides, that’s what you three are for. While you might not be McGee, Paddington, I’ve been assured your computer skills will get the job done. I’ve seen that list of college courses and degrees of yours.”
“I like this guy,” Seeley threw out with a grin, and Tony just rolled his eyes at the lot of them.
“You all suck,” he shot back before thinking over everything he’d heard. “I mean, I will want a chance to talk all of this over with Seeley before anything official happens, but my first thought is I like the sounds of the job you’ve offered, Dir. Granger. My biggest concern right now is Seeley’s son Parker. Booth is an awesome dad, and I don’t want our job to hurt that relationship.
“I am completely on board with what you’ve laid out so far for the terrible trio. Frankly, I just want Ziva and Abby to stay as far away from me as possible. I don’t know what I’m going to do once Abby gets out on bail or whatever. She’s gonna hack all my shit, and it’ll take forever to get things straightened out.”
Granger snorted as Patrick shook his head commenting before the NCIS Interim Director could. “I do believe that Ms. Ramirez dared her to try. McKay threatened a good number of consequences should Abigail try and Raven ran out of ideas. I am not concerned about that part. It’s Ms. David’s whereabouts that I am concerned about.”
“They still haven’t found her?” Seeley asked concerned and Patrick shook his head obviously unhappy. This time it was Granger who replied though.
“They’re looking, but we all know with her training, it’s going to be near impossible to find her if she doesn’t want to be found. Fortunately, Special Agent Edgerton is the best in the country at the job, and now has a personal reason for wanting her found. I believe Asst. Dir. Evans has added to his team to provide them more manpower.
“Both Special Agents Granger and Betancourt have been brought in from the LA office to assist and SSA Dr. Spencer Reid was brought into the team to assist Special Agent Edgerton in his hunt. I believe he’s doing not only a traditional profile but also a geographic profile as well to aid him in his hunt.”
“They’ll find her if Pretty Boy is on the case,” Derek said proudly. The obvious affection and brother-type relationship he shared with the younger man clearly heard in his voice. “He’s the best geographic profiler I’ve ever seen.”
“I just want her found without anyone else being hurt,” Tony admitted running hands over his head and felt Seeley pat him on his shoulder.
“I’m in, if Tony is. Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I think that I need a change from the FBI. Things with Bones and I just… It can’t go on the way it is, and I’m ready to just move forward. I miss having an actual partner who is trained to do my job. Honestly, it’d also be nice to have someone watching my back who wasn’t gonna denigrate my service time and dismiss my religious beliefs. I made some mistakes in that professional relationship that it’s becoming clear aren’t going to be resolved without me making a separation.
“As for Parker, don’t worry there. Right now, his mother is being difficult, and I don’t get to see him much. He knows I love him though and I won’t just give up, but I can’t live my life around what-ifs and maybes either. I won’t be the only person who travels and has kids. I mean Hotchner does it, and I know there are other people on the BAU teams who have kids too that travel. If I have to, I will take her back to court to get something worked out. I’ve just been avoiding it because I don’t want to put Parker through that.”
“If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know,” Patrick offered surprising not just Seeley but Tony and Derek as well. “SSA Morgan, that goes for you as well. If I can ever be of assistance to you in any way, feel free to reach out. You are both my son’s friends, and I take that seriously. In my book, that makes you family, and this family watches out for each other.”
Tony heard Seeley blowing out a deep breath slowly and wondered what was going on in his head. “Thank you, Mr. Sheppard. I appreciate the offer. I may end up taking you up on that. The last time we went to court, I don’t think my lawyer did me many favors. He let them run all over me with my gambling addiction, and even at that time I’d been getting help for quite some time.”
“No parent is perfect, Booth, and everyone has their flaws,” Tony pointed out gently. “You and I are both very well aware of how bad parents can be, and you aren’t even close to being on the bad parent list. Your gambling never harmed Parker, and it’s bullshit that it’s still being used against you.
“You’re a good man, one of the best and most respected agents I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with, and a highly decorated member of the military. Parker deserves his time with you. He needs you in his life. You and I both also know what effects not having a positive male influence can have on a kid. If she is being unreasonable then you need to do something, if for no other reason, then for Parker.”
“He’s right, Seeley,” Derek interjected reaching across the table to put one of his hands on Booths. “You need a character witness or somethin’ you got my number. Parker deserves more of your time than he’s gettin’. Everyone has things in their past they aren’t proud of. You worked on yours and continue to work on it. That’s all anyone can ask.”
Tony watched Seeley take a deep breath and let it out slowly before his friend nodded. When Granger spoke, Tony turned his attention to the man having forgotten for a second, he and Patrick were there.
“For what it’s worth, SSA Booth, should you go ahead and join NCIS, I can tell you that I consider family commitments a high priority. Obviously, your schedule will not be a typical 9 to 5 one, but as far as I am concerned, when you two are not on assignment, if you need time for your son, it’s yours. I am guessing Paddington will be taking more time off than he did on Gibbs’ team to spend time with the Sheppards, and I see no reason why you can’t do the same with your son.”
When Seeley nodded and rubbed the heels of his palms into his eyes, Tony turned his gaze away to study Granger and give his friend some privacy. “On second thought, I think I will uhh, I’ll take you up on that offer Mr. Sheppard. Tone, if you’re interested in this position, I say we do it. We probably should discuss things but well, sometimes you just know when something’s right. Ya know?”
Tony could feel Seeley’s leg bouncing and knew his friend needed a break but took a moment to make sure there wasn’t some major objection that he was missing.
“I do,” he said eventually patting Seeley’s shoulder once more. “Interim Dir. Granger, we’re in. I know we’re going to have to wait till this mess is cleared up, but I’m not interested in changing jobs. As long as there are no more hiccups from here on out that changes things drastically, I’m in.”
“Excellent,” Granger replied with a smile. “SFA Paddington, I will get your promotion paperwork and a new contract drawn up. SSA Booth, I will contact Asst. Dir. Evans and let him know your decision. I’ll look into the training classes you need and see when you can do the pre-testing. Welcome to NCIS. Paddington, I thank you for giving us another chance.”
“SSA Booth, I will contact the family lawyer and get you some names. I will make sure they are willing to work within your salary needs. I think it’s the least they can do for someone who has served his country as long as you have first in the Army and now with the FBI and NCIS.” Patrick promised.
Tony only listened with half his attention from there on out as Granger made his excuses before leaving, and Patrick offered to walk him out. Instead, he thought about his friends and what a difference a good father could make in someone’s life. He couldn’t help but wonder how differently his life would have turned out if he’d been raised by a man like Patrick Sheppard or Seeley Booth who so obviously loved their sons as opposed to Senior who had at best only ever seen Tony as a means to a gain.
It felt nice to know that finally, he was getting a chance to find out just what a good father was. Now if he could just get through this mess Ziva and Co. had created to do it.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
By Wednesday of the following week, Tony wasn’t afraid to admit that he was slowly losing his mind. The thing was that he knew Derek and Seeley both were, too. None of them were solitary creatures, and while they at least had each other for conversation, it was hard to admit that they could all use a break from sleep, eat, work on cold cases, discuss the current FUBAR situation, and repeat.
They couldn’t even take advantage of the various amenities on the grounds because while it was true there was a SEAL team outside, the estate grounds were huge and not completely fenced in. So, they couldn’t even go outside and burn off some energy by running, swimming, hiking in the nearby hills, etc. While the mansion did have a gym, one could only run on a treadmill for so long before one got bored.
Brad came over Monday night and watched Monday Night Football with them, and they’d played hours of video games. The cold cases all came with the same problem in that they could see things that needed to be researched, but since Tony couldn’t leave the grounds, none of them could follow up on them. They had spent some time helping the BAU with their current case, which Tony found interesting, but ran into the same problem due to being confined inside.
That day everyone had seemed to be on edge. Seeley and Derek had gotten into an argument about orange juice at breakfast before Patrick sent Derek to bed and Seeley to do a sweep of the inside of the house. After eating, Tony had followed his father to his study and spent the day learning about Sheppard Industries and what they did.
Tony worried about his friends arguing, but Patrick pointed out even those on the best of terms would be short-tempered when confined inside, even in a mansion as big as the Sheppard’s and in the same company days on end. By the time that they all met up at dinner, Seeley and Derek both seemed to have calmed down. Each man issuing an apology before they shook hands to end the dispute.
Tony wasn’t ashamed to admit, at least to himself, that his shoulders had relaxed somewhat at the sight. The last thing he wanted was for this bullshit to come between their friendship. Ziva had caused enough trouble with her inability to do her job. She shouldn’t be allowed to come between two good men, too.
If he’d hoped that the end to the fight would lighten up the atmosphere, Tony had been wrong. The fact that he couldn’t figure out what was going on didn’t help him relax, and he’d gotten to the point where he thought maybe it was all in his head when his father commented on having an ominous feeling. Deciding that they needed a distraction, Tony headed to the mansion’s movie theater to watch Jonah Hex that had just recently been released on DVD and Blu-Ray with Seeley in tow because his friend said he wasn’t tired yet, leaving Derek to watch things inside the mansion.
That led to watching Nightmare on Elm Street because Tony decided that he needed some fun scares and Seeley heading off to bed claiming he didn’t need nightmare material right before he went to sleep.
“Jesus, I’m bored,” Tony yawned as he wandered into the study where Patrick was reading having notified Derek that he was changing rooms. “This shit needs to be over. I have a life to get back to. Hell, everyone has lives to get back to. Eli and his spawn just need to accept that she was a lousy agent and frankly I am not convinced that she was any better of a Mossad agent.”
“These things take time,” Patrick reminded using his finger as a bookmark as he settled his book on his lap. “I agree though that things are becoming difficult. Hopefully, something will break soon. We haven’t had a good chance to sit down and chat just the two of us since you found out what the rest of the family is involved in. Tell me your honest thoughts on the Stargate Program.”
Tony sighed and flopped down in one of the armchairs staring up at the ceiling as he tried to gather his thoughts. “I feel like it’s such a huge mind fuck that I haven’t even really tried to process it with everything else going on. I mean, the fact that other than Aiden the rest of the family are all directly involved in this thing in some way, or another makes me feel like I need to reconsider my life goals here.
“I mean, John is off fighting space vampires, and remind me to send Rodney a thank you letter for all the nightmares I’m getting from all the info he’s sharing with me, and what am I doing?”
“You’re keeping the country safe the same way that he is, and Aiden is,” Patrick said sternly. “This wasn’t shared with you as another way for you to convince yourself that you aren’t doing enough. I am as proud of your career and Aiden’s as I am John and David’s. Just because John is fighting space vampires as you say, and David is overseeing the building of space ships does not mean you are contributing less to the world than they are.
“Your career is every bit as vital and important to the health of this country as theirs is. Without you, bad people would just be running amuck. And now that we have you read in, you and Seeley can help us with the more critical situations that come up. Jack told me that you agreed to help him form a team for everyday situations?”
Tony nodded before lowering his gaze to look at his father. “They asked if we would be interested in joining the program full-time but I just… I dunno Papa it feels like that isn’t where I am supposed to be. I’ve always tried to follow my instincts and it feels like I am meant to be somewhere else. I know that sounds horribly mystical and crap, but it’s just how I feel.”
“If that is how you feel, Antony, then I don’t care how it sounds to outsiders,” Patrick chided gently. “To me, it sounds perfectly sane when you consider space vampires are part of my everyday life knowledge. I had a similar conversation with Aiden when he decided to join the SEALs as I am having with you now. He was torn up inside because he felt like he wasn’t contributing to this family enough and almost didn’t put in for SEAL training at all.
“It wasn’t until John came home and told him that this family wasn’t centered around Stargate that he started to let himself be happy he was on the roads to his lifelong dream. John then went on to warn that if Aiden gave up the dream he’d had since he was practically a toddler just to join a program he very well could end up in any way, that he’d kick his Li’l Alpha ass.”
Tony snorted and pushed up to get himself a bottle of water from the wet bar, grabbing Patrick one at the last second before coming back. “I’m sure that went over well. I hope someday John and I have the opportunity to spend more than a handful of days here and there together. I feel like he’s the one that I really know so little about. I don’t know as I really even understand why the two of you don’t or didn’t get along.”
Patrick nodded his thanks as he accepted the bottle before letting out a soft sigh. “You have to understand Antony that power and money really do bring out the worst in people. I would like to say that I am the exception to the rule, but I am not. While Emma was alive, I was probably a much better man than I am even today. Mostly because she would not tolerate anything else.
“Then she died, and I lost my moral compass, finding myself a single father with two young children and this company to run that I was just beginning to learn. So, I hired nannies and people to help with the children and threw myself into my job because that’s what I thought I could control. I spent years going from one pointless relationship or short fling to another never letting myself set any roots because it was almost like I had suddenly become allergic to the concept.”
Patrick paused to take a drink and Tony briefly thought how he could hear shades of Gibbs’ story in his father’s. The difference was in Gibbs’ case there was no child to keep him at least a little centered in a personal life, and therefore he got lost in NCIS letting it become his entire identity.
“You are the product of one of those wild weekend flings, I am ashamed to say. Your mother was a breathtakingly beautiful woman, who left a mark on me at a time where I didn’t bother remembering names most of the time. For all that I know, there are more like you running around in the world because I certainly wasn’t making much of an effort to be safe until the 80s hit and AIDs made us at least consider the idea that we might have to practice safe sex.
“I’d like to say that I had some kind of moral awakening at that point. Unfortunately, it took several years and a lot of bad personal decisions before I feel like I started becoming the father my children deserve. David mostly goes with the flow of it all. People always assume that he just kisses my ass, but I wouldn’t hand the future of Sheppard Industries over to a yes man. He just chooses to confront me behind closed doors when it’s just the two of us.
Patrick paused to chuckle softly and shook his head before he continued on. “See the problem was while I was busy building SI into what it is today, I was making all these plans for my two boys as I went along. Fortunately, I lucked out and my plans for David mostly or usually coincided with what he wanted for himself. The problem with John was that my views for his life and his views for his life were near polar opposites. He had no interest in the business world with a wife and two kids that I was planning for him.
“Instead, he wanted to fly planes and protect his country. The fact that he was really good at math was just a coincidence and he had no intention of making a living off of it in the way I wanted him to. Then when he dared to suggest that he wasn’t interested in the wife part of the equation either, I am afraid that my father’s prejudices came to the surface.”
“You had an issue with the fact that he was… gay? Bi?”
“Gay,” Patrick confirmed with a nod. “John is gay. David is straight. You are Bi, and Aiden hasn’t decided yet. He says he’s leaving his options open and he’ll let me know once he decides.”
Tony snorted and couldn’t contain a grin, silently thinking that his little brother might be his favorite of the three. Looking at the fond look on his father’s face, Tony guessed that Patrick secretly might think the same, but doubted that he’d ever admitted it.
“Yes, I guess I had an issue with it. I mean, I said enough hateful and vile things to him when he announced that he was divorcing Nancy because the closet had gotten too deep and dark for his tastes to make it seem like I did. Looking back, I am not sure what I thought or felt. Somewhere along the way, I hired this genius advertiser out of Pittsburg named Brian Kinney to head up the advertising division for SI. Between him and his partner, Justin let’s just say they didn’t tolerate my bullshit.
“So, eventually I was forced to admit that I had mucked up the entire situation. That the reason my son hated me was my own damned fault, and that if I wanted things to be different that I had to get off my ass and do something about it. Brian and Justin are very open about their sexuality. One night at a restaurant when we were celebrating, Justin asked me why if I had been so good to them, had I not gotten off my ass and done something about John, I realized I was just wasting time. Justin is a bright young man, incredibly talented artist. In fact, he is the reason we found Brian.”
Patrick paused to wave a hand in the air and take a drink of water before continuing. “Anyway, I’ve ventured way off the path of your question, I think. The bottom line is that John and I didn’t get along because I was a vile asshole and not the kind of father that I should have been. Fortunately, he has decided to give me a second chance. I am pretty sure that the reason for that is 100% about Aiden. I just hope that at least you and Aiden will benefit from the past mistakes I have made.”
“I mean,” Tony started and stopped to think about what Patrick had said. He had never at any point since he’d found out about Patrick thought that the man was perfect. Tony had been doing his job for too long not to know how corrupt the rich and powerful were. Tony was fairly certain that there wasn’t a single person in his father’s tax bracket that didn’t have a closet full of skeletons. So, finding out that he’d cursed his son with homophobic slurs at one point before someone hit Patrick with a clue stick wasn’t really a surprise.
“That sucks, but I’m glad you told me. I’m also glad that you’ve made an effort to make up for it. I know that Sheppard Industries and your charitable foundation are heavily involved in LGBTQ issues. I know that doesn’t always equal w good person, but in your case, it seems like you’re at least trying. Personally, I would be a hypocrite if I held all of your past misdeeds against you. I certainly don’t have a flawless past myself. All I really care about is the kind of man that you are now. There doesn’t seem to be any of the huge deal breaker skeletons in your past.
“I’m pretty adept at sensing people like that at this point in my career, and I don’t get any hints of shady from you. You certainly don’t give off any Senior vibes. So, I think I can live with whatever comes up. I’m just thankful that…”
Tony was cut off by Derek running into the room and slamming the study doors shut before immediately engaging the security protocols which would lock down the room.
“Der, what?” Tony asked standing from his chair as he watched Derek tap his earpiece.
“Unicorn and Pegasus are locked down,” Derek advised over his comms before turning to look at Tony and his father. “We have an intruder. We don’t know who it is, but the SEALs are on it. Mr. Sheppard, you said you had weapons in this room?”
Patrick nodded and moved over to one of the bookcases, pulled out one of the books then stepped back. Tony watched as the bookcase swung open revealing a safe behind it. He’d known it was there and even had access to it with his palm print, and retina scan like Patrick was offering now. It was just the fact that it was hidden behind a bookcase that made it feel very 007 and therefore never failed to fascinate him.
Tony knew that he and Patrick being armed should something happen had been a point highly debated, but Tony flat out refused to pretend he was something other than a highly trained federal agent. He’d very frankly stated that he refused to go into any situation of danger unarmed, even if he was spending it locked in a secure room in the house. Fortunately, everyone eventually came around to his viewpoint once he promised he’d be good and allow himself to be put somewhere safe.
“Do we know if it’s Ms. David?” Patrick asked as he held out a handgun to Tony, who shook his head to clear his mind of his wandering thoughts. This was not the time to be woolgathering.
“Don’t know, Sir,” Derek said, and Tony couldn’t help but add on a silent I hope so to the statement even if it was in his own mind. He was more than ready for at least part of this to be over.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
As Morgan locked himself into the study with Tony and Patrick, Seeley clicked his headset echoing Derek’s statement. “Protection One to Delta Team. Both packages have been locked into the study with Protection Two. Security protocols have been engaged. I am going to look for our target.”
Slowly, the FBI agent made his way through the house, weapon in front of him searching for his target. He was trying not to make assumptions as to whom it was, but his most likely guess is that it was the missing woman who had made Tony’s life hell for so long. With the security system down, he didn’t have a starting point for where she could be. For not the first time since he’d agreed to protect Tony, he thanked the SEAL team that was placed as protection outside. He knew if not for them that they might have no idea she’d managed to make her way inside.
As he searched the house working his way from the study toward the front of the mansion, he quietly relayed his positioning as the SEAL team entered and started assisting him with the hunt. He was at the end of a hallway having searched the bedrooms there and was making his way back toward the SEAL team member sent to assist him when a petite figure stepped into the hall.
The window at the opposite end of the hall let in enough moonlight that the person’s height and size were easy to pick out. The smallest person on the SEAL team was 5’10”. This person had to be at least 4 to 5 inches shorter, and probably around a hundred pounds lighter.
“FBI, freeze!” Seeley called out, and could just make out the arm movement as the individual seemed to be lifting a gun. Not taking the time to think about it, Seeley let off a series of shots sending the intruder back and into the window behind her. He was unsure if one of his bullets hit the window, but instead of just falling back against the glass, the body fell through the window crashing down the two stories to what Seeley knew to be lawn or hedges beneath.
“Shots taken, intruder shot and fell backward through the second story east wing window. Moving to the end of the hallway.” Seeley called over the mics, acknowledging the SEAL sent his way who advised he was near his location and would be there in no more than 2 mikes.
Stopping in front of the window, he looked down to see the body laying with its feet in the hedges and its head on the grass. He watched as 2 bodies spilled out from the house. When they reached the prone figure, he saw the gun laying clenched in its dead hand was kicked away as the other reached down to pull away the black mask.
When Ziva David’s face was unveiled, Seeley was neither surprised nor upset. While taking a life was never easy or something to be enjoyed, he wasn’t sure that there would ever be a kill he regretted less. Pressing his earpiece, Seeley relayed the information that he knew everyone else was waiting for.
“Intruder has been killed. I want the house thoroughly inspected though to ensure she didn’t have an accomplice. Someone helped her get that security system down. The immediate threat to the primary package has been taken out. I repeat. Ziva David has been located and is dead. Someone needs to call this in. I’m on my way down.”
Fifteen minutes later, as Seeley stood on the lawn looking at the dead body of Eli’s little girl, he felt someone stop to stand next to him. When he saw Tony standing there, he wasn’t surprised in the least.
“It’s done man,” Seeley advised slapping Tony’s back then putting an arm around his shoulders. “She’s gone. She can’t torment you anymore.”
“Yeah, maybe not,” Tony agreed and when his eyes turned Seeley’s direction, he knew what the NCIS agent was thinking. “That doesn’t mean we haven’t both put bigger targets on our backs. If Eli David was pissed before, imagine what will happen now that his little girl is dead.”
Tony sighed and turned his eyes back toward his dead former co-worker. “I hate it had to come to this. I don’t think I will ever understand people so full of hate. This game is nowhere over, my friend. Neither one of us will be safe until Eli is caught and put somewhere, he can’t hurt anyone else. He’s managed to destroy his whole family without even purposefully trying. Imagine what he’s going to plan for us.”
“Bring it on man,” Morgan said from his spot on the other side of the body. “No one is gettin’ near either of you. He’s just gonna have to learn to be disappointed.
As cars came to an abrupt halt in the nearby driveway, Seeley couldn’t help but guess that disappointment wasn’t something the former Mossad Director did well.
End Notes: I write fanfiction for fun. It’s a hobby and a stress relief. I refuse to angst over my writing. What you see is what you get. Errors, plot holes, and all. Thank you for reading my story!