Part 1: Reflections
Tony sat in the middle of the large booth in Smitty’s Bar. It was a simple bar and for him and the people around him it was perfect. When the arm came around him and pulled him close he smiled up at the man relaxing even more. Tony looked around at the people that were with them, drinking, laughing and having an all-around good time, Tony realized he was happy.
The last eight months had been something of an epiphany for him. The way he had been accepted for who he is, the respect and genuine affection he got from these people was something of a wonder to him. They all liked him, not just the persona that he had carefully cultivated over the years to keep people at a distance, but they got him. They got the heart of who he really is, they saw through the facade and didn’t let him get away with his bullshit. They cared. The teasing was good natured and again, affectionate. He smiled and laughed a genuine laugh when they got together like this and he felt more at ease all the time. He began to feel comfortable even in his own skin, something that he hadn’t felt in a very long time.
The other thing he realized was there was no competition. No one trying to outdo or one-up each other. No one trying to outshine the other because they each, in their own way, shined. They each had their talents and had at one time or another gone above and beyond their duty and it made Tony feel a sense of pride, of accomplishment that he was the one to lead some of those that were sitting around this loud, raucous table.
Then he looked up at the man beside him again and his heart fluttered in his chest. No matter how many times he looked, it would always feel the same. New, exciting and so stupidly in love it made him sometimes question why he wasted so many years on someone that didn’t even give him a second look. When the man bent down and kissed him, unashamed in his actions Tony practically melted into the sticky vinyl of the booth. When a strong hand cupped his cheek and that smile was given just for him it made such emotion well up inside him that he had to duck his head a moment to control the blush he knew was creeping up on his face. And when he got a rare, but genuine smile from that same man it made his heart both flutter and ache to make it happen again.
“Okay, okay calm down everyone. It’s now time for the monthly box of the strange and weird from my father.” Tara Gideon, Tony’s 2IC and a woman he came to greatly respect stood on slightly shaky legs. He knew she was a bit tipsy, but would switch to coffee soon because she didn’t want to get drunk.
Everyone at the table quieted down but would talk in little whispers with each other as Tara handed out the quirky gifts sent each month to a group of people that had been left behind. Tony had never asked for the full story; he knew one day his lover would tell him.
“Now Reid, catch,” Tara giggled as she threw the bubble wrapped package over to him.
“Hey, Tara, watch it.” Reid grumbled a little but there was no heat behind it. Even though everyone was anticipating what it was, they all knew it would be another chess piece.
He opened it and the table was silent in anticipation of what it was. When Reid scrunched up his face Tony sat-up and just knew this was going to be good.
“Where in the world would he even find something like this?” Spencer held up the chess piece that was an ornately carved wood piece in the shape of the Pi symbol.
“He’s got your number Pretty Boy,” Morgan laughed as he slapped his best friend on the back.
The teasing went on for a minute till Tara calmed everyone down. Tony watched as she pulled out the next little present and threw it towards his lover.
“And you Hotch.” She smiled fondly as he caught the package. He slowly opened it and surprise flashed on his face. While it wasn’t unusual for Hotch to get coins from Gideon, Tony wondered at the look of shock.
“Everything alright Aaron?” He asked as he laid a hand on his thigh.
“Yeah, it’s just, I never expected something like this. It’s a 1909-S VDB penny. It’s fairly rare. See the VDB initials just under the wheat stalks? That was the initials of the designer. There was such outcry from the public because of how large the initials were and that they were even on the penny that the US Mint had to redo it. These are now very valuable.” Hotch carefully put the coin away and Tony couldn’t help the cheeky smile that he sported.
“What?” Hotch looked up to see everyone gaping at him.
“I don’t know Hotch, your geek side is showing. Are you sure that’s such a good thing?” David Rossi, Hotch’s best friend, and fellow Italian teased.
“You and Tony are always telling me I should loosen up.”
“Oh, I’m sure Tony tells you to loosen up all the time,” Dave smirked as he took a sip of the scotch, he had been nursing all night. Without even skipping a beat Hotch grinned and turned to Dave.
“Well, he did help me take the proverbial stick out of my ass, as you often put it.” The table all stopped and again stared at Hotch. He was in a rare mood and everyone was shocked.
“Oh no, he just replaced it, with something much better.” Dave teased back and both teams lost it. They were laughing so hard that someone started hiccupping, and someone else was slapping the table. Tony just shook his head as he chuckled and leaned into Hotch who pulled him close and gave him a big, sloppy kiss.
It was all par for the course for one of their get-togethers. It started out as a way for Tony to actually get Hotch out of the house and socializing again. Then it morphed into something else, something special that Tony could never quite name. It was the type of friendship and camaraderie that he had missed. Though everyone had their own secrets, things they wouldn’t share in a group and that was fine. People needed to keep their deeply personal stuff to themselves or be allowed to share with who they wished. There were things he’s shared with Hotch over the last few months that he would never talk about at these get-togethers, but, this was a way to be open, to connect and make friendships that were, he hoped, genuine.
It had taken Tony awhile to get to this place. This place of carefree laughter and teasing that was genuine and honest. He was brought out of his reflections a moment later when Hotch was nudging his shoulder.
“Tone, where did you go?” Hotch asked quietly.
He smiled wide and he knew he felt the slight warmth of his cheeks as he turned to Hotch.
“Just, thinking.” He curled his fingers with Hotch’s and leaned in. He was a very tactile person and when he found out that Hotch was just as tactile it just made everything better. The person he had been with before didn’t want to be touched, or hugged or even hold hands, only in private did they do those things. It had often been a let-down for Tony. But, here with Hotch, he could be himself and Tony was slowly learning who that really was.
“You back with us boss?” Tara asked him, her eyes sparkled with amusement. He knew, however, just how quickly that amusement could turn into stone cold calm. She had been a balm to his fragile and bruised ego when he first made the decision to leave NCIS. It didn’t take long at all for the two of them to find respect in each other. Tara was smart and she knew what she was doing right from day one. Tony’s respect and admiration grew when he realized that the woman never used her father’s connection to get where she wanted to in the Bureau.
“Anthony my boy, I can safely say without a doubt that you have found a much better place for you. And I am honored that you have included myself and Mr. Palmer in your get-togethers.” Tony beamed at the man that had been sitting on the other side of him. He always had a soft spot for Dr. Donald ‘Ducky’ Mallard. The man had always shown him that he knew exactly what Tony was all about. It warmed him to know that at least two people from his old life respected and supported his decisions.
“Yes, thank you, Tony,” Jimmy said from his place next to Ducky. Though he was currently wrapped around his boyfriend Dr. Spencer Reid. That came as a surprise to Tony, but the two geeks were just impossibly adorable together and it made Tony happy that Jimmy had found someone that truly understood him. The relationship was still new but he had a feeling that Dr. Reid was the kind of man that held onto those he loved, and boy had he fallen hard for James Palmer.
“Anytime Jimmy, anytime.”
The party was slowly dying down, but the feelings of friendship and connectedness would linger. These get-togethers helped everyone. It helped them forget the horrors they often see on their job, especially Hotch’s team. There had been times the two teams intersected on a case and it gave Tony just an inkling of what they saw on an almost weekly basis. Hence the other reason he started these nights out. They all needed it and he saw a difference in his own team after they started. A chance to destress and have fun outside of work was always a good thing in Tony’s mind.
He was almost shocked when he heard a familiar voice coming towards them. He looked-up and his face hardened. His good mood shattered in one go.
“TONY,” the screech had him pulling back and looking up into a face he hadn’t seen since he walked out of NCIS.
“Abby,” his voice went flat and cold as he looked at the woman he had thought of as almost a sister. But, her betrayal and little slights against him over the last months before he left NCIS were wounds that were still too fresh.
“Don’t I even get a hug?” She stuck her lip out and pouted.
“What are you doing here Abby?”
“We just heard about this place, decided to come to try it.” McGee moved forward and plastered on a smile that Tony knew was fake.
“No, you didn’t. This bar is clear across town from NCIS. It’s also not on the internet other than an address and name. The only way you could know about it is if you somehow tracked my phone, which if you did is a violation of FBI protocol and I could have you up on charges. Or, the other explanation is if you followed Jimmy. And if you did that I could have you up on charges of stalking.” Tony gave them his ‘don’t fuck with me’ smile. The three newcomers knew that smile well. It was one he used in interrogation a lot.
Tim’s face was pinched in a scowl as he looked at Tony. “We just wanted to see how you were. It’s not like you talk to us anymore.”
“I talk to the people that I care about, and they are all at this table. Isn’t that right babe?” Tony turned to Hotch and kissed him. When he turned back around the shock on Abby, McGee and Ziva’s faces was priceless.
“But, Tony what about Gibbs? He misses you. We all miss you.” Abby practically whined as she pouted looking at him.
“Somehow, I highly doubt that and right now Abby, I couldn’t care less about what Gibbs thinks or wants. In fact, you can tell the Gunnery Sergeant to go fuck himself. Now, if you guys don’t mind, I was having a pleasant time with my partner and our friends.” Tony kept the fake smile plastered on his face as he glared at the three. After a moment they got a clue and moved on.
Tony sat back and scrubbed a hand over his face.
“I know I should be above this, but I really wanna scratch her eyes out.” Tony’s teammate Gina LaSalle said as her eyes never strayed from the Goth’s back.
“It’s okay Gina. She’s all bark and well she bites but not physically. She’s manipulative and childish and I no longer believe I should be treated that way. So, let’s just get back to what we were doing.” Tony smiled tightly as his eyes flicked to the bar where Abby, Ziva, and McGee were leaning against, their eyes every-so-often flicked over to him.
It was another hour and the party broke up. Tony almost laughed at how McGee’s eyes bugged out when Spencer pulled Jimmy into his arms and kissed him quite soundly on the mouth. Wrapped-up together they left the bar and Tony couldn’t have been any happier than he was at that moment for Jimmy Palmer.
He was saying his goodbyes to the rest of the team, and Aaron’s team before he felt strong arms wrap around his waist from behind.
“Ready to go home?”
Home. It was a word that he never thought that he’d get to truly say. Oh, he’d lived in places all over from New York to Virginia but none, not even with his mother, did anyplace truly feel like home. Not until Aaron, and what the man offered. Home, stability, love without strings and a son that he was getting to know and fall for a little more each day. He reflected back on the evening, and all the evenings as of late and even with the little hiccup of three former friends, he was happy.
“Yeah, yeah I’m ready to go home.” He reached over and grabbed his coat and something had been slipped inside his pocket. He took it out and saw it was a postcard.
My daughter tells me you don’t let her get away with any bullshit. That’s good. I’m very happy you could see past her connections and gave her a chance. She’s a smart girl and I’m proud of her. I may have been a shitty father, but I love my children, even if they don’t believe that. I trust you to take care of her and protect her. But, also let her fly like she was meant to. I hear you’re also dating Aaron. I just have one thing to say to that; hurt him and I will have to kill you.
Or, am I? You may never know.
“What is it about you Aaron Michael Hotchner that I’ve now been threatened by a fellow Italian and a Jew that if I hurt you, they wish imminent death on me?”
Hotch laughed a deep hearty laugh as he looked lovingly at Tony, “Hey be glad you haven’t met Max. He’s much, much worse.” Tony just gaped as he watched Aaron start towards the entrance of the Bar. Then the view just made his throat tighten as he ran to catch-up. Yup, even with the death threats, he was most definitely happy.
Later that night after getting Jack to bed, the two men lay in a sweaty, sticky heap, Tony reluctantly disentangled himself from his lover and went to go shower. Taking a deep breath he relaxed more and more. Seeing Abby, McGee and Ziva had shaken him more than he let on. He smiled to himself when he felt Aaron behind him.
“What are you thinking?” Aaron asked as he took the washcloth and started to wash Tony’s back.
“Baltimore. When we first met and how I wished I had either asked you to stay or taken you up on your offer.”
“We’re here now Tone. Don’t beat yourself up over the past. Believe me, I know how caught-up someone can get. I love you Anthony DiNozzo Jr. and that will never change.”
Tony turned and laid his head on Aaron’s shoulder, “I love you, Aaron. I think I fell that day but always denied it.” He took a deep breath and let himself be surrounded by strong arms, and strong memories of Baltimore thirteen years prior when Agent Aaron Hotchner, dark, handsome and confident strode through the Baltimore PD looking just for him.
Part 2: Baltimore 1997
Aaron Hotchner was sitting in his office in the BAU getting some work done on the cases he had just finished. He wanted to talk to Gideon about adding more people to the team, or for that matter creating a team. Though working alone had its advantages, he thought that maybe a small team, with diverse backgrounds might do a lot better. He was about to go talk to his boss about his ideas when he heard a knock on his door. He looked up and lo and behold there was Gideon.
“Jason, come in. I was just about to come to you. With Max getting ready to retire I had a thought. Maybe we should be doing this as a team. I have a proposal written out with the different aspects that I think could be broken up. Like a media liaison. Someone more personable who can also deal with the media and work on keeping our cases on the down low till we can either get them solved or put them in the cold case section. I also had another….” Jason held up his hand and Aaron stopped mid-sentence.
“That’s what I was coming to talk to you about. I read your mini-proposal that Max outright rejected. I, on the other hand, think it’s a good idea.” Gideon sat back in the office chair across from Aaron’s desk chewing on a toothpick and chuckled at the stunned look on Aaron’s face.
“Ah, okay. I have a few candidates that I’ve been looking through their records. One is Derek Morgan out of Chicago. Went to college on a football scholarship, but his knee was blown the second year. That does not mean he slacked off in academics. He has a master’s in Criminology, Criminal Justice and basic Forensics. He has also been taking classes in Psychology specializing in obsessional and sex crimes.” He handed Gideon the file to go over while he grabbed the other file from the top of the pile.
“Anthony DiNozzo Jr. Currently a Detective with Baltimore PD. He has a Physical Education degree and was a two-sport athlete. He suffered a broken leg during football season, and it benched him. It also disqualified him for scout recruitment that year. What isn’t known is that he was taking classes in Criminology at the same time. His track record speaks louder than his education. He’s smart Jason. Probably smarter than he lets on. His SAT scores were 1350. I wonder if he downplays it. Looking at photos of him I am quite certain that he does. Doesn’t want to look smarter than those around him.” Aaron handed Gideon that file as well.
“I can also put out a call for possible media graduates and see what we get.”
“Well, I can see you put a lot of thought into this.” Gideon teased as he set the files on the desk.
“After Boston….” Aaron rubbed his face and sat back as he studied Jason. “I think if I had a team with me we could have caught him, Jason. I know the answer is there and I know it’s staring me right in the goddamn face and I can’t see it. I can’t see what the hell I’m missing and I wake-up every night in a sweat thinking I let a serial killer go free.” Aaron angrily pushed the files aside and sat back in his chair.
“Hotch, you can’t blame yourself for the Reaper getting away. You did everything you could, and you stayed way beyond even reason dictated. You have to let it go Hotch. You can’t let these cases in, you have to stay focused on what we can do.” Gideon watched him as pulled back on his anger. He still smarted all these months later that the Reaper got away, went dormant and he had no fucking clue why. It wasn’t usual for a serial killer to control their urges, but The Reaper never went into spree mode. It had all been so controlled and calculated and the whole thing was just messing with his head. He knew Gideon was right, he had to let it go, at least for now.
“Why don’t we go to Baltimore, talk to this kid and get a feel for him, if we like him, then we’ll offer him a job. If not, we’ll head out to Chicago and talk to this Detective Morgan.”
“Yeah, okay. Will you even get the travel approved?”
“I’ll sick Rossi on Erin. Works every time.” Jason smirked as he stood from the chair he was in. “And Hotch, go home to your wife. Don’t let this job take that from you. Take it from someone who has made too many mistakes on that front.” Jason left to go to his own office and Aaron cleaned-up the mess he made of his desk. He took one look at the box that always sat behind him. He was tempted to open it up, but Jason was right. He was obsessing. He grabbed a few files and stuffed them in his briefcase to go over later in the evening.
When he was done, he left the office and made his way home. When he entered, he knew right away that something was wrong. The lights were half off, and Haley wasn’t anywhere to be seen. He made his way into the kitchen and found a note.
Went to Sister’s for dinner. Will be home late so don’t wait up for me.
Aaron closed his eyes and set the note aside. He knew he couldn’t keep lying to himself about what was really going on with her. He had figured out her ambitions for him when he decided to make the drastic career change and apply to the FBI. While he was with SWAT, he thought everything had been okay.
The many long hours of discussion about him leaving the prosecutor’s office and wanting to go into the FBI made him believe she was onboard with his ambitions. She was mad at first for suggesting the change in career, but he thought that she had eventually come around. Much to his frustration, she had lied to him. He let it go until he was offered the job in Seattle. He wanted it, he wanted it badly and she acquiesced. He was a couple of years into working his way up in that office when David Rossi had come around because of a multi-state case that was dropped in their laps. He was more than interested when, after the case went cold, Rossi offered him a place in the BAU. He talked to Haley again, and again she had pretended to be okay with the move. Little had he realized she was just biding her time to try to manipulate him to going into the DOJ or some other high-powered law firm. The little dinner parties with several powerful lawyers across DC and their part of Virginia did not get lost on him.
They fought over his moving up in the FBI and it all finally came tumbling out. That she thought she was going to be the wife of a high-profile lawyer and that he would eventually make his way into politics. He didn’t want to be a politician, ever. That had never been one of his ambitions and she knew it, but she thought if she maneuvered him just right that he would go along with it. How wrong she had been. Now, they were here, Haley out doing god knows what and him at home trying to decide if they had a marriage worth saving.
Setting his briefcase down he was too tired to think about the state of his marriage at the moment. He picked up the phone and called to have a pizza delivered. It was all he had the energy for. After it arrived he got down to working on the files he brought home. One thing he wanted to get out of the way was the draft for the ad for a media liaison. Once he got the wording where he wanted it he looked through the other candidates’ files. He started with Danny Williams in New Jersey, making notes as he looked over each file. That was followed by Danny Reagan in New York, Sara Sidle in the forensic unit in Las Vegas, newly minted Detective Marcus Bell in New York and Jane Rizzoli in Boston. She was also at the top of his list because of her invaluable help on the Reaper case and he had wanted to try to recruit her right then and there, but he knew he’d have to talk to Gideon before he made any type of offer.
After writing his assessments on each of his top picks he set the files aside and dragged himself up to bed. The next few days were going to be a flurry of activity, well if he got his way that was.
Tony was at his desk in the cramped bullpen of the Baltimore PD when he heard his name being called by his Captain. He cursed under his breath as he threw his pen down on his desk. He really didn’t need this. He was behind on his reports and wanted to finish so he could go down to Tarantino’s for a drink and maybe pick-up a date for the night.
“DiNozzo, I said you have visitors.” The Captain yelled again.
“Coming,” he yelled back as he got up from his desk, grabbed his jacket and slipped it on then made his way to the Captain’s office.
“Yeah Cap?” He asked as he looked at the two men standing there.
“These two men are from the FBI, they want to talk to you about something. I have no idea so don’t ask me. Go use the conference room.”
“Don’t you think we should be introduced first?” Tony let out his most charming smile as he stood and held his hand out for the older man first. “Detective Anthony DiNozzo Jr. and you gentlemen are?”
“SAIC Jason Gideon and this is SSA Aaron Hotchner. We’re with the Behavioral Analysis Unit. We’d like to talk to you privately if you don’t mind.” Tony shook both men’s hands, but couldn’t quite keep his eyes off the one named Aaron. It was no secret among his closest friends that Tony had an eye for both the ladies and the occasional gentlemen and this Aaron Hotchner quite fit the type of man Tony was easily attracted to.
“Come on, we can use the conference room, such as it is,” he joked as he led them to another part of the station and a small room with a round table and several chairs. “Now what can I do for you? Is the FBI looking into a case?”
“Actually, we’re here to talk to you about a place on our team,” Aaron said as he took a seat across from Tony.
“Your team. I thought you guys liked to work cases alone.”
“So you know about our department.”
“Serial crimes, but your specialization is in serial killers. I’ve read a book or two.” He smiled as he watched the two men.
“Rossi’s first book. We’ll never get him to shut up about it.” Jason stifled a laugh as he turned back to Tony.
“That’s why we are looking to build a team. Things get missed and I wonder how many of our cold cases could have been solved if there had been more than one person working them. We are looking to put together a five-person team. A media liaison, a tactical expert and at least three profilers. You’d be fast-tracked through the academy and into the profiling classes but in six months you’d be a full-fledged FBI agent and part of the BAU.” Aaron hoped he made his case. He really wanted Tony on his team.
Tony narrowed his eyes a moment as he leaned forward, “You must have read my file. I’m not a profiler, or at least not really what you’re looking for. I have what essentially amounts to a PE degree and a few night classes under my belt…”
“Your solve rate and caseload are impressive Detective DiNozzo. We need solid people for this team. People with experience in the field. People just exactly like you.” Aaron smiled as he leaned back in his chair.
“Look, I’m flattered,” Tony smiled that boyish smile that he knew could charm the pants off of anyone, “But, believe it or not, I like it here. Baltimore is good to me and I’m not sure if I want to leave.”
“What can I do to convince you?” Aaron tapped the table as he raised his brows at the young Detective.
“Anyone ever tell you that’s a sexy look on you Agent?” Tony just couldn’t help it. This was a very good looking guy and he just felt the urge to flirt.
Aaron couldn’t help the blush that crept up on his face as he tried to hide the smile on his lips.
“What I think my colleague is trying to say is that you would be an asset Detective.” Jason looked over at Aaron and just shook his head.
“I’m sorry guys. As I said I am really flattered, but I just like it here. Maybe if you have an opening in a couple of years or something but right now, this is where I want to be.”
“Okay, well thank you for taking the time to talk to us. If you change your mind, here, my card, and Hotch’s.” Jason gave him one of his and one of Aaron’s cards.
“It was no problem. At least you weren’t here to interrogate me about a murder.” He joked as he led the two agents out of the police station. And Tony just couldn’t help watching SSA Aaron Hotchner walking out.
“Hey DiNozzo, still on for Tarantino’s?” One of the other detectives yelled at him as he walked back towards the bullpen and his desk.
“Yeah, if I can just get through my paperwork I’ll be ready.” Tony sat back down at his desk and took the cards he was given out of his pocket. He stared at Aaron Hotchner’s just a little too long before he stuffed it in his desk. He wasn’t going to think about the man at all. Well, okay he was, but he knew the attraction wasn’t mutual and he also didn’t miss the ring on the man’s finger. Oh well, Tony thought, probably better this way anyway.
Aaron was glad he talked Gideon into staying the night. Even though the trip over was short, about an hours drive, they had ended-up, ironically, on a case. They were headed out when Baltimore PD called them back. Aaron had almost laughed at the stunned look on DiNozzo’s face when they returned almost two hours later.
Working with the Detective, Aaron was very sorry that they couldn’t woo him away. He was everything that Aaron had thought he would be. Smart, intuitive and two steps ahead. They had a profile on their strangler before the day was even done. Now all they had to do was narrow down the possible areas that the killer would strike next. For tonight though, Aaron just wanted to relax.
He had left Gideon in the hotel alone while he went in search of something to eat. He ended up at a little Italian place that was both a restaurant and bar called Tarantino’s. He was sitting at the bar eating some excellent pasta and indulging in a single glass of scotch. He wasn’t sure why he did it, he would look back often and try to understand his motives that night, but he took off his wedding ring before he had left the hotel room. He had texted Haley to let her know that they had stumbled into a case and all he got back was a text that said, of course. That was it. He put his fork down and rubbed at his forehead trying to stave off the growing headache.
“Well Agent Hotchner, I am surprised to see you here.” Aaron turned to look at the man that sat on the stool next to him. Anthony DiNozzo, walking fucking temptation. It wasn’t well known that Aaron liked men just as much as he did women. It was quite frowned upon in the Bureau and he was married which made him keep his urges in check. But lately, well, lately he had been tempted, more than once. He knew part of it stemmed from Haley’s cheating and his ignoring the problem, but he was not the type of man that went outside of his marriage bonds.
Detective. I was hungry and this placed looked promising. I have to say the food is excellent, which quite surprised me.”
Tony leaned on the bar and raised a brow at the Agent, “Do you always judge something on outward appearance?” The smile was devastating and Aaron was having a very difficult time keeping his composure. He picked up his glass and took a swallow of scotch.
“No. I like to explore, make up my own mind.” What the hell are you doing Aaron Hotchner? He screamed inside his head and he smiled back at the Detective.
Tony, being bold was the only way Aaron would describe the man, picked up Aaron’s fork and took a bite of the pasta. Aaron’s heart was racing as he watched those lips wrap around the fork and his thoughts turned, well they were just highly inappropriate.
“Mmm, the Arriabata. And you chose the lamb, bold move Agent. Most people would have gone for chicken or even seafood. I can see you like it at least a little adventurous.” Tony put the fork back down and signaled the bartender. He ordered a scotch and his own meal then sat back up.
“Lamb, I find, is quite underrated and underutilized. It’s both bold in flavor but quite…” Aaron lost his train of thought as his gaze swept back to Tony and his very kissable looking lips. “Lush.” Shit, this conversation was going to get him into so much trouble if he didn’t reign it back in.
“Exactly my point.” The two men sat in companionable silence while Aaron continued eating. Butterflies had accumulated in his stomach and he downed the rest of his scotch hoping to quell the, well, quite lustful feelings that had welled up inside him.
They both finished off their food and the bartender took their plates away.
“I guess you need to get back to your hotel. Nothing like a good night’s sleep, right Agent?” Aaron didn’t mistake the hard swallow from the detective as he turned to look at him.
“I don’t need to get back right away.”
Aaron could tell Tony was contemplating something and his breathing became shallow and rapid with anticipation with whatever question was obviously on his mind. He didn’t expect the Detective to lean forward and his brain was most definitely short-circuiting.
“Well, if you don’t need to go back to your hotel right away, my place is just right down the block and I make a most excellent cup of coffee.” It was Aaron’s turn to swallow and he couldn’t keep the blush he felt creeping up off his face.
“That sounds good.” Oh god, Aaron thought, what the hell am I doing? Then Tony smiled again and Aaron knew exactly what he was doing.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck, Tony please, move.” Aaron arched into Tony’s touch as he wrapped his legs around the Detective’s waist. He knew exactly where they would end up when he accepted the invitation back to Tony’s apartment. They had barely cleared the front door before he had the man backed against the wall kissing him within an inch of his life.
Clothes were quickly discarded as they fumbled and stumbled their way into the bedroom and now Tony was currently slowly and maddeningly fucking him. He was begging for more but Tony wasn’t giving in. He was thanking every deity he could think of for keeping active and fit as he was virtually bent in half and Tony was using that talented mouth, kissing him, slowly thrusting his tongue inside, tasting him. He practically whimpered into that mouth.
“This is what it takes to break the cool collected Agent Hotchner apart?” Tony said breathlessly as he thrust in hard. Aaron was reduced to nonsense words then, oh god, then Tony was moving. Snapping his hips, he drove Aaron almost to the edge of sanity. This was so fucking good. Better than Haley, better than the few lovers he had in college, hell it was better than anything he had experienced before. Tony, Tony was not just talented. He played Aaron’s body like a fine instrument as each thrust, each touch and kiss brought him closer and closer to that edge.
“Tone, please,” Aaron was practically whimpering as the need for release was getting almost blissfully painful.
“Fuck, Aaron.” Tony sat up and hitched Aaron’s legs higher up on his hips, wrapped his hands around his waist and increased the pace of his thrusts. Every time Aaron went to touch his own cock Tony hit his hand away then fucked into him harder and faster.
Tony felt like he was getting close as he wrapped a hand around Aaron’s cock, pumping his hand in time to his thrusts.
“Tony,” Aaron moaned as his hips thrust up wildly trying to keep up with Tony’s rhythm. He faltered as that familiar pull that started in his thighs and built up in his groin, tightening his balls against him he threw his head back, his body bowed as he came all over Tony’s hand and his stomach.
“Fuck Aaron,” Tony faltered slightly and it wasn’t long before he came as well filling the condom. Tony was panting hard as he stayed where he was a moment trying to get his breath back. When he was soft enough to safely pull out he stood on shaky legs and went to clean up. He came back and collapsed on the bed. Aaron then went to do the same. He closed the door and looked at himself in the mirror. What the fuck just happened? He asked himself as he washed his hands than his face. He closed his eyes and relived the moment in his mind and knew, it wasn’t just sex. He couldn’t understand it but there was a connection with this man and it scared the shit out of him. Taking a deep breath he pulled himself together and walked back out to the bedroom.
Tony was propped up on his arm on the bed, “You don’t have to leave.” Which made Aaron stop in his tracks. He took a moment then slid back into Tony’s bed. He cupped Tony’s cheek and leaned up to kiss him, slow and gentle. He slipped his tongue out and slid it across those lips closing his eyes he moaned as he wrapped his arms around the man and held him close.
It wasn’t long before they were falling asleep, wrapped up in each other, each of them wondering just what they were going to do when reality set in. For the night, though they didn’t think just relished in being together.
Reality did set in. The case only took another two days and both of those days saw Aaron in Tony’s bed. When the time came for him and Gideon to leave he tried again to get Tony to come back with them or at least come to Quantico in a few days.
“I can’t. My life is here and I don’t really know if I’m right for the FBI.” He didn’t want Aaron to leave, didn’t want to say that his heart was twisting and he was sick to his stomach at the thought of the man leaving.
“Tony,” Aaron had been thinking hard and his next words he didn’t say lightly. “Baltimore isn’t that far, I could move somewhere in between….”
Tony laid a finger on Aaron’s lips to stop him from talking.
“No. Go home Aaron. Go back to your wife, you have a life there. I’ll be fine, I always am.” Aaron couldn’t keep the hurt off his face. He thought they had something here but he’d been wrong before. He had the terrible habit of falling too easily and he fell, God did he fall.
He started to reach out to the Detective but Tony just shook his head and walked away. Aaron frowned as he grabbed the box of files for the BAU’s own records and walked out, walked away thinking he was making the biggest mistake of his life. He looked back once and saw Tony laughing and joking with his friends. He turned away and got in the car, letting Gideon drive. He didn’t say a word all the way home and thankfully Gideon didn’t pry. He wouldn’t fall apart, he couldn’t, it was only three days together how could he think there was more? It was only three days after all.
Part 3: Georgetown University – 2010
Tony was still smarting over getting shot. It may have only been in the arm but it had hurt like hell and his arm was out of commission for the next few weeks while it healed. Thankfully it was his left arm in the sling. This left his right mobile enough to write reports and work on cold cases, though typing was a total bitch. He wasn’t cleared for field duty and it pissed him off. At the moment he was sitting in a classroom reading over an assignment he had barely completed the night before because of, you know, getting shot. He sighed as he put the paper down and rubbed at the headache that was forming. He was getting way too many of those lately. The stress of the previous months was killing him. And it had nothing to do with the cases. Not being able to play his piano, his one big outlet, had been taken from him. He sat back in his seat and tried to put all of this out of his mind as he waited for the class to start.
Tony had been taking night classes for over a year. He wanted to get a degree. A real, well according to every fucking asshole around him, degree. He was going for Criminal Psychology and he was doing very well. He was surprised at how easy he found school this time around. Maybe it was experience, maybe he wasn’t a rebellious teen anymore or maybe he just matured more than anyone wanted to give him credit for.
“Mr. DiNozzo, are you okay?” The visiting professor of his Behavioural Science class had come in early. It didn’t surprise Tony, he was usually early and they always had a few minutes to talk.
“I’m fine Dr. Reid. It’s a through and through. Hurts like a son-of-a-bitch, but yeah I’ll be okay.” Tony sighed as he stood and took his paper to the professor. Dr. Reid took the paper from him and read through it. Tony never knew how the man did it, and it rather amused him where it would freak out his other classmates.
“This is good Tony. Very good. In fact, it’s some of your best work. It makes me wonder why you’re in undergrad classes when you are much smarter than you give yourself credit for. You could easily be fast-tracked into a master’s program. In fact, that was something I wanted to talk to you about. An opening is coming up in the Behavioural Science Master’s program and I wanted to approach you with it. It’s a special set of classes that Georgetown has that caters to those in law enforcement. You’d have a general thesis to work through, and a capstone as well, but you could opt to have hybrid classes, which means you would only have to meet with your professors once-a-month. The rest of the time is all online and scheduled around you.”
“Dr. Reid, I, I don’t know what to say. Why do you want me for this?” Tony was feeling very uncomfortable at the moment. He knew he was smart, he knew what he was capable of but he had been so put down over the last couple of years by not only his teammates but at times his own boss. Gibbs had seen his potential in Baltimore, and he jumped at the chance to go with the man. He wasn’t going to make the same stupid mistake twice. Though there were times he regretted not taking Aaron Hotchner up on his offer. Right now, right here in light of what he was going through, he deeply regretted that decision. But, he had been happy at NCIS. Had been, that was the rub right there.
“Tony,” he heard his name being called. “Where did you go?” The professor smiled that shy smile that was so endearing on him. It made Tony think of Jimmy. He almost wanted to introduce the two men. He chuckled and set that thought aside for the moment.
“Sorry. Um, can I think about it? I just am not sure if it’s right for me.”
“Tony, I am absolutely certain this is right for you. But, take your time, the program doesn’t need an answer for a few weeks. But, I sincerely hope you do take it. They only take about 20 people each year and luckily I’ve been on the selection committee each year since its inception. I’m serious, you’re the type of person we look for.”
Dr. Reid sat on his desk and brushed the too-long hair out of his face as he studied Tony for a moment.
“I’ve been studying you. Well, I study all of my students. It’s a habit that I can’t quite break. I work for the FBI Tony. I don’t tell you guys because, well this isn’t a recruitment class and I don’t want to derail the time by everyone asking me about cases and what it’s like to work for such a high-profile agency. Believe me, I’m terrible at recruitment seminars.” He laughed as he crossed his arms.
“What department? I have a well, kind of friend who works in the FBI. Tobias Fornell?”
“You know Fornell? Ohhh, you’re the wonder kid.”
“I’m the what?” Tony frowned at him and crossed his arms.
“Hey, that’s high praise coming from Fornell. He’s a terrible bastard,” Dr. Reid said with a smile. “But he’s always talking to my boss about the wonder kid at NCIS and how he wishes he’d get off the ‘Gibbs train’ and wake-up and come to the FBI. That’s you isn’t it?”
Tony didn’t know what to think. He knew Fornell had offered him a job in the past, several times actually, but he hadn’t for a while.
“I didn’t think Tobias liked me that much. Wow, I’m ah, I’m kind of blown away.”
“He’s getting a promotion. They are bumping him up to Section Chief of the Major Crimes units. It opens up a whole new spot in the department. I wish we had something in the BAU…” Dr. Reid stopped talking at the look on Tony’s face. “Hey, you okay?”
“Yeah, yeah just… You’re BAU?”
Dr. Reid smiled a wide, goofy boyish smile that betrayed not only his age but his intelligence.
“Yes, and it was the best decision I ever made. Even with all the crap that’s happened in my unit lately, I wouldn’t trade what I do for the world. Why? Do you know someone in the Unit?” Spencer stood and walked around his desk getting ready for the night’s lecture.
“Um, no not really know, just someone I met before.” He took the paper that Spencer had quickly marked-up and gave back to him. A+, he chuckled and shook his head slightly as he made his way back to his seat.
The evening went quickly, the class had been interesting and Tony enjoyed it as always. His thoughts kept drifting, though, and a part of him wanted to ask about him, about Aaron, but he didn’t. He knew the mistakes he made and had to live with them. He just couldn’t get over the irony that his professor worked for the very unit that Aaron tried to recruit him for.
He was putting his stuff away when someone walked in the room.
“Ready Spence?” Tony stopped, that voice, he looked up and couldn’t take his eyes off the man standing there. Aaron Hotchner, Tony couldn’t move from his spot even if he wanted to, his eyes were riveted to the front of the room.
“Yeah, almost all packed-up.” Dr. Reid slung his satchel over his head and picked up his briefcase. Then, it was like Tony’s whole world was blown apart. Dr. Reid stepped into the man’s arms and kissed him. Aaron had smiled and reached up and played with the ends of Dr. Reid’s hair then pulled him in for another kiss. They wrapped their arms around each other and walked out the door.
Tony didn’t really think that the man would wait for him, he wasn’t that naive, but seeing the affection between the two just hurt. He sat there an impossibly long time. Long enough for the cleaners to come in and start cleaning. He rubbed at his chest as he picked up his backpack and made his way to his car. He got in and just sat there. He felt his whole life falling apart right in front of him and he had no idea what to do or where to go.
Rubbing his face, he backed out of the parking lot of the University and made his way home.
“Where’s Jack?” Spencer asked as he set his satchel down in the living room. Aaron came in and handed him a glass of wine. He leaned in and kissed Spencer.
“He’s asleep. He’ll be dead to rights until the morning. Did you want to go home, Spencer? I can have a neighbor watch him if you do.”
Spencer smiled and shook his head, “No, I’m fine Aaron.” He leaned in and gave Aaron a kiss, then the two men settled on the couch with Spencer leaning against Aaron’s side and Aaron’s arm around Spencer’s shoulder.
“What would you like to do? We can watch TV, or just stay here like this for a while.” Aaron rubbed Spencer’s arm.
“Why don’t we watch some TV, and just relax.”
Aaron smiled as he placed a kiss on the side of Spencer’s mouth as he reached over for the remote.
They stayed-up watching a little T.V., talking, and enjoying the wine Aaron had poured. Then Spencer crawled in his lap and all pretense was over.
“Should we go to bed?” Spencer whispered in his ear.
“Yes,” Aaron practically swallowed the word. Spencer stood and held his hand out for Aaron who took it and followed the younger man to his own bedroom. They peeled out of their clothes and fell on the bed in a tangled heap.
Afterward, Aaron was softly stroking Spencer’s back. He cared for the younger man, he really did but they knew what they were to each other. They weren’t in love, not by a long shot but he had needed something, someone after everything that happened with Haley. It wasn’t long after Spencer had gotten clean from his ordeal in Georgia that the affair had started. The two men needed some kind of connection and in this job having each other, being that outlet had helped keep both of them sane.
“Stop thinking so loud,” Spencer mumbled from where he had his head on Aaron’s shoulder. Aaron chuckled as he tightened his arm around the younger man’s shoulders.
“I was thinking we can go out to breakfast tomorrow. Maybe take Jack to the Smithsonian. We can ask JJ if Henry can come too.”
“That sounds nice, but I know that isn’t what you were thinking.” Spencer raised a brow and waited for Aaron to tell him the truth.
“I’m sorry.” Aaron closed his eyes a moment. “What are we doing Spencer?” Aaron asked his voice almost a whisper as he asked it.
Spencer pushed-up till his head was propped up on his arm and he could look down at Aaron. His other hand tracing the fading scars.
“I think we’re trying to stay sane Aaron. I think we are using each other not to go crazy. I care about you, Aaron. I do and you are the only person I trust.” Spencer fingered the blanket as he let out a sigh. “Do you want to end this? To stop seeing each other?”
Aaron looked up into hazel eyes and wished, not for the first time in almost thirteen years, that the eyes were green and the hair was blond and short. But it wasn’t. He wasn’t here and Spencer was and for now, he would make do.
“No, no I don’t” He pulled Spencer back to him and kissed him.
“I quit,” Tony growled as soon as he stormed into Vance’s office.
“Wait, what?” Vance looked up from the files he was going over and frowned up at Tony.
“I said, I fucking quit and here is my resignation.” Tony practically threw the paper on Vance’s desk and started to leave the office.
“DiNozzo, get back here,” Vance ordered and Tony stormed back in and leaned across the desk looking Vance in the eye.
“No, you aren’t my boss anymore and neither is Gibbs. All of you can take this job and shove it up your ass. I’m tired of the jokes, I’m tired of being Gibbs punching bag, figuratively and literally. I’m tired of you looking at me like I’m worse than dirt under your nails and I’m tired of the disrespect I get from my own teammates. Okay, yeah I fostered some of it, but seriously none of you could see past the facade? None of you could look past your own ego’s and see the amount of work I put into cases? That I’m not all jokes and fooling around? Seriously, we have a hard fucking job and to do it some levity is nice. I never got this bullshit when I was a Detective. So, here let me spell it out for you once again. I. Fucking. Quit.” He again started to leave Vance’s office, anger pouring off him in waves.
Vance stood and wiped a hand down his face trying to catch up to what was happening. He returned Tony’s glare with his own for a moment, then backed off. Toning his voice down a little he again said, “DiNozzo, sit down.”
“What? What is there to talk about?”
“I’d like to know what brought this on and why you want to quit a job you fought hard to get back to. I know I exiled you and, okay I may not always understand you, but I see the results. I’m sorry if I have never told you that. Now, what the hell happened?”
“Too much Director, from getting fucking shot when Ziva had the suspect in her sights and did nothing about it. Then I found out both Ziva and McGee took evidence off my desk that I had signed out for my report that I was going to put back. I find it in the fucking breakroom, hidden behind some boxes. When I confronted them they both said it was a joke. Why either of them even had it I don’t know. And what about the fact that Ziva knew what her boyfriend Rivkin was doing and she told no one. Anyone else other than your buddies little girl and they would have been brought up on treason. So don’t get all high handed with me, Deputy Director Vance. There have been other things, small slights that I just can’t deal with anymore and Gibbs does nothing about it. Now, now! they turned off the damn comms when I was on my feet for hours going door to door getting voice samples. Maybe if one of them had, oh I don’t know taken over at some point it might have been a little easier. Gibbs again does nothing about it and neither do you, even though it was in my official report. And you, you make snide comments about me all the time. Well, here Deputy Director.” Tony slapped the two recommendations by his professors on Vance’s desk and glared at him.
“I’ve been offered a fast track into the master’s program. So you know what? Every one of you can go fuck yourselves.” Tony stormed out of the office and ignored Vance’s cries for him to come back. He was just done with all of them. Storming back to his desk he grabbed a few empty computer paper boxes on his way.
Throwing open drawers Tony started pulling out his personal items and tossed them in the boxes.
McGee came back from lunch and saw Tony shoving his things in boxes and frowned.
“Tony? What’s going on?”
“Why McGeek, you want to burn me on more evidence? Turn off a comm, or, or I know, one of you gets me shot again. Or how about taking credit for some of my work, I know how much you love that. Wanna make fun of how I have a date every night when you know that I’ve actually been here, working.” Tony glared at him as he kept throwing his things in the box.
Ziva was only a few minutes later and she sauntered up to his desk.
“Finally getting rid of your child things, DiNozzo?” She smirked at him and he really, really wanted to wipe that smile off her face.
“It’s childish things Zee-ver, and why do I even care anymore?” He continued working on his desk ignoring the questions and the looks they were both throwing at him. When he had everything boxed-up and set aside he opened the bottom drawer of his filing cabinet. Taking an empty box he pulled all of the medals he had saved for Gibbs over the years, put them in the box, walked over to Gibbs desk held the box high and dumped them out. He didn’t care that they went everywhere, he was just done.
He was picking up his boxes when Gibbs walked in with a fresh cup of coffee in his hand and went to his desk.
“What the hell is this DiNozzo? Get over here and clean it up.”
“Clean it yourself. I’m done. I gave Vance my resignation so you can kiss my ass.” Tony turned and stormed out of the office. He didn’t even bother with the elevator he took the stairs two at a time because he wanted to get out of there as soon as he could. When he got to his car he threw his boxes in and got behind the wheel, ready to leave. He practically growled when he heard a voice calling after him.
“DiNozzo, what the hell is going on?” He didn’t know that Gibbs had been running after him.
“Ask Vance. I’m no longer playing your games, Jethro. As for warming your bed, you can forget that too. We’re done, in every single way.” Tony started his car and drove away not once looking back.
The pounding on his door was incessant. And loud. Very, very loud. Tony groaned as he sat up in bed. He had a very, very bad hangover.
“Tequila, why did I do tequila? Oh that’s right, bad movie, just quit my job, dropped my lover and who the fuck is pounding on my door?” He dragged himself out of bed and pulled on the sweatpants and relatively clean t-shirt that was on the floor. The pounding continued and it just added to the headache that was already behind his eyes.
“Gimme a sec, dammit,” he yelled, then winched at the sound of his own voice. Finally he made it to the door and opened it. What he didn’t expect was a furious faced goth girl pushing past him and storming into his apartment.
“How could you Tony?” Abby Sciuto, forensic specialist and someone he thought of as like a sister glared at him.
“Abbs, it’s only.” He looked at the clock on his blu-ray player and winched, “Okay so it’s not early but still shouldn’t you be in your lab drinking a god awful amount of kaf-pow and listening to Dying Fetus or something and working on evidence?”
“Hey, I’ll have you know Dying Fetus is an awesome death metal band. If you would just give them a chance….” Tony held up a hand to stop her on one of her death metal is awesome tirades.
“Abby, what are you doing here?” Tony asked, trying to stay as patient as he could with the woman.
“I came to take you back home so you could tell Gibbs that it was all a mistake. You didn’t really mean it, and you’re back on the team.” Tony’s face darkened and his headache got even worse.
“Listen very carefully to me Abby, I’m not coming back. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Understand?”
“But, Tony.” Tony almost winched at the whine that came out of her mouth. “Gibbs is going to miss you. We’re a family and without you what is he going to do?”
“I don’t care. Now, please go back to your lab and when you can talk to me like an adult and not a spoiled, petulant, manipulative child we will discuss this, but right now I have the mother of all hangovers and I don’t want to discuss this with you.”
“You’re the one acting like a spoiled child Tony. You’re breaking up our team, our family…”
Tony pressed his lips together and clenched his fists tight against his body to try to keep himself calm.
“There is no family Abbs. There hasn’t been since Gibbs came back from Mexico. In fact, since you tried to make me into Gibbs. Now, I get it Abbs, I really do. You love him like a father figure and frankly I think he indulges you way too much, but that isn’t my call, is it? But, I was never Gibbs and you just could never get over that. We aren’t family Abby, we haven’t been for a long time and I think it’s time you grew up and saw the goddamned forest for the trees.”
“Why are you saying these things Tony?” Abby frowned as she looked like she was going to cry. Tony could not really figure out if they were real tears or if she was pulling one of her little manipulative stunts.
“I’m just telling you the truth. I’ve woken up to the truth Abby. Gibbs is out for Gibbs. Now, please run along back to your lab, hug Bert, pout, do whatever the hell you want, just don’t do it here.”
“I don’t know why you’re being so mean. Gibbs will talk some sense into you.” Abby turned on her platforms, pigtails bobbing behind her she stormed out of Tony’s apartment slamming the door making Tony’s head pound even more.
He wasn’t sure what he had expected from her. She was always Gibbs first but he thought that they had a special relationship. He could see now that perhaps that was all a lie. Not wanting to think about it he went to his bathroom, grabbed the aspirin and dry swallowed two of them then took a blistering hot shower hoping he could stave off the migraine that was slowly developing on top of the hangover. When he got out he put on clean jeans and a t-shirt then padded out to his kitchen. He started a stovetop espresso pot for some coffee and pulled out a few ingredients to make a frittata, his go to hangover meal.
The coffee was done quickly and by the time he was taking his first sip he had some sausage going in one pan and some zucchini, mushrooms and tomatoes being sauteed in another. He took the sausage out and layered the pan with some thin sliced potatoes. When one side was golden brown he flipped the whole thing and let that side brown as well.The cooking was relaxing him by inches. He shut his mind off for the time being and he was able to not think for a few blissful minutes. He topped the potatoes with the vegetables and sausage. By the time he had the eggs, cheese and cream mixture in the pan the oven was ready. He turned it low and slid the pan in. It would take a short while to cook and he decided to have some toast with his coffee while he waited for his food.
Of course the small measure of peace he had gained was intruded on. He groaned in frustration at the knock on his door. He really hoped that whoever it was would just go away, but they didn’t. Resigned, Tony slid from the stool that he was trying to relax on and went to open the door.
“I don’t want to know what happened, I don’t need to, but what I want to know is, are you okay?” Tony blinked a few times as he looked at one Supervisory Special Agent Tobias Fornell.
“Umm, I think.”
Tobias smiled a toothy grin as he studied Tony, “This has got to be a first DiNozzo. I’ve actually rendered you speechless.”
“Screw you Fornell,” Tony chuckled at the laugh that spilled from Tobias. “I take it you want to come in?”
“May I? Don’t want to intrude on whatever brood you have going, just wanted to check on you.”
“How did you hear anyway…..Gibbs, he called you didn’t he?”
“Yes, he did,” Tobias said as he moved into the apartment. “And no, I’m not here to talk you into going back. I told Gibbs he could fuck off. If the kid wanted out, that meant that he, meaning Gibbs, fucked-up royally.”
“Let’s have this conversation in the kitchen. I’ve got a frittata in the oven.” Tony led Tobias into the other room and checked on his food then sat at the counter once again.
“Would you like some coffee? I can make another espresso.”
“I’m fine.” Tobias sat across from him at the counter.
Tony took a sip of coffee, rubbed at this eyebrow then looked back at his guest.
“I just couldn’t anymore Tobias. I needed out of there or else I was going to lose more pieces of myself. I know, I know I brought some of it on myself but not all of it. Not by a long shot. This comms thing was the last damn straw. I don’t care what they say about me, I’ve never broken basic safety procedures like that. I’ve always had my team’s back.” The timer dinged and he set his coffee aside and pulled the food out of the oven.
“That looks good.”
“My Italian hangover cure, want a piece?” Tony held it up for Fornell to see.
“Sure, why not.” Tony grinned as he plated up two pieces and threw on some pan grilled ciabatta.
“Tony, I came here because I have a job opening. I’ve accepted a promotion. It took a while because they wanted to find other positions for the people on my team, but I’m going to be Section Chief of the Major Crimes Units. We currently have two teams. One is a travelling team that helps out other MCU departments across the country. The other works directly with Homeland Security and sometimes CIA, but we need a Unit that can work locally. Now, when I say locally you could be working as far away as Maine, but you get the idea.”
“Who would I be under?”
“You wouldn’t. I want you for Unit Chief of your own team. You would be able to pick your own teammates. I have a stack of candidates you might want to talk with but all your decisions are final. Your work may also take you into collaborating with the BAU. If you get yourself into a serial case you have the option of bringing them in whenever you want. Unless it’s specifically a serial killer, then you will be required to bring in the BAU’s A team.”
“They have an excellent track record and they have been building a database on what we know about serial killers. Their combined skill, knowledge and solve rate has never been surpassed. The Director has them doing a lot of important database building and research in-between their cases so he wants every department on-board with this.”
Tony’s heart beat a little fast. He knew what this meant. He’d probably be working with Aaron Hotchner’s team. Whenever his thoughts drifted to the man, he ached. He ached in a way that he never could understand. It was only three days. But those three fucking days had made a mark on him. He never could quite rid himself of the impact that those three days had made on him. Could this be, somehow, an opening? A way to get to know the man again? But not only that, he’d be the boss. He had liked being in charge when Gibbs had done his dash when the going got really hard. When memories of a dead wife that he just couldn’t let go of reared up and fucked with the man once again. This was a chance, a chance at whole new possibilities. A fresh start, for, well everything.
“DiNozzo, you don’t have to give me your answer now. Take a few days, think about it.”
“Don’t need to. I’m in,” Tony said as he munched on a piece of bread.
“Okay. I’ll have a courier send over the contracts and some personnel files for you to look over. Take a few days anyway DiNozzo. You’ve earned a little rest.”
“I have just one question.” Tony narrowed his eyes at Fornell thinking of his, well for lack of a better word, nemesis.
“Saks will be nowhere near you Tony. I’ll make sure of it.”
“I know you better than you think. How about you come to the office on Monday. Take a nice long weekend. Go to the movies, relax have some fun for once Tone. Then we’ll get you settled in on Monday.”
Fornell took a few bites of the food and moaned in pleasure, “Jesus DiNozzo, if you cook like this why the hell are you still single?” He teased.
“You know me Fornell, gotta always keep them guessing.” Tony smiled wide, but even he knew it was fake. He had made connections in the past, but they always ended in disaster.
“Okay. Then I’ll see you Monday.” Tony saw Fornell out of his apartment and couldn’t help the smile that came over him. He couldn’t believe how quickly things had changed for him but he knew, deep down, that this was better. He had hope again where before he was slowly losing that hope, that joy that he once had. New agency, new job, and maybe, just maybe there was a slim chance with Aaron. Then he remembered seeing him with Dr. Reid, but before he lost even that hope he would get the whole story behind that first. Tony finished his breakfast and his coffee and found that he was feeling surprisingly better. Hope can do a lot of amazing things, and his future looked very bright indeed.
Tony had been having a good few days to himself. He had done some much needed shopping for some new clothes and some basic necessities. He also had a very good talk with his broker, where he moved some investments around and sold some stocks that looked like they were topping out. He also made long term plans and rolled over his retirement funds from NCIS and decided to take the hit on penalties if it meant a complete break from the agency.
He knew he preened, he liked dressing well and he liked his cars, but what no one really knew was just how careful he was with his money. Growing up with Senior wasn’t easy and knowing how his father blew through money, he didn’t want to do the same thing. Tony was very well off and he wanted to keep it that way. He knew something could happen at anytime and he wanted to be able to be comfortable if it did.
After his successful meeting with his broker he went out and bought a few books, had a nice lunch, went to his classes that night and felt more settled than he had in months. Currently he was home indulging in a plate of pasta carbonara, a nice soave wine with an antipasti salad. He settled in to watch Dark Passage, the lesser known classic with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It fit his current mood very well.
Tony was just about to start the movie when someone knocked at his door. Rolling his neck to try to ease the sudden tension in his body he slowly stood and went to open his door. When he did, he just glared at the person on the other side. He did not want them there, in any capacity.
“Gibbs. What are you doing here?”
Gibbs frowned at him as he held up the take-out bags, “It’s Friday night Tone, what do you mean what am I doing here?” He smiled and moved to step forward. Tony put a hand on his chest to stop him.
“Did you think I was kidding? I meant what I said Gibbs. We are over.”
Gibbs face fell and Tony almost believed the look of shock that came over his face, but he had been manipulated by one Leroy Jethro Gibbs one too many times to believe that look anymore.
“You didn’t really mean that Tony.”
“Yes, I did. Now, I’m already having myself a lovely dinner and was about to start a movie. So please, go home Jethro. I’m sure the next redhead that comes around will comfort you nicely.” Tony didn’t relent as he continued to glare at his former boss, former lover, former….everything.
Gibbs narrowed his eyes at Tony, “What the hell did I do?” He growled as he glared at Tony.
Tony sighed, he really was having a good day but he knew this conversation was inevitable.
“Fine, come in. But when this conversation is over you need to leave.”
Gibbs strode into Tony’s living room and set the bags of takeout on the coffee table.
“Can I at least have dinner?”
“Knock yourself out.” Tony couldn’t help the resignation in his voice as he resumed what he was previously doing.
The two men sat in silence for a while as they finished their food. Tony was not in the same good mood anymore and he had turned off the television and turned on his stereo on low. Knowing they needed to start somewhere, Tony pushed his plate away and sat back on the couch. He turned so he could look at his former boss.
“You want to know what you did Gibbs? How about we start with what you didn’t do. You didn’t reprimand the dynamic duo for breaking safety protocol. What if I had been hurt? What if something went horribly wrong? Sure, it was boring work, but fuck Gibbs, they needed to stay alert and listening on the damn comms. If it had been me that did it you would have torn me a new one, yet you didn’t even raise an eyebrow at them.”
Gibbs sat back and wiped his face, “They said you were goofing off.”
Tony curled his hands into fists and tried not very hard not to punch Gibbs in the face.
“Have you tried to go door to door in a huge ass gated community getting people to talk to you just so you can get their damn voice recorded? No? Then until you do, until you remember what grunt work was actually like you can’t blame me for trying to keep a little levity. Jesus fucking christ Gibbs, did you think that shit was easy?”
Gibbs blew out his breath as he threw his napkin on the table.
“No, no I know it wasn’t easy. And you’re right.”
“Excuse me? Did you just admit that I was right?”
“Don’t get carried away DiNozzo.” Gibbs stood and paced a moment, “If I talk to them, will you come back?”
“You don’t get it do you Gibbs? It isn’t just that. It’s the last eighteen months. It’s everything since Rivkin on. Ziva knew what the hell her boyfriend was doing. She knew and she told no one. She participated in an act of treason. Yet she’s still on the team. She got me shot, she tried to screw me on evidence and had McGee going along with all of it. It isn’t just the comms. Get your head out of your ass Gibbs and take a look at the people working for you. Wake-up. But don’t ever expect me to come back.”
Tony grabbed his plate and glass and walked into his kitchen. He slammed the glass down and threw the plate in the sink. He was so mad that he wanted to cry. He was standing hunched over the sink trying to get his emotions under control when he felt hands on his hips.
“Let go Gibbs. I meant what I said. We, this thing between us that you don’t ever want to acknowledge, we’re done.”
“You don’t really mean that Tone.” Gibbs whispered in his ear. Tony turned around, his jaw set as he glared at Gibbs.
“Yes I do.”
“I thought we were good, this was good.”
“For the few hours you’re here. But you aren’t all in Jethro. You never will be. It’s you, me and the ghost of Shannon that you just can’t let go of. I’ll never be her, no one, will ever be her. No one will ever be good enough for you to let her go and move on. Well, I’m moving on.” Tony moved away from Gibbs and went back to the living room.
“No, just leave.” He held Gibbs things out to him and didn’t even flinch when the man grabbed them out of his hand and stalked out of Tony’s apartment. He fell back on the couch and closed his eyes trying to get the pain and anger under control. A part of him had loved Gibbs. Had finally given in because he needed that something that Gibbs had been offering. The feelings were there, but even he had to admit to himself that he may not have been all in either. Most of the time Gibbs had been all he could think about, and he was happy with that, but sometimes he would creep in. Dark hair, dark eyes, handsome, a force all his own and Tony would ache. He wished he understood it. Wished he understood why Aaron Hotchner still had such a hold on him.
Tony wiped his face and gave-up for the night. He crawled into bed lying there trying to get Gibbs out of his mind so he could move on and make a new life for himself. He wondered if he should look for a new apartment. He didn’t want them to keep coming around trying to demand him to come back. He decided to put it on the agenda for the next day as he turned on his side and tried to go to sleep. He hoped everything would be better in the morning.
When Tony walked into the FBI building Monday morning precisely at 7:00 a.m he had a smile on his face, coffee in his hand and a whole new attitude. The weekend had been good to him. He even found a nice brownstone that he put in a bid on. Now he was just waiting to hear back from the real estate agent. When he stepped onto the elevator the world around him seemed to stop. He swallowed hard as the two men stared at each other.
“Tony…” The other occupant said almost breathlessly.
“Aaron,” Tony said with a smile.
“You look good.” Aaron’s breath had been knocked out of him as he stared at the man in front of him.
“And you look better than a man has any right to.” Tony smirked and poured on the charm.
“How have you been?” God, that just sounded stupid Aaron, he thought to himself. He was so caught off-guard that he was completely inarticulate.
“I’m good. I’m actually starting here today. Major Crimes.”
“You’re Tobias’s new UC?”
“I am. Can you handle that Aaron?” Tony pitched his voice low as he took a step forward. He was rewarded with the blush that creeped up on Aaron’s face and the visible hard swallow.
“I can handle it. We may be working together from time to time.”
The elevator stopped on Tony’s floor at that exact moment, “Yes, I was told. I’m very much looking forward to it.” Tony smiled as he stepped out and left a very perplexed Aaron Hotchner behind. Tony smiled to himself as he strode to Tobias’s office, having gotten directions from him the day before. Aaron, it seemed, still blushed very prettily. Tony was smiling and thought that just maybe there was that slim chance after all.
He found Fornell’s office easily and knocked.
“Ah DiNozzo, you found me, come on in.”
Tony entered and sat down in front of Fornell’s desk. He set his coffee down and pulled out the contract.
“Everything in here looks good. I signed and here you go.” He handed over the paperwork to his new boss.
“I think you’re doing the right thing Tone. Now, let me show you to your office.” Fornell stood and motioned for Tony to follow him. “The candidates you’ve requested will be here in the next couple of hours. That should give you time to get settled. I’ll have one of our tech analysts come up and get your computer set-up. There are some case files you should get familiar with also.” Fornell stopped in front of a nice looking, if very functional office.
“You’re kidding right?”
“No kiddo. Offices around here are not elevators. You get an honest to god office. Follow me.” Tony looked at the door and he smiled hugely. There was a name plaque, Unit Chief Anthony DiNozzo, Jr. He patted it once then followed Fornell out the door and to the side of his new office. He looked out into a bullpen similar to the one at NCIS. The set-up was a little different as there were sections of desks laid out like large squares.
“Each section is a team. Your team, will be over there. The smaller office next to yours will be for whoever is your 2IC, or lead investigator, it will be your choice who you give it to.”
“Wow, so this is really happening.”
“Yeah, it’s really happening. You aren’t changing your mind are you?”
“What? No, no not changing my mind at all just a little overwhelmed.” Tony took a breath and took it all in. “Okay, okay I can do this.”
“Of that I have no doubt.” Fornell walked Tony back to his office. “If you need anything at all DiNozzo you know where my office is.”
“Thanks Fornell. For all of this, for believing in me.”
“You’re a better man than you give yourself credit for DiNozzo. It’s time you step up and be the leader you were before. You can do this, I have a lot of faith in you kid..” Fornell clapped him on the back then left him alone.
Tony stood there a moment relishing the feeling of knowing he was in charge. Not only was he going to do things different than he did before, but he knew he was going to do things completely different from Gibbs. He would demand respect, of course, but he knew from experience that giving respect to those that deserved it was what made people want to give it back. Taking a deep breath he stepped into his office, turned on his computer, pulled the files that Fornell had left him and started to familiarize himself with his new place in life. It all felt so absolutely amazing. Now all he had to do was choose a team. How hard could that be?
Part 5: Quantico, FBI – 2010
It was really fucking hard. Choosing a team that is. He looked through dozens of files and while many were qualified for what his unit was being set-up for, only a few of them clicked with him. And, he had to admit they were a little rag tag. The first one he was really interested in, he wanted to talk to someone else about her. Get a second opinion so to speak. Picking up the file he didn’t even think before he made his way to Aaron Hotchner’s office. When he walked into the BAU bullpen he stumbled a little but there was one person he was beyond delighted to see.
“Dr. Reid,” Tony called out as he walked towards the desk.
“Mr. DiNozzo. Or should I say Agent DiNozzo,” Spencer stood and did something that shocked his teammates speechless. He hugged the man that had just walked in.
“Please, call me Tony. I actually wanted to speak to your Unit Chief.”
“Hotch? Sure, follow me. And please, call me Spencer since we’re going to be colleagues.” Spencer smiled that goofy infectious smile and Tony couldn’t help returning his own. He followed Spencer up the stairs to the office that Tony hadn’t missed. He also didn’t miss that Aaron had been watching them, closely.
Spencer knocked on the open door, “Hotch, Agent DiNozzo wanted to talk to you.”
“Thanks Reid, come on in Agent, and close the door.” Spencer’s brows disappeared under his hair as he looked between the two men and felt there was something else going on underneath. He really wanted to ask what was going on but decided to corner Aaron later.
The two men stared at each other, practically drinking each other in. Finally, it was Tony that broke the silence.
“How are you Aaron?” Tony’s breath was short as he tried to hold himself back from crawling in the man’s lap and kissing him within an inch of his life.
“I’m okay Tony. How are you? Are you settling in well?”
“Yeah, It’s a little strange but I’m getting the lay of the land so to speak.” God, could this conversation get any worse? Tony thought as he gripped the file in his hand. “I actually did want to talk to you, about a possible candidate for my team. Her name is Tara Gideon, and it says in the file that you are her medical power of attorney so I assume you know her well?”
Aaron smiled softly as he sat back in his chair, “I am and I do. Tara is an excellent investigator. She’s still young and learning, has a bit of a stubborn streak, but considering who she was raised by I’m not surprised. I think she’d be excellent for a unit like Major Crimes, it would season her a little.” It didn’t go unnoticed by Tony that Aaron didn’t say father, he set that little tidbit aside for now and would ask about it later if it wasn’t addressed. He knew, even from their limited experience with each other, Aaron never said what he didn’t mean.
“What’s your hesitation?” Tony also had picked-up on the slight hesitation that Aaron had when speaking about Tara.
“She had a difficult time growing-up. Her story isn’t mine to tell but she does have some anger issues that she is still working out. She has a temper and I’m worried it could get in the way, get her in real trouble.”
“Okay. I’ll take that into consideration. One thing I’m impressed by is that she hasn’t used her father’s name to get ahead. Couldn’t she write her own ticket?”
“She could. If she wanted she could petition a spot on my team, but she won’t. She hates that. She doesn’t like to be treated differently than any other agent. She’s trying to make her own way. I think,” Aaron narrowed his eyes and thought a moment, “I think you’d be good for her. I remember how patient you were with that young badge when I was in…well I remember how patient you were.” Tony quirked up a brow at the stumble. So, Aaron still thinks about those days too. Tony smiled as he stood.
“Thank you. You’ve helped me make a couple of decisions.” Tony started to make his way out the door. “Oh, if I need your invaluable counsel again, may I drop by?”
“Of course, anytime that I’m here. My door will always be open.” Aaron visibly swallowed and Tony couldn’t help pouring on the charm. He leaned a hip against the desk and tilted closer to Aaron, he pitched his voice low as he did it.
“Anytime you say? So, if I catch you here late at night and just happen to bring a cup of coffee or something, you wouldn’t mind, talking?”
Aaron blushed again, Tony did not think that he would ever get tired of making the man do that.
“Anytime.” Aaron finally said after he took a sip of water trying to get himself under control.
“Good. And, thank you for talking to me. It was very,” Tony stood and straightened his suit, “enlightening.” He gave one more smile as he sauntered out of the office and back to Spencer’s desk to say his goodbyes before going back to his office.
Spencer looked up towards Aaron’s office and raised a brow and wondered just what went on in there. He watched Tony walk out of the bullpen then looked back up and noticed Aaron watching Tony walk out of the office. Spencer sat back down at his desk and had some serious thinking to do.
Tony carefully studied the woman sitting in front of him for a few minutes before he finally spoke..
“So, Agent Gideon. I’ve reviewed your file and talked with several colleagues and they all say you would be perfect for my unit. I want to hear from you why you want to be on my team.”
“Sir, I’m sure you’ve also been told that I have a temper and need to work out some long unresolved issues.” She crossed her legs and bounced one on the other. “I won’t lie. I’ve been ‘in therapy’ for a while trying to get myself together. I need this. I need to prove to myself that I can be in the field and not let myself become emotionally compromised. I know my faults, Sir, but I’m also smart. As you can see I not only have a Psychology degree but a masters in Criminal Psychology and Police Science. I started out as a cop and worked my ass off to get here. I’ve never once used my father’s connection and I won’t. Ever. He’s a good man and I love him, even if he’s kinda gone off the rails. But, see that’s why they all watch me too closely, and they all forget that I’m adopted.”
Tony looked up for the file and narrowed his eyes, “You’re adopted?”
“No one told you?”
“No, they said that it was your story to tell me. Even Agent Rossi came to me and said to tread carefully.”
Tara rolled her eyes and chuckled, “Uncle Dave is the most over-protective asshole on the planet. I love him for it. But, it’s like because I grew-up around here they don’t want to acknowledge that I indeed have grown up. I’m not the little kid that sat on Uncle Max’s lap and peppered him with a 1000 questions and he grouchily told me to ‘get lost’ then proceeded to answer every one of them. I’m almost 30 years old and have earned my place here.”
Tony smiled at every word. He liked her. He liked her a lot. He liked that she was honest about herself and her own faults and needs.
“So, tell me then.”
Tara took a moment and sat-up straight and Tony knew this was a story she didn’t tell often. One she didn’t like to tell, he would be patient and wait.
“My real father was named Marcus Jamieson. My mother was Amelia. I had an older brother John and twin brothers, Andrew and Anthony. My Dad was an active duty Marine Doctor. His best friend was Leroy Gibbs. We lived just a few houses down on the naval base from them. One night, when my father was home on leave, someone broke into our home and attacked my family. I was saved only because Uncle Jethro and my father had made a hidden play area in my room which I scrambled into and hid in. It wasn’t until several hours later when Jason Gideon coaxed me out, that’s when I found out my whole family was killed. I was only six.” Tara sniffed as she squirmed a little in her seat. She looked down at her hands a moment before she continued.
“It was a family annihilator. The BAU had been after the same UNSUB for months after he killed five civilian families before he started stalking my father and our family. The common factor with all of the victims had been the fathers, they all were doctors.”
Tony leaned back in his chair and couldn’t even imagine the horrors she had gone through.
“When Uncle Jethro refused to take me in, even though he was my godfather, Jason took me in. He fostered me, then later adopted me.”
Tony was working out the timeline in his head when he leaned forward.
“This happened close to when Shannon and Kelly Gibbs were killed, wasn’t it?”
Tara nodded before she looked up again, “Look, I know you worked for him. And I want to work for you, I do, but I’ll tell you right now I want nothing to do with him. He made an agreement with my father and broke it. He abandoned me and it may be childish on my part, but I will never forgive him for it. I don’t know if you’re still friends at all with him, and if you are, that’s your own personal issues, just don’t expect me to have anything to do with him.”
“Don’t worry Tara, that ship has already sailed. LJ Gibbs has no place in my life. I’m sorry that happened to you but, I think we can work well together. Welcome to the team, Agent Gideon.”
“Really? You want me?” She smiled the biggest smile and Tony had to laugh.
“Yeah kid, I want you. Now, go take a desk.” Tony was wondering how she was going to do in a team. He was excited at the prospect of finding out.
He wasn’t going to choose his 2IC yet, not until he had his team fully assembled and they had a few cases under their belt. They needed to come together as a team first and the one that stood out in leadership would be who he promoted.
He had three more interviews planned for that day but he really needed something to eat, it was past one in the afternoon. He quirked up his mouth in a crooked smile then picked-up his phone and called Chief Sexy himself.
“Hotchner.” Tony almost groaned in pleasure at hearing that name.
“It’s Tony, Aaron. I was wondering if you were free for lunch? That is, if you hadn’t already had it.”
Tony waited and could almost picture in his head that Aaron was looking at the time and realizing that he hadn’t taken the time for lunch.
“I didn’t know it was so late. I have a budget meeting at 2:30, but I could take a few minutes. Meet me at Max’s? That little sandwich and coffee shop down in the lobby?”
Tony smiled and raised his eyes to heaven and did a little thank you.
“Sounds perfect. Meet you there.” He hung up, grabbed his jacket and pulled his wallet from his desk then walked out of his office and made it downstairs in no time. When he saw Aaron walking down the lobby, head slightly down, but with a sure, confident stride it did crazy things to his brain. Chief Sexy was right and Tony wondered how long it was going to take to woo the agent back into not only his bed, but his life as well.
Aaron kept smiling all the rest of the day through reports. It was making his day go faster and he had his pile taken care of, his budget meeting done and quarterly evaluations scheduled. He was snapped out of his almost zen like zone when Spencer stepped in, closed and locked the door, closed the blinds then walked over and crawled into his lap. The genius cupped his face and Aaron thought he was going to kiss him, but he didn’t.
“I’m letting you go.” Spencer gave him a soft smile as he rubbed a thumb over one of his cheeks.
Aaron frowned in confusion as he looked at Spencer.
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Tony DiNozzo. That’s him isn’t it?”
Aaron rubbed the back of his neck and wondered just what Spencer was on about.
“What are you talking about?”
Spencer took a breath and looked Aaron directly in the eye.
“When I first started with the unit Gideon took me aside one day and told me that you had your heart broken pretty badly. I knew he didn’t mean Haley. He was telling me this because of, well, he intuited my crush on you. He was entirely too perceptive. And he told me a vague story about Baltimore and I always somehow knew it was a man. Sometimes, when you look at me when we are alone I can almost feel you wanting it to be someone else Aaron. When Tony showed – up earlier, it was all you could do to hold back. You forget how well I read micro-expressions. So, in light of what I know, I’m letting you go.”
Aaron’s arms came up around Spencer as he buried his face against Spencer’s neck.
“What if I don’t want to let you go?” he whispered in Spencer’s ear.
“I know it scares you Aaron. I know how hard it is for you to let yourself feel. I know a part of you loves me, but, you are not and never will be in-love with me. You will always be in-love with someone else.”
Aaron pulled back and laid a hand on Spencer’s cheek and closed his eyes a moment.
“I do, you know. Love you. I think, I think if Tony had never walked in here, I could have been happy with you Spencer.”
“I know. And I know what you bought and I don’t know what my answer would have been. Because I do love you too. I could be comfortable with you, but don’t you think we would be cheating ourselves out of something more?” Spencer’s hand was over Aaron’s heart when he took a breath. “Take the chance Aaron. Don’t let it go a second time, don’t sabotage yourself before it even begins.”
“How did you get this smart?” Aaron smiled a bittersweet smile as he kept a hand on Spencer’s waist.
“With you it’s, I don’t know, easy. And maybe it shouldn’t be. Maybe if it’s really worth it, it should be hard and complicated and messy. We, we are too easy Aaron. So, keep that gift and give it to the person who truly deserves it.”
“I never deserved you. Dammit Spencer.” Aaron wiped his face as his eyes became wet, but he refused to let them go.
“You deserve to be truly happy Aaron. I don’t regret these last three years, and a part of me will always love you. And, I know you will always love me. But, I’m letting you go because I’m not going to be the other man, and I’m not going to get in-between what you could have.” Spencer bent down and kissed Aaron one last time then slid off his lap, unlocked the door and left his office.
Aaron’s heart constricted a little as he watched the genius leave. Spencer wasn’t wrong. They did have feelings for each other. If it had just been sex all these years it would have fizzled out, but it wasn’t. It was a human connection, someone who understood him, understood the job and accepted him for who he was. But, that was just the problem. The feelings didn’t go deeper than that. It didn’t mean that this didn’t hurt, that seeing Spencer walk away from him didn’t hurt like hell because it did.
If Tony had never walked in the building he would have tried to make it work with the genius. But, seeing the man on the elevator just a couple of days before, he knew it wasn’t going to work. Spencer was right, he wanted that second chance and to do that he had to let Spencer go.
Aaron waited till everyone was gone from the floor before he gathered his things. The only thing he didn’t know was how he was going to tell Jack. The boy loved Spencer and he wasn’t going to take that away from Jack. They would have to work something out, but all the plans Aaron had made were now down the drain. Oh, they would still move into the house he had bought, but the rooms that would have been Spencer’s office and library would stay empty, for now at least.
Aaron was sitting in his bedroom trying to stave off the headache that had been building. His prediction had come true. Jack was not a happy ten-year old. He loved Spencer like a second father and now, even though they hadn’t lived together it felt almost like a divorce. Jack was currently in his room not wanting Aaron anywhere near him. He would try to talk to his son in the morning before he had to drop the boy off for school.
Aaron had grabbed his phone from the nightstand and held it in one hand staring at it. The slip of paper with a phone number on it, in the other. He wasn’t sure what he was doing till he had the phone to his ear and someone was answering on the other end of the line.
“Don’t talk, just listen, please. When I walked out of that police station in Baltimore I knew, without a doubt that I was leaving something behind. I didn’t fight as hard as I should have. I was married and tried to keep the pretense of my failing marriage alive. I was a fool Tony. I should have turned around and told you the truth, but I didn’t. My marriage didn’t work out. We divorced only three years later and it wasn’t till after that she told me she was pregnant. I love my son. I try not to do anything to hurt him and right now he’s hurting because Spencer and I are no longer together.” He heard the gasp on the other end of the line but didn’t wait for Tony to say anything, he plowed ahead before his courage left him.
“I saw you, you know, at GU so I know you saw me with Spencer. We were in a relationship and until I saw you on the elevator I thought I knew where my life was going. But, he’s a smart man and he informed me that I would be stupid not to take another chance with you. But, I need to know, Tony, not just for my sake, but for my son’s, that if we start this, you are all in. I can’t take another heartbreak and neither could Jack. So, if you are willing to take me on, baggage and all I’m in.”
Tony was silent on the other end of the line as Aaron gripped the phone tight in his hand. He deeply hoped that he didn’t just spill his whole heart out just to get rejected. The silence and the anticipation were killing him as he waited.
“Do you need some time Aaron? I saw the affection between you and Dr. Reid. I’m not willing to get between you two if there is more there.”
“There isn’t. We ended things and I can promise you that I would never treat you like that. I don’t give easy Tony. I’ve been down this road too many times. But, I want this. And, yes I need a few days. Spencer needs to talk with Jack and I need to work out visitation with him. Can you handle that? Spencer is like a father to Jack and I would never take that from him.”
“I’d never want you to. And, I hope, when we are more sure of what this is between us, I hope to meet him. I want to meet him.”
Aaron couldn’t help the smile even though he knew Tony couldn’t see it, “Good. But it’ll take time. I want to do this right Tone.”
“So do I. When you are ready Aaron and I promise you I’m all in too.” Aaron heard the surety in Tony’s voice and it made his heart flip. Though he was still hurting letting Spencer go, he knew, the man he always wanted was there, waiting for him.
“Goodnight Tony.” Aaron took a shaky breath and felt something click in his heart.
“Goodnight Aaron.” The two men hung up and each went to bed with a mixture of emotions. One was feeling a combination of heartbreak and hope, the other a little fear but anticipation for the future.
Part 6: Quantico, FBI – 2010
Aaron was standing at the stove making breakfast the next morning thinking about his call to Tony the night before. Spencer wasn’t wrong about him being scared. He was scared shitless and not for the reasons that Spencer thought. He’d changed in the years since he and Tony had their short affair. And one of those changes, he didn’t want to think about. He was standing there hand on his stomach as his thoughts drifted to one of the darkest times in his life. If it hadn’t been for Jack and Spencer, he wasn’t sure how he would have made it through. He was brought out of his thoughts when he felt a hand on his leg. He looked down and smiled softly to see Jack there.
“Hey buddy.” Jack threw himself around his legs and held tight. Aaron turned off the pan he was making pancakes in and knelt down in front of his son and pulled him into a hug.
“I don’t hate you Daddy. I didn’t mean it.” Jack started crying against Aaron’s neck and his heart broke for his son. Standing up with Jack in his arms Aaron walked them to the living room where he sat down with the boy on his lap.
“I know Jack. And I know you love Spencer. That will never change and you can see him whenever you want.”
“But he won’t be with you.” Jack’s bottom lip quivered as he tried to stop the tears. Aaron could see that his son was trying to be like him and he wasn’t sure that was a good thing.
“No buddy, he won’t be. But that does not mean that he doesn’t love you. I know he will want to spend time with you. Do all the fun things that you like to do now. It’ll just be different.”
“Don’t you love Papa, Daddy?” Aaron frowned a moment. How do you explain love to a ten-year old when you don’t even understand it yourself.
“Jack, it’s not that I don’t love Spencer, I do, but it’s not the type of love that keeps two people together. We didn’t want to end up disliking each other and we agreed that we would be better friends. Spencer’s friendship, that’s very important to me and I don’t want to lose that.” Aaron knew part of this was a lie, but it was a lie he could live with. It was a lie to help his son deal with the break-up.
“Do I have to stop calling him Papa?” Jack’s tears broke Aaron’s heart even more and he wished he could make this better for his son, but he just didn’t know how.
“You can call Spencer whatever you want Jack. He’s been there for you for a long-time and he loves you just as much as you love him. If he says that it’s okay, then you don’t have to change.”
Jack threw his arms around Aaron and he just sat back on the couch holding him, hoping that he could somehow help Jack through this.
A short time later, after a quick breakfast Aaron was dropping Jack off at school and heading into the office. No one was there except Spencer as of yet which he was grateful for because they needed to talk..
“Reid, can I talk to you for a moment?”
“Sure.” Spencer put his work aside and followed Aaron up to his office. Once they were settled with the door closed, Aaron turned to him.
“Jack’s not taking our break-up well. I was wondering if you’d be willing to take him this weekend. I think he needs to know that you still want him in your life.”
“Of course Aaron. God, I didn’t even think…I’m sorry I probably should have been there. I..I didn’t mean to put that all on you…”
“Spencer, it’s okay. Jack is pretty resilient, but I know he’s going to still want to spend time with you. I won’t ever keep Jack from you. You’ve been like a second father to him and I would never separate the two of you. He,” Aaron furrowed his brow and leaned forward, ”he still wants to call you Papa.”
Spencer’s face softened in a smile,”I don’t mind. I liked it before, that is if you don’t mind.”
“I don’t. It’s how he sees you, it’s how he feels about you and you know that no matter what, Jack comes first.”
“Thank you, Aaron. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t Spencer. This will be awkward for the three of us for a while but, we’ll work it out.”
Aaron watched as Spencer stood and gave him a small smile then leave the room. He knew the genius was hurting more than he let on, but in his own way Spencer was just as closed off and stoic as he was himself. He wiped a hand over his brow and wondered just when his life got so complicated. He took a moment as he took his phone out then sent a text out to Tony
Spencer is taking Jack this weekend. Wondering if you would like dinner Saturday?.
Aaron waited a moment before putting his phone away. He hadn’t expected an answer back right away and he felt like a stupid teenager for sitting there looking at his phone. He chuckled to himself as he turned his computer on and started to organize for the day.
“How the hell do you deal with those boring assed budget meetings?” Aaron looked up to see Tony leaning in his doorway, smiling and holding out a cup of coffee for him. He stood and couldn’t help the smile on his face.
“I’m serious, I was ready to gouge out my eyes. I knew I was in trouble when I started to hum the theme song to Cape Fear in my head. The Robert Mitchum version, far superior in my opinion to the Mickey Roarke one. Though Roarke did a fine job, but that’s not the point. Budget meetings, seriously?” Tony grinned as he handed Aaron the coffee.
“Don’t tell anyone, but I picture them all dying horrible deaths at the hands of one of the more famous serial killers. It’s a problem. One time I even outright laughed when I pictured the AD’s secretary being strangled to death.”
“That is a problem AC Hotchner.” Tony teased as he crossed his legs and looked far sexier than any man should.
Aaron itched to move the few inches it would take to lean in and kiss him, but he restrained himself. “What is it I can do for you Agent DiNozzo? Other than our mutual hatred of budget meetings. But, wait till you have to do your first quarterly evals. Then you’ll really know what hell is.” Tony laughed as he reached out and gently circled Aaron’s wrist with his hand. He held it there a moment before he pulled away.
“I wanted to ask about Gina LaSalle.”
“Gina? Sam Cooper’s Gina?”
“Yup. Seems she wants a little less travelling and put her name in as being interested in an MC Unit. I was told you know UC Cooper well, wondered if you knew his people at all.”
“Come in and sit.” Aaron settled the butterflies in his stomach as he took a sip of the coffee. He raised his brow as he looked over at Tony.
“What? I like good coffee.”
“You and Reid…” Aaron swallowed, he didn’t quite know the protocol here.
“Don’t. I’m not some naive teenager that gets mad when ‘past lovers’ are mentioned. He’s an important part of your life Aaron. And from what you said he’s an important part of your son’s. We will be, in the near future, spending a lot of time together and I am sure our paths will cross quite often. Don’t hide.”
Aaron couldn’t help how relieved he felt at that.
“Thank you Tony. You might want to talk to him about coffee one day. Though you may get an hour long lecture on the fair trade practices and why they are not only good for the economy, but for the health of the world in general.”
Tony laughed then he thought about it a moment and realized that Aaron wasn’t joking.
“You aren’t kidding.”
Tony shook his head a moment, “Anyway, Gina, what do you think of her?”
“She’s smart, competent. Won’t take anyones bullshit. Won’t let even Sam bully her around. If he makes bad calls she’s quick to point them out. She’ll respect you as long as you give it in return. Excellent field person. She won’t let you down Tone.” Aaron closed his eyes at the slip.
Tony almost laughed at the hard stoic mask that slipped on Aaron’s face.
“You think that look is intimidating? I think it’s sexy.” Tony smirked as he stood, grabbed his coffee and leaned forward, “Enjoy your day, Aaron.”
Aaron couldn’t help watching him walk out the door.
“So, that’s the new UC Anthony DiNozzo.”
“And from the eyefucking you were giving him I’d say someone you would be interested in, but for the life of me I don’t ever remember you mentioning that you liked men.” Dave strode in Aaron’s office and plopped down in the exact chair Tony had been in.
Aaron just picked-up his coffee and took a sip.
“You are avoiding Aaron Michael Hotchner.”
“No, just choosing not to answer your prying question.”
Rossi narrowed his eyes at Aaron then leaned forward, “I’m going to guess something and you tell me if I’m wrong, okay?”
“We’ll see. What is your guess?”
“That is Baltimore.”
“Fucking hell. Who did Jason not tell?” Aaron huffed out a breath.
“So I’m right?”
“Yes, you nosy bastard, you’re right. That is Baltimore.” Aaron’s phone buzzed and he knew it was a text. He itched to look at it but he wasn’t going to in front of Dave.
“Don’t mind me, loverboy.”
Aaron glared at him as he turned his phone over and looked at it.
Dinner Saturday sounds perfect. Why don’t you meet me at my place at 7:00. I know the perfect restaurant. If you get a case let me know.
There was a second text with an address. Aaron snorted as he realized that the place wasn’t that far from his own apartment.
“Well, I can see you aren’t going to answer my questions so I’ll leave you alone.”
“It’s new Dave. We haven’t even had a first date yet.”
“Wouldn’t this be a re-first date?”
Aaron blushed as he sipped at his coffee, “No, first date.” He took another sip, “ever.”
Rossi opened his mouth to say something but nothing came out. Dave stood and turned to say something else but he just shook his head, pointed a finger at Aaron then just walked out the door. Aaron did not stifle the laugh that bubbled up out of him.
“Laugh now Hotchner, I will get you back,” Rossi yelled from just outside the door.
Aaron pulled his files to him and smiling to himself he started his work day.
“Welcome to the team, Agent LaSalle.”
“Cool. You will not be disappointed. I think we’ll work well together. You’re a bit like Coop, unconventional. I like that.”
“Just, trust your team, trust me and we should get along great.”
“Okay.” She frowned a moment as she looked at the laminated poster to the side of his desk. “Um, Boss, what’s that?”
“That? Oh, That’s DiNozzo’s rules, well not really ‘rules’ more like ‘Always be prepared’. Written and laid out for anyone to see. I expect everyone on the team learn them. They won’t get you fired unless you break rule 1 and/or rule 22. Safety of this team and backup is a must. I hear anyone doing anything to compromise the safety of a team member, they are busted down to the Agent Pool, you understand?”
“Yeah. You won’t have to worry about me with that I’ve never and will never screw-over a team member.”
“Good. I’m going to need your requalification done by next week, can you do that?”
“Absolutely Boss. So, any desk out there?”
“Yup. Once everyone is here we’ll have a campfire.”
“Campfire Boss? In the office? Isn’t that kind of, you know frowned upon?” Gina looked at Tony like he just lost his damn mind.
Tony grinned a big toothy grin, “No, you’ll see. Now go grab a desk, don’t shoot anyone and remember…”
“People are assholes.” She grinned as she started to back out of the room and ran right into Tony’s next interview.
“Get a desk LaSalle, and try not to kill your teammates before you even meet them.”
“Right,” She gave him a two finger salute and Tony knew right away that he was going to love her.
“Umm, are you SAIC DiNozzo?”
“The one and only I’m afraid.” Tony said as he motioned for the young man to come into his office.
“Agent Ethan Michaels. You asked to see me?”
“Yeah, sit.” Tony had gotten up and motioned for the young man to sit down in the chair that Gina had just vacated..
“I see that you’ve only been with the Bureau for a couple of years.”
“I also see in your file that you used to work in New Orleans as a piano player. Why the drastic change?”
“To be honest it was my original goal. Then in school I just, I burned out. It’s not easy being a young ‘prodigy’ so to speak. So, while still at CalTech I said fuck it. I finished out my degree then applied to the San Francisco Music Conservatory. I got in with my first audition. I’ve had fun and enjoy my music but, after seeing a friend a few years ago I began to wonder. Did I make a mistake? So, I applied and made it in.”
“You were in the Agent Pool for a while before a team brought you on, why?”
“I was green, Sir. Greener than damn grass, if you know what I mean. I learned a lot my first year in the Bureau and being in the Pool taught me that. I worked a variety of areas and it gave me perspective.”
“Do you think you’re ready for a team? I have a couple of reprimands from UC’s that, though you don’t have a temper, you do have a tendency to zone out and not follow their directions.”
“May I speak freely, Sir?”
“By all means.”
“They were assholes. I have doctorates in Engineering, Math and Physics. I can put together a good geo profile. But, those two UC’s that reprimanded me? They thought my work was shit. Said I didn’t know what I was talking about and that if I wanted to get ahead I should listen to my superiors. If I had listened to my superiors on those occasions a woman would be dead and a bank would have been robbed with possible casualties. So, yeah I bent the rules, but I was cleared both times.”
“Why didn’t you call another team? Or your Boss in the Pool?”
“I did. And that’s why those are only reprimands.”
Tony sat back and studied Ethan a moment. “You write anything original?”
“Music, you write anything original?”
“Yessir. Indeed I do.” Ethan smiled as he slouched a little in his chair.
“Go find a desk. You’re on the team.”
“Yes, you are.” Tony almost laughed at the stunned look on his face. Now, he only had to get Ashley Seaver and Jordan Todd in for interviews and offer them positions. He hoped they said yes because he was really damn tired of looking at personnel files.
Tony liked getting in early. Even at NCIS he had liked getting in early, but here there was another incentive to get in early and he was sitting at his desk getting started for the day. It was the third day in a row him bringing Aaron a cup of coffee. He liked seeing the look of surprise on his face and then a small smile. Tony was determined to always get a smile out of Chief Sexy.
“I’m beginning to think that this week just might go off without a hitch.” Tony also liked surprising Aaron. It would never get tiring.
“I should just expect you, shouldn’t I?”
“Ohh, now I hope not. If I get you to used to this you just might take advantage of me.” Tony smiled a toothy grin and he leaned in the doorway. It was early enough that no one was in the BAU yet.
Aaron stood and came around his desk and took the cup of coffee offered him.
“I think you’re either trying to spoil me or butter me up for something. I can’t decide which.” Aaron set their coffees on his desk then turned to Tony pulled him in his office, shut the door and backed him up against it. “But, what I really think is that you are driving me crazy SAIC Tony DiNozzo. I’ve been trying very, very hard not to kiss you but dammit, even I have my limits.”
“So what’s stopping you, SAIC Aaron Hotchner?”
“Fuck Tony. We’re in the office.” Aaron put his hands on his door on either side of Tony’s head.
“Yes, but no one’s here yet.” Tony grabbed Aaron by his tie and pulled him forward. “One kiss won’t hurt.” Then he closed his eyes as he felt Aaron’s lips on his. This wasn’t just a quick peck on the lips. God no, it was slow and sensual and Tony’s hands curled into fists as warmth spread all through him and settled in his stomach. Aaron slowly swiped his tongue across Tony’s lips and he couldn’t help the obscene moan that escaped.
Eyes still closed Tony slid his hand up and gently gripped the back of Aaron’s neck and pulled him in impossibly closer, deepening the kiss as he opened his mouth just enough for Aaron’s tongue to slip in and get a taste. Hands gripped hips as the angle of the kiss changed and Tony thought that if they didn’t stop now he might just go off like a rocket over the very wicked things Aaron was doing just with his tongue.
Finally, Aaron pulled back, breathless as he laid his forehead against Tony’s. “Jesus.” Aaron finally said as he slipped his hands inside Tony’s jacket.
“I second that. Hell, if you hadn’t stopped, I might have had to go change my pants.” Tony smiled and put a hand on Aaron’s chest and slowly pushed him away. “I very much think you need to go back to your desk while I try to walk out of here with some of my dignity in tact.”
Aaron laughed and gave Tony one of his brilliant dimple popping smiles.
“Yup, most definitely time for me to leave.” He swallowed hard then pulled Aaron in for that simple peck on the lips. He grabbed the coffee that Aaron had taken from him and fled the office before he forgot himself altogether.
He made it to his office and thankfully no one stopped him on the way. When he finally sat behind his desk he blew out a breath and tried very hard not to let the memory of the kiss fill his mind. It took a while to get his body under control and work was very instrumental in helping out with that. The team was still being assembled and they had not gotten a case yet. He was going over what the budget was for his team and so far he was keeping it under the radar. Even if Ashley and Jordan accepted the packages he was offering them he would still be under. He set aside the reports and once again went through the files that Fornell had given him. They were cases that the MCU’s were looking out for. Ones that had gone partially cold but could come up again at any time.
He looked up when there was a knock on his door and was surprised to see who it was.
“Dr. Reid, what can I do for you?” Tony wasn’t sure where their friendship stood in light of everything that had recently happened.
Spencer moved to sit in one of the chairs on the other side of Tony’s desk.
“He’s a lot more vulnerable than he likes to let on. It’s hard for him to talk about himself and his past but you have to get him to open up because where he came from and everything that has happened to him in the last year has shaped who he is now.”
Tony sat back and steepled his hands. He wanted to be upset that Spencer was telling him these things but he wasn’t. He wanted to listen and from the nervous posture and twitching fingers he figured that Spencer wasn’t used to this either.
“Okay. Tell me what happened.”
“No. It isn’t my story to tell and we, as a team, agreed not to bring up these events. However, there is a file on record. Though most of it is sealed you will get the general idea. The rest you will have to ask him. There are two dates that I know he will take very hard. The first already passed, but the second is coming up. I don’t know what he’ll do other than retreat. Your first instinct will be to pull him out. Don’t. Let him do what he needs to do. Then, go to him.”
“Dr. Reid, you are not making any sense.” Spencer looked down at his hands again and Tony thought he wasn’t going to say anything. Spencer leaned forward and handed him a piece of paper with a file number on it.
“If he doesn’t tell you, don’t push him about it right away. He’s a strong man Tony, he’s been through more than any should. I know more than even the team does but that’s only because we were intimate and we told each other things that we would never tell anyone else. If you push too hard, he’ll shut down. Be patient. If you love him like I already know you do, you’ll take your time and learn who he is now and you’ll be patient. Because if you hurt him, in anyway, I know at least thirty good ways to dispose of a body and they will never trace it back to me.”
Tony frowned as the looked at the good Dr. The man had one of the best poker faces he’d ever seen.
“You aren’t sure whether I’m kidding or not.” Spencer stood quirked-up the side of his lips and started to walk out the door. “You just may never know.”
Tony swallowed and felt a touch of fear. He really wasn’t sure if Spencer was kidding. He looked down at the note and turned to his computer bringing up the file Spencer had written out, he then proceeded to read all about The Boston Reaper.
Part 7: Downtown DC – 2010
Aaron was nervous as he dressed for the evening. Tony had said business casual so he chose a pair of pale gray-violet Versace pants, a small checked gray and violet Luigi Borrelli short sleeved shirt, and he paired it with the gray Hilfiger casual jacket with his dark and light grey wingtip spectator Ferragamo shoes. Aaron knew that he had a bit of a streak of vain in him. He liked looking good and he had a soft spot for timeless classics with just a few fad pieces mixed in here and there.
Growing up with old Virginia money had instilled in him a sense of pride in how he looked. But that was where the family ‘values’ stopped with him. He didn’t want to think about that, about his childhood, not when he had a date. He decided to not mess with his hair too much and he left it slightly and artfully messy. He forwent the tie deciding for once not to wear one. Taking one last look in the mirror he grabbed his wallet and keys then was out the door.
Spencer had come by the night before on Friday and picked Jack up. He decided that he would take the boy for the whole weekend and though Aaron was sad to see Jack go the boy was excited to have the whole time just him and his Papa. It still made his heart constrict a little hearing Jack call Spencer that, but it wasn’t too far from the truth.
Aaron slid into his SUV, which was smaller than the Bureau ones, but it was what he was used to. A few minutes later he pulled-up outside of a very nice brownstone. Parking, he fed the meter in front, though he could use his Bureau tag if he wanted, but he hated abusing that power. Straightening his jacket, he made his way to Tony’s front door and knocked.
“Aaron, come in.” Tony left the door open as he walked back inside.“Would you like a drink?”
“Just some water or something virgin for now.”
“Okay.” Tony grabbed two small bottles of water and handed one to Aaron.
“This is nice, but I see boxes everywhere.” Aaron looked around trying his hardest not to profile the place.
“Thank you. I actually just bought it. I had been thinking of buying before but I wasn’t sure. After leaving NCIS, I needed to get out of my apartment. Too many people trying to manipulate me into returning.”
Aaron moved to the baby grand set-up in a corner of the living room.
“You play?” Aaron sat down on the bench and took a moment before he did a warm-up. Then he tapped out a simple tune.
“Why Aaron Hotchner, you surprise me.”
“It’s been years. I never kept up with it. My mother thought it was a good idea, well she liked me to play at her parties.” Aaron closed his eyes and shook his head trying to shake memories he thought he had buried.
“It’s okay, Aaron. You don’t have to talk about it.”
Tony sat next to Aaron and smiled. He played for a few minutes as he looked up every so often into dark eyes that shined and looked at him with such emotion it made his heart speed-up. When he stopped, he closed the fall board over the keys and closed his eyes.
“That was beautiful, Tony.” Tony looked up at Aaron and felt that old regret well up in him. He smiled sadly as he kept his hands on the cover.
“I wrote it the day after you left. I knew when I woke-up the next morning that I, too, made a mistake. I called out for the day and sat here playing and writing it all day. I called it ‘What Should Have Been’. You weren’t the only fool Aaron. I didn’t want to believe that you would do what you said you wanted to do.” Tony looked up and his face was pinched with emotion. “I was scared of how much I felt so quickly and I needed to let it out.”
Aaron swallowed hard then leaned into Tony kissing him, pulling him onto his lap. He wrapped an arm around his waist and a hand was gently wrapped around his neck. Tony was trapped with his piano at his back and the hard body of Aaron in front. They stayed like that kissing and touching where they could.
Tony slipped his arms under Aaron’s jacket and wrapped his arms around him and still didn’t stop. Finally, it was Aaron that pulled back.
“I think we should go to dinner, don’t you.”
“What if we just ordered in and stayed here.” Tony whispered against Aaron’s ear. The shiver that went down Aaron’s spine had his breath hitching in his throat. He had to swallow a few times before he trusted his voice.
“As much as I would like that, I, I’m not ready Tony. Like I said I want to do this right. I want us to get to know each other better. There, there are things you should know about me. I don’t want to just jump into bed, as amazing as that sounds. I want to know what it is we have.”
Tony closed his eyes as he gentled his fingers on Aaron’s face.
“Okay. I can wait Aaron. When you’re ready, when you trust me enough to know I’m not going anywhere and that I’m not afraid of this.”
“Then let me up so that I can take you to my favorite place.” It was an awkward couple of minutes detangling from each other. Getting into the position they were in was easy. Getting out, not so much. They giggled like teenagers as elbows hit places they really shouldn’t, but finally Tony was standing on his own two feet.
After a couple more minutes, they were walking out the door. Aaron breathed in the cool night air and it felt good. He felt good, it had been such a long-time coming. Tony smiled that smile that always made him ache just a little. Tony held out his hand and Aaron took it, unafraid for once in his life.
“We could drive but it’s only a few streets over, if you don’t mind the walk.”
“I don’t mind.”
The two men talked as they walked towards the restaurant Tony had in mind. They talked vaguely about their childhoods, each one knowing neither of them grew-up in the best of circumstances. They talked about music, books they’ve recently read and finally about movies.
“I like Hitchcock. His use of light and shadow to tell a deeper story alongside the main plot always got me thinking about humans and human behavior. How there is always this underlying motive.”
The grin on Tony’s face was unmistakeable and Aaron looked confused.
“What did I say?”
“You’re a closet movie buff.”
Aaron blushed as he dipped his head to the side.
“I don’t know if it’s a secret just no one really asked. I lean more towards film noir, old gangster and crime dramas. Some thrillers or suspense like Rebecca, Gaslight or Shadow of Doubt. Though I do have a soft spot for Original Star Trek and Star Wars.” Aaron found he was walking into the restaurant and Tony wasn’t next to him. He turned around and saw a very stunned Anthony DiNozzo standing on the sidewalk.
“Something I said?”
“Everything you just said. If I wasn’t already half-in love with you that would have clinched it.” Then he realized what he said and started cursing himself. Aaron walked back to him and grabbed his hand.
“Tony, don’t ever hide what you feel. I’m halfway there myself.” Aaron cupped Tony’s cheek and leaned in and kissed him. He didn’t care they were standing on the street in Downtown DC. “Come inside, let’s sit, eat, and get to know each other more.”
“Yeah, okay let’s do that.”
They walked in the restaurant hand-in-hand, they both ignored the couple of insults thrown their way. It wasn’t anything they weren’t used to as law enforcement agents. They were shown to a table and given a wine menu as well as the regular menu.
“Do you trust me?” Tony held up the menus.
Aaron raised a brow and decided to be adventurous for once.
“Then leave dinner to me.” When the waitress came back Tony ordered for the both of them and Aaron couldn’t wait to try everything. It started with a small plate of perfectly handmade burrata. When Tony cut into it the center oozed out onto the plate just like it was supposed to. Paired with a light pinot grigio Aaron was already relaxing and enjoying the meal.
“You know, we never talked about the usual stuff you’re supposed to on a date. Is that on purpose? Are we both avoiding telling each other our pasts?” Tony asked as he picked up a grilled piece of ciabatta bread and spread some of the olive tapenade on it.
Aaron took a sip of wine and wiped his hands on his napkin.
“I don’t often talk about my childhood. I have very few good memories of it. My father was a lawyer and also an abusive drunk. My mother and I were his favorite punching bags. When Sean came along I tried to protect him. Of course, he turned out to be the son my parents had wanted me to be. Sports, popular, and the kid everyone liked. I was the one that my mother liked to show off. The smart son who did parlor tricks for her friends.” Aaron closed his eyes and took a sip of water. He hadn’t meant to reveal so much so soon. “I’m a hardass at work because I have to be I have people who rely on me keeping them safe. They’ve become my family, but I can’t always let my guard down. When I have, people have gotten hurt.
“It takes a lot for me to trust in a relationship. I had trusted Haley, but I knew before I went to Baltimore that she was cheating on me. That first night we were together, I thought I was using you to forget, but….something happened that night and I felt things I hadn’t in a long time. I think I didn’t turn back because I was scared. I was afraid to trust again.
“I have a lot of baggage Tony. Some things happened in the last couple of years that have made me unsure of myself. I put up a good front for my team because I have to, but when I get home, that lonely boy, he just wants someone to love, someone to hold him and for a while Reid fit, but then I saw you, the man who has haunted my dreams for years. I want this Tony, I want this chance.” Aaron reached out and grabbed his wine he took a long drink trying to calm the emotional storm that had reared up inside him.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know why I said so much.”
Tony reached across and took his hand and held it.
“You aren’t alone, Aaron. Though I loved my mother she was a lush and it’s a little eerie that our mother’s were very much alike. She liked to dress me up and parade me in front of her friends. Though there were good things about her and I loved her very much. When she died, my whole world came crashing down. My father wasn’t physically abusive, he just never actually cared. After my Mother died, I was just the cute kid he could use for his con games. I was only important to him as long as he was able to close a deal. So, let’s just say we both had really fucked-up childhoods and move on.
“When I invited you back to my apartment that night it was because I thought you were fucking gorgeous and I knew if I didn’t at least try I’d regret it. You weren’t the only one affected Aaron. I was too. I knew you were married. The ring you wore, I saw it, but then you didn’t have it at the bar, so I took that chance. When you walked out of the station, part of me wanted to run after you and the other part, the one that had been hurt, didn’t believe you.
“I’ve created this facade that people believed because it kept everyone at arm’s length. I let a few people in over the years, and yet I got screwed over again. I need more control, because things got very out of control. I want to take care of someone, hold them, give them everything that, that little boy in me is craving. I want that person to be you Aaron. I let you go once, and it was foolish of me, I’m not going to let you go this time. I want to know what this is between us, like I said I am all in. And, when you are ready I want to meet your son.”
“You know I try to be so different than my father was for Jack. He’s everything to me Tony.”
“I couldn’t see you as anything less than a good father Aaron. You’re a good man and you couldn’t do any less.”
“Thank you, that means a lot.”
Their dinner came and though conversation slowed down it didn’t stop. They steered away from the minefield of their childhoods for the remainder of their date and talked about other things. By the time dessert and coffee came around they knew, without a doubt that there was something here, something worth grabbing onto and not letting go.
As they were walking back to Tony’s brownstone they heard someone running behind them. They both whirled around and pointed their guns. Neither one realizing the other was carrying.
“Whoa! Tony, it’s just me.”
“Autopsy gremlin? What are you doing here?”
“I, I, I just saw you leaving and I tried calling to you but, oh god don’t shoot me.” Jimmy had closed his eyes and held up his hands. Aaron and Tony put their guns away, but couldn’t help the smiles on their faces.
“We aren’t going to shoot you Jimmy. Sorry about that I didn’t hear you.”
“It’s okay.” Jimmy’s eyes were wide as he carefully watched the two men.
“I’m kinda on a date.” Tony nodded towards Aaron.
“Oh, oh god, Tony. I’m sorry. I just, well I wanted to see how you were. Ducky misses you. And, well so do I.”
Tony’s expression softened as he looked at the younger man, “Look, why don’t you and Ducky meet me for lunch at Sophia’s around 1:30 on Monday and we’ll talk. Just, not right now, okay?”
Jimmy smiled wide as he looked between the two men. “Yeah, okay I’ll tell Dr. Mallard. He’ll be happy to see you. I’m sorry, go, go on back to your date and I’ll see you Monday.”
Jimmy took off back the way he had been coming from.
“Sorry about that. Jimmy gets a little enthusiastic sometimes.”
“It’s fine.” Aaron wanted to ask more but he could see that Tony was thinking about the young man that had just left. Aaron took his hand and they walked the rest of the way to Tony’s place in silence. When they got there Aaron gave Tony another one of those damn toe-curling, butterfly making, heart-stopping kisses.
“Dammit, you have to stop that.”
“I should.” Aaron didn’t though. Finally after a few minutes, he pulled back, “I really should go.”
“You don’t have to.”
“Tone,” Aaron’s breath caught in his throat. “Give me a little time.”
“Okay. But it will be hard to wait Aaron. You do crazy things to me and all I can think about is getting you alone and in bed.”
“Jesus Tony.” Aaron wiped a hand down his face to settle himself. “I really better go.”
“Goodnight Aaron.” Tony held the door open for him. “I had a good time. I want to do this again, but next time I want to cook for you.” Tony’s heart was racing because he never had offered to do that for anyone before. Fornell had been the only one as of late to get a taste of his cooking.
“I’d like that. Goodnight Tony.” Aaron left and though Tony had wanted him to stay he knew also that they needed to take this slow. One step at a time.
Tony was smiling as he headed out of the office to go meet Jimmy and Ducky for lunch. He chose a nice cafe close to the FBI training facility where his office was. The first time he had driven onto this end of the base and realized just how close he and Aaron had been all these years he spent the night drinking and cursing. Later on, when he reflected on those in-between years, he knew that he wasn’t ready for a serious relationship. And Aaron Hotchner was every inch the serious relationship. This wasn’t a one night stand, or one weekend kind of thing, Aaron was a forever kind of person. When that realization hit him it made him not a little afraid. He was scared shitless, but, he knew he was ready for what Aaron had to offer.
All of this was going through Tony’s mind as he was driving away from the FBI building towards his luncheon destination. He shook himself off as he parked and walked in the little bistro that he had chosen.
“Anthony, it is good to see you.” Ducky did the unexpected and hugged Tony to him for a moment, then let him go. “Sit, and tell us just what you have been doing.”
Tony smiled a wide genuine smile. In the few short weeks since his departure from NCIS, he hadn’t realized how much he missed Ducky and Jimmy.
“Jimmy, good to see you again.” Tony sat and as soon as he did a waitress came right over to take their drink orders. “Duck, I’ve missed you too. As to what I’m doing now, I’m with the FBI. Unit Chief under Fornell. I’m still in the process of putting my team together. Hey, Ducky, you might know this, do you remember at all a Tara Jamieson. It would have been about…”
“Yes, yes Anthony I do.” Ducky took a deep breath as he leaned forward a little. “It was a terrible thing. Her whole family, wiped out. It tested even me. I remember the Federal agents on that case. A Jason Gideon and David Rossi. I also remember Agent Gideon holding that little girl. She kept calling out for her mother and it broke my heart. Why do you ask?”
“Well Tara is on my team. But she is Tara Gideon now. Jason Gideon adopted her not too long after. Do you remember anything else about that day Duck?” Tony picked-up his ice tea and drank deep, letting himself settle and watch as Ducky’s face clouded.
“I didn’t know Jethro long. He had not been with NIS for all that length of time when we got called out to the house. He was devastated. I found out that the father had been Jethro’s best friend. He was also the girls godfather. She kept calling out for him and Jethro walked away. I tried to talk to him, but we were barely getting to know each other then.”
“You didn’t know about his family. No one did till recent.” Tony looked the menu over for a moment then set it aside, “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to bring this up. It just made me curious after talking with her and bringing her on my team.”
“I always wondered what happened to her. But, my dear boy, you are avoiding the question of how you are.” Ducky raised his brows and gave Tony that ever patient look he was known for.
“I’m good Ducky. I’m….seeing someone.” He practically buried his face in the menu as he waited for Ducky to say something.
“And might I say a very handsome someone.”
“Hey Autopsy Gremlin, you keep your eyes off my man.” Tony lifted a brow as he gave Jimmy a playful smile. “Besides, I thought you were seeing someone.”
“We broke-up. She’s great and all, but I don’t know. You know?”
Ducky and Tony looked at each other a moment then looked at Jimmy, “Oh yeah, I know.” Tony chuckled as the waitress came over to take their order. “So, what was it, had you doing too many weird things? Went to freaky in bed? What?”
“Tony!” Jimmy blushed as he grabbed his water and took a drink.
“What? Look, you are great catch Jimmy Olsen.” Jimmy chuckled at the nickname and shook his head.
“I missed you Tony. I guess I just wanted some quiet nights or even weekends at home, you know? As much as I like to try new things, we were never still.”
“I get it. I do. You’ll find the right person Jimmy, I’m sure of it.”
“James, Anthony is right, the right person will come along. Someone who won’t try to change you. Who will let you be you.” Ducky gave a fond smile to his assistant.
“Thank you. Both of you.”
“Now, Anthony, you were saying you were seeing someone?”
“It’s new Duck. We just started but everything with him is already different from every other relationship I’ve ever had. We are taking it slow, getting to know each other.”
“That is good and by that smile on your face, he makes you happy.”
“Yeah, he does.” Their food came and conversation lulled a little but didn’t stop. Tony was happy that he had reached out to these two. They always had cared about Tony. They saw past the walls and the jokes and were the truest friends he had. “Well, I have to get back. Don’t want to set a bad example with my team. I’m glad you guys came.”
“I am too. Do not be a stranger Tony.” Ducky patted his arm before he started out of the restaurant. “And don’t worry about lunch. I’ve already taken care of it.”
“Ducky,” Tony started to protest.
“No, no my boy it was my pleasure.”
“Thank you, and I promise we will do this again.”
Tony shook his head and left grateful for the truest friends he’s ever had in his life.
“Ducky, you mind if we stop at that little coffee shop near the base?”
“Which one Mr. Palmer, as there are several we can stop and slake our thirst at?”
“Java Joe. They have this amazing cold brew coffee that I have fallen in love with.”
“You know that reminds me of the time I found myself at this little farm in Italy. The young woman there didn’t speak one bit of English. I had been walking the countryside, taking a small holiday at the time…..” Jimmy just shook his head and let Ducky ramble on. When they parked near the front of the shop the two men got out and started towards the door. Jimmy was still listening to Ducky so he wasn’t watching where he was going when he accidentally ran into someone spilling their coffee in the process. Jimmy’s face pinked when he looked up into hazel eyes and wild chestnut colored hair.
“Oh, oh gosh I am so sorry. I wasn’t watching…let me buy you a new coffee…”
“It seems I’ve found someone just as clumsy as myself.” The man smiled a slightly goofy grin as he went inside and grabbed some napkins. “It’s fine. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done almost the same thing.”
“Please, let me buy you a new coffee. I…I was coming in here anyway.” Jimmy felt his face get hot as the man kept looking at him and smiling. He licked his bottom lip and it drove Jimmy crazy.
“Okay. But, you have to take my card and let me take you to lunch next week, that is if I don’t get called away for work.”
“Um, are, are you asking me on a date?” Jimmy furrowed his brow and didn’t pay attention to where Ducky was going.
“Well, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a date. It could just be a potential friend lunch kind of thing.” The man blushed but didn’t stop smiling.
“Um, I,” Jimmy couldn’t take his eyes off the man as he felt butterflies in his stomach. “I think I might like it to be a date?” He squeaked out that last part as he shuffled his feet a little.
The man smiled then pulled his wallet out and handed Jimmy a card.
“I’m Spencer.” He held out his hand and Jimmy took it, smiling.
“I’m Jimmy. Well, James Palmer, but everyone calls me Jimmy.”
“James. It was nice to meet you. I ah, I need to get back, but how about Tuesday?”
“Tuesday.” Jimmy felt in his pockets and pulled out a piece of paper and quickly dashed off his phone number handing it to Spencer. “My number.”
“Tuesday then.” Spencer smiled wide, turned and started to leave the coffee shop.
“Oh, young man, here the girl at the espresso machine seemed to know you very well and had a new coffee made by the time I was ready to pay. I think it is I who should apologize. I had distracted Mr. Palmer, you see.”
“It’s quite alright. And thank you, Alliyah knows me a little too well. She seems to always know what I’m going to order before I do. James, I will see you Tuesday.” Spencer grinned as he took a sip then headed out the door.
“And what is Tuesday Mr. Palmer?”
“I think a date Dr. Mallard.” Jimmy was grinning from ear to ear when Ducky handed him a cup of the cold brew he had originally come into the coffee shop for.
Ducky just smiled and patted Jimmy on the shoulder as they made their way back to Ducky’s car. Jimmy’s smile stayed in place the whole way back to NCIS. He couldn’t wait till the next Tuesday rolled around.
PART 8: Leesylvania State Park, VA – 2010
The weeks went by and Tony and Aaron grew closer. They spent as much time as they could between cases and Aaron being a parent. When the BAU was on a case they stayed in touch through skype, phone calls, and texting. Aaron didn’t want to make some of the same mistakes he had in the past and he was grateful that Tony was letting him set the pace. He was also learning to open-up and communicate more. Part of that was the quiet, gentle prodding from Tony. Aaron reflected on how with Tony he didn’t have to be Hotch. He was just Aaron. Even quiet nights at home watching movies, eating popcorn and making out on Tony’s couch was more than he ever had with anyone else. Haley had always wanted to do something, be something he wasn’t. He felt freer than he had in so very long.
There were times he fell asleep listening to Tony play and he’d wake-up to a blanket wrapped around him with Tony puttering in the kitchen. It was all so new and real and wonderful that it scared the shit out of him. He knew the one thing he wanted to do was introduce Jack to Tony. It was time, long past time.
“Got your message, is it a case?” Tony asked as he strode into Aaron’s office and put down the cup of coffee he had in this hand and pushed it towards Aaron.
“No, well I’m waiting to hear about one, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about.”
“Okay, what do you want to talk about?” Tony couldn’t help the nervousness he felt well-up inside him.
“I think it’s time you and Jack meet.”
“Oh, yeah.” Tony’s breath left him as he leaned down a little.
“Tony?” Aaron hoped he hadn’t made a mistake. He thought Tony had wanted to meet Jack, they talked about it many times and it just felt like it was the right time.
“It’s fine, it’s fine Aaron. You just caught me by surprise. I want to meet him.”
“Good, for a minute there…I, well I wasn’t sure.”
“Oh, god, I’m so sorry.” Tony stood and came around the desk, leaned down and gently kissed Aaron. “I told you, I’m all in. I know how important he is to you and, while I’m not ready to say the big L word yet, I’m almost there.”
Aaron smiled and cupped the side of Tony’s face, “I’m almost there too. Are you free this weekend?”
“The only plans I have are whatever we plan together.” Tony smiled before he leaned in and kissed Aaron again. “Just tell me where and when. If you get a case, we’ll work around it.”
“Okay. You’d better go before I keep you here.”
“Hmm, I might not protest.” Tony teased as he reluctantly pulled away.
Aaron watched him walk out the door and smiled as he leaned back in his chair. He wanted this to work more than anything.
“So, things still going well for you and UC DiNozzo?” Rossi had come in the office and plopped in front of Aaron’s desk.
“You are going to tell me to go away now aren’t you?” Rossi smirked and Aaron just narrowed his eyes.
“Dave, stop prying. When you pry, you meddle.”
“I like meddling, especially when it comes to you.”
“I know.” Aaron just shook his head and couldn’t help the smile. “I’m going to introduce him to Jack.”
“Oh, it’s at the Jack stage is it?”
Aaron frowned and crossed his arms, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I know you. You don’t introduce Jack unless you know it’s going to be serious. Hell, it took you almost a year before you let the kid anywhere near Jack.” Aaron shouldn’t have been surprised that Dave knew.
“You two hid it well, but I know you Aaron. You and Spencer didn’t make a big deal about you two breaking it off, but you can’t tell me it didn’t hurt Aaron.”
“It was weeks ago, Dave. Spencer is a smart man and I think if Tony hadn’t walked back into my life we could have been happy. But… ” Aaron relaxed as he smiled to himself.
“I get it Aaron. You do seem happier than you have in a long time.”
Dave just chuckled as he stood and left Aaron alone with his reports and his thoughts. He was trying to figure out just the right place to have the two most important people to him meet.
The weekend rolled around and Tony was more nervous than he thought he would be. He was meeting Aaron and Jack at the park that the boy played soccer at. He slid on jeans and a polo shirt. He thought about how sports was good, he could talk sports with the kid and hopefully not screw things up too much.
Tony had never confessed to Aaron that he didn’t really like kids. He didn’t have very many good experiences with them and he always felt awkward around them. But, this relationship was worth the try, worth stepping out of his comfort zone for. He took a few deep breaths and tamped down on his nervousness. Finally, after putting on his sneakers, he was ready. Grabbing the bag of waters and snacks, he stopped hesitating and finally left his apartment. He had no more excuses to stall. Putting on his sunglasses, he finally walked out to his car.
The day was bright, but there was a nice breeze blowing off the Potomac. Tony tried to relax as he drove to the park, his heart pounding in anticipation. He made a quick stop for coffee, pastries and fruit. He wasn’t quite sure what the little buggers ate during games, but he damn well wanted a pastry, especially getting up at the asscrack of dawn just to get to the park by 7:30 a.m. This was one time he might actually want to strangle Aaron for getting him out of bed so damn early on a Saturday. But then he remembered his lover sprawled on top of him, kissing him, hands under his shirt touching him, asking if he’d be there the next day. With that kind of incentive, how could he say no?
“Fuck DiNozzo, get your damn mind out of the gutter.” He took a few deep breaths and tried to get himself under control. He did not think it would be appropriate to show up at a kids game sporting an erection. He almost laughed at himself for that.
Tony easily found the park Aaron had given him the directions to. As he parked and got out of the car he looked up and felt the warmth of the sun on his face and the gentle breeze was a wonderful contrast to the heat. He reached in his car and grabbed the waters and the food then walked to the south end of the park where Aaron said they would be.
When he got closer he saw a woman talking to Aaron. She had a hand on his arm and an almost predatory look on her face. Tony couldn’t help the rise of jealousy that started in the pit of his stomach and grew worse as he got closer.
“Surely one dinner Aaron. I know just how much a good home cooked meal, made by someone else, can be a refreshing change. Plus, don’t you want some, you know, adult time?”
“Oh, I think he gets plenty of adult time, don’t you tiger?” Tony smiled his most charming smile as he walked closer to the two. “I mean last night alone…” Tony let the rest of what he was going to say drop, on purpose.
Aaron, thankfully, had a sense of humor. It was dry, and often hidden, but Tony had been learning how to bring out the man’s playful side.
“Was it too much for you Tone?” Aaron smiled as he took the box of food out of his hands and right there, in front of the few mothers that had arrived, leaned in and kissed Tony.
Aaron pulled back and winked at Tony then turned back to the woman he was talking to.
“As I have been trying to tell you, Sharon, I am in a relationship.”
“But Aaron, don’t you want, you know, a woman to take care of you?”
“Frankly, no. Had a woman, she betrayed me by sleeping around. Tony wouldn’t do that. Now, we have a game to set-up for.”
Sharon spun, held her head in a very haughty manner and went to sit with a small group of four other women and glared at Tony and Aaron.
“Should I not have done that?” Tony couldn’t stop the wicked smile on his face even if he wanted to.
“Sharon Mills has been a thorn in my side for the last two years. I’ve politely turned her down every time, but she and her friends have it in their head that I need a woman to come take care of me and Jack.”
“Do I have to call out a hit squad on her?”
Aaron laughed as he laid a hand on Tony’s shoulder, “No, you do not have to send out a hit squad.” He leaned in and kissed Tony again. It was a claim and a declaration to those around that he was taken and had no interest in them.
“Are you sure you want to be seen kissing a man in front of these people?”
“I’m not going to hide Tony. Not anymore. You’re too important to me to treat you that way.” The two men were staring at each other for a few moments before he felt a hand on his leg.
“Jack, is everyone ready?”
“Yes Dad.” The boy looked up and eyed the man in front of him warily.
“Jack, this is Tony, remember we talked about him?”
Jack just shook his head and leaned into his father.
“It’s nice to meet you Jack. Your Dad talks about you all the time.” Tony smiled at the boy as he held out his hand for Jack to take.
Taking a few moments to assess him, Jack finally took Tony’s hand and shook it.
“Nice to meet you,” Jack’s voice was low and he seemed shy. Tony wasn’t sure what to do and he felt slightly uncomfortable, but was determined to hide it. Aaron was clearly not trying to hide his amusement, which made Tony glare at him.
“Go on buddy, I’ll be there in a few minutes and we’ll get started.”
“Okay Dad.” Jack ran over to the team where they were practicing some passing moves.
“Well that was awkward and uncomfortable.” Tony let out the breath he was holding.
“Give it time Tone. We’ll have plenty of time after the game. Now I have some coaching to do. But, we’ll go out for lunch and I know you two will end up liking each other. Even though I know you have issues with kids.” Tony gaped at his lover as he walked away.
“Damn profilers.” Tony grabbed a bear claw and his coffee then sat and watched the game, or more specifically watched Aaron, who was wearing running shorts. Tony just couldn’t help the smile and the wicked thoughts that kept running through his mind, then he remembered where he was and blushed.
Tony was hoarse and flushed after the game was over. He cheered on Jack and his team but his eyes kept going to Aaron. Well, more specifically he was watching Aaron’s ass in his fitted shorts. Every so often the First Wives Club, as they came to be known in Tony’s head, would look over at him. Most scowled, but one brunette in particular kept making eyes at him. He would just shake his head and turned back to watch the game.
He thanked every deity that he didn’t believe in that the game was over and he could get away from the FWC. Tony chuckled at his thoughts and stood to go congratulate the kids on winning. He was looking down at the grass as he made his way to Aaron and Jack when someone stepped in front of him.
“I’m sorry, could you please get out of my way?” Tony looked at at the brunette FWC.
“You’re one very sexy man. They said I shouldn’t even try, but, mmm, mmm, mmm, you are one delicious looking male.” The brunette swivelled her hips and smiled coyly. He saw out of the corner of his eye Aaron approaching.
“Look, I know that you think you’re all Raquel Welch right now sweetheart, but you’re coming off more like Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. And I mean the psycho part, not the smoking hot blonde in her prime. Physically, you’re more like Kathy Bates. So, how ‘bout you just step the fuck off before I have to go all Al Pacino on you….honey.” Tony smiled but it didn’t reach his eyes.
Aaron moved behind him and wrapped an arm around his waist.
“I think you better listen to him Tonya.” The woman glared at them then stalked off. “I know this is totally inappropriate, but fuck that was hot,” Aaron growled in his ear, then kissed his temple. “Come on, team wants burgers.”
Tony turned in Aaron’s arms and kissed him, “Well, I got more where that came from, and burgers sound great.” Tony followed Aaron to a local family style burger joint. He liked it immediately. When he slipped into his chair he noticed that Jack was sitting between him and Aaron. He smiled shyly at the boy as he took a menu.
He knew he needed to break the ice somehow and when he looked down at the boy he smiled.
“Great game out there Jack. Some nice footwork on the passing.”
Jack looked-up at him wide-eyes. “You watched my game?”
“Of course I did. You know, I used to play basketball and football. I even got scholarships to college to play.”
“Wow, you musta’ been good.”
“I did okay.” Tony smiled and for once felt that his sports background was appreciated.
“Are you kidding Jack? Tony here was on his way to a big league team. One of the best College running backs I’ve ever seen.” Tony looked up surprised.
“What? I watch college ball.” Aaron smiled as he ruffled Jack’s hair. The waitress came by and took their orders then was back with drinks for everyone.
“Decided to leave that detail out Agent Hotchner?” Tony raised a brow and grinned.
“Was just waiting for the right time Agent DiNozzo.” Aaron smiled back at him, relaxed and happy.
Tony felt a tug on his arm and he looked down at Jack.
“How come you don’t play no more?”
“Well, my leg was broken during an important game and I was out the rest of the season. When it healed I found out I couldn’t play anymore.”
“I’m sorry. Wanna play basketball with me? Dad put a hoop up on our garage.” The little boy looked up with such hope that all Tony could do was smile and agree.
Jack warmed up to him after that asking all kinds of questions about sports. They made plans to go back to Aaron’s, play a little basketball, Tony fixed dinner and they watched The Sandlot. By the time the movie was over Jack was falling asleep. Aaron picked him up and took him to his room and put him to bed. When he came back out he pushed Tony down on the couch and kissed him. He moaned as Tony wrapped his legs around him and thrust up against him.
Aaron was still in the shorts and tight workout shirt he had worn to coach the game. The thin material rubbed as Tony moved against him. His mouth never left Tony’s as he encouraged Tony to open for him. He slipped his tongue inside as he ground against his lover.
“Tone,” Aaron moaned as hands slipped under his shirt and touched and kneaded his flesh. “Shit, Tony if we don’t stop…” His words were cut off by Tony pulling him back to his mouth.
Aaron couldn’t help moving against Tony, it had felt so good and had been so long, even if they were still clothed, he moaned again as he was thoroughly kissed. Tony’s hands slipped under his shorts and he was pulled harder against his lover. He sucked in a breath as he ground down and came.
Tony thrust up, keeping Aaron right where he was and followed a moment later coming in his jeans.
“Shit, haven’t done that since college,” Aaron teased as he buried his head against Tony’s, panting. He felt the rumbling chuckle in Tony’s chest and smiled.
“Neither have I. I think we need to change.”
Aaron nodded as he stood and pulled Tony up with him. “I promise, next time, a little less clothes.”
“I will hold you to that Aaron.” Tony finally stepped away and went to take a shower. He had a go bag in his car and had Aaron run out to get it for him. After they were both showered and changed they curled up on the couch together and watched movies and talked about the day. Aaron was happy that the first meet with his son had gone so well. He just knew this was going to work out and that made him happier than he had been in a long time.
Part 9: Alexandria – 2010
Tony was finding balance with his team. He had been able to woo both Ashley and Jordan away. Ashley was becoming emotionally compromised working in trafficking so long. Tony wasn’t surprised. They had one of the highest turnover rates in the Bureau. He was glad to get her. Tara and her had bonded quickly after they had learned about each other’s childhoods. Currently, he was looking at Jordan laughing and joking with Ethan and Gina and thought back to her interview.
“I just have one simple question.”
“Okay.” Jordan frowned as she looked at Tony.
“Will you ever be compelled to pull shit like this again?” Tony handed her the report that Aaron had written up and put in her file. She was surprised it was as fair as it was, but the formal reprimand was still there.
“No. I’ve learned a lot since then. The BAU kicked my ass, but in hindsight, I deserved it.”
“For now, before you talk to any media you will get it approved by me first. And, no lying to families, ever. Do you get why UC Hotchner gave you this reprimand?”
Jordan sat back and took a breath before she spoke.
“It undermines the trust we try to build with the victims families and friends. If we lie and get caught in that lie all trust is broken and then it cuts us off from any information they may have for our cases. It undercuts our sincerity and makes us look like assholes, Sir.”
“Exactly. Now, that’s all I’m going to say about it. But, Jordan.”
“You lie or you don’t back-up your team or you compromise their trust and safety, you will be busted back to the Agent Pool with another reprimand in your file. Understand?”
“Now, go take that last desk before those freaks out there decide to do something really mean, like wrapping everything up in wrapping paper or something.” Tony grinned at the stunned look on Jordan’s face.
“Thank you, Sir. I promise not to let you down.” Jordan practically jumped out of her seat from her excitement and ran out to the desk. Ashley and her hugged, having worked together before, they knew each other and Tony had seen that as a plus.
Tony came back to the present and was standing at the large window in his office that looked out to the bullpen. He watched his agents interacting with each other and was proud of the team he had put together. They had a few cases under their belt and though they had a couple of hiccups they learned quickly how to work together. There was one of them that stood out in the field and he finally knew he had his 2IC.
Tony peaked out of his office, “Gideon, my office.” He yelled out then walked back and sat down with his feet propped up throwing a baseball in the air.
“I need you to clean out your desk.”
Tara frowned deeply as she walked into his office.
“Um what did I do?”
“Nothing, you’re moving.”
“To the office next to mine. You’re my new second.”
“You bastard. I thought you were firing me for some reason.” Tara glared at him and crossed her arms.
“Nah, the way you took down Jamison through sheer snark alone told me right then you are who I want as my second.”
Tara laughed as she turned around and flipped Tony off as she went to get her things. He just laughed and leaned back with his hands behind his head thinking just how happy he was.
“You look awfully smug.” Aaron leaned in the door in jeans and a t-shirt.
“Hey, when did you get in and what are you wearing?” Tony stood and made his way to Aaron. He wrapped a hand around his wrist, their code for when they were in the office.
“It was a lake out in California. Didn’t think a suit would be a good idea.” Aaron reached out and straightened Tony’s tie. “I already saw Jack. He and Spencer are going out for the night. Strauss gave us mandatory down time so I’m off tomorrow. What are your plans?”
“Oh, well my plans just opened up.”
“I was thinking,” Aaron hesitated a moment as he let Tony’s tie go, “maybe staying the night.”
“I think I can agree to that.”
“I have some paperwork to finish. I can be at your place around six thirty?”
“Perfect. I’ll see you then.” Tony let Aaron go and wished, not for the first time, that he could kiss him. But the FBI frowned on that kind of thing so they made do. He went back to his desk and worked on getting his paperwork finished. He couldn’t believe that they were finally moving forward, taking that next step.
“Should we move this to the bedroom?” Tony was currently straddled on Aaron’s lap kissing him, pressing him into the back of the couch.
“Yes,” Aaron was breathless as Tony was slowly undoing that stoic facade he knew he put up as a defense against the world around him. Tony moved and held his hand out for Aaron who stood and took it. When they entered, Tony started to unbutton Aaron’s shirt, which he slid off and threw it to the side. Aaron hooked his finger in one of Tony’s belt loops and pulled him flush against him. He took his mouth once again kissing him hard as one hand cupped his ass and kept him close.
Tony reluctantly broke the kiss and moved away undressing as he went. Aaron undid his pants and slid off his boxers. He stepped out of them and threw them off to the side. He had his hands on the hem of his sleeveless t-shirt but hesitated. He sat on the end of the bed suddenly unsure of himself.
“Aaron? What’s wrong?”
“I,” his voice caught in his throat as his breathing went shallow. Tony dropped down to his knees and grabbed the end of the shirt. Never taking his eyes off Aaron’s, he slowly lifted it up and off him. When Aaron closed his eyes and turned his head Tony looked down. He lifted his hand and slowly traced each scar on Aaron’s chest and stomach.
“You were afraid to show me?” Aaron silently nodded. Tony splayed his hands over his chest then reached up and gently turned Aaron’s head back so he could look at him and kissed him. “These don’t matter Aaron. All they are is battle scars. They don’t make you less than what you are, an amazing man that I am stupidly in-love with. They don’t change how I feel about you in any way.”
“Tony.” Aaron reached down and pulled him up kissing him. He started to scoot back with Tony following. Reaching into his nightstand, Tony grabbed a bottle of lube and a condom then laid Aaron out. He took his time showing Aaron just what he was feeling. Kissing, touching and marking him, making Aaron his in more ways than one. When he slid a slick finger inside Aaron’s hole he was rewarded with a very obscene noise.
He grabbed for the condom and tore open the wrapper and slipped it on.
“God Aaron, you’re gorgeous like this waiting and splayed out just for me.”
“Tony, please.” Aaron begged as he arched up on the bed.
“Anxious?” Tony looked down on Aaron as he guided the head of his cock inside Aaron. He was pushing inside as he leaned over Aaron kissing him when Aaron went completely still.
“Tony,” Aaron’s heart was racing, and he felt a rising panic attack as Tony was above him.
“Aaron, what’s wrong.”
“Tony, off, please.” The panic on Aaron’s face was worrying Tony so he carefully pulled out and moved to the side. Aaron bolted off the the bed and ran into the bathroom. Tony took off the condom and put on a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt and ran to the bathroom. Aaron was on his knees with his forehead against the porcelain of the toilet. Tony saw that he was sweating and lightly shaking.
“Aaron, are you okay?” Aaron just shook his head no as he felt wetness on his cheeks. “Can you stand?” Aaron nodded yes and Tony helped him up and led him into the bedroom. He grabbed Aaron’s overnight bag and handed it to him. Aaron rummaged through it and grabbed a pair of running shorts and t-shirt and put them on.
“What do you need Aaron?” Tony wasn’t going to push for answers just yet. He would let Aaron settle a little before he asked any questions.
“Some water please.”
“Why don’t we go out to the living room.” Aaron nodded and followed behind Tony then curled-up on the couch. Tony came back with some water and sat on the other end of the couch. He would patiently wait till Aaron was ready to talk.
“I’m sorry, Tone.” Aaron’s face was flushed with embarrassment.
“Can you tell me what happened?” It was several long minutes and Aaron only started talking after he drained the water Tony gave him.
“I only told you part of what happened to me. Foyet, when he attacked me,” Aaron pulled his legs up to his chest and wrapped his arms around his legs. “He didn’t just stab me Tony. It wasn’t that simple. He was straddled on top of me. Each time he slid the knife in,” Aaron’s breath was short and he started to shake. “He looked me in the face. He only moved to shift positions, he got off on it. I tried to fight back but the pain and I was losing blood, I just, I laid there and couldn’t do anything to stop it.” Tears slid down Aaron’s face but he didn’t move his hands to stop them.
“That’s not everything is it?” Tony kept his voice calm, compassionate but inside he was a raging ball of emotions. He wished the man wasn’t dead so he could kill him all over again.
“He was hard. I could feel it and my mind was screaming, I thought, from something he said earlier that night, I thought…” Aaron closed his eyes against the memories.
“You thought he was going to rape you?”
Aaron nodded his head and Tony wanted to curse but he quelled his own emotions because he didn’t want to scare Aaron.
“He didn’t, though.”
“Didn’t he? Aaron, he might not have physically done the act but everything else, he mentally and emotionally raped you. Even the way he stabbed you, isn’t that a kind of rape?” Aaron nodded his head yes. “May I ask you something?” Aaron again nodded.
“When you were with Spencer, he never topped you did he?” Aaron shook his head. “So when I started to, it brought all of that back.”
“Fuck, Aaron if I had known, if I had even thought I wouldn’t have, I mean I would have let you take the lead. God, I am so sorry.”
“He taunted me, Tony. He taunted me then he went to my bathroom and I could hear him. I could hear him.” Tony gently took Aaron’s hand and tugged him into his arms. He laid down and settled Aaron down on top of him. He wrapped his arms around the man and held him.
“You’ve never dealt with this have you? I can guess that you easily got past the Bureau shrinks and never talked to anyone about this.”
“No. I’m sorry. I..”
“Shh, don’t be sorry Aaron. We’ll figure this out. I think you need to talk about this, but not with me because right now what I want to do I can’t.” Tony gently rubbed his back and felt a wetness on his chest. He wasn’t moving, not for anything in the world and his heart ached. He loved this man and to see him breaking like this hurt him and he had no one to take it out on. For now he would bury it and figure out what to do with this later.
“We’ll figure this out Aaron, together. I’m not scared okay? I’ve already told you I’m all in and I meant it. So, we take this slow and figure out how to get through this. You aren’t alone Aaron in this, I won’t let you be.”
Aaron didn’t say anything he just fisted his hand in Tony’s shirt and for once let himself be cared for. All of that pain and anger he had held onto for so long, it broke inside of him and he let go, let himself break in the arms of the one man he trusted more than anything.
“I love you Tony,” Aaron shook but was soothed by gentle hands and gentle kisses on his forehead. Eventually it all caught-up to him and he was exhausted and fell asleep.
Tony was loath to move them so he settled a little more and tried to let go of the raging anger inside him. He knew he couldn’t do anything about Foyet, but he could help Aaron. Letting out the breath he was holding he tightened his hold on the man he loved and slowly fell asleep himself hoping they could find answers in the morning.
Part 10: Tony’s Brownstone – Mid 2010
Aaron sighed as he raised his hand to knock on Tony’s door. He paused. He was nervous, more nervous than he had been when they started dating. The meeting with the Director and with Homeland Security had not gone his way and he was being asked to do something that he really had no choice in. Well, he had a choice, but it would mean quitting, which he was not going to do. He took another breath then knocked. A moment later, the door was opening and Aaron couldn’t help the wistful look that came over his face.
“Okay, what’s wrong?” Tony asked as he opened the door.
“Can I come in?” Aaron asked as furrowed his brow. He hated the look that came over Tony’s face, but he didn’t want to have this conversation on the steps to his lover’s brownstone.
“Come on,” Tony stepped aside and let him in. “Aaron, what’s going on? Does it have something to do with the Homeland guys that were in the building?”
Aaron huffed out a laugh, he should know by now that Tony would know something was up.
“Yes, actually.” Aaron grabbed Tony by the waist and pulled him in, kissing him, more for reassurance than anything.
“Hey, what’s going on Aaron? You’re scaring me here.” Tony pulled back and let the worry he was feeling cover his face.
“I have been assigned to a special task force that is going to Pakistan for four months. Our job is to try to interrogate some of the terrorists that have been captured. Homeland, and the military higher ups want a different approach than the current interrogators. They know that is one of my specialties because of the type of people the BAU deals with.” Aaron stopped talking and laid his forehead against Tony’s, “I don’t want to go.”
Tony swallowed hard as he tried to tamp down on his fears and that little bit of anger that welled-up inside him. But, seeing that Aaron was agitated and didn’t want to go made it just a tad easier to take.
“You have no choice?”
Aaron snorted as he broke away and started to pace, “Not really. Especially after Doyle, they aren’t giving me many options.”
“None of that was your fault Aaron.”
“No, but I did lead my team on an unsanctioned op to find Emily. I think this is their way of asserting their control. It got out of hand and we should have called in someone else, but..”
“She was one of you. You couldn’t do anything other than what you did.”
Aaron wiped his face and sat at the counter facing his lover.
“How are you okay with this?”
“Should I throw a tantrum? Get angry at something out of your control? I can assume your only other choice was to resign, and knowing you, you aren’t a quitter, no matter what they throw at you.” Tony looked thoughtful for a moment as he moved to stand between Aaron’s legs, hands cupping his face, “I can guess that Haley wasn’t so understanding.”
Aaron closed his eyes and shook his head.
“I’m not your ex-wife. I know the job Aaron and I know the people who run the Bureaus. It sucks and I will miss the fuck out of you, but I’m here, I’m not going anywhere.”
Aaron pulled Tony into his arms and let his head fall on his shoulder. The two men stayed wrapped-up in each other for a few minutes before Tony broke the hold.
“What about Jack?”
“Jessica was going to watch him for me.”
Tony took a big breath and was silent for several long minutes, which worried Aaron but the next words out of his lover’s mouth stunned him.
“I could watch him. I’m home most nights. Even if we get a case, it won’t be far. Jessica can watch him after school, I could pick him up, bring him here. He’s already got a room and some clothes.” He was stopped from anymore talking by Aaron’s kiss.
“I think he’d love that. Thank you.”
“When do you leave?”
“So, we have the weekend?”
Aaron smiled slowly as he bent forward kissing Tony again. Though he was nowhere ready for sex after his recent breakdown, they did share intimacy. Kissing, touching and just being with each other soothed many of Aaron’s fears.
Later that evening as they were wrapped around each other Tony leaned up on his elbow and looked down on Aaron, tracing his jaw with his fingers.
“Aaron, I want to ask you something, and if you can’t tell me, I’ll understand. But I’m going to make an educated guess here and ask, Prentiss is alive, isn’t she?” Tony pinned him with a look that said, ‘don’t lie to me’.
“Yes, but you cannot breathe a word of this Tone.”
“Don’t worry, I’m not. I’m also going to guess that it was blondie and the State Department that helped facilitate her disappearance?”
Aaron glared at him, but Tony just softly laughed at the man’s annoyance. “I’ll say it again, that look is sexy.” Tony laid a hand on Aaron’s heart, “I won’t do anything to jeopardize the Princess. I figured it out when you only told Jack that something happened to Emily and that she was gone, but you didn’t use the word dead. You let him infer, which told me that it would make it easier when, or if she comes back.”
“You’re too smart, you know that?”
“Hmm, let’s hear you say that after you are gone for four months and I have all that time to corrupt your son all by myself.” Tony smiled mischievously and Aaron growled, pouncing on him, pinning him to the bed.
“No corrupting. At least not till he’s 25, or 30, let’s make that 30, okay?”
Tony laughed as he lifted his eyes up and bit his lip. “I’m going to miss you, and you better not do something stupid to get yourself hurt, or worse…” Tony wrapped himself around Aaron and buried his face against his lover’s chest, “I swear if you get yourself killed….just, don’t, okay?”
Aaron swallowed hard as he wrapped around Tony, the two men intertwined together, as fear for Aaron’s safety sobered them both.
“I promise to be careful Tone. I’ll come back, to you and to Jack. I promise.”
“I’m going to hold you to that promise.”
They spent the rest of the evening talking, making a late dinner, watching movies and falling into bed. There was a slightly desperate air and Tony tried to think of the danger Aaron was clearly walking into. His dreams were fraught with his worry, but he was determined to make the most of the weekend before Aaron had to leave.
“Hey kiddo, what do you want to do?” Tony asked across the table as Jack picked at his breakfast. Tony understood that he was having a hard time with Aaron being gone and frankly so was he. They were trying to make the most of it and Jack had perked up when Tony got the Skype account set-up. Aaron had taken his laptop and Tony insisted on an internet card, just in case the base internet was spotty. The first few nights they were learning the ins and outs of the program, but it at least let them stay in touch.
Tony saw Jack look down at this food and shrug.
“There’s a pretty awesome park just across the street. They have a nice basketball court, we could take some food and drinks, go spend some time there. I could start teaching you my moves,” Tony plastered on a smile hoping to bring Jack around.
“Okay.” Jack looked-up and smiled weakly at him. Tony knew how much the boy had gone through and how much his father being gone was affecting him.
“Hey, I miss him too, but the only way we are gonna get through this is together. Think of this time as just for us. We can get to know each other better without Dad around, huh? Scary movie marathons, late night pizza, blanket fort, what do you say?”
Tony saw a smile teasing at the corner of Jack’s mouth, the boy reluctantly falling to Tony’s charms.
“It won’t mean that you can’t miss him, you can, just I don’t think he’d want us to sit here and brood, your father does that enough all on his own.” Tony smiled when he heard a giggle. “So, what do you say, basketball?”
Jack looked up and nodded. Tony sighed in relief. He knew it wasn’t going to be easy, kids were still a mystery to him, but he had come to care for the young boy and wanted to get closer. He hadn’t lied to Aaron, he was all in, and Jack was part of the package.
It wasn’t long before they were crossing the street, cooler slung over a shoulder, Jack holding a basketball in one arm and a skateboard in his other hand. Tony smiled to himself because there was a bit of a spring in Jack’s steps and he was the reason. First thing they did was commandeer one of the basketball courts.
Tony spent the next couple of hours showing Jack some simple moves and how to aim so that he’d hit the basket more often. By the time they were slowing down, Jack was making baskets about forty percent of the time. Tony ruffled his hair and told him how proud he was at his progress.
The two walked to one of the benches where they had their stuff and grabbed some waters and sandwiches. They ate in companionable silence and Tony was finding he had a lot more in common with Jack than he thought possible.
“Tony.” Jack looked-up as he put his water down.
“Can I go to the skate park?”
Tony looked at the things they brought and saw that Jack had stuffed his elbow and knee pads inside the bag with their other things. He also had a helmet that he must have carried with his skateboard.
“As long as you wear your safety gear, sure.” Tony helped him into the gear, set his helmet on his head and gathered their other items up and led the boy to another part of the park that had been turned into a small, but nice skate park. There were several levels and though Tony knew Jack knew how to ride, he still wanted him to stay in the beginner’s area, at least for now.
“Hey, look what I can do Tony,” Jack yelled as he went down the small incline and did some pretty fancy footwork for someone his age. He wondered if it was all the outdoor activities he had done with his father over the years. The kid had good balance and Tony was impressed.
“Hey, I’m impressed. You’re pretty good, kiddo.”
“Can I go to the harder section? I promise to be careful.” Jack got off his board and ran over to Tony, hope written all over his face. Tony eyed the middle section, the one for intermediate level skaters and paused. “Please,” Jack pleaded, and Tony really was a sucker for those wide eyes that were so like his father’s.
“Okay, just don’t do anything to fancy, okay? What to get you home in one piece.” Jack jumped for joy as he grabbed his board and ran over to the middle section of the skatepark.
Everything was going really well. Jack was doing easy tricks and Tony was just a tad nervous about how fearless the kid was. Then he noticed Jack trying to do some more advanced moves and at one point his heart shot straight into his throat as he thought Jack was going to crash. He was gripping the railing tight and came to the conclusion that it was time to get going. He didn’t think Jack should be trying such advanced stunts without someone who knew what they were doing.
“Hey Jack, I think we’ve been out here enough for today. Why don’t we head back, watch some movies or somethin’, okay?” Tony called out.
“Okay, just one more and we’ll go.” Jack was at the top of the highest part of the bowl. Tony was about to call out for him to stop when he plunged down. Halfway Jack lost his balance and his footing and took a serious tumble. Tony stood there, his heart pounding especially since Jack wasn’t moving.
“Shit. Aaron’s gonna kill me. I got his son killed, fuck, fuck, fuck. What the hell,” Tony was muttering to himself as he was running down the bowl towards Jack to see what was going on. “Hey, hey kid, Jack,” Tony checked him over and carefully turned Jack onto his back. He was breathing okay, no bloody nose, thank god.
“Ow,” Jack cried out as he tried to sit up.
“No, no, no, no don’t move, let me check you really quick.” Tony was panicking and he knew it when he reached out shaking hands to roam over the boy’s body looking for broken bones. When he didn’t feel any he carefully let Jack sit up. Then the tears started.
“What, what’s wrong? You hurt? Jack, talk to me, why you crying?”
“I want Spencer,” Jack cried as he pulled his leg up showing where the pants had torn on both legs. He saw numerous scratches on his lower legs, hands and arms, but not much else.
“Hey, Spencer, isn’t here, but I am, I’m going to lift you up so that we can get out of here, okay?”
“No, I want my Papa,” Jack cried again. Tony was trying to stay calm and not freak out, but it was hard when Jack was freaking out. With shaking hands, Tony pulled his phone out and dialed his friend.
“SpencerI’mattheparkacrossthestreetandjackgothurtandhescryingforyouyouneedtocomerightaway.” Tony was breathing hard as the words spilled from him in a jumbled mess.
“Tony, calm down, and repeat that.”
Tony took a few deep breaths as Jack sat there still crying and he wasn’t sure what to do.
“Jack and I are at the park across from my place and he went skateboarding and fell down and he’s hurt but he won’t let me move him he just keeps crying for you and I know you and Jimmy probably are out but can you come and help please and Aaron’s going to kill me and never trust me with Jack again,” Tony was panting hard after his one breath verbal onslaught.
“We aren’t that far, We’ll be there in a few minutes.” Tony hung up with Spencer and tried to keep Jack calm, but the more anxious he got, the worse Jack got. This was making him doubt himself, his relationship and there even being a possibility with Jack.
They sat there, boy and man unsure of each other and Tony was on the verge of his own tears because dammit this had to work, he loved Aaron too much and he wanted to work it out with Jack. This was supposed to be the time for them to connect, not push farther away from each other. He was feeling hurt and anxious that Jack didn’t want his help.
Tony looked up when he heard footsteps approaching and Spencer was there. He wondered where Jimmy was, but Spencer just shook his head.
“Papa,” Jack shouted and flung himself in Spencer’s arms. Spencer mouthed an I’m sorry at Tony who had to turn away.
“Tony, why don’t we all go to your place?” Spencer said as he laid a hand on his friend’s shoulder.
“Yeah, sure, why not.” He climbed up the steps feeling out of sorts and dejected. He felt like he failed somehow. Failed Aaron, failed Jack and failed himself. Jimmy was at the top of the bowl and he tried to give Tony some comfort, but he shrugged his friend off and led the way to his brownstone. He heard Spencer speaking softly to Jack and the boy calming down and that hurt more than he was willing to admit.
When they arrived, Tony let them in and directed Spencer to Jack’s bedroom which had its own bathroom. He grabbed the first aid kit and took it to Spencer. He then went back to his kitchen and poured himself a glass of water, needing something cool to clear his throat. He offered some to Jimmy who politely turned him down. He was grateful that he didn’t ask because Tony didn’t want to talk.
“I’m going to go wait in the car and you and Spencer can talk about this.” Jimmy stood from the chair he sat down in and headed towards the door.
“You don’t have to go, Jimmy.”
“Yeah. I do. It’s fine Tony. Jack didn’t notice me; he was all about Spencer. And, I just think you guys need a few minutes to work this out without me around to complicate things.”
Tony wanted to protest, but Jimmy just smiled and patted Tony’s shoulder. Tony was actually grateful the younger man understood.
Tony heard the shower turn on and he waited. It was about an hour of almost utter silence in the house and it was enough time that his thoughts turned inward, and doubts, worry and guilt were starting to invade his mind. Finally, Spencer came out and sat down in front of Tony.
“Jimmy went to the car. He said he wanted to give us a little space. God, Spencer…”
“Tony, it’s okay. I put Jack in his bed. He’s exhausted from his ordeal. He just has some scrapes and a few bruises. I gave him a children’s Advil that I think Aaron put in his cabinet.” Tony felt thin and frazzled. “He asked to go home with me. I told him no.”
“Why? He obviously hates me,” Tony dipped his head down and played with his glass. “Maybe you should take him.”
“I didn’t take you for one to give up so easily. This isn’t going to be easy for you or for him, but he must understand that you are here to stay. I know what Aaron feels for you and I know what you feel for him, Jack needs to know that you care about him.”
“I let him get hurt. Shit Spencer, I panicked. I’m not good with kids.”
Spencer chuckled softly as he shook his head, “And neither was I at one time. Tony, it is going to take time, but just show him you want to be there. I’ve known Jack since he was a baby, you’ve only known him a couple of short months. Don’t give up.” Spencer stood and took Jimmy’s hand; the two men said their goodbye’s and left Tony alone.
Letting Jack sleep, Tony wasn’t even hungry anymore as he sat down on the couch and put on a mindless movie trying to get his mind off what happened. He hadn’t realized the time when his alarm went off. It was an alarm to tell him when it was time for Aaron to call. He booted up his laptop and sighed as he waited for the Skype call to come through. When it did, he really didn’t feel any better than earlier.
“Hey.” The smiling face of his lover did nothing to quell the anxiety he was feeling. In fact it made everything worse.
“Hey.” Tony couldn’t even fake a smile at this point.
“Tone, what’s wrong?”
“I fucked-up. I fucked-up bad Aaron. I’m sorry you trusted me with Jack and I screwed up and I know you’re never going to want me to watch him again and I know if Jack and I can’t get along that’s a deal breaker and it’s tearing me up cause I love you so fucking much and I want this, all of this but your son hates me and it’s my fault and I don’t know if I’ll ever understand it if you want to leave me…”
“I told him it was okay he had all his safety equipment on, and I swear I was watching him, trying to be careful….”
“Tony…” Aaron said more forcefully.
“I just know that if the kid doesn’t like me that you aren’t gonna want to be with me ‘cause you’re a package deal and I know that….”
“Tony!” Tony stopped in mid-tirade at the tone in Aaron’s voice and the panic was back and the tears he had been holding back started to fall.
“Hey, hey Tone calm down and tell me what happened.” Tony took a few deep breaths as he wiped his face. He then told Aaron what had happened, and his heart was breaking because he just knew that Aaron was going to back away and want nothing to do with him after this.
“Tony, do you know how many times Jack has scraped his knees, or fallen and hurt himself? He’s a boy that plays hard. He plays soccer and has gotten hurt worse than that. It sounds like he scared himself and in turn scared you even more.” Aaron took a moment and saw the misery on Tony’s face and wished more than anything he could be there to soothe his lover. “I’m not leaving you Tone. I love you too much. Jack is going to have to grow up a little and understand that Spencer isn’t going to be the one to come over and make everything better. Next time, and yes knowing my son there will be a next time, you tell him no that Spencer can’t come and you will take care of it.”
“I don’t know if I can do this…”
“You know I said those same words to Jason Gideon after Jack was born. I’ve made mistakes and so will you, but I know you can do this.” Aaron gave him that look of utter patience and understanding, and Tony wasn’t sure if he deserved it.
“Look, I only have a few more minutes, why don’t you go get Jack and I’ll talk to him, okay? And Tony?”
“I love you. I love you and I know we’ll get through this.”
Tony swallowed hard and tried to smile, “I love you to Aaron.” He touched the screen and Aaron did the same. It was the best they could do under the circumstances.
Tony nodded and went to the boy’s room to tell him his father wanted to say hi. Moving to his piano he gave father and son a few minutes as he sat there softly playing, trying to calm himself down. He stopped after a few minutes and laid his head down on the piano. When he felt a tug on his shirt he looked over and saw a very sad looking boy.
“Dad said you were hurt. I’m sorry Tony I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Jack crawled into his lap and wrapped an arm around him. Closing his eyes Tony returned the hug.
“You were scared, I understand that, I was scared to Jack. But we must try to trust each other and that won’t happen if, when something happens you want Spencer. And I have to learn not to panic if you get hurt. We got a lot to work on kiddo, but we can’t do it if you want someone else around.”
“Dad was mad. He said I took advantage of you. I’m not supposed to go to the harder parts of the skate park.”
Tony pursed his lips and looked down at the guilty look on the boy’s face.
“Well, we both made mistakes then. So, why don’t we start fresh tomorrow. Say, a movie, lunch and ice cream to be safe.”
Jack let out a small smile and nodded his head. He yawned big and Tony took him back to bed, read him a story, then tucked him in. The boy was out quickly, the emotional afternoon taking its toll. Tony sighed as he made his way to his room and got ready for bed himself, the emotions of the day wore him out. When he slipped into bed he was exhausted and drifted off into sleep with the hope that he and Jack could work things out.
Part 11: Quantico, FBI – 2010
“You’re a bastard and I hate you right now.” Tony flopped on the chair in front of Fornell’s desk, a frown on his face.
“What the hell did I do?”
“Aaron is still in Pakistan and I haven’t heard from him in four days and I’m freaking out here Boss.” Petulant Tony hadn’t come out in such a long time that it took Fornell by surprise.
“Ah hell DiNozzo. When?” Tobias leaned back in his chair and furrowed his brow.
“A few days after you hired me.”
“And you didn’t learn anything from your fling with Gibbs?”
Tobias leaned forward and narrowed his eyes and studied Tony for a moment.
“Ah shit. This is about Baltimore and that thing you got drunk and showed – up on my door about after you and Mr. Asshole himself started your….thing?” Tobias waved at Tony as he was trying to work out the younger man’s pout. This was DiNozzo, the mask, the persona he slipped on to hide what he was really feeling. Fornell needed to see Tony and if he had to open an old wound to do it he would.
“Yeah. This is that. I know you know why he was sent there and it’s not just to interview and profile suspected terrorists. What’s going on Boss? He wouldn’t stay out of contact with Jack this long Tobias.”
There he was, Tobias softened his expression as he contemplated how much he could tell Tony. Which wasn’t much. Only a few select Section Chiefs had been briefed. He was included for reasons which he couldn’t discuss with Tony for the time being.
“Tone, he’s fine. He always has a full escort. His assignment is almost ending. I don’t know everything, the Director is pretty closed mouthed about what’s going on, but he’s kept a few of us in a limited loop.”
“I can’t lose him Boss.” Tony was flicking at his nails not looking at Tobias.
Shit, the kid has it bad, “You won’t. He’s safe Tone, I promise.”
“I’m trusting you Fornell, but there better not be one scratch on him. That face is too pretty to hurt.” Tony gave a weak smile as he tried to calm the raging storm of worry that had started two days prior when neither he nor Jack had heard from Aaron.
“Go harass your own team DiNozzo. I’ve got work.” Fornell waved him off and Tony just snorted out a laugh. As soon as the younger man left Fornell was calling the Director to try and get some answers on just what the hell was going on.
Tony was walking back to his office not paying attention to where he was going when he ran right into someone.
“Shit, I’m sorry….Jimmy? Did we have a thing? Did I forget something?”
“No. I’m on my way to a lunch date.” Jimmy blushed as he dipped his head down.
“Oh ho, Jimmy Palmer,” Tony grinned like the Cheshire cat as he swung an arm around Jimmy’s neck. “Who’s the lucky girl?”
“Not a girl.” Jimmy blushed even redder as he shyly looked up at Tony, “Spencer Reid.”
“Why Mr. Palmer I never knew you were into men. He’s right over here, I’ll take you to him.”
“You don’t have to Tony.” Jimmy squeaked.
“Oh, but I very much do.” Tony laughed as Jimmy paled. They walked together towards the BAU bullpen. Spencer looked up towards them and smiled.
“Jimmy,” he reached for the young man’s hand and Jimmy just blushed and smiled.
“Hi Spencer.” Jimmy looked back at a smirking Tony and rolled his eyes. “I’m sorry for the escort.”
“Hey Tony.” Spencer finger waved at him. “It’s okay, ready for lunch?”
Jimmy nodded and they started towards the elevator together. Spencer bent down and the two were having a quiet conversation then Spencer looked back to see both Tony and Morgan watching them.
“If you two are going to be so nosy, you might as well come to lunch with us.” Spencer let a little smirk show as he twined his pinky finger with Jimmy’s.
“I don’t think we can pass up this opportunity to see two geeks in the midst of their own unique mating ritual, what do you think Morgan?” Tony started off after the couple.
“Hey, I’m not staying out of the this.” Morgan patted his pockets and was relieved he had his wallet. He ran after them and made the elevator just in time.
By the time the four of them were seated in a booth at the diner that was frequented by many from the Bureau, Tony was all but bursting with questions.
“You want to know when it started.” Jimmy smiled shyly as he blushed and leaned into Spencer.
“Uh, yeah.” Tony tried to wait patiently.
“Well, the day Dr. Mallard and I came out to lunch with you we stopped for some coffee for me. I sort of ran into Spencer and spilled his coffee. I bought him a new one and we started talking.”
“I invited him to lunch the next day and we’ve been dating since.” Spencer lifted Jimmy’s hand and kissed his knuckles.
“Spencer,” Jimmy blushed even more.
“So, when you came to my place to help with Jack, you weren’t out as just friends.” Tony smiled as both Jimmy and Spencer blushed. Tony had assumed they had met somewhere along the way and become friends. That day he really wasn’t thinking that clearly. If he had he would have grilled them both. But, Jack had been more important at the time.
“No. We were on a date. I didn’t think it would appropriate to tell you at the time, so we decided to wait.”
Tony laughed and looked over at Morgan who was scowling, which made Tony laugh even more. Spencer just looked smug and poor Jimmy didn’t know what to do.
“That was months ago Pretty Boy, why didn’t you say anything?” Derek looked hurt as he crossed his arms.
“Because frankly Derek, you didn’t need to know and you are way too nosy. You would have told Garcia, who would have told JJ and then she would have grilled me. So, I kept it to myself till I knew where we were going. Which, again, is still none of your business.” Spencer’s brows went so high under his bangs that Tony thought they had gotten stuck there.
“Hey, man, you know I just care about you, right?”
“And while I appreciate it I am a grown man and so is James so the two of you can stop gawking and enjoy lunch with us as adults or go find your own table while we enjoy our date.” Jimmy couldn’t help the smile as both Morgan and Tony went to say something but Spencer just held up a hand. “If it’s about us, you can zip it. If it’s about anything other than the two of us, you can talk.”
“Spence, don’t you think you’re being a little rough on them?” Jimmy gave Tony a smile at the same time he placed a hand on Spencer’s thigh. The waitress came over and took their orders and quickly left.
“It’s okay Jimmy, Spencer’s right. We are prying but for me, after Agent Lee, I just want to make sure you’re okay.”
JImmy smiled and his dimples popped out which made Spencer blush to see.
“I know you worry about me Tony. Don’t, Spencer would never hurt me like Lee did. And while I understood her reasons for doing what she did, she still should have told someone.” Jimmy leaned forward towards Tony, “He’s good to me Tony. you don’t have to worry.” Jimmy sat back and laid his head on Spencer’s shoulder.
“Aww Jimmy, I’ll always worry about you.” Tony was glad though that the young man had found someone who obviously cared for him as much as Spencer did. It was all over both of their faces. He was also happy for Spencer. He knew how much the young man had loved Aaron and a part of him had felt a little guilty at first for coming between them. Seeing him with Jimmy and the obvious love and affection the two had for each other eased that little bit of guilt. He knew Aaron was going to be happy that Spencer found someone, he knew that friendship was important to Aaron. He hadn’t wanted to hurt Spencer, but in the end, it seems that some things really do happen for a reason.
“How are you and Agent Hotchner doing?” Jimmy asked as the waitress brought their drinks.
Tony tried to school his expression but wasn’t quite successful.
“I miss him. I hate that he’s gone. Hopefully this assignment will be ending soon.” Tony knew they were walking into a minefield with Derek and Spencer sitting there.
“I’m sure he misses you too. Don’t worry Tony, I’m sure he’s okay and will be home soon.” Jimmy patted Tony’s hand.
“Yeah. So, I just have to ask, what do you two crazy kids do when you go out? Some kind of super geek thing?” Tony’s eyes held a bit of amusement and Spencer couldn’t be mad at him. He had a feeling it was a distraction, so he didn’t have to think about Hotch and where he was at the moment.
“Usually we’re at my place watching Dr. Who, indulging in popcorn and playing with Curiosity. He likes to chase popcorn on the floor.”
“That is when we aren’t playing Pathfinder or Rifts.” Jimmy added and the two men laughed at the blank stares of their table companions. “You asked.” Jimmy smirked as he took a sip of his soda.
“Who’s Curiosity?” Tony finally asked.
“Oh, he’s my cat.” Spencer sipped his coffee and twined his hand with Jimmy’s.
“Yup, geeks.” Tony gently teased and he and Jimmy shared a fond look with each other.
“See Morgan, that is how brothers act.” Tony and Jimmy both frowned at Spencer. “What? You guys totally act like brothers.”
The four men laughed as they were served their food. The gentle teasing and banter continued through lunch then Morgan and Tony announced they should go. They left Jimmy and Spencer there as they headed out.
“You should go back too Spence.” Jimmy pushed his glasses up on his nose.
“I will. But first, I wanted to give you this.” Spencer handed him a small wrapped box.
“Just open it.”
JImmy furrowed his brow as he opened the box. When he pulled out a key he looked wide-eyed at the genius.
“Spencer?” Jimmy didn’t know what to say, he wasn’t sure what was being offered.
“Move-in with me?” Spencer blushed as his hand shook a little. “I know it’s only been a few months but, well I want you to live with me. That is if you want to.”
A slow smile formed on Jimmy’s face as he looked up into the face of his lover.
“I’d love to move-in with you Spencer.” Jimmy leaned forward and kissed Spencer and couldn’t help the blush that came over him. Spencer paid their part of the check and they hurried out of the restaurant. He wanted to get his desk cleared as he had plans that night to show Jimmy Palmer just what his feelings were for the young man.
Aaron just stood there watching for a few minutes. Pakistan had been hell and the information he uncovered was unnerving, but now he didn’t give one goddamn about his mission, either of them. What he cared about was the man sitting at his desk, head buried in reports. He couldn’t help just watching. He had missed Tony more than he cared to admit and at the moment it felt just like a dream. He had been in counseling dealing with the issues that had come up regarding his attack and he was healing mentally and emotionally. He was more than grateful for Tony’s patience with him. At the psychologists prodding, he initiated small intimacies and things had been good. Tony was letting him set the pace and it eased him more and more. In the weeks before his assignment, he had begun to learn closure. When everything went down with Prentiss and Doyle, Tony and Jack were the only things that had kept him centered. There were still secrets he kept and he hated it. He had promised Tony never to lie to him but he was being forced to keep those lies. He had talked to his therapist about it, working through the guilt that had built up over the weeks before he was assigned to Pakistan. Hopefully with being called back, they could put Doyle to rest and he could be relieved of the burden he was carrying. For now though, all he wanted was sitting right in front of him.
He leaned against the doorway and knocked. His heart constricted even more when those green eyes he dreamed about every night looked-up at him.
“I hate you.” Tony growled as he jumped out of his chair.
“No, you don’t.” Aaron pulled him into his arms. He didn’t give a rat’s ass at the moment that they were in the office when he lifted Tony’s chin and kissed him hard and needy.
“Okay I don’t hate you. But you’re a bastard.” Aaron gently wiped a tear that escaped that he didn’t think Tony was even aware of.
“I’m sorry. I was in an area that I couldn’t get any reception. Once we got out I was getting a call from Morgan about Doyle. They fast-tracked me on a plane out and I landed only a few minutes ago.”
“Do you need to go?”
“In a minute. I needed to see you first.” He cupped Tony’s cheek and kissed him again.
“You are never doing this again. And, I’m not going to be separated like this from you again. Tonight, you are getting some of your stuff and moving in. After this thing with Doyle we can make it more official. No arguments.”
Aaron lifted a brow and pursed his lips, “Is that so?”
“Yes. We are not doing this again Aaron, and I can’t sleep another night without you. Besides Jack likes the neighborhood. Especially the park.” Tony pouted and Aaron couldn’t help the smile he gave his lover.
“So, we’re doing this for Jack.” Aaron smiled as he teased a little.
“I’ll say it again, you’re a bastard. And before you even think of kissing me again this,” Tony circled Aaron’s face with his finger indicating the rough moustache and beard, “has got to go.”
“I take it you don’t like it either.” Aaron had heard endless complaints from his son about the beard.
“No I don’t. Now, get out of here before I lock you in here and do very filthy things to you.”
Tony heard the laugh as Aaron walked away. He ran to the door and yelled.
“And you’re too damn skinny.” Tony grumbled about them not feeding him properly as he walked back to his desk. His cellphone buzzed a moment later.
//Yes Papa Tony. So, should I expect a pasta fest the next few days?//
//Copious amounts. And no arguing. And until I say differently you are an asshole.//
//I love you and I missed you too. I’m fine Tone.//
Tony took a breath and let it out as he sat back at his desk. The only thing that kept going through his head was that Aaron was okay. The last four months had been hell thinking of him there in Pakistan. Then when he told Tony on one of their last Skype messages that he was moving but he couldn’t tell either Tony or Jack where he was going his heart constricted in his chest. He wanted to run out there and find him but he knew he couldn’t, he knew it would have been stupid, but he was known to do stupid things for the people he cared about. He had to wait and waiting had been really damn hard.
After Aaron had left his office, they got a case dropped in their lap. It was a series of robberies centering on the high-end diamond market. Grabbing the files, he knocked on Tara’s door.
“Campfire,” he said as he walked out to the bullpen to his other agents. “Okay guys, campfire, gather ‘round boys and girls we have ourselves a diamond heist. Well, several actually. Reminds me of the movie Snatch, hmm, Guy Ritchie was a genius with that film.”
“Boss, focus,” Tara playfully bumped into him as she came to sit in the circle the agents had formed.
“Right, series of diamond heists, here are the files. Take a moment then, go.” Tony sat back in his chair and waited. Of course, Ethan was the first done, the guy read like a zillion words a minute. He knew that he and Spencer were very much on par with each other and he knew they had been having side bets with each other over cases. There had even been a pool going around when Tony and Aaron had to collaborate on a case. Ethan and Spencer were sitting on the plane going over the folders, eyeing each other as they read. Aaron’s wicked sense of humor came out as he paired them together to do the geographic profile. Tony couldn’t help thinking about their friendly competition.
“I’m thinking we have a crew here Boss. There is no way this many places could have been hit within minutes of each other. We should talk to each of the owners, get the video footage and see if anyone else saw anything.”
“We should also find out if they were marked diamonds or not. Legitimate diamonds are huge right now on the black market. They get sold and blood diamonds get imported before they can get their markings. It was a huge problem in LA. Let me talk to Sam and see if he remembers any crews working the diamond scene.” Gina was flipping through the file making notes as she went.
“Okay, Gina and Ethan, you go to the market, see what you can get. Jordan, find out if there has been any like crimes in the media and get with your media contacts to keep this quiet till we know what’s going on. If this has to do with blood diamonds I want to know.”
“On it Boss. And I’ll get a press packet set-up and sent to you. “Jordan went right to work with her media contacts.
Tony got his things and texted Aaron on the way out that he got a case.
//Then we’ll see you at home.//
Tony couldn’t help the smile that crossed his lips. Aaron and Jack will be there when he gets done and it felt better than anything he had ever felt before. Tony realized he was building a family. A real family and slowly over time he was shedding DiNozzo. He no longer had to be what others had come to expect of him. He wasn’t the party boy and he didn’t have a girl every night. That was the persona he put up to keep people at arm’s length. And, when he was with NCIS he had let people in, let some get close and it had burned him in the end. When he took that chance with Aaron, he knew if something had gone wrong it would have been it. He wouldn’t have opened himself up again to that hurt, it would have crushed him. He looked down at the message once again and his heart swelled knowing that at the end of the day someone was waiting for him.
Part 12: FBI Director’s Office – Late 2010
Tony was nervous. He wasn’t sure why he was being called into the Director’s office. He had tried to call Aaron, but he wasn’t in his office, and he wasn’t returning his texts. Same with Tobias. Which made him even more nervous. Taking a few deep breaths, he held his head high and knocked on the door after the director’s secretary told him to go in.
“Tony, come in.” Tobias opened the door and stepped aside letting Tony in.
“What’s going on boss?”
“Tone, sit down and just answer their questions truthfully, okay?” Tony finally looked around and saw Aaron, which he tried not to jump to conclusions about. SecNav, the FBI Director, the AG and the SecGen were also in the office sitting next to the Director.
“Seriously, what is going on?” He looked towards Aaron hoping that he’d say something, anything. His mind was pinging with a lot of thoughts, and nothing was good.
“Agent DiNozzo, September of last year you were captured, tortured and interrogated by a suspected terrorist, is that true?” The Director Mueller asked.
“And how did you come to be captured in the first place Agent?” Phillip Davenport, the current SecNav asked.
“We had not heard from Ziva David in a few months since Gibbs left her in Israel after the Rivken incidents. Seriously, what is going on?”
“Tony, when I was in Pakistan I was contacted by a friend at Interpol. Emily’s former boss. The terrorist that had you…Tony, he was an Agent. He had infiltrated that particular terrorist group to try to find Officer David, get her alone and find out what she knew about Rivken’s activities…” Aaron crossed his arms and tried to look neutral, which was pissing Tony off.
“What?” Tony practically jumped out of his chair as his heart pounded in his chest. “An agent? I…I don’t understand.”
“Agent DiNozzo, Interpol had been tracking Rivken’s activities all over the world. He’d facilitated unsanctioned ops in several countries under the orders of Director Eli David. The US operations last year were not his only unsanctioned operations. We have evidence that he once worked with Doyle.” Tony looked at Aaron for some kind of help but all he saw was Unit Chief Hotchner, not Aaron.
“I didn’t know. God, I didn’t know.” Tony’s mind was racing.
“I’m fairly certain that’s because Eli David was covering his son’s tracks. He was fully aware of what his son was doing, and we believe, from what not only Agent Hotchner has uncovered, but what the man you knew as Saleem Ulman was feeding us. His real name was Raza Khalil Syed. He was working to bring in Haswari for questioning before he was killed, then he was set on Rivken.” The Secretary General didn’t look happy and it made Tony very, very nervous.
“What we need from you, Agent DiNozzo is a full accounting of Ziva David’s activities, how much you know about her relationship with Rivken and everything that happened with Haswari. We also want to know where you got your information on Ulman and why you and your former boss committed to your own unsanctioned operation in a hostile territory.” Davenport leaned forward and took a moment before he spoke again. “You just need to tell us everything Tony. Whatever happened is a damn house of cards that Agent Gibbs seems to have set-up, and now, it’s all crashing down on him. You don’t need to be caught in that crossfire. Understand?”
Tony swallowed hard as he sat back down, and taking a moment, he studied everyone there. He knew he could trust Tobias and Aaron to have his back. It didn’t mean that he wasn’t royally pissed off at Aaron for not telling him what was going on, but they would deal with that when this little inquisition was over.
Slowly and carefully Tony relayed the incidents from the day that Haswari entered the morgue at NCIS, to the killing of Kate, Jenny putting Ziva in the liaison position, the events with Rivken and his activities. How Ziva knew he was in the US and he was going after the suspected terrorists without telling anyone. Tony told them about confronting Rivken in Ziva’s apartment and killing him, thinking his own life was in danger. The bomb explosion, and everything after. He also told them he was taken to Israel along with Ziva on Eli David’s demand and no one stopped it.
“Wait, you’re saying that Gibbs and Vance agreed to let you go to Israel because you killed an operative who was illegally here in the US and off his leash? He didn’t consult anyone on this? Phil? Did you know?”
“No. I didn’t, and if I had I wouldn’t have allowed it. Vance is going to have some very uncomfortable questions to answer, as will Gibbs and the rest of the MCRT. This should have been elevated and handled by CIA, not an NCIS team.” SecNav looked not only pissed, but Tony thought he was going to blow right then and there. What he was surprised by was AG Holder, the man had been listening to everything and he had just about enough. He turned to Davenport and everyone else in the room went silent.
“What in the fucking hell are you people doing over there at NCIS? You let a Mossad Officer, the Director’s own fucking daughter, into a highly sensitive position? Goddammit Phil, who knows what in the hell this woman could have gotten a hold of. I swear if you don’t fix this goddamn mess I will press upon the President to fire your sorry ass.” Holder was standing over Davenport angrier than even Aaron had seen him.
“By the end of next week, I will have warrants ready for you Agent Hotchner. You and your team, along with Agent DiNozzo and his team are going over there and start combing that damn office to find out how deep this shit goes. Fix this.” Holder yelled as he stormed out of the office.
Mueller studied Tony for a while, “Agents DiNozzo, Hotchner and Fornell, can you please step out for a few moments?”
“Yes, Director.” Aaron didn’t look at Tony as he walked out. Tobias prodded Tony out the door.
Tony stood glaring at Aaron not even hiding the fact that he was pissed.
“Why the fuck didn’t you tell me what was going on?” Tony stood toe-to-toe with Aaron trying very hard to not feel that sense of betrayal at the hands of his lover. His heart was breaking, he didn’t ever think Aaron would lie to him, and omitting what was going on, especially an investigation into him was a big fucking lie.
“I couldn’t. When the information came into the camp I was stationed at, I was told to run with it and find out as much as I could. When I did, I called Director Mueller and he put a gag order on me. Tony…”
“That doesn’t mean you couldn’t have told me something Aaron. We promised never to lie to each other. You know what I’ve been through, and you keeping this from me is a big damn fucking lie. Fuck.” Tony looked like he was going to cry from all the emotions being churned up inside him.
“Tone, please. I wanted to tell you. I did, but the Director…I’m on a short leash here Tony. The Senate subcommittee inquiry is barely days old. Everything that went on with Doyle, I couldn’t make any mistakes. I’m sorry, please Tone.”
Tony took a few breaths to try to calm down. He walked away and didn’t see the miserable look on Aaron’s face.
“He’ll be back Hotch. He’s stupidly in-love with your sorry ass. But he’ll be back and the two of you will work it out.”
“I can’t lose him Fornell.” Aaron walked in the opposite direction and found an alcove to try to settle himself. He hoped Fornell was right. His friendship with Reid was already fractured, he didn’t think he could take it if Tony called it quits. He had his eyes closed and leaned back against the alcove trying to keep his heart together.
Tony was standing in the bathroom trying to calm down. He couldn’t believe that Ziva Fucking David and her whole brand of crazy was invading his life again. He punched the wall as it all got just too damn much.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck.” Tony yelled. When he thought everything in his life was good, when he finally felt that everything was coming together all of this crap came back to haunt him. And Aaron, god he was so mad. He wanted to forgive, he did, but this was just too damn much. He slid down the wall and sat there a moment pushing down that pain and anger that had welled up inside him.
“Sulking?” Tony looked up from where he was sitting and saw Fornell standing there.
“Go away Boss.” Tony let his head fall back against the wall as he stared at Fornell.
“Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago you were in my office giving me hell ‘cause I didn’t know where he was and you were, dare I say, pining.”
“That was his mission he couldn’t explain, wasn’t it?”
Fornell lowered himself so that he could look Tony in the eye. “Tony, you didn’t go to the subcommittee inquisition. They eviscerated the team and especially Hotch. If it hadn’t been for Emily Prentiss, Aaron and the rest of the BAU’s A team would have been out on their ears. She pled their case rather elegantly. But he was put in a difficult position. Give him a little slack kiddo. He’s not Gibbs.” Fornell stood and was about to leave when Tony spoke.
“That was low.”
“Was meant to be. Now get off the floor, stop the pity party and talk to the man. Maybe give him some slack.” Tony stood and nodded then followed Fornell out of the bathroom. It took him a few moments to find Aaron and when he did he saw that his lover was as miserable as he was.
“I’m still pissed off at you.”
Aaron opened his eyes to see Tony standing there.
“But we can work through this. You just need to let me be mad for a couple of days. I get that you were put in a bad position, and I can’t say I know what I would do because I can’t. Just, let’s try not to do this again, okay?” Aaron reached for him and he allowed the hug, he needed it as well. He knew he was comparing Gibbs and Aaron in his head and knew that Aaron was nothing like Gibbs. A man as honest as Aaron was, Tony knew it had to have torn him up. He knew he was being hard on his lover, and he knew he had to give Aaron some slack. Not caring where they were, he gave Aaron a chaste kiss and felt his relief.
“I’m not ready to discuss this between us, but I’m not leaving you Aaron, and I know that’s where your head went. I think this is one time we let our pasts screw with our heads. Come on, I’m sure they are looking for us.” Tony pulled back and walked back towards the Director’s office, Aaron following behind.
Tony was sitting at his piano working on a song trying to get his head together. Aaron took Jack out and said they were going to stay at the house for the night to give him some distance. He didn’t want them to go, but he knew he needed the time. He tried to reassure Aaron that this wasn’t a break-up, but when he left, Aaron looked so defeated, and he just didn’t know what to do, so he let him go.
He thought about what happened in Director Mueller’s office after, and the fact that he wasn’t fired. He was on a short probation, but he knew he would get through that and just come out stronger. It was eating at him that Ulman had been an Agent. The information had been buried so deep that Tony was assured that he wouldn’t have been able to find it. Didn’t matter though, it still ate at him. But it was something he could eventually live with.
Tony thought about calling Aaron, telling him to come home, but not yet. He just couldn’t bring himself to talk about it yet. Taking the evening for both of them to calm down so that neither would say or do anything stupid. Tony really didn’t want to ruin what he had with Aaron, and he really needed to remember that Aaron was nothing at all like Leroy Jethro Gibbs.
Tony went back to playing and got lost in his music hoping that it could help soothe the hurt so he could move on.
Aaron took Jack out to their favorite bookstore. After walking around for a while and Jack choosing some books that he wanted they sat in the little cafe. Aaron got him a hot chocolate, and he got his favorite coffee. He normally wouldn’t get such a sweet coffee, but this was more than needed. Sitting on the small banquette next to Jack, Aaron closed his eyes and tried to settle more.
“Yeah buddy?” Aaron looked down and leaned towards his son and waited.
“Are you and Tony gonna break-up?” Aaron let out a breath and felt bad that Jack was thinking what he was.
“No, Jack. We aren’t breaking-up. We just need to take a few hours away from each other.”
“Dad, I’m not a little kid.”
Aaron stifled the chuckle because the situation wasn’t really funny, but it eased something in his heart. Tony and Jack had gotten close and that, more than anything made him happy. He had no easy answers for Jack, but he wasn’t going to lie to his son.
“Jack, I was forced to keep something from Tony, something important, but not something I wanted to keep from him. My bosses made me, and Tony is upset with me. But, I promise, we will work it out.”
Aaron tried hard not to sigh. He sometimes forgot how many questions his son could ask.
“Is Papa still mad at you too?” Aaron wiped a hand down his face. He really didn’t want to have this conversation with his son. Not here in a cafe.
“Jack, I don’t know. But that is something that is between your Papa and me, okay?”
“But you’re sad Daddy. You said you love Papa, and you said you love Tony, but I don’t understand, why are we here and not at home.” Aaron took a shaky breath. He did not want to get emotional and he did not want to have this conversation with Jack. He loved his son immensely, but there were some things you just did not discuss with your children.
“Jack, this is a lot of grown-up stuff that Daddy and Tony as well as Daddy and Spencer are dealing with. I know you’re upset kiddo, but you are going to have to trust me, okay?”
Jack looked down at his books and nodded. Aaron hated that all of this was affecting his son, that was the one person he tried not to hurt, but sometimes actions have even more far-reaching consequences than he was willing to admit.
“You stay right here Jack. You have your panic button?”
“Yes Dad, right here.” Jack held up the small device that would let out an ungodly screech if anyone came near his son that Jack didn’t know.
“I have to go to the restroom; I’ll be right back.” Jack was old enough now that he felt sort-of okay to leave him for the couple of minutes it would take to go to the bathroom. He taught Jack as much as he could to stay safe, but a part of him would still be paranoid and overprotective when it came to his son. One last look and he took the few short steps to the bathroom and went in.
Turning on the faucet, Aaron bent down and splashed the cool water on his face. He felt the wetness in his eyes gathering, and he just needed to stem the tide. Gripping the edge of the sink, he slowly built up that stoic mask that he had tried to hold into place.
Aaron heard the door open, so he reached over and grabbed a few paper towels to wipe his face. When he didn’t hear any footsteps, his heart pounded as he opened his eyes and his hand went to his non-existent gun. When he finally saw who it was, he wanted to curse under his breath.
“Dammit Spencer, don’t do that.”
“Sorry. I couldn’t help it Hotch, but I sort-of overheard you talking to Jack.”
“No, no Hotch don’t apologize for my feelings. I hurt you and I didn’t mean to. I’ve had a few days to think about everything that happened and how you didn’t do everything on your own and neither did JJ. I didn’t stop to consider what this was doing to you. Having to keep that secret, going to Pakistan, all of it. I’m sorry. I only thought about what this did to me, I didn’t even try to put myself in your shoes. Then, hearing you with Jack, I realized a lot of things and though most of my anger was directed at JJ, some of it was for you as well.”
“Spencer. I wanted to tell you guys, but the State Department put a pretty tight gag order on both JJ and I as did the Director. We couldn’t have done it without the higher-ups knowing.”
“Yeah, I had to be reminded of that and I’m sorry for my attitude the last couple of weeks.”
“Thank you, that means a lot.”
Spencer lifted the sides of his mouth in a small smile. “Now what’s this with you and Tony?”
Aaron took a few steps so he could lean back against the wall and fold his arms across his chest. Looking down a moment he told Spencer what he found in Pakistan and all of the secrets, lies and nepotism that was going on at NCIS. Several of the lettered agencies wanted an internal investigation to happen. Tony hadn’t known that the man who had him was an agent and everyone wanted to know why.
“I think we should also come clean to the Director and tell him about the two of us.”
“Aaron, are you sure?”
“It’s a risk, but I’m willing to take it. I’m on a very short leash Spencer. The subcommittee may have cleared us, but they’re watching, and I can’t make one misstep. I’ll need to tell the Director and, well, I’ll take the consequences of our actions.”
“I think you need to go home, talk to Tony, Aaron. He loves you, I’m sure you can work it out.”
Aaron smiled and nodded his head. “Do you want to say hi to Jack?”
“Of course. Jimmy is out there too. They haven’t met yet.”
Aaron smiled and pushed off from the wall and gently gripped Spencer’s shoulder. They left the bathroom to see Jimmy sitting next to a very sullen Jack.
“Hey buddy,” Spencer quickly walked over and Jack scooted closer to him. “I see you got some of the books we talked about last time.”
“I guess,” Jack whispered as he kept his head down.
“Hey, what’s going on?” Jack looked up at Spencer and frowned, then he looked over at Jimmy and back at Spencer. “Ah, Jack this is my boyfriend Jimmy Palmer.” Jack glared at him then scooted even closer to Spencer, he leaned over, and Spencer had to bend to hear what he was saying.
Spencer straightened up and looked over at Aaron. “No, Jack, you know that isn’t going to happen. Have you been lying to Tony buddy?”
“What? No. I like Uncle Tony, I do, it’s just, he’s not you Papa.”
“Jack, we’ve talked about this. You know Spencer and I are not going to get back together. I’m sorry, buddy but no matter how you wish it, you have to understand that both of us have other people in our lives now.” Aaron tried to keep a calm look on his face, he didn’t want his son to get any more upset than he was.
“Do you want to come spend the night with me Jack? That is if your Dad says it’s okay. You can get to know Jimmy and I’m almost sure that you’re going to like him.”
Aaron took a few moments to think about it and knew Spencer was right about a few things. He couldn’t run away, and he couldn’t let Tony run away, not if they were truly going to make their relationship work. Not having Jack around for the conversation might just be for the best. If it got loud, or if they fought he didn’t want Jack to hear. He knew he couldn’t always shelter his son, but this one time, he thought maybe it was a good idea.
“I’m okay with that. Jack?”
The little boy just shrugged and leaned into Spencer. When the two men looked over at Jimmy, they both saw the hurt on his face, though he tried hard to hide it behind his too bright smile.
“Give him some time Jimmy. You’re new to him and it’s been an emotional few days.”
“I know Hotch.” Jimmy softly smiled.
“Jack, we can get your bag when we go to the car. I think this might be a good for all of us.”
“You gonna’ talk to Uncle Tony?”
“Yes, buddy, I am.”
“Okay.” The three men and the young boy walked out of the bookstore, Jack clutching his books to him and clinging to Spencer, while Jimmy stayed on the other side of Spencer. Aaron wished he knew the right words to say to help the younger man, but he just didn’t. This was something that the three of them were going to have to work out. He would only interfere if Jack’s attitude worsened, or he did something wrong. Anything else he would let Spencer handle.
When they got to Aaron’s car he grabbed Jack’s bag and handed it to Jimmy. Spencer smirked and knew what the man was doing.
“You be good for Jimmy and Spencer, okay Jack.”
“Okay. I love you Dad.”
“I love you too. Have fun and we’ll see you after school tomorrow.” Aaron said his goodbyes to Jimmy and Spencer then got in his car and went back home. He and Tony had some things to work out and they were going to do it this night.
Tony looked towards the door when he heard the key in the lock. He almost jumped up and ran to the door, he really did, but he wasn’t quite ready for that. He was still at his piano, still softly playing, and still writing that song he had been working on. He just lifted his eyes and watched as Aaron walked in with a bag from their favorite bookstore. He also had something else in his hands, but he wasn’t going to ask. He wasn’t going to pretend that everything was okay, because it wasn’t.
“I got Indian. I haven’t eaten and I figured you hadn’t either. Tandoori, some Palak Paneer, your favorite lamb Biryani and some garlic Naan.” Aaron put everything down on the table near the kitchen. “There might even be some vegetable korma.” Tony watched as Aaron went to the kitchen and pulled down plates, then grabbed forks and knives and some napkins. He didn’t say anything as he watched him pull out the two Mango lassis and set everything up on the table. He pressed his lips together and felt the wetness in his eyes as he watched his lover dish up the food, a look of hope that Tony would join him. It was so normal and so domestic that Tony almost let out a laugh. But, he waited, he wasn’t even sure what he was waiting for, but he’d know it when he heard or saw it.
Aaron stopped what he was doing and turned his head towards Tony. Setting the plastic container on the table Aaron sighed and walked towards him. Aaron carefully leaned against the piano and tried his hardest not to look as miserable as he felt.
“Tony,” Aaron deflated as he wiped his hand down his face and tried to find the words he wanted. “Talk to me.”
Tony settled the fallboard over the piano keys and stood. He wanted to reach out, wanted to soothe his lover, but he had things he wanted to say first.
“He’s with Spencer. We ran into him and Jimmy purely by accident at the bookstore.”
“Good.” Tony walked towards the table and picked up the drink and took a long drag on the straw. He set it back down on the table and closed his eyes as he held onto the cup. Finally, he turned to look at Aaron.
“You lied to me. You lied when you know, Aaron, you could have told me what was going on. I understand, I really do, that you were under a lot of pressure before, and after what happened with Doyle, Prentiss and everything that went with that whole fucked-up situation. I get they were watching you and keeping you on a leash. But, do you honestly think that I would have given away the fact that you told me what was going on? I was fucking blindsided in there. And there you were, not Aaron Hotchner, not the man I am so stupidly in-love with that my heart beats faster when you’re close to me. Aaron wasn’t there. That was Unit Chief Hotchner. The show-no-emotion team leader of the BAU. You looked at me…” Tony turned away, pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. He was not going to cry. A moment later his shoulders slumped, and he reached out to grab onto the chair in front of him.
“You didn’t trust me to make the right decision. You didn’t trust that I could go in there, and even knowing what was going to happen, that I could keep the knowledge of already being informed to myself. You didn’t trust that I wouldn’t go running off and do something stupid.” Tony spun and looked at Aaron, “You didn’t trust me.”
Aaron’s heart clutched in his chest as he wiped a hand down his face.
Tony swallowed hard as he took a step towards Aaron. “Can you, you know, say that again?”
Aaron glared but there was no heat behind it, “I said you’re right. I should have trusted you. I’m sorry Tone. I just, I didn’t know what to do.” Aaron was trying very hard to keep that stoic mask in place as Tony kept coming towards him, one step at a time.
“I get that. I do. I am just so tired of lies and half-truths from the people that say they care about me. I never thought that we’d be here.”
“Please Tony, everything happened so fast, and all at once. I tried to keep control of it all and I was being pressured and the subcommittee, Spencer…” Aaron’s heart was beating fast in his chest as he was rooted to his spot. It was only a couple more steps and Tony was there in front of him. He reached out and took Aaron’s hand and lifted it, kissing the back of it.
“I know and that’s why you’re still here. None of this was on purpose. Let’s from here on out try and be as honest as we can with each other. I can’t take anymore lies or people keeping things from me Aaron.” He moved those last few inches and was laying his head on Aaron’s shoulder. “I love you and it would destroy me Aaron, if you ever lie to me again.”
Aaron sighed as he wrapped his arms around his lover and closed his eyes. He laid his head on Tony’s shoulder and held on even tighter.
“And it would destroy me if you left. I promise Tone, I promise no lies, no keeping secrets. It was hard and the guilt, god Tony I couldn’t take the guilt.”
Tony relaxed in Aaron’s arms and knew they could get through this and be stronger for it.
Part 13: Quantico Naval Base, NCIS – 2011
“FBI, I need everyone to stop what they are doing, leave your computers on, stand up and step no less than five feet from your desks. Reid, Tara and Ethan, go around and make sure everyone has complied with that order. I also need SA Leroy Jethro Gibbs.” Aaron, Tony and their respective teams all stood towards the front of the room.
“Gina, Dave please head downstairs to the lab and bring Ms. Sciuto upstairs and make sure she has not turned anything off. Garcia go down with them and begin doing your diagnostics.”
“Wait a minute. Who the hell are you and what gives you any right to order my people around?” Gibbs stepped forward practically in Hotch’s face.
“You must be SA Gibbs?” Aaron glared at him hard as Tony moved to stand next to him.
“I am. DiNozzo, what the hell?”
“I have warrants here for computer searches, paper files, and more. This is a joint investigation from Interpol, SecNav, and the FBI. Everything will be explained in due time, but I need everyone to move into a break room or another non-essential area.”
“And I asked who you are?” Gibbs moved in front of Aaron with his arms crossed glaring at Aaron.
“Um Gibbs, I think you need to just do what he tells you to.” Tony was having very mixed feelings being back in this office. A part of him, the young enthusiastic investigator that had followed Gibbs from Baltimore to here missed it. But the part of him that had been used, abused, and slowly taken apart piece by piece by the people in this room was glad that he had gotten out.
“All secure Boss.” Tara had come up to stand next to Tony and glared at the man in front of her. She saw recognition flash across his face as the color drained and he paled.
“Good. I’ll show you the records room. Grab McGee, we’ll need him to let us in. Once there, we can pull the relevant files.”
“Sounds good to me.”
Tony turned to the man he had once considered a friend and pushed down his feelings.
“Come on McGee.” Tony started to walk away with Tara behind him McGee had looked to Gibbs then he saw the look the man staring at Gibbs gave him and he scurried to catch-up to Tony.
“I’m SAIC Aaron Hotchner of the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI. I’m also a special investigations liaison. You may remember my predecessor Jason Gideon. He was the one that used to do these inter divisional investigations, but it’s now fallen under my purview. You, with me. We have a few things to discuss in the Director’s office.” Aaron turned on his heel and started towards the stairs. Gibbs stood rooted to his spot. Aaron turned back to look at the man, “This is neither the time nor the place to play games SA Gibbs. Unless you want to be brought up on charges of obstruction, treason, unsanctioned operations in a foreign country, and several other things that have recently come to light, you will follow me.”
Gibbs glared as he curled his lip and followed Aaron up the stairs.
“Morgan, you know how to handle things till we’re done. Proceed as planned.”
Derek turned and looked at the remaining group of people. Gina and Dave came back with a very petulant looking Abby Sciuto. Dave pulled a chair from one of the desks and pointed at it.
“Sit Ms. Sciuto.” She tried to pout and giving her best innocent look. “Please, if my three ex-wives couldn’t get away with that look there is now way you are. Now sit.” Dave pointed to the chair once again and Abby flopped down with a very unattractive scowl.
Tony came back with Tara and McGee trying not to laugh at the argument they were having.
“I’m telling you that a visual inspection of the requested files is absolutely necessary.”
“And I’m telling you that all of the relevant information from those files is already uploaded on the system. You can just use any computer to access them.” McGee half whined half yelled as they were walking up to where everyone was waiting.
“But we need to see the notes as well as the files that the upload was taken from.” Tara glared at him as she crossed her arms. Dave’s heart constricted a little because it reminded him so much of his friend. Tara may not have been Jason’s biological daughter, but she had been the daughter of his heart.
“What is going on?” Derek moved to the three. “Why don’t you go see about Mr. Palmer and Dr. Mallard, Reid. We’ve got things covered here.”
“Morgan, he was trying to block us getting access to the files, though the warrants clearly state that we have an all access pass. Now, if McIdiot here would just sit his ass down and shut-up we can get on with our job.” Tony almost couldn’t hold in the snort that escaped when he heard his 2IC talking about McGee.
“Something amusing Boss?” Tara turned to Tony with fire in her eyes.
“No, nothing at all. But you might want to ease up just a bit Gids, the children here don’t know how to play with you properly.” Tony looked at McGee and then Ziva and they both looked confused.
“And what would those looks be for?” Tony’s eyebrows shot up looking at his former teammates.
“Why is she calling you boss? Surely the FBI didn’t really put you in charge of anything.” Ziva smirked as she crossed her arms and gave Tony a look that he just wanted to wipe from her face. He was about to say something when Ethan moved in front of her.
“You think you’re some hot little thing don’t you Princess? We’ll you aren’t, and you aren’t even worth breathing the same air as Bossman. So, why don’t you just sit you’re wanna be pretty ass down, shut-up and wait your turn. Cause I know the big boss cannot wait to get you in an interview room.” Ethan smiled at her but his eyes were cold and flat as he glared at her.
“What is this all about Tony?” McGee sat down next to Abby and frowned. He wasn’t liking what was going on at all.
“All in due time McGee. Just sit and wait.”
All eyes turned upstairs when they heard a slamming of a door and Aaron, Gibbs and the Director were stomping off to MTAC.
“DiNozzo, you’re included in this meeting.” Aaron indicated that Tony should join them. He knew this was going to be the conference call they were waiting for.
“Gids, you have point. This is the call, don’t know how long we’ll be. Start sorting the files when Reid gets back up with Ducky and Jimmy. Anything you guys find out of the ordinary set it aside.”
“Got your six Boss.” Tara smiled as she watched Tony stride up to the office.
As soon as he made it upstairs they all moved inside MTAC. He wasn’t surprised to see FBI Director Robert Mueller, SecNav, the director of the DOJ, AG Holder, and another man he knew was Interpol but hadn’t been introduced to as of yet. He had already been sufficiently reamed by Emily Prentiss, but ultimately cleared of any charges.
“Hello Aaron. I’m sorry we are speaking again under these circumstances but some things have come to light since we last spoke. Seems that all of this damn cock-up is connected.”
“Director Vance, SA Gibbs, and UC Tony Dinozzo, you already know SecNav. This is Clyde Easter, head of Interpol, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and US Attorney General Eric Holder. Good morning gentlemen. And Clyde, I don’t understand.”
“Doyle, he was a damn diversion Aaron. Someone connected to Eli David’s little brat got a hold of information on where Doyle was incarcerated. They bribed some of the Chinese guards and that was how he escaped. He was let out to re-focus our investigation from Rivkin and David.”
“Son-of-a-bitch.” Aaron swore, which made Tony look twice at him, Aaron never swore. “Do you know who it was?”
“We are chasing down leads right now. Emily has some of her people in London undercover trying to suss out who leaked Doyle’s whereabouts. Also I have a hacker on loan from MI6. They are also quite, shall we say, put out? MI6 had very good reasons to keep Doyle behind bars. The computer expert would like to communicate with your Miss Garcia. This is big Aaron and when we are done heads are going to roll.” Clyde looked directly at Gibbs and glared.
“Vance, I want to know why an unsanctioned operation took place to free Mossad Officer Ziva David from her captors? And I also want to know why someone who had access to NCIS and top secret information was left in Israel in the first place.” The Attorney General did not look pleased.
“All due respect sir, but did you honestly think that I would leave a member of my team in that situation?” Gibbs spoke out of turn and none of the men on screen looked pleased.
“What I expect is for someone of your rank to do his goddamned research before you go off half-cocked into a situation you know two shits about.” AG Holder yelled at Gibbs. Aaron thought that Gibbs was going to have a heart attack with how red his face had gotten.
“And just what is it I was supposed to have known? Terrorists had Ziva, they were trying to get information on us, we had to get her out of there.”
“No, what you had to do was ask the right damn questions of the right people SA Gibbs. What you and your people walked into was an undercover Interpol operation. Officer David was being questioned about possible NCIS secrets that were being passed to Rivkin, then onto Director David.” Clyde practically shouted at the man.
“Did you know this DiNozzo?” Gibbs turned to Tony and glared. “When you talked us into getting her out did you know any of this?”
“If I recall you were there too Gibbs. I didn’t do this all on my own and I’ve already given my full accounting to SecNav and AG Holder. They passed my statement to Director Easter and I was cleared of any wrongdoing. I did get a slap and a reprimand in my file and I’ll take it for the blatant stupidity and lack of investigation that should have gone on, but I told them everything.” Gibbs raised his hand like he was going to slap Tony on the back of the head and Aaron reacted fast and grabbed Gibbs wrist.
“Touch one hair on his head and you will be busted so far down the chain of command you’ll never recover.” Aaron glared hard at Gibbs, and Tony tried to hide the tiny smile that crossed his lips.
“And just who do you think you are that you have that much power?”
“He’s my liaison SA Gibbs. He’s also a Unit Chief of the FBI and a very well versed prosecuting attorney. You almost abused an FBI agent in front of four Directors’ do you really want more damage done to your already in jeopardy career SA Gibbs?” AG Holder looked furious beyond belief.
Gibbs didn’t take his eyes off Tony as he asked, “And just what is it that I have done to put myself in jeopardy AG Holder?”
“You murdered one of my operatives Gibbs,” Clyde pressed his lips together glaring hard at the man.
“Excuse me?” Gibbs whirled around and stared at Clyde.
“The man who was interrogating UC DiNozzo, who had interrogated Officer David, he was one of mine.” Clyde growled. “David and DiNozzo were not in serious danger and he was ordered to make it look good. He was trying to get information on Rivkin from Officer David.”
Gibbs looked between all of the men on the screen so fast that Aaron thought he was going to get whiplash.
“He was Interpol?” Aaron thought Gibbs was going to have a meltdown at this point.
“Rivkin was being investigated for unsanctioned operations in London, Belfast, Germany and several other countries. While we can’t go after David himself till we get more information, we were looking into the activities of his Officers. We needed that information to take to the Secretary-General of the UN to get answers on what exactly Director David was trying to do. We haven’t decided what we are doing with you yet Gibbs that will be up to your Attorney General.”
Gibbs was silent as he looked to Vance for some kind of back-up.
“I told you to leave it alone Gibbs. I’m not standing in the way of this investigation. We also have evidence that David was passing Rivkin secrets but we just don’t know how deep it went. You will stay in my office and out of the way of both UC Hotchner’s team and UC DiNozzo’s team. They are running this investigation and I don’t want to hear one goddamned word from you.” Vance turned on his heels and strode out of the room, his anger at Gibbs was palpable.
“Aaron, get this done quickly and quietly. DiNozzo, have Todd coordinate with my office on a press release just in case this leaks. But I want both Todd and Jareau on this locking down the media. If this hits it will be a shit storm and we’ll lose control of our current operations.”
“I’ll make sure they coordinate with you sir. And I hope to have a report to you by the end of the day.” Aaron nodded to the three men who all signed off.
“Gibbs, I need you to do as Director Vance asked. Please stay out of our way until I come for you.” Aaron strode out of MTAC and went back to coordinate with the teams. That left Tony alone for a moment with Gibbs.
“You really on board with this DiNozzo?” Gibbs dared to look hurt and betrayed and Tony just wanted to laugh.
“Ever since David came onto this team you’ve been indifferent to her attitude. You know, with Kate she understood the teasing and gave as good as she got, but she always understood that I was your SFA. David is an entitled bitch, if I may be frank. You rarely reprimanded her and the thing with them turning off the comms? Hell Gibbs if I had done it you would have torn me a new one. They got a free pass? No, I’m not playing anymore games Gibbs. I’ve shed the mask of DiNozzo. While he may still exist, I’ve been able to grow and have a team that not only trusts me, but they follow me because they know I have their six.”
“Tony, you know I had your back…”
Tony held-up his hand to stop Gibbs, “No, you haven’t, not for a long time.”
“You’re fucking him aren’t you?” Gibbs crossed his arms and gave Tony one of his smug looks.
“So what if I am? Aaron is a better man and a better partner than you will ever be. At least he can let go of his past which you can’t seem to do. He’s open and honest with me and he’s the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. So, you, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, can just go screw yourself.” Tony growled but he sauntered away. He wasn’t going to give Gibbs anymore of his emotions. The man wasn’t worth it. He had something better, something cleaner and he was happy.
Gibbs stood alone in MTAC as he watched Tony leave not even looking back once at him.
Part 14: Quantico Naval Base – Early 2012 pt. 2
Tara was in Director Vance’s office sitting at the conference table glaring at Gibbs. Neither one had said a word to each other since she had come in and sat down. Tara was pissed off that Tony sent her up here to watch over Gibbs while everyone else collected files and evidence. She understood his motives, but it still pissed her off and she would certainly let him know after this whole thing was over.
Finally Gibbs had it and couldn’t take the silence anymore.
Tara held up her hand before he could say anything more. She leaned forward on the table and lowered her voice to a menacing growl.
“No, you don’t get to call me that. You lost the right to call me any of the nicknames you and Dad had for me when you walked away from me.”
“Tara, I couldn’t, I just, with what happened to Shannon and Kelly I don’t think I would have been good for you.” Gibbs leaned back and studied the young woman.
“It didn’t matter. You left and you never looked back.”
“I couldn’t. It would have felt like I was replacing Kelly.”
Tara closed her eyes and tried to reign in her anger. She wasn’t sure where it had come from. She thought, with all the counseling that Jason had put her through, she had put it behind her.
“Fuck you. I lost them too. Kel,” Tara stood and started pacing, “She was the big sister I always wanted. Aunt Shannon? She was important to me too. When you walked away, I didn’t lose one family you bastard, I lost two.” She glared hard at him as she wrapped her arms around her waist.
“Tara, I would have been a terrible father to you.”
“You know Jason, he said that once to Uncle Dave and you know what Dave said? He said, ‘Gideon, get your head out of your ass and take that little girl. You already adore her so stop being an idiot.’ I remember every word. It was the day he and his wife were contemplating signing the adoption papers. He was scared, I knew it, even if I was only 7, I knew. But he and Charlotte? They took the chance. They gave me what you were too chicken shit to give. But, it still hurt. I expected you to burst in during the adoption hearing, saying you were sorry and that you wanted me after all. But it didn’t happen, and it was the worst and happiest day of my life.”
Gibbs took a deep breath and didn’t know what to say. He stood and went over to Tara and was about to hug her but she side-stepped and moved out of the way.
“Tara, I don’t know what I can do to make this up to you.” Gibbs let his hands fall to his sides as he furrowed his brow watching the young woman walk away from him.
“I’ve had my say. I don’t hate you anymore Jethro. I just don’t care.” She let out a little laugh and nodded to herself. “Yeah, I have to say, letting that out? I don’t care. Live your life I’m Tara Amelia Gideon and you have no place in my head anymore.” She stood tall and walked towards the door. “Don’t leave this room till Agent Hotchner comes for you.” She walked out and went to find Tony.
“What are they doing Tony?” McGee had already been interrogated and cleared by Dave and Morgan. He was as honest as he could be and was stunned when he was told what was going on.
“Oh, just watch McGeek, you think Gibbs is a good interrogator?” Tony chuckled as he looked into the room through the one-way mirror. Ziva was sitting on one side of the table and Aaron and Spencer were on the other. “He has nothing on these two. Even more entertaining is Aaron and Rossi. Now there is a team.”
“You sound impressed.” McGee stood close, but not too close to Tony.
“I am. I mean I knew I was good, I knew I understood how to get someone to talk but after watching these guys? Well let’s just say we are all amateurs. Ziva has no chance against Aaron.”
Tony turned on the microphone in the room so they could hear what was going on.
“Officer David, you joined NCIS in October 11, 2005. This was just a few weeks after your brother was killed, presumably, by Special Agent Gibbs, is that correct?” Aaron had the file in front of him, but he had been over it so many times he knew it fairly well.
“What exactly do you mean presumably Agent Hotchner?” Ziva smiled softly and was trying to flirt with her body language. Aaron took a breath but didn’t blink.
“How does he do that?” McGee asked as he turned to Tony.
“Do what McGee?” Tony crossed his arms as he looked through the glass. He really wanted to know the answer to the questions that Aaron was about to bring up.
“He’s not blinking. It’s kind of eerie.”
Tony just shook his head, “Just watch Timmy and maybe you’ll learn something.”
“I went over the accounting that both you and Agent Gibbs gave of the shooting of Ari Haswari. Something about it was bothering me quite a lot. So, fellow agent Ethan Michaels and I used a program that we wrote along with our analyst that helps us analyze anomalous crime scenes. See, people think that I’m a technophobe, I’m not. I know computer code quite well and it was a fun side project….”
“Reid,” Aaron cut him off, though this was part of their plan.
“Oh, right sorry Hotch. So, as I was saying we used this program on your Abby Sciuto’s equipment and learned something very, very interesting. There is no way that Gibbs could have shot Haswari.”
Ziva was looking back and forth from Aaron to Reid, who had decided to dress like he used to, downplaying his looks, with a sweater vest and baggy trousers, hair wild and his glasses to play up the scattered nerd.
“Oh come on, you are telling me just from a few notes you got all that?” She glared at Reid as she swung her leg looking smug.
Spencer’s expression went flat, “I have a Doctorate in Engineering and a BA in physics. You, Ari, and Gibbs, in Gibbs house is just a matter of physics. You shot your brother and Gibbs covered it up because you would have been deported back to your father who you are terrified of.”
Ziva stood and leaned over the desk and curled her lip back staring at Spencer, “You know nothing about me geek boy. My father loves me.”
“Your father uses you.” Spencer stood as well and leaned in close to her. “You are a tool, someone he helped put in NCIS so that he could manipulate you into passing him whatever secrets you could find out. We have at least thirty files so far that dealt with cases that had classified information. You weren’t quite as good as you thought you were. You see, paper, it’s my specialty. Ask anyone on my team. The only reason I don’t use a computer is because I can analyze everything about a piece of paper, from reading it to knowing if something is different or off about it. Those thirty files had notes that were written, in your handwriting, that are now gone. We have evidence that the bomb that was planted in your apartment was placed there by Rivkin on the orders of your father. He was tying up loose ends. You Ziva David, are a loose end.”
Ziva screamed and jumped across the table but Aaron was there and had her subdued in seconds.
“You bastard you know nothing. My father loves me, I’m more than just this tool. He wouldn’t have trained me, let me become Mossad if he didn’t love me.” She was screaming and struggling against Aaron.
“Calm down Office David or assaulting a Federal Agent will be added to the list of charges against you.” Aaron used his cold, flat Unit Chief voice on her which had her going still. “Now sit down.”
“Jesus,” Tim looked wide eyed over at Tony.
“People underestimate Spencer. They do the same with Tara. They both have this, I don’t know, innocent air about them, but they both have had it pretty rough. It’s their strength in interrogation. Dr. Reid doesn’t normally dress like that, but Aaron had a feeling that Ziva would let her guard down, would underestimate him and it would allow him to go in for the, well kill. Of course it’s all so No Way Out, but in the movie Costner got away with it, David, as you can see, won’t.”
“So, she was her father’s plant all along?” Tim looked devastated.
“Hey, probie we all missed it.”
“You didn’t. You didn’t ever truly trust her and I’m sorry Tony.” Tim frowned as he continued to watch Dr. Reid and Aaron work together. “I should have had your back and I made a lot of mistakes.”
“Yes, you did McDouche.” Tony let amusement shine in his eyes and a little smile form on his lips.
“You know, that day a few months ago, when we walked in that bar, I really thought we’d be able to talk to you and get you back somehow. Then I watched how you joked and had fun with those people. It, well, it reminded me of when I first started. It reminded me of how we were with Kate. I knew then, you were never coming back, you found your place.”
Tony didn’t know what to say as he stood there watching Aaron and Spencer working Ziva over. It would be amusing if it wasn’t so sad. It was true he hadn’t trusted her the first year or so, but things improved and he started to actually like her, but then after Rivkin, she showed her true colors to him. The only reason he wanted to try to get her out of the hands of the men who had her was because he thought it was the right thing to do. When he had been questioned recently about the operation, he knew he had been very wrong, and his first instincts regarding David, well they were the right ones. He knew he was never making that mistake again.
Tony turned to Tim and had hope for him. He wasn’t ready to trust him fully again, but he was willing to give McGee another chance.
“Hey, boss, I need McDumbass here. There’s a locked file with a code that neither Garcia or Ethan can break. Vance said to have him look at it.”
“Go, the amusements are just beginning, don’t worry Timmy, there will be plenty more entertainment.” Tim saw the smile but it didn’t quite reach Tony’s eyes. He knew this was probably affecting him more than he let on.
“All right Tony, just don’t start without me.” He lifted a corner of his mouth in a half-smile.
They each knew what this was, an olive branch, a chance at a fresh start and Tony was hopeful, but very cautious.
He turned back to the window and turned the mic back on.
“You aren’t Mossad. I worked with Mossad for four months in Pakistan conducting interrogations as well as interviews with families of the victims of terrorists. They were honorable and had conviction. What you are is a spoiled little brat who thinks she can get away with whatever she wants because Daddy will come to the rescue. You father isn’t going to be rescuing you Officer David, in fact he’s going to have some very tough questions to answer from the Sec-Gen of the UN and the US Security Council. And, once we get our pound of flesh out of you, I’ve been ordered to turn you over to Homeland Security. So, if you want even an ounce of leniency, you’ll start talking.” Aaron pressed his lips together and glared at her.
Spencer was watching and could see the cracks in her armour. Tony turned off the mic. He didn’t need to hear anymore as he turned and walked out of the room. He knew he was done with Ziva, there was nothing he wanted to say to her. He walked out, and walked away towards the team he had hand-picked and were loyal to him from day one.
“Spencer, what are we doing?” Jimmy blushed as Spencer grabbed him by the waist and helped him jump up on the stainless steel table in the autopsy lab.
“I think I’m taking a few minutes away from this madness to be with my boyfriend.” He carded his fingers through Jimmy’s short hair and pulled him close. He pressed his lips softly against Jimmy’s as he pressed in even closer.
Jimmy moaned as he wrapped his legs around Spencer’s waist and his arms were loosely wrapped around Spencer’s neck. He was kissing back as good as he was getting.
Spencer let his hands wander down to Jimmy’s ass where he cupped the firm cheeks and pulled him even closer. He moaned low in his throat as he swiped his tongue across Jimmy’s lips seeking entrance. Jimmy opened his mouth and tongues were tangled as bodies pressed close together.
“Ahem.” Spencer pulled back, he had heard the soft shoes of Dr. Mallard, and smiled as a blush creeped up on his face. “Mr. Palmer one would assume that you would be more discreet than this especially after your brief liaison with Agent Lee. And you Dr. Reid, you are usually more professional than this.”
Jimmy’s smile lit up at the gentle teasing of his friend and mentor, “If I didn’t hide it very well that time Dr. Mallard, what use would it be for us to sneak around now.”
Ducky chuckled softly, “Well played my boy, well played.” Ducky walked over and gently patted Jimmy on the shoulder as Spencer moved to let him get off the table.
“I’m sorry Dr. Mallard. It’s just a little intense up there and while I’m fairly used to these types of investigations, well…”
“There are more personal motivations that are fanning the fires so to speak. Take a few moments. I think I have something to do, upstairs.” Ducky left Spencer and Jimmy alone again.
Spencer noticed how deflated Jimmy looked. He gently cupped his lover’s chin and lifted so they were eye to eye.
“What’s wrong James?” Spencer caressed Jimmy’s cheek with the back of his hand.
“Does Jack hate me Spencer?”
“What? No, no he doesn’t hate you Jimmy. He’s just a confused little boy who is trying to understand what’s happening to the important people in his life. Losing his mother so young, it’s made him cling a little tighter to the adults in his life. He didn’t take the break-up with Aaron well.” Spencer leaned in and kissed his forehead. “Give him time.”
“He’s important to you and I just don’t want to feel like I’m coming in between.”
“James, I love you and you aren’t. I promise Jack will eventually love you too.”
Jimmy smiled so wide his dimples popped out and he reached-up to kiss Spencer one more time.
“I love you too.” He couldn’t help the blush that flushed his skin. “You should get back upstairs.” Jimmy nudged Spencer
“I will. But, I have something to do first.” Spencer once again leaned in and kissed his boyfriend. “Now, I think we can go back-up.” He grinned as he held Jimmy’s hand as they went back up into the fray.
Jimmy was biting his lip as they rode the elevator up to the main floor.
“Hey, you know everything will be okay Jimmy.” Spencer kissed the back of his hand as worry for his boyfriend shone in his eyes.
“I know Spence, but I’m just worried about Tony. He cared about them a lot. I can’t imagine what he’s going through.”
“You know he’ll be fine. Aaron will be there for him and so will we.”
JImmy smiled and nodded, “Yeah, yeah we will be there for him. We should take him to Smitty’s after this.”
“We will. I’ll tell Hotch. Now, come on before they send out a search party for us.”
Jimmy leaned into Spencer as they walked off the elevator and back into the investigation.
“Miss Sciuto,” Dave was in a chair with his feet up on the table leaning back. He had a stack of papers in front of him with tabs that were notes from both Ethan and Spencer. Dave had looked through them quickly and got a pretty good idea what had gone on. “Just answer the question.”
Abby was in a chair on the other side trying to sit demurely and look innocent.
“I swear I didn’t know that was what she wanted.”
“You didn’t know that you helped to set-up a secure communications line between Officer David and her father Director Eli David.”
“Well, okay yes I did set that up, but I really thought it was to help Ziva keep in touch with her father easier.”
“And you didn’t get this approved by either Director Shepard or Director Vance?”
Abby opened her mouth to say something then shut it looking petulant.
Tony was again watching. He opted to stay out of this one completely because it had hurt the most. He pressed his lips together and closed his eyes. He opened them when he felt a firm but gentle hand on his back. He knew it was Aaron so he allowed himself to take-in a shaky breath.
“Are you okay, Tone?”
“You know Ziva, I can’t say I’m all that surprised. You and Spencer did a hell of a job with her. She always claimed she was unbreakable.”
“I’ve come across serial killers that were more hardcore than Officer Ziva David. She was tough, but Spencer knew which buttons to push.”
Tony shook his head as he stared in the mirror, “I thought Abby and I had something special. You know, kinda like Morgan and Garcia? Just less innuendo, you know? She was like the sister I never had but her loyalties only ever lay with Gibbs and herself. I fooled myself.” Tony took a deep breath and tried not to let the hurt show.
Aaron stood next to him and wrapped an arm around Tony’s waist. He wanted to do more. He wanted to take Tony away from all of this and protect him from this but he didn’t. He knew Tony would be upset with him if he had.
“I’m sorry Tony. I wish things were different. I know what it’s like when someone you come to care about loses it.”
Tony knew there was a story there. He knew Aaron wasn’t talking about Gideon because they had a long discussion about the former Unit Chief one night after Tara had unboxed one of Gideon’s care packages in the office. This was a couple of months before Tony implemented the get-togethers. No, he could tell from Aaron’s voice this was someone he had regretted letting go and it made him wonder.
“Tony,” Aaron said sharply.
“Oh, sorry, just got a little lost in my head.” They both turned to watch the interrogation, interested in knowing what was going on.
“Look, I didn’t know that’s what she wanted. I swear to you and I swear that if I had known I would have told Gibbs.” Dave scrutinized the young woman in front of him and found there was a ring of truth in her statement.
“So, your true loyalty is to Agent Gibbs.”
“Yes, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.”
“Then that tells me that you are either blind when it comes to what Gibbs wants or just stupid, Miss Sciuto. And while I don’t think you are a stupid person, your actions when it comes to Officer David have been stupid.”
“Gibbs wanted her for the team, so…” She lifted a shoulder as she looked down with a pinched look on her face.
“So what Gibbs wants you try to give it to him. Going so far as to help him cover up what happened in the Horn of Africa?”
Abby didn’t say anything as she crossed her arms and a genuine look of worry crossed her face.
Morgan moved from behind Dave and crouched down next to Abby’s chair.
“Abby, look if you tell us everything you did for Officer David, this will go much easier on you in the long run. Now I know you are having a hard time processing what’s happening, but you need to give us what we want.”
“But what if what I tell you hurts Gibbs?” Morgan tried his hardest not to roll his eyes. This was a grown woman who was acting like a spoiled teenager.
“Then that is something we will deal with Gibbs about. Right now, you need to be concerned about you. Because if I know my boss, he’s cracked your friend Ziva by now and giving us what we need. If you tell us what you know, right now, then things will go easier on you.”
Abby frowned hard as she looked at the table, “I’m probably going to lose my job aren’t I?” Morgan and Dave almost didn’t hear her she had said it so softly.
“I won’t sugar coat this for you Miss Sciuto so I will tell you the truth. Yes, you probably will lose your job. But, if you help us we will make sure you aren’t blackballed all together. Though you won’t be able to get another job in law enforcement directly.”
It took Abby a few minutes but she started talking and when the floodgate opened, she didn’t stop. She corroborated the information that was in the files that Dave had.
Tony turned off the mic. He didn’t want to hear anymore when Abby started talking. He pressed his lips in a hard line closed his eyes and leaned ever so slightly into Aaron.
“I should say that I’m surprised and shocked, but I’m not. And, I’m not going to let myself get hurt by all this.”
“Tony…” Tony turned slightly and put a hand on Aaron’s chest to stop him talking.
“No, it’s okay Aaron. I accepted months ago when I left here that my relationship with Abby was not what I thought it was. She always will be Gibbs’s. I really shouldn’t have expected any less.” Tony stepped away from Aaron and walked out the door. He knew Aaron was going to corner him later and he would let him. For now though he didn’t want to talk. He was hurt, but he needed a few minutes to deal with this on his own.
Abby and him had been close. He had let himself get close to her but he refused to let the hurt in because once he did, then it would all crash in on him, but he refused to give these people anymore of his time or his heart. He would give Tim a chance but he walked away from Abby. He was no longer willing to play a pawn in her little games. When he came out of the room he saw Ashley and Jordan there waiting for him.
“Hey boss, thought you could use something to eat. I got your favorite, Russo’s. The Italian sub with everything, chips and some fresh coffee.” Ashley wrapped an arm around his waist and led him to the main break room where his team and Aaron’s were there unwrapping sandwiches, talking, bantering back and forth. Morgan was teasing Spencer and Jimmy and they both took it with smiles. In the corner McGee and Tara were locked in some heated argument about the merits of Doctor Strange vs John Constantine. Tony ducked his head and laughed.
“What is it Boss?” Ashley frowned as she looked around.
“Just something unexpected Seaver. Now, show me where my food is, I’m starving.” Ashley tried not to look confused but led Tony to where she had is food. “Hey probie, just a word of caution. Gids plays for keeps.”
Tim stopped and looked at Tara, then at Tony and blushed deeply.
“Yeah McClueless, you finally getting on board?” Everyone could hear her say.
“Will pick me up on Saturday exactly at 7:00 p.m. we will have dinner, nothing fancy, then you are taking me to see The Avengers.” Tara turned to everyone in the room, “And if any of you assholes spoils it for me I will kick your ass.” She turns back to Tim. “Any questions?”
“No, I understand perfectly.” Tim turned to look at Tony and mouthed Help.
“Sorry Probie, you got this one all on your own,” Tony laughed as he took a sip of his coffee. Yes, he would let Tim back in his life even if they took it slow, this was at least a start in re-building the friendship and trust they once had with each other.
Part 15: Endings are a New Beginning
“SAIC Leroy Jethro Gibbs. We’ve already met. UC Aaron Hotchner and this is SSA David Rossi. Do you understand that you are still under oath?”
“And if I ask for my JAG representative?” Gibbs glared hard at Aaron as he crossed his arms over his chest.
“As a former decorated Marine that is your right, or your bureau rep of course. But, if you invoke either of those options then this conversation is done, but our investigation isn’t.” Aaron saw how much Gibbs mind was running though all of the possibilities.
Gibbs leaned forward staring Aaron in the eye, “I want my JAG rep.”
“Dave, let’s go.” Aaron stood and turned, “You could have probably saved yourself if you just talk to us. We can’t help you if you get your lawyer involved. You know the drill Gibbs.”
Gibbs didn’t move, didn’t blink he stayed silent as he watched the two FBI agents gather up the files. One slipped out and he froze.
“Why do you have a file on Agent Caitlin Todd?”
“I’m sorry I’m not at liberty to discuss that with you since you asked for your counsel.” Aaron grabbed the files and straightened them out as he put them away in his briefcase.
Gibbs stood and walked around the table, getting in Aaron’s face.
“Why do you have a file on Kate?” Gibbs growled low in his throat.
“Are you revoking your right to a lawyer at this time Agent Gibbs?” Rossi asked as he leaned against the wall of the interview room.
“Fine. If you tell me what’s going on, I’ll answer your goddamned questions.”
Tony was once again watching through the glass. He knew he should just walk away from it all but this, this one hurt even more than Abby. Gibbs had been a friend, more than a friend and it all had gone so horribly wrong.
“Anthony, you cannot let yourself get hurt by Jethro anymore. He made his bed and now, as much as it pains me to say it, he is lying in it. He never saw what it was he really had in you Anthony, but from what I have observed you have found something much better.”
“Thanks Ducky. I don’t understand what happened. It’s like he never truly came back after the explosion on the ship. And, I think sleeping with him was a mistake. It changed our relationship too much. I’m ashamed to admit it Duck, but I was using him as much as he was using me. But this, I never thought his ego would get him into this much trouble.”
“Jethro always did have a healthy sense of self-righteousness, but it was always balanced with care and compassion. I think you are right, though Anthony, after reliving the death of his wife and daughter all over again, he never came back from that.”
Tony turned up the mic so he could listen to what was going on.
“Are you charging Ziva with the murder of Haswari now?”
“No. When Dr. Reid analyzed the evidence we knew it was to protect you. However, I’m not sure if you will be charged with perjury. That will be up to SecNav once they receive our final reports. Personally, I’d throw you in jail for a lot of the blatant abuses of power that we were able to skim just from the files and some of the computer evidence we have. Especially, when my analyst found McGee’s digital fingerprints all over the FBI’s database. He came clean, told us everything.”
Gibbs glared at Aaron and was about to say more when Aaron stopped him just with a look.
“I really don’t know what will happen. I’m just here in an investigative capacity as are my teams. Once we give your bosses our findings, they will decide what to do with you, Ms. Sciuto and Officer David. SA Timothy McGee has been cleared, but again we don’t know what will be decided with him.”
“You think he’ll stay loyal to you?” Gibbs lifted a brow as he leaned on the table toward Aaron.
“I think my personal relationship with UC Anthony DiNozzo is none of your business. And if you think you can use it as a bargaining chip for leniency, well we came clean to both FBI Director Mueller and SecNav.”
“And those famous fraternization rules, it must have gone over real well.” There was a dark gleeful gleam in Gibbs eyes as he thought he had one-up on the man he thought stole Tony from him.
“Face it Gibbs, you lost the best man that walked into your life. I know because I was stupid in walking away from him the first time. I am not making that mistake ever again.” Aaron got up out of the chair and as he and Rossi were making their way out the door Aaron couldn’t help the little petty streak that came over him when he turned around and said, “Face it Gibbs, you lose.”
Gibbs sat there and frowned as he pondered Aaron’s words. “Fuck, fucking Baltimore.”
It hadn’t taken much longer to wrap up the investigation. Only one more day spent going over files and pulling relevant information. When all was said and done it was all turned over to the Attorney General and copied to Clyde Easter and SecNav. Aaron hated doing it. He hated investigating another agency, but when there was that much violation of protocol and basic trust it tainted, in a lot of ways, all the agencies. He wanted to put it all to rest and behind him.
It was about a month later when the verdicts came down. Gibbs was offered retirement. They would keep all of the events leading up to his forced retirement quiet if he acquiesced. All they knew was that Gibbs agreed, Tony really wasn’t interested in the specifics.
Abby was fired and was told that law enforcement directly was off the books for her. She was able to find work in an independant lab but was given limited access until she could prove that she wouldn’t violate anyone’s trust.
Ziva was handed over to Homeland Security and Tony decided he was not going to delve too deeply into what happened to her, he just didn’t care enough.
Fornell brought McGee over to one of his teams as a tech analyst. He was monitored till he too could prove himself. Fornell promised that in a year, if he kept his nose clean, he could earn his place on an investigative team. McGee jumped on it. His relationship with Tara was slow because they were building trust between them. Neither wanted to jump into bed with each other till they were sure. McGee was just happy that he had a second chance with Tony. He had once cherished that friendship and realized how badly he had screwed it up.
Aaron knew Tony was feeling a little raw after they learned what happened to his former team, so he vowed to take care of him. Dinner, wine and a movie in the background was on the agenda for the evening.
Jack had just gone down for the night and Aaron was sipping some wine that Tony had poured them right before he sat down next to Aaron.
Aaron took Tony’s glass from him and set them both down on the table then he reached out and pulled Tony close to him, kissing him, letting his mouth fall open a little so Tony could flick his tongue inside and pull him into a deeper kiss. After a moment Aaron pulled back and cupped Tony’s cheek, rubbing his thumb in slow circles just under his cheekbone.
“I love you Tony DiNozzo. I never stopped caring about you. Some nights in strange hotels, alone, I’d see your face and wish, more than anything that I had turned around and called you out. I’m glad we’re here now and I don’t ever want to lose you again.” Aaron let his head fall on Tony’s as he indulged in touches and kisses. “Make love to me.” Aaron whispered against Tony’s neck as he left a trail of butterfly kisses to the flesh he could reach.
“Aaron,” Tony’s voice caught in his throat as gently laid his hands on Aaron’s shoulders and pushed him back till he could see his lover’s face. “Aaron, are you sure? I don’t ever want to hurt you.”
“I’m sure Tone.” Aaron laid him out on the couch and kissed harder as he slipped a hand under Tony’s shirt. The two men took their time as they made out like teenagers, teasing each other with their hands and mouths.
“Why don’t we take this to the bedroom.” Aaron smiled and slowly stood. Tony swallowed hard as he followed behind Aaron, anticipation and nervousness both welled up inside him.
Tony grabbed Aaron’s hand once they shut the door. They weren’t worried about Jack, he knew to always knock if he needed something from them.
Aaron turned into Tony and wrapped one arm around his waist and the other was around his back. They took their time as they traded kisses going from a gentle glide of lips to hard and needy. Tony worked open Aaron’s shirt and slid it off his shoulders. His hands wandered to Aaron’s hips and slid his hands inside the well-worn jeans his lover still had on.
“Aaron,” Tony was silenced by a finger on his mouth.
“I want this, I want you.”
“Okay.” Tony wanted to say more but when Aaron pulled the shirt he was wearing off him and he felt a tongue flick across a nipple he was lost. It wasn’t much longer before both men were naked and on the bed with a bottle of lube waiting. They had both been tested quite recently and decided to forgo the condoms.
“I want to feel just you Tony.” Aaron whispered in his ear as they lay down together on the bed. Tony just nodded, he was feeling took much all at once, the trust that Aaron was showing in him was a gift he wasn’t going to abuse.
“Just promise Aaron, if you feel uncomfortable at any time tell me.”
“Promise.” Aaron pulled Tony on top of him, wrapping his legs around Tony’s waist as he pulled him down to kiss him. He thrust up, experimenting as he touched and tasted. He didn’t let his mind wander, but he let go of those insecurities and fears as Tony took his time touching and caressing him. He closed his eyes and just let himself feel, let his lover slowly take him apart inch by inch. When he felt a cool slick finger breach his hole he almost moaned obscenely.
Tony bent down and sealed his lips over Aaron’s swallowing the noises his lover was making. He hummed in pleasure as he slipped a second finger in and curled his fingers and watched as Aaron’s body bowed slightly in pleasure. He pulled his fingers free and wiped them on the bedspread and grabbed the lube, he generously slicked-up his cock and positioned himself between Aaron’s legs.
“Look at me Aaron,” Tony was holding still till he saw those dark eyes that he loved so much look directly at him. “I want you to look at me, I want you to see me Aaron and know that it will only ever be me that will touch you this way, the only one that will ever be inside you like this. Look at me as I slip inside you, feel me as I move with you and make love to you.” Tony never took his eyes off Aaron’s as he guided the head of his cock inside Aaron’s slick hole.
Aaron’s hands were on Tony’s waist and he didn’t look away as he felt the burn of the breach. His breath caught as he saw the love and care in Tony’s eyes. He couldn’t speak, he was too full of emotion and could only nod his head, telling Tony he was okay.
Tony closed his eyes only for a second as he slid all the way in and stilled for a moment. Aaron reached up and curled his fingers around Tony’s neck and lifted up to kiss him. Tony moaned softly then started to move. His movements were slow and gentle as he slid in and out of Aaron. His eyes never leaving Aaron’s. He knew he was taking the man apart by the way he was moaning and writhing under him. Tony wrapped his hand around Aaron’s own hard erection and started to stroke him.
“Tony, please,” Aaron started begging not even sure what he was begging for. It was all too much and not enough at the same time. He could feel his body tensing, could feel that all over pull that told him he was close. He gripped Tony’s waist tighter, he knew he was going to leave bruises but he just couldn’t let go. Tony moved faster, snapping his hips spurred on by his lover’s pleas for more. He let go of Aaron’s cock as he too wrapped his hands around the man’s waist and felt how close he was to release.
“God, Aaron,” Tony moaned as he stilled, the orgasm shook him right to his core. He once again wrapped his hand around Aaron’s cock and started to pump in earnest. He watched and knew when he felt Aaron contracting around him that he was close. “Come on Aaron, cum for me.” Tony’s voice was low and full of so much emotion that it made Aaron thrust up in Tony’s hand as the orgasm burst from him and he was cumming in Tony’s hand.
Tony watched as silent tears leaked from Aaron’s eyes and he reached his clean hand up and gently touched his face, wiping them away.
“Tony,” Aaron’s voice hitched at the gentle touch. He captured Tony’s hand and held it against his cheek, closing his eyes he tried to settle. After a moment Tony was able to safely pull from Aaron’s body and he quickly went to clean up. He came back with a warm, wet cloth and cleaned Aaron as well before he lay down in arms that held him close.
“I, Tony, that was,” he had no words that could adequately convey all he was feeling.
“Shh, Aaron, you don’t have to say anything. Let us just lay here together.” The two men stayed wrapped around each other all night as they slept.
In the morning, they were on their sides and Aaron was waking up spooned in behind Tony. He was softly stroking his side and trying not to wake him. He placed a kiss on his shoulder as he silently left the bed. Throwing on a pair of sweats he padded out to the office he and Tony shared. Sitting down at his desk he unlocked the bottom drawer, pulled something out, then padded back to the room. Smiling to himself as he stood in the doorway and just watched Tony his heart constricted for just a moment as he reflected on how much he loved this man.
Aaron walked back to the bed and took the box in his hand, he opened it and without waking Tony and slipped the ring on his finger and sighed. Getting up he walked out to the kitchen and started preparing breakfast.
Aaron already had a stack of bacon and rosemary and sage waffles warming in the oven. He also had sausage done and was working on some slow scrambled eggs with a little cream and goat cheese when he heard it.
“Aaron Michael Hotchner, what did you do?” Aaron smiled to himself as he heard Tony running into the kitchen. He wasn’t startled when he was pulled into Tony’s arms and kissed very obscenely. “You’re a bastard.”
“And you love me.” Aaron smiled as he held Tony one armed against him.
“I don’t know why,” Tony teased as he lay his head on Aaron’s shoulder. “And before you get your panties in a twist, of course I’ll marry you.”
Aaron closed his eyes as he laid his head on top of Tony’s, “Good because I’m not letting you go this time Anthony Dimitri DiNozzo, Jr.”
Aaron reached over and turned off the eggs so they wouldn’t burn then he wrapped his other arm around Tony and the two stayed like that wrapped together for a few moments. They only broke apart when they heard the patter of feet on the floor.
“Dad? Papa Tony? Is something wrong?” Jack looked up at the two men worried.
Tony looked stunned as he looked down at Jack and his heart about stopped. He looked back up at Aaron with confusion and just a touch of fear in his eyes.
“Tony, you shouldn’t be surprised. He loves you.”
Smiling Tony turned to Jack, “No Jackster, nothing is wrong. In fact, everything is just about perfect.” Tony ducked his head against Aaron’s shoulder as he settled his emotions. Aaron rubbed his back a moment sensing Tony needed some grounding, a little bit of normalcy he turned to Jack.
“Who’s hungry? I’ve got waffles.”
“Me, me, me,” Jack jumped up enthusiastically as Aaron pulled the food out of the oven and laid it out on the table as well as the eggs and a bowl of fruit salad he had made earlier in the morning. The three of them sat around the table, passed food around and relaxed and enjoyed the meal. Tony took a moment to reflect on what it took to get here and knew, that even though it took almost fourteen years, he didn’t think he would have changed one thing. He decided on no regrets, he only wanted to look to the future and was grateful for the second chance he had been given. Not just in his career, but in the man sitting across from him.
“Tony, everything okay?” Aaron smiled wide letting his dimples show and it made Tony’s heart soar.
“No, nothing is wrong Aaron, like I told Jack, everything is just about perfect.” He took a bite of the soft fluffy eggs and knew what would make this complete and he would take care of it later in the afternoon. Aaron needed a ring on his finger, then, then everything would be perfect.