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 Aaron 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 Aaron 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 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.