- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- Character Bashing
- No Beta
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
Chapter Five: Meeting the new Team
Later that night, Tony found himself unable to sleep, and as had become habit he found himself in one of the beach chairs watching the surf and listening to the sound of the waves crashing into the sand. His mind was working through John’s relationship with his son Steve, and wondering if things between he and the SEAL would be any different now that they were adults. He hoped so.
As a child he’d been crushed when the younger boy hadn’t wanted to have anything to do with him. At the time, Tony hadn’t had many friends his own age. He’d been angry at the world for taking his mother and giving him a father who hated and abused him when he wasn’t just ignoring him altogether. He’d found it hard to make friends at boarding school where he didn’t feel like he fit in. He’d been small and quiet and more prone to being bullied than making friends. John though was the first adult who had shown any concern for his welfare in a long time, and he’d hoped maybe he could make friends in the nice officer’s son.
Unfortunately, that hadn’t happened. As an adult looking back, he could understand why Steve hadn’t been a fan of his. The boy seemed to idolize his father, and probably had precious little time with the man. Then Tony came alone and took some of it away leaving him with even less time with his father. He supposed that had the situations been reversed, and Senior been a better father, he would have been jealous and angry also. He was a little worried that the past was going to repeat itself, but didn’t know how to change it.
It wasn’t as if John had sought him out. Tony had basically shoved himself back into the older man’s life and demanded to know what the hell was going on. Now that he knew, he was determined to reunite the father with his children, starting with the one who could defend himself in the face of terrorists, Yakuza or whomever else was behind Doris’ death. He couldn’t help but wonder what kind of man the child had grown into.
He didn’t understand what it was about Steve that called to him so deeply. With all the years that had passed since that single month that he’d spent in the McGarrett household. One would think that he’d gotten over the sting of being shunned by the younger boy ages ago. For some reason though it still hurt, and he wasn’t sure how he’d react if their childhood hostility carried over into adulthood.
He honestly only wanted to bridge the gap between the remaining McGarrett family members, and hoped that he could find a way to relay that to the SEAL. Stretching his legs out in front of him, Tony let the sound of the waves relax him until he fell asleep. His mind still working through the possibilities of things to come with his quest.
The day after Christmas, Tony got up earlier than he’d been doing since leaving the NCIS DC office. After taking a shower, he moved to his closet to pursue the small portion of new summer clothes that he’d gotten while traveling. He’d taken TJ and Isla to England for a while, but then they’d traveled to both France and Italy as well as a few of the Caribbean islands. While in the three European countries, he’d made sure to restock his summer wardrobe, since most of his clothes were better suited for the cooler DC temperatures.
For his initial visit, he chose a pair of black designer jeans, a peach colored dress shirt that had half sleeves with a wide fold up cuff that had a black and white paisley pattern, and his favorite black Italian leather dress shoes. He was more than a little nervous. He couldn’t help but let the failures of his old team get to his head. He’d tried so hard and put so much into those relationships. Then, in the end, he’d walked away with almost nothing. Only he hadn’t.
He needed to keep reminding himself. He still had his son, and his kickass nanny who was more friend than he was sure she should be. He didn’t know as he would ever get over the fear that people would believe he was the cliche’ old guy banging his hot nanny. He had John and Abby. He’d found a new friend in Chin Ho Kelly, and hopefully things would click with his new team. He had an amazing new position that had allowed him to move to paradise, and hopefully stay there for the rest of his life. He wasn’t as broken as he felt.
His trust tree may be in tatters, cut down to a stump and some odd roots. He may feel like he’d never find some place. He may feel like he’d be alone forever, because his live life was in worse tatters than his professional life. That didn’t mean that it was true though. He had people. He had a future, which meant that he had options and he had hope.
Once dressed, Tony headed downstairs, where he filled a to go mug with Kona coffee flavoring it with his current favorite flavored creamer. Then, after giving TJ a kiss and letting Isla know he was leaving, headed out for the base. The drive, while beautiful, was long enough his nerves increased because his mind had time to run all the things that could go wrong. All the things that had gone wrong the last time he played at being a team leader. Of course, he hadn’t been playing, but since no one else had seemed to take him as an Agent in Charge then he might as well have been.
He had to keep telling himself that this wasn’t then. These people weren’t the same people who had turned their backs on him before and made him into a joke. He also wasn’t the same person he was then. The Director wasn’t the same as he’d had before and this circumstance wasn’t the same as that one. There was no Gibbs or Jenny or Ziva or McTraitor Probie or Backstabber Best Goth Friend to cloud his judgement or shake his self-confidence. He had this. He could do this. He deserved this. He was gonna rock this, and he was going to stop letting last negative people get in his head.
Maybe if he kept telling himself that one day he’d manage to believe it.
By the time he got through the gate and found the building he needed, his little pep-talk had at least calmed his nerves enough he was fairly confident he could have a conversation with AIC Garzon without making an ass out of himself. After parking his Camero, he gave himself one last, “you can do this,” before getting out and after locking the doors, heading toward the building.
Security must have notified Garzon that he had arrived, because he was waiting for him outside the building when Tony approached. He didn’t know a ton about the man, but what he’d been able to find out through his contacts within NCIS was that he was a serious but incredibly fair and loyal boss. Unlike Gibbs, he wasn’t prone to outbursts of temper and he didn’t reprimand his team members in front of others if it could be helped. The fact that he had so many open spaces on his team had less to do with people leaving to get away from him, and more to do with his people being highly sought out.
From what he’d been able to tell, all the people who left had gone to better jobs and all but one had moved up the ladder either within NCIS or in one case by moving to ATF. The one person who hadn’t moved for a higher position had moved to a civilian job at a security firm that was incredibly well thought of and very discriminate about who they took. His source told him that working under Alejandro Garzon had been one of the reason’s she’d been recruited. Needless to say, Tony was incredibly impressed, and a little intimidated to be following someone who was so well thought of.
“AIC DiNozzo, welcome to Pearl Harbor,” Alejandro greeted smiling warmly and held out a lei that appeared to be made of some kind of leaf and appeared more as a rope than a circle. Tony knew that leis could be either open, which was the ones that looked kind of like a rope, or closed, which were the ones that were a circle. John had warned him the night before that it was possible that he could be given some today, and had prepared him with all the dos and don’ts.
“Thank you, AIC Garzon,” Tony replied smiling equally as warmly. Now that he was there the excitement was finally beginning to hit. “I am excited to be here, and know I have very big shoes to fill. I will do my absolute best to make you proud.”
“I don’t know how much you know about lei’s, but this is made of ti leaves, which symbolize good luck and ward of evil spirits. I don’t think you will need the luck, but a little extra help with the evil spirits should always be welcomed. I don’t know if you are a religious man, AIC DiNozzo, but I hope you are at least open minded. The natives are very serious about their spirits. You will find there are issues here you will need to work around and be considerate of that you are not used to. Also, call me, Alejandro, please.”
“I would be honored to, and Tony for me would be great. I’ll be honest with you, Alejandro, I am not religious. What I am though is incredibly open minded to other people’s beliefs. You can’t really be friends with Abby and not be open-minded. For me, religion is… Something akin to believing that the Lord of the Rings series is a historical document. That being said though I completely support other people’s right to their beliefs and I have always done my very best to walk the line between doing what is best for my case while honoring religious and spiritual restrictions and edits.”
Garzon nodded smiling slightly. “That is all I or anyone can ask of you. Let’s go inside and I’ll introduce you to everyone. I believe there’s a Forensics Analyst that is anxious to see you. I am a little surprised she’s stayed inside this long. We have about a half an hour before you’re due to join me in my weekly update with Director Vance. He wants to hear about this investigation you’re requesting we take on. Then later, I’d like to have lunch with you so that we can talk. I know Ms. Sciuto would probably like to take you and your new team out, though. So, I understand if you would rather venture out with your friend.”
Tony immediately shook his head. Things between him and Abby, and frankly with Abby herself, were going to have to change. Tony wasn’t Gibbs and he wasn’t going to allow some things to continue. While he absolutely loved her to death, in his opinion Gibbs had coddled her way too much, and it hadn’t been good for her. She in recent years had started to become spoiled and manipulative. She also needed to work on how she treated other people when she was upset. He had faith though that she could make the transition and become a better person. She was going to have to if she was going to make it. Their personal friendship wouldn’t save her. He’d tried it that way once, and it hadn’t gone anywhere good.
“Abby can wait. Personal friendships will never override business commitments while I am at work. I would love to have lunch with you. Don’t worry. I’ll handle Abbs.”
When Alejandro nodded smiling slightly, Tony thought maybe he’d made the right decision. Now he just needed to get Abby to understand. Following the current Agent in Charge into the building, Tony smiled and shook hands with everyone he was introduced to along the way. When they reached the team’s area, Abby was there as predicted pacing around with a black lei in her hands. Tony couldn’t help but smile and wasn’t going to ask how she’d managed to get one.
“Tony!” She squealed as she rushed at him. She stopped at the last second before she hit him. So, the impact that he’d braced himself for never came. The only thing that saved him he imagined was the lei in her hands, and the fact that he was already wearing one. Smiling, he bowed his head, and let her put her closed black lei around his neck and kissed her cheek after.
“Hi, Abbs,” he greeted, “I missed you too.”
“OhMyGodOhMyGodOhMyGod,” She blurted excited as she bounced on her platform boots, “I can’t wait for lunch so we can talk!”
“I have so many things to tell you. I found new nuns! They don’t bowl but…”
Tony reached out and gently put a finger over her lips to stop the verbal diarrhea coming from her mouth. “I would love to hear all about it, but not right now. Lunch is no good either. I am having lunch with Alejandro. Why don’t you come over Friday night? We can talk and you can sleep over. I know TJ would love that.”
“But Tony,” she started, but he just looked at her putting fingers over her mouth now. Stepping closer so he could talk to her quietly without the others overhearing. He loved her too much to embarrass her, but he needed to make sure she knew from the start that shit was changing.
“I love you like my sister, Abby, but this isn’t DC and I’m not Gibbs. There are some things that will be changing, which you and I need to talk about. We’re still going to be friends, best friends even. We’re still going to hang out, but stuff like this… It’s gotta stop Abbs. What kind if first impression am I going to make with my new team if I let you whine your way into getting what you want? What kind of impression do you think you’re making on all these new people? What kind of person do you think they see you as with this whining and pouting you’re doing right now?
“I need you to think about what kind of person you are now, I need you to think about how you’re handling this moment and others where you haven’t gotten your way, and I need you to think about if that’s the kind of person you want to be. I love you too much to let you go on this way.” Tony took away his fingers and smiled gently at her hoping that she got it.
Fortunately, he saw her nod trying to look calm, even though she was twisting her fingers together and seemed to be moments away from crying. Internally, he strengthened his resolve and refused to give in. That’s part of what got them into this mess. People always gave into her when the tears came out. While it was true she was a gentle soul, sometimes, actually more often than not lately, she used that to get her own way. It wasn’t going to happen anymore.
Stepping back, he looked to Garzon who was doing a pretty good job of masking his feelings, but when he gave a slight nod, Tony took that as a sign of approval. Immediately, he introduced him to his new Senior Field Agent Lucian Kekoa, who was a large intense human being on first sight. At 6’4” he was only a couple inches taller than Tony himself, but it felt so much more than that.
There was an easy smile on the man’s face, but a hint of something in the eyes that told him he’d have to work for his new SFA’s trust. He was pretty ok with that though. He knew this man had worked with Garzon for almost 5 years now. There would be a lot of trust and history built up in that time. He hadn’t expected to come in and just automatically be buddies. As long as there was a respect for the chain of command, Tony didn’t mind working to prove that he belonged there.
“It’s nice to meet you,” Tony greeted. “Do you prefer Lucian or Kekoa?” He asked and from the flicker of surprise that briefly flitted across the man’s face, he knew that he hadn’t expected to her his last name pronounced correctly. He didn’t even bother to try and hide the change in his smile. He wanted his SFA to know he’d seen the surprise and that he was aware of it.
“The DiNozzo Motto, SFA Kekoa, always be prepared,” Tony advised stepping back to stand near Garzon again. “My father figure has lived on the island his whole life. I’m actually living with him at the moment. I made sure I had the correct pronunciation down. I’ll probably hit you up before we talk to witnesses and such. I hope you don’t mind. I’d like to have lunch with you tomorrow, if Alejandro doesn’t mind. So, we can get to know each other.”
Tony flicked his eyes toward the Pearl Harbor Team Leader who by now wasn’t bothering to hide his smile and giving off an air of approval. “I think that’s a wonderful idea. Cases permitting of course. We’re pretty quiet right now, and the Director is holding anything big back for a bit while we go through this transition. As long as Lucian would like to go, I have no objections.” Garzon quickly interjected and Lucian shrugged seeming to be at least a little intrigued now.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Kekoa agreed dropping his fake smile and watching Tony with some intrigue. “Cases permitting, I would like to go. I think it would be a good idea that we be on the same page.”
“Good!” Tony replied back keeping his smile easy and open. “I am planning on doing a dinner with the group of us before we officially start working together. I was thinking this Saturday at the house. I was gonna do a restaurant, but John insisted that everyone comes over and we get out the grill. I’ve already recruited Detective Danny Williams from HPD to join us after he goes through FLETC. He came recommended by John and his partner Chin Ho Kelly and definitely fits the veteran requirement I wanted.
“I’m still looking for another person or two who are natives to the islands here. Danny is bringing his daughter Gracie since it’s his weekend with her. So, if anyone else has a child they’d like to bring its cool. The house is on the beach, so you’re definitely welcome to swim or surf. I’ll have lunch stuff available if anyone wants to come early and hang out. I’ll also have the weekend bowl games on the TV.”
“Count me in! I am up for getting some surfing in before football comes on. I totally wanna watch the Liberty Bowl and Alamo Bowl.” A redhead Tony knew to be Tara Gideon pronounced before flinging herself at him with an enthusiastic hug. He could help but let out the startled laugh as he wrapped his arms around her. “Not interested in the Meineke Car Care Bowl?”
Tara huffed and stepped back wrinkling her nose. “I mean, with a name like that… not so much. The car care bowl? Are there gonna be like free carwashes by the cheerleaders at halftime? If so then I am totally down with it.”
Tony snorted amused. He was already aware from information Gibbs had given him on his Goddaughter that she’d been in a longtime relationship with Isabella Mahelona. He also knew the couple had a newborn son named Daniel Jethro Mahelona-Gideon whom they called DJ as well as a three-year-old son named Marcus Leroy Mahelona-Gideon whom was named after her father. “Tara Gideon, it’s very nice to meet you.”
“I know!” Tara gushed happily as she glanced around the room. “I’ve been wanting to meet you forever. Dad’s talked about you for years. I’m so glad you’re here. If we have to lose Alejandro, I’m glad we have someone almost as kickass to replace him.”
Tony chuckled as his own eyes began skimming the room. He noticed Abby had disappeared, and had to fight to hold back a sigh. Before he could decide how to react though, Tara was stepping in. “Not to greet and run, but I need to get down to Abby’s lab to see if she can help with a search. Do you mind if I go down, Álex? It might take a bit to ya know… get through things.”
Tony almost eyerolled knowing what she really meant was it might take a while to get Abby settled down and convince her the world hadn’t ended. He wished her luck. He’d had to do it plenty enough times himself to know that it wasn’t the easiest task. He was glad to see though that the younger woman and Abby were at least forming a friendship. He knew it would help things with Abbs emensely.
“That’s fine, Tara. We are mostly on downtime this week anyway. The LA team is going to take anything urgent that may come in out of Hawaii. So, unless someone here loses their mind this week, I think we’re fairly safe. I only have cold case review planned until Tony takes over. Tony and I have a meeting with the director in a few minutes and then I’ll be showing him around. After lunch I’m taking him to meet Max. If you need anything Lucian will be in charge for the day.”
Tara nodded before hurrying out, and Tony felt his shoulders ease a little. Things seemed like they just might begin a lot more smoothly than he expected. When Alejandro touched his shoulder, Tony nodded and followed the man to their MTAC room. He had things to discuss with Director Vance, and then was looking forward to his talk with AIC Garzon.
A few hours later, Tony found himself at an oceanside restaurant sitting outside with a plate of fresh fried fish and some rice that smelled amazing. Alejandro sat across from him with a similar plate, and Tony couldn’t wait to dig in. “I like how you have handled yourself thus far, Tony.” Alejandro began as Tony was chewing a mouthful of fish and rice.
“I was a little worried about your first interaction with Ms. Sciuto in front of the team. I know she is highly skilled in her field, but I will admit. Thus far I have found her somewhat…”
When the older man trailed off obviously searching for the right word that wouldn’t offend him, Tony decided to step in. “Spoiled? Manipulative? Difficult? I’m afraid that some things were let slide in DC that I’m going to have to work to correct. Trust me, I am not blind to Abby’s fault. She may be like a soul sister to me, but I know that she has some issues that need worked out. When I have dinner with her Friday, I’m going to tell her that there are things that were allowed in DC that just won’t be here.”
Tony sighed and pushed around his rice for a moment before he continued. “I admit that some of it is my fault. I followed Gibbs’ lead on how she was to be handled, and it did her no good. Gibbs saw her as a replacement of sorts for the daughter he had that died, and let Abby get away with pretty much everything. That won’t be happening here. You have my word. Does that have anything to do with why Lucian seems so… hostile isn’t the word I want, but the right one is not coming to me at the moment. There was definitely some distrust there it seemed.”
“They have butted heads thus far,” Alejandro admitted after finishing his own mouthful of food. While he spoke, Tony took a drink of tea and then continued to eat his food finding himself starving. “Ms. Sciuto seems convinced that you’re going to let her make certain changes or give into some demands she’s made. I’m afraid that she’s thrown your name around more than once saying something to the effect of ‘When Tony’s here he’ll…’ or ‘Tony won’t make me do it like that…’. It is rather grating.”
Tony nodded and looked out toward the water. The more he was here, the more he found the water calmed him when his mind was in chaos. “I’m sorry for that. I can’t say as I’m surprised, but I’m pretty damned unhappy that she did that. That’s Gibbs. Not me. I just… I don’t understand why no one will let me just be me. When I lead like me they’re mad. When I try and lead like Gibbs they’re mad.” Frustrated, Tony shook his head and shoveled more food in his mouth.
“Never be Gibbs,” Alejandro demanded firmly. “Don’t be him. Don’t be me. Don’t be anyone but yourself. To try and lead like anyone other than Anthony DiNozzo is to set yourself up for failure. If Ms. Sciuto won’t accept your leadership then she doesn’t belong in NCIS. That is not about you. That is about her. Tell her how it is going to be. Make sure she understands that outside of work you are friends, but at work you are nothing more than friendly co-workers. You are the commanding agent in this office. Your word is law, and if she cannot abide by that then she needs to be replaced.”
Tony nodded unable to talk at the moment because of the lump in his throat. Fortunately, Alejandro must have understood because he kept speaking. “I looked into you, DiNozzo. When Director Vance said that he gave you the position I checked into what kind of leader you were, and I will be honest the reviews were mixed. What I saw earlier though told me everything I need to know.
“You handled Lucian’s hidden anger with humor and let him keep his mask. You didn’t give into Abby’s pouting and reprimanded her in a way that let her know you were in charge while saving her from the embarrassment of a public tongue lashing. Then you handled Tara’s nervous excitement with familiarity treating her like a long-lost friend. You’ve made plans to meet with your new team to bond both individually and as a whole. You also resisted the urge to include me in your group celebration, which would only confuse issues and prolong their separation anxieties. Keep being yourself and you will not fail. If you ever need anything once I am gone, no matter if you are stuck on a case, need to know who to contact to help get information, or just need to bitch about Tara being too excitable and Lucian too stoic you call me. No matter what time of the day or night. I have faith in you, Anthony DiNozzo. You will succeed here. Laki maikaʻi, my new friend.”
Smiling, Tony nodded then turned his attention to his meal as they enjoyed the view in silence. There really wasn’t much else to say. The next day would bring the first of his individual meetings with his new team. He couldn’t wait.