- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- Character Bashing
- No Beta
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
Chapter Four: The Truth Comes Out
Tony was seated once more in one of the chairs in John’s backyard. They had been living with his substitute father for a week. The house had been completely transformed into a Christmas paradise, and TJ was thrilled. Tony had begun looking at houses almost immediately. As much as he wanted to just live with John, he knew that the needed their own space. He also knew that in order to get John and his son back together, they could not be there.
Steve had never been his biggest fan. While it was true that he hadn’t talked to the younger man in years, he doubted that it had changed much. Steve had always hated that his father took such an interest in Tony. At the time, it had made the older boy sad because all he’d wanted was to make a friend. He’d been incredibly lonely and longed for someone his own age to like him. He didn’t have any friends at military school, and it hadn’t gotten any easier after his father forgot him in Hawaii.
It seemed like a lonely childhood had led to a mostly lonely adulthood. Oh sure, over the years Tony had learned how to be the life of the party, the clown that could make anyone laugh at any time. Rarely though had he found that it led to a true friendship. Just look at NCIS. After a decade there, the only people he could count as true friends were Abby and Jimmy. While Abby was a good friend, maybe the best one that he had, it wasn’t the same. There was no one that was… Wendy. Or Jeanne. But then those relationships were just another example of how things just don’t work out for him.
He longed for love. He longed for forever, but after what happened with Ziva he wasn’t sure that he could trust anyone to stay. He wasn’t even sure that he trusted Abby and John as much as he should at the moment. Let alone to trust someone enough to fall in love. Hell, he wasn’t sure that he wanted someone to fall in love with this person that he was right then. He was tired of the act.
He wanted to torch the frat boy routine, but had no idea who to replace him with. Tony had been playing parts and roles for so long that he didn’t know who was underneath it all anymore. He knew what was under the role of Tony DiNozzo Senior Field Agent for the MCRT, but… was that him? Or was there more layers underneath that? Was there even a real Tony DiNozzo? Or was the son completely lost in the dark and slimy shadow of the man who introduced himself as “The Real Tony DiNozzo”. When your own father didn’t want you, why should anyone else? When your own father had proven to be untrustworthy, how could you work up the nerve to entrust that gift to someone else?
It was hard, and Gibbs hadn’t helped. If Tony was truly honest with himself he’d admit that he had entrusted that gift to someone else and it had once more been thrown in his face. Then there was John. Tony genuinely adored the man, and figured he was his last and maybe best hope at a father figure. The problem was that he too had chased off his children in the aftermath of his wife’s death. What was to say that he wouldn’t some day do the same to Tony? To TJ?
Had he made the right decision to come here? Had he risked something great and precious in his son’s affection and love in introducing him to a man who could turn around and leave them in a blaze of scorn and pain? What if it was inevitable that history repeated itself? What if the greatest danger in his TJ’s life was…Tony himself?
“It’s late, Kid,” Tony heard from behind him before John settled in the chair next to him. It was late at night. TJ had been in bed for hours, and he had escaped to the quiet solitude of the back yard where he could listen to the waves crash into the shore as he tried to make some sense of his life.
“What if I’m just like Senior?” He asked quietly. He hadn’t intended to let the fear out, but there was just something about the elder McGarrett that drew him out of his shell. The man had been doing it since Tony was a scared kid forgotten in a hotel room living off room service and telling himself that it was all ok.
“What if I screw up TJ as much as Senior screwed up me? What if someday I lose my mind and throw him away like he’s yesterday’s trash? What if I’m alone forever? What if Wendy and Jeanne were my only chances and I blew them both? What if I’m the reason why people keep stabbing me in the back? What if Steve still hates me? What if I’m a failure? What if… what if all these years it’s always been me why this shit keeps happening? John, I don’t… what if it is me?”
“Jesus, Kid,” John uttered. “I knew that I should have come out here earlier. Leaving you alone inside of your head has never been a good thing.”
“First off, get that rap about Senior right out of your head. You are a hell of a father, and it’s clear that you’re nothing like that piece of shit in how much your son openly adores you. There is no circumstance that I can even imagine that would change you into that man. So, you need to forget that shit right now. As for being a failure, that’s a load of shit too. All you have to do is look at why you are here. You got a goddamned promotion to lead up the Pearl Harbor office for NCIS. Now, I know that I’m just a cop, but I would guess that they don’t give that position out to just anyone. You’re not a failure and there was never a chance that you were going to be one. As for my son… Hell.”
Tony turned his gaze away from the ocean and to his Pops as he waited for the older man to continue. When he eventually continued, John’s voice was rough with regret and guilt. “When I met my wife, I thought she was a strong beautiful woman, and knew that I’d met the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. After she died, I wished that I had never met her.”
Tony watched John shift as if he wanted to get up and walk away, but stopped himself at the last second. “I had no idea what she was until after she was gone and had left a mess that was endangering our children. I love my kids. When Steve was born, I knew that I finally understood what unconditional love was. When Mary was born, I was amazed and thankful that I’d been blessed a second time. I loved being a father, and hated that I didn’t have time to do all the things with them that I wanted to. When I realized that I was going to have to send the kids away to keep them safe I didn’t think I would recover. I’d lost my other half, learned that she’d been lying to me for years, and now I had to send my kids away and make sure that they stayed away.”
“I’ve been trying to find out who killed her ever since,” John admitted. “Not for her sake, but Mary and Steve’s. I’ve discovered some things through my investigation, but not enough. I pushed Steve toward the Navy sending him off to the Army and Navy Academy when I realized how much danger they were in. I should have known that he’d make a career out of it, but I just wanted some place that he’d be safe that would fit his personality. He’s always been such a driven and determined kid. That’s why he was so damned good at football. Now he’s a damned Navy SEAL and probably in as much danger as I was trying to keep him from. You’re not much better. I think Mary’s the only one I really saved.”
“Last I checked, John, Steve and I are both still alive and healthy,” Tony pointed out gently. “As you just pointed out with me, I’ve managed to do pretty damned good for myself. I’ve had a long career at NCIS that’s landed me a spot usually reserved for more veteran agents, and I was the youngest detective ever in Baltimore. Steve’s made a helluva career for himself in the Navy. I mean you can’t get much better than a SEAL. You did the best that you could at the time. Now, though, its time for you to do the best with what we can offer you. Steve and I aren’t kids anymore, John. Let us, or at least me, help. Its time we got you back with those two kids of yours.”
Tony heard the big sigh come from John’s direction, but sat quietly and waited for him to decide if he was going to speak. There was only so much that he could say to try and convince the man to let him help him.
“When I met Doris, I thought that she was beautiful, intelligent, and wasn’t about to put up with any bullshit from me. I don’t necessarily believe in love at first sight, but it was a near thing. What I didn’t know is that she was a manipulative liar who cared nothing for me or the children we would have, and was willing to sacrifice us all if it got her what she wanted. Everything is open to be sacrificed in her quest to get whatever information she wants. Children mean nothing to her. If they did, I wouldn’t be in this damned mess.”
Tony had a dozen questions immediately spring to mind, but forced them to remain unspoken as he waited quietly in the dark for John to continue his story. “I thought when I married her that it was forever. I was happy to be the provider as she took care of first our home and then our children. That wasn’t my decision, it was hers. It never even occurred to me that our marriage, that my home life was just a damned cover and was expendable in her eyes.”
John snorted and got up to stand looking out at the ocean without moving out of Tony’s hearing range. “When she told me she was pregnant the first time, I was over the moon. I couldn’t wait to be a daddy. It feels like I’ve wanted children since I was a kid. I’ve always loved having littler kids around even when I was a child. So, when she told me that she was pregnant, it was one of the best days of my life.
“When she went into labor I rushed her to the hospital, and then paced around the waiting room. She hadn’t wanted me in the room for some reason. She’d been acting weird for months, but I just chalked it up the pregnancy hormones. I don’t think that I was meant to ever see the baby. At least it didn’t seem that way. Looking back, I think it should have been my first clue that my wife wasn’t a simple homemaker. Regardless, one of the nurses came out to tell me that my wife had a baby boy, but she wouldn’t look me in the eye. I got upset and when I pressed her… She took me up to see him, and it was pretty fucking obvious that I wasn’t the father.”
John snorted ugly and shook his head as Tony ran the many possibilities through his mind as his friend continued his story. “Of course, I immediately got upset. I accused the hospital of mixing up the babies. I threated to sue them. Frankly, I raised all kinds of hell. For days, I wouldn’t let it go, and eventually she had to tell me the truth. The baby wasn’t mine, but not to worry. It was going to be given to his father, and I wouldn’t ever have to see him again.”
Tony stood and crossed the short distance to stand hear his pseudo father placing a hand on his shoulder feeling the slight twitch underneath his touch. “That should have been my second clue. I should have gotten out then, but I was stubborn. There had never been a divorce in my family, and damnit I wasn’t going to be the first. She cried and said she was sorry. I took the blame for my long hours and laser focus when it came to my job. She swore that it would never happen again, and when Steve and Mary both came out looking just like my parents, well, I never thought of it again.
“I won’t say it was easy, and sure sometimes I wondered, but I still loved her enough that I was willing to overlook one little affair. Then she died, and everything fell apart.”
John turned to look at Tony before moving back to the chairs with Tony following. He offered the older man a drink of water from the bottle he’d brought out with him, and it was accepted before the story continued. “When she died, I immediately blamed myself. I’d been battling the yakuza on the island for years, and had made plenty of enemies. I assumed that one of them targeted her and killed her. They tried to convince me that it was a simple accident, but I knew better. So, I made sure my kids hated me before I shipped them off with Steve heading to the Naval Academy and Mary to my sister’s house. I haven’t seen or contacted them since, and up until a few years ago I continued to assume that my job had gotten my wife murdered and robbed me of my children. If it wasn’t for that damned hurricane that hit several years back I never would have known any different.”
Tony sat up straight and leaned forward slightly sensing the meat of the story was about to come out. “As I was tearing up some floorboards and drywall that needed replaced, I kept finding things I hadn’t put there. I found five lockboxes total as I was remodeling. The first one I assumed was something that my dad hid, and chalked it up to an oddity. I set it aside and went back to what I was doing. When the second one showed up though I knew that it was something deeper, and tore all the floor boards and walls apart until I found them all.
“Then I sat in my destroyed living room with the contents scattered around me trying to figure out why my dead homemaker wife needed six passports with all different names on them, money, guns, love letters from a DW, and intel on people I had no clue who they were. It was pretty obvious though that she wasn’t some simple housewife, and I’d been played since the day we met. I’ve been trying since then to find out who she worked for, who DW is, and if my kids are still in danger. I found a note among the things dated a month before she died. It said that they were going to kill her first, they were going to kill her husband and son next, and then they were going to take Mary and sell her to someone to basically be their sex slave. If she wasn’t dead, I’d fucking kill her myself. All those times she was telling me she was going away with her sisters or mother or whomever she was obviously running some op for someone. The kids and I were nothing more than some cover. She knew for a month before she died that the kids were in danger, and she didn’t to shit! My kids, Tony! I can’t…”
The older man trailed off, and Tony had heard enough to know all that he needed to. Standing, he moved to kneel down at John’s side and put a comforting hand on the older man’s arm. “OK, John, ok. We’re gonna get this worked out. You and me and Chin Ho are gonna figure out if Steve and Mary are still in danger. I told you before that we might be able to pull in NCIS, and now I know for sure we can. In fact, I’m gonna insist. I’ll fill in Director Vance, and work on it quietly, but I’m not staying out of this now.
“Threats like this… Jesus, if she did work for someone, depending on who it was and what she did, then you’re right. There’s a very real possibility that the threat is still active. Steve needs to be made aware of what’s going on, and we need to get someone to watch Mary. NCIS has a team in Los Angeles that can put someone on her for protection. That team specializes in undercover work, and this isn’t something that would require fulltime protection. I swear to you that I will do everything that I can to ensure she’s safe.”
With the moon shining in the sky, Tony had just enough light and was close enough that he could see the pain in the other man’s eyes. “I don’t want to lose you either, kid. What happens if they see you around? Then you and my grandson are in danger?”
Tony smiled softly. “I told you that Isla is kickass, and I meant it. She’s former British Army and trained by MI6 operatives in literally everything that she needs to know to protect TJ. She even has documents in case she needs to snatch him and run to protect him. It would break my heart, but I’d rather have that than have something happen to him. That happens and with one call I’ll have more MI6 operatives here than the US government will like, but with my dual citizenship I don’t really give two fucks. TJ is safe, John. It’s time that we get your kids reunited with you, or at least the one who can protect himself. Please, let me contact Steve and fill him in. Last, I checked he worked with Naval Intelligence regularly. He’ll understand. Do you really want something to happen, and you or he die thinking you’ve hated him all these years? Isn’t it time for the truth to come out at least to the child who has the skills to understand?”
“What if I’m just… I dunno, imagining things?” John asked weakly, and Tony took a deep breath. He remembered Doris McGarrett, and didn’t have what you’d call fond memories of her. Mostly, he stuck close to John when he could, and avoided her when he couldn’t. Having lived with an abusive parent for years, the 12 yr. old Tony knew there was something off about the McGarrett mother. The fact that she hadn’t seemed to care that he wanted nothing to do with her spoke volumes.
“I’d never approach Steve until I had some kind of confirmation that there may be a valid threat to your life and his. I know a few people, John. I got this. There aren’t many places that she could have worked for that I don’t have a contact with.”
“You and your damned contacts,” John muttered making Tony laugh before following it up immediately with a yawn. When the elder McGarrett patted his back and stood, Tony nodded and followed him into the house and up to bed. As he fell asleep, his mind whirled with all the things he needed to do to help his Pops.
The next day, Tony sat in a local café near the HPD station that Detective Williams worked out of. He momentarily longed for Gibbs’ diner back in DC or even a decent pizza place, but it didn’t take long to figure out that Hawaii knew nothing about making a good pie. A good outdoor pizza oven, or a place to build one, was high on his list of needs for the new house. He had the money, and planned on being in Hawaii until the day he died. So, this would be the last house he ever purchased if he had anything to do with it. For that reason, he wasn’t rushing things.
While initially he’d wanted to be moved in before he started back at NCIS, he realized that it was too important of a decision to hurry. He and Isla had a talk about the situation, and when she’d volunteered to do initial checks with the realtor that he’d hired to limit the time he had to spend, he took her up on it. John had made it clear that morning that he was happy to have them at the house as long as they wanted to be. Now that they got the weirdness of what was going on with him out of the way anyway.
His Pops had already been awake and in the kitchen talking to Isla when Tony got up. He didn’t know what they’d talked about, but it seemed to have soothed some of his worries. Once he’d made his presence known, his father figure started in on various plans for the future, and something in Tony’s soul had unwound. So, as he sat there waiting on Detective Williams, he was making notes on his phone of things he must have and things he just really wanted for the new place. Beach access and room for a kickass outdoor cooking and grilling area along with an amazing indoor kitchen were on the must haves.
Something not too far from John and within a reasonable distance from Pearl Harbor were on the really want list. John would understand if the new house wasn’t as close to him as they’d like. It was more important that he was within half an hour from work. So, that was a bigger priority, and the realtor thought that would be easier to accomplish.
After he left there, he was headed to a car dealership to pick up the new vehicle for Isla to drive. He’d had a vehicle ordered with some special custom items, like various bullet proof features. Fortunately, there was a dealership on the island that they were used to dealing with. His own car, a Le Mans Blue 1969 Chevy Camero, was already at the base and waiting for him to pick it up. Which, he should be able to do once he picked up Isla from John’s with her new vehicle. It even came with a custom car seat that could be upgraded as TJ got older. Tony knew the vehicle was bordering on paranoid, but with the Ziva issue and the promotion he wasn’t taking any chances with his son’s life.
“Special Agent DiNozzo?”
Tony blinked bringing himself back to reality to see a blond headed man standing in front of his table. Smiling, he stood and held out a hand, recognizing Detective Sargent Daniel “Danny” Williams from the background check he’d done on the man after John and Chin recommended him.
“Detective Williams,” Tony greeted smiling open and friendly. “It’s nice to meet you. I hear good things about you. Please sit down.”
Danny smiled briefly as he settled into his chair. His dress shirt and tie blending in with Tony’s own chosen outfit. He doubted he’d wear a suit every day once he officially started at NCIS, but he’d pumped John for information and learned how much crap the New Jersey native got from the natives about how he dressed. While Tony knew that it was best to try and fit in, he also understood that clothes were sometimes a man’s best armor. Being so far from home with no friends and getting more than a little crap for being a Haole, as the natives called outsiders to the islands, Tony didn’t blame Danny for wearing clothes that made him mentally feel comfortable.
It was the reason that Tony had chosen his own outfit, and would on occasion continue to wear a suit or at least a dress shirt and tie once he started. It wouldn’t be every day, but he would do his best to support his agent until the man settled down and felt more at ease. Provided that was that Tony could recruit the man.
“John said that you wanted to speak with me?” Danny prompted after giving his drink order to the waitress who promised to be back for their lunch order shortly.
“I do,” Tony confirmed closing his menu having decided on a salad that looked amazing and some fried mushrooms, which he had a weakness for.
“I am taking over the NCIS office at Pearl Harbor at the beginning of the year. I don’t have a full team, and need to recruit a few people. When I told John and Detective Kelly what I was looking for, your name was the first they mentioned. I was told that you’re having some troubles with the other Detectives, and John knew that those issues won’t be a problem on my team.”
“And how can you assure that?” Danny asked skeptically sounding more than a little angry. “You’re still in this pineapple infested hellhole, and an outsider yourself.”
“Because while I don’t mind gentle teasing,” Tony explained calmly not blaming the New Jersey native for being upset if he was having even half the trouble that his Pops said he was. “The first time you start getting hazed for where you were born is the second that person gets booted off my team.”
“I’m not putting up with that shit. Right now, there’s only one local on the team, but I plan on adding two more at some point. Despite that, I won’t tolerate harassment and discrimination in any form. My last team was led by someone who allowed people to go over the line and let it go expecting us to figure it out ourselves. The problem with that is that in the end there’s always an odd man out, which leads to tension and underlying ill will between team members. That stuff always comes to the surface at the worst possible moment, and we don’t have time for that. The men and women that we’re getting justice for deserve our best. If we’re constantly fighting and bickering between ourselves, then we’re not giving our best.”
“I’m going to be completely frank here, Detective Williams,” Tony advised, “I want you for my team.”
“Tell me what you need to make the jump from HPD to NCIS, and if it’s within my power I’ll make it happen.”
“I am on this piece of hell in the Pacific because my ex-wife decided that it was too hard being the wife of a cop. So, when some rich prick came along saying all the things that she wanted to hear, she dumped me and jumped on the money train. She then took my only child and ran off to this purgatory expecting that I’d just stay in New Jersey twiddling my thumbs. My Gracie is my entire world. Looking back, I can see that my marriage to Rachel was a huge mistake, but I got my beautiful daughter out of it. So, I would do it all over again if I had to. Even though it almost destroyed me when she left me. I can honestly tell you that I hate every moment I am here and my daughter isn’t with me. If you can do something to make my working hours not so completely miserable, I would greatly appreciate it. I am assuming that there will be some training since this is a Federal Agency switch?”
Tony nodded and went on to explain the 60-day FLETC course that Danny would have to take, and apologized that it would have to be completed in Atlanta, which would take him away from his daughter. Once that was done though, there shouldn’t be much travel outside of the islands, then explained the increase in pay and benefits that came with the job. After that the conversation topic was switched to all things New York and New Jersey as the two exchanged friendly barbs.
After they were done, the two men stood on the sidewalk outside of the café exchanging goodbyes. Just before walking off toward his car, Danny stopped and turned back around to look at Tony as if studying him. Sensing the man had something on his mind, the NCIS Team Leader remained quiet letting the Detective process his thoughts.
“Send me the information,” Danny finally said taking out a business card and writing something on the back. “I will notify my Captain when I go back about the switch since it’s such short notice. I… I appreciate the opportunity, Special Agent DiNozzo. It will be nice work somewhere that I’m not mostly hated every day.”
With that the blond then walked off leaving Tony to watch as he got in his car and drove back to the station. He’d have to get a TAD for a couple months, but at the end of that time, he’d have his four man team and be able to keep an eye open for two more bodies. He could feel his new home coming together slowly but surely. Smiling to himself, Tony waved down a taxi cab to take him to pick up the new SUV. This was good. This was very good.