- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- Character Bashing
- No Beta
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
Chapter Six: Mending Fences
The next day found Tony repeating the previous morning, in what would become his new routine. Up at 5:30AM for a run along the beach with a quick romp in the ocean to wash off the obvious sweat. Then heading into the house for a shower before getting dressed in one of his new outfits. Today he would be wearing a summer suit tie. He loved ties and his suits and refused to give them up completely. Then there would be a peek in on TJ with a kiss left on his forehead.
Breakfast would come next, which would generally consist of a fruit salad and a bagel or English muffin during the week with a huge mug of coffee with his creamer flavoring of the week. Generally, Isla and/or John would wander down sometime if one of them weren’t up already to get a rundown on his morning. Then he’d leave by 6:30 to get to the base by 7AM sharp.
That morning he’d been first in, and Alejandro had raised an eyebrow at him, but hadn’t said anything about it otherwise. Tony though knew the man was curious and told him that he worked best without the distractions of a full office. Once upon a time, he’d gone in late at night and spent hours doing paperwork or puzzling over cases either current or ones that had gone cold long ago. Since he now had a child he’d instead forced himself to get up really freaking early in the morning so he could be one of the first into the office. It wasn’t as good, but it worked out, and that was all he cared about.
The two talked more about current cases and important cold cases as well as more in depth things about team members and others Tony would encounter while they had the office to themselves. Lucian was the first in the office, and Alejandro told him that was typical. Tara would be in barely under the gun and the less sleep she’d had the grumpier she’d be. He’d also advised with a laugh that if the young computer genius hadn’t walked in with a Venti sized coffee from the little coffee shop around the corner from her apartment then he should run and hide.
Tony had laughed at that and told him she must get that from Gibbs. He’d then found himself sharing stories of his mentor, which Álex had laughed at. Tony found himself slowly relaxing about his former friend, and hoped that someday it didn’t feel so much former as maybe long distance. His heart missed the older man and the relationship they’d had in the early years.
Tony told Garzon that he planned to work half days until the older man retired. Most likely working in the mornings, at least the rest of that week. It being Thursday, Alejandro had suggested he take Monday off for a final long weekend with his son and the rest of his pseudo family before jumping back into work fulltime. Since he knew how things went, Tony agreed that was a marvelous idea, and turned the conversation to fun things to do on a random Monday as well as possibilities of child care or child play group ideas that would accept Isla accompanying TJ.
Tony didn’t like the idea of the base child care, simply because it seemed that it was counter intuitive. It didn’t make much sense to him to have a highly trained nanny and then put his child daily in such close proximity to his father’s job, which was what Tony was trying to protect his son from. The current team leader agreed that while the base child care was excellent and extremely safe, that with the amount of enemies Tony had it might not be the best solution. Álex knew that Tara didn’t have her boys on base either, and Tony made a mental note to find out where she and her partner took their sons. He was having lunch with her the next day, and was looking forward to it.
Since the team was mostly on downtime, Garzon suggested that if Tony was interested he would give Lucian and Tara half days. That way after their lunches, they could do something together to help get to know each other more. Tony thought that was a marvelous idea, and looked forward to it. He quickly decided that he’d let the two agents decide what they did, and was suddenly excited to see what they came up with. Alejandro guessed that Lucian would probably pick surfing or a hike through one of his favorite trails, but didn’t know what Tara would choose. He admitted that he knew his SFA better, but also said that the computer whiz was more unpredictable.
When Kekoa arrived the two men were discussing Max, the island ME, and if Tony should invite him to the team get together on Saturday. The SFA’s arrival ended their conversation with Tony deciding to call and make the offer. He’d liked the ME’s quirkiness, much to the current team leader’s amusement. Tony had explained Ducky the ME at the Navy Yard, and then wondered aloud if there was something about the position that attracted the odd ducks.
He let Álex inform Kekoa and Gideon about their half days, as Tony buried himself in a cold case with a pad to make notes and a computer to do searches to keep him busy. When Tara wandered in at 7:59AM with her huge coffee cup, he couldn’t help but laugh before turning his brain away from the living and focused completely on the dead.
Just before noon, he felt a presence in front of his desk. Finding a good stopping point, he marked the place he’d been at in his records search, and looked up to see Senior Field Agent Lucian Kekoa in front of his desk.
“Wow, is it that time already?” Tony asked surprised and offered the other man an easy smile. He noticed that on the surface it was returned, but saw the hard glint in his eye that suggested that there was a burning anger under the surface. In his head, he cursed Abby and hoped that he could get through his talk with her and still have a friendship left. He was hoping that his absence from her lab that morning and the remainder of the previous day after their talk would be a sign to her that things weren’t right.
“If you need to reschedule,” Lucian started, but Tony immediately cut him off.
“Absolutely not,” the new team leader insisted not willing to let Abby damage the relationship between himself and his former SFA further. “There isn’t anything I’m doing that can’t wait. This time with the two of us is more important to me. As much as I want justice for every victim, this family has been waiting 4 years. Another half a day won’t hurt especially when they aren’t even aware I’m considering re-opening their case. Let’s go.”
Locking his computer, Tony took his gun and badge out of the locked drawer before following Kekoa outside. Once they reached the parking lot, the SFA looked at him, Tony assumed for direction. “It’s your day, man. We eat where you wanna eat, and after that can do whatever you want.”
“Surf Report wasn’t awesome for this afternoon,” the SFA commented still watching him with a guarded expression, “so, how do you feel about a hike?”
“Sounds great!” Tony offered enthused, “I love hiking.”
“Back in DC, Isla, TJ and I would have to drive a ways to get any really good trails. I’m not an outdoors freak, but I do like a good hard hike on occasion. It’d be nice to find out where the good trails are here.”
He saw the surprise quickly followed by doubt flicker across the man’s face. For his part, Tony just smiled and didn’t take it personally. He knew that he didn’t look like someone who was as physically fit as he is. Even back in college when he was playing two sports he didn’t look like someone who was as active as he was. The SFA would learn though in time. Tony had to trust that and believe in himself. The two men agreed to go to Tony’s where he could get his hiking boots and some gear. They’d then take Lucian’s truck to his place to get his own gear before he drove to the nature preserve while stopping at one of the islander’s favorite places to eat on the way up. If he reminded himself repeatedly on his way to the house that he had it, well no one but himself would know.
They were again sitting outside at a little restaurant enjoying a beautiful view, this time of an amazing expanse of forest, when Tony finally decided that he would need to be the first to broach the Goth shaped elephant standing between them. “I want to apologize to you for the things Abby has insinuated and put you through. I know you have no reason to believe me, but the picture she’s painting you isn’t how it’s going to be. In retrospect, her coming out here alone for two and a half months wasn’t maybe the best idea. She doesn’t handle isolation from her friends and family well.”
“So, what we should just feel sorry for her?” Lucian asked not even pretending to not be angry now that the subject had been breached.
“Absolutely not,” Tony denied shaking his head for emphasis. Before answering again, he took a bite of his salad savoring the fresh shrimp he’d put in his mouth before continuing.
“From what I’ve heard, Abby treated you all horribly and made it out to seem as if she was going to be treated like some pretty pretty Goth Princess. I’ll be honest when I tell you that it was how she was treated in the past. Part of that is on me, and I accept the blame for not standing up to it. I won’t paint her to be a completely horrible person either.”
Before continuing, he pushed around his salad before deciding a drink of lemonade was what he needed more. After taking a big gulp, he pushed on with his explanation of the complicated Forensics Expert. “Abby is probably my best friend in the world right now. I know that you probably don’t think a lot about me from that statement, but I won’t mislead you. To be honest though, I can’t say I have a ton of close friends either. So, sometimes, most times, she gets the title out of default.
“She has the ability to be the most generous, loving and sensitive person you’ve ever met. When I first met her that’s who she was. She’s fiercely loyal and will do anything for the people she cares about. The problem is that somewhere along the way that got twisted. In her desire to protect the people she cared about, and as she lost some people she cared about she stopped thinking of others before herself because that’s what the Boss.. err Special Agent Gibbs taught her was appropriate.
“He had lost his own daughter to a drug dealer who murdered her and his wife, and Abby was the perfect substitute because she needed a father figure. In his need to protect her from being hurt and himself from losing another daughter she became spoiled, manipulative, and self-absorbed. Nothing was ever her fault, and there were never any consequences for her negative actions. I should have spoken up, but in my own defense, I don’t know much about friends and family.
“My mom died when I was little, my father is an abusive alcoholic con-man, and I was something of a lone wolf until I got to college and got wrapped up in sports teams and frat brothers. Abby was and still is like my little sister, and for a long time I didn’t understand that things weren’t how they were supposed to be. Then by the time I figured it out, I wasn’t in a position to change anything. Gibbs wouldn’t have tolerated it and Abby wouldn’t have heard it.”
Tony shook his head and took a couple big bites of his salad as he watched his SFA who at least seemed to be listening. Although he still looked guarded, Tony didn’t blame him for it and just hoped that he was hearing him and not just listening. “Maybe I shouldn’t have been so selfish in not wanting to lose everyone again when I left another place I’d called home. I’ve done that a lot in my life, and even though I was moving here that’s a little familiar… Well, John and I only really spent a brief time together as kids and I was a little afraid that after a couple weeks around me he’d change his mind.
“When Vance offered to present the opening to Abby I jumped at it. Partly because I wanted my friend near, and she’d thus far supported me. But, the other part was because she truly is the best at what she does. I also knew that unlike when we were in DC, I do have the power to change things now. I know she’s acting like she’s going to get her way in everything, and maybe sometimes she will. Sometimes she should frankly. Like I said she’s the best at what she does and there are times I will take her opinion or side depending on how you look at it. But there will be just as many times that I won’t.”
Tony shook his head looking out over the beauty in front of him for a moment to try and process what was coming before he turned back to Lucian and continued. “It’s not going to be pretty. She’s gonna be pissed, and probably throw the mother of all temper tantrums. I can’t stop that though. She’s going to learn that here at work she’s on the same playing field as everyone else. I’m a team sports guy. I don’t like sports where it’s just me, myself, and I. They aren’t fun. I’ve spent too much of my life alone.
“I want this team to be close. I want us to be something of a family. That’s the only way I know how to lead things. Abby will be brought around. I know you don’t have any reason to trust me, but I am asking you to try. I know she’s presented a picture to you that’s pretty bleak. I’m asking you to ignore that though, and give me a chance to show you my own picture. I’m not her puppet. I’m not Gibbs’ protégé. I’m certainly not Anthony DiNozzo, Senior’s son. I’m just me, and I really want the opportunity to do this my way with people that don’t have expectations that I should be a whole different way. I’ll understand though if you are gonna need me to fight for it. I know how vivid of a picture Abby presents.”
Having said all that he needed to, Tony turned his attention to his remaining salad and left Kekoa to his thoughts. When the big islander finally started speaking, he shoved the last bit into his mouth and chewed as he listened to what the other man had to say.
“I won’t say that I like her right now, because I don’t like liars. I’m willing to give her another chance if she stops acting like my 3 year old niece. I don’t like how she’s treated me, or how she seems to be wrapping Gids up in her web. I didn’t really expect it, and I honestly can say I don’t like it. Frankly, in the big picture it doesn’t matter if Abby and I are on the same page. She’s not a field agent and won’t be watching my back. I need Tara on the same page, paragraph, sentence, and word as I am though. Before that… Before Ms. Sciuto showed up we were. Now…”
Lucian trailed off and frowned as now he looked out over the view. Tony just sipped on his drink, getting up to get a bottle of water at one point giving the man time with his thoughts. When he sat down, the first words out of Lucian’s mouth were the last ones he expected.
“I’m sorry,” Lucian offered and Tony was glad he hadn’t taken a drink of the water yet or the SFA would be wearing it. “My makuahine has been kicking my ass for forming an opinion of you before we even met. Oh, makuahine that’s…”
“Mother,” Tony finished before the other man could smiling. “I know a few words from before, and I’ve been trying to learn in my spare time since I found out I was coming here. I may have some questions though now and again on using words in context and pronunciation.”
Kekoa looked surprised for a moment then shook his head. “That’s the kind of shit I’m ashamed of. I just assumed that you’d be another haole who came in here and expected us to just conform to your ways without trying to learn ours. I hear there’s a detective at HPD that’s from the east coast and is a real jackass and hates everything about us.”
Tony cocked his head to one side as he studied the other man. “His name is Detective Daniel Williams, but goes by Danny. He’s divorced from his ex-wife who brought his only child here to the island and just expected that he’d stay behind in New Jersey. As far as I know it’s not about any “us” and more about the place, but not even that. He’s homesick because he had to leave the only place he’s ever known because the woman he loved and thought loved him back decided that she didn’t want to be a cop’s wife and left him. Coincidentally, she married a rich hotel magnet just weeks after the divorce finalized. So, take from that what you will.
“He loves his ties partially because he likes to dress a certain way but also because his daughter who is the center of his entire world buys one for him at all present giving occasions. He’s also about to become your new team mate. Not because he’s a haole, but because he’s an amazing veteran detective who is lonely and miserable and being treated horribly at HPD and came very highly recommended by my father figure, John’s partner Chin Ho Kelly, and Danny’s captains both here and back in New Jersey. I am hoping that this judging people you haven’t met isn’t a bigger issue.”
Lucian just stared at him for several long minutes before letting out a soul deep sigh. “Fuck.”
Tony couldn’t help but laugh. He knew how the younger man felt. It was hard not to just follow along with people you think you should be able to trust. “Yeah, been there and I have the t-shirt to prove it, man. Look, I don’t know Danny well. He came highly recommended by the closest thing I have in my entire life had to a father, and his record is impeccable. I’m going to give him the same chance I’m giving you and Tara though, and I’m certainly not going to judge him by how he dresses or where he was born. I would hope that as my SFA you will do the same.”
Lucian nodded again but to his credit never dropped his eyes or looked away. Tony thought it said a lot of the man and looked forward to the upcoming months and hopefully years. “You have my word. This judging people I’ve never met thing won’t happen again. Makuahine will be thrilled to be able to say I told you so. Once more, I’m sorry for judging you. I’ll understand if you want a different SFA.”
Tony made a face at the mere thought of replacing the man based on a couple moments of bad judgment. Shit, if Gibbs had done that to him, Tony knew he wouldn’t have even made it TO SFA. “Not going to happen. I am certainly no patron saint of good judgment calls. I reserve the right to enact Rule #15 though if it happens again.”
“Rule #15, sir?” Lucian asked putting their plates in a stack for the server to take.
Once more, Tony wrinkled his nose. “Ugh, Boss, Tony, DiNozzo, or Special Agent DiNozzo if we’re in a formal setting, but never sir. My last boss was a former Marine Sniper with a strong distaste for the title. I can’t say as I like it much better myself, and Rule #15 is superglue is an acceptable form of punishment.”
Lucian’s lips twitched and he could see the man was trying not to laugh. “That’s umm… How many of these rules are there?”
“26 of them at the moment. As SFA I expect you to learn them and live them. I will make sure you have a copy.” Tony advised trying to be serious, but he was pretty sure that his grin at the end blew it. “I think it’s time you took me out into this nature we’ve been looking at. Just don’t get me lost. I am a city boy and was never a boy scout.”
“Duly noted, sir… err I mean… Boss?” Lucian stumbled through and Tony nodded. He knew it would take time, and was just thankful that the SFA was willing to be open minded after the stunt Abby had pulled. After leaving a generous tip, Tony stood and followed the SFA to his truck. He was ready to work off some energy that had built up during the talk they’d just had.
A few hours later, the two were walking into the house that Tony was still sharing with John McGarrett. Immediately, he could hear his son’s voice and the sound of little feet running across the hardwood. “Papà!”
Forgetting his guest a moment, Tony dropped the bag that he’d taken with him and with a big grin on his face caught his son after the little boy launched himself at him. “Hi, figlio. Were you a good boy for Isla today?”
“Sì, papà!” He could tell when his son noticed they had company, because his little body stilled a moment as he looked over Tony’s shoulder. Then it squirmed to get down. Once TJ’s little feet hit the hardwood floors, he was scrambling to stand directly in front of the tall Hawiian as he looked up at him.
“Who is, papà?” TJ asked still staring up at the man who was looking down at him with some amusement.
“Figlio, this is Lucian,” Tony introduced. “He works with papa.”
“Is lik Unko Jimmy an Auntie Abs?” TJ asked still looking upward.
“Yes, figlio,” Tony replied smiling at his bright little boy. “You need to ask him before you call him Uncle though, remember?”
“Sì, papà,” TJ agreed before sticking out his hand. “Loha, I’s TJ Nosso. Nis meet you kwaintence. Is Unko, Kay?”
Tony chuckled at the question that came out not quite how it should, but he’d never been very good at being strict with his son. He did his best to teach him right and wrong and good manners, but the child had enchanted him from the second he’d laid eyes on him. Determined to be a better father than he had, at times he didn’t think that he did well with some things.
“Aloha, it’s nice to make your acquaintance as well, keiki,” Lucian rumbled. The smile evident in his voice.
“Wat is, kiki, pes?” TJ asked not recognizing the word. “Say gain pes?”
“Keiki,” Lucian repeated. “It means child in Hawaiian. I would be honored to be your Uncle. In Hawiian, you would call me Makua, and we would then be ohana, which is family.”
TJ thought about what he’d heard. “Makwa Lusan is oh hana.”
Lucian chuckled softly and nodded. “Close enough little one. You are very good at that.” Looking up at Tony, he asked.
“Italian or Spanish?”
Tony smiled and picked his son back up so he could see his new Uncle better. “He speaks both actually, but more Italian than Spanish. He’ll ask you about any word he hears that he doesn’t know. So, I hope you don’t mind questions. I don’t know where he got his brains from, but it wasn’t me.”
Lucian snorted and eyed his new boss. “Yeah, pull my other leg, Boss. Others may buy that act of yours, but I’m not going to.”
“It’s good to know you have more brains than the old bunch.”
Tony smiled as Isla came to stand beside him. “And, this is my nanny, Isla. She’s a kickass former British Army servicewoman. So, behave or she’ll kick your booty.”
TJ nodded looking at Lucian. “No mess wif Aunti Iswa. Her will put you in timeout chair foreba!”
When the nanny turned her head, Tony knew she was hiding her grin. “I will keep that in mind, keiki.”
“Dat me, Iswa,” TJ informed as she turned his attention back to her. “Dat wat I is in Hawan.”
“Hawaiian,” she corrected and TJ immediately nodded.
“Uh huh! Dat what sayd! Hawan.”
“Someday little one, someday.” She offered and TJ just sighed big.
“I jus’ keep hopin’ you ears gets betters,” TJ immediately returned seriously and Tony knew the cough from Lucian wasn’t because he had something in his throat. When his son again squirmed to get down, he let him, and wasn’t surprised when the new SFA was dragged upstairs to see the temporary room. The day had turned out a lot better than he expected. He only hoped that tomorrow went as well.